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Should I confess to my husband that I once had an affair during our marriage?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Cheating<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (11 October 2007) 26 Answers - (Newest, 30 May 2008)
A female Philippines age 36-40, anonymous writes:

Hi. Is it good to confess to my husband that I once had an affair with another man during our married life? Or should I just forget it? I stopped it, anyway.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (30 May 2008):

Hey! I feel you!...i myself was going through a similar situation. It takes two to keep a marriage. I am not proud for having an affair, because i know right from wrong, so i am not trying to justify myself. But i do acknowledge that usually affairs happen because there is a bigger underlying problem between the spouses. In my case it was physical and verbal agression, and lack of intimacy, which made me feel lonely and rejected. An i know i did it in some sort of revenge type of motivation. On the other hand we all need to remember: "if we don't tend to our garden someone else might just take care of it and give it what it needs". I told my husband i wanted a divorce, and all of a sudden the affair popped up in the most unexpected way...and he was very upset. He asked me all sorts of questions and in fact he's coming back to town after a temp contract in Vegas. So, sometimes, even if you decide not to say and maybe save him some pain, things have a funny way to come to light whether we like it or not...and that's what i've learnt...so better that he knows it from you than from another source...and i agree with what other people who replied said, it's your and his life what's at stake, and both of you have to be honest and then decide where life is going, either save what's left or go your separate ways.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (2 April 2008):

Yes I think he should know the truth...a marraige should be based in honesty...if my wife had an affair I would want to know...plus he should be the one to decide what he wants out of the relationship.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (25 November 2007):

You may not have been caught out, but the truth will come out some day.Life is funny that way. When you least expect it some thing will happen, and the truth will pop out,like in a fit of jealousy when you learn that some cutie has taken a shine to him and is prepared to meet some of HIS unmet needs. Woe unto you then.I know.It happened to me.Seek help from a professional if necessary, and tell him.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (24 November 2007):

tell him now and you wont have any secrets, if you dont it will kill you

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (16 November 2007):

If that last responder is right, then I guess infidelity is only a real problem when the spouse finds out. That's a rather strange logic.

I would be hurt MUCH WORSE by a spouse that didn't tell me for decades than by one who came clean about it right away.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (14 November 2007):

H-- to the No!! Confess and repent to GOD with a sincere heart. Some secrets are not meant to be told!!!

It will only lead to distrust and finger pointing regardless of how healthy your relationship is now! It will linger in the back of his mind forever though he may not bring it up now, just wait untill an unusal sitituation come along and has nothing to do with your past affair, believe you me all hell will break loose!!

Experience GooD Life

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (22 October 2007):

I agree with all of that last answer except the part about "if he wants to leave then he was not in it for all the bumps along the way."

I consider infidelity to be grounds for divorce. Simple as that. It is good if the unfaithful partner comes clean and that is probably the best chance for healing the wound, but a cheated-on spouse still has every right to permanently walk away from the marriage upon finding out.

It has nothing to do with whether the cheated-upon person was in it for the long haul or not. Honesty from the cheater does not make it the "duty" of the cheated-upon to forgive anything whatsoever. Honesty from the cheater only creates the possibility of a better final relationship IF the cheated-upon spouse chooses to try again with him/her.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (21 October 2007):

You have 2 choices.

Choose Not to tell - you continue with your mediocre relationship because you do not have an open and honest marriage now.

Choose to Confess - You have a chance to have a real relationship. If your husband chooses to leave, he was not in it for the bumps along the way. Most choose to stay.

My husband of 30 years never told me of his 9 year affair. He was going to take it to the grave. I found out 2 years after it had ended from the other womans angry exfiance. My husband believed it would never surface. I can tell you that 90% of all the pain and hurt would have healed a lot faster if he had told me himself and made his entire life and the affair an open book to me after I found out. The trust was much harder to regain. He tried to tell as little as possible at first and then I had to pry and try and ask the right questions to get my answers. He did not volunteer any extra information always trying to lessen the hurt and minimize the damage. That is the devastating part. If you choose to tell, answer his questions honestly and fully. No sugarcoating.

