Re: I'm Ready To Own What I've Done
Your betrayal was not a mistake but a series of bad choices. So if you choose to confess to your husband, don't you dare use the word "mistake" to refer to your betrayal.
Mistake: An act committed without any knowledge of a possible negative outcome.
Bad Choice: An act committed with awareness of the possible negative outcome but deciding to ignore it or hoping for the best.
Read the following to help you prepare to help your husband after you confess your betrayal.
"How to Rebuild Your Spouse's Trust After an Affair"
#1 Stop lying or making excuses for your actions. If the victim spouse presents evidence of the affair, own up to it. You need to understand that the worst thing that could happen has already occurred. You were dishonest and unfaithful. Therefore, continuing to lie, twist, or deny is simply adding insult to injury. If you are looking your spouse in the eye and claiming to want the marriage to work then you cannot continue to lie about various odds and ends. You have been lying to your spouse for the entire duration of the affair; therefore, if you continue to lie now, it sets the reconciliation process way back. ''The victim spouse likely knows the answers to the questions they are asking, or can usually find out, so if you are interested in rebuilding trust in the relationship, '''STOP LYING'''.'' If your spouse discovers later - either on purpose or by accident - that you have lied about or left out salient details, they will likely never trust you again. Your only hope of regaining their trust is to give them the truth wholesale, and thus demonstrate your commitment to being honest with them, even about things that might hurt them. You are kidding yourself if you think you are protecting your spouse by "omitting" certain truths. If you had wanted to protect your spouse, you never would have allowed them to get hurt in the first place.
#2 Be around. While emotional availability in the days, weeks, and even months following the discovery of your affair is of the '''utmost importance''', keep in mind that ''you can only be emotionally available when you're around.'' Understand that, left alone, your spouse's thoughts will begin to eat away at them - they will have questions you are not there to answer, torment themselves with images you cannot dispel, and invent suspicions your absence will only worsen. ''Paranoia is only natural during this time''; in fact, it can hardly be called paranoia, as '''they are right to mistrust you - you have betrayed them deeply'''. Being around to answer their questions and soothe their thoughts will keep them from building up and causing future explosions down the road. If it is possible, this may be a good time to take some time away from your normal "alone" activities to spend with your spouse. If you can't be with them physically, keep your phone on whenever possible to answer their calls, and allow them as much access to you as they need. Depending on your spouse's temperament, you may need to respect their desire for time alone, but you need to keep ''yourself'' available to ''them.''
#3 DO NOT get defensive or assign blame. This is not the time to employ the old adage of “the best defense is a good offense.” This is the time to be contrite/regretful, remorseful, empathetic, compassionate, honest, and emotionally available. Do not say anything which will give the impression that the victim spouse drove you to cheat, or in any way contributed to your behavior. There will be plenty of time to pass the blame around later on during counseling sessions, or during times of productive conversation with your mate. Additionally, DO NOT waste time blaming the affair on anyone or anything else. DO NOT point the finger toward temptation, being under the influence or falling prey to a stalker or that he/she was someone that you came in contact with at work or via a friend. '''You should have no room for excuses anymore.''' Telling your spouse you did not realize what was happening is not only bogus, it devalues the victim spouse. The victim spouse will see right through these excuses and will view this as another attempt to keep them in the dark while you continue playing them for a fool. The best way to effectively deal with your spouse's anger, and start the process of rebuilding trust, is to ''take complete and full ownership of your own selfishness, immaturity, or basic destructive marital behavior.'' '''Remind yourself that it is quite possible that the victim spouse was enduring similar feelings of unhappiness or frustration, but instead made a conscious decision not to betray you.''
#4 Treat your spouse as if they are the very center of your world. While you should do this anyway, it is of ''monumental importance'' that you focus on this IMMEDIATELY following the discovery of the affair. This is a critical time in the recovery of your relationship; '''dedicate yourself to it.''' Being cheated on will make your spouse feel rejected, unimportant, and decidedly less than "special." Regardless of your reasons or given situation, your spouse will be under the rightful impression that you have chosen someone over them, which is a difficult thing for them to face after years of thinking they were the most important person in your life.'This is especially true if you were involved in a long term relationship.'Giving your spouse your full attention during this time will help them to regain the feelings of importance in your life, and will go a long way towards convincing them that you are unlikely to choose somebody over them again.'' If you can, also show and tell to other people and the world even more how much you care or love your spouse in order to help the victim spouse overcome all the humiliation and hurt this burden may have caused.
