This is the latest installment of our ‘You Decide’ series where you will provide your opinion on a semi-fictional affair scenario.

This time we’re considering an internal struggle that Adriana finds herself in some three plus years after discovering her husband’s affair.

Please read on and share your thoughts in the comment section on how you would help this person.

The Backstory

Adriana and Mike have been married for 19 years and have two teenage daughters.  They were college sweethearts, got great jobs right after graduation and eventually got married about a year later.

After several years of marriage Mike started a physical and sexual affair with Joan – a married acquaintance from church and mother of  three  – one of whom was a friend of Adriana and Mike’s daughters.

Adriana discovered Mike’s 3-year long affair almost 3.5 years ago. He ended the affair immediately.

In the aftermath of their D-day, Adriana considered notifying Joan’s husband of the affair; however, she decided not to. At the time, she didn’t want her actions to be conducted out of revenge.

Since D-day, Adriana and Mike have been through hell together. She doesn’t really feel that their marriage is healed or that they are in a “good” place. But they are still trying – and both agree that they are roughly 70-80% through this difficult process.  (They do not currently go to therapy either jointly or individually.)

The troubling thing for Adriana now is that she knows Mike’s affair partner is still with her husband and is pretty sure Joan’s husband is still in the dark about the affair.

See also  Discussion: How Do You Handle the Anger After the Affair?

Knowing this breaks Adriana’s heart.

Do You Have an Ethical Obligation to Tell the Betrayed Spouse that Their Spouse is Cheating?

She is quite sympathetic to the fact that as a betrayed spouse, there are few things in this life that can compare to the injustice of being forced to live a “fake” life. To be manipulated by lies; to not be given the ability to make her own decisions based on the truth and reality.  No one deserves to live that way.

So, after all this time, Adriana is still considering notifying Joan’s husband.

She simply feels he has a right to know.

She feels that Joan’s husband should be able to base his decisions on the truth and not the “fake” life that has been handed to him.

It seems unfair that Joan’s presence in Adriana and Mike’s lives could wreak such havoc, while Joan’s life and marriage just continued as normal, with her husband oblivious to what his wife had done.

The Dilemma…

Even after more than three years of recovery, she is struggling with whether or not to tell Joan’s husband about the affair.  Part of her says that he has the right to know even after all this time.  The other part of her feels it’s not her right to tell and she should just let it go.

She has asked some close friends and is getting conflicting advice. 

One friend says to do it anonymously (this person was also cheated on and did not tell, but wishes she did.)

See also  Open 'Mic' Discussion #17

Another friend advised against telling as she felt it was too risky, as one never knows how another person might react.  There was also the issue of the effect this could have on the affair partner’s children.  

Knowing what she now knows, do you think that Adriana has the moral responsibility to inform Joan’s husband – or is it truly none of her business? (Of course, whatever decision is made, Mike and Adriana would make together.)

There you have it. What should Adriana do?  You decide!

If you struggled with this issue as well, please share your own experiences and how you decided to handle it – as well as the outcome. Thanks!





    29 replies to "To Tell or Not Tell – You Decide"

    • Better days

      My opinion is that the other spouse should be told immediately after. Every case, every time, no two ways about it. This story is a little different because so much time has passed and it seems the betrayed wife more-so just wants to get even. Even still, you have to put yourself in the other spouses shoes. I would want to know every time.

      I told for my own reasons. I gave one chance to have it end. Within a couple weeks, my wife informed me her AP reached out. This was an absolute condition. It’s something you know is going to happen and the longer we went without her telling me he’d made an attempt, the more I knew she was lying to me. She finally forwarded me an e-mail from him. Turns out she wasn’t lying(at least for a period of time about that), the e-mail was a “Hope things have been going OK for you” type of e-mail. I called his wife and she was very much appreciative.

      Not telling when you are in the early days is like tying your in-heat bitch up in an open yard and not expecting a litter of mutts soon.

    • Exercisegrace

      For me the time to tell would have been immediately after d-day, and he SHOULD have been told. I think when several years goes by, the urge to tell resurfaces primarily because the betrayed spouse is still struggling. I suspect Adriana resents the fact that her life got blown up, she’s still struggling and suffering, but Joan’s husband gets to live his life in blissful ignorance. Except we all know that ignorance really isn’t bliss. To quote a meme, I would rather be hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.

