The fallout from an affair can feel catastrophic for everyone involved.
If you are the one who cheated, feelings of guilt, regret or loss might leave you wondering if your actions have destroyed everything.
But please don’t despair. Many marriages do go on to survive infidelity. No matter what happens, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Can cheating ruin your life? only if you let it. What should I do if I cheated on my husband? Here are 9 tips to help you through it all.
1) Be kind to yourself
You might be a little surprised to see this at the top of the list. Perhaps you are even feeling like sympathy is the very last thing you deserve right now.
But here’s the thing: you made a mistake. Was it wrong? Yes and you are feeling the consequences. But are you only human? Also yes.
It’s totally natural to be feeling angry at yourself if you deeply regret what you have done. But that self-blame and self-deprecation can lead to more destruction.
You telling yourself what a terrible person you are is not only untrue but does zero to help resolve the situation.
Yes, your husband will want to see remorse from you, but not self-pity. There is a fine line between the two.
If you want to fix your marriage or your life, then you need all your strength right now. Being unkind to yourself will only drain you of your precious energy.
You may feel like you did a bad thing, but that certainly does not mean you are a bad person. You are always worthy of love.
I know it is more complicated than this, but ultimately it still boils down to this simple fact. You screwed up. It happens. Beating yourself up won’t fix anything.
Ironically, painting yourself as the bad guy in the story leaves you in victim mode. Telling yourself painful stories like “I ruined my husband’s life” keeps you stuck where you are. Right now you need to be in the driving seat so that you improve the situation.
To take full responsibility and move on, you have to start to try to forgive yourself. How can you hope that your husband will ever learn to forgive you if you won’t even show yourself the same kindness?
2) Allow him what he needs
Regardless of whether you came clean, or your husband discovered your affair for himself — he’s most likely in shock.
Emotions are high and both yours and his feelings are on a rollercoaster ride. It’s important to respect his wishes and try to give him (within reason) what he needs right now.
If he says he wants space, give it to him. If he says he needs time, honor this.
Even if he says he never wants to see you again, remember that in the heat of the moment hurt and anger prompt us to say things we may not mean. But you should still back off.
Respecting his wishes is very important if you want to heal and rebuild trust in your relationship.
Don’t push him into making decisions when he isn’t ready. Give him some breathing room and try to accommodate any reasonable requests that he has of you.
3) Identify the root of the relationship problems
Try to understand why you cheated.
Maybe you already know, or maybe this is a tough one. But affairs don’t usually come completely out of nowhere.
They tend to happen when we are experiencing cracks in our relationship, when we are dealing with some personal problem, etc.
It’s important to identify any underlying issues that may have contributed to this event. Even if it seems as inconsequential as “I was bored.”
This is not about shifting blame or dodging responsibility. It’s definitely not about saying it was all your husband’s fault because he worked so much and you felt lonely.
What it is about is looking honestly at the difficulties and challenges you are facing in your marriage.
This will allow you to work towards fixing those issues, rather than just focusing on how you’ve messed up.
But how can you get to the root of your relationship problems?
The answer is simple: start with yourself!
You see, most of our shortcomings in love stem from our own complicated inner relationship with ourselves – how can you fix the external without seeing the internal first?
That’s why I believe that you should fix the issues you have in your inner self before looking for external solutions.
I learned this from the world-renowned shaman Rudá Iandê, in his incredible free video on Love and Intimacy.
Rudá’s teachings showed me a whole new perspective and filled my insights to reflect on myself and realize what I really needed in my love life.
So, maybe you should do the same instead of blaming yourself.
4) Be totally honest with him
If you’ve been hiding anything, now is the time to come clean.
Complete honesty can feel incredibly vulnerable. Especially when you fear your marriage and your life is already in tatters. But without honesty, there is no way to have trust in a relationship.
To start rebuilding that trust, your husband needs to feel that at the very least, you are now being totally truthful about what has happened.
Don’t be tempted to dilute the truth as a form of self-protection. If it comes out later it will be much worse. If you respect your husband then he deserves your honesty.