My husband is now happier and healthier. Keeping that ugly secret was slowly killing him and our marriage yet he did not know it. It also fills in the missing pieces to the puzzle of the past for me.

Your husband will be devastated when you tell him but if he is a good man he will eventually realize that you stopped the affair and ultimately chose him. The affair may be over but it lives on in your lives as it affects everything you do or say in the present. How do you discuss the subject of cheating when it comes up in everyday conversation? What do you say when he tells you about a friends cheating or you watch a movie that involves cheating or a cheating song? The longer you put it off the more he will think back about all your answers and reactions and view them as dishonesty. Some people find out after the person dies and that becomes hell as there is no one to answer all the questions or say "I forgive you." This is not unusual.

Some people will not tolerate such emotional honesty in communication. They would rather defend their dishonesty on the grounds that it might hurt others. Therefore, having rationalized their phoniness into nobility, they settle for superficial relationships. ~Author Unknown

We tell lies when we are afraid... afraid of what we don't know, afraid of what others will think, afraid of what will be found out about us. But every time we tell a lie, the thing that we fear grows stronger. ~Tad Williams

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (13 October 2007):

If you think it would change his behaviour (read: he'd leave you over it) then he absolutely has the right to know. If not, you're robbing him of the power to control his own life. If he wants to spend his life with a faithful spouse more than he wants to stay with you, then HE HAS THAT RIGHT.

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A male reader, Tommy7 United States +, writes (12 October 2007):

Foreget it.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2007):

If you are havng marital problems, please don't tell your husband this about your past affair "just because you might want out!" How utterly cowardice, cruel and selfish would that be? If your marriage has problems, deal with them and talk to your husband about those problems. But don't purposely inflict this pain on him just to piss him off and he'll walk out. Let's be humane here and not lower ourselves to that animalistic level...Sheesh!!

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2007):

It strikes me the only reason you wish to bring it up now, is that you want out may be n that you arnt really happy... I am a firm believer that things dont happen without reason especially between two people, temptation is fun but for all the goings on in todays world to drive an honest person into dishonesty...is because of something, even boredum of the daily chores responsibilities that us woman seem to be doomed however hard we try just aint hard enough or noticed enough is it...leave in in your mind...and take some enjoyment from it...if your happy, if your not, guess it could be a get out...what do you want...How would your guy react I have been acused and abused for nothing and faced all the anger that will follow Im sure, a jealous friend, of a guy I was friends with made up a well believing tale and spoke to my partner... 5 years later, in argument im still paying the price, but I have no answers, nothing to say, cant even defend my self,destgroying everything little does my partner know...for what some jealous mouthy drunk who has always been wlcome as a friend inour home, as have all, you know just good mates, my advice is leave it alone unless you want out might take a long time for the end result to be, but if you are happy and wish to stay that way, dismiss it and move on with your partner, should you want out, go for it. kiss it good bye.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2007):

NO!!!!!!!!!! Why do you feel you have to tell him now?

Ok you want to take the moral high ground and get it off your chest, but that could be the end of your marriage. It has been, it is gone, you did it, and you finished it and you wont do it again. Why does he need to know?????

I disagree with most of the Aunts, sorry, but i think you should let this sleeping dog lie and keep it buried inside of you forever. That will be punishment alone.

Please dont wreck his life now, he doesnt deserve it and he didnt then, but just forget it and vow never to do it again.

