Should I Tell My Spouse About an Affair?

In deciding whether or not to tell your spouse about an affair, you should first determine how long you want or expect to live. Of course, that’s a question that should probably be asked before you start the affair, but to each his or her own. Every relationship is different, and that will greatly affect the decision on whether or not to tell a spouse.

There are many factors that help determine whether you should tell your spouse about an affair. Has your spouse had an affair themselves? Is it likely to happen again? Is it someone your spouse knows? You need to think about every factor before rushing into the decision of “tell or don’t tell.”

What’s the Worst That Can Happen if I Tell My Spouse About an Affair?

Have you ever heard of Lorena Bobbitt or seen a Michael Douglas movie? Mutilation and murder are extreme cases, of course, but they do happen. Although, in the case of a woman cheating on a man, it’s usually the guy she hooks up with who faces the full force of the husband’s wrath.

Divorce is, of course, another very real possibility. Sometimes the feeling of betrayal is just too strong and there is no hope for reconciliation. Here’s a news flash for you—the courts don’t have much sympathy for adulterers. Cheating can lead to a very unfavorable divorce settlement and if, by chance, your philandering leads you to give your spouse the gift that keeps on giving, a sexually transmitted disease, you can be sued for personal injury.

Even if you stay together, you’re probably in for a rough road, especially if you’re only staying together for the sake of the children or for financial reasons. Have you ever lived with someone who absolutely hates your guts? It can be a little taxing.

What’s the Best Case Scenario? Is There One?

Your best unrealistic expectation is that your spouse will say “I don’t blame you; he/she is totally hot.” Cue the ’70s porno music and let the threesome begin. In reality, this probably only happens if you and your spouse are swingers to begin with, and in that case cheating wouldn’t really be much of an issue, would it?

Realistically, the best thing you can probably hope for it that you have the most forgiving spouse in the world; one who does some soul-searching and realizes that maybe they weren’t as attentive as they should be and they were leaving your needs unmet. They might view this as a wake-up call and work with you to improve your marriage so that you never feel the need to stray again. By the way, if you’re married to someone this rational, forgiving, and open-minded, you are an absolute moron for ever having cheated on them in the first place.

The next best thing that can happen, believe it or not, is that your spouse reveals that they had an affair, too. Once you get past the bruised egos, you can accept that you both made some mistakes and move on with your life. Failing the dual-adultery thing, the last thing you can hope for is that your marriage can survive the inevitable anger, resentment, and betrayal that your partner will feel, and maybe you can get some counseling and find a way to stay together and even someday get back to some level of intimacy and trust again.

Will my Spouse Find Out About My Affair Anyway?

In a word, no, your spouse probably isn’t going to find out, especially if you’re a woman. At least, that’s what a recent survey found, as reported by the U.K.’s Daily Mail. According to the survey, 95% of women and 83% of men who cheat never get caught.

Of course, every situation is different. If you have a jealous spouse who monitors your every move, checks your email account, and hires people to follow you to the grocery store, your odds of getting away with cheating drop considerably. Similarly, if you live in a town of 38 people and you, your spouse, and your lover are three of them, good luck keeping that under wraps for long!

Those special circumstances notwithstanding, it seems like the people who get caught are, in general, either stupid, sloppy, or want to get caught. As absurd as the latter group may seem to be, sometimes people are so riddled by guilt over their betrayal of someone who loves and trusts them that they subconsciously make mistakes that make it more likely for them to get caught, creating a chance for them to be punished for their transgression, as they feel they deserve.

So should you tell your spouse about an affair? The evidence points to “probably not”, since so many bad things can happen if you do and the odds are that you’re not going to get caught anyway. If, however, you are in one of those rare circumstances where sharing that information might spark you and your spouse to take the steps necessary to improve your marriage, then it might make sense.