How do I tell my wife I cheated on her?

76% Admiting guilt: A survey of 441 Americans revealed that although lying about illicit affairs remains prevalent, more people would come clean about their past affairs to their new partners. 76 percent of respondents admitted their past infidelity to their new partners. PHOTO/REPRESENTATIONAL/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • Telling your partner enables you to be accountable.

I am a 53-year-old man and had an affair with one of my colleagues for a year. I have been married for 20 years and have two children. I ended the extramarital affair six months ago but the guilt has been driving me crazy. I want to tell my wife and apologise to her. How should I do that? 
Anonymous

Dear Anonymous,

Coming clean will help you overcome the guilt. A simple sorry changes many things in a relationship. However, the level of communication between you and your wife is key. If you have chosen to tell your wife, you need to find a gentle and humane way to break the news.

Choose the right words to use and anticipate the right mood. If she is the type that overreacts, take a lot of time preparing her and once you think she is ready, then tell her.

The best way to let her know is when the children are away and you know that there would not be a third person to interrupt you. Tell her everything and answer all her questions honestly. Also, do not forget to mention why you ended the affair. I believe you did so because you realised the importance of your family and how much you love your wife and children. 

She might be angry and may not even talk to you for days. Different people react differently to such situations. But give her some time. Let her absorb the news at her own pace.

Your behaviour should, however, show that you have changed and will never cheat again. If you do not change, this will open up old wounds and your wife will start recalling what happened in the past.

Give her the assurance that you have called off the extramarital affair and that you need her support to help you overcome it. This will help you regain her trust and will also help you take away the guilt. Remember to be true to yourself and to her and not make the same mistake again. 

Most people believe that sometimes it is better to keep it a secret because it is no use unburdening your guilt on your partner. But when you have an extramarital affair; you break the most important aspect of your marriage, trust. Telling your partner enables you to be accountable and every time you are tempted to cheat again, you remember how your wife forgave you and the time it took to build her trust again. 

But most importantly, you need to work on what prompted you to have the affair. Find the trigger and together, work on it such that it does not happen again. If needed, get help from professional counsellors or family members that you both trust and respect.

Evelyn Khorono Lufafa is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation 

Reader-advice

Are you apologetic?
Judith Mukasa.
 First, I think what you want to do is admirable. Infidelity is a sign that something is wrong in the relationship. It is a good sign that you want to confess and apologise for your mistake. But I want you to ponder over this; do you want to confess because the burden of your act is giving you sleepless nights? Or, because you truly repent what you have done? Only you can answer this question and I hope it is because you are truly repentant.

Pick the best time
Joyce Musoke.
There is nothing as good as a simple ‘sorry’. The best way to let her know is when the children are away and you know that there would not be a third person to interrupt you. Tell her everything and answer all her questions honestly. Also, do not forget to mention why you ended the affair and I believe you did so because you realised the importance of your family and how much you love your wife and your children. She might be angry and may not even talk to you for days. Different people react differently to such situations. But give her some time. Let her absorb the news.

Speak to a professional
Doreen Muchiri.
You need to work on what prompted you to have an extramarital affair. Some do it because they have a mid-life crisis, others because they grow emotionally apart from their spouse. You need to find the trigger and work on your marriage. If needed you should take help from professional counsellors.

You must prepare
Jalia Woods.
If you have any hope of saving your marriage, have answers to all her questions before you start your confession. Tell the truth. Do not embellish or add details not asked for, but make sure that you do not deceive either. Yes, you must tell who it was. If you do not, every person in your world is suspect. Your spouse deserves the right to focus on one person and not everyone you know.

Allow her to vent
Justine Matovu.
Do not defend your behaviour in any way, especially do not react to your spouse’s emotions in kind. Take the anger, hurt, resentment, and such without reacting in any way other than to understand. Your spouse has a right to be angry and to say some things that you do not want to hear. Tolerate it. You started this by having the affair; you take the consequences. As noted earlier, answer every question without embellishment or telling what was not asked. 

Keep it to yourself
Patricia Essie.
If you have changed, pray to God to keep you away from doing it again. If your wife knows nothing about you cheating, keep your mouth shut, love your wife and family. All will be well. Some things are best kept to oneself because sometimes, letting it out spoils everything.

Do not tell her
BenbellaRubaranga.
The fact that you want to tell your wife means that you are a good man. However, what good will it do to break her heart. Confess to your God and as the Bible says, go and sin no more. 

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