Take care and let us know you decision.

xxx

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A reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2007):

Should you tell him you had an affair. In theory, it would be the moral thing to do and it will depend on how 'forgiving' your husband is and how strong your trust and committment is, at this point. However, in the harsh reality of marriage and love..I will say that you think about a few things before you decide to tell him. Will this cause pain, hurt and monumental future problems? I am seeing this in another way. I don't believe the 'big confession' will cure anything and you, as the cheater, have everything to gain. You get to unload all your guilt and remorse... and dump it right in his lap. And then what? Will your husband sit and mull this over and endure the pain of always wondering about you, the shattered trust and the future of this marriage? Will he ask himself if you will do this again? Will he wonder..why didn't she love me enough, to have resisted an affair? It is possible that telling him and then staying together after this, can set up a very, very unpleasant dynamic within your marriage. The arguing could continue and his worry and wondering may never cease. Will your your husband voice doubts about this marriage, forever more and will you voice doubts at him because he is failing to be forgiving of you? Will your own remorse and guilt will turn the tables on him? When an affair is exposed, some people never, ever forget the pain and sorrow. This will be like having a unending sorrow and pain always, at the very core of your marriage relationship. Every time you walk in the door late, from work or an appointment-where his thoughts go? Could this be your future? The mistrust. So, on that note, I don't know how your husband will react,if you tell him. He may forgive and say let's move on from here and then again, he may not. Only you know that. But quite often these factors have to be taken into account before exposing a "long ago dead affair'. Just remember dear.. and I hope you have learned from this hard lesson...that without fidelity, there is no security in an impotant, lifelong realtionship such as marriage. Honor, committment and a strong, unrelenting fidelity is what makes marriage very, very different from any other relationship. So you have a big decsion to make. Good luck.

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A female reader, Sweet-thing United Kingdom +, writes (11 October 2007):

Sweet-thing agony auntIf you have stopped the affair and things between you and your husband are going well, then don't bring it up. It could cause serious damage at this point. Hopefully you learned a valuable lesson, and have regrets for it. That's enough. Just knowing in your mind that you feel guilty, will hopefully keep you from doing that again. Very few men can handle hearing that kind of news and do you really want to spend the next half of your marriage with him constantly throwing it in your face, or accusing you of being a cheater every time he gets mad about something, or knowing that he'll always be watching you like a hawk, questioning your every move? No way. Leave it in the past - take it to the grave. Pray for forgiveness and move on. Good luck.

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A female reader, TELLULAH United Kingdom +, writes (11 October 2007):

TELLULAH agony auntVery hard, but I think you should tell him. Even though you finished with the other guy, it could come back to haunt you. If your husband finds out in the future, wont that be worse?.

Sorry honey but your damned if you do or dont tell him! You just cant win, and you must have known the Consequences of having an affair.

I really dont believe that hiding the truth works in the end. In fact I can assure you it doesnt.

Hope whatever action you decide to take works out ok. Xx

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2007):

Of course you need to tell him. He deserves to know all of the facts when he chooses to be with you for the rest of his life. He is entitled to know about the "real" you- if he views you as someone who would never cheat on him, and you have, then he is NOT knowing the "real" you, but an illusion that you present. You made a mistake, and it would be another cruel mistake to let him believe a lie about you. I firmly believe that transparency is key in any relationship. Secrets don't make a happy home. It's part of being a responsible adult- you can't bury mistakes that you make, even if you think you can. You will always know that you are living a lie. It doesn't matter how long ago it was- it's obviously bothering you, and he still has the right to know. You should tell him at a convenient time when you have plenty of time to discuss the subject. If it was very long ago, and if there were problems in your relationship at the time that are now solved, he will likely decide to stay with you anyway. His forgiveness and trust may take time to rebuild, but since you broke it, you'll have to be patient in fixing it. It's worth fessing up.

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A female reader, angelblueeyes United Kingdom +, writes (11 October 2007):

angelblueeyes agony auntHi, This is a hard one really because of how long ago did this affair take place? if it was ages ago and you can live with it eating you up then dont tell him, is there any chance of him finding out from someone else because if he hears that from someone else i'm sure that will hurt him more than if you just told him yourself, either way this has to be your choice no one else's. Good luck

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A reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2007):

Been spending alots of time reading,and there was a time that I would of said, "NO WAY" to confessing your adultery. Now I know that not to confess it won't hurt him one bit,unless he finds out about it in a roundabout way. As for you, The adultery will burn your heart and soul if it isn't addressed. And your relationship will be beyond physical and emotional repair until you deal not only with the sin against his body, but also the sin against your own body,and also your sin against God. The one thing that you are going to find out when you ask for his forgiveness is,"can he forgve you?. For that's what God Says we all must do,or He will not forgive us our sins either. My heart goes out to you. A great big hug from a man who has been there, but didn't have the balls to do what you must do,if you want to put love back into your togetherness.

