Infidelity: To Tell or Not To Tell?

First of all, secrets are very destructive, whether the topic is abuse, addiction, or sexual affairs. Secrets within families are responsible for many of our psychological and emotional problems. With secrets in the way, family problems do not get addressed.

And when they don’t get addressed, they fester from one generation to another. They also have the potential to make people ill and create neurotic behaviors, simply because of the worry of being “found out”.

In specific regard to sexual affairs there are of course other factors to consider. The fact that the affair occurred in the first place, often indicates a lack of intimacy in the relationship.  One hopes to find missing closeness by going outside the relationship.

One rarely does find it because the capacity for intimacy lies within our own ability to be open and honest with ourselves and others. So searching for another partner to meet this need, rarely works. Adding another secret to withhold only creates more distance in the relationship.

I would then go on to help a client see the consequences of either continuing on with the secret or becoming honest about their behavior. For example, it’s important for people to understand that telling about an affair can cause the end of the relationship. Obviously, this is a very difficult choice to make, especially where children and finances are involved. On the other hand, I don’t believe the relationship can become healthy with secrets in the way. Usually, people already are aware of this. That’s what brings the subject up to the counsellor in the first place. Deep down, most of us know the destructiveness of secrets and lies.

Sometimes, when this information has been shared, people decide in favor of truth and are willing to face the consequences of their behavior. They don’t do this because of what I’ve said, but because living with secrets and lies is simply too difficult.
At other times, people opt to stay trapped in their secrets. They accept that the consequence of this will be a more distant relationship. They decide to settle for less intimacy in order to reduce the risk of ending their marriages.  I honor both courses of action because my goal is to help people make more informed choices in their lives.

Signs of infidelity
Most people don’t realize that there are literally hundreds of signs of infidelity. During Ruth Houston’s early research back in the 90’s, she identified 21 major categories of infidelity signs. Each category contains multiple telltale signs. Some of the signs are quite obvious. But most of them are subtle and easy to overlook. These signs are documented in Ruth Houston’s Is He Cheating on You? – 829 Telltale Signs. Despite the title, most of the signs apply to both cheating women and cheating men.

Krisanna Jeffery, Registered Clinical Counselor, B.S.W, M.Ed
1348 Gabriola Dr. Parksville, BC V9P 2X2, Canada.


Infidelity Statistics
Below are compiled statistics on infidelity and marriage:
- Percentage of marriages that end in divorce in America: 53%
- Percentage of “arranged marriages” (where parents pick their sons or daughters spouses) that end in divorce: 3%
- Medical field(s) with the highest divorce rate: psychiatrists and marriage counselors
- Percentage of marriages where one or both spouses admit to infidelity, either physical or emotional: 41%
- Percentage of men who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had: 57%
- Percentage of women who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had: 54%
- Percentage of men and women who admit to having an affair with a co-worker: 36%
- Percentage of men and women who admit to infidelity on business trips: 36%
- Percentage of men and women who admit to infidelity (emotional or physical) with a brother-in-law or sister-in-law: 17%
- Average length of an affair: 2 years
- Percentage of marriages that last after an affair has been admitted to or discovered: 31%
- Percentage of men who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 74%
- Percentage of women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught: 68%

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