We worked on how they could best communicate their most intimate feelings so that they could be as close as possible during their limited time together. After a few sessions, she became too ill to come to therapy, but requested one last session with me, alone. She told me in that session that she knew that her husband was in love with another woman. She asked me to make sure that he never knew that she was aware of his affair; she didn’t want him to think that it caused her a moment of pain before her death. She wanted him to be happy and was afraid his guilt would destroy him and keep him from any possibility of happiness after her death.
The next day, he requested an individual session alone with me. He told me that he was going to confess to his wife that he was having an affair, and that he was ending it, promising never to see this other woman again, although he had loved this other woman for years, and had been holding off making it physical, in respect for his marriage and because he truly loved his wife.
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I asked him to hold off on telling his wife, and to leave any decisions about his future in the air for now. Until he was through the crisis he couldn’t be sure what he might want, and his wife, he could be assured, was only interested in his long term happiness, no matter what he would decide after she passed on.
Did I do the right thing? Was I in a position to offer any advice at all? This situation is
certainly different than another story, one I recently commented on in the Huffington Post, a 32 year old woman who has to face her death very suddenly. The tragic part of this story is that the wife has to decide to carry the burden of her husband’s affair.
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If you have to decide to keep the knowledge of an affair to yourself, does it make it an affair? If you know about it, and it’s not a secret, is it really a betrayal? Does it make you stronger to know you are keeping a secret if it helps someone you love? Keep Reading...