Navigating the Waters of Past Infidelity: To Tell or Not to Tell?


The aftermath of infidelity can cast a long shadow on a relationship, and the question of whether to disclose a past affair to a spouse is a common dilemma that many individuals grapple with. As a couples therapist, I understand the complexity of this issue and recognize that there's no one-size-fits-all answer. In this blog post, I aim to explore the considerations involved in deciding whether to reveal a past affair to your spouse and shed light on the potential impact on the healing process.

The Weight of Secrecy

Secrecy within a relationship can be a heavy burden, impacting emotional intimacy and trust. No matter how hard you try to keep it to yourself, the burden of such a secret will likely move things in your daily life, such as facial expressions, general mood, and the words you choose. The revelation of a past affair is a deeply personal choice, often stemming from a desire for honesty and transparency. However, disclosing such information is challenging and must be approached thoughtfully.

Key Considerations

  • Motivation for Disclosure: Before deciding to disclose a past affair, it's crucial to understand the underlying motivations. Are you seeking relief from guilt, aiming to rebuild trust, or fostering open communication? A skilled couples therapist can help individuals explore their intentions and determine if disclosure aligns with the overall goals of the relationship. There is a real chance that disclosure has a very positive influence on the relationship and brings a sense of closeness that has been missing. There is also a chance that the relationship is forever different. You'll never be able to return to a time when the affair hasn't happened. I have asked clients after such a disclosure, "Would you have ever found out if they hadn't told you," or "Are you glad you know?" The truth is everybody is different. Some people say they would've eventually found out anyway, and it's best that their partner brought it forward in a supportive way. I have also had clients say they wish they could've remained blissfully ignorant forever. It feels like an unfair burden to carry.  
  • Timing and Context: Timing is everything. As a couples therapist, I will emphasize the importance of choosing the right moment to broach sensitive topics. Consider the current state of your relationship and whether your partner is emotionally prepared to process such information. I can assist in evaluating the timing and providing guidance on creating a safe space for discussion.
  • Anticipated Consequences: It's essential to consider the potential consequences of disclosure on yourself and your partner. As a couples therapist, I can help individuals assess the emotional impact, possible triggers, and the likelihood of rebuilding trust over time. Understanding these consequences can inform the decision-making process.
  • Communication Skills: Effective communication is the linchpin of healthy relationships. Secrets can be like a virus that slowly destroys significant parts of the relationship and can eventually kill it completely. Couples therapists offer valuable tools to enhance communication skills, enabling individuals to express themselves honestly and empathetically. These skills are crucial in navigating difficult conversations and minimizing potential harm.

Couples Therapy as a Supportive Resource

Engaging in couples therapy provides a structured environment to address past infidelity. I can guide individuals through the process, facilitating open communication and helping both partners navigate the emotional aftermath. This safe space allows for the exploration of feelings, the rebuilding of trust, and the development of strategies for moving forward as a couple.


The decision to disclose a past affair is a profoundly personal one, and there's no universal answer. I understand the nuances of navigating this delicate terrain and am here to support individuals in making informed choices. Whether it's fostering honest communication, evaluating motivations, or developing coping strategies, therapy can be a valuable resource for couples seeking to heal and strengthen their relationship after the revelation of past infidelity. You do not have to face such a difficult hurdle alone. If you're ready, click the link below, and let's get started.