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.
Is Your Relationship Over After Cheating?
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 to process and manage your feelings and temperament.
Your relationship/marriage does not mean that the result is a divorce because of the affair. It does not have to end, and if you want to save your marriage, then there are ways to communicate and help you and your partner understand the reasoning behind your actions. The relationship can be salvageable, and steps can begin towards making amends.
It is important to understand that if you choose to make amends, then you genuinely have to be fully committed to the path of making amends. If you do decide to confess the affair, it is crucial you do it for the right reasons and not just to clear your guilty conscience.
To begin the process of rebuilding your relationship, there are various elements that you will need to carry out by utilizing some of these helpful tips.
What To Do After Getting Caught Cheating
Stop the Affair.– If you want to salvage your relationship/marriage, then stop the affair. Simply put, stop cheating. You will not be able to move towards restoring your relationship/marriage if you continue to cheat. Ultimately end everything, including any form of communication with the person you are having an affair with.
- 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.
At this point, your partner’s trust in you is deficient; therefore, it is crucial for you to be open and honest. Do not hide any feelings or anything that will hinder their trust in you. Be understanding and acknowledge your partner’s feelings. Be truthful about wanting to rebuild the trust that is uncertain due to the betrayal.
Take full responsibility.- Do not place the blame on your partner. There was a conscious decision which was made by you, not your partner. You did not have to have an affair. You could have ended the relationship before having an issue, but you did not. Take full responsibility for your actions. Be honest about the issue and that it was you who decided to have an affair. Apologize to your partner. Placing the blame on your partner will only make things worse for both of you, making it even harder to restore the relationship. The critical point, take full responsibility, fully own it, and apologize for it.
Do not Lie.- Remember, you choose to have an affair, so do not lie about it. And do not lie about your reasons for having an affair. There is no reason anyone should have an affair while being in a relationship/marriage. It is not justifiable.
- 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.
Give your partner some space.- Allow your partner to process the affair in their way. Take a “timeout” if necessary. Your partner’s life is just rattled and turned upside down. They need to process their emotions in their way. Respect their space.
- 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.
Mainly, if both of you have decided that you want to save the relationship/marriage, you are both on the same track and share a common goal: to save the marriage. Then you both have to remain committed to rebuilding the relationship and figuring out what was lacking in the relationship, leading to the affair. Both of you have to be fully committed to completing this common goal.
Rekindle courting your partner.- Once both of you have decided and commit to restoring your relationship, then woo your partner as you once did. Taking your partner out for a date or go away for a weekend. This step is possible once your partner is willing and is ready.
- 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.”
Be Patient.- Give them space and allow them to process the event. Let your partner grieve and take the time to recover from the betrayal. Understandably, this will take some time.
- 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.
Notably, during this moment of betrayal, be completely open. Let your partner know everything. Do not keep any secrets. Hiding any information will only increase their mistrust in you and your dedication to the relationship. Do not be surprised if your partner feels betrayed and is uncertain about you and your relationship. Respect their feelings and be transparent and truthful about wanting to restore from the betrayal.
Communicate.- One of the main reasons why marriages result in divorce is due to a lack of communication. It is important for you and your partner to talk to one another and be willing to listen to each other.
Maintain your word.- If both of you have decided to restore the relationship, then it is incredibly crucial for you to maintain your word. Keep your word when you tell your partner where you are going, whom you are going with, and what you are doing. This way, your partner is able to regain the trust that was lost by feeling validated that you are dependable and reliable and committed to restoring the relationship/marriage.
Forgiveness.- It is crucial to restoring the relationship because forgiveness is not just for the partner who was betrayed but also for the partner who committed the betrayal. It doesn’t mean that you can easily overlook the affair, but that you don’t need to carry this burden of guilt with you for the rest of your life. Own your mistake and then ask for forgiveness from your partner and forgive yourself.
Beginning a new marriage.- What was once you thought your relationship/marriage was now over. If both your partner and you are committed to rebuilding your relationship/marriage, then you have to accept what was is now over and move forward towards bettering your relationship. Accomplish this by being more open, honest, loving, and becoming better partners for each other in this new marriage.
- 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.
See eye to eye on getting professional help.- If both you and your partner are serious about working through this rough time and are committed to restoring the relationship, seek professional help. It is especially so if your partner suggests seeing a marriage counselor being willing and open to it because this shows your partner, you are serious and committed to rebuilding your relationship. During this time, it’s essential to recognize and identify the elements which have led to the relationship’s problems. Therefore, couples therapy would be a great place to help restore new ways of interconnecting.
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.
Sarah Ruggera, Marriage and Family Therapist
Helping People Who Ask The Question….
“Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”