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I ruined my marriage by cheating: How I plan to fix it

Within five seconds of picking up my husband’s call, my heart had fallen into the very pit of my stomach.

He knew.

My racing brain went into full throttle — do I deny, admit everything, beg for forgiveness?

3 weeks ago my partner discovered my infidelity. Ever since then I’ve been working out what to do next.

How do you fix a relationship after cheating and lying? I ruined my marriage by cheating and here’s what I plan to do about…

The gory details of my lying and cheating

I want to tell the truth about exactly what happened.

Maybe it’s a weird kind of therapy for me. Or maybe the lies I’d been telling over the last couple of months have eaten away at me so much, that total honestly feels like a relief.

Because as laughable as it may sound now, I’ve never seen myself as a deceitful person. If anything, I’m more the “honest to a fault” type, who blurts things out without any filter.

What happened is actually painfully cliched when I think about it — an office “romance”.

I’ve always been a bit of a workaholic but a really important project starting at the beginning of the year meant I was putting in even more hours than usual.

The whole team was. So meetings that ran late into the evening became quite common.

I can’t tell you exactly when it started, as I’m not 100% sure myself. But at one point friendliness with one of my colleagues turned into innocent flirting. Until it wasn’t innocent anymore.

The attention and distraction felt nice. By the time it overstepped the line I didn’t even seem to have given that much willpower to try and stop it.

It only lasted a month or so. One of my husband’s friends eventually saw us together.

After he found out, he didn’t want to talk about it. He packed a bag, made it clear that I shouldn’t contact him for a while and he was gone.

Do I want to save my marriage?

As soon as I was caught, I pretty much spiraled into panic mode.

I couldn’t really think about anything other than desperately trying to undo what I had done.

It’s like I got fixated with this one-track mind of what I can do now to save my marriage but I hadn’t given any deep thought to whether I really wanted to.

Don’t get me wrong, I always knew I loved my husband — that was for sure. But me fucking up so badly clearly didn’t come out of nowhere.

About a week after he left me, I realized I had to ask those difficult questions of myself that I’d been avoiding.

Why did I cheat in the first place?

Do I really want to save my marriage or has the guilt convinced me that I should try and save my marriage?

I’m not going to lie, this was some pretty uncomfortable introspection.

Why did I cheat?

It was tempting to chalk it all up to a “stupid mistake” that “didn’t mean anything”.

I know for a lot of people that might be the case. We’re all just human and we’re all capable of screwing up in the moment.

But if I was super honest with myself, I think in my case that would be a bit of a cop-out.

I think me cheating meant that I wasn’t 100% happy in my marriage. At the time it felt like some kind of escape from the problems we had.

It wasn’t actually about sex, it was more an emotional connection I was craving. Of course, it was an artificial one really, because I know that any new connection always feels easier. It’s exciting and hasn’t been tainted by “real life” yet.

I felt even guiltier for arriving at this conclusion — like somehow I was trying to shift the blame or justify what I had done.

Me not being totally happy at home wasn’t an excuse for cheating, but if I really want to fix my marriage, I think it’s important to recognize that it was a factor.

Because until I am prepared to face the reality of things, what chance will I have at repairing my broken marriage?

And what I did realize with 100% certainty is that I truly do want to repair things between us.

Is it possible to fix a relationship after cheating?

Ok, so I’ve decided that sitting in a dark room googling “What percent of marriages stay together after infidelity?” isn’t getting me anywhere.

Neither is my pity party for one. I want to make things right and just feeling bad about this isn’t going to be enough.

I cheated on my husband, how do I fix it? Can I even fix it?

Of course, I’m terrified that I won’t be able to. But I also realize that plenty of couples do manage to rebuild a marriage after infidelity and I intend to be one of them.

In fact, if you are in a similar situation to me and you’re looking for some light at the end of the tunnel, one of my late-night search engines finds was that 70% of couples stay together after an affair.

Surely that means although I’ve clearly damaged my marriage, my adultery doesn’t have to spell the end.

Here’s the solutions that I’ve come up with — I know they’re not groundbreaking but I also think that it’s likely to be simple things that will be most important in saving my marriage.

6 ways I can fix my marriage after cheating

1) Stop beating myself up

I feel like a very shitty person right now. Of course, that’s totally normal but I started to think about how self-indulgent that kind of is too.

The irony is, that by painting myself “as the bad guy” I’m still putting myself in victim mode — beating myself up and feeling bad, rather than taking full responsibility for what I have done.

Just like any chance of him forgiving me will take time, I think forgiving myself will too. But I want to try.

Yes, I made a mistake but I am not a terrible person and I’m going to need the best mindset possible if I want to heal my marriage.

2) Give him some space/what he needs

When he left, I just wanted to talk to him. I wanted to explain and he didn’t want to hear it. I think that respecting his needs right now is going to be super important in earning his forgiveness.

I don’t want to push him. Trying to force him when he has made it clear he wants some time and space would be selfish of me.

I’m going to try my hardest to work to his time frame and allow him to guide the next steps for us.

3) Really listen

Especially when something is important to me, I realized I have this nasty habit of waiting to speak, rather than really listening.

I cringe even as I write that. But instead of letting what he is saying to me really sink in, reflect and then answer — I’m desperate to give my side of the story.

I read about active listening and it showed me how much work I still have to do and how significant this will be when we (hopefully) have any reconciliation talks.

4) Be totally honest

I’ve realized that honesty comes in a lot of ways. If we stand any chance of getting over this, communication is going to be our best tool.

I have to be completely honest about what has happened to try and rebuild the trust in my marriage — I have to answer whatever questions he has or wants to know. Whatever else happens I know I owe him that.

But I also have to acknowledge and be open about all those underlying causes that I mentioned earlier, which for me contributed to what happened.

Similarly, I have to listen to everything he tells me about how he is feeling — and be 100% open to hearing his truth.

5) Get some outside support

I think it’s fairly obvious that I don’t have all the answers. And even if I did, I’m so deep in this situation that I know I can never really look at things objectively.

If he is willing to, I think we need to get some outside help from an expert — like a marriage counsellor — who really understands who to navigate all this.

6) Accept that what happened is never going to be erased

I guess this step is more about reminding myself to be patient. Although I want to magic wand everything better between us, I know that’s never going to happen.

It’s not going to be a quick fix and I also have to accept the fact that this is never going to 100% go away. If we manage to resolve things and stay together, the results of all that effort aren’t going to be perfect — and that’s ok.

Life isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect, we’re not perfect, my marriage isn’t perfect — but it doesn’t have to be in order to be filled with love and happiness again in the future.

What to do when you cheat on someone you love?

I know that I’m at the start of this journey and I don’t know what will happen.

But I do feel better knowing that I am at least taking responsibility and will do whatever I can to build back our love.

I hope that with enough open communication, reflection and patience I can fix my broken marriage after cheating.

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Pearl Nash

Written by Pearl Nash

I've been through a lot in my life (especially with men!) and I have a lot of wisdom and advice to give to help anyone better their relationships. I believe that everyone is capable of giving and receiving love and my mission is to help everyone see that. I hope you enjoy my writing on Hack Spirit.

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