What to say when you’ve cheated: Accountability in a relationship

Again, the same disclaimer as always: I’m not a psychologist or any kind of professional, and following is not to be taken as advice. If any of the things in this post interests you, please discuss your reaction with a licensed professional. 

There are many memes that say “You’ll never find happiness if you think it’s something you get from someone else.” But then they don’t tell you how to get over it. This is one of the examples.

I personally think HOW (or if) to tell your spouse you cheated is a whole another topic. But once you did, accountability is important to healing. Here are my personal lists.

First of all, let’s acknowledge that you were probably hurt, desperate, sad, lonely, and at the end of your rope. You were probably exhausted from trying to change the situation for years and years. You have felt dismissed and unimportant and insignificant and powerless because your spouse says they heard your needs and your situation never improved. You felt… maybe the affair was the solution to your problem somehow.

But, instead, the affair only put you in the current situation of having told your spouse about the affair which devastated them. Now, where to go from here?

Repeat this three times:

“I am a financially independent adult, and I had complete control over myself. No one could have forced me to do something if I really didn’t want to.”

“I am a financially independent adult, and I had complete control over myself. No one could have forced me to do something if I really didn’t want to.”

“I am a financially independent adult, and I had complete control over myself. No one could have forced me to do something if I really didn’t want to.”

Now we’re ready.

What to tell yourself if you cheated (and do not make excuses):

– S/he did not drive me to it.
– I knew there were other options.
– Even if I tried very hard to get them to see my needs and they still didn’t respond, I still had other options.
– It is not entirely impossible that I may have wanted to hurt him/her.
– It’s not impossible I wanted to punish them.
– It is not impossible that I wanted to have the cake and eat it too.
– I’m fully aware that it would have been completely devastating to me if the places were reversed.
– I alone am fully responsible for working out the strategies to prevent it from happening again.

What to think about telling your spouse if you cheated (and do not make excuses!):

(but when it comes to actually telling them, do consult a professional. But do it in your head anyway)
– That I take full accountability of my choices.
– I admit that I had other choices. If you have trouble with this, back to “I am an adult with financial independence…” part above.
– The truth. Even if the truth is “I don’t know.”
– No turning tables, like “but you drove me to this because…” or “This wouldn’t have happened if you had…” If you have trouble with this, back to “I admit I had other choices” above.
– How I will prevent it from happening again. Use “I” and avoid “we” like “I will communicate better” not “we will communicate better.”
and, lastly but most importantly,
In a very firm and conclusive way without any vagueness, why I am choosing to stay in the relationship.

Let’s think about why this all happened.

Let’s do this with everything we discussed above in mind. Meaning that we are not going to blame the other person or the situations for the outcome because “I am a financially independent adult, and no one could have forced me into it if I really didn’t want to do it.”

Some possibilities:

– I require more from this relationship than what it can give me today. This includes future promises and commitments.
– The relationship has become more about what it does for me than about the person.
– I’m trying to change a person, not their habits.
– I’m trying to change a person’s habits over just a few months.
– I’m trying to change a person’s habits by demanding and scolding and nagging, not by supporting, acknowledging, and celebrating.
– I feel they deserve to be nagged at for taking long to change.
– I feel I’m in the right. They have a “bad” habit, and I’m entitled to their change.
– I keep repeating the same communication method that’s failed and blame the spouse for the failure. i.e. “I told my spouse this 20 times” should be directed at myself, not at my spouse.
– I knew my spouse didn’t understand my needs when they said they did, but I was just happy with the verbal confirmation which I could use later to assign blame.
– When my needs are not met, I see it as my spouse failing.
– I think my spouse can do anything and provide me with everything I need if they applied themselves.

If you have your own ideas, please add below in comments.

Now, this doesn’t mean your hurt, desperation, and need aren’t real.