      Before I made the decision to tell him, I would take a long hard look at WHY (at this late date) I’m feeling such an urge to drop this bomb. And at this point “he has a right to know” (while technically true) doesn’t play as well as it does at discovery. I would examine exactly what it is I am hoping to gain from this. He most likely isn’t going to thank her or be grateful.

    • Shifting Impressions

      I think Adriana’s motives are irrelevant. I strongly believe Joan’s husband HAS THE RIGHT TO KNOW!!!. In these types of scenarios it is so often assumed the BS is “blissfully unaware”……I strongly doubt that. So what if it was three years ago….again in my opinion, totally irrelevant!!!

      My husband had two EA’s…..the latter one I found out about during the EA. The earlier one I found out about almost twenty years after it happened. During both my gut was screaming that something was very wrong. I thought I was going crazy. When I stumbled on the one from twenty years ago I immediately thought “so that was what all that was about all those years ago”.

      I am definitely of the “I would rather be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie” camp.

    • StruggleStreet

      Oh this is easy, make Joan front up to her husband. Adriana should contact Joan directly and tell her she has a few days to tell her husband herself about the affair and if she doesn’t, Adriana will do it herself. The guy deserves to know the truth no matter how much time has passed.

    • WhoKnows

      Okay, I have a related question. I’m also thinking about the same question whether to expose AP to her husband. My concerns are different though. My family and AP’s family have no contact in real life. I do not know her husband at all. But I do know her husband is 30 years older than AP so in his 70s and was treated really badly by her. On the one hand, exposing would give me some revenge that she wreak havoc on mine while hers is all peace. On the other hand, I do not want to drop this bomb on an innocent old guy like this, why harm him? At the same time it might be a better punishment for her to pay is to stay in this loveless marriage. Divorce may actually be a relief for her. I know she wouldn’t initiate divorce unless she’s lined up someone better. All the while thinking the poor guy’s money may go to her when she dies is that what he really wants I feel I’m obligated to tell him. Ideas?

    • Better days

      Your families have no contact? Your spouses are affair partners. Why harm him? If you are a betrayed, you should know he’s already being harmed. He deserves to know. Or drop it on his adult children to make that choice if you are too afraid. Unless you know first hand about their marriage, you really know nothing. You have two liars trading lies and you got an untruthful version of that even. Having the AP deal with a shit storm is just an added benefit.

    • Annie

      In a few weeks, it will be a year since my husband’s emotional affair was discovered. His affair was with someone he works with who is 27 years younger and married. They still work together. Just this very morning I woke up wanting to print the phone bill, text message history and write him a letter. It bothers me they work together. My husband’s tells the story of how she is trying to better herself. I think her husband should know the affair partners still work together. She also sent pictures of herself and their little girl. I don’t know what the right answer is for anyone else. Who know if the affair partner told their significant other.

      • Annonymous

        Annie – I am sorry you are in a similar situation as me. My husband had an EA with a coworker and they still work together. It’s been 3 years and they still work together. Kind of like the story above – I would say we are about 80% healed, but it’s not fully healed and like I keep telling my husband – we will never fully be healed as a couple or individually if he still has contact with her. Period. I am sorry you are in this place – it stinks.

        • Annie

          It is hard for sure. I completely understand how you feel. I will not be at ease as long as he works with the AP. They have to Inreact at work she is a nurse and he is a dociL worker- working on a locked psyche unit.
          He jas no idea I still think about spilling the beans to her husband. He is finally going to see a therapist to help him deal with the shame. I bother him to see me depressed and anxious which I have never experienced before in my life.

    • Sonia Ruiz

      What would you want? Would you REALLY want to know your partner is having an affair? If you didn’t hesitate and said yes, well then you know what to do.
      (Vice versa)
      Truth hurts, but lies burn to the core and linger.

    • Shameful

      Having lived this scenario as the CS, I completely agree with ExercisingGrace. If the BS is 100% certain the affair is over, I don’t see any reason to expose the affair to the innocent husband 3+ years later. IF, however, the CS takes a stand on NOT telling the other husband of the affair, he is protecting the AP and this should raise a red flag.

