My Husband Cheated On Me And I Covered His Tracks. Does That Make Me Just As Guilty As Him?

By: Katie Lersch:  Some wives want the whole world to know that their husband had an affair.  Many of them have this wish because they want their husband to have to face up to what he did. They want for him to be embarrassed and to feel “outed.”  They don’t want for him to be able to hide from his actions.  They figure if he has to literally face the music and own up to what he did, then he will be more likely to be sorry and less likely to cheat again.

However, not every one has the luxury to be able to do this. Some wives are well aware that there are going to be serious repercussions for the entire family if the affair were to be leaked out into the open. And so the wife attempts to cover for him and then wonders if her behavior is somehow enabling or is contributory in some way.

She might say: “my parents have always helped my family out – both financially and emotionally.  They see my husband as their son.  If they knew that I caught him cheating on me, not only would they be crushed, but they would remove their financial support, which unfortunately would affect my entire family and not just my husband.  Also, my husband’s company has a policy that employees are not allowed to ‘date’ each other.  Well, my husband had emails from the other woman (who is also a coworker) on his work tablet. These were just personal, silly emails.  There was nothing work-related on them. And after I caught him, he had to gall to ask me to help him delete all emails between them so that he would not be caught disobeying the company’s rules.  So I helped my husband keep his affair from my family and from his job.  In essence, I covered his tracks, at least in a way.  I know that it was wrong, but I did it because I worried that my family’s financial future was at stake.  But when I told my friend how I covered for my husband, she said that my actions made me just as guilty as he is. I think that this is a little harsh, but I worry that in a sense, she is correct.  What culpability do I have in this?”

As far as the blame for your husband’s affair, in my opinion, you have absolutely none.  You didn’t encourage him or make him cheat on you.  In fact, your actions came AFTER you learned about the cheating.  So I personally think that you have no culpability at all in his decision to cheat.  In fact, I don’t think there’s ever an excuse for cheating.  Even people in very unhappy marriages have the chance to discuss their unhappiness with their spouse and come up with a resolution before they just cheat.  So no, I can’t in any way fault you for the affair.

As far as whether you have any blame because you shielded your husband or covered his tracks, I think that we can all agree that ideally, you want for someone to have to face the consequences of their own actions.  Nothing teaches life lessons as well as this.  This truth is why we we sometimes force our children to go admit wrongdoing to teachers or other people in authority.  As hard as it is for them to take responsibility for their actions, that is exactly what they need to do in order to raise the odds that they won’t repeat the behavior.

In this case, yes, you could have told your parents about the affair or not helped your husband with his tablet.  Both options would have allowed him to face the music, so to speak.  But both would have put your family at risk financially.  When there are children to think about, it’s unfair to dismiss their needs.

However, nothing has been done that can’t be undone. In other words, if you feel so guilty that you can not sleep at night, then you can always tell your parents later or stop helping your husband to cover up at work. (I’m assuming that the affair is ABSOLUTELY over at work so there will be no more tracks to cover in that regard.)  In other words, you can bail out of the “track covering” at any time if your conscience just can’t take it.

However, I completely understand your rationale and I think that most people would agree.  It wasn’t that you were trying to keep your husband from owning up to what he did.  It was that you were trying to protect your children.  These are two different things.  Speaking of your children and your family, I think that you are better served worrying more about healing your marriage (assuming that is what you want) or moving on in a healthy way.  Dwelling on the track covering does nothing to move you forward.  You can always choose to tell your parents at a later time and once you’ve healed (if you choose to.)

I know that people may disagree with me, but I’ve always felt that your marriage is really between you and your spouse and isn’t really anyone else’s business.  Trust me when I say that when you go telling everyone about the affair, you sometimes regret it.  Yes, it feels good to commensurate with how awful your husband is at the time you are bashing him with somewhat else.  But that changes when you are trying to heal and save your marriage. Suddenly, when all those friends and family members want to do is to talk about the affair or the state of your marriage, it becomes very hurtful.  So I don’t necessarily think that it’s a bad thing to want to keep your marriage private.  And I certainly don’t think that you are to blame – in any way whatsoever – for your husband’s affair.

After my own husband’s affair, I came to learn that what I most needed to focus on was my healing.  Sure, I could sit and analyze what he or I did wrong.  I could ruminate on how I’d been hurt.  But in the end, second guessing did nothing to move me forward.  And staying stuck just prolonged the hurt.  So to the extent that you can, I recommend looking to the future instead of the past.  You are not the blame for husband’s affair, but you are now in charge of deciding where you want to go from here.  If you feel guilty, then you can always change course. You don’t need to rush that decision, but in my experience, it’s better to look forward than back. There’s more about my own process of healing on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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