If you’ve been unfaithful to your partner, chances are you are struggling with shame, guilt, and worry. Most infidelities are the result of complicated and layered circumstances, dynamics and emotions. So how do you get rid of guilt after an affair given these complexities?
While there’s no easy answer, there are a number of tactics you can take to process your guilt so that you can move forward. With some honest self-reflection, you’ll be able to identify what led you to embark on the affair to begin with. Also, acknowledging that having the affair was wrong and hurtful will allow you to shift away from feelings of guilt and toward mending and rebuilding the relationship with your spouse.
Guilt Serves A Purpose
Guilt can be a very useful feeling. It engages your moral compass and allows you to distinguish right from wrong. This, in turn, can guide you to repair relationships you may have damaged and avoid hurting others in the future.
The guilt you feel after having an affair is serving an important purpose. It enables you to admit to yourself that what you did is wrong. Many people are in denial and try to justify their actions by claiming, “it was just one time, it didn’t mean anything, etc.”. Regardless of how you may justify it to yourself, you must still face your actions and their consequences. Feeling guilt is a sign that you understand you made a mistake. Having an affair doesn’t make you a bad person. Even good people can make poor choices which result in regrettable actions.
Acknowledge Your Unmet Needs
When your fundamental needs are not being met within your marriage, you may be tempted to get those needs met outside of your relationship. Research shows that before people embark on an affair, they try multiple times to get their needs met by their partner. It is only after multiple attempts have been made that cheating becomes more likely to occur. There’s usually a history and context behind the infidelity.
For example, if you’re stuck in a sexless marriage you may seek out physical intimacy elsewhere. Or, you may lack emotional intimacy in your relationship despite an active sex life. Whatever your needs are, it’s important to acknowledge and address them openly with your partner.
The Affair Is A Wake-Up Call
It may be helpful to view the affair as a wake-up call that your relationship needs some support. It’s up to you to take steps toward making things right again. Affairs rarely happen by accident. Most often, they are a symptom of a deeper problem between you and your partner. However, if the infidelity was the result of an opportunity that presented itself to you, then it’s time to deal with the circumstances which allowed you to act on it. For example, if you travel for work, have a drinking problem, or encounter other situations where you let down your guard, let the affair be a signal that it’s time to regain control over your decision-making.
Should You Confess Or Keep The Affair A Secret?
Some people can keep a secret their entire lives. Other people have a strong need to confess any wrongdoing. If you had an affair, realized it’s a mistake and will never do it again, it’s ok to keep it a secret. However, if you’re overwhelmed by anxiety, guilt, or you are likely to stray again, you need to admit the truth and address the issues in your relationships with your partner. At some point, you’ll need to ask yourself if you still want to remain married and what kind of marriage you envision having with your spouse. This is usually a highly delicate conversation that may require professional guidance.
Get Rid Of Guilt With Affair Recovery Support
Most marriages can withstand the impact of an infidelity. Think of the affair as a temporary detour. Eventually, it’ll be time to get back on the main road. If the couple uses the affair as an opportunity to course-correct and work on their relationship, the marriage can be revived and strengthened. You can channel your guilt into an opportunity to discuss what’s been happening in your marriage and what led to your infidelity. You’ll need to rebuild trust after the affair and foster emotional intimacy to prevent future infidelities. Taking steps toward improving your relationships is one way to get rid of your guilt after an affair. Consider working with a marriage therapist to assist you along the way.