TimT
Another counselor/author sent me an affair recovery book for review. In a section titled My Wife Doesn't Know About the Affair: Should I Tell Her?, the author describes three scenarios in which the truth MUST be told: (1) you contracted an STD, (2) the affair partner is pregnant, (3) someone else knows and is about to tell your spouse about the affair.

For situations that don't match any of these, the author gives the following opinion:

"There are a lot of people who have strong opinions about this subject. They like to stand on their soapboxes, telling you that you have to confess if you have any integrity at all. People like to say things like, "She has the right to know so she can make an informed decisions," or, "You're not really sorry if you don't own up to your infidelity and take responsibility like a man."

"However, we live in a real world, not an idyllic one. This isn't about whether or not it is fair to withhold the truth from your wife. It's also not about whether you can handle the punishment she's bound to inflict upon you if you confess. This is about what will help you save your relationship (assuming that's what you want), and the reality of the situation is this: Confessing usually hurts the relationship more than it helps it.

"Stop and think about this for a moment. What wife wants to know her husband cheated on her? What wife responds positively to finding out her husband betrayed her?

"'Thanks for devastating my world by telling me you cheated on me. Now I am left with two horrible options: either divorce you even though I was happy in this marriage, or tay with you knowing that you are a cheater,' said no wife, ever. Confessing is not the way to save a marriage. End of story."

I am especially interested in the opinion of betrayed spouses who have had to deal with the pain of a spouse's affair. (But those of you who had affairs can give your opinion, too.) Do you agree, or not?
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surviving
WOW!  I wonder what would have happened if my husband hadn't confessed to me.  According to the Bible, we are to confess to one another.  If he hadn't confessed to me, I would wonder why he was fired from his job because he was hitting on a co-worker.  Yet, I wouldn't be going through this hassle and pain that I am going through for the last 21 months.  I would still wonder why he was treating me like a slave instead of a wife for 35 years.  Now that I know what he was doing all these years, I know why he treated me like dirt with his demeaning tone, lying, procrastination and arrogance.  So, I guess the bottom line is, I am glad he confessed - now I know why he acted like he did.  Yet, it is very hard to deal with, even after 21 months.
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Unregistered
I disagree strongly with everything this person wrote on the subject. Whether the faithful spouse "knows" about the affair or not, they know something is wrong. It isn't a marriage of partnership if one spouse has betrayed the very foundation of that partnership by cheating and then keeping it forever hidden. Yes finding out about the affair hurts like nothing ever has, but it is crazy making to feel that something is not right and to be kept in the dark. To me, it is demeaning and manipulative. To me....a person who reasons that it's better for the faithful to not be told to preserve their world, is really just trying to make it easier on themselves. You have already damaged the relationship whether the spouse knows why or how or not. Now man-up or woman-up and face the mess that you have created. This whole reasoning is just a way to ease the conscience of the betrayer. To make them feel that they are doing something honorable by sheltering their spouse. It's garbage.
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Anaveridice
A betrayed's opinion...

The author wrote, "This is about what will help you save your relationship...confessing usually hurts the relationship more than it helps it."

My response: some people say that 'that which you don't know can't hurt you'. I'll admit that there are some things best left unsaid. Knowing what to withhold is a very complicated issue and certainly depends on the given situation and circumstances. That said, in a relationship, an affair can hurt whether or not the betrayed knows about it. In my experience before learning of his affair, my husband was distant, angry, and disrespectful (among many other things) while he was having an affair. This was very detrimental to our communication and relationship. It certainly raised awareness to his discontent and unhappiness in our marriage, but that existed prior to the affair as well. The affair worsened our relationship because he was dishonest about the reasons for his discontent and did not communicate with me; it actually drove an even deeper wedge between us. He had created a false sense of reality while having an affair about our own marriage and not only justify his affair (sexual, online, porn, and emotional) on this false sense, but also it in itself created more issues between us that only developed because he was having an affair. His choice to cheat actually destroyed his own idea of our marriage and relationship. So, to say that keeping it secret and not confessing will keep a relationship from hurt is far from the truth. To say that not telling a wife (or any betrayed partner) about an affair is hurtful and can lead to the death of a relationship or greater hurt (or unwanted pain as the author states) is masking the truth needed to understand the pain he/she is already experiencing because of an affair. How can one "save a relationship" without knowing what the problem(s) is/are in the relationship? This would be similar to having your doctor treat you for an illness you don't have and you believing that the medication is making you feel better meanwhile the actual condition is getting worse and not getting treatment. After I learned of his affair, only then were we both able to begin to "save our relationship."

