What Are Some Ways To Hold Myself Accountable After Cheating On My Spouse?

By: Katie Lersch: If you have made the mistake of cheating on your spouse, one of the directives that you might have heard from friends, counselors, or your spouse themselves is that you must “hold yourself accountable.” And you can really want to do this because you are willing to do anything to make up for your mistake. But sometimes, it isn’t clear what these words really mean.

A wife might say: “if you would have told me six months ago that I would have ever been in this position, I would have told you that you were crazy. Being dishonest and doing something reckless to hurt my marriage is not in alignment with my personality. This just isn’t me. I’d never even lied to my husband before, much less cheated on him. And then I met the other man. He came sauntering into my office on the first day of work and that changed everything. I don’t know how else to put it other than to say that I was immediately drawn to him. Before I knew it, we were meeting for lunch. I told myself this was all innocent enough. Then we started getting drinks after work. We started texting all of the time. Then there was a weekend seminar for everyone in my department. And that is when I started cheating. My husband found out only a couple of weeks into it. It’s weird but my husband finding out seemed to almost flip a switch in me. I thought that I had become very invested in the other relationship, but as soon as I saw my husband’s face and started thinking about being divorced, I changed my mind very quick and I immediately broke it off. I realized that I didn’t want to end my marriage for anyone. I constantly ask my husband what I need to do in order to have a chance with him. One of the things that he keeps saying over and over is that I need to “be accountable.” Well, I’m willing to do whatever it takes. But I’m not sure what, exactly, he means. How is one supposed to hold themselves accountable after infidelity?”

I suppose this phrase might mean different things to different people. But having been a spouse who was cheated on, I can tell you what it meant to me. And I can tell you what I wanted accountability to mean in my own case.

Take Away Any Risky Or Contributive Behaviors: Often, you can look at a certain set of behaviors and see that they lead to the cheating. For example, for some people, drinking leads to cheating. Or being on the internet late at night. For others, certain friends get them into bad situations. You have to look at your particular situation and identify the behaviors that made you vulnerable and eliminate them.

In this case, going to lunch with someone you found attractive, going out for drinks after work, sending flirty texts, and traveling for business were red flags that lead to the cheating. Obviously, these things must be eliminated from future behaviors in a manner that your husband can see and believe in. Sometimes, this isn’t completely possible.  You may not be able to cut out work travel.  In that case, take your husband with you or call regularly when you aren’t working.

I am not sure if you have the ability to transfer jobs so that you aren’t around the other man, but if you do, this certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea. You want to show your spouse that you are completely serious about your marriage and completely sincere about ending the affair for good.

Show Him That Your Marriage Is Your Priority: Another way that you can be accountable is to make your marriage your biggest priority. That means when you are in your husband’s presence and communicating with him, he gets your undivided attention. It means that you offer him reassurance and affection even when he is resistant to you because you have hurt him. If he even hints that he’d like to go to counseling, take the initiative, make the appointment, and go. Do everything in your power to show him that you are very sincere, including shelfing other things that don’t involve your marriage right now. Other things can wait. This must be your priority.

Get Right Within Yourself: I think that this is one of the biggest issues with accountability that people miss. It’s your responsibility to identify and then fix any outstanding issues that might have lead to the affair. I know that you believe that fate brought the other man into your office and that chemistry did the rest. But quite frankly, there had to be some reasoning beyond this. Even if your marriage was happy, there had to have been some other force at play – self sabotage, a need for risk, a lack of impulse control, or perhaps other issues.  But something else was likely at work.

And until you eliminate that issue, you really can’t say with complete certainty that you are not going to cheat again. Frankly, that is one of the things your spouse wants and needs most from you. They want to not have to constantly worry that should they trust you, they are going to have to constantly look over their shoulders and watch for signs of repeat infidelity.

I do have to hand it to my husband.  It was obvious that our family was his priority.  Sometimes, he would become frustrated that the process was going very slowly or that I still had doubts regardless of what he said or did.  But I think he kept his eye on the long term goal. And he knew that part of being accountable was also being patient. You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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