Admitting to a spouse that you have been cheating on him or her, is one of the most difficult things to do in a marriage. This is because you are admitting to have broken the bond of trust which forms the basic building block of a marriage or any committed relationship for that matter.
However, no relationship can survive on continued duplicity and deceit. So while the admission of infidelity can cause your marriage to take an unexpected turn, it is much better to come clean. Confessing to your spouse not only shows that for all your weaknesses, you ultimately respect your marriage, but also that you have the personal courage to admit that you made a mistake. Here is how to you can admit to an affair and finally do the right thing by your marriage.
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First be honest with yourself
Consider why you want to confess to have crossed the line in your marriage. Is it because you have been unhappy in the relationship and would like to use this opportunity to announce your decision to walk out? Or is it because you feel miserable about your infidelity and would like to save your marriage? The substance of your confession would depend on what you want from your marriage and what would eventually make you happy.
Admit to your mistake
A marriage is sacrament of trust between two willing people – a bond of mutual love and respect. Even if you take the arid legal view, it is still a contract entered into between two parties, with attendant rights and obligations. So accept that in having an extramarital affair, you have transgressed according to the personal, social as well as legal views of marriage. When confessing to your spouse about your affair, be prepared to admit that it was wrong of you to break the bond of mutual faith and love. Don’t offer any excuses for your action or justify them by dragging in other issues related to your spouse or your marriage.
While confessing to your spouse, show that you are ready and mature enough to bear the responsibility for your transgressions. Don’t whine that the other person seduced you into the affair or that it was just a one-night stand and doesn’t really mean anything. Also be wary of twisting the facts, since the truth will come out sooner or later and if you have decided to confess, you might as well do it thoroughly. Moreover avoid putting the responsibility of your affair on any issues that your marriage may be facing, whether real or perceived. This is because no matter how serious the sources of marital conflict, having an extra-marital affair is just not the way to go about solving them.
Understand your partner’s reactions
Listening to a confession of an affair from a spouse is likely to send any husband or wife through a tumult of emotions. Even though your spouse may have long suspected you of cheating on him or her, being faced with an open admission is a confirmation of all their deepest fears. How your spouse reacts to your confession will depend on his or her personality. He or she may seem to take it calmly at first, only to explode on a later occasion. Or your spouse may break into a torrent of tears while hurling accusations and breaking your best china. Consider how you would feel had the boot been on the other foot, and try to take your spouse’s reactions as calmly as you can.
Listen to your spouse’s questions
After the initial storm has worn away, your spouse may throw a barrage of questions on what led you to have an affair. Weren’t you happy in the marriage and how did your spouse fall short of your expectations? How is the other person better than your spouse – is he/she more attractive, smarter or richer? Don’t avoid the questions or worse dismiss them as being unimportant or irrelevant. An honest answer is the least you owe your spouse. However, if you are already emotionally exhausted, say that you would like to discuss these matters later, when you both are more collected. Or if you are not yourself sure what led you to the affair, say so. It is not always possible to be certain of the causes of an affair. In any case, acknowledge your spouse’s questions as valid and assure him or her that you will be able to make things clearer when you can understand them better.
Be prepared for changes
Once you have confessed to your extra-marital affair, understand that it is now your spouse’s call. He or she may react immediately or take a decision after some long and hard thinking. Your spouse may feel it necessary to take a brief break from the relationship to think things over or may right away start looking for a divorce lawyer. On the other hand he or she may consider giving you another chance and decide to remain together, but only if there are certain fresh ground rules in the marriage. Again, it is only natural that your confession leads to changes in your spouse’s attitude towards you. He or she is likely to feel angry, hurt and betrayed and will probably be cold and distant towards you for some time to come. Accept that your spouse needs time and space to think matters over and arrive at a decision.
The very thought of confessing an affair to your spouse and facing his or her reaction may seem unbearable to you and even tempt you to let things as they are. But remember that it is much better that you come clean rather than someone else carrying the news of your infidelity to your partner. Moreover, it will give you an opportunity to say sorry for all that you have put your marriage and your spouse through and perhaps it will mark the first step towards regaining your partner’s faith and love.