This is one part of my guide for how to survive an affair. This post is meant for the spouse who was unfaithful. Here is the matching part of the guide: concrete steps you can take to survive an affair when your spouse was unfaithful.
You can learn how to survive an affair
Can your marriage can survive your affair? Can your spouse learn how to survive an affair? The answer is yes, but it requires hard work from both of you.
You must be willing to break off the the affair. You need to come clean, completely transparently about the affair. You will need to work to regain your spouse’s trust. (Your spouse has work to do too. Read here for details.)
If you betrayed your spouse but are committed to rebuilding trust, to healing, here are concrete steps to help your marriage survive the affair.
The steps described here can give your marriage a pretty good chance of surviving and even growing stronger.
Break It Off
Go cold turkey now. No dates. No meetings. No coffee breaks. No phone calls. No texting. No communications.
Breaking off the relations immediately will create a palpable sense of relief for both of you as you no longer have to hide and conceal. Stopping all contact with your lover is the first step in creating a safe space for your spouse to start moving back towards you.
If you and your lover, now ex-lover, work together, you can have no “private space”. No meetings behind closed doors or over lunch. Keep all interactions business only.
Report Any Communications
If you former lover tries to contact you, tell your spouse right away. If you do encounter the person with whom you committed the betrayal (and if you work together it may not be possible to totally avoid each other), report the meeting to your spouse before you are asked. Tell your spouse about the conversation.
Come Clean About the Affair
It will be uncomfortable, but answer all questions completely and openly. Studies indicate that spouses reconcile and build stronger relationships when the partner who committed the betrayal was honest and forthcoming.
“I’ve talked with plenty of people who say with pride that they never talked about the affair,” she says. “That’s not healing. You need to reach the point where you can talk about it without pain. If you never, ever discuss it, you cannot recover.
Peggy Vaughan, author of The Monogamy Myth: A Personal Handbook for Recovering from Affairs
Your willingness to answer questions, even questions that make you feel uncomfortable, is part of the process that rebuilds trust. Do not hold back. No more secrets. Every detail that you don’t mention may surface later and create, anew, feelings of betrayal.
Your spouse is and will experience a whole range of emotions. No matter what happens, show empathy.
The single best step that you can take in following this guide for how to survive an affair is to show as much empathy as you possibly can for your spouse. You inflicted pain on your spouse and you need to show empathy.
Patience – Keep At It
The healing process takes time and there is nothing that you can do to make it go faster. Keep talking, keep listening, and keep showing empathy. Don’t slip into anger at your spouse. You will need to keep answering questions openly and honestly for an indefinite period. Be prepared that healing the wounds will take months and likely years to fully heal.
The path to full reconciliation will not be quick and it will not be easy. It is very likely that you inflicted serious pain. You should expect tears, rage, and anger. Embrace it, and keep in mind that your relationship can emerge stronger than you can imagine.
Take Responsibility for Your Actions
Own up to your responsibility. If you regret the affair, you need to show it. Don’t be afraid to apologize more than once. Be prepared to promise and swear never to be unfaithful again. You spouse has reason for concern that you will stray in the future and you need to be prepared to address that fear.
You can blame your spouse, but blame will not heal. Blame will not renew your relationship. Instead, focus your energies on assuring your spouse that you are totally committed to the relationship.