Anonymous asks:

My husband is having an affair. I found out 6 months ago, with a woman we employ at our company we own jointly. We have told everyone we have separated because we grew apart but are living in the same house with kids. His affair continues, in secret apart from me and a few friends I have told- he thinks no one knows but they do. He thinks I should keep it secret. Should I out the affair? The lies and deceit are too much!

Cate Campbell says: The crucial issue here seems less concerned with whether you should spill the beans about your husband’s affair and so much more about how you are coping. Living with someone you love who is having an affair with someone else sounds like torture. Indeed, you say ‘the lies and deceit are too much’, and perhaps hope that they will stop if other people know what’s going on. However, it seems ‘everyone’ already knows your relationship has run into trouble and, it’s to be hoped, are being supportive. So, before telling them more, consider carefully what you want the outcome to be. Revenge revelations could backfire if telling people results in them taking sides, interfering or gossiping. There’s no guarantee that your husband would come clean either. He may deny what you say and introduce more lies, for instance.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Nonetheless, it sounds as though you’ve had enough of this situation and are ready for change. Presumably you agreed to the secrecy and continuing to live together at one time, but you are of course allowed to change your mind, particularly as the decision may have been made while you were still coming to terms with knowing about the affair. Many people in these circumstances want to stay close to their partner in the hope that their continuing loyalty or support will benefit their relationship going forward, whether they remain together or ultimately divorce. But the strain of together-apart living often isn’t sustainable even when there isn’t an affair, particularly if one partner is going along with the other’s wishes.

Your message gives the impression your husband hasn’t yet made his plans clear, and you can’t be expected to continue with this arrangement indefinitely. You may not want to trigger him leaving for good, but how long can you tolerate this continuing, especially if you’re having contact with the other woman at work? She may be equally in the dark about your husband’s plans or they may be buying time while they plan a future together. Either way, you need to know so that you can start making plans for your future.

Many couples who have complicated financial arrangements or business ties assume that separation will be ruinous, but this is not necessarily true. You need professional financial and legal advice, so you can make informed decisions. You would also benefit from advice from a professional mediator, personal counselling support for yourself and couple counselling to help you both manage this extremely difficult and painful situation. Family therapy may be helpful to facilitate the next steps with the least damage to your children as well as yourselves. They must be aware that there are problems with your relationship and may also be hoping for some answers and reassurance. This is better delivered co-operatively and in a controlled way by you and your partner together, rather than discovered accidentally if details of the affair are blurted out.

You say four people already know what’s going, and you are entitled to their support, as well as the support of others if that’s what you need. However, be clear about what you want and why you are telling others if this is what you decide. Ideally, you and your husband could be discussing and agreeing the next steps you each take, using both professional advice and the support of your loved ones.

Answer provided by Cate Campbell, BACP accredited counsellor specialising in Trauma, Relationship & Psychosexual Therapy, Individual, couple and family counselling, supervision, EMDR and coaching. Find more about Cate on her website >>>

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