Guilty, and no longer enthusiastic
I have been married for over 30 years and until recently been faithful to the only woman I had ever been with. That changed on a recent business trip. An opportunity arose with a business associate, and I , have to admit, enthusiastically took advantage. It was exciting at the time, but now the guilt is setting in.
Do I tell my wife whom I love and don’t want to hurt?
Guilty and No Longer Enthusiastic
Dear Guilty and No Longer Enthusiastic,
You specifically asked if you need to tell your wife. Additionally you said that you do not want to hurt her. Let me state from the immediate onset that if you love your wife, do not want to hurt her and want to continue your marriage, you do not necessarily need to tell her.
Having said that, this is not a license for you to go and do this again. My recommendation is based on the sense from your letter that you are sincerely contrite. That you succumbed once in over thirty years, and will not falter again.
This is not to say that I condone lying or hiding things in a relationship, I do not.
Long marriages naturally go through ups and downs. This is obviously one of those downturns. I personally believe that you will inflict hurt and irreparable damage to your relationship with your wife should you decide to tell her. While I considered the answer to your question, I reasoned that should you choose to tell your wife you will have to go through the steps of telling her EVERYTHING, answering any and ALL questions and having an endless reservoir of patience for all discussions pertaining to that one night, whenever they arise. In addition, you and your wife will have to go through a period of healing. It is an unknown how you two will emerge from all this. On the other hand, should you choose not to tell your wife you carry the deep secret and the burden to repair the damage.
After some research I have discovered that many spouses or partners do not confess, and the relationships do survive. It is possible that yours too can bounce back. Do not lose hope. You, as others have before you, can still save this situation.
You must realize that this experience with the other woman has changed you, impacted your wife and your marriage, but with work and resolution it can turn out well. However, you cannot possibly emerge from this experience unscathed.
These are steps I think you must consciously undertake to recover:
1. You must accept that you are fully at fault and responsible for your actions. I encourage you to consciously address yourself, silently if that works for you, and give this time to sink in and percolate. Discuss with your inner self how many people you have hurt, the repercussions and the remorse you feel.
2. Understand that there are circumstances in a long marriage that create feelings that may be beyond your power to control. There are longings that you and your wife have experienced that you did not address. We don’t always have control over our feelings.
3. Be prepared to communicate more specifically about issues you avoided like if you have become complacent with each other, bored or angry about the turn of events in your lives.
4. You must give more and love more, even when you don’t feel up to it. You have to go out of your way, with romantic dinners, thoughtful gifts, deep conversation, more physical intimacy and more intense time together. You will have to work doubly hard, invest threefold and this will, hopefully, positively impact you and your wife and give both of you more gratification in the marriage.
5. Couples counseling is always a good option to consider to help you communicate your innermost feelings and accomplish all the above.
6. Finally and formally, forgive yourself and move on. BUT, don’t do it again!