Interesting question. Is it better to have ended the affair and return to your marriage, determined that you will make things better and that this will never happen again, or to have your affair uncovered and the bare truth laid out to your spouse?
This came up as a comment on a message board. Here was my take, and for once this is a short post! 🙂
Actually, I’m not sure which is worse — full disclosure and the hell that people like us often go through when it’s disclosed — or ending an affair that is not discovered and “skulking” back to your marriage and somehow hoping that things can be better or made better without the “truth” really out on the table, allowing the unknowing, but betrayed, spouse to fully understand what’s going on and the threat to their marriage. Both certainly have their drawbacks. But actually I do have an opinion here.
But to be honest, I think if I had “gotten away with it”, I would either be divorced, wildly unhappy, a complete alcoholic, maybe be on my next affair by now (or all of the above) because what was going on in my marriage would likely still be exactly the same as it was during my affair. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
Without affair disclosure, the cheater really has little incentive to change. You get scared by the experience of the affair and it ending. You feel grateful that it appears you got away with it, so you feel fortunate and you swear you will never EVER do it again. You will set your life on the right course, despite your spouse being in the dark about your activities. You run back to the safety of the marriage, but after a while, this initial burst of relief and comfort, and of determination to improve your marriage, wears off, and you tend to be right back where you started, only more damaged. And few have the tools or the strength to fundamentally change their marriage into something better all by themselves.
At best, the cheater after the affair is like a degenerate gambler or an alcoholic who SWEARS they don’t have a problem and can stop anytime they wish, but choose not to. It’s a big lie we tell ourselves, but we are addicts nevertheless. We miss the rush. The highs. The way we felt. The way our AP made us feel about us! The fun. The passion and drama of it all. So to do the skulk-back thing and think you can will a better marriage is probably folly almost every time. At best, the marriage provides you the stability you need to embark on the next one affair or merely leave. The itch will remain if left unattended.
I truly believe that the truth is necessary to really fundamentally change a marriage. To come completely clean on things and let the chips fall where they may. You can’t do that by hiding your affair. It will merely eat away at you.
Disclosure of the truth almost always results in a private hell for the cheater and can certainly fuck up your life. I get the fear, believe me. People get divorced because their spouse simply cannot get past an affair ever. I see it on the blogs all the time. Marital reconciliation is not a guarantee by any stretch. Disclosure can have huge financial, societal, familial, social and mental consequences. But, getting away with it has a huge cost too, I think. More than some realize.
© COPYRIGHT 2006, 2007, 2013 Recovering Wayward Enterprises, LLC