our everyday life

How to Ask for Forgiveness for Cheating

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Experts are divided about whether or not to tell your spouse that you cheated, notes Dr. Tina Read, author of “If You Cheated, Should You Tell?” on the hitched.com website. She believes that deciding to disclose the transgression is a personal matter and should consider all parties who are affected by the confession, including family and friends. If you tell, realize that your spouse has control over her reaction.

Coming Clean

In an interview with the "Huffington Post," Dr. Scott Haltzman, psychiatrist and author of "The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity," suggests that answering all the questions your spouse has can be the best option if you are going to tell and want to hang on to your marriage. He also suggests telling your spouse at home, where any emotional outburst will be honest and real, instead of trying to keep it together in a public place. Haltzman notes that you have no control over how your spouse responds or the outcome of your admission.

Own It

If you are willing to come clean and ask for forgiveness, you need to take full responsibility for your actions, says Dr. Stephen Diamond, Ph.D., in an article for "Psychology Today." Don’t try to pass the blame on to your spouse or berate him for his reaction. You need to resolve the issues you have in the marriage, and that won’t happen if you refuse to take responsibility for cheating. Dr. John Grohol, psychologist and founder of PsychCentral, writes that cheating indicates you have lost respect for your spouse and any hope for the relationship, so you need to deal with your disrespect and decide if you have anything positive to give to the relationship.

The Next Step

Be very clear that you are honestly sorry and have no intention of slipping again if you want to remain in the relationship, advises Dr. Diamond. You might find that the issues that led to infidelity are serious enough to seek professional help from a marriage or family therapist to help rebuild the lost trust. Some partners are so hurt by the betrayal of trust that nothing will salvage the situation, but others might be willing to work on the relationship if you are willing to enter counseling.


Put lots of time and energy into your relationship to prove on a day-by-day basis that your spouse can trust you, says Dr.Gary Neuman, a licensed psychotherapist, rabbi, and the author of "The Truth about Cheating." He suggests that you schedule a weekly date where you focus on what originally brought you together. Consult a counselor and follow your apology with genuine acts of consideration and making amends. Listen to your spouse and realize what your infidelity has done to the relationship and to people around you. Realize that whatever pop and sizzle you got from the affair isn’t worth it if you want to maintain your marriage.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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