“How can I tell my husband I cheated on him 10 years ago? After a rocky beginning in our marriage, we enjoy a wonderful relationship and I would never want to disrupt what we share together. We now have two children. I certainly don’t want a divorce, but I’m not sure how he would receive the news. I know it would devastate me if the shoe was on the other foot. I don’t know why it continues to bother me, so I suppose it’s because I need to cleanse. What should I do?”

Regret is a great navigator to repentance.

I am not an advocate of possession of secrets in marriage. I believe there should never be undisclosed passwords, financial accounts, private friends, and the like. Significant historical events are typically revealed prior to marriage, or certainly should be. It’s also important that we do our own homework to unearth skeletons that might take our emotions by surprise and/or drag along astonishing consequences that one becomes partner to via matrimony. However, the adage of “silence is golden” bears exploration in this case. Whereas, I know there will be many who disagree with my opinion on this loaded issue, please bear in mind it is my opinion and not the “gospel according to Just Ask Joyce.”

  • Who benefits from this? You, of course. But not for long. You desire to clear your conscience about something you know is wrong now, but you also knew was wrong then. When the affair was in process was the best time to have come clean. There were no kids on the scene. Your relationship was rocky. The marriage might still have been salvaged, even with the news of infidelity. But if it couldn’t have survived the confession, the lives it would have affected would have been considerably less, at least by two. At the present time, you are the only one who seems to be suffering. Should the cat jump out of the bag today, the devastation process begins to take its toll. In the meantime, your conscience might be cleansed…and it might not.
  • Is there a chance he would ever discover? If there is, it definitely should come from you. He should never hear this kind of news — old or recent — from anyone else. The idea of someone else telling could account for a significant portion of your stirring guilt as well. If this is a possibility, a good plan for what you intend to say and how should be already in place in your heart and mind. I’m sure you’ve attempted at a rehearsal many times. If not, it would be advisable to do so.
  • Is the need to share part of why you can’t forgive yourself? This would be a question you need to consider introspectively. Being a woman of strong faith, I know that my sins are between me and my God. Seeking forgiveness is an important aspect of my faith, and once I have, I believe it is cast as far as East is from the West. As mere mortal beings, at times we are our own worst enemy, and especially when we continue to stay shackled to things that have been reconciled through our faith.
  • Would you want to know? What if the shoe was on the other foot? Would you rather stay in the bliss of your ignorance, or would it be important to you that he admit to something as egregious from a decade ago? I believe if we’re talking about 10 months, we all would say it would be necessary. But 10 years? A lot of distance has been marked off and milestones of new history put in place since that time. The answer to the question would certainly vary from one individual to the next, but I believe it might be a question that would cause pause for most everyone, at least for a moment, and especially considering the losses at risk.
  • Prove this love to yourself and to him. That is the best way to strengthen and maintain the love you share. Continue to do everything necessary to let him know your heart is only his. Forgiving yourself and resolving never to repeat your mistake should settle your heart eventually. Day by day, month by month, year by year the shadow of your past will dissipate and your future with him will continue to preserve your legacy.

Like many of us, I’m sure you would love to turn back the hands of time. We all know, of course, that is out of the question. I contend it’s a really good thing we can’t. There are many things we do right, and better, after having done wrong that might never have taken place had we not acquired wisdom from our mistakes and failures.

Struggling with a relationship issue? Write Joyce Oglesby, Family Life FIX-IT Pro and find a solution for life.