As a speaker and life coach, I encounter all sorts of dilemmas. But I was recently written by a young woman, who was weighing a decision to reveal a troubling secret—a secret that would undoubtedly open the emotional flood gates for all parties involved. I understand other women may be considering the very same dilemma, so I wanted to share.
I’ve paraphrased a bit of her letter below:
I’ve been having an affair with a married man off and on for three years. He has made it clear he is not going to leave his wife for me. We enjoy our time together, but truthfully, it is mostly about the explosive sex we have. I have had a few relationships during this time, but I find myself thinking of the married man more often than I would like to admit. Honestly, I love this married man. And I want to tell his wife…It just so happens that we reside in the same community. And though I’ve not met her by chance, we do have mutual acquaintances. Should I tell his wife about our affair or see how things work themselves out on their own? If I do, should I do it namelessly? What way is best?
Wow! Juicy, right? But not unusual. I commonly deal with issues of infidelity, so I’m aware this desire to reveal an affair is not unique. Most women who have affairs with married men eventually develop feelings and inevitably desire more time, more commitment and legitimacy. And that doesn’t happen with the wives still in the picture, so they decide to stir the pot.
While many of you feel I should give that woman (and other clients like her) a good tongue thrashing. It’s important to note my job as a coach is not to judge or force you into an action. My job is to help you decide the right choice. And in past coaching work, I have told clients in similar situations to ask themselves a series of essential questions to help make their decision. And here are some of their responses:
Question #1: What exactly will you gain from telling the wife?
- No more guilt
- Doing the right thing
- Righting a wrong
- Helping another woman discover the truth
Question #2: What will you lose from doing this?
- Loss of his attention
- Ruining families
- Hurting another human being
- Losing him and the “relationship” benefits
- Him picking her over you
Question #3: What hidden agendas are tied to this decision?
- Desire to punish him
- Forcing him to make a choice
- Proving his wife wrong about who she’s really married to
- Freeing myself from the burden
Question #4: What is it costing you if you keep the secret?
- Everyday anguish
- Wronging another woman
- Becoming someone I don’t like
- Failure to move on or illegitimacy within current relationship
If you, too, are debating the choice to reveal an affair, then I will advise you as I have her and my previous clients. Not deciding is a choice because not choosing is a choice too. Sit down and make some uninterrupted time to make your list, answering these essential questions. I would allocate at least an hour, in which you look you in the mirror. It’s time (probably past time) to authentically be honest with you in ways you have not been before. Afterward, make YOUR decision because you have to live with you day in and day out.
Lastly, whether or not you decide to tell her, take accountability for your choice to stay in the affair. Take ownership of your feelings and how you feel about yourself and the way you are living your life. Are you doing you or doing someone else? I hope you choose to do you now and always!
BMWK, do you think she should tell his wife; continue the affair until it runs its course; or end the affair without telling the wife?