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Aubrey Hammack

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Disclosing an Affair
By Aubrey Hammack   
Not "rated" by the Author.
Last edited: Monday, May 15, 2006
Posted: Friday, October 17, 2003

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Are there times when affairs might not need to be disclosed?

There are we are told over 50 % of first marriage partners that have affairs. Some of these are one night ones, others usually last several months and fewer are what we call long-term affairs lasting 1 or more years.

 In most cases, these affairs either burn themselves out or they are disclosed usually from one of the affair spouses learning of the affair.An affair can be emotional, sexual or both.

Usually women are more likely involved in an emotional affair than men, but there are cases when both of them feel the "in love" feeling. It is not meant by this statement to minimize those people who actually are in love in an affair. I certainly believe it happens.

 For our purposes today, we are going to explore whether there are times when affairs shouldn't be disclosed. A few years ago, I was involved with a couple who had came to therapy as a result of the affair being disclosed.

 It involved a young couple in their 30s. It seems the couple had become friends with another couple that they really liked a lot and as a result they started socializing together. One thing led to another and before long the wife of one couple and the husband of another became attracted to each other. They then started talking on the phone and finding times when they could be alone together. It became harder and harder for this pair to not show interest in each other.

As time went by, the husband not involved in the affair became suspicious of the two and so he confronted his wife. She denied that she was having an affair. To make a long story short, this husband didn't know quite what to think then but this concern kept gnawing at him.

Finally, he decided to take matters into his own hands and went to the husband that he suspected was seeing his wife. He knocked on the door with a gun in his hand and when this man came to the door, he told him to come with him to his house because he was going to find out the truth. Of course, when they got their this man and his affair partner denied the affair.

 This is a good example of why you would not disclose an affair. If the affair had been admitted in this case, someone could have been hurt or killed. If a person that has been hurt by the affair has a violent side or other indications that they would move in this direction, then the affair should not be made known to him or her.

Research does point out that in a small per centage of cases that don't involve leanings to violence that people are hurt physically. You can not predict what someone will or will not do. But keep in mind that people who do not have a history of violence usually do not commit this act.

Now, there are other times when it is probably not necessary to disclose an affair. I was reminded recently about one of those. It seems that a husband had become involved in seeing another woman and that his wife was terminally ill and bedridden. It would not make a lot of sense in this situation to reveal the affair, at least probably not to the wife.

Other examples of this could be affairs that occurred years ago,or one night flings. The emotional maturity level of both spouses need to be taken into account when this decision is or is not made. If a person struggles with doubt about what to do in this situation, it might be wise for him or her to there again see a therapist to explore the conflict. If both partners are looking and striving for honesty and really want their relationship to be as good as possible, then it is wise to put your cards on the table so to speak when someone is involved in an affair. In most cases these marriages can be saved.

Hard work, yes it will be. People many times have affairs with the hope in mind that it might possibly improve their marriages. There is little evidence to support this.

There are other ways of dealing with marital difficulties without going out to get a nursemaid to help you make matters worse. One of the best ones is to go with your significant other to a good therapist.

 For those of us who are quick to offer  opinions or moral judgements about this subject, remember that the couple that is going through this must sort out whether or not they want to continue in the relationship. It is their business not ours.

When we really think about what is involved in marriage and how difficult it is for any two people to get along without having major differences in opinions on all kinds of topics, it is a wonder anyone is able to stay in long term committed relationships at all.

We are only selfish humans, who are here trodding through this journey called life with all of its problems and most of us are trying as hard as we can to make sense of it.  

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Reviewed by Susan de Vegter 5/23/2006
I come from the south and the passions here seem to pave a path for affaires in extreme ways. I've seen or heard it all, lived in Europe where extra-marital affaires are expected. I see most have the affaires from boredom in their marriage, revenge for an extreme taken against them and from just making a mistake by getting married in the first place. In England one of my good friends from Gerogia married a prominent British businessman who had a young girl in a flat in London...accepted behavior too.

Being mortals we all are tempted in many ways with passion and living in an apathetic society if it isn't directly associated with those involved it's short-lived gossip for the most part. What was moot before in the past is now either newsworthy or passed over as mundane. Hollywood made us apathetic unless the affaire is constantly exploited in the media.
This is all just my opinion.
Thanks for an interesting article.
Reviewed by m j hollingshead 10/22/2003
good informative article
Reviewed by T Gray (Reader) 10/18/2003
This article is interesting, but reads as though it is still incomplete. I wonder if you think there ever IS an appropriate time to disclose an affair? Will be interested in the finished version. Terri

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