– Seeing what you’ve done in the past didn’t work, how do you plan on making your life more fulfilled without repeating any of it?
– Seeing what you’ve done in the past didn’t work, what do you think your spouse can really do and maybe possibly couldn’t do in terms of meeting your needs?
– Seeing what you’ve done in the past didn’t work, what does your spouse need (to hear, to see, to feel) in order to do these things you think they can do?
– How do you adjust as you see some of those things you thought they could do probe to be wrong?


Why Trump is the right choice for America

Because democracy has spoken. Period.

No no no. No “but.”
No “But Hillary had the popular vote.”
No “But Trump will destroy America.”
No “People will be killed because of Trump.”
Trump was elected by democracy. Period.

In fact, I wonder if that’s what created President Trump. Our righteousness.
“Oh, we are more educated, informed, urban, modern, and fashionable. We know what’s good for you.”

Even after the election was concluded, there are many people who are convinced America elected the wrong president. Remember. There is no such thing as a country “electing a wrong president” because whoever is elected is, by definition, the right president. What you’re trying to say is “America wasn’t the country I thought it was, and it wants things I didn’t think it did.” What you’re thinking is “This isn’t the president that takes the country in the direction that I think is right.”

There is no such thing as a country “electing” a wrong president.

Sure, having everyone come together stronger is probably the better future for any country, but the country has the right to pick their own future. Even if that future is a complete destruction, it chooses.

What’s wrong with being righteous when you’re actually right? What’s wrong with telling bigots, hillbillies, rednecks, and white trash that the world has moved on, all our neighbours are equal, and we don’t leave anyone behind? Because, by doing that, we are not following our own rules. Because we aren’t treating them as neighbours with equal right to a vote and an opinion. Because we are treating them as someone who has been left behind. Because we are calling them names. Because we are acting just the way we accuse them of. Our “cause” being more moral (transgender protection, for instance) does not justify the way we treat them.

Trump activated them. Clinton ignored them. Those aren’t the only ways to treat them. We can reach out to them. We can have a conversation with them. We must have empathy.

For example. You’re an American born into a farming family. You all work from dawn to dusk. You talk about weather, crop, family, and football, but mostly you work a lot. Put food on the table and pay taxes. You don’t go to university because… well, it’s not something you do. Some years are really hard because of the unpredictable crop prices, rising fuel prices, pressure from urban folk about practices, and all the workers that rely on you. You work really hard. You’re tired, worn out, sore, but proud.
You’re a Cubs fan even though your family has lived in Kansas for generations because a Cubs hat is being passed down. You call African-Americans cotton pickers, and you think all immigrants are stealing your opportunities, because…well, that’s what you do. You just don’t know any other way. No one has come down there to show you how to be any other way.

Now wherever you go, you feel like you have to walk on eggshells because people yell at you for what you’re used to saying. At family gatherings, the kids that you sent to school in the city with your hard-earned money call you names like bigots and white trash. They tell you 25 different examples of why you are wrong.

But, still, no one sits you down and shows you empathy. “I see how frustrating it must be to suddenly find yourself caught between how you grew up and how people expect you to be.” No one sits down and teach you a different way. “Hey, did you know that black people saved your dad’s life in war?” “Hey, did you know that illegal immigrants pay more taxes than Americans?”

By that time, it’s like one of those abusive relationships where you try and try and try but your partner keeps picking on you. Nagging you. There is always something new. You are always wrong. You kind of know they are right… you do leave socks on the floor, wet towel on bed, didn’t reply to text, was late to dinner, and made a golf date without asking them. But, still, hearing about how wrong you are every day doesn’t make you proud. And you think you deserve to be proud as a tax-paying American citizen.

Wouldn’t you think of dating that other person who tells you that you’re perfect just the way you are? That was Trump.

Now, what can you do about it to steer the country in the direction you think (and know) to be better, safer, and stronger? Treat everyone with empathy and respect. Remember every incident you called someone names like “bigot,” “hillbillie,” “redneck,” and recognize those as discrimination and disrespect. The only way they will listen to you is if you first show them respect.

If you don’t think they deserve your respect – and if you are actually listing off the reasons why they don’t deserve your respect – we have to start this conversation at a whole different place.