Does the Reason for Infidelity Matter

Master’s Infidelity Recovery Coaches
Carleton & Angela Booker

1) Make your choice

When you have an affair, you’ll inevitably need to make a choice: your spouse, your new partner, or neither. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and indecision can often result in an inability to commit. The partner having the affair will shift between their two partners with a great deal of uncertainty in a hurtful cycle. They’re unable to make a healthy decision and their actions have painful consequences.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you’re having trouble making a decision, separate yourself from the affair and seek counsel from those you trust. Consider what your future holds and make your choice. You want to be fair to the people in your life and be sure that you’re making the right decision.

2) Speak nothing but the truth

Your past actions will impact your marriage. From this point on, make a point to speak nothing but the truth. No more secrets or lies. The truth will help set you free. If you find that you’re not ready to share something with your spouse, tell them that. Be honest

with them rather them lying to them.

Remember, you built your affair with lies, and you need to rebuild your marriage with honesty. Certain details (comparisons, sexual specifics, dates, places, events, etc.) may not be the wisest to share as this can cause permanent damage to your marital relationship. If these questions are unasked, then you may be better off leaving them unanswered. However, if they are breached, then you should be honest with your spouse. You do not want your spouse to think that you are still protecting the affair.

Consider saying something like, “I am willing, to be honest with you. That said, I am concerned that my answers will upset you and perhaps hurt you more than they’ll help you. I’d like you to take some time to think about whether you really want to know them. If you do, I will tell you.”

After that, have an open and honest discussion. Often, a qualified counselor can be of great help in this process.

3) Take a one-way exit from your affair

There’s only one option following an affair if you want to save your marriage. End your affair now. Don’t leave any possibility of reviving your affair. Don’t leave it open with the possibility of returning to your affair partner. Why? Because you’ll likely return.

Marriage is hard. No one ever said it was easy. If you have an “easy out,” then you’ll stop trying. Don’t play ping-pong (as described in Step 1). Close all the doors, block their email and change your phone number. If it will impact your ability to repair your marriage, change jobs or relocate.

Your marriage is worth more than all of those things combined, and it’s worth it to regain your spouse’s trust and keep them feeling secure. Sever all contact with your affair contact. It will always be an issue if it continues.

4) Accept full responsibility for every choice you made

Now is not the time for excuses or explanations. Now is the time to accept full responsibility for your choices. You failed to keep your promises to your spouse, and you need to reflect on why that was. What are the vulnerabilities in your life and marriage? How can you rebuild the trust that was broken?

Keep in mind that it can take some time to do this. It may feel as though you’ll be the “bad guy” forever. However, if you seek help and counsel, you can rebuild your marriage. Focus on you and where you went wrong. It won’t last forever.

5) Step into your spouse’s pain

Stepping into your spouse’s pain is something you’ve probably been avoiding. You don’t want to feel the pain that you’ve caused. Feeling the pain of infidelity is one of the deepest hurts that anyone can experience. Yet, going through this experience will show you why your spouse cannot just “move on.” You are responsible for the pain that neither of you can hide from.

In order to hear from this wound and to remain in a relationship, you need to be the one that offers comfort and relief. Take responsibility. Have difficult (yet healing) conversations. Strive to return to emotional stability. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

6) Confide in a friend of your marriage

Even as the cheating spouse, you also need support. Who can you open up to? Who can you be honest with? Don’t attempt to handle infidelity on your own. Reach out for support in this time of need.

The best person to reach out to is a friend of your marriage. You should not confide in someone who also practices unfaithfulness. You should not confide in someone with who you could develop romantic feelings. You should not confide in someone who does not recognize the sacrifice that is required for trusting, intimate relationships. Seeking the right confidant for your marriage is essential.

7) Start minimizing your regrets by defining who you will become

Are you weighed down by what happened in the past? When you’re focused on the affair, it can become difficult to move forward. Don’t let the past tell the story of where

you’re going. You have the ability to focus on your future in a way that will minimize your

regret. However, it isn’t the way that most people do so.

When most people weigh their options, they focus on two things: their obligations and their desires. What should they do? What do they want to do? Let us tell your right now that if either of these is your primary focus then you will ultimately fail to minimize future regret. Instead of asking what you should do or what you want to do, ask yourself who you are becoming. What is the story you want to tell? The answers to these questions reflect the core of who you are.

