Should I Tell My Husband’s Parents About My Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from people who are confused about who to include in the healing process after an affair.  Many people are quite close to their spouse’s family and they wonder how much information should be given.

I heard from a wife who said: “I am extremely close to my in laws.  In fact, I sometimes wish my husband’s parents were my own mom and dad.  I certainly treat them that way.  That’s why the fact that I had a short affair is so awful.  Not only do I feel like I betrayed my husband, I feel like I betrayed his family also.  We are trying our best to recover from this.  And I have repeatedly offered up information to my husband and asked for forgiveness.  We are making a little bit of progress, but I know that it’s just going to take more time.  My husband didn’t tell any family or friends about my infidelity.  I sometimes wonder if I should tell my in laws and ask for their forgiveness also.  I feel so weird being around them now and that is the last thing that I want.  I feel like I’m not being honest.  When I share this with some of my friends, they think I’m crazy.  They say that no good can come out of my disclosing this personal information that should only be between my husband and I.  But I feel like if I withhold this information, I’d be continuing to be deceptive.  Who is right?”

I actually have to commend this wife for wanting to be completely honest at all costs.  It shows that she is very sincere about complete transparency and that she intends to be in her marriage for the long haul, regardless of what it takes.

Sometimes, It’s Best To Wait Before You Offer Up Too Much Information: My opinion is often that it is often best if you keep the details about your marriage (and any problems within it between the two of you.)  Recovering from infidelity is difficult.  But when you have third parties making judgements or constantly asking about it, then it becomes even more trying.  Even worse, often the couple is eventually ready to move on, but the third parties continue to give their opinions or to ask questions that are best left in the past.  Sometimes, the third party never sees the unfaithful spouse in quite the same way again and this can cause additional stress on an already strained marriage.

Why This Should Be Your Husband’s Call: I did respect this wife’s closeness to her in laws.  But I felt that if anyone was going to discuss this issue, it should be her husband since he was their son.  And he may have wanted for this to remain private. And, while I understood her need for disclosure, I still felt that it might hurt the situation.  Making this up to her husband should have been her first priority in front of everything (and everyone) else.  Having to mend the relationship with the in laws would add just one more additional set of problems to a situation that was already difficult.  But at the end of the day, I think that the husband should have had the final say since they were his parents.

Know That The In Laws Just Want Their Son To Be Happy: I know that this wife felt a sense of obligation to her in laws.  But frankly, what most parents want is for their children to be happy.  So as long as she could heal her marriage and ensure her husband’s future happiness, that should be enough.

The wife understood all this but she worried that she just wouldn’t be able to deal with the guilt.  She felt that she wouldn’t be able to act normally around them.  I couldn’t really make this decision for her.  And there was no way to know how her son’s parents were going to react.   But there was a real risk that things would be even more awkward once they knew everything.  I’ve even heard of third parties impeding the couple’s ability to reconcile because they get too involved and form too many judgments.  For that reason, I’d suggest waiting until healing is well underway before I shared this information. Of course, if the guilt was unbearable, she’d have to follow her heart.  But I would suggest delaying that until healing had taken place.

So to answer the question posed, if it were me, I would wait to make a decision about bringing my in laws into the equation.  Quite frankly, I regret telling many people about my husband’s affair.  Most of the time, it only caused more conflict and judgements.  It was better to confide in people who didn’t know or have opinions about my husband because others were just too close to the situation to be helpful.  And honestly, your marriage is truly between the two of you and no one else.

I did tell some family members about my husband’s affair and I ended up regretting it because when I was ready to move on, they weren’t.  Of course they believed they were just trying to protect me, but actually their concern just made things more difficult for me.  So, I’d suggest carefully weighing the pros and cons before making any decisions about this.  If it helps, you can read about some of the pitfalls of recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

 

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