Yes, you messed up BIG TIME! ... But, your marriage still has a fighting chance.
Many challenges lie ahead if you decide you want to fix your marriage after you have an affair. However, with support and guidance, the process becomes less frustrating.
The good news is, you can navigate through the emotionally painful process of rebuilding your fractured relationship.
I know this first hand. Back in 2007, I found out my wife was cheating. It felt like I was losing everything that I loved so much. It was a very painful time for the both of us. Yes, I said both because when my wife exposed her affair, I then had the courage to confess the affair I also had, which happened 13 years prior.
But, I can say with confidence — you can rebuild love and trust in your marriage, just as my wife and I did in our marriage of 24 years. Here are 4 practical tips (from the heart and personal experience) to fix your marriage after your partner catches you cheating:
1. Take responsibility for your actions
The process of admitting the truth and taking responsibility is normally the most painful part because admitting the truth hurts. Part of taking responsibility is looking inward and find the root cause that prompted you to step outside your marriage.
- The environment in which the person grew up in
- Parents with a history of adultery
- Pre-puberty exposure to pornography
- Overly rigid discipline
There is always a root cause for cheating. Identifying that internal cause (versus just outwardly blaming your spouse for your behavior) is essential before healing can begin in your marriage. Casting blame for your actions is not an option.
The key to rebuilding a solid love and trust foundation is removing all blame. When you and your partner know better. you then treat each other better.
2. Prove to your partner that you're committed to rebuilding the marriage
Your partner needs to know, hear, and feel your patience, commitment, and dedication to the healing process through your actions and attitude. He or she also needs to hear that, although you made a mistake, you choose your him or her over the person with whom you had the affair.
This is the wrong time for your pride and ego to flare up. Your partner needs to know that you're being transparent in all areas of your communication and life.
William F Harley, Jr., author of His Needs Her Needs, states, "Transparency is one of the most important qualities in a successful marriage." Regardless of how many times your partner says, "I don't believe you," you must honor your commitment to remaining 100 percent honest and open.
Remember, devastated your partner. He or she will need reminders of your love for them as often as possible, regardless of their facial expressions. Your voice, energy, attitude and positive actions must drown out the negative voices your partner hears inside his or her mind.
3. Offer a sincere apology and ask for forgiveness
Forgiveness is not a feeling or emotion in a marriage ... it is a principle.
Cheating on your spouse causes them intense pain, but your sincere apology is your gesture of asking for permission back into his or her heart.
Andy Andrews, author of The Seven Decisions, states, "Forgiveness is a decision, not an emotion. If we approach it through our emotions, our emotions inevitably drag us the other way. But if you will notice, emotions follow decisions. When we decide to forgive, our emotions follow along."
When asking your partner for forgiveness also forgive yourself for betraying their trust.
4. Let your spouse take baby steps back to you
In his book, Love & Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerich encourages couples to stop the crazy cycle in their marriage. He says that without love, women react, and without respect, men react.
During this healing process, be as loving and respectful as humanly possible. Allow your partner to take baby steps back toward trusting you and opening up to you, while you date each other again and fall back in love.
Fixing your marriage after you cheated is a slow process. It helps when you're willing to endure your partner's harsh words, negative attitudes, and mean looks your partner will give you along the way. Remember, you're fixing a broken marriage ... and "marriage" means two of you, not one.
I've been where you are and I want you to know that following these tips will get the results that you desire in your marriage. The principle my wife and I live by is: "An affair does not have to destroy our marriage or the dreams of our family." The same is true for your marriage.