Coming clean to spouse

That is one detail they deserve to know. It’s not about guilt or pain, it is about taking away their right to make their own decisions with regards to the relationship. To a large number of people, the majority i would be willing to bet, cheating is a deal breaker and a unilateral decision by the cheater to not confess to maintain the status quo is just as selfish as the cheating itself. Basically if you break your vows it is no longer your right to decide the relationship should continue.

A perfectly conventional viewpoint, based on morality, and you are welcome to it. (No slightest snark or sarcasm intended.)

I’d wager that anyone who espouses it, though, is either driven by outside indoctrination (probably religious) and/or ignorance of what such a situation feels like from the inside.

I’d further wager that people who have been through a serious infidelity, on either side, and experienced therapists and others who have a deeper understanding of how minds and relationships work would counsel keeping it a secret.

That is assuming that the fling is over and there will be no consequences or comebacks; that is, that not-telling is enough to keep it secret and that not-knowing will bring no harm to the spouse. Which is the case in the great majority of times, I think.

Live with your guilt. Don’t turn it into his/her pain unless absolutely necessary. This is not a junior high religious ethics debate.

You make a lot of assumptions which are not necessarily warranted. Most cheaters don’t stop at doing it after doing it once, and the risk of comebacks is quite high, even for a one-off. Or so says an article I recall from a recent sexuality journal which ran a fairly thorough poll on people who admitted to cheating at least once.

And while a lot of cheated-upon spouses report “wishing they didn’t know now what they didn’t know then”, the longer ago the infidelity was discovered, the more there are that are glad to have learned of it. In both cases, the ones that wanted to know were in the majority.

Rooting around for it, hope I find it later. The poll, that is.

I have a friend at work who had an affair. It lasted a few months, things ended, he got away with it, and he later felt compelled to tell his wife about it anyway. This was about two years ago.

She threw him out, filed for divorce, hired the meanest junkyard dog lawyer she could find who advised her that she would get more alimony and child support if she quit her job, and then decided to reconcile at the last minute.

The reconciliation is more of a “mutual misery for theoretical benefit of the children” situation. She has not found a new job, they lost their home, they had to trade in their car for a jalopy on poor terms avoid it being repossessed, they got evicted from a few rentals, He has to call and check in every 30 minutes, she tracks him through the “find my iPhone” app, she constantly monitors his in an out time punches at work through the online HR portal, they sleep in the same room “for the benefit of the children” but he sleeps on the floor, there is no sex, and he strongly suspects she is now cheating on him. Of course he can’t accuse her of that because he is the bad guy who cheated and she doesn’t have to justify any part of how she spends any of her time because he’s the bad guy who cheated.

For having (more or less) committed the perfect crime, he sure as hell signed himself up for a lot of shit by coming clean.

Years and years ago we had a thread about this because a poster was upset that his friend’s wife couldn’t get over the affair he’d had, and was still upset/not interested in sex. The poster felt very strongly that at some point the wife’s failure to forgive was as big or a bigger betrayal than the original cheating. But the time span, to me at least, seemed really short: the affair had been a couple years ago, yes, but it had only been 8 months since the wife found out about it. At the time, the decision to confess really struck me as a way to transfer pain: “I am going to confess, use the intense emotions of the conversation to pressure you to claim you forgive me long before you’ve really processed this, and then when you don’t move on like nothing has happened, make you the bad guy for having inappropriate emotions”. So yeah, that kind of confessing is shittier than just keeping your mouth shut. However, I don’t think the problem there is the confessing. I think it’s being a shitty person.

The biggest assumption here is that “I won’t do it again” would be good enough for the cheated spouse. For most it wouldn’t be.


between the legs…

Poll, not pole.

Ok, well in my situation, the affair went on over the course of a year. I don’t think he will ever tell her and given that he is a master liar, I doubt she’ll ever find out.

Should I tell her? Part of me feels that she has the right to know. Then again, I’m not a big fan of boiling bunnies, so I don’t want to be crazy either.

Well my ex confessed and a lot of good came from it, packed my bags and left. Life is a lot better now.

You want him that much? You hate him that much? I’m confused. I’d root for you doing what will make you happy long term. Have you figured out what that is yet?

No. Unfortunately.

Digital C & Amateur Barbarian…
You’ve quite hit the nail on the head here. You have expressed my thoughts exactly, and in the most honest & concise way. My 12-yr relationship ended with him going off with a woman 18 yrs his junior. Afterwards, he was a polar opposite of the “man” I thought I knew. I was dumb-founded to think I didn’t know his personality at all. That part was more painful than the breakup.

I make them from *far *too much experience. The “it’s dishonest not to tell your SO everything” posters seem to be posting from idealism. (Any and all are free to correct the impression, if it’s wrong.)

Choose… wisely.

It is dishonest not to tell your spouse something about the very nature of who you are. That doesn’t mean “everything”, but something that would so clearly affect their decision to have a relationship with you or not is something they deserve to know.

I never told my spouse but I think he knew and chose to turn a blind eye. As you may know, he’s still around, 6 years later, and has never once made mention of it. He had an EA first, FWIW, which I found out about and confronted her, and told him to knock it off.

Speaking from experience, I would much rather know if it happened again than not and I do feel that hiding or selectively “forgetting” any part of it would be dishonest.

I applaud your idealism. Let us know how it works out for you.

In my comments, I’ve specifically ruled out “again.” If you’re a serial adulterer, all bets are off.

I’m talking about the more common case of a single instance of infidelity - one person, one time or a short stretch of time, not years of hiding a second relationship or multiple instances. In such a case, either the fling or the marriage needs to be over. If it’s the fling, and your spouse does not know or suspect, your self-commitment to not repeat the mistake is of more value than any “honesty” or “coming clean” or “sharing the guilt because it will make you feel better.”

I’ve said all I have to say on the topic.

It amounts to the same thing. I can change the words I used without changing the meaning: “Speaking from experience, I am happy that I found out about it happening and I feel that hiding it and selectively forgetting things was dishonest.”

Personally, I’d much rather my SO come to me and say “I royally fucked up and had a fling over the weekend” then to find out years later that he had had one and hidden it.

We all make mistakes of various sizes, and I can forgive. We don’t all hide and lie about them.