Q: Dear Village. I can only write this anonymously because I am scared of your judgment. But I also am struggling to live with what I did. I have been married for 18 years. I would call us a normal family. Our kids are in Grade 7 and 9. We are not rich, but we are ok in the sense that we are probably like every other family at the school our kids go to: Some good bits and some bad bits, both with regard to our situation and also our relationship. I do love my husband but more like a brother or a friend than a lover. We have sex, but not often and mostly when I initiate it. At this stage my secret feeling is he is more interested in having sex, than actually making love to me. We are both struggling to make ends meet and worried about the future, we are so far away from how in love we were when we first got together. I would describe what it feels to be in this marriage is just like a low grade stress and boredom. So when work offered me a conference overseas, I grabbed it. They don’t come up often and, yes. I had sex with one of the other delegates. I have never done this before. Never. That was 6 months ago and I just can’t get it out of my mind, at all. I feel awkward and find myself wanting to tell him. I feel dirty and guilty, but also like the fact that I did it is something that has to be dealt with. I find myself thinking about it all the time, and it is like I’m not who my husband thinks I am. But I also know that he never needs to know and I need to deal with whatever it is that made me do what I did, but I also don’t understand why I want to tell him. I would ruin everything (not only for me but for my children as well,) if I did. So then I think I mustn’t and we should go to therapy together to work on our marriage, rather. But then I think I would be lying in therapy if I didn’t tell him. That’s why I am going round and round in circles. Please help. I feel we both need help but I don’t know how to get it and I don’t know how to do it without making more or a mess than I have already.”
A: ” Keep it to yourself. Of what benefit will it be to your family to share this? Why give that huge sack of bricks to the man who loves you.Carry it yourself and deal with what lead you to do it in the first place. However ,if you had unprotected sex and may be endangering hubby with an STD then he has a right to know.Don’t do it again though. You are human ,you made a mistake move on!”
” Would you want to hear/know if it was him that strayed?”
” Someone once wrote that this is your burden to carry and the only reason you want to share it is for the relief YOU will feel but the hurt you will bring is not worth it. Decide whether this is the end of your marriage and walk away with this kept to yourself or if you feel that you want to work on your marriage, maybe start counselling until you get to the stage where this can be brought up in a safe space?”
” Every response suggesting that you really seem to want to unburden YOURSELF is dead on. Unless you have put him in danger … it is your load to carry.”
” I might be being controversial, but I have often wondered why, in our modern day, when we live so long, that sex still has such a huge value attached to it. Especially this kind of sex. There is no emotional infidelity attached to the kind of sex you had and so long as you were careful, there could be no long term hurt or damage at all. If it didn’t matter to you. And I think he reason it matters to you is because there are actually quite a lot of urgent problems in the marriage you describe. Joyless sex, distance, stress, worries, the grind of raising kids in our uncertain times, all of those probably require much more effort and thought than a one night fling overseas. My suggestion would be work on the “legitimate” issues. Go to therapy! Just start somewhere! While you work on your relationship – perhaps you will build communication and trust. Perhaps in the process you will be able to reach closer to each other and face this transgression? Ether way, your relationship needs work and care. Good luck!”
” I think you should use this as a kick up the proverbial to decide what you really want and make a fresh start on your marriage. Marriages are bloody hard work. This could be the beginning of a new era with the two of you going on to bigger and better things. Put your energy into positive stuff.”
” Everyone makes mistakes. Deal with it and move on. If you know you love your husband and want to make your marriage work, then don’t burden him by telling him. Forgive yourself and work on what made you do it. This happens more often than we care to admit.”
” If I were in his shoes I would want to know. You’re not perfect. And nor his he. We make mistakes.
I’d use this as a way to address many other “issues” that the marriage has anyway. Therapy – individual and couples – could turn your marriage into something really amazing.
Just my opinion.
If you don’t tell him best case scenario: you get over your guilt and the marriage goes back to what it was – which wasn’t great.
If you tell him and try therapy best case scenario: you work together to turn your marriage into something that fulfills both of you.”
” The only person who will feel better if you tell… Is you. Just forgive yourself. Things happen. Rather try to resuscitate your marriage. 18 years will disappear. Your kids will never be the same after a bomb shell like this. Acknowledge it, release it, let it go. You’re not dirty. You’re human.”
” The infidelity is merely a wake-up call for you and hubby to take stock of yourselves as individuals. There is no need for him to know about the once-off incident however he does need to know how you are feeling. After 18 years any person changes. Therefore it’s normal to sometimes feel that the person we fell in love with all those years ago and who served our needs then, may not be serving them now. This is relevant for both of you. In order to understand whether your partner and you can continue growing together in life, you would need to ask each other what you want from life now. How do you see the next 18 years? Talk dreams, ambitions, adventures both spiritually and physically. If you realise that each of your life plans take you down different paths that will require absolute separation then therein lies your answer. Sexual attraction can certainly be an issue. Remember that depending on age and testosterone levels for both of you, the physical side of your relationship can suffer. This may require exploring things that push the boundaries a bit whether it be exploring sexual intimacy, tantric yoga, porn, sex toys etc.together to bring a bit of that excitement back for both of you. Divorce isn’t always the best option especially when so much seems to be working for you still. Do the work…it seems so worth it.”
” If someone had cheated on you, wouldn’t you want to know?? I know I would! I would say the exact opposite: tell him! The guilt you are feeling will eat you up if you don’t. And the two of you can see this as an opportunity to address the issues you have in your marriage. This can be a chance for healing and growth, without which – cheating or not – your union wouldn’t last anyway.”
” If you aren’t in therapy already, find a therapist. Your husband cannot release you from the guilt. You need to work out if you still want to be married to this man and take it from there. Having an affair is a symptom of a bigger problem, of which your husband is a part, but you can’t tell him for the wrong reason, which would be to unburden yourself.”
” My heart hurts for you, this is not an easy burden to bear. If it were me I would be open because in my opinion that is the backbone of a relationship, however unless any of the above are from qualified therapists (which I am not) I would highly recommend that you chat with someone who is. Hugs and strength to you.”
” You probably want to tell him to appease your guilt. His response won’t do that. Unless you want to leave your marriage or cause an enormous amount of hurt – put it to bed. Excuse the pun! Sorry, I’m not making light of a difficult situation but I think you need to focus on yourself, your relationship with your husband and your family, not one night from a work trip. I can’t believe how judgmental some people are and how they think you must purge yourself for your sins. Nobody is perfect. Be kind to yourself.”