I have been having an affair (I am single with children) with a married man (also with children) on and off for 3.5 years. I have no illusion that he will leave her for me. I am realistic and know it's just good sex for him (with me). I have had a couple of other “proper” (and faithful) relationships in that time, but never stopped thinking about the other guy. It’s been that way (as in on/off) because I go through all those stages you write about as far as knowing right from wrong, ceasing enabling him etc. But, like many other women, part of me loves this man. I also go through the inner turmoil of deciding whether to let his wife know or not. We live in the same area and I know some of the same people he knows; six degrees of separation and all that even though we met by chance. So I guess that is my question. Should I tell his wife about our affair – anonymously or otherwise?
Thank you for the opportunity to serve. This is a great question and one that I get all the time. Whether or not to tell his or her spouse about the affair. However, chances are, my answer and advice aren't going to help you much. You see, I can't advice you whether or not you should tell his wife; that’s a choice you have to make. However, what I can do is guide you in asking yourself the important questions… so you can decide which option is right for you. With that said, here are some guiding questions to help you decide what you want to do.
Guiding Questions (To Tell or Not to Tell)
Option A: You tell his wife.
Option B: You don't tell his wife.
So let's think about both options logically…
Option A: You tell his wife.
Question #1: What will you gain from doing this? (Make a list of possible benefits and rewards.)
Question #2: What will you lose from doing this? (Make a list of risks and losses.)
Question #3: What (if any) hidden desires are associated with this decision?
Question #4: What is it costing you to NOT make a decision either way?
Now, here are some examples of what might be on that list, taken from my previous clients who've found themselves in a similar type of situation.
List of what I could gain from telling is wife:
- Freedom from guilt
- Sense of doing the right thing
- A way of making amends for what I did
- If I help her see who she's really married to, I'm doing her a favor (which would make me feel better about myself).
List of what I could lose by telling his wife:
- I could lose his attention and respect.
- I could ruin a family (which would make me feel bad about myself).
- I would be bringing pain to another person (which would make me feel bad about myself).
- I risk losing him totally (and all the things the affair gives me).
- I risk finding out that he really would choose her over me.
List of my hidden agenda:
- There's a part of me that wants to punish him (so he doesn't get away with it).
- There's a part of me that wants him to choose.
- There's a part of me that wants to punish his wife by telling her she's not married to a saint.
- There's a part of me that feels that by telling her, it's the only way I can set myself free.
List of what it will cost me to not make a decision:
- I live in angst every day.
- I feel like I'm doing something wrong to another woman.
- I don't trust or like myself.
- I have to live with the pain of indecision.
Side note: The decision NOT to decide IS a decision… because NOT choosing is a choice.
So now it's your turn.
Make your list. Be honest about what's on your hidden agenda and really allow yourself to weigh the risks and rewards. Then make your decision. And as you think about that, I want you to think about this…
Self-esteem is “feeling good about yourself,” and those feelings are generated from making good decisions. On the other hand, self-loathing comes from feeling bad about yourself. And those feelings are generated by making poor decisions that drain you of self-esteem.
So the real decision facing you is this…
Which option stands a better chance of delivering you maximum self-esteem (feeling good about yourself?) and which is more likely to lead you towards the opposite?
I leave that decision up to you.
However, there's something I want you look at very closely. Regardless of whether or not you tell her, the real iceberg in the water is your choice to stay IN the affair. Focusing on anything else is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Until we speak again...
Remember... Love Wins!