There will never be a “perfect time” to confess your affair to your spouse. But there will always be a right way and wrong way in which to do it.
And we’re certainly not giving you these tips on how to confess so that you can go out and repeat the same mistakes again. And these tips are not going to get you off the hook either…you have some serious consequences to face.
But if you’re serious about saving your marriage and repairing the damage that you have caused, then you must be willing to put in the work. And one of the first things you must do is come clean. Dr. George James, licensed marriage and family therapist and BMWK Infidelity expert, says the following about coming clean:
“The details need to come out. The information needs to come out. Everything must come out. You have to be able to come clean. That is really important. And this is mainly for the person that has betrayed trust. If you’re going to rebuild trust, rebuild the relationship and go through the healing process, everything must come out. Because once again, we don’t want to start doing this work to recover and repair your marriage, and then a few months later, we find out more information, because it destroys everything that we’ve built from now until that point. And then it becomes even harder to rebuild trust because it was broken from the past and now there’s a second or third time. So we have to start off by coming clean.”
So here are some guidelines to assist you with coming clean and rebuilding your marriage:
Select a time and place where you have plenty of privacy and plenty of time.
Be sensitive to kids being home (do this ONLY when kids are NOT home), to someone having to leave for an appointment, or to other people overhearing you – these are all bad scenarios for this type of discussion. It’s better to have the kids visiting family or friends. They need to be shielded from this conversation and experience. And do not wait till late night when emotions aren’t as stable due to the day’s stresses. Also, don’t go out to a restaurant thinking that being in a public place might lighten the response. This is a private matter and should be handled privately.
Give the disclaimer you are about to talk about something very important but very painful.
Tell your spouse that you have only one motive for sharing and no other – you desire nothing more than to save your marriage. Remember this because you’re likely to hear the following…“Did you tell me just to hurt me?” “Did you tell me so I would divorce you so you could be with her?” When those questions come, do not defensive. Calmly repeat as often and as gently as needed, “I told you because I love you, and I’m truly sorry for what I did, and desperately want to save our marriage.”
Use simple language in as few words as possible.
This is not a time for long stories and CERTAINLY not the time to say anything that even remotely resembles justifying what you have done. Begin with, “I’m so very sorry” and then tell the basics. At the beginning and at every point where it is needed, say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I will do whatever it takes to make this marriage work.” Let your spouse’s questions guide the conversation.
Do not defend your behavior in any way.
Part of “manning up” is taking the anger, hurt, resentment, and such without reacting in any way other than to understand. Your spouse has a right to be angry and to say some things that you don’t want to hear. Tolerate it. You started this by having the affair; now you take the consequences.
In no way say anything that appears to defend the other person. Even if your spouse is calling him/her all sorts of terrible names, this is not the time to disagree. Let your spouse vent without having any doubt that you understand the pain and that you are not in any way on anyone’s side but theirs.
Stay in this conversation as long as your spouse wishes it to continue.
If it appears that violence is going to take place, then of course you should end the conversation and remove yourself. Otherwise, continue as long as your spouse needs to talk. Repeat, every so often, how sorry you are, that you have no justification, that you are seeking forgiveness, and that you want to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work if he/she is willing.
Don’t talk about it be about it!
Understand that you are in no position to make any demands!
Don’t say “you have to forgive me”, because your spouse really does not. If you truly are sincere and truly want to save your marriage, take whatever grace and mercy is offered and do not demand more. Give your spouse time heal from this. It will likely take months or even years to heal.
For at least six months – maybe longer – make sure that your spouse always knows where you are, what you are doing, and the like. Account for every penny. Give your wife complete and total access to all emails, Facebook accounts, cell phones, or anything else she may ask for to give her peace of mind. While no one can live forever under such scrutiny, you can and should live that way for a while as your spouse rebuilds trust in you. This is exactly how trust gets rebuilt so do NOT compromise or minimize the significance of this action…be accountable.
Be proactive in making your marriage better.
See a counselor together, but make sure that counselor shares your beliefs and values and will work to strengthen your marriage. Read books together. Most importantly, make time to talk — really talk — with each other so that you can build a new methodology of communication that will draw you closer.
Building anything (especially a broken marriage) takes time, effort and lots of determination. If you willing to this and implement all of the above strategies in good healthy dosages, then there is no reason why you can’t experience true LOVE After Adultery!