When you focus on rebuilding your character in a way that aligns with those who matter to you (your family, children, spouse, etc.) then you do the work that matters. You define the character, heart, and soul of the future and move toward satisfaction and fulfillment rather than regret.

8) Turn your marriage into a safe place.

Your spouse should never have to fight for security in the marriage. This will only turn marriage into an anxious and resentful relationship. If your spouse is insecure because you broke their trust, then they will need to feel secure again before the marriage can continue. It is your responsibility to make them feel safe.

Here are some of the steps you can take:

  • Tell your spouse, “I know that what I’ve done has made you feel that you can’t trust me. I know you’re afraid of what I might do again. I want you to be able to trust me again. I’ve tried to think of some of the things that I can do to make you trust me again, and I’m committed to doing them. Please let me know what else would help.”
  • Unlock your accounts and provide passwords to ensure nothing is being hidden
  • Get rid of anything that is a product of the affair (gifts, reminders, pictures, emails, clothes, etc.)
  • Keep your phone unlocked and available; offer it to your spouse if they seem uncertain
  • Explain your schedule and volunteer information about where you are, what you’re doing, and who you’re doing it with
  • Set boundaries in any relationships that feel unsafe to your spouse
  • See if there’s anything else you can do

9) Be open about the affair

9) Consider what to tell your children and family

Often, those involved in an affair wish to keep it private. Ultimately, this is a personal decision. However, there are benefits to disclosing your affair to your family (including your children).

Telling your family (including your spouse’s family)

Choosing to be open and authentic with your family is beneficial as there are life lessons that can only be learned through honesty. While none of us like to admit failure, being open about your affair can offer learning opportunities. Make this an opportunity for you to become a healthier person.

  • When should I talk to my family? If your family already suspects an affair, go ahead and clear the air. Ask for forgiveness and don’t let it take up permanent space in your home and life. You can move past this!
  • When should you NOT talk to your family? If your family is highly dysfunctional, then you may not be able to trust them with this information. You need people to love you through this and offer grace rather than shame.

Telling your children:

Many people hesitate to tell their children about an affair. However, it’s sometimes the best thing you can do. Consider the following points before acting one way or the other.

  • Avoid telling young children who do not know anything
  • Avoid lying to any child who asks direct questions. When you talk to them, approach the topic with appropriate information based on their age and knowledge. Teach them about failure and forgiveness.
  • Initiate the conversation if your children know or suspect the affair. Approach the topic truthfully and ask if they have any questions. This conversation should repeat over the next several months.
  • If your child is 12 or older (and they have witnessed the conflict between you and your spouse), you can assume that they’re wondering about an affair even if nothing has been said.
  • Note: Your willingness to be vulnerable and open about an incident in your own life will be valuable to your child as they make mistakes in their own life.

10) Work to understand WHY you had an affair

You may already know a few reasons why you started your affair. Is it complete? Are you being honest with yourself?

Often, whether or not the person knows it, infidelity is rooted in some kind of brokenness and that brokenness drove you to cheat. Understanding this brokenness and healing it can help you to resolve your affair once and for all. Otherwise, you may choose to make the same choices in the future. Make sure you get to the bottom of the issue before you move on – it’ll help in the long run!

11) Commit to the long process of earning forgiveness and trust

Earning someone’s trust takes a long time. When you break that trust, it can take an extended period of time to regain someone’s forgiveness and then rebuild that trust. Do not insist that your spouse forgives and trusts you immediately. Instead, apologize as often as you witness your spouse’s pain and ask for forgiveness. They desire time to heal and reflect. Be willing to wait for this.

You’ll know they’re progressing when they begin to focus on your present and future together rather than on the past. It may take time and small actions before your spouse feel ready, but together, you can grow in your trust.

12) Invest in qualified coach/counseling (together or alone)

Seek counseling following an affair. A couple’s counselor is one of the ways you can rebuild your marriage. Start as soon as you’re both ready and find a counselor who is experienced in affair recovery. This specialty is necessary because there are some marriage counselors who are not familiar with or are even uncomfortable with the trauma work required with infidelity issues. The right counselor helps to minimize the trauma and encourages you during the process of rebuilding your marriage.

If your spouse refuses to go to counseling, tell them that you want to succeed but cannot do it alone. Take time to each come up with a plan (after doing research) that can help you get through and rebuild your marriage. You should put everything you have into the plan you both come up with but be honest if you don’t think it’s doing enough for you or your marriage. This honesty is what will help you in the end.

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