You know that cheating on your spouse was not the right choice to make. You’re the villain in this story, and assuming you regret your actions, you need to find a way to move on from what you did and fix the mess you’ve made.
Faced with everything you could lose, you have realized what a terrible mistake you made. You desperately want to make amends. But saving your marriage after cheating on your spouse doesn’t just mean putting in the effort yourself; it means convincing your partner that this relationship, and more importantly YOU, are worth giving another shot.
The marriage you save won’t be the same as the one you had before you were unfaithful. Cheating on someone destroys the trust you have between you. Getting that back isn’t going to be easy, and you might have to make some major changes to prove to your partner that you’re serious about committing to this relationship.
People make mistakes, and slipping up like you have doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. If you’re genuinely sorry and regret what you’ve done, your partner will see your sincerity. But it will be up to them as to whether they can trust you to not break their heart a second time.
Nothing worth fighting for was ever easy, and saving your marriage after you’ve been unfaithful is going to be a long and difficult process. But if you think you’re up for the challenge and know that you at least have to give it a go, here are the things you’ll need to do.
Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you salvage your marriage from the damaging effects of your infidelity. You may want to try speaking to someone via RelationshipHero.com for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.
1. Be accountable for your actions.
Infidelity in a marriage is rarely down to just one person. There may have been issues with your relationship that motivated you to cheat, or maybe you weren’t the one to make the first move in your affair but you struggled to resist temptation.
As much as you might feel like it’s not all your fault, you still chose to be unfaithful to your spouse. You could have stopped yourself at any point, but you were the one who decided to go along with it and cheat.
You have to acknowledge your responsibility in this situation and be prepared to admit to your mistakes; you can’t lay the blame on anyone else.
Unless you’re accountable for your actions and admit the part you played in the affair, you won’t be able to promise your partner that it won’t happen again.
Blaming other people makes it their problem, not yours, and is a defensive way to cope with what you’ve done. Accepting your part in what happened and the mistakes you made will show your spouse that you are willing to work on yourself to be a better partner to them, and a better person all round.
2. Cut all contact with the other person.
It might sound obvious, but just in case you haven’t already, you need to cut all contact with whoever you cheated on your spouse with.
If it was a one night fling, this should be easy; you might not have much contact with them anyway. If it was through an app or online service, you should delete your account and block any other means of contact.
If you were unfaithful with someone you’re around a lot – maybe in the same friendship group or workplace – and you’re still in contact with them, you need to do everything you can to avoid seeing them.
It doesn’t matter how much you tell your partner you’ll be faithful, as long as they know that you’re still in contact with the person you had an affair with, they will always see them as a threat to your marriage.
Make the right decision to help your marriage recover by deleting and cutting out anything and anyone that has a connection with your infidelity. Remove the temptation to do it again and commit 100% to giving all of your attention to your spouse.
3. Be prepared to answer questions.
You might not want to talk about your affair. You might want to forget it ever happened. But you shouldn’t avoid discussing what happened if that’s what your spouse needs from you.
Whether you’re ashamed of what you’ve done, or think you’re protecting your partner from even greater hurt, refusing to have a conversation about your infidelity will only make the situation worse.
One issue with not sharing all the details with your spouse is that they are probably thinking the worst already. They won’t be able to move on properly if they don’t know exactly what happened. They could be making up much worse scenarios in their head.
By giving them the facts, they know everything and can gradually find a way to move past it.
Answering your partner’s questions also shows them that you are willing to be open and honest about it all. You need to prove they can trust you, and you can’t do that if you’re keeping secrets from them.
Even if you don’t see the need to tell your partner every detail or can’t understand why they would want to know what they’re asking, you have to remember that this isn’t about you and how you feel right now.
You may not fully understand, but all the questions your spouse has could be part of their healing process and one day allow them to move past your infidelity. Knowing everything that went on could help them feel more in control of the situation after being blindsided.
Try not to hold back anything that could possibly come to light in the future and cause your partner pain all over again. Be as transparent as you can right now so you can both focus on moving toward better times.
You might want to consider being proactive and suggesting couples counseling as a way to handle the discussion and the resulting emotions in a safe environment with a third party present.
