I came clean about my affair, but my partner keeps pressing me for details… part of the series for Couples Counseling Lutherville MD
You had an affair, and now your spouse knows about it. Whether you got “caught” or confessed on your own, your spouse is hurt and upset, and won’t stop asking you uncomfortable questions about your affair. No matter what you say, every conversation seems to end in tears or shouting. You feel like your whole word is unraveling and you don’t know how to stop it.
Immediately following the revelation of an affair, it is important for couples to re-establish healthy communication, but that can feel impossible when the wounds of infidelity are still fresh. If you still love your spouse and genuinely want to save your marriage, here are some things you can do to prevent further injury to your relationship before it’s too late.
- Show remorse. If you are feeling guilty, sad, or overwhelmed, be open about it. Your partner needs to hear that you are sorry for the pain you have caused.
- Come clean about the affair. Simply admitting to an affair is not enough. Your partner will want to know details. Even if these questions are uncomfortable, now is the time to tell the whole truth. Withholding information will backfire. If you are concerned that the whole truth might hurt your partner even more, express your concern gently. It’s very important that you don’t lie, downplay, or minimize your affair.
- Be there for your partner. Efforts to comfort your partner may not be welcome right now, but stay close in times of distress. Even if your spouse is crying, screaming, or shouting, it’s crucial that you stay to witness the emotional pain your partner is experiencing. Your partner needs to see your remorse; leaving him or her alone sends the wrong message.
- End your affair. Your relationship doesn’t stand a chance until you end the affair. Don’t put this off—any hesitation or delay will be perceived by your spouse as a lack of commitment. Ideally, end the affair the same day it is discovered, and do so in the most transparent way possible. For example, allow your spouse to listen as you end the affair over the phone.
- Be transparent. Your partner may ask to see your phone, email, social media accounts, etc. or request that you call to check in when you not at home. Honor these requests without resentment, as they are an important step toward rebuilding trust. Give your partner access to information voluntarily—not just when you are asked—in order to demonstrate that you are being fully transparent. If you are concerned sharing certain information with your partner could be hurtful, express your concern gently, but do not insist on withholding anything.
- Express your commitment frequently. Your partner needs to hear you say that you are committed to saving your relationship. Even so, he or she may be too anxious to ask you directly, so you need to take the initiative to tell your spouse that you are committed. Of course, words alone are not enough—you must back them up with actions that show your renewed commitment. Be home on time every day. Carve out more time to spend more time with your spouse and your kids. Help your spouse with household or parenting tasks that he or she usually handles. And find ways to communicate with your spouse when you’re not at home (notes, emails, texts, etc.).
- Get tested for STDs. It’s not a pleasant topic, but both of you should be tested. Don’t postpone getting tested yourself. It shows that you are taking ownership and responsibility for the affair, and facing up to the consequences. Offer to be there for your partner while your spouse gets tested. Even if your partner declines, it’s important for you to show support and accept responsibility.
- Offer to find professional help. Couples can survive an affair, but the odds are much better with counseling from a professional couples therapist trained in Emotion-focused Therapy or the Gottman method. Taking the initiative to find help shows that you are serious about saving your marriage. Ask your partner if he or she would like to be involved in selecting the therapist.
If you think you need couples counseling Lutherville MD, please call Darina Alban MSW LCSW-C at 443-977-9463