Explaining Your Infidelity: How Can You Ever Make Your Spouse Understand The Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from people who are very frustrated because they are having a huge problem communicating with their spouse after their infidelity is found out. Much of the time, they are trying really hard to communicate honestly, but their spouse’s anger keeps them from making much headway. The faithful spouse often will interrupt them, challenge, or even reject what they are saying. As a result, it can be almost impossible to make your spouse understand this.

To demonstrate, I might hear a comment like: “I am willing to tell my husband anything that he wants to know about my infidelity. I am willing to be completely honest. In fact, I want to talk about it. I’m tired of carrying this horrible guilt inside of me. I know that it is going to be painful. But I would rather get it out. I want to explain that there was really no valid reason for me to do what I did. I want to stress to my husband that none of this was his fault. I want for him to know that more than anything, I want to save what we have and I’m so sorry that I put us in jeopardy. I want to say all of these things and more, but when I try, something goes wrong. The words don’t come to me. Or, when they do, my husband interrupts or debates and challenges what I am trying to say. How do I successfully explain my infidelity to him? Or is this even possible?

I believe that this is eventually possible, but I also know from experience that it is extremely challenging. As the spouse who was cheated on, I can share some insights on this. When you find out that your spouse has cheated on you and things are still incredibly raw and painful, there are really no words that are going to even make a dent in what you are feeling. And frankly, you are going to question the validity of whatever he says, because he has already lied to you several times to carry out his cheating. With this said, communication is very important. It is better to attempt to explain it and to not be completely effective than to just say nothing.

When you say nothing, you leave your spouse to assume the worse. So, attempting to explain is a worthwhile goal, as long as you understand that it may not go in exactly the way that you had hoped. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try though. Below, I’ll offer some suggestions on the types of things that might be very important for you to communicate.

Make Sure You Express That None Of This Is His Fault: I can tell you from experience that when your spouse cheats on you, then you immediately begin to ask yourself what is wrong with you. Of course, you immediately want to know what you did wrong or where you may not have been good enough. You wonder where you might have failed. This is a very painful process that can almost destroy your self esteem and make you question yourself. So, it’s very important that you stress to your spouse that this whole process was a mistake that you made because of your own flaws. They must know that it has nothing to do with their flaws. Sure, there may have been issues with your spouse and your marriage, but now is not the time to mention that, because it’s only going to sound like a lame excuse. And, regardless of any flaws or short comings, you were always free to bring this to your spouse’s attention instead of cheating. In other words, you were free to make a better choice. Take responsibility for that.

Make Sure Your Spouse Knows That You Are Completely Remorseful And Motivated To Make This Right: One of the things that your spouse most likely wants to know is whether you are remorseful. They want to know if you feel justified. Because if you don’t, the worry is that you might cheat again. They want to know that you understand what you have put at risk and therefore will work tirelessly to ensure that it will never happen again. They also want to know that you are willing to do whatever you have to do in order to fix this. Sure, they may not fully believe you, but it will mean something that you are trying.

How Do You Put Into Words Why You Cheated If You Don’t Even Understand It Yourself?: This is a challenge to be sure. But it’s important that you make the attempt. And really, only you know what your true motivations might have been. Take extra care that any explanation that you give doesn’t sound like an excuse and doesn’t sound like you are trying to transfer the blame to your spouse.

If you find that your spouse won’t listen or is constantly interrupting you, consider writing a letter. You want to stress that you still love your spouse. You want to tell them that you are sorry. You might even admit that you don’t have all of the answers because you are confused and surprised about what you have done. You may attempt to tell your spouse that you were struggling emotionally and that the infidelity might have been a way to quiet those doubts about yourself or your place in life. Having said that, you want to stress that you completely understand how misguided you were and how much you put at risk over your very unfortunate thinking. You want to make sure that your spouse knows that you see the horrible fall out your actions so that you will most certainly think twice about ever doing this again. Finally, you want for your spouse to know that you still love them and never stopped. You want for them to know that the mistake was completely yours and had nothing to do with them.  And you want to tell then how you intend to fix this.

It took a while before I was really and truly willing to listen to my husband’s explanations of infidelity.  They never made complete sense and they didn’t take away the pain, but I was glad he made the effort.  You can read about my own healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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