4. Ask yourself how connected you are to your marriage.
You may not have meant to hurt anyone when you cheated. Getting caught up in the moment and being led by your emotions could have momentarily made you forget everything you had waiting for you at home.
But when was it that you remembered you were married and thought about how this would affect your partner? Did you think about them at all while you were cheating on them or did you forget they existed?
Your partner’s happiness should be a top priority in your relationship. You shouldn’t want to look for anyone else because you are one member of a team that you’ve committed to for the rest of your life.
If you weren’t thinking like someone who’s married and off the market, or were looking for an escape from that identity by cheating with someone else, then you need to consider how committed you really are to your marriage and if it’s something you want to work.
It might be that you’re feeling trapped or stuck in a rut in your marriage, or you miss that exciting spark of sexual chemistry with someone new. You may not have been aware that you needed something different until the opportunity with someone else presented itself.
You need to work out why it is that you’re looking for satisfaction outside your marriage and what you need to do to get that same satisfaction in the relationship you already have.
If you want your marriage to recover, you need to try to understand what it was that you felt was missing in the first place and be realistic about whether or not your relationship can make you happy anymore.
By recognizing when you started feeling guilty about what you’d done, you’ll know how committed you are to your marriage and whether or not your spouse’s happiness is still a priority of yours.
If they aren’t your main priority and aren’t always at the front of your mind, then it’s better to be honest and end your marriage for both your sakes. Your partner deserves someone who adores them and will be fulfilled in a relationship with them. Don’t recommit to your marriage if you know your heart isn’t in it.
5. Ask yourself why you crossed the line.
There was a point of no return when you cheated; a point where you could have stopped yourself. Perhaps it was as small as a split second before you responded to a flirt or kissed someone.
Even if it wasn’t you that made the first move, there was a point where you could have turned your back and walked home to your marriage.
But you didn’t.
So why not?
Understanding why you crossed that line from loyal spouse to cheating partner is important if you are to be able to move on and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
There could be a number of reasons for the infidelity, even if you didn’t realize them at the time.
Was it the attention you got from this other person? Or the excitement of being intimate with someone new after so long married to your spouse?
Were you being offered something you don’t get from your spouse? Or were your decisions compromised by substances like drugs or alcohol?
Whatever it was that made you cross that line, it’s the key to understanding whether or not you can save your marriage. You have to identify what it is you need to work on so that you aren’t tempted to do the same thing again.
If you made a bad decision because you were too drunk to realize what you were doing, it could be as simple as going sober. If it was motivated by a lack of affection in your own marriage, then you need to have a conversation with your spouse on how to show more affection toward each other.
If it was to escape the marriage and life that you have at home, then you need to be honest with yourself about whether it’s a life you truly want to go back to, or if cheating was just your way out.
6. Make some lifestyle changes.
Recovering your marriage from infidelity is a serious business. You have to be prepared to make some significant lifestyle changes to show that you’re committed to making it work.
Perhaps you often stay late at work and ended up having an office affair. Even if the affair is over, being strict about getting home on time and moving teams to be away from the other person are two changes you should make for the sake of your spouse. You might even need to switch companies entirely.
If you were unfaithful on a night out after one too many drinks, even though you may not remember it or it meant nothing to you at the time, your actions still jeopardized your marriage. Think about whether or not you can trust your decisions when you’re under the influence and consider cutting alcohol out for a while.
You’ll need to learn how to communicate with your partner to reassure them that they are at the forefront of your mind, especially when you’re away from them. Spending more time with your spouse is crucial to rebuilding your relationship from the ground up, and this could mean that you have to sacrifice time with your own social group or on your own hobbies. These sacrifices are necessary if you want this relationship to work.
If you’ve never been romantic or communicative, now is the time to change that. Your partner has every reason not to trust or believe in your good intentions, so you need to be committed to making big changes. This will show them that you deserve a second chance, despite your past mistakes.
7. Be willing to go the extra mile.
As you try to reconnect and make your relationship work again, you’re going to have to prioritize your spouse and start putting their needs firmly above yours.
