Do the Work to Fix the Bond
Infidelity is one of the most difficult situations for a couple to overcome—both for the cheater and the cheated on. If you’ve cheated, you’ll no doubt feel immense remorse over your lapse in judgment, and your partner will inevitably feel betrayed.
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In order to move forward, however, you may need to own up to your transgressions and take ownership of your actions—even if doing so will be extremely difficult for all involved. To navigate this often fraught situation, follow this five-step process for taking responsibility and restoring trust in your relationship.
1. Decide if You Need to Come Clean—and Why
Telling your partner that you’ve had an affair will unavoidably be devastating for him or her, and such an admission can potentially be the catalyst for the end of your relationship. That’s why it’s crucial for you to think critically about why you feel the need to tell your partner. If your affair was brief and is now completely over, telling your partner may not be the best option: Your admission may make you feel less guilt, but it will put an emotional burden on your significant other that he or she does not need. Of course, if you’ve been having a long-term affair or you’ve been caught in the act, fessing up is a necessity. Weigh your options and, when it doubt, do what your think is right for your partner, not what’s going to make you feel better.
2. Don’t Make Excuses
There may be a host of reasons why you cheated: Maybe you were stressed at work. Maybe you were feeling neglected by your partner. Maybe you drank too much one night. Making excuses like these, however, won’t change your actions. And outright blaming your partner for your mistake is not taking responsibility for what you did. If you’re going to come clean, do so without trying to justify your behavior.
3. Answer Questions Honestly
Your partner may request (or demand) to hear certain particulars about your affair. While you don’t want to go into explicit detail, it is important that you honor these inquiries and answer candidly. Some of the questions might include: How long did the affair last? Did you love him/her? How many times? Did you bring the person into our home?
4. Give Your Partner Time and Space, as Requested
After hearing that you’ve cheated, your significant other may need to be away from you. Distance provides some healthy space for him or her to grieve, think about and process what you’ve revealed. Try not to press or demand that your partner stay in your home or continue to speak with you about the situation at hand. While the thought of him or her leaving or not wanting to interact will be rough, time and space can be very healing.
5. Take the Necessary Steps to Repair Your Relationship
Show your partner that you are willing to do whatever it takes to restore your bond, if that is indeed the case. This might mean accompanying him or her to couple’s counseling, checking in throughout the night if you go out with friends, or committing to coming home right after work. Whatever it is that your partner requires from you at this time, do it. Your willingness to show him or her that you want to make things right will make all the difference when it comes to mending the damage you’ve done to your bond.