So, you've had an affair and you're compelled to come clean. Should you? Well, my answer may be shocking and evoke anger from some of you. Telling a spouse that you've cheated is not always the right thing to do.
I believe that before you decide whether or not to tell your partner about your indiscretion, you first need to get to the bottom of why you feel the need to tell them.
Below are questions that if you answer yes, in my opinion, should NOT result in telling your spouse about your affair:
- Are looking to rid yourself of the guilt you feel?
- Did the affair happen years ago?
- Did you recently end the relationship?
- Did the person you were having the affair with dump you?
- Are you still struggling to emotionally break free from the person you had the affair with?
- Is it your intent to get even, or otherwise hurt or control your spouse's behavior with the news?
- Are you still having the affair, but aren't ready to make the choice between staying in your marriage or leaving for your lover? (If you want your spouse to decide for you — by all means tell them about your affair.)
I'm sure that there are a large number of you out there that will disagree with me, and that's okay. But stop to consider: why it is you feel the need to tell your spouse about your affair? Will revealing the information cause more harm than good to the marriage?
I had a client who had recently ended a three-year affair, and wanted to focus on rebuilding her marriage. In discussing whether or not she should tell her partner, she realized that her reasons for doing so were related to her guilt and desire to blame her partner, and not towards repairing her relationship. After much discussion, it was decided that she would not tell her husband about the affair. Instead, she chose to focus on repairing the relationship she had. This meant openly talking to her husband about those things that compelled her to have the affair in the first place, and working with him to improve those areas of the relationship.
She took ownership for her needs and desires. It's not clear yet if the marriage can be saved, but she is confident that if it doesn't, she can feel good that she did not unnecessarily inflict pain on her husband. They are able to focus on what they both want out of marriage, without the overwhelming feelings of hurt and loss of trust.
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