When you commit a marital infraction, you are betraying the trust of your spouse and breaking the vows you made at your wedding ceremony. It’s a big deal, and it means that you are faced with a choice: to tell or to keep it a secret. There are convincing arguments to be made for each choice, which depend upon your specific situation and your marriage. New evidence from research is coming up on the side of confessing if you want to spare your marriage.
Affair Or One-Night Stand?
This is a big and an important distinction to make when considering coming clean. If you are having an ongoing affair, there are a thousand ways that your spouse could find out. Being found out is clearly worse than confessing. When you are found out, your spouse will always wonder if you stopped the affair and focused on your marriage because you wanted to or because you were caught. A one-night stand is a little bit more of a gray area. Deciding whether to confess to it is a very personal decision with pros and cons for both options.
Confessing May Save Your Marriage
Researchers have determined that confessing to your indiscretion, regardless of whether it was a one-time thing or a long-term affair, is the best thing you can do to rebuild and save your marriage. Conducted by professors from the University of Washington and UCLA, the study included over 100 married couples, all of which participated in relationship counseling of various types. The researchers surveyed and interviewed the couples over a five-year period to assess their levels of satisfaction with their marriages and the stability of their relationships.
The researchers took a close and careful look at the couples who experienced infidelity during the five years. In some cases, it was only one spouse who had been unfaithful; for other couples, both had cheated. Seventy-four percent of these couples included one or more partners who admitted to the infidelity. The other 26 percent kept a secret from a spouse, but were found out by the researchers during questioning. After the five-year study period, 80 percent of the couples that kept the secret of infidelity were divorced, while only 43 percent of those who confessed ended in a split. The couples that had experienced a confession of infidelity had the same levels of stability and satisfaction at the end of the study as those couples who had never had a cheating incident.
The results indicate that confessing makes a difference to the future of the marriage. An important factor to note is that all of the couples were participating in counseling. The couples making the admission that were able to stay together had the benefit of working with a therapist. They used the gains made during counseling to work through the problem and come out together on the other side.
Confessing to an indiscretion is always a personal choice and one that you have to make based on what you feel is right for you and your relationship. But what the study should make clear to you is that cheating does not have to mean the end of your marriage. If you want to restore trust, rebuild your relationship and have a future with your spouse, confessing may be the best thing you can do. Follow that confession with marriage counseling and you could be on the path to an even stronger bond with your spouse.