#5 CUT any and ALL possible ties with the other man/woman. Keeping a person in your life with whom you have had an affair is like trying to put toothpaste back into the tube. Not only is this a confusing message to the other person, ''it is also EXTREMELY DISRESPECTFUL to your spouse.'' It does not matter if you have known this other man/woman since kindergarten, or have to see this person at work. It is time to break those ties. '''Do what you must to avoid any contact.''' Convincing yourself that you need to talk to them to 'break it off' only communicates that their feelings, not your spouse's, are what you are most concerned about. Once you have allowed another individual to permeate, invade or undermine your marital union, there is no place for this person in your life. ''You simply cannot expect your victim spouse to move past the affair as long as you continue communicating with, seeing, or having any type of relationship with this other man/woman.'' '''It is in fact an insult''' to the intelligence of your current spouse for you to say that you can maintain a professional, platonic, or otherwise innocent relationship with this ''destructive individual''. Furthermore, '''because this person had an affair with a married man/woman, most likely they have absolutely NO RESPECT for your marriage.''' Continuing to work with, hang out with, email or chat with this person is probably the single worst possible thing to do if you are wanting to repair your marriage.
#6 Your life MUST be an open book. ''You no longer have the '''luxury''' of coming and going as you please.'' Once you have ''abused'' that privilege, ''it takes a while and a whole lot of effort to get it back.'' Therefore, if you will be late coming home from work, or have had a change in plans, inform your spouse. Every time you leave the house your spouse is now wondering if you are going where you say you are going. The best way to ease their insecurities is to check in throughout the day. Invite your spouse places you usually go alone like to the game, the gym or the mall. Let your spouse know that you have nothing to hide. Additionally, do not hide your cell phone or set the ringer on silent. If your spouse requests, give them your email and voice mail pass codes. In fact, if you have nothing to hide then offer your spouse the codes without them having to ask. Don't lock your cell phone, call log or address book. Offer to let your spouse see your phone bills, and keep the credit card or bank statements in plain view on the kitchen table. ''Although your spouse may never choose to check these things, the simple fact that you made them available for his/her perusal will be a HUGE step in regaining their trust.'' Although you may feel as though some of these are a violation of your privacy, you need to know that these steps are absolutely NECESSARY if you are trying to rebuild trust. Saying that you are on the straight and narrow while continuing to hide your cell phone or spending is counterproductive to your stated goal of wanting to rebuild your marriage.
#7 Be prepared to answer any and all questions about information that your spouse has a legitimate right to know. Your spouse is going to want lots of details and ask questions about things you may not want to answer, but too bad. Your spouse is going to cross reference your prior stories and ask you to confirm if “this” or “that” was a lie. You simply need to fess up. ''The worse thing you can do is to conceal information because you don't want to hurt your spouse.'' Remember, they have already been '''hurt beyond belief''', so continuing to withhold additional information gives the appearance of an attempt to continue the ''deception''. Your spouse needs to get a general understanding of how intense the relationship was, and how long it lasted. Although this may be one of the most difficult steps in the process, it is one of the most important. It is extremely difficult for a betrayed spouse to know that there is another man/woman in the world who has more information about their marriage then themselves. That there are people that know about that relationship and may be talking about your marriage. Therefore, asking multiple questions helps the betrayed spouse get up to speed, thus obtaining necessary information to deal with feelings of being in the dark while their spouse was gallivanting or mooching around with their lover/relationship.
