At some point, usually, when a juicy affair has come to a bitter end, the big question will pop into your head: Should I tell the wife? Opinions are divided, from “it’s not your place to tell” to “women should look out for each other”. Does she deserve to know? Or does she deserve not to hurt? I hear both arguments. I have been the wife too. But in an affair, I have pondered on the question. One time I kept my mouth shut, one time I didn’t. What was going through my head when I made those decisions?
The intention of the affair
My first affair was short-lived, it lasted a few weeks. He had been clear from the start, he didn’t want to change anything, we were sex-buddies. We knew it would end one day (although I hadn’t anticipated that to be so soon). I was heartbroken when he wanted to stop, but I knew he had been honest with his intentions.
My second affair lasted 1 1/2 years. He had been clear from the start as well, he wanted to marry me, start a family. The affair had quickly turned into a secret relationship. He got upset when I called it affair, we were a couple. In my mind, we were working towards being official and starting a family. But on the other side, he was working with his wife on their marriage problems.
How is he treating her?
In affair 1, I could see that he deeply loved her. The way he spoke about her, their history, I even saw them together. I have no way of knowing what he was like at home, but he appeared respectful whenever he spoke about her. He cared for her from all I could see.
In affair 2, he started slagging her off before we had even started. (🚩 I know). He convinced me that she was abusive, manipulative, controlling, while he had always been there for her and treated her with respect. Everything he told me about them, showed me what a caring and loving husband he was. It wasn’t until we broke up that I started to see the full extend of his abusive, manipulative and controlling behaviors. And with this new pair of goggles, I started to see his actions and the things that he had told me about their marriage in a whole different light.
How much does she already know?
Affair 1: I am pretty sure she has no idea to this date. Quite frankly, I didn’t want to be that person to burst her bubble and shock her to the core.
Affair 2 was a different matter. She had caught him several times. She had traced his location to the day-use hotel we stayed in, found receipts. She had even gone through his messages to me, albeit not on the correct app. She had challenged him several times with evidence in her hands, yet he had always managed to convince her that she was crazy and making things up. I wanted to be that person to tell her “You were right all along”
Does he show remorse?
Affair 1: He appeared to be remorseful. Again, I cannot know, but he seemed to have learned a lesson and started to put a lot more effort into fixing his marriage problems. When we broke up, he showed remorse for me.
Affair 2: No, never. He was always the victim, in his mind, he had done nothing wrong. He was the good guy for giving her “another chance”. When we broke up, he didn’t care for me.
Is he going to come clean?
Affair 1: No he wasn’t. We spoke about it, but he never intended to tell her. At the time, I felt that this was his call to make.
Affair 2: No he wasn’t. At several points throughout our relationship, I tried to convince him to tell her. I saw how much effort she put into “getting him back” and felt it wasn’t fair to keep her hopes up. “You don’t have to tell her everything”, I would say: “just let her know that you have moved on or started dating so she can move on too”. Deep down I knew that there was no other reason for not going with that suggestion than his enjoyment of seeing her fight for him. When he finally decided to go back, I was more forceful: “I really think, if you want a fresh start with her, you should at least tell her what’s been going on so that she knows it was never about her”. He replied: “It feels like you are trying to sabotage me Kara, you know I might not get a chance if she knows, besides I would rather live with this for the rest of my life than hurt her”
What will it achieve?
Affair 1: What could I have achieved by telling her? There is no way of knowing but my guess is: Not much, I doubt she would have kicked him out.
Affair 2: I knew one thing for sure: He would hate me forever and that was exactly what I wanted. Deep down I had always known how toxic and abusive the relationship was, even if I hadn’t realized the extent. But when he broke up, I was so desperate that I didn’t recognise myself, crying and begging him for days. I would have done anything to get him to stay. I hated myself for being so desperate, in a way I knew closing the door permanently like this would protect me. And I wanted to open her eyes. I wanted her to start seeing what I had just started to understand. Him, the real person that was behind the mask.
So what did it achieve?
Affair 1: I don’t know much, except the fact that they are still together years later and appear happy on their Facebook pages (doesn’t everyone appear happy on Facebook though).
Affair 2: When I messaged her, I didn’t give any details or evidence. All I said was that I knew it was hard to hear but I wanted her to know that she had been right all along, and we had been seeing each other. She replied instantly, saying “Thank you for reaching out, I will have a think”. 10 minutes later he called me. “What the fuck have you done?”. He was raging, called me all the names in the book. He said that my message might cause her to have a mental breakdown, she might even have to go to the hospital now, how could I be so cruel? I sat back and listened. How wrong he had been about me, he had loved me like no one else, but now he could see me for the evil person I really was. He ended the call with these words: “Now I have to go over there and explain everything, and I really hope that she is a better person than you are. And you know what? I think she is, she will forgive me”
I never heard from either of them again. But he kindly shared his updates in our joint work chat, so I know that he moved back in with her only a few weeks later. He bought her a car, they are renovating the house, go on holiday with her family. That’s the parts he wants me to see: She is a better person, she has forgiven him. I will never know what he told her, but it’s not my life, and thankfully not my marriage. Sometimes I wonder if she will reach out one day, and ask for my side of the story.
Today I found out that he was also cheating on me, quite early on in our relationship. I don’t know why I was so shocked, and the lady who told me apologized over and over again. I thanked her, over and over again. Yes, it makes me sick to my stomach and hurts so painfully, but I know that it’s a vital piece of the puzzle on my journey to healing. I know that a tiny part of me was still wanting to see the man I fell in love with. A tiny part of me still wanted to believe in the good in people, and believe that his love for me was genuine. Telling me this was the kindest thing for my heart. Yes, I am definitely camp “woman should look out for each other” now:
Tell me about the affair, tell me all about it, show me pictures, give me proof.
This post was previously published on Medium.com.
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