Lyrics from Sloan’s ‘The Other Man’ say: “You know I want to keep my distance, does it happen anyway? He knows you’re gonna drift apart, and there’s nothing he can say I know that he’s a stand-up guy, but that’s none of my concern. We’ve all been in one situation or another, it’s my turn.”
Yes, when infidelity is presented to us in books, movies, and songs it’s meant to be lovelorn and romantic. It’s hot and heavy and we feel no sympathy for the innocent spouse who is being betrayed. In fact, oftentimes we cheer for the underhanded couple to get together!
But the reality of cheating is not so romantic. Broken hearts, ruined trust, and families torn apart are just some of the outcomes of being unfaithful in your marriage.
If you have been unfaithful in your marriage, you well know the guilt and pain you feel from keeping your secret. How do you shake the pain you feel and is it inevitable that your spouse finds out what you’ve done?
Here are 9 ways you can cope after cheating on your spouse.
1. Break bad habits
In order to move on after cheating on your partner, you must break all of your bad habits. This means that you will no longer continue having an affair or cheating on your spouse. It also means that any other secrets you were keeping from your partner (spending habits, hiding money, having an apartment you rented for the sake of having an affair in private) must come to an end.
Trust must be restored in order for your relationship to survive infidelity, regardless of whether or not you told your spouse about it.
2. Work on your relationship
It’s important for you to know the real reason why you cheated on your partner. Was it the simple temptation or were you feeling bored in your marriage? Do you and your partner spend enough time together? Were you feeling neglected?
Once you know why you cheated, you’ll be able to work on fixing these problems within your relationship.
Spending time with your spouse is very important to the success of your marriage. And we don’t mean just sitting on the couch and watching TV together. It means spending quality time laughing and connecting on an emotional level. Many couples do this through weekly date nights.
Studies done by The National Marriage Project found that couples who have a regular date night are less likely to end up divorced. They also have higher levels of relationship excitement and increased sexual satisfaction.
3. Learn how to communicate
Growing apart and having a lack of communication skills were both cited as some of the biggest reasons why 886 couples chose to get divorced. This study brings out the importance of couples learning how to communicate with your spouse about.
As you learn to communicate respectfully and honestly with your spouse, you will get to know them on a deeper level. This will help you to open up about potential problems in the future before they spiral out of control and lead to another indiscretion.
4. Take responsibility for cheating
In order to move on after cheating has occurred in a marriage, you must be willing to accept responsibility for what you have done.
When your spouse hurts your feelings, neglects you sexually, and doesn’t set aside time to spend with you, these can all contribute to an unhappy marriage. But, it’s important to remember that you were the one who chose to step outside of the marriage instead of seeking counseling or communicating with your spouse. Once you can take responsibility for cheating you can start the healing process.
5. Practice Honest Self-Reflection
Whether you choose to tell your spouse or not, doing an honest self-examination can only be beneficial to your relationship. Start thinking about the areas of your personality that you can improve on. Perhaps you can work on your communication techniques, patience, or trustworthiness.
6. Restore sexual activity in your marriage
In a survey of 200 married couples on the importance of sex in a relationship, the results revealed that physical affection was consistently referred to as a “Strong predictor of love, liking, and satisfaction.”
Sexual activity, especially when orgasm is involved, triggers the release of the “love hormone” oxytocin. This hormone is responsible for feelings of love and attachment and promotes bonding and trust between partners.
Remember that sexual intimacy should be satisfying for both partners. Studies show that women were more likely to engage in pillow talk if they had an orgasm. This pillow talk led to increased relationship satisfaction and feelings of closeness for both partners involved.
Research also indicates that husbands are happier when their wives are sexually satisfied.
7. Work on your language
Your language is a strong indication of whether or not your relationship is going to be a success. Studies show that couples are happier when they unconsciously use the term “we” in conversation.
For example, saying “We went to that new restaurant this weekend – we loved it!” is healthier for couples than speaking in the singular. Not only was it shown to reduce negative emotional behaviors, but it improved positive thinking and lowered stress levels.
8. Take a marriage course
Your relationship is precious. Don’t let a temporary slip-up let you forget that. One way you can nurture and restore your marriage to what it once was and remove the guilt and shame you feel is by seeking counseling with your spouse.
One way you can do this is by taking an online marriage course. This will teach you the importance of fidelity, honesty, communication skills, and working together as a team. There are also benefits to seeing a therapist in-person, as they can help you create a path to healing after an affair.
9. To tell or not to tell
If you’ve never been in this situation before, it’s easy to say that you would be honest with your spouse about infidelity in the relationship. But this is much easier said than done.
Perhaps you have been married for more than twenty years. You have built a life and raised a family with your partner. To break their heart would be devastating to you. So, should you tell them the truth or not?
There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to tell your partner. Was it only one indiscretion or was it a full-on, years-long affair? Was it private or do other people know about it?
Secrets have a way of coming out, and it is always best if your spouse hears about your infidelity from your mouth first, instead of hearing an exaggerated version of the truth from gossiping friends or family.
It is natural for you to fear that your secret may ruin your family life or break up your marriage, but you cannot truly heal from what happened unless you are able to communicate with your spouse about what went wrong in your marriage.
Cheating on your spouse is no small matter. It can rack you with guilt, contribute to poor mental health, and ruin your relationship. We hope these 9 tips for overcoming guilt after cheating on your partner will help you lead a happier, more honest life with your spouse.