Caught Cheating? Now What? You’ve just discovered your husband/wife is having an affair. What do you do now? Confess or deny? As a Marriage Counselor, I see couples whose spouse has just been caught cheating and are at a crossroads in either being able to minimize or worsen the situation by continuing to lie, become defensive and skirt around the subject digging a deeper hole for themselves. Don’t let yourself get caught up in delaying disclosure (coming clean) as what may seem like “damage control” (continued lying) only prevents the necessary information from getting through the initial crisis for any kind of successful Affair Recovery. If you don’t come clean at the beginning the story you tell will change daily as your partner will continue to push for more information to confirm their findings. As you receive more pressure you’ll start to divulge the truth anyway and the incriminating facts become significantly damaging and even irreparable for redeveloping trust. Coming clean sooner rather than later may sound counterintuitive but is really the best prognosis for Affair Recovery. Scary as it may be.
When you’ve just found out your wife/husband is cheating on you it is important not to do anything impulsive as you are experiencing a range of emotions and acting them out inappropriately can cause further damage to your mental well-being and to your relationship. Instead, try and manage your feelings and temperament while utilizing some of these helpful tips.
1. Be truthful. – My clients often tell me that had the Affair Partner been 100% truthful and fully incriminated themselves from the beginning of the discovery, the relationship could have been saved. Surprisingly, the Hurt Partner can endure the pain of hearing the awful truths but cannot and will not endure the agony of having to dig for those truths over and over again.
2. Caretake your partner’s needs. – Typically after getting caught, the Affair Partner will create even more damage by taking care of the hurt feelings of their Lover as this person may also be distraught and devastated as they too are now in a crisis. Any attempts to comfort or continue to communicate with the Lover will be seen as further betrayal. It is important to show remorse, be transparent, be readily available for your partner and show empathy for them rather than continue to defend yourself or caretake your own feelings at this point.
3. Be committed to finding out what went wrong. – Acknowledge the impact of what this has done to your partner and show commitment through your behavior that you want to understand why this happened. Find a Marriage Counselor or Couples Counselor that specializes in Affair Recovery so that you both know what is needed to repair your relationship.
4. Develop Empathy for your partner. – Having empathy for your partner is imperative as it shows you are able to understand their anger, intense sadness, hurt, and loss even though you are struggling with your own feelings of shame, guilt, and fear. Knowing you are caretaking the needs of and showing empathy for your partner will help you avoid saying things like, “I’ve answered that question already, why do you keep asking me the same questions, I told you I was sorry, when is this going to end, I’m not going to answer that, what about my pain? etc.”
5. Be Transparent. – Moving forward. Being transparent means when there is any communication between the Affair Partner and the Lover via email, phone, text, face to face, in-person, through another person, etc., you are to share that information with your partner with no exception. You may think this is counterintuitive as it will further anger/upset your partner. Not doing so will be a damaging choice. It will be even worse if it is later discovered that you once again “hid” something. Telling the truth means no lying, no filtering, no lying by omission, no editing, no withholding, no rationalizing, even if it incriminates you. This is how trust is rebuilt.
6. Self-Care. – Finally, take care of yourself during this challenging time. The crisis stage is a time when couples don’t know whether they want to stay together or split. Emotions run like a rollercoaster. Develop a support system of people you trust and who can give you support. Don’t share the details of your relationship problems as this is private information between you and your partner. Getting some Individual Counseling to manage depression and anxiety would be helpful while your partner decides whether they want to pursue Marriage/Couples Counseling. Don’t inappropriately act out your emotions through excessive drinking or behavior that can worsen your circumstances.
Getting caught cheating can be very worrisome. During the crisis stage emotions run rampant and people don’t always think clearly. It’s important to seek professional help sooner rather than later so you don’t lose the opportunity for further damage control.
If you’ve just discovered your partner is cheating please contact me at (858) 735-1139. I can help you both talk about what happened, why it happened and how to move forward through the process of Affair Recovery.