In two-thirds of the cases where the betrayal is known, the cheating partner will confess to his or her mate; in the rest, outsiders inform, or clues lead the mate to this wrenching discovery. However it happens, the disclosure is always explosive. But there are ways to minimize the damage.
For the Deceiver
- Make sure when you tell that you are motivated by a real desire to improve the relationship, not merely to unload guilt or -- worse -- to gloat.
- Do not confess in anger. Cool down and make an appointment for a later time. Say you have something important to discuss.
- Timing is crucial. Consider your partner's level of self-esteem and other crises or pressures. Otherwise, hold off and get professional help with this step.
- Try to reassure your mate that he or she is loved. Mention good times the two of you have shared. Validate what's said. Don't be defensive, blaming or hostile.
- Keep talking, even if it takes many hours. Do not shut the other person out.
For the Deceived
- Confront your mate with your suspicions even if you're afraid of the answers and that he or she will leave. Otherwise, you give tacit permission for the affair to continue. State firmly, "I think you are having an affair." Do not ask open-ended questions.
- Be assertive but not judgmental.
- Be direct. Don't hint or beat around the bush.
- Don't send dual messages, saying "If you are, I don't want to know" or "If I ever find out, I'll leave."
- Face the betrayer and look him or her in the eye. Do not permit diversions such as television. Do not drink before, during or after.
Once it is out in the open, you should seek counseling or family therapy to help determine the whys of the affair so that it doesn't happen again. If you're separated, don't go back without first seeking help or taking a stand about the affair.
More articles in this series:
Adultery, the Forgivable Sin
Preventing the Affair: How to Hold that Line
Practical Steps towards Forgiveness
Return to the Adultery, The Forgivable Sin main page.