I listen to you on the Smiley Show every week. This morning, however, I think you missed it. You advised a young woman to confess to her husband that she had an affair, but went on to advise her not to disclose with whom or any of the details about the affair. I would tend to believe that you have never been in the position of having someone important cheat on you. You would have known that it is adding insult to injury when the “cheater” will protect the identity and details about the “other person.” As the person who has been cheated on, you become immediately aware that you have been totally and completely exposed without your knowledge and consent ... this other person has partnered with your significant other to conspire to cheat, lie, deceive and conduct secret outings and acts. This, much more than any “sex act,” is a betrayal. And when they continue to protect this other person and protect all the secrets they had, well, it is very difficult to work on healing when there is still some measure of putting this other person’s life, identity and most personal details protected when your life, identity and most personal details were fodder for open discussion between the two of them.
You remain on the outside.
You should never be on the outside of the most intimate relationship in your life. The details are not ultimately important. But there is a need to establish that you are more important than this other person. I would not wish that you should ever know the full impact of the ultimate betrayal, but without that experience you could not know how it makes you feel, as though you have been placed before everyone you know, completely naked, and everyone judging and evaluating you …your significant other has one robe, and chooses to cover someone else with it.
That’s how it feels.
Been There … Left That!
Dear Been There,
You make an excellent point, and do so one helluva stinging analogy. How terrible that experience has given you the ability to convey the pain infidelity causes so poignantly. But, you’re right. After someone has cheated, there can never be any real recovery unless everything is out in the open, and the injured party knows all he or she cares to know about the affair, and is re-established as the most cherished person in the straying partner’s life. Sharing the details of an affair can be painful, but can also help in the long arduous process of rebuilding trust.
What I was trying to say earlier though, and I still stand by it, is that the moment of confession may not be the time to reveal all about the person with whom you’ve screwed around with. I think it’s best to deal with the initial anger, shock and pain of discovering a lover has cheated. I stressed this especially because the woman you are talking about was concerned that her husband may try to “go after the guy,” which could lead to him getting in trouble. I’d rather prevent any further tragedy, and get to the other things later. But alas, that’s the luxury of writing things down as opposed to speaking live on the radio; it gives you time to get it all out. Thanks not only for listening, but for so beautifully pointing out what also needs to happen if couples want to heal the wounds cheating inflicts.