"I just told her I was going to get some help," James tells ABC's Nightline in an interview airing Tuesday.
He says Bullock agreed, and that she was "proud" of him for seeking help.
The West Coast Choppers garage owner, 41, says the revelations of his cheating might not have come as a total surprise to his Oscar-winning wife, 45. "I think she's had her suspicions in the past, but, you know, I lied and lied my way out of it," he says. "I lied to everyone about everything, even to myself."
When the scandal broke, James says he told Bullock "basically everything" about his transgressions.
James also denies he is racist, despite the photo that emerged while he was in rehab showing him in a Nazi hat and pose. "I could tell by the look on my face [in the photo] it was a joke that was funny then, probably for a minute. But then looking at it in the context of now and in my life, it's not funny," he says. "There's not a racist bone in my body."
He adds: "Dealing with losing my marriage and my son and embarrassing everyone and decimating my life … to be called a racist on top of that is, it makes me really sad."