"What wife wants to know her husband cheated on her?"

My response: I will have to admit, when my husband began to tell me he had sex with another woman my mind was screaming, "No! This is not happening!" And, yes, I could not look at him. I was angry, hurt, and in shock. I couldn't eat. I felt sick. I did at times wish he hadn't told me (even at the time he was telling me), but that was not because I didn't want to know -- it was because I had hoped it wasn't true.

And the author stated to only tell if 1. You've contracted an STD 2. The affair partner is pregnant. 3. Someone else knows and is going to tell.

My opinion:
If you have waited until to tell because someone else is pregnant, you may have waited too late to "save a relationship."
If you have waited until an STD or someone told before you did--again, it could be too late. I have actually experienced both of these scenarios. Finding out about an STD from a doctor knowing I have only been with one person--I ended the relationship immediately (this was not a marriage nor my current husband). Finding out from someone else--is more devastating than having been told by your partner (for me personally) as I have been through both of these situations.
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Kalmarjan
I know that I'm speaking from a wayward position. Here's my take for what it's worth.

From the mouth of my wife, yes she wish she didn't know all the gory details, but that's because she wished it weren't true.

From my end, had there been no confession, there would have been no way to make a reparation for what I did. In other words, wouldn't that open the door for more?

I noticed something... The example was very gender specific. So, i will be gender specific. How can you be a man with integrity and act within your boundaries if you don't make the necessary correction? You've crossed the line, and not owning that will NOT make it go away. I feel like it will enable it instead. Like, no harm, no foul, right?

I think that if the marriage is going to dissolve, at least you should work on it with the truth before you hit the big D and slam it out in the parking lot. Leave no stone unturned, that is unless you truly have no respect for your marriage.

Just my 2¢,however much that is worth.

PS I would have told, I had no choice in my mind. I couldn't bring myself to do it. But in a way I am kind of glad that my wife found out. But, my biggest regret with that was that I wasn't man enough to own up to her face to face. She had to find out through investigation.
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Anna26
I'm not sure what I think really. I was happy when I didn't know, and sometimes I can't see what good it has done me to find out.  Disclosure has taught me that the person I love cannot be trusted.  That they were not who I thought they were.  That my whole marriage since finding out has been a sham and maybe even before then, who knows?  It's taught me how to be angry, unfeeling, and sometimes bitter and hardhearted.  It's shown me that the sacred institution of marriage, isn't that at all, and that maybe it's not worth marrying, and sharing your love with anyone just in case it all goes wrong, and what a dark and sad life that would be. 

  I can see why some people would say it is better to confess, even though it hurts the spouse and risks damaging the marriage irreparably, but is the WS confessing because they can't bear feeling guilty anymore?  Is it fair to foist all that pain and anguish on a trusting spouse just because the WS can't cope with the difficult situation created by themselves.  Are they truly thinking of the spouse when they confess or just trying to absolve themselves by coming clean?

 
After all, lets face it, whether you confess or not, you have a huge burden to carry, so what actually changes when the WS enlightens the less than delighted spouse with this terrible information? 
Does the WS feel any better for sharing or do they feel worse because they've just torn the heart out of their spouse? Perhaps they 'deserve' to bear this burden alone as a kind of penance for their behaviour. Do we not all have crosses to bear from things that have happened throughout life anyway, dysfunctional families, problematic parents,and other painful incidents? Why should one more be so different?

Maybe it depends whether or not someone is prepared, (if they don't confess), to own what they've done specifically for themselves, to look deep inside and see what they were lacking, and to do the work to make the marriage better, at least from their point of view. It's a difficult, but not impossible proposition, to do this on an individual basis and it may even be reciprocated.

Just my thoughts, and a few different points of view maybe there will be more than a few worms now, from the can I've just opened...
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Shayla
I think it completely depends on the situation. My husband's first affair was sexting and I saw one of the text (completely by accident). Then there was the conversation about how long and what all happened. At this point our relationship in my opinion was fine. Had I not seen the text and he had ended it before it went farther. I don't think I would have needed to know in that situation.

