I am Lyn’s husband and I had an affair. I cheated on my wife. Depending on where you are in your journey, you might feel that there isn’t anything I could say that would interest you.
I would suppose that the first questions you might have are: “Why? How could you possibly betray and disrespect your wife like that? What were you thinking?” You can be sure that I had to answer these same questions for Lyn. Questions that have no “good” answers. Questions that I DEFINITELY did not want to answer. Eventually I came to realize that I needed to.
I have a lot of respect and love for my wife for not exercising the “nuclear option.” It might have been justified, but it also would have added some layers of anger and pain that could have clouded the core issue or derailed progress. Coming to grips with the reality, coming to full accountability is hard enough on its own; don’t pile on complications that take your eyes off the goal. You can burn their stuff later, and the way the offender handles themselves in the coming days might tell you whether or not you should.
In our case, it took a few days, maybe even weeks, for communication to start heading in the right direction. Quite simply, it happened because Lyn demanded it, and because I still loved her and wanted to give her what she needed. She made it very clear that answers to her questions were essential to our recovery. To a large degree, the offended person gets to write the rules. The offender has the choice to play by those rules…or not.
Going through the aftermath of an affair provides an opportunity to closely examine what your relationship is made of. Do you care enough to fix what’s broken, or is it time to go your separate ways? In spite of our problems, I knew that what Lyn and I had was well worth saving. Saving it meant giving Lyn what she needed, and she needed some answers.
My first instinct was one of self-preservation. I honestly thought that it would somehow protect Lyn if I didn’t give her too many details about what happened. What it really meant was that I wanted to protect myself from being open and honest, from having to admit the depth of what I’d done. Opening up about what happened, and why, was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
It was worth it. Lyn was, is, worth it. Three years after the affair, Lyn and I have a much closer, more meaningful marriage. Neither of us can imagine being any happier. Yes, we’re still flawed people, and flawed people have conflict. The difference is that there is a more solid foundation of love and respect that bonds us together.
To offenders: if you care about saving your relationship, start talking. Give them what they need, and what they need is answers. To the betrayed: hold the offender accountable.