Should I Spill the Beans?

“Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.” – Walter Scott

One of the most challenging questions to consider – when we learn we’ve been betrayed by our partner or spouse – is “Should I tell the children, or should it stay a secret?”

There is no easy answer to this very troubling question. It is something you must think through, and weigh up, for yourself. Also, it is better to be cautious than to make a rushed a decision; so here are a few factors to bear in mind …

1. Once the story has been shared it cannot be ‘unshared’. If you and your partner recover from this, and manage to build a completely different life, other people won’t forget. For years, it might influence how they see both of you.

2. Although you can choose to turn your back and walk away, the person who betrayed you will always be the dad or mum of any children you have had. This is a crucial point to bear in mind.

Also, if you disclose everything that your partner has done it will likely affect their relationship with him (or her), and possibly affect it for the rest of their life.

3. It’s worth considering the age of your children. For example, what’s appropriate to share with a 16-year old will not make sense to a 6-year old. Also, timing is important as children get stressed too. They have exams, school anxieties, and other concerns. Is this the right time to drop a bomb like this?

So, if you decide to reveal what has happened, pay attention to the timing in your children’s lives.

4. Are the children at risk? It is very important that you ask yourself this question. Hopefully, the answer to the question will be ‘no’. However, if you have any niggling doubts at all, then you must have the courage to face them openly. You must protect your children, regardless of the cost.

5. If you tell your children (whatever their age) they are going to need support, and may want to talk things through.

Ask yourself: Do you have the reserves to deal with this right now, or should you maybe wait until you feel less traumatized?

Also, they have the right to share how they feel with other people – which could include your family, or your social group. This is something that you’ll need to think through.

6. You might feel like a fraud if you decide to say nothing, so that others think your partner is someone they are not. For example, other people may believe that he or she’s the perfect partner … Or it might feel like you’re colluding and are sharing in a lie.

7. What if the children learn the secret later on, or if they learn from someone else … Think how shocking that would be!

That could influence their relationship with you.

8. It could be argued it prepares your older children for real life. A son or daughter may be struggling with the same things as their parent, and this could be a way to talk about this.

9. If you are open with your children (and especially adult children) it may remove some of the shame and the stigma that surrounds a sexual addiction or dependency.

10. Also, a secret can be powerful and can hold a person hostage. If you choose to be authentic, you might find that you feel freer.

As I said at the beginning, there is no simple solution. Peoples’ situations differ; it requires careful thought. And if you feel confused wait a while – there is no rush. You can always choose to share when you’re ready, and you’re stronger.       


5 thoughts on “Should I Spill the Beans?

  1. The point about ultimately doing what is best for your children is key. Kids (of all ages) can easily become like pawns in a war between their parents. Estranged relationships tend to make enemies of the parties involved. The children should suffer as little as possible for this.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I feel as though the threshold question to answer should be “why do I/we think the kids need to know?” Perhaps the betrayal or addiction caused serious financial problems that will impact the entire family. Perhaps there is a half-sibling as a result of the extramarital conduct. Perhaps it was publicized on social media and the kids are old enough to find out from friends. Or, perhaps, the only reason is to hurt the betrayer by telling the kids how that person behaved and diminishing his/her image. I’ve seen the latter backfire repeatedly or result in very unintended consequences. It’s the best example of the “hurt people hurt people” adage I can think of.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a really wise comment blackacre. Thank you. Those are all important considerations.
      I think it would be really terrible if the children find out from someone else – so the risk of this happening is an important consideration!!!
      And in my opinion, it is cruel to the children to draw them into the parents’ relationship merely to hurt or discredit a betraying partner. We really do need to think about the long term consequences for the children.
      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here. They add a lot to the post.

      Liked by 1 person

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