The second affair, the LTA, I was clueless for the first year and half. The last six months of the affair was hell. I knew something was wrong, I just didn't know what. I tried to get my husband to talk to me. I asked what was bothering him. He always said nothing. I finally started asking if he was on drugs, he was so angry all the time and not acting like himself, but he would never tell me what was going on. When he finally told me, yes it hurt like hell, but I was also relieved. It explained his behavior, I wasn't crazy or paranoid. In this case I needed to know, also as we talked more he told me he did try to end the affair more than once but it was easy to start it back up again, since I didn't know. The affair had already went on so long that our relationship was in a very bad place, had it continued much longer, I don't think there would have been anything left to salvage.

The third and most recent affair, lasted about 6 weeks. (I'm sure it would have lasted longer, had I not discovered it) Things were starting to feel off, but my husbands work hours were crazy too, so I figured that was all it was. Had this been the only affair and he ended it himself, I think it could have been ok me not knowing; however after everything else I needed to know. 


Anyway I think depending on the people involved and the type and length of the affair, confessing or not could go either way. I don't think anything about this whole mess is black and white.
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AHmember113
Having been lied to, deceived and duped for over two years, the pain from every revalation, act, Facebook post, phone record, etc., is overwhelming. Had someone known and told me, a lot of pain may have been avoided. It still would be painful but may have ended their affair much earlier. I would always recommend telling the other spouse but in the correct, appropriate way. I never want to be so duped again.

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QueenYo17
I totally disagree as well with "not knowing." My spouse did not confess and was caught with his virtual "pants down" via his E-mail being left open on accident.  The sexual affair started last summer and went on for 2 to 3 months with even a trip or two away overnight to conventions.  They continued to "see each other", work out, and have close contact with each other as they were colleagues and collaborated on clients, even though they claimed to have stopped the sexual affair months back.  I did not find out officially for sure until April of this year; however, because of his change in attitude and behavior I suspected something was amiss since around last fall (coincidentally around the same time that the affair was beginning).  I agree with the opinion of #4 above that it most certainly does makes a difference if you KNOW.  I KNEW something wasn't right, but couldn't quite put a finger on what it was.  I was actually low key looking for an apartment on the side and contemplating moving out and calling it quits.  After finding out, I was numb.  I confronted him and I asked him to move out temporarily, just so I could get my head on straight.  It was a devastating blow to our household and family.  I had hit rock bottom and didn't really know if I wanted him to come back.  I felt so unloved and betrayed by him.  He was a stranger to me.  My spouse was dead and I was grieving.  Miraculously and only with prayers from my friends and God's help we have been able to turn the corner and are on the road to recovering what was left of our marriage. It has not been easy.  I'm taking one day at a time, but we believe we have something worth salvaging. Even though he did not openly confess to me, he has said that he was glad that it came out and that he wanted to tell me but didn't know how.  God has given us a second chance at this marriage and we are putting all the cards on the table.  There is no time for playing games.  Life is to short to waste it on a bad marriage with little to no communication and lurking dark secrets. What's done in the dark must come to light if ever the situation is going to begin to get better.
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Branded
Well, I come at this question from the perspective of someone who cheated and ended up telling it all to my wife. For months, I've had to live with the consequence of her anger (yes, I know it's because she was hurt very much) and I'm not sure whether our marriage is going to make it or not. But we're finally in counseling together and there is some hope.

This question has actually come up. My wife said that it's better that she knows the truth rather than not knowing it, even though she's not sure she'll be able to stay with me. But my own response to this is interesting even to me. With all the hell I've gone through after confessing this, I bet most people would assume I regret telling the truth. But I don't. I know what it was like living with lies and secrets. I know what it's like living with honesty. For me, keeping secrets, no matter what reason I give, would have been too much like what I was doing when I had the affair. I don't want to go back there.

Maybe I could have lied and avoided all this, but I'm not playing that game anymore. Neither is my wife. In our own way, we're both fighting for the hope of something different. If we find it, we'll both have the confidence of knowing we're building on the whole truth, not just one person's version of it.
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TimT
I appreciate the responses. If you've read much of what I've written on the AffairHealing.com site, you know my opinions regarding telling the truth about an affair. By the way, that opinion seems to be shared by the recognized authorities (researchers & counselors) in this area. There are always exceptions, though, and I think it is beneficial to consider other points of view.

If I believed real recovery could be experienced by not telling the truth, that would be so much easier! I do believe that pain can be avoided (and sometimes divorce) by not telling the truth, but if the goal is a relationship characterized by intimacy and trust then leaving out the truth can be quite problematic.
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