3 Keys To Apologizing After An Affair


3 Keys To Apologizing After An Affair
Can't move on after an affair? Maybe it's because your partner didn't say "I'm sorry" the right way.
  1. Recognize and state what ought to have happened. You need to state specifically what you’ve done to harm your partner.  Engaging in sexual relationships or emotional affairs cross the bounds of expected behavior of a loyal spouse. However, don’t limit the apology to “I shouldn’t have slept with someone else.” Consider all the ways in which you failed to meet your commitments, including deception, absences from home, and impact on the family and community. If you don't make it clear how exactly you hurt your partner, then your apology will fall on deaf ears.
  2. Appreciate the impact that your actions have made on your partner. It’s not enough to say you messed up; you also have to make it clear that you can see how you have pained your partner by your actions. Sometimes the hurt goes beyond emotional duress: affairs cause financial strain, inconveniences of time, and disruptions of living situations. Saying, “I have hurt you by what I did,” helps make you accountable.
  3. Make Ammends.  If you've done someone wrong, it's reasonable for that person to want you to make it right in some way. That includes saying, “I’m sorry,” and “I’ve hurt you.” Beyond that, though, you must do something to make up for your errors. That’s what restitution is about. It boils down to saying, “I know I can never undo what I did, but here’s what I plan to do going forward.”  First, you must offer to make changes:  make a commitment to stay faithful in the future; agree to transparency in the relationship; work on improving the marriage. Next, you may want to offer some form of gesture that is hand picked for your spouse, such as agreeing to visit your in-laws next weekend or bringing home a bouquet of roses. These offers are not trying to bribe your partner away from his or her convictions. Rather, they are offered as a means of saying, “I will put my heart and soul, and even my wallet, into our relationship because I realize you are that important to me.” No one promise, or one offering, can possibly compensate for all the pain you have caused your mate.

Once Kora understood what Sean needed, she realized that the reason he was holding on to his anger was because she never gave him the kind of apology that he deserved. It wasn’t easy for Kora to complete the three steps of apology; it took reflection and creativity to really be able to apply a name and a remedy to the choices she made.  When her words of apology were complete, though, Sean’s felt like a pressure valve inside him was released.  Is there still work to be done? Sure. But at least Sean and Kora feel like one big stumbling block—an apology—is out of the way.


Article contributed by

Scott Haltzman


Scott Haltzman, MD Psychiatrist and Author: "The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity"  "The Secrets of Happily Married Men,""The Secrets of Happily Married Women," and "The Secrets of Happy Families." www.DrScott.com

Location: Naples, FL
Credentials: MD
Other Articles/News by Scott Haltzman:

The 3 "Friends" That Will Destroy Your Marriage


One would think that, like money, education or job status, the more friends you have the better. But when it comes to marriage or committed relationships, that ain’t necessarily so. Friends are a source of companionship, sometimes solace, and frequently a great person to hang with for a good time. But being with a friend requires sharing of your ... Read more

10 All-Too-Common Myths About Cheating... Debunked!


An affair could happen to anyone, from the local politician who gets caught with his pants down to the next-door neighbor who sleeps with her kid's karate teacher. When people find out about infidelity, they often make all kinds of assumptions about why people are having affairs. Even if someone cheated in your life, you may have thought you understood what ... Read more

Recovering After An Affair: Tips For A Meaningful Apology


According to Arnold Schwarzenegger's autobiography, Total Recall, after he committed adultery with his housekeeper, he denied to his wife Maria Shriver that the child was his — because he "didn't know" he was the father. Having both lied and cheated, there's little room for doubt that Arnold had wronged his wife.  When, ... Read more

See More

Latest Expert Videos
Most Popular