Bury Her Affair?
Q: I am having trouble figuring out the best way to cope with the fact that my wife of two decades is not truly the person I thought. About eight years ago after our three children were born, my wife had a sexual relationship with a so-called friend. It continued for 10-12 months. We were not at the best place in our marriage but I still don't feel I was to blame. We are trying to make it work so we don't ruin our kid's lives. We are trying to move forward and bury this in the past but I don't know if that is the way to handle it. Part of me thinks that she needs to fess up and tell both sets of parents but then we will be forced to tell the kids and I cannot do that to them now. I just don't know if I should live her secret too. I wish I knew I was doing the right thing. -- John, 41
Dr. Susan: Have you considered painting a huge red "A" on a sandwich board and having your wife wear it to the next family gathering? Maybe not. All four parents do NOT need to know about your wife's very poor past choice to deceive you with a "friend." You're not burying the truth; you're keeping the secret between the two of you who are most affected by it. Think about why you want to tell. Usually, that urge to tell is more about revenge than about improving anything. If you want your relationship to get stronger, NOT just for your children's sakes but for your own as well, the two of you need to seek counseling, or at the very least open up fully to one another and see where you can go from here. Of course you're angry. She needs to know that, even eight years later. It's not your fault that she chose to have an affair. Sometimes affairs happen in pretty good marriages, and often they happen when the marriage is struggling. But whatever was going on all those years ago, you've got to work NOW to get this relationship on an even keel. Telling the parents and the kids will only hurt everyone and won't help you at all (except for that very momentary sense of vengeance). Deal with your pain directly with your wife.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.