      I was in a longterm relationship and my AP’s wife intercepted emails/texts two different times, approximately 4 years apart. The relationship was downplayed and she was talked out of telling my husband both times. This, regretfully, permitted the affair to continue and intensify with time. The catalyst of change was when one of my daughters read a questionable text five months after his wife’s 2nd DDay. After an agonizing couple of days, I ended the affair and following a horrible, gut-wrenching confrontation with each of my three daughters (15, 18, 22), I confessed to my husband. The next day he notified my AP’s wife. She told him she had learned some time ago, thought things had ended, and never told him out of fear for her husband’s safety. That was a true concern and my daughters were split on whether their dad should know out of their concern for my physical safety as well. My AP was a family friend doubling my girls’ suffering. He had mentored & coached each of them. He was always their personal reference on college & job applications. My husband considered my AP his friend. They were all lied to by both of us. Cognizant of the pain I caused, I knew a confession to my H was the necessary first step towards restoration with each of them. After being married for 27 years, I honestly had no idea how things would turn out. It has been 10 months now, but with lots of hard work and counseling, my marriage is on the road to recovery and my girls are working to forgive, which is more than I deserve. My in-laws have been my greatest source of support, but longterm friendships have been destroyed. I live in regret and shame.

      All that being said, to reveal something so painful, so long after the fact just seems revengeful to me. Does the husband deserve to know? Maybe. Is it her place to tell him? I don’t think so.

    • Better Days

      “The relationship was downplayed and she was talked out of telling my husband both times. This, regretfully, permitted the affair to continue and intensify with time. The catalyst of change was when one of my daughters read a questionable text five months after his wife’s 2nd DDay.”
      There are several reasons to tell. This is one of them. There affair would still be going on today if her daughter didn’t catch her. She (Shameful) still doesn’t get it. This is not the right path. It is irresponsible to not tell and you are now a part of their secrets and lies and are enabling. Period. End of story.

    • Better days

      “Cognizant of the pain I caused, I knew a confession to my H was the necessary first step towards restoration with each of them.”

      Pretending that you took the high road to confess to your husband after literally everyone knew but him? That’s would almost be funny if I didn’t have an idea of the pain your husband is going thru.

      “The next day he notified my AP’s wife. She told him she had learned some time ago”

      You can bet your life your husband wishes the AP’s wife had the same integrity your husband has.

    • Hopeful

      My husband had already broken off both of his affairs 15 months before dday and neither AP had a spouse or significant other. Saying all of that in our situation we chose together to tell the women to stop contacting him and blocked their numbers. We also blocked their friends when they reached out too. I know it is a little different if the AP has a spouse. For us we talked about this a lot and decided it was best if they were out of our lives to leave it that way. We focused on ourselves. I would have liked someone to have told me being in the betrayed position. I am not so sure some of these people don’t know. In the end I chose to focus on me and what I needed and thought was best for my life. For too long I put others first. Just my experience.

    • Shifting Impressions

      In my case my husband had an EA that lasted for 18 months. I stumbled on the emails, confronted him and he stopped all contact immediately. I knew the OW but not her husband….I don’t even know his name. There were some rumors…..well before the affair…that her husband was somewhat abusive. I have nothing to substantiate that.

      I actually did confront the other woman and asked her if her husband knew. She said “Does it matter?”. I answered “I guess not” and walked away. Having NO IDEA OF WHAT HE WAS CAPABLE OF” I decided to walk away and have nothing more to do with her. I have no idea if she had other affairs….I know very little about her personal life. I know I walked away out self protection.

      Had his affair partner been part of our church community or friendship group….I believe I would have informed her spouse.

      Just last week a friend told me about a retired couple in her neighborhood. Every day the husband leaves the house at exactly the same time…..and his unsuspecting wife waves him off as goes about doing his supposed volunteer work and his supposed golf games etc. He actually has another woman that he “lives with” during the day. Then he goes home to his wife at night. Apparently this has been going on for years and yes the the neighbors know what is going on. I was horrified …….that all sorts of people who are this woman’s friends and neighbors don’t let her know what is going on.

