Dear Suzie, It’s been 2 months since the day I confessed to having an affair, and my husband was devastated. I am the last person he’d ever expect to do something like that to him, and although he says he wants to work it out, I’m not sure he will ever get past it. I’ve told him everything, and yet he still questions me every day. He says he’s trying to forgive, but it feels like we are sinking deeper and deeper. Suzie, I love him so much and I want our marriage to survive. What else can I do?
Thank you for your question. It may surprise you to know that I get calls and emails very often that sound similar to what you’ve just described — from partners like yourself, who’ve violated the trust in their relationship, only to discover afterwards that the pain they’ve caused is worse than anything they were prepared to handle.
Does this describe you?
Well, I want you to take heart. You see, I believe that with every adversity (especially the ones we bring down upon ourselves) lies within it the seed of opportunity.
The secret to transforming adversity into opportunity is found in knowing (and doing) the correct things.
So, while I can’t save you from the natural consequences of your mistakes (nor should you want me to), what I can do is share with you my top 10 strategies on how to handle those consequences in a way that moves you toward healing and recovery… in the fewest possible steps.
CAUTION: I’m not telling you what you should do. These are simply 10 suggestions that point you to some of the things you can do.
Keep this in mind:
Every marriage is different, and every affair unleashes its own levels of damage. I caution you to use your own intuition and take into account all of the many variables that are involved. With that said, let’s begin with the first step.
The Wayward Rehab online course is my 30-day CSI (correction and self-inquiry) online program in which I teach wayward partners how to correctly handle the negative side effects of having an affair and give them the best tools, strategies and insights to make sure it never happens again. The course is one-part self-help, one-part life coaching, and one-part crisis and coping strategies that will work together to help you transform mistakes into learning steps
Admit (and accept) that you made a mistake
What defines a mistake?
Here’s the definition I like best: a mistake is any action or behavior that fails to bring you the results you intended. Using that definition, ask yourself this: Did the affair bring the positive results you were looking for? Are you happy, satisfied and feeling good about the decision you made? If not, then it was a mistake.
Why this step matters:
Maybe you’re wondering…
“How does admitting that the affair was a mistake help me survive the aftermath?”
That’s a great question. Let’s explore the answer.
Here’s my theory on mistakes.
I believe mistakes are teaching tools.
In other words, when you make a mistake, it’s a sign you have something to learn.
This means mistakes are a call for correction (not punishment). But what happens to the person who doesn’t (or can’t) admit they’ve made a mistake in the first place? You guessed it, they’ll fail to correct the mistake. This leaves them open to making the same mistake again and again.
Whenever I see this, I consider it a real tragedy.
You see, the problem isn’t making mistakes. The problem is failing to recognize and accept when we’ve made mistakes, because it’s only when we see our past mistakes that we become motivated to correct them.
Accept (and admit) that your past actions were mistakes. Don’t defend, deny, edit or try to minimize them. Step up and fully accept your mistakes, and let your partner know that you are now fully willing (and able) to correct them. This will communicate clearly to your partner that you have the courage to take responsibility for your actions. And those who have this type of courage simultaneously display that they also have what it takes to correct them. This knowledge brings a sense of security to the partner who’s been betrayed. And when it comes right down to it, security is the one thing every betrayed partner longs for.
Now, on to step number two…