Having an affair does not necessarily mean that the cheater wants to end the marriage or that they no longer love their spouse. However, the consequences of an affair most often lead to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
If you are the one that cheated, the power lies mainly in your hands to salvage the marriage and help the relationship to recover. So, what can you do to mend the damage that your affair has caused?
Hiding the affair will continue to affect the relationship. It is best to come clean as soon as possible and be as truthful as you can regarding all the details of the affair.
Your spouse will have a multitude of questions that you may feel uncomfortable answering, but it is important to address these as honestly as you can. Involving a professional therapist in these discussions can be extremely helpful.
Communication is not a one way street. It is just as important to listen to your spouse. Allow them to vent their feelings and reprimand you in any way that they may feel necessary. Do not interrupt even if you become angry or upset. Take the time to listen, and then work to calmly respond with honesty and sincerity.
Be prepared to answer questions repeatedly and to rehash the events as often as your partner needs. There is no quick fix for betrayal, and it could take an extended period of time for your spouse to come to terms with your actions.
2. Deal with Your Emotions
Cheating comes with feelings of shame, guilt and evasiveness. These feelings, in turn, result in a need to defend your actions rather than admit fault and make amends for the offence that you committed.
Get over these feelings as quickly as you can. Always keep in mind that you are the one who is at fault, and defending your actions will only be detrimental to the healing process.
Your spouse will require loads of reassurance from you. First, you will need to give them the peace of mind that the affair is over and you won't be seeing the person again, ever.
You may also need to assure your partner that the affair was not a consequence of anything that they did or didn't do, or be honest if their actions in any way caused you to respond by cheating. Either way, it was your choice to step out on the marriage, and it is healing to admit to your poor choice of actions.
You may also need to confirm that you still love your spouse and your actions in no way changed the way you feel about them. Your spouse may also need the reassurance that you were not and are not emotionally attached to the affair. However, if emotional attachment developed, be honest about that as well, and seek the advice of a counselor to work past it or come to terms with what steps to take next.
Your marriage and the work you need to do to rebuild the relationship is now more important than ever. It should take precedence over work and other social engagements.
Pour as much time and energy as possible into the marriage, and let your spouse know how important they are to you. Do whatever they ask (within reason) to make up for your mistakes.
Be aware that your affair has changed the nature of the marriage, and new boundaries, rules and behaviors may need to be instituted. These can affect measures that need to be taken to rebuild trust, intimacy in the bedroom or simply how you go about your daily routine.
You can be proactive in establishing the new rules and boundaries, or let your spouse dictate what they need to move forward. Accept that these measures will redefine the way that your marriage works, and that they aren't just temporary measures.
If these steps don't seem to help, it is important to consider longer term marriage counseling to help both you and your spouse deal with the infidelity.
About the Author
Andrea Taylor is the Coaching Support Director at Life Coach Hub, a site that networks life coaches with individuals looking to make improvements in their own personal and professional lives. The site provides useful information about life coaching – what it is, how it works, if it’s the right choice for you and advice and tips as well as a platform where coaches can network, start or further develop their own businesses. Visit Life Coach Hub to learn more or connect with your own personal life coach.