What Should A Husband Do After He Cheats?

by: Katie Lersch:  I sometimes hear from panicked husbands who have just cheated on their wives.  They often didn’t intend for this to happen and are reeling as to what to do next.  Many ask me what they should do immediately following the cheating.  I often hear comments like: “I just cheated on my wife.  This is a disaster.  I love my wife and am committed to my marriage and I have no idea what I was thinking or how I could be so stupid.  What do I do now?  How do I make this right so that it’s not going to absolutely destroy my marriage or my wife?”

And sometimes, I hear from the wives who have just found out that their husbands have cheated.  They often ask me what their husbands can do to make things right again. An example is a comment like: “I just found out my husband cheated once.  I am devastated and I don’t know where we go from here.  He keeps asking me what he can do to help me get over this, but I have no idea what to tell him.  I’m not sure that there’s anything that he could do to make me feel any better.”  So, in the following article, I’m going to offer some suggestions as to what a husband should do after he cheats in order to begin the process of healing.

Immediately Remove Yourself From The Situation And The Other Woman.  Do Not Give Yourself The Chance To Cheat Again: I do believe that there are some men who never intended to cheat on their wives.  And once it happens, they’re lost because they truly didn’t see it coming and were completely unprepared.  Sometimes when they tell you that “it just happened,” they aren’t completely being dishonest, although a lack of intent doesn’t mean innocence either.

That’s why it’s so important that the husband remove himself from the other person and any circumstances that contributed to the cheating.  It’s not at all uncommon for me to hear from men who vow never to cheat again, but who later end up doing just that because, once again, they found themselves in situation that they did not plan but could not resist.  I’ve even had men tell me that they went to break things off with (or make things clear to) the other woman only to end up cheating with her once again.

My suggestion is to cut off all communication.  And if you just have to communicate with her to make your intentions clear, then do not do this in person where there’s potential for more cheating or temptation.  If you work with or regularly see this person, then you will need to make some changes.  You do not want to put yourself in a situation where you have continued contact.  This is not good for you, for her, for your marriage, or for your wife.

Figure Out What Really Went Wrong And Truly Fix It: Even though you might 100% believe that you had no intentions of cheating, the fact is that, for whatever reason, you did.  In my opinion, people truly don’t act without reason or motivation.  There had to have been something that contributed to your impulsive actions.  It’s pretty easy to place the blame on the marriage, your wife, or even the other woman.  But you are often better off looking within yourself.

Because no matter what risk factors were present, you did have a choice.   Why did you make the choice that you did?  Look at issues like poor impulse control, a lack of self esteem, any tendencies for reckless behavior or self sabotage, or other pressures or flaws that may have contributed to your cheating. It’s important to be brutally honest with yourself and to get help if you need it.  Because it’s not fair (or realistic) to ask your wife to forgive you or to give your marriage another chance when you can’t completely assure you that you will never cheat again.  You must remove any risk factors so that you are both secure in the future.

Decide If You’re Going To Tell Your Wife About Your Cheating: Whether to admit to the cheating is one of the most common questions that I’m asked by husbands.  Many wonder if they are better off just admitting everything  or if it would be better to spare their wife the pain, make any changes on their own, and remain silent.  I can not make this decision for you.   Only you know your wife (and what your reaction might be,)  as well as your comfort level with keeping this from her and the level of guilt that you are grappling with.

You also need to consider how likely she is to find out about the cheating because I can tell you that if she finds out from someone else, this might factor into her future decisions.  Many wives will see your keeping the cheating from them as just one more example of your deception.  However, on the other side of the coin, once you tell her, you also have to be prepared to deal with the considerable fall out that this admission is going to cause.

Whether You Tell Your Wife About The Cheating Or Not, Have An Improvement Plan That You Fully Intend To Follow: Few people are ever going to buy that cheating can actually be a positive thing.  But I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with trying to extract some positive changes from this huge mistake.  If you cheat but then never gain any insights into your behavior and never make any positive changes in yourself and your marriage, then this whole process truly was a waste in which only the negative consequences mattered.

But, if you can at least gain some positive insights and make some positive changes that are likely to make things easier and better in the future, then at least some good came out of a very bad decision.  If you can use this is a starting point or as the inspiration to become a better husband and a better man, then at least you made every attempt to make the best of your actions and this will hopefully matter to your wife, whether she knows what inspired your actions or not.

I was the cheated on, not the cheater, in my marriage. So, I know exactly how the wife in this scenario might feel.  Thankfully, my husband eventually used the cheating as the inspiration to make some drastic and lasting changes that weren’t lost on me.  Eventually, our marriage did recover, partly due to these efforts.  If it helps, you can read the entire story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/

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