Reaching Out for Help

by Dr. Leslie (Jack) Fyans

My husband and I have been married 20 years. Ten years ago I was unfaithful to him, but he is unaware of it. I have repented of this sin and have never repeated it, nor would I. I haven’t told my pastor, either. Do you feel it’s important for me to confess this to my spouse? To my pastor? I truly love my husband, and to tell him would cause him heartache. I know I should have thought of that before, but I didn’t.

You have obviously been living with tremendous tension over the past 10 years, marked by guilt, fear, and uncertainty. The fact that you are now willing to reach out for help is a step in the right direction, proof that God’s Word is active in your life, leading to repentance and, if possible, to making amends.

While nothing you say or do can change the choice you made then, there are important truths to keep in mind. Marital infidelity is a manifestation of sin, and it affects Christian and non-Christian couples. I make this point for the benefit of our readers who may also be struggling with this or similar damaging decisions around intimate relationships. You have repented and can be sure of God’s promise: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12 NIV). Of course, our poor choices inevitably affect those closest to us, even if they aren’t aware of them.

Your struggle about whether to tell your husband comes out of your love and concern for him. This puts you in a dilemma: To continue withholding the secret means maintaining your unspoken betrayal and causing ongoing anguish for you; to tell him would likely “cause him heartache” and perhaps lead to the deterioration of your relationship.

It is impossible to predict how your husband would react, should you choose to tell him of your affair. To be sure, such a revelation would be traumatic for most husbands. I would counsel you to confess to your pastor, through whom you can hear clearly the forgiveness you already hold dear in your heart. Your pastor can also offer guidance on how to proceed in conversation with your husband.

Questions for “Family Counselor” come from readers and, after steps are taken to assure confidentiality, from contacts made with Lutheran Hour Ministries. Send your questions to “Family Counselor,” The Lutheran Witness, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295. Please include your name and address. 

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