You told your wife you had to work late. Then she found the receipt for an expensive dinner for two in your pocket. Sound familiar? Maybe you forgot to delete an illicit text or e-mail, or left out a bill for a credit card she didn't know you had. Whether your wife stumbled upon the evidence or went looking for it doesn't matter. You got caught -- and she's devastated.
The confrontation was undoubtedly painful and likely spawned a whole host of unexpected behaviors and reactions. As you begin to get in touch with your shame and fear -- and decide how you want to proceed with your relationship -- you may need some advice on how to address the situation. At Relationup, an app that provides live relationship advice via chat, 15 percent of individuals who seek out help for issues of infidelity want guidance about how they can best help their partner and their relationship heal from their infidelity.
Here are six immediate steps to take to give your relationship the best chance of survival and help you both heal:
Come clean. It all starts with communication, so 'fess up, give your wife the facts and answer her questions -- all of them. It's time to stop the lies and minimizations and be rigorously honest -- with your wife and yourself. Worried about whether your wife will leave you? There's a strong possibility. However, the greatest chance you have to save your relationship is to rebuild it on a foundation of trust. The truth and details will be hard for your wife to hear but getting it all out on the table is the healthiest thing for you both. Respect your wife enough to let her decide where she wants to go from there.
Cut off all ties with any other people, websites or services. Inform your wife and then delete secret e-mails and accounts related to your adulterous behavior. If there were other women, e-mail or text them goodbye. Tell them you are recommitting yourself to your marital relationship and are ending all others. If your wife needs assurance, show her these final communications. As hard as it is, you may also need to terminate some friendships too. Whether friends told lies on your behalf or went to strip clubs with you, they helped you break a marital vow. Now the challenging thing is NOT to reconnect with them, assuming they find you and reach out.
Get yourself tested for STDs. It may be hard to accept, but it's possible that you unknowingly contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Even if you did not engage in behaviors where you touched others, be willing to get tested if that's what your wife requests. She needs to know that she is safe and, right now, your word doesn't carry much weight.
Offer to take a polygraph. Although they are expensive and the results aren't always accurate, some wives find it very helpful in their healing for their husband to take one or more polygraph tests. If you think about it, it's not an outrageous request. You've been lying to your wife for some time. If you want her to believe anything you say from this point forward, a polygraph's objective insight will give her peace of mind.
Make room for your wife's pain, anguish and anger and support her. Be open to the raw emotional pain your wife expresses as she tries to make sense of the situation. She may need to vent often and revisit her questions over and over again. Remember, it feels to her as if her world has ended. She doesn't know who you are anymore or what to believe.
Get support for yourself. It's difficult to go through this process alone -- and you don't want to repeat past mistakes by seeking out the wrong person for support. Find some good friends (ones who were not conspirators in your affair), clergy, support groups, counselors, or services, like Relationup that can help you manage. You'll experience a range of emotions and will have a lot of questions about how to move forward. It's also important for you to think about why you engaged in this behavior in the first place so that it doesn't occur again. Your best thinking got you here, so reach out to others for their advice and guidance as you and your wife try to rebuild your future together.
For any couple, recovering from infidelity is difficult. These six steps can be very helpful to get you and your wife on the right path for healing. This process is not easy and couples go through a lot of ups and down on their journey. But it is possible, and the experience of having made it through this difficult period may even strengthen your relationship.