It’s also part of taking responsibility for what has happened.
Being honest isn’t limited to details of the affair. It may also mean you facing up to truths about existing problems in your marriage.
You need to find your voice to be able to express honestly what you are feeling and thinking.
“When you talk you are only repeating what you know but when you listen you learn something new.”
— Dalai Lama.
If ever there was a time when your husband needs to feel heard, it’s now. Truly listening without simply waiting to speak or desperately trying to fix things is going to be challenging.
Actively listening requires you to:
- Pay attention
- Withhold judgment
- Reflect on what’s being said
- Clarify anything that doesn’t make sense
Being willing to hear what your husband has to say, even when you don’t like what he has to say can go a long way towards repairing the broken trust.
Fixing your marriage is going to take a lot of patience on both parts, and listening will be a key skill you’ll need to develop.
6) Give it time
Here’s the truth that you may not want to hear, and I’m sorry to have to say it. But you most likely have a long road ahead of you.
Your life is far from being destroyed, but getting it back to where you want it to be is going to take time. Repairing a marriage and repairing your own life doesn’t come overnight.
From where you are it might feel like all is lost. But they say that time is a healer for very good reason.
Your husband needs time to process his feelings, and so do you.
It takes time to heal and recover from infidelity. It takes time to rebuild trust and confidence in one another. And it takes time to repair any damage done by cheating.
In fact, it can take many months or even years before you’re able to enjoy the same level of intimacy you once did.
As much as you may want to fast forward, you’ll most likely need patience, tenacity, and resolve as you build up your life again — whether that is ultimately with or without your husband.
7) Reflect on what you really want
You may think you already know what you want.
But grief can make us behave in strange ways. We just want it to stop and so we want to go back to before we felt this pain. ASAP. Even when it’s not for the best. Later we may realize we want something else.
Do some soul searching and figure out what you want, what is possible, and what’s the best course of action.
Do you want to fix your marriage?
Is it beyond redemption?
Would you be better moving on with your life?
What practical steps could you take to turn things around in your life?
Asking the tough questions now can help to set you up for future success.
8) Marriages do survive infidelity
Since your husband learned of your cheating, maybe you found yourself frantically googling: What percentage of marriages survive infidelity?
The reality is that the stats are:
- Unclear. One 2018 study found that among adults who have cheated on their spouses before, 40% are currently divorced or separated. Whereas Divorce magazine says around 60-75% of couples who deal with infidelity will stay together.
- A red herring. It’s important to remember that a statistic can never accurately predict the chances of your marriage surviving infidelity or not. Your situation is unique.
Whilst that may not offer you much comfort. Focus on the fact that plenty of marriages do survive. Cheating is a lot more common than you might think.
Sometimes cheating will lead to divorce, and sometimes not.
9) Know that the end of the marriage isn’t the end of your world
There is no denying that romantic relationships are an extremely important part of our daily lives. They shape us. They teach us things about ourselves and the world.
But they are never the entirety of our world. During the dark times, don’t forget this. Away from your marriage, there are people who love you, and there are plenty of joys to be found.
We often use confusing terms like “my other half” to describe our partners. But this is misleading. You are already whole.
If it turns out that your marriage was not fixable, believe that life goes on. Maybe you can barely remember a time when you were an “I” instead of a “we”.
But trust that you always have the power to start again and rebuild your life. It may even turn out stronger than ever before after this powerful but painful life lesson.
To conclude: I cheated on my husband and regret it
Hopefully, by now you’ve got a better idea of what to do if you fear that your cheating has ruined your life.
But if you’re still unsure of how to go about resolving your marriage issues, I’d recommend checking out this excellent video by marriage expert Brad Browning. He’s worked with thousands of couples to help them reconcile their differences.
From infidelity to lack of communication, Brad’s got you covered with the common (and peculiar) issues that crop up in most marriages.
So if you’re not ready to give up on yours yet, click the link below and check out his valuable advice.