    • patricia

      My husband had a EA from July 2017 to June 2018. I had suspicions that something was right, one morning while he was sleeping, something was telling me to check his phone and I was one not to do that. When I saw 100’s of text messages back and forth, my bubble bursted! She was 30 year younger than he was, he was 6 months away from his 65th birthday. She worked under him and it started as friendly talk and then escalated to a full ea, she had 3 young kids and during the affair she also took on a boyfriend and never mentioned the BF to my husband. She would tell my husband all her problems and money issues, which during his fog he would hand over 100’s of dollars. He said she just wanted to be friends but she would still entice him with flirty texts. I’m 9 months past the EA and feel like I’m stuck in the early part of recovery, because he still has contact with her because of the job, he ended the affair 2 weeks after D-day, when I threatened him I was leaving him, then after that I found out about her Boy friend on FB and that was going on during the affair. I showed my husband what I found out and he came to realize she was only dragging him along for what she could get from him, cash, gifts!
      I reached out to the boyfriend through messenger and told him what was going on, I felt like he deserved the right to know, that he was also being betrayed. After that she had the nerve to contact my husband and ask him what’s wrong with your wife? She’s ruining my life!! I just laughed and said oh well, again he deserved to know. So yes I think the other betrayed person had the right to know and they decide if they want to continue with the lies and deceit that they were given.

    • Barbara

      By all means, let the husband know! My husband had a year long affair with a younger woman he worked with. After DD I asked him about her. He described her as a wonderful, beautiful young divorced woman. Come to find out that was “affair fog” talking!
      Soon after I discovered that she, through my husband, had transmitted an STI to me – the faithful virgin he married. It was the most humiliating experience to be at my yearly GYN exam to be told what I had. I can still see the nurse smirking at me when I asked how that happened and she said by having unprotected sex with the wrong person.
      So yes, tell. There’s more involved than hurt feelings.

    • Donna

      Yes she should tell him…no ifs, ands or buts about it!!!
      Wouldn’t YOU want to know, instead of being the only one who doesn’t!!
      The truth will ALWAYS set you free.

    • Blindsided

      I am conflicted on this. I am not so sure that the truth ALWAYS sets you free. I feel that my knowledge of his affair has imprisoned me in a state of distrust that bleeds over into all parts of my life. The furthest thing from feeling free. I question myself about trusting anyone about anything – MY instincts, my gut, my antennae, my inner voice failed me. The truth of my husband’s affair has changed me forever, and I have wished more than once that I had never found out. My husband lied to me. Period. That doesn’t change whether I learned of it or not. The free spirit I used to be, the trusting, open person is gone. If the affair had ended without my ever knowing, my husband would be living a lie that was never discovered. Today he lives with the fact that he lied to me, and I found out. Either way, he is a liar and has to live with that. My knowledge of his affair dragged me into this dark place that I have been fighting for over a year to get out of.
      If the question were asked a different way – do I believe that the OW’s husband should know about the affair? – the answer is yes. I’m not sure that I should be the one to do the telling. It is a moral dilemma – the OW was dragged into my/our marriage by my husband. I do not want to be ‘a part’ of THEIR marriage, and if I were the one to tell, I forever would be. I am not sure what purpose my telling him would serve. To me, it would feel like I was exacting some revenge, and that is not a place I want to live in. I am not out for revenge.
      In my specific situation, I will not tell her husband. At one point during the affair, I met with OW, as a last ditch effort to get information from her. I used the threat of telling her husband to extract info, which she gave to me. Before making this ‘deal’, I thought of telling her husband, but it also occurred to me that telling him would only pull the OW and my H closer together … them against me. I was also irrationally protecting my husband. Not knowing her husband, I didn’t know what he might do … tell my kids? Tell the whole world? I did not want that, and wasn’t able to deal with the unintended consequences that might cause. The affair continued for a short time, though it was waning … the final parting of ways came after the threat of telling her husband was repeated by both my H and me. And it ended. I feel that I gave my word and in the hell of all of this, at least MY integrity is still intact. Maybe it was a deal with the devil, but it is a deal I made and believe that I have to stick with it.
      Am I the only BS that feels this way?

      • Shifting Impressions

        I really appreciate your comment. I do believe it is every betrayed spouses right to know the truth but I don’t believe it is the responsibility of the BS to report to the AP’s spouse. I also did not want to insert myself into that relationship. I wanted as far away as possible. I also did not want to deal with what you call the unintended consequences.

