I recently heard from a wife who had a very short term affair. She said that there was no real emotional attachment or commitment. She described it as a fling (which she immediately regretted) and which happened during a very vulnerable time in her life. Her mother had been dying of cancer and her husband was unfortunately obligated to travel for work. She regretted this immensely and told me that the guilt was “eating up her inside.” She said that she couldn’t even bare to look at her husband and felt sick to her stomach every time she thought about what she did.
Plus, she felt sure that the deception and guilt was plastered all over her face and that her husband suspected that something was very wrong. She was unsure as to whether she should tell her husband about the cheating. She didn’t know if this was going to make things better or worse. But, she did know that she felt as though the guilt was ruining her life and she wanted for it to stop as soon as possible. In the following article, I’ll try to offer some insights on the guilt that often follows having an affair.
Don’t Allow The Guilt That You Feel Because Of Your Affair To Hurt Your Spouse Even More: It might help the wife to look at things this way. She could not turn back time. She could not take back the cheating. But, what she could do was to try to rectify this situation as best as she could from this point forward. It was not fair to her husband for her to allow her guilt over this to further affect or hurt him.
And, at this point, he did not know about the cheating. However, it’s probably safe to say that he knew that something was going on with his wife. It’s probable that he noticed that something was very much bothering and affecting her and this likely affected him too. So, it was important that the wife was able to get a handle on her guilt so that she could stop negatively affecting her husband and her marriage, especially since none of this was her husband’s fault.
Would Telling Her Spouse About The Cheating Help With The Guilt?: I am asked this question on an almost daily basis. Usually, people will ask me things like: “The guilt over my affair is tearing me up inside. I’m wondering if telling my spouse that I cheated will help to alleviate the guilt.”
In some situations, it can. But, you really do have to be careful here. Often, I see people who just sort of want to dump all of the baggage from the affair onto their spouse in order to get some relief for themselves. And usually, what they have afterward is still a bunch of guilt but now they have a hurt and devastated spouse as well. So, now they are facing two messes that they have to clean up.
This is not to say that you should not be honest with your spouse. But, make sure that when you decide to do this, you are not doing it for selfish reasons and are only looking to alleviate your own burdens at the expense of your spouse. When you do decide to come clean, you want to be as calm, loving, and introspective as you can. You don’t want to just blurt it out and then hope that your spouse can shift through it while you feel some relief.
Often, Making Things Right Again After Your Cheating Will Begin To Alleviate Your Guilt: In my opinion, one of the causes of guilt after an affair is knowing that you’ve done something that you can’t take back and may not be able to fix. And, you worry that this is going to hurt your spouse so much that it is going to ruin your marriage.
But, if you can eventually make things right with your spouse and improve your marriage so that you are ultimately in a healthier place than when you started, then the guilt should begin to wane. That’s not to say that you won’t always feel a sense of guilt about cheating. But, if you can make things right again and make this up to your spouse, then you will have less reason to feel badly about this and you will then have incentive to move forward rather than to look back.
You will often need to remind yourself that your guilt is serving no real purpose other than to prolong the pain. As long as you know in your heart that you will never do this again, will commit to removing any vulnerabilities, and will work tirelessly to save your marriage, then tell yourself that this emotion only hurts your spouse and your marriage, which are two things that really should be your top priorities right now.