After being unfaithful, you are the bad guy, and you’re going to have to do some making up for that. This means doing all you can to make your spouse feel comfortable in your relationship again, and proving to them that you’re not only remorseful about what you’ve done but that you won’t ever do something like it again.
It might mean giving up time out with your friends in favor of spending more time with your partner or going to couples counseling with them.
Trust is one of the most important parts of a relationship and it’s something you’ll have to work on building up again. This isn’t going to be easy since you’ve already broken it, but through bold actions, you can show your partner that you mean what you say and are willing to go the extra mile for the sake of their happiness.
Whatever it is that your spouse needs, you need to make it your priority until you’re back on solid ground with your relationship. Then and only then can you begin to think about finding a balance between their happiness and your independence once again.
8. Be totally transparent.
It’s going to take time for your spouse to trust you again. Even if you’re doing your best to give them no reason to worry, they will probably scrutinize everything you do for a while.
Although you might feel as though it’s unnecessary, being even more transparent and open than usual will help to rebuild that trust between you.
Tell them where you’re going, who you’re seeing, and be in regular contact with them when you’re not together. Avoid going out as much without them, especially on occasions where you might be drinking and meeting lots of people.
If you’re out late, reassure them by telling them where you are and always make sure you come back home to them.
Don’t disappear on them for hours without some form of contact, and make sure you let them know you’re thinking about them. Be open about letting them hear who you’re on the phone with or seeing your messages if that’s what makes them comfortable at first.
Although this over-communication may seem a lot to get used to at first, it’s one of the easiest ways to show your partner you mean it when you say you’re committed to them.
9. Come clean with the whole truth right away.
As hard as it is to share, it’s best to come clean right away about everything that happened with your affair.
You might think you’re protecting your spouse by not telling them everything that went on and therefore softening the blow, but secrets have a habit of coming out eventually. Trust that it will only be worse in the long run if they find out more details later.
Your spouse needs to know that they can trust you to tell the truth again after you’ve been lying about another relationship or fling. It might feel like a horrible place to start, but telling the truth about what went on when you cheated on them is the first step to recovery.
Even information that you didn’t think was important, or didn’t want to talk about, is still worth sharing because any detail that your partner finds out at a later date will ruin any trust that you’ve managed to build back up between you and make them question what else you might be hiding.
Hidden surprises, no matter how insignificant in your eyes, will ruin your marriage. Don’t give things the chance to go wrong and push back any positive forward steps you have taken as a couple just because you were afraid to be honest from the start.
If you think you’re protecting your partner from something they won’t want to hear, remember that they’re already hurting. If you keep more back from them now, it will only mean that they will be hurt again later. The betrayal may even feel worse the second time around.
You can’t move on in your marriage with secrets still between you. It might be difficult, but be honest from the start and life will be much better for both of you later on.
To make this process run a bit more smoothly, you should seriously consider speaking to a relationship counselor, together as a couple.
10. Be realistic about whether your spouse can forgive you.
Once trust is broken in a marriage, it can be too much for you to both move on from, however hard you try. You might want to save your marriage and believe that there is a chance, but do you honestly think that your spouse feels the same way?
You need both partners’ full investment to make a relationship work, especially after an affair. If one of you can’t forgive the other, then there is no hope of ever leaving this episode behind you, no matter how sorry you are for it.
It will take time and effort for you both to be able to trust each other and find yourself happy in your relationship again. But if your spouse can’t help but bring up your affair at every opportunity or doesn’t seem to have changed their behavior toward you since it happened, you may need to re-evaluate whether there is any marriage left to save.
If your spouse can’t forgive you and you don’t seem to be moving forward together, then staying in this relationship will make you both miserable. Just because you want something to work, doesn’t mean that it can. And if your partner can’t accept that you’re sorry and have changed your ways, you’ll never be given the chance to prove them wrong.
11. Allow your spouse time to grieve.
Be prepared for a big reaction from your spouse.
Admitting to what you’ve done and living with the consequences was never going to be easy. It will be upsetting and uncomfortable, but you have to allow your partner the chance to react and grieve in any way they need to.
Even though you’re still here and willing to make your marriage work, your partner will still be grieving a relationship they no longer have trust in. Everything they felt was secure has been taken away by your betrayal and they’re going to have to come to terms with that.
