If you are married and wondering how to tell your spouse about an extramarital relationship that you have had, there are several things that you should consider.
First, know your motives. There is only one reason to tell your spouse that you have been cheating, and that is because it's the right thing to do. Honesty and integrity are the cornerstones for equal and healthy relationships. Lying and deception are not.
When you lie, you're changing the rules of the relationship, and you're acting from a place of me versus we, a place that no marriage can sustain. Be sensitive. While there's no perfect time to tell your partner that you have cheated, being sensitive to things like their state of mind, schedule, health and other events going on in your life can help whether or not this goes well.
If you have children, make sure they are not present or in the vicinity of the discussion. Expect your partner to be shaken, and to need time and room to process the information and take care of themselves.
As hard as it may be, it's important not to have any expectations. Forgiveness, understanding and openness regarding your relationship are things that may or may not come down the road. Your spouse may or may not be open to couples therapy as a way to work through the affair. When or if this occurs gets to be determined by your partner.
Advice for Telling Your Spouse You've Been Cheating
The most important piece of advice that I can give is no more secrets. If you're going to tell your spouse that you've been cheating, you need to do so from a place of honesty. Do not modify or water it down to try and protect yourself or your partner's feelings. The only thing that causes more damage than an actual affair is the continuation of deception and lies. Your spouse is going to have many questions, and it's okay to put a limit on that, or limit the discussion to couples therapy. But when you do answer the questions, answer truthfully.
More Advice for Telling Your Spouse You've Been Cheating
Lastly, be patient. If healing from the affair and repairing the marriage is the goal, know that this will take a considerable amount of time. Feeling the acute ramifications of the affair and the process of healing can go on for up to a year, and deeper feelings may take one to several years to work through.