Why You Need to Talk About Your Husband’s Affair – and Who to Tell
Talking about your husband’s affair will help you recover and heal. Here’s how to find someone to talk to – and how to cope with your feelings of shame and embarrassment that your husband was unfaithful.
“I have been married for 10 years, my husband and I have two children,” says Carly on How to Forgive Your Husband After an Affair. “I knew something was going on but he always said I was crazy, that he would never do such a thing. I suspected he was cheating, and then five months later I get a call from the other woman’s husband and he tells me they’ve been having an affair for almost a year. I confronted my husband and at first he denied it. Then he told me the truth but wouldn’t give me any clear answers. He said he’s sorry and won’t do it again but I don’t know if I can be married to him anymore. He won’t open up and answer my questions about why he cheated or how he could lie to me for so long. He acts so normal about everything, he’s hardly remorseful and he hasn’t truly asked for forgiveness. I haven’t talked to anybody about my husband’s affair. I’m so embarrassed and ashamed. Please give me advice, what do I do?”
Talking about your husband’s affair will be difficult. You’re not only struggling with the shock and pain of betrayal, but you may also feel unworthy and unlovable. Maybe you feel heartbroken, confused, betrayed, ashamed, hurt, embarrassed, humiliated, or unlovable. These feelings may make it more difficult for you to talk about your husband’s affair – even with friends and family who love you deeply and unconditionally.
You may be thinking “I can’t tell anyone my husband cheated on me” – but the truth is that you CAN talk about your husband’s affair. Not only that, you NEED to talk about his infidelity because bringing it out into the open will help you recover and heal.
Why You Need to Talk About Your Husband’s Affair
You will find healing and hope, light and life. The darkness, shame, and unworthiness will recede…and you will find yourself able to breathe again.
Your embarrassment and pain will become lighter and easier to bear
“Your sense of shame and inferiority may make you think that everyone is talking about you and avoiding you like the plague,” writes Janice Abrahms Spring in After the Affair: Healing the Pain And Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful. “Why else would they have stopped calling to say hello or invite you out? While one part of you wants to reach out and tell the world how you been violated you feel because of your husband’s affair, another part wants to remain silent and alone.”
One minute you may find yourself wanting to talk about your husband’s affair because you want to feel lovable again – you want someone to say, “Yes, you have been wronged! Your husband never should have cheated on you.”
And the next minute, you’ll be withdrawing into isolation. You don’t want to talk about your husband’s affair because of your pride, fear, and desire to protect your family. You may be driven to hide his unfaithfulness by a sense of pride, a fear of ridicule, and a sense of responsibility towards your husband, your children, and your marriage.
Safe people will help you heal
Bringing your secrets out into the open will start the recovery and healing process – but only if you share them with safe people. Safe people are trustworthy, loving, kind, and compassionate. They may include close friends you trust, wise family members who won’t want to hunt your husband down, supportive colleagues who know what you’re experiencing because they, too, have experienced the betrayal and shock of marital infidelity.
No matter how “safe” someone feels to you, you may not want to talk about the affair because of your own feelings of destruction and heartbreak. Don’t let yourself hide – don’t stay in the black darkness! Staying there will only make your husband’s affair more painful and heavy. Learning how to say “my husband had an affair” without feeling ashamed and embarrassed will help you recover.
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If you don’t know if you should try to fix your relationship with your husband, read Is Your Marriage Over? 6 Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore.
Who Can You Talk to About Your Husband’s Affair?
No matter who you tell, remember that most people won’t know how to respond. They don’t know what you need (you may not even know what you need, right?)…and they may not react the way you hope, need or expect.
“Most of your friends and family members will want to help and comfort you, but simply don’t know what to say or how to begin,” writes Spring. “Funerals have established rituals for expressing condolences, with well-wishers coming forward with prescribed words that support. However, the news that your husband had an affair may shock your friends – they may have no idea how to help you recover or heal.”
Weigh the risks of telling your parents or close family members
If you’re close to your parents or other family members, you might consider telling them first…but it won’t be an easy decision.
Before you tell your parents your husband had an affair, ask yourself:
- Will their knowing make future family gatherings unbearable?
- Will they turn against my husband? Will this make it more difficult for him and I to save our marriage?
- Do I really want my parents to know my marriage is in trouble?
- Do I want to be dependent on my parents – to be cradled by them – again?
- Can I deal with their pity, their disapproval, their condemnation of my husband’s affair?
- Do I want to share with them the messy humiliating details of my husband’s affair?
- Once I become their child again, how will I break away?
Writing your answers to these questions – or talking through them with a close friend – will help you know if you should tell your parents about your husband’s affair.
Consider the consequences of talking to your friends
“It’s hard to know who to trust, and how much to say,” writes Spring in After the Affair: Healing the Pain And Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful.
“There are no rules, no rights or wrongs. All you can do is think through the consequences of revealing the secret. No one can weigh your risks against your needs but you.”
Before you tell your friends about your husband’s affair, ask yourself:
- Can you trust your friends to keep your husband’s affair a secret? Will they gossip about you – will you end up being a public spectacle?
- Will your friends not want to socialize with you and your husband – will you be labeled as an “unhappy couple”?
- Will your friends say insulting things about your husband, either because they’re genuinely outraged or because they want to make you feel better?
- Will it be awkward getting back together as a group again?
- What if your friends sympathize with your husband?
- What if they already know about the affair?