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A female reader, hlskitten United Kingdom +, writes (11 October 2007):

hlskitten agony auntHi

With something that happened a while ago, i always say, if it means hurting someone, dont do it. I look at it as, would they benefit from knowing the facts? If it was that long ago, i wouldnt tell him.

A quite famous agony aunt here in the Uk put it like that once and it made sense to me.

Good luck.

C xxxxx

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A reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2007):

I don't totally disagree with the others, but to my mind it all depends on how long ago it happened. It also depends on if you can live with it or if it's eating away at you.

If it was a long time ago and you can live with it, and it's not affecting the marriage at all I'd say keep quiet about it, you've made one mistake and there's not much point in making another and risking splitting up an otherwise (I assume) happy mariage.

If the guilt is having an adverse effect on your marriage then I'd say own up to it, but there's always the risk that you'll find yourself single again anyway.

You never know, your husband might have one or two confessions of his own, and you'd be as well to be prepared for that.

Not much help, I know, but that's my thoughts.

Phil

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A male reader, kenny United Kingdom +, writes (11 October 2007):

kenny agony auntPersonally i think you should tell him. Marriages are built on trust, and if you have not got trust then its doomed to fail. For this marriage to proceed there needs to be know secrets. Get everything out in the open, trel him what happened and let the chips fall where they may. You will fell a weight has been lifted from your shoulders, and you will know you did the right thing.

All the best & good luck x

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A female reader, red1982 United Kingdom +, writes (11 October 2007):

By telling him you will end your marriage as you know it. It may even be the end of your marriage period.

Everything will change between you. He will probably not trust you again for a long time - if ever.

What was your reason for the affair? Is whatever was missing in your marriage to make you stray put right now? If not work at putting it straight.

What would you achieve by telling him? If you are sure that you love him and the affair was a mistake I would say learn from this mistake and pledge to putting more time and effort into your marriage.

If you are going to tell him make sure that you have the answers to the questions he will ask. He will want to know who, where and most importantly why. He will be very hurt and confused so you need to make sure that you have thought everything through and can give him answers honestly.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (11 October 2007):

Hi. Im only young but I can still see here that it is impossible to keep a scret like that from yr husband. N rcn was right, if you could just forget it, you wouldn't be here asking. I thnk that you shuld b ashmaed for cheating on ur husband, bacuase you proably mean mre to him than anything else in the world. This may seem harsh, but youve done the crime nw u have to do the time, n by this i mean i hav to be punished for wat u did, even if that means punishing yr husband aswell. If he chooses to forgiv u, then thats his decision. Though u hav to be prepared, infact, u shuld hav been prepared while u were having the affair, to not hav forgivness, because ur husband may not be able to trust u anymre. If u cnt face up to that, then u neva shuld have cheated on him in the first place. Dont u luv him enough? Do u really need someone else to mkae your life less lonely? You should def tell him, even if it breaks his heart. Its the right thing to do.

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A female reader, L.O.S.E.R. Serbia +, writes (11 October 2007):

L.O.S.E.R. agony auntNo looking back,no regrets and most of all no point.It would only hurt him and what for?I advice you to forget it if there's no chance he'll find out without you tell him.

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A male reader, rcn United States +, writes (11 October 2007):

rcn agony auntIf you could just forget it, you wouldn't be here asking. Yes you do need to tell him. A marriage is one of trust, as long as you've hiding this secret, you're living a distrustful marriage.

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