Confessing Your Secret Relationship to Your Spouse

In terms of relationship bombs, confessing to your spouse about a secret relationship is one of the biggest. Unless you and your mate are already talking divorce court, a confession of this sort will severely undermine the stability of your marriage. While it does not have to be the end of the marriage, there is a high risk that it could be. If you have reached a point where a confession is unavoidable, you will want to do it with a few important considerations in mind.

Why do you want to confess?

This is a big question. You have already been finding ways to hide this from your spouse. What is the big deal to confess a secret relationship now? Secrets tend to become heavy to carry in a marriage. Are you driven to confess by guilt? Is it becoming too hard to keep the relationship secret? Do you anticipate the third party is going to call your spouse? If the relationship has ended, a confession may only serve to hurt your spouse and not really solve anything or remove the guilt. Deal with this question before deciding to confess.

Is discovery of the relationship inevitable?

If your reason for confessing is that you feel the walls closing in on you, it is better to not delay. Confronting your demons before they come looking for you is always the best option. Your spouse may be angry and the marriage may disintegrate, but your spouse will be better off hearing it from you than through the grapevine. Plan you speech carefully and keep it short and to the point.

How long has the relationship lasted, and is it ongoing?

Unless you are one of those people who attempts to have the best of two worlds, you should stop your affair before you confess it. If your plan is to leave your spouse and continue with the other person, you should be prepared to confess this along with your admission of an affair. Do it all in one conversation and move on. Have your suitcase packed and in the car before talking to your marriage partner.

If you ended the long-term relationship to try to keep the marriage, you will have an extremely bumpy road ahead and may not be successful. A one night stand or short fling is a lot easier to deal with than a full blown love affair that spans months or years. You cannot really justify any type of affair, but be prepared to attempt an explanation if it is asked for. Avoid blaming the affair on your partner. It was your choice to cheat regardless of the situation at home.

Do you want to stay married?

Have a sure answer to this question before starting your confession of a secret relationship. The answer to this question will set the stage for how much you are prepared to invest to repair the damage your affair has brought to your marriage. Your spouse will want to know this answer even before he or she can ask you the question. Give the answer in your confession.

What are you willing to do to make amends?

Determine the limits of your concessions before you start revealing your secret. If your spouse makes unreasonable demands, you will know already if you are willing to meet them. This should be a negotiation time. Unfortunately, your spouse holds all of the good bargaining chips.

If he or she wants to save the marriage, it will go a long way toward being able to negotiate your status in the relationship. Try to work with your spouse over the next few days to map out a strategy to rebuild the trust between you. This will probably mean that you will have to be willing to be far more accountable daily for where you go and what you do.

What is your ultimate reason for confessing to a secret relationship?

Be honest with yourself and your spouse. This question gets to the heart of why you had the affair, and why it is now important to tell your significant other about it. Is this an admission of weakness, stupidity, anger, lust, addiction, or some other reason? Confront your own issues to answer this question truthfully and openly. You are going to hurt another person deeply. The answer to this question will tell you why.


Visitors: What do You Think?

Should a person confess to his/her spouse, or just do the best s/he can to get him/herself together, don’t let it happen again, and keep his/her mouth shut? Click here to leave your comments.


After the Affair by Janis A Spring, PhD

Updated Second Edition

About the Author
JANIS ABRAHMS SPRING, Ph.D., is a nationally acclaimed expert on issues of trust, intimacy, and forgiveness. She is the bestselling author of After the Affair and How Can I Forgive You? After the Affair was published in thirteen countries around the world and both books were finalists for the Books for a Better Life Award. Dr. Spring is a diplomat in clinical psychology and has served as a clinical supervisor in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. In private practice for more than 3 decades, she lives with her husband in Westport, CT, and they have four sons.

Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful

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“Dr. Spring possesses a remarkable combination of clarity, wisdom, spirit, and heart. This is an extremely helpful and healing book—a gift to us all.”
—Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger

“It is ‘must’ reading for any couple who has experienced the violation of trust as a result of an affair.”
—Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. 

A staggering number of couples in America—about 70 percent—have been affected by extramarital affairs. After the Affair is the only book to offer proven strategies for surviving the crisis and rebuilding the relationship. Written by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D., a nationally known therapist and acknowledged expert on infidelity, this revised and updated version brings the groundbreaking classic into the 21st century, with a new section dealing with online affairs in cyberspace. For women who are struggling in their marriage—and for clinicians, psychology academics and readers fascinated by of popular psychology—this newly revised and updated edition of After the Affair is essential reading.


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