Here we discuss how spouses can go about telling their spouses they’ve had an affair, and what they might expect.

Why Tell a Spouse in the First Place?

Affairs, physical and emotional alike, have a major impact on a relationship as they undermine the foundation of trust that relationships are built on. So if an affair is over, why tell?

An affair will create a wedge between spouses. It’s important that the offending spouse takes responsibility for his/her actions and tell the offended spouse. If not, then there’s a risk that the offended spouse will find out another way, which will undermine that trust even further.

Important Things to Keep in Mind

Spouses differ in how much they want to know, from wanting to know nothing to wanting to know everything. When telling a spouse, remember to…

Make sure you have enough privacy and time to talk about it.

It’s a difficult situation, but don’t talk around it or belittle it. Be clear about what happened!

The spouse needs an opportunity to express themselves completely and fully take in what you’re saying in a private setting.

It’s important for the offended spouse to state how much information they want to know. Often times, the offended spouse won’t want to know a lot about the affair initially because they’re so overwhelmed.

Spouse’s Reactions

The offended spouse’s reactions can be anywhere from silence to relief to anger to violence. And his/her emotional reaction is similar to how anyone might respond to a traumatic situation, such as numbness, shock, sadness, and anger. It all depends on the type of person the spouse is and how he/she is feeling at the moment. Regardless, it’s important that the offended spouse needs to be able to express him/herself however he/she needs to in the moment (excluding physical).

What About a Third Party?

When a spouse has an affair, the trust between spouses has been broken. Often times, the offended spouse will be inclined to police their spouse to keep tabs on him/her. Thus, it might be beneficial to bring in a third party. This should be a mutual third person who is willing to meet on a regular basis at least once a week. This person should follow through in ensuring the affair has ended and should provide encouragement and relief to the offended spouse.

Can Our Relationship Ever Recover?

The offending spouse has made a series of bad decisions, but if he/she takes responsibility for his/her actions by stepping forth and being sincerely remorseful about the affair, healing is more likely to occur. Alternately, if the offended spouse finds out about the affair first ad confronts the offending spouse, and then the trust is broken even further.

No one ever forgets about an affair, but some do forgive. Some couples break up, but some heal and grow stronger. Affairs cause ruined relationships and side effects, but they also can be caused by breakdowns in the relationship such as deterioration of communication, sharing, and intimacy. As affairs are a result of conscious choices made by the offending spouse, forgiveness is a result of conscious choices made by the offended spouse.


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