How To Tell Your Spouse You Cheated

how to confess infidelityIf you used the ever popular Ashley Madison site you may soon be busted. Hackers have gained access to millions of names and they are threatening releasing these names to the public if the site isn’t shut down.  Ashley Madison makes millions of dollars a year. They aren’t closing shop, so if there is a possibility your name is on the list, you need to know your spouse may soon be finding out.  If you want to save your marriage, there are steps you can take to increase your chances.

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If your name could be on that list, you are probably tempted to wait and see if the news will go public.  Why tell the truth, risk your marriage and cause your spouse all this pain if there is even a remote possibility the names won’t be shared?

I can give you two reasons why you need to confess your infidelity:

  1. If you want any hope of saving your marriage, this is your next best move and
  2. You have a fairly good chance of being caught whether your name is leaked or not.  Secrets have a way of being found.

If your name is on that list…I’m sorry.  I’m sorry you are probably having to worry and stress that your spouse, family, friends and coworkers could find out about your actions. Of course, being found out is always a potential consequence to having an affair. But this kind of very public revelation is going to be painful for everyone involved.  I’m also sorry you chose an affair over confronting the issues that you made vulnerable in this way to begin with.

Having an affair doesn’t have to be the end of your marriage.

If you think your name could be on that list, you need to prepare your spouse and yourself for the fallout.  I’ve outlined some steps to help you navigate this process.

If you’ve used Ashley Madison to have an affair, here’s what to do next:

Step 1:
Immediately close your Ashley Madison account and delete any emails, texts or pictures. If you have a secret email address, close the account.  This isn’t to hide information from your spouse.  This is to keep your spouse from stumbling onto explicit information that can never be unread or unseen.  I’ve worked with many clients in this situation and it is much harder to get past an affair when this level of detail has been shared.

Step 2:
Get ready for questions. You need to be ready to answer the questions that will invariably come.  Your spouse is going to want to know who, how many, where and for how long (and many, many others). It is critical that you are honest and up front from the beginning BUT do not give any graphic details about any encounters with your affair partner.  Don’t be belligerent.

If your spouse asks these kinds of intimate questions, tell him/her you feel this information would only hurt them further.  If they persist. tell them you want to seek advice from a marriage counselor before saying anymore.

Above all, do not lie or deceive to try and minimize damage.  This will only come back to bite you.  I’ve seen it too many times.  Answer honestly and respectfully and if it is a question you aren’t sure whether to answer, be honest about that and why.  When your spouse asks you WHY you did it, do not say anything that remotely sounds like your spouse is to blame. No matter how nagging. mean, neglectful, sexless or thoughtless your spouse may be, you could have chosen anything else besides an affair. Take ownership for your choices.

Step 3:
Be prepared for a wide range of emotions from your spouse. Expect sadness. grief. confusion. anger, hurt and fear.  Your spouse will need time to process this news and what they need from you now is patience, honesty. compassion and remorse.  If your spouse lashes out at you with hurtful words and accusations, do not lash back.  Do not try and justify the affair in any way.  Expect questions to continue for weeks and months. Your job is to stay patient and be honest.

Step 4:
Confess. Your spouse deserves to find out from you–not the internet.  If you wait for the perfect time to have this conversation, you will never have it.  This is obviously a delicate situation.  Tell your spouse you need to talk and find a quiet, private place where you will not be interrupted by kids or the phone.

Do not have this conversation in a public place and do not have it where the kids can even possibly hear you.  The best way to have this conversation is to simply state what happened.  Don’t backtrack or try set this up with long explanations.  Simply tell your spouse you have had an affair.  And tell them why you are telling them now.  Your spouse needs to know this news could be public knowledge.

Step 5:
Accountability.  Expect there to be at least 3-6 months of complete transparency.  Give your spouse all your passwords and access to your phone.  Tell your spouse where you are at all times before they ask you. You have lost your right to privacy for the time being but remember this is only temporary.

Step 6:
Seek help. I strongly advise you get professional help at this point.  See an experienced marriage counselor who can help you both navigate the difficult days ahead.  Make sure you choose a pro marriage or “marriage friendly” therapist who will help you strengthen and restore your relationship.  I also recommend Getting Past The Affair as a resource.

Seek Professional Help

You haven’t made the best choices in the past, but be strong and courageous now.  I sincerely wish you the very best as you fight for your marriage.  Our counselors and coaches are expertly trained to help you get through this.  We are here to help.  Just give us a call at 972-441-4432 or contact us by email.

Can I Forgive My Spouse?

Forgiveness CoupleIf you are married, you have to learn how to forgive.  It is impossible to live with another human being for very long without someone getting hurt. But sometimes we are faced with a situation that goes far beyond the normal day-to-day grievances…like an affair.

Forgiveness is tricky business.  You know you should do it and it is good for you.  But sometimes it just seems impossible to achieve, especially if there has been significant pain.  If you find yourself obsessing about the injury (as often happens with an affair), forgiveness can seem unreachable.  Once you have experienced betrayal on such a personal level, it’s very hard to stop thinking about what your spouse did and wondering how he/she could do something like that to you.  A good counselor or coach can help you learn techniques to stop allowing those intrusive thoughts and images into your every waking moment.

But sometimes people withhold forgiveness for other reasons.  I’ve listed some of them below.

  1. You want to punish the person.
  2. You associate forgiveness with reconciliation and you aren’t ready to go there.
  3. You view forgiveness as a weakness and retaliating makes you feel stronger and less like a victim.
  4. You have to highlight your partner’s wrongness as proof of your rightness.

Not forgiving can you make you feel powerful and more in control but that is only an illusion.  Anger just flames inside you and can energize you…which feels so much better than the hurt or shame you feel when someone wrongs you.  But over time, the anger and resentment will cut you off from healthy relationships and from life.

Forgiveness does not mean letting the offender off the hook.  You can still hold them responsible for their actions.  You can still protect yourself from further abuse. Forgiveness allows you to accept what happened to you as an unfortunate (even tragic) event but then allows you rise up and take ownership for your own well-being.  It means you can negotiate new terms for the relationship or even, if necessary, to end the relationship.

For some of us, forgiveness is complicated by spiritual beliefs.  We are taught we must forgive to free ourselves.  But it’s really important to understand that forgiveness does not mean you accept a hollow apology and then act as if nothing ever happened.  If your offender is apologetic, it may be easier to forgive if they are willing to do the work of earning forgiveness.  If your partner has had an affair, part of the act of forgiveness is rebuilding trust.  This includes being transparent and willing to check in and give reassurances.

But you have to come to terms with the offense before you can focus on forgiveness otherwise it is “cheap forgiveness” and that doesn’t work for anyone.  Cheap forgiveness will leak out resentment, bitterness and accusation at every new offense or reminder of the pain.

I saw a client recently whose husband had an affair more than 20 years ago.  This client refused to forgive because the offense was too great.  She also refused to come to terms with the pain over all these years.  By the time she came to me, she was struggling with depression and bitterness.  But she is blossoming after just a few weeks of working together!  She is learning why she refused forgiveness and she is now holding her husband accountable in healthy and appropriate ways.  She has not yet made the decision whether to reconcile or not.  But she has already made great strides in becoming happier and more content with herself.

Don’t allow unforgiveness or cheap forgiveness to weigh down your genuine, authentic self.  We can help you sort through all the complicated layers and find peace again.  Call us at 972-441-4432.  We would love to help!