#8 '''Do not ever''' attempt to dictate the length of time the victim spouses recovery should take. You are the one who brought the outsider into the marriage, and therefore, '''you are in no position to dictate when the victim spouse should be “over it”.''' The truth of the matter is, the victim spouse will never fully be “over it”, but may simply learn how to mentally move past the affair. When a person is hurting, they typically share their pain with the closest person to them. As their spouse, you are the one they will vent to, even though it is you that caused the pain. Additionally, you may feel as though since you've confessed, apologized and vowed to remain faithful, things should now return to normal. That is simply NOT the case. '''One of the worst things that can happen is for the adulterous spouse to begin acting as though its “business as usual”.''' Deciding to remain in a relationship after your spouse has cheated is a '''Major decision''' and one which can be both '''very humiliating and enormously stressful.''' ''DO NOT downplay the GREAT MAGNITUDE of that decision by behaving as though nothing happened.'' '''For the next few years''', the adulterous spouse '''needs''' to periodically wrap their arms around their mate, kiss them, and THANK them for another chance. Additionally, 'acknowledge' how much you hurt your spouse, how difficult it must be for them to get over the pain, and '''vow to do whatever necessary to make things better…forever.''' Although it may seem as though such actions will revive the pain, that is simply not the case. ''Acknowledging the degree of pain you put your spouse through, and expressing appreciation for another chance'', gives the victim spouse the impression that you not only are mindful of their pain, but that as long as you are aware of their struggle to overcome the ordeal, you will be less likely to make such awful choices again in the future.
#9 Choose your battles wisely. Keep in mind that now is not necessarily the time to pick fights over certain topics, particularly those related to privacy and possessiveness. Your spouse is feeling betrayed and frightened; it is only natural for them in this state to project those fears onto situations that bear (in their mind) any resemblance to your affair. If a random stranger flirts with you, or buys you a drink at a bar, and your spouse becomes agitated, remember that your spouse has an '''understandable right''' to this possessiveness; you have shaken their feelings of security in the relationship, and it is openness and understanding that will gain this back, not combativeness and arguments. ''Rather than angrily asserting your rights, you will do much better to gain their trust by assuring them of their importance to you and soothing their bruised ego and wounded heart with compliments and understanding.''
#10 '''Do not''' behave inappropriately or create future problems. Don't put yourself in situations which will cause your victim spouse undue stress. Putting your friends before your spouse, joining singles website, spending time with friends of opposite sex, or available singles, and forming relationships with them, is certainly not wise. Even with work relationships keep the conversations to a minimum, remember that this is how relationships begin or cross messages are sent. ''It is extremely selfish and disrespectful to your spouse.'' Additionally, make your spouse aware when you anticipate coming into contact with the other man/woman. If you suspect the other man/woman might be at the holiday party, let your spouse know in advance. Also, if you run into, or have contact with, the other man/woman unexpectedly, let your spouse know as soon as possible. Nothing is worse than finding out about contact with the other man/woman that the victim spouse did not know about. It gives the impression of further secrecy and deception. Trust me, it won't hurt your spouse to know the other man/woman is contacting you as much as it will hurt them to discover you hid that information. ''Believe me, during this time of broken trust, full disclosure is always the best route.''
#11 Use this '''opportunity''' to create a new relationship with your spouse. Be open to opportunities to bring each other closer together. Remember that your spouse now views your relationship as broken, and they're right to think so. The key, then, is to forge a new relationship in as many ways as possible. '' Finding new places to spend time and share activities together will help this.'' Make sure that he or she and everyone around you (i.e.family, friends, children) can see that your spouse means the world to you and is NOW being put first in your life. '''Speak highly of your spouse in a genuine way, being careful to protect their reputation when you speak to others'''--talking badly about them behind their backs is ''not only a BIG MISTAKE but also BAD BEHAVIOR'' (it may also reflect badly on you as their spouse). You and your spouse (and your children) are one family that must always protect, support, and lift each other up all the time especially from strangers and NOT the other way around. This may even be an opportunity, in the fullness of time and once the recovery process is very well on its way, to renew your wedding vows. Help your partner to see that you have created something new, stronger, and therefore not threatened by the sins of your past or the likelihood of future infidelities.
"This cat and mouse game of security is such that the mice will win in the end, but the cats will be well-fed in the meantime." Bruce Schneier Links