Their emotions will take over, they might scream and shout at you, demand answers, or just need space away from you. Whatever they need to do, it is part of their process of coming to terms with the situation and you’ll need to ride it out.
As much as they may want to try to move on with you, you are a different person to them now than the one they thought you were. They need to get used to new boundaries with you and rebuild trust in you, all of which will take time.
Don’t be surprised if, after taking a few steps forward, you find your partner revisiting the same accusations or arguments you thought you’d got past. Dealing with the knowledge that you cheated on them will take them through all different stages of emotions, and if you want your relationship to work out with them, then you can’t rush the process.
It won’t be easy and it will test your patience, but the most important thing you can do to show you care and truly want to be with your partner, is to support them no matter what.
12. Have patience with your partner.
Trying to make a relationship work after you’ve been unfaithful will be a long, exhausting and complicated process, but if your marriage is what you want, then you have to try.
Your spouse will be emotional and it will take time for them to cope with what they’re feeling in response to the situation. It won’t be easy having them upset with you, shouting at you, or asking for space, but if making this marriage work is what you want then you have to persevere through it all.
As much as you might want the whole episode to go away quickly and quietly, in reality, that’s not going to happen. Building up the trust that’s been broken between you will be a messy exercise and even when you think you’re both in a good place, you partner might still need more time. You’ve hurt them more deeply than almost anyone else could, so have patience with their recovery process.
You can’t skip over the hard part of fixing a relationship. Sometimes it will be frustrating for you to always be the villain, especially if you’re trying hard to make your relationship work. But staying humble, attentive, and doing everything you can to rebuild the trust between you is what will show your partner that you’re truly repentant and committed to finding your way back to a happy marriage.
13. Apologize to friends and family.
As much as you might feel as though your relationship isn’t anyone else’s business and you should only be concerned with your partner’s happiness, this isn’t entirely true.
To an extent, you’re right in thinking that your partner is the most important person right now. You should be giving them your time and affection and showing that you’re committed. However, it’s important not to forget the importance of friends and family and the influence they have on your relationship.
As well as apologizing to your partner, you should consider apologizing to their family and close friends for cheating on your marriage.
This family and these friends have accepted you in as one of their own. Through your relationship, you have become an extension of their social unit and they have placed as much trust in you to keep your partner happy and safe as your partner did.
The betrayal you’ve made to your partner is just as much of a betrayal to their family and friends. You’ve hurt someone they love and it’s going to be difficult for them to move on from that.
Speaking to them directly and apologizing for your actions is an important step if you hope to move on and save your relationship.
These are the most important people in your partner’s life and they are the people your partner will speak to when they are upset and need support. You need them in your corner if you are going to have any hope of making this work.
14. Decide if you really want to be in this marriage.
Before you decide to give your marriage another go, make sure you’re making this decision for the right reasons.
If you’re feeling guilty about what you’ve done and the hurt you’ve caused your partner, you could be trying to make the relationship work because of them and not because you really want it to.
To have cheated on your spouse, there must have been cracks in your marriage to begin with. If you were happily married and in love, you wouldn’t have been looking for comfort and attention elsewhere.
You have to acknowledge that you’d reached a place in your marriage where you were willing to risk your relationship for the sake of time spent with someone else.
Why you did that is the key to understanding whether or not you really want your marriage to work. You need to identify what it was you felt was missing that you looked for outside your relationship, to understand if there is something fundamentally missing from your marriage that can’t be fixed.
You might think you want to make your marriage work because it feels like the right thing to do. But in your mind, was your marriage already over by the time you had the affair? Was it something you wanted to be part of anymore?
It will take all of your time, energy, and effort to prove to your spouse and yourself that you can be faithful and are committed to making your marriage work. You need to be sure that you’re ready to put the work in and are committed to the process.
It may not be the realization that you want to have, but you might find that your actions have spoken louder than your words and that this marriage just isn’t for you anymore. If it’s not, you need to save your partner more pain in the long run and end your relationship now for the sake of both of your future happiness.
15. Speak to a relationship therapist.
If you’re the one that’s been unfaithful, it might feel like the world is against you. You’re the villain in this story and no one wants to hear or take what you say and what you feel seriously.
