How to Confess an Affair If You Were Using Ashley Madison

The homepage of the Ashley Madison website is displayed on an iPad, in this photo illustration taken in Ottawa, Canada July 21, 2015.
The homepage of the Ashley Madison website is displayed on an iPad, in this photo illustration taken in Ottawa, Canada July 21, 2015. | REUTERS / Chris Wattie

Have you been using, but now fear that your affair will become public knowledge?

Live long enough and you learn this lesson: Anyone might do anything in certain circumstances. Just as bad people do bad things, sometimes good people do bad things; not just "minor" things, such as the proverbial white lie, but major things.

Including adultery.

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Presidents, governors, athletes, religious leaders, and a mass of others have been caught breaking their marriage vows. Research indicates men still outpace women in unfaithfulness, but if trends continue, that won't be for long. Nearly as many wives stray as do husbands.

And sometimes people intentionally go out looking to have an affair. Such is the case with the affair-approving website



Except for same-gender liaisons, affairs involve at least one man AND one woman. If you carry the illusion that most trysts involve a married man and a single woman, you're behind the times. Married women also stray for myriad reasons. With increased mobility, increased communication technology, the explosion of social interaction sites such as Facebook, and a number of other things, married women are presented with opportunities for temptation unheard of just fifty years ago. If those women are unhappy, disrespected, ignored, or emotionally abandoned, they become susceptible to temptation.

No one is above temptation. Especially when sites like Ashley Madison make the temptation into an easy to start reality.

Everyone is flawed. While temptations differ from person to person, crossing boundaries with someone other than your spouse appears to be one of the strongest. Reported statistics vary, but it appears that adultery affects about 60% of marriages. Sometimes it happens early in the marriage; sometimes late. In some cases it is the husband; in others, the wife. Statistically it appears it doesn't matter whether people claim to be religious or not or whether they see themselves as good people or bad people.

Usually, I'm approached by the spouse who just discovered the unfaithfulness of the other. This morning I responded to several people on our marriage forum who found out their spouses were cheating and sought direction on what to do to save their marriages. However, this article isn't for those whose spouse cheated; it's for those who strayed. Specifically, I address it to people who have crossed boundaries with another person, but want to save their marriages.

Yes, it happens. Good people sometimes make very poor decisions and violate their beliefs and values. When they "wake up," whatever the reason, they most often feel deep penitence and have strong desire to save their marriages. They live in fear that their spouses may discover what happened. They also live with guilt that haunts them to tell their spouses so they can get forgiveness and move on. However, they also live with the fear that if they tell their spouses, the spouses may not forgive and divorce will follow.

And sometimes sites are hacked and identifying information is threatened to be released. It's best to confess what happened before your loved ones find out in another way.

If you are ready to tell your spouse what you have done before you are discovered, I recommend three main steps.

Step One — Preparation

There are several things you need to consider before telling your spouse. If you walk in and confess without having done introspection, you probably are going to create an even bigger problem.

Think before you act.

Think carefully.

Your spouse will have questions — lots of questions. Expect to hear these, among others:

-How could you do that?
-What is wrong with me that I cannot fulfill you or be what you want?
-How long has this gone on?
-Who is it?
-Why him or her?
-What does s/he do for you that I don't?
-Do you have any emails, messages, letters, gifts, etc. from that person? I want to see them!
-I want to know everything you did with him/her, every place you went together, and all kinds of other details.
-Will you tell me the absolute truth?
-Who else knows?
-How did this begin?
-Who ended it?
-When and how did you end it?
-Why did you end it?

If you have any hope of saving your marriage, have answers to all these questions before you start your confession. Tell the truth. Don't embellish or add details not asked for, but make sure that you don't deceive.

Yes, you must tell who it was. If you don't, every person in your world is suspect. Your spouse deserves the right to focus on one person and not everyone you know.

Yes, you should answer every question about every detail. I suggest you preface each answer with, "Are you sure you want to know that? Once I tell you I cannot 'untell' you. I will be honest, but I don't want to hurt you any more than I already have." Anything you keep secret may very well be revealed later, to your detriment. It's better to deal with the pain now rather than think you've made progress and later have some stray fact destroy all you accomplished.

If you're smart, destroy all messages, emails, gifts, and the like. This is not to deceive your spouse but to keep him or her from having even more pain. No matter how much you explain, every recorded word or tangible object will deepen the hurt. Annihilate all of it completely, immediately.

If you don't understand how you got into the affair, it's time to find out. Get professional help if needed. It will take longer for your spouse to deal with this if you haven't identified things about yourself that made you vulnerable, actions you took that led you into temptation, and other similar factors. If you can walk backwards in your mind to see how one thing led to another, you may be able to make a sort of timeline that explains your actions to you. This can help your spouse know that you've figured out your weaknesses and learned to protect yourself, and you personally will also have a much better chance of personal healing.

When your spouse starts the "what is wrong with me" type of questions, this is NOT the time to point out flaws. Your job at this point is to point out the good; your mate will need a great deal of reassurance.

Before you tell your spouse, make sure that you have stopped all contact with the person with whom you cheated. Be able to tell your mate that it is over completely and that you promise to have no interaction with the other person ever again. If that means you need to seek different employment, seek it with your spouse's blessing. If it means changing churches, moving to a different area, or ending nonessential relationships, then do so.

If you think you can confess and your life will go on as usual, then you do not appreciate the seriousness of what you have done. It simply is not fair to put your mate into a situation where s/he has to continually face the other person, or worry about what happens when you come into contact with that person. All contact, in every manner and method, must be eliminated. Quickly.

Kimberly is COO of Marriage Helper, an organization that saves marriages in danger of separation or divorce due to issues such as affairs, anger, dishonesty, loss of passion, poor communication and other issues. Click here for more information on how Marriage Helper can help your marriage.

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