Man sitting with elbows resting on knees, as if contemplating his spouse about his affair.

Before You Tell Your Spouse About Your Affair

(An Excerpt from When You’re the One Who Cheats by Dr. Tammy Nelson)

If you’re having an affair, and you want to disclose the affair to your spouse before you are confronted, here’s an exercise that may help you prepare.

Use the following steps to help guide you before revealing the affair to your partner. You’ll want to handle this delicate conversation with respect, dignity and compassion. Remember, what you’re about to reveal to your spouse will undoubtedly hurt; you’ll need to show empathy and kindness.

Things to Think About Before Revealing Your Affair

Think about these five things below before you begin. If you don’t agree with these, you may not be ready to tell your partner.

One. You’re about to reveal something that will cause pain; nothing your spouse has done to you, up to this point, matters. Don’t make this conversation about revenge for things they’ve done to you in the past. This conversation is purely to disclose your affair. This isn’t the time to tell your spouse how you feel about them, or about your marriage. Do not do any finger-pointing.

Two. Your spouse is not an extension of you. They’ll make up a story about what this affair means to them that has nothing to do with you. Allow them their own reality. Don’t tell them what they should be feeling; allow them to express their feelings. Don’t let the words “you are wrong” come out of your mouth. (For how to deal with disagreement, keep reading.)

Three. Keep this conversation focused on the basic information about the affair. You don’t have to tell your spouse specific details about when, where, how many times, or even with whom you had the affair. That may come, in time, if you decide it’s best for them to know details.

Four. Make an appointment to talk to your spouse. Let them know you have something important to discuss. Make sure they’re available and open to discussion. You don’t have to tell them what you are going to share, but let them know you’ll need at least an hour of their time. After your disclosure, remind your spouse that this is not the end of the conversation. Tell them when you can talk next.

Five. Honor the “why” questions your spouse will have. For more on this and how to deal with being the one who cheats, check out When You’re the One Who Cheats or go to www.drtammynelson.com for more information.  


Tammy Nelson, PhD, is the author of the new book, “When You’re the One Who Cheats; Ten Things You Need to Know” – she can be found at www.drtammynelson.com.

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