This is presuming of course that you’re still alive after the wife totted a rifle over your head as you flee the scene of your crime, knowing the right words to say can determine the outcome of your marriage. What and how you say it can certainly bring perspective to the situation and determine whether or not your wife will take you back or use you for target practice. In the unlikely event that she does indeed find your explanations worthy of gunfire, it is best to keep your peace and let the storm pass by.
The aftermath of an affair has been always a painful time for all parties concerned. Your cheating will always hurt your wife and make her very angry while you will have a lot to explain about the destructive behavior that brought about the betrayal. With self-esteem and trust at stake, the reasons that may have motivated you to stray from the reservation will always be of interest to your wife.
To tell or not to tell
“I’m sorry. I know I was wrong” – After the shock of the initial discovery, this is a time where you and your wife may decide to get counseling to deal with strong emotions that are naturally the result of the affair and the implications the affair has for both of you, the marriage and the family. Unsaid or unresolved hurt can surface and this phase can involve a lot of blame between you and your wife. It is therefore important to focus on issues that will determine the future of the marriage like cutting off contact with the lover, a commitment to future honesty and marital integrity and to offer a sincere apology.
“I practiced safe sex. But I’m willing to get a check up.” – ”You may have to deal with the issue of sexually transmitted disease and answer legitimate questions regarding whether or not you engaged in safe sex. For the peace of mind of you and your wife, you should be willing to take an AIDS or STD test.
“I had an affair with _________.” – The more complicated issue at this point is how to answer your wife’s wish to know the particular details of your affair. There are experts who insist that complete and explicit honesty be observed. This is good advice, but this should be subject, however, to what you wish to accomplish. Is it merely to unload your guilt or is it with the intention of making your marriage stronger?
Confessing your guilt is a selfish as well as unwise decision which can cost you in the long run. You have just unloaded your guilt on someone who now has to go through the process of grieving for what is lost and take the steps in rebuilding. Good intentions does not necessarily bring about good outcomes and but bad intentions always bring about the worst.
If it is based upon a sincere wish to build your relationship, then you should go about establishing the practical things that make telling the truth easier. Consider the time and place, prepare your partner for your eventual disclosure, be descriptive rather than evaluative about the affair, expect the worst and resist the urge to defend yourself.
What to expect after you have a tell all
Confessing your indiscretion, in almost every case, is always the best decision. If you don’t own up to your mistakes, both you and your spouse won’t be able to move on.
But wait, this course of action is not for the faint of heart. Once you confess, get ready for a lot of pain on both sides. Not only will you hurt your wife but your wife may likely unload on you too. She may lash out and attack you and even get even with you by cheating with someone else. Grovel if you have to but there is no other way except to accept that you have hurt your wife and she is entitled to feel the anger of your betrayal. At this point, both of you may want to get counseling and assess the state of things.
If both of you are willing, you can review the marriage from the start and try to understand what happened.
Rebuilding what has been broken
After your efforts in coming off clean, your wife cannot sit on the fence forever or play a non-committal about the future of your partnership. She too has to move on from her past anger and hurt and analyze her role in what contributed to the underlying causes of the affair. Hopefully, she is less obsessed with the affair by this time and will focus on the big picture of the marriage and work towards forgiving you and herself.
Whether or not your marriage will survive this storm will depend on both your decision to stick together and make your marriage work. While it may be premature for your wife to forgive you immediately, the goal of forgiveness and letting go should be introduced at this stage. Time heals all wounds.
Without assigning guilt or blame, both of you, with the help of a therapist, should be able to solve the problems that have led to your infidelity and find the resolve to do things differently in the future.