Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,
I screwed up. I don’t know what I was thinking. I love my wife and kids and never thought I would do anything to hurt them, but I did. I had an affair. Now I feel racked with guilt and I do not know what to do. Should tell her and beg for forgiveness? How can I live with this secret? What should I do?
This answer might not be what people want to hear, but I believe it to be true. If you disagree or have opinions about it please reply here, or email (firstname.lastname@example.org, or face book us drbrilliantcliche)
We all know what you were thinking: she’s hot, she listens to me, she makes me feel, yada yada…. In reality you were not thinking, and Yes You Fucked Up.
The past is the past and this idea of forgiveness, and absolution is pure horse shit. Why? Because it’s still all about you. It deals only with your feelings and ignores everyone else. Thus it is based on the same skill set that got you in this mess in the first place. Feelings have nothing to do with behaviors. That is a mistake of our culture. What is your intent? If it is to have a good relationship with your wife then confessing is not going to create that. Think about what someone in a good relationship would be doing every day. Do that, every day. It’s time for what the aborigines call a Walk About; this is a reassessing of everything. What skills do you have? What are you bringing to this relationship? How does the balance lie? Is your relationship equal and reciprocal? Have you shown appreciation for what you have? Do you show appreciation daily? Do you listen? Are you present?
Obviously the answer is no. Making amends is more than flowers and cards. Real life transformation can only come from an effort to create new habits and behaviors; develop some new daily rituals. So what should you do?
End completely and entirely the relationship with this other woman, no emails, no letters, no phone calls. If it was a 1x thing this should not be to hard; if it has been ongoing, good luck.
Go see a Dr. make sure you have no unwanted hitchhikers, HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, genital warts, herpes. It would be entirely unfair to your wife to make her ill due to your stupidity.
Operate on a go forward basis as stated above and don’t be an asshole. Learn what it is to have a good equal and reciprocal relationship.
Do a skills assessment. If either you or her do not have the skills to share equally, be kind, be present, and listen, don’t relive the past. Get ye to counseling. Read The Death of Cupid: Reclaiming the Wisdom of Love, Dating, Romance and Marriage by Shimon Apisdorf and Nachum Braverman. Get it on Amazon used, it is out of print.
Your wife is not your therapist or priest. It is not her job to forgive, understand, or absolve you. No woman in a bar, on line, or at work is qualified to provide these services either. You are responsible for you own feelings and your own behaviors. If you seek out a therapist or priest, do not sleep with them, it obscures their purpose.
If some day your wife finds out about the infidelity hopefully by then you might have established a good relationship and marriage. If she actually likes you, you might have a better chance of weathering the storm.
Remember, people go in and out of love on a daily basis. Love is not what makes a marriage work, commitment and skills are.
Good luck and good behavior,
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Despite her penchant for the Truth, The Granny Doctor agrees with Dr. Brilliant. Do not tell your wife you had an affair. Why? Because I doubt if your wife will ever get over it, no matter how much you work it through, and no matter what she says or tries to think. She will never trust you the same way again. All of the sweetness will go out of her feelings, she will never again peacefully lie in your arms, close her eyes and smile. There will always be the doubt.
Listen, bozo. You betrayed her trust. Now your guilt is gnawing at your innards. Good. It means you have a conscience. You earned your guilt. But what did your wife do to deserve it? When a woman hears that the man she trusted her has cheated on her, it feels as if her heart has been ripped out; it’s the most painful thing in the world. Don’t rip out your wife’s heart to assuage your well deserved guilt.
Be a man. Do the right thing. Follow Dr. Brilliant’s advice and STOP. This is what your wife would want if she knew what you did. Don’t tell her, just DO it. Change. Get your life back.
BTW- this idea of concealing an infidelity is conditional- you can only do it ONCE. If you repeat the infidelity, forget about saving your wife’s feelings. Save her life instead- admit what a weak, duplicitous person you are, so she can make her own choice.
Granny Doctor believes in karma, but she has a theory about the forms that payback can take. If you truly repent and make a continuing and successful effort to change for the better, the worst of your karma will be paid off by what you will have to go through in order to change. Getting rid of the mistress (scorned women are SO much fun) and looking at yourself in the mirror every day is almost punishment enough. But if you do not really repent, are just playing freakin’ games with everyone, and do it again, karma is going to bite you right in the butt, and probably at the least fortuitous moment, when you thought the danger was long past. The universe has a way of evening things out and it’s got a pretty big steamroller at it’s disposal… so watch your ass and keep your nose clean. You might get out of this alive.
Some readers comments:
DocNeil – Some value truth above fidelity. Your chances with me after infidelity would be better if you were honest about it. If I find out and there was lying and covering up on top of the infidelity it is over. You may pass on being so honest with me as to tell me about the other men with whom you’d love to have sex. You may fake an orgasm on occasion or tell me I look as handsome as I did when I was 25. But don’t lie to me and let me think you’ve been as faithful with me as I’ve been to you. Why you tell your partner is important….but they deserve the truth from you and not humiliation of others knowing when they do not.
And nobody gets out of “this” alive.
lildoc3 -These are things everyone should discuss pre-marriage but don’t. I’m always suspicious of people who put conditions on their love. I “came clean” to my first husband BEFORE our marriage about my affair and he never forgave me for it so the marriage was doomed. Of course, after much therapy and thirty years, he tells me he was wrong. I think you’re more afraid of the humiliation of others knowing you’re a cockold, DocNeil, than you are of being one. What’s THAT about?
imsahagun – My mother always said she could forgive an affair. But when violence starts there is no turning back and no amount pleading and changing and therapy that will make the relationship ever ever ever ever work again.
GrowinBrain – Hmmm… What does it say about a person’s sense of responsibility that he’d write such a question to an unknown authority/expert? My response would be, “make up your own mind” – and I might add “, Asshole” if I were feeling charitable.
Dr. B.C. – These are all excellent points. There is no right ANSWERE but I do agree with lildoc3 that these are things that should be talked about pre marriage. It’s a subject you can’t bring up normally without some sort of fight as you’re just not supposed to have any relations outside marriage and that’s that. There should be a living will for marriage, just a form, what would you want me to do if…. we lose everything, there’s a fling, I get offered a transfer to Albuquerque ect…
-Dr. Brilliant Cliché