You know you’ve messed up, but navigating this situation, especially if you’re trying to make amends, can be a tricky and emotional time for both you and your spouse.
Speaking to an experienced relationship therapist doesn’t mean there’s something ‘wrong’ with you. You might think that therapy is just for people who are struggling mentally or in much worse situations than you are, but that’s not the case and it might be something you should consider.
A relationship therapist is someone you can talk to about your side of things without fear of judgment or repercussions.
To stop yourself from being unfaithful again and to work out what you need to do to save your relationship, you need to understand why you were unfaithful in the first place and work through the different emotions you’re feeling.
Even coping with remorse or regret, or feeling as though no one will accept you, can seriously affect your confidence and your mental health if you don’t know how to work through this state of mind.
Speaking to a relationship therapist will allow you to express everything you’re thinking and feeling in a non judgmental space. They will be there to support you when you feel as though no one else wants to.
Once more, our recommendation for any sort of relationship counseling or therapy is Relationship Hero. Even if you are already planning sessions as a couple, it would be worth seeing if there is a way to have some sessions as individuals. You and your spouse will surely benefit from having this neutral outlet to talk to.
Click here to sign up and begin this all-important process.
16. Ask whether you trust yourself not to cheat again.
You think you want your relationship to work and you have every intention of committing to your spouse, but can you trust yourself?
Your marriage is something you think you should try to save, but do you really believe you’ll never be tempted to cheat again? Are you totally satisfied with what you have with your spouse?
There has to have been something that caused you to stray from your marriage in the first place. People don’t cheat unless they’re unhappy with what they have, and unless you’ve addressed what was missing in your relationship and regret your actions, there’s always the danger that it could happen again.
If you’re staying with your spouse because you feel guilty rather than because you genuinely don’t want to be with anyone else, your marriage isn’t going to last.
Think about whether you can see yourself only ever being with your spouse for the rest of your life and can say without hesitation that you won’t be unfaithful again. If there is even the smallest part of you that can’t be certain, you need to save yourself, but more importantly your spouse, the pain of having to go through this trauma again.
Saving your marriage after cheating on your partner is going to require time, patience, and commitment.
There’s no step-by-step instruction booklet on how to fix a damaged relationship, especially if you were the one to damage it in the first place. No one can give you the magic formula to make everything alright again because your relationship may look a whole lot different to theirs.
If you’re committed to making things work between you and your partner, then all you can do is trust that everything you’re doing to show you’re serious about them is working, and let time fix the rest.
It might be that this marriage isn’t destined to work out. You’re infidelity could be the sign that you’ve checked out of your marriage long before. Or despite your best efforts, your partner might not be able to get past what’s happened and can’t find it in themselves to trust you again.
But one of the most important things you need to consider before you try to make amends is your motivation for saving your relationship. It’s better to be out of a relationship and happy then in a relationship and unhappy.
The negative influence of an unhappy relationship will permeate into every aspect of your life, wearing down the best parts of both you and your partner.
That’s not something either of you should tolerate just because you think you think ending the marriage is going to be difficult. Of course it will be difficult. There will be all sorts of things that come into play when going through a divorce, but it might be what’s best for you both in the end.
Still not sure how to win your spouse back after infidelity?
Speak to an experienced relationship expert about it. Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours.
Relationship Hero is a website where you can connect with a certified relationship counselor via phone, video, or instant message.
While you can try to work through this situation yourself or as a couple, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can fix. And if it is affecting your relationship and mental well-being, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.
Too many people try to muddle through in their relationships without ever being able to resolve the issues that affect them. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, speaking to a relationship expert is 100% the best way forward.
Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service Relationship Hero provide and the process of getting started.
You may also like:
- 14 Effective Ways To Deal With The Guilt Of Cheating
- How To End An Affair: The Only 4 Steps You Need To Take
- How To Stop Cheating On Your Partner: 9 Tips That Work
- Yes, You Should Tell Him/Her That You Cheated. Here’s How To Do It.
- 7 Things To Do When You Get Caught Cheating
- 12 Signs It’s Time To Walk Away From A Marriage After Infidelity