Spring adds that it’s important to realize that some people treat adultery as a contagious disease that might infect their own relationships if they get too close to you. If you talk to a friend about your husband’s affair and they distance themselves from you, try not to take their coldness personally. It’s likely that they’re threatened by what they don’t understand. It could also be that their own relationships are more fragile than they know or want to admit.
Think carefully before telling your children about the affair
If you’re a parent with adult children, you may be wondering if you can talk to them about your husband’s affair. If your children are young, you may wonder if they have the right to know. There is no right or wrong answer – this is one of those difficult decisions only you can make.
Questions to consider:
- What are your motives for telling your children about your husband’s affair?
- Is it good, helpful, or wise to tell them the truth?
- Are they too young to understand?
- Will your kids turn against your husband?
- Do you want your kids to turn against your husband, condemning his affair?
Regardless of how old your children are, you may long for their compassion, love, and solidarity. You may also struggle with two sides of yourself: the vengeful side and the unselfish side. The vengeful side says, “Yes I want to poison my husband’s relationship with our children because he destroyed our family. I want to get even! I want the kids to love me more than they love him.”
But your unselfish, wise side knows that both you and your husband are irreplaceable, desperately needed, and important people in your childrens’ lives. And, your kids are learning what it means to be an adult from both of you.
If you talk to your children about their father’s affair, what will they learn? What will the truth due to their ideas about themselves Will they be afraid to commit to intimate relationships of their own? There are no easy answers – and not even the world’s wises relationship therapist can predict how your children will handle the truth of your husband’s affair.
Learn how to find “safe people” to talk to
“There are many good people out there,” write Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend in Safe People: How to Find Relationships That Are Good for You And Avoid Those That Aren’t.
“To find [safe people to talk to about your husband’s affair], make sure that you use discernment, wisdom, and information, and trust your experience with people. If someone is destructive or producing bad fruit in your life, be careful. Keep looking, praying, and seeking until you find safe people – people who will give you all the benefits that God has planned for you.”
- Accept you just as you are.
- Love you no matter how you are reacting to your husband’s affair.
- Encourage you to act in loving, kind, compassionate ways.
- Don’t judge your husband or you.
- Allow you to be the you that God intended.
- Connect you with other safe people.
- Create more love, generosity, goodness, and positive things in your life.
Think about the three or four most important people in your life (besides your children, husband, or parents). Are those important people safe? Can you talk to them about your husband’s affair? If not, you need to be start thinking about how to find the right people to talk to.
Even the safest people – the people you trust to talk to about your husband’s affair – may avoid you or not pursue coffee or activities with you. Why? Because they may be looking for signs that you want company, that you don’t want to be alone. Spring says that friends – especially safe people who you can trust with your husband’s affair – may be motivated by respect, and by what they believe is your wish for privacy. You may need to invite them back into your life.
Consider talking to a therapist about your husband’s affair
A psychologist, counselor, or therapist is anonymous and neutral. You know that a therapist will try to help you…and yet you may feel deeply conflicted about getting counseling or therapy for your husband’s affair.
Here’s what Spring writes in After the Affair: Healing the Pain And Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful: “It took me months to call you for an appointment,” one betrayed wife told me. “I thought you’d be shocked at my secret.”
When this wife finally made an appointment with Spring, she told her all about her husband’s current affair but said nothing about the many one-night stands that preceded it. The wife said, “As crazy as it sounds, I was afraid you’d encourage me to leave my husband, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to.”
Read Healing Your Marriage When Trust Is Broken: Finding Forgiveness and Restoration if you can’t talk to a counselor.
In this book, Cindy Beall describes how she and her husband Chris – a respected pastor – healed their marriage after pornography addiction, numerous affairs, and the startling news that a woman was pregnant with his child.
Sometimes women assume that if they go to therapy, they’ll be forced to decide whether they wanted to end the marriage. But the healing process of therapy is exploring ambivalent feelings about a husband’s affair. You need someone to talk to, to help you sort through your feelings and continue the recovery process.
“At the end of her first appointment, she stood up and said I now realize why I need to talk about his unfaithfulness,” writes Spring. “I need to talk out loud about my husband’s affair and sort out my feelings about what happened to me. I don’t have to know where it’s all going to end or what I’m going to do about my marriage. I’m here for me, to bring me back to life.”
A final warning about talking about your husband’s affair
“Opening yourself to others is fraught with danger,” writes Spring in After the Affair: Healing the Pain And Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful. “Parents, children, friends, therapists – all may help you at this difficult time, but they may also increase your sense of alienation. Whatever you decide to do, beware of isolating yourself and overdeveloping your solitary life. If you assume that your closest friends don’t want you around because of your husband’s affair, or that you must always be buoyant and entertaining when you socialize, you’ll make yourself even lonelier and deny yourself the consolation you so sorely need.”
If you have a support network of people who give wholeness and meaning to your life, reach out and reengage yourself with them – even if you’re uncomfortable and self-conscious at first.
What about talking to your husband about his affair?
Read 6 Ways to Deal With Your Husband’s Past Secrets for ideas and guidance.
It’s important to talk about your husband’s affair with friends, family members, therapists, and other people you trust. It’s also very healthy to write about your feelings and experiences. Writing will help you sort through your thoughts and emotions, and aid the healing process.
If you’d like to talk about your husband’s affair in the comments section below, I welcome you with open arms! While I can’t offer marriage advice, I do read every comment.
May you find wisdom and healing, strength and courage. May you find good, safe people to talk to about your husband’s affair – and may you find peace in whatever road you take. May you grow healthy and strong through this experience, and may your life be blessed with joy, connection, and love.
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