If you’ve discovered your spouse has been involved in an affair, you can probably relate to the desire to confess their sins and wrong-doing to the people you feel are in your corner. But think twice before confiding the lurid details of your spouse’s infidelity to friends and family.
Pouring out your hurt, anger and disappointment to family and friends may be your first reaction, but in doing so, you could possibly doom any chance for reconciliation with your spouse. In this blog, we’ll explore whether confiding the affair to family and friends could kill your efforts to repair your relationship with your husband or wife—before you’ve even had a chance to work through the emotions you’re feeling and understand what it is you want.
You’re overwhelmed with emotions and want to lash out. You may find yourself bouncing between two extremes: the desire to hole up somewhere and privately nurse your wounds, yet also needing the embrace of the people you trust to love you and want what’s best for you, who will be there in your time of greatest need.
So what could possibly be wrong with reaching out to the other people in your life?
Weighing the Impact of Confiding on Marriage Healing
According to Dr. Gunzburg, who has worked with hundreds of couples in marital crisis, taking advantage of your support group is an invaluable means for coping during this challenging time.
But there is some danger that comes along with it. When you talk to someone about an issue you’re having, whether it’s a relationship problem or something as mundane as the cost of groceries, the natural reaction of friends and family members is to commiserate with you in an effort to show support.
The problem is that in their attempt to be compassionate they may offer you well-meaning advice that is completely incompatible with your personal situation.
Each of us has unique perspectives built on our individual experiences. While the framework of our experiences may resemble those of our friends and family, the intimate details will not be identical.
A friend may advise you what you should do about your cheating husband or wife, but their suggestions are not based on the unique relationship you share with your spouse. It is based on what your friend or family member may have experienced in their own relationship, or their opinion of what someone “should” do with a cheater.
In your current state of pain and confusion, you’re vulnerable to getting mired in even deeper confusion, possibly more pain—and the possibility of blowing what’s left of your marriage right out of the water because you’re listening to this well-meaning advice rather than figuring out what’s right for you and your marriage. In a survey done by MarriageSherpa.com, the overwhelming response was that following advice from family and friends made things worse!
Get Support Without Sacrificing Reconciliation
Before you lose control of your marriage and the ability to make decisions that are right for you, take the following professional advice that Dr. Gunzburg has offered to so many others who have struggled to survive an affair.
These tips will steer you toward obtaining the help and support you need while avoiding the danger of adding new problems to your marriage:
Tip 1: Reach Out to Your Support Group
When you are drowning in painful emotions, do make the effort to reach out to your support group. This is one of the things we humans do as a species: provide strength to one another in times of trouble. Dealing with the aftermath of an affair is most certainly your time of need.
The desire to curl up into your shell is natural, but you will want to be vigilant about doing this too much. Confiding in someone you trust about the amount of pain and anger you are feeling will help ease your burden. Talking about your emotions is therapeutic, and just the act of talking about what you’re experiencing may help you develop insights into yourself and your marriage.
Tip 2: Choose Your Confidantes Wisely
Before you confide your pain to your friends and family, realize that these people care about you, and many will want to circle the wagons around you, protecting you from further harm. They may feel outraged at your spouse’s infidelity, and with good reason, but what you don’t need is their anger overshadowing what you are experiencing emotionally.
Tip 3: Let Your Support Group Know What YOU Need
You probably know deep in your gut that telling everyone who will listen about your spouse’s affair and all the intimate details of your marital problems is not a good idea. It won’t take long for you to discover that just about everyone has an opinion, which is generally based on what they themselves would do—in a perfect world. And as you also know, what we think we’d do and what happens when confronted personally with a scenario can be the difference between night and day.
Your friends and family want to help, so help them help you: guide them along by telling them what it you need them to say or do. If you don’t want them to advise you regarding your marriage, be sure you communicate this in a friendly manner. For example, you could say:
“I really appreciate your support during this difficult time, and I thank you for being there for me. It would help me so much if you would help me work on positive ways to deal with these negative thoughts and feelings. As for advice on what to do with my marriage, it is something I’m going to work out on my own.”
Don’t be afraid to reach out, but do take the time to direct the terms of sharing such intimate information. This will help you get the support you need while still steering the course of your own recovery.
I’d be interested to hear about your experiences …
Have you confided to others about the problems your marriage is having? What was the effect?
Whom did you entrust with your deepest thoughts, fears, and feelings … and why did you choose this person?
What would you recommend others in the same situation do to guide their family and friends in how best to help?
Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Wishing you hope and healing for your marriage,