        I never say that I wish I didn’t know……I find myself wishing it never happened. But alas it did happen. The knowledge has also changed me forever. I feel that my inner instinct or my inner voice DID NOT FAIL ME. During my husband’s two EA’s (twenty years apart) my gut was screaming THAT SOMETHING WAS VERY WRONG!! I just did not recognize what was wrong. I trusted so completely that him being unfaithful was not on my radar. He is honest in business, a wonderful father, a good friend etc. I never thought that he would go against his own moral code. But I knew SOMETHING was very wrong and I tried everything I knew how to figure it out. I found out almost twenty years after the first EA and suddenly it explained what my gut had been trying to tell me.

        I trust in my inner voice now,more than ever.

        • Blindsided

          I appreciate your comment as well. I, too, wish the affair had never happened (don’t we all), but as I said there are days when I am so tired, fatigued from the emotions that I do wish I was the clueless spouse who just didn’t know. My story is similar, and very different at the same time. My husband is a wonderful father, good friend, etc. as well. I never, ever thought he would have an affair. To me it was the one thing I was certain of … he would have had a million chances to do so over the 40 years we have been together. And never did he, until a little over a year ago. The difference is that his affair started and I found out within a couple of weeks. It wasn’t my gut that told me something was up – it was him “disappearing” until 2:00 am one night, and in my panic to find him, trying to access the Find My Phone app, I went on his computer and found ‘their’ emails. So, the affair had just started, and I knew pretty damn quickly. But, I didn’t see it coming, wasn’t in tune with him enough at that time to know how little he was thinking of himself, how disconnected he was from me.

          • Shifting Impressions

            Don’t be so hard on yourself. Our partners made the decision to hide what was going on inside themselves. I would have dropped everything had he actually tried to tell me just how much he was struggling. But no he chose a “solution” to his inward struggle that made everything much worse. He put a wall around himself during that time that I simply could not penetrate.

            • Blindsided

              Simple, articulate words that hit the nail directly on the head. Thanks SI!

    • Shifting Impressions

      I’m glad I could help.

    • TryingHard

      She should tell the APs husband. We BS all know and say regularly that we would want to know. Makes no difference how much time has passed. Tell him

    • Soul mate

      In my case the AP was a middle aged woman who had never married. However, if she had been married, I can say for sure, I would have informed the spouse. Consequences be damned!

    • David

      Ironically Doug you just replied to me about my problem emphasizing “. My knowledge of her affair dragged me into this dark place that I have been fighting for over a year to get out of.” Mine is 4 years and I changed him to her.
      Sadly, my daughter know of it and it took them quite some time to get past it. On the other hand, his wife and grown children no nothing of his dishonesty?


    • E

      Everything should have come out after D-day. The H of the cheating wife needs to know because right now as debating the guilt over not telling he doesn’t know that he has a choice and is being lied to. To me though the no contact rule is there now and those feelings of wanting to let this secret out 3 years later is something that needs to be worked through in therapy because now there is the no contact and telling the spouse isn’t going to help her recovery. I read the scenario and thought initially I would feel different if wasn’t for the no contact. That’s playing roulette with your recovery and self sabotage. My therapist would tell me that I need to stay in the present and write a journal entry or find a different solution because it would impact the no contact.

    • DE

      I am struggling with this exact issue!
      Here is the Forum post I just wrote yesterday.

      “It’s almost been one year since my husband shared he was having an EA with a coworker. He has since ended this EA. We are working through things and I feel we will be grow from this experience. I am positive the other woman has not been 100% honest with her husband. (she was a friend, thus I have received updates from other friends re: this status). Anyway, the one (of many) take-a-ways I have had regarding this entire situation is: honesty. I had friends that knew of this EA, yet did not tell me. Months of my life was a lie that could have been prevented. That is really eating me up inside. I keep going back to this and feel that I should share details (emails/texts) of this EA with the OW husband, who was also a friend. I feel this way because I wished that someone would have been strong enough to clue me in on a few things. I don’t want to be that person who had information and did not share. I also feel this will help my healing process. How? I am not quite sure. Other than I value honesty and I don’t want to be in possession of information that could lead to more lies.”

      I like the idea that my husband should inform the OW husband. He actually mentioned he would like to apologize. However, I am not sure that will ever come to fruition.

      I am even more conflicted after reading everyone’s comments! I am just exhausted.

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