Cheating on your spouse can seriously jeopardize your marriage. Fortunately, however, most marriages survive infidelity. According to the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, infidelity issues are the cause for half of all marriage counseling. If you are willing to accept the consequences of infidelity and make decisions that demonstrate your accountability, you can save your relationship.
The first step is to stop all contact with the affair partner. Even if there is no intent on resuming the extramarital relationship, any relationship with the partner can cause suspicion that infidelity will occur again. Consider stopping any contact with anyone else who might make your partner uncomfortable. If need be, change your phone number and block all forms of contact, including through social media.
Find a Marriage Counselor
Getting marriage counseling will help you and your spouse overcome the affair. A good, licensed marriage counselor will help you both process the infidelity and guide you through recovery. Marriage counselors have no interest in picking sides or passing judgement. They help you and your spouse work toward the goal of saving the marriage.
A heartfelt apology about the damage you have caused can help your spouse's healing process. Consider writing the apology down and then reading it to your spouse. The apology should in no way blame your spouse for the affair, according to clinical psychologist Judith Barnett. Make sure the apology gives no excuses or reasons for cheating and expresses remorse for your actions. Do not use the word "but" after you apologize or add comments; simply say, "I'm sorry."
Work on a personal accountability plan with your spouse. The Relationship Institute suggests choosing from a list of trust-building behaviors that are divided into low cost and high cost. Low-cost behaviors include checking in frequently regarding your whereabouts and limiting overnight travel. High-cost behaviors include admitting any temptation to cheat again and quitting your job if you worked with the affair partner. Let your partner have a say in what accountability steps to take.
Accept the Consequences
There are always consequences to cheating on your spouse, so be prepared to accept them if you truly are remorseful. Consequences may include a lack of intimacy, separate living, expressions of anger and a general mistrust toward you regarding issues other than infidelity. The consequences might be painful to deal with, but your acceptance of them can demonstrate that you understand how the infidelity has hurt your spouse. This may help your spouse heal as you both work to recover your relationship.
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