Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Disclosing the Affair: Who to tell?

Series: Disclosing the Affair Part 1: Do I Tell or Not? Part 2: Who to Tell? Kyle sat in my office this morning arguing about who needed to know of his wife’s affair. In his mind, all of their close friends and both of their families needed to be informed immediately. When asked the purpose for the revelation, he simply countered, “Why not?. I could write a book on the tragic consequences of telling for the wrong reasons. Why not?: because it can destroy life long relationships, beca…
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Thanks for this article. I am the betrayer, my spouses sisters who know the full story have advised her to tell her 2 childhood friends in the spirit of "bringing it into the light" so as to heal. I have been very ok with her discussing our issue with her sisters, but definitely think and feel it would damage relationships if this information were given to her friends. I believe I would probably re-act with anger and the disclosure would not help my wife as she doesnt communicate with her friends often and they wouldnt be there for her on the level she needs. I understand my Wife and sister-in-laws want me to hurt just as much, but for me, informing her 2 friends would be counter productive. I agree both spouses should give permission to those who should know the story.

"Telling" on the betrayed spouse

I understood the concept of keeping my mouth shut unless it would serve a good purpose for us both, and as a result, I kept his infidelity quiet, speaking only to our priest and out marriage counselor. I insulated my husband from judgement from many of my friends and family. I knew that if I was going to blab, I'd hear "leave him!" everywhere I turned. I wanted my marriage saved, and I'd look pretty silly in everyone's eyes if I went around telling them how he'd hurt me, but turn around and work things out with him. It made no sense to me.

Unfortunately, I was not extended the same courtesy by my unfaithful husband. Much like he'd portrayed me to his affair partner as controlling, cold and unloving, and all sorts of nasty things, he did the same when he spoke to his sisters and told them about my difficulties with moving forward during our recovery period. I've been in treatment for severe depression and PTSD for over a year, and I admit I've had some terrible reactions to flooding and intrusive thoughts. During our recent trip to reunite with both our families, I experienced some really uncomfortable moments, and had many sly comments made by my sisters-in-law that were a little too close to home to not be about me and my "crazy, jealous" temper.

Things got so bad, that i confronted my husband, and he admitted he'd had several chats with them about what I had put him through and made him suffer because of my failure to forgive and heal on his timeline. Even something that is completely unrelated to the matter of his infidelity and our less-than-stellar recovery was thrown out during one conversation, which really served no purpose other than to make the point that I am a bad person and that he should leave me to be happy. Knowing him as I know him, he put his own spin on things and told everything I'd said to him without any context to explain why I was angry or panicked.

I offered him a divorce, because if the way he expresses himself about me to others is how he really feels, then we are just wasting each other's time. Needless to say, he refused my offer and says it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about me, because it's him I married, and he loves me and wants to be with me and knows what kind of person I really am. He said he spoke to his sisters about my failure to handle things well because he has a right to be comforted.

I feel doubly betrayed because the friendships I was fostering with his sisters and his mother is now shot. They feel our marriage is bad and tell him on a regular basis that being with me is compromising his health, safety and happiness. And I'm not supposed to care? On top of it all, I see how happy and welcoming my family is to have him around. My mother, who saw me falling apart, on the verge of suicide last year embraces him and calls him son. How does it end up that I am the betrayed, but somehow I am the one getting punished for being heartbroken and hurt?

Shouldn't there also be a rule about the unfaithful minding what he says and to whom he speaks?

What if...

So what if you've already told a handful of people? I am the betrayed and I am very social. I lead a Bible study in our small town for local women, and many friends have inquired, "what's going on?," "is everything okay?". Even with those I was very vague with and just asked to pray - they guessed. I'd assume I've told, 7 people, and feel strongly that each one wants my marriage to succeed, is committed to praying for me and my spouse and frankly, I needed them in the early days to "pick me up off the floor" and help with my kids when I was a complete emotional mess. I have prayed for discernment in who I tell and even didn't open up to our preacher initially. It will get around our small community and I've lost a considerable amount of weight in a short time because of the emotional stress. What kind of response would you recommend?


I am the betrayer. My husband has told 6 to 7 people and wants to tell another person. It's one day after he said no more and a person I don't want to know. He cannot commit to not telling him. What now?

What type of affair was it?

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