Ask Erin!: When Do I Tell My Husband I Know He’s Cheating?

She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to…Ask Erin! is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions, about anything at all.

Q. 

I’m freaking out and don’t know what to do. On Sunday, my husband was in the shower. He left his phone on our bed, which he never does. It lit up with a text from “S.” That’s the name that popped up, “S.” Something about it bothered me. Before I had time to think about it, I was typing in his password, which he has never changed, and read the text which was explicit and made it clear that this person, S, had not only seen my husband’s penis, but had done things with it.

To say I was shocked is an understatement. I have never had a passing thought that he could be cheating. There were no other texts from her. I believe he has been deleting them. But, I looked at his email. They have sent each other nude photos, they have clearly been seeing each other for about two months, according to the email chain. I looked her up on Facebook and I think he knows her through work. He meets and works with a lot of different people in a creative industry.

Christmas is next week, we have two kids. I don’t know what the fuck to do. He is noticing how frosty I have been the past couple days. We had, I thought, a good relationship, a healthy sex life. I NEVER thought this would happen to me. I don’t want to ruin Christmas for our kids and our families, but I feel like I am going to explode. Do I confront him now? Or wait until after Christmas? Dumbfounded, lost, and despondent.

A.

Mama, I am so very sorry. There is no way to talk about this without acknowledging what a sucky situation this is. I have been there. I have been the one to discover an email and be horrified by what I found. And nothing I say to you will make it suck any less. So, how do you proceed?

First, I think you can’t be alone in this. If you are capable of having that very uncomfortable conversation with him, do it, now. If it will be less of a conversation and more of an explosion, then wait, get through the next week, and then confront him. And, if you have someone uber-trustworthy in your life that can listen and keep you calm and sane, please share this with them.

For me, I would not be able to sit in this. I would let him know that you know and that this will be dealt with after Christmas. Make it clear to him that you want to preserve a nice holiday for the kids, and that he should think about what he wants.

In the meantime, you need to do some real soul-searching and think about what you want. Is this a forgivable offense? Is he a repeat offender? Can you work together to move past this and build trust again? You need to explore these questions, separately and together, with a therapist. You need that objective third party, educated in handling these types of situations, to guide you through the healing process, whether that leads to reconciliation or divorce, so that neither one of you inflicts further damage, on yourselves or each other.

No matter the outcome, you will end up in a better situation than you are now. If the two of you choose/can move forward, your relationship will be in a far better, more honest place, after time and therapy. (Please don’t skip the therapy!) If this betrayal results in a separation, I promise that, again with time and therapy, you will be so much better off.

These ideas and words may not be of much comfort now, but it won’t feel like this forever. Lean on those you trust, look deep within and get clear on what you want, and know that your life will move forward. Take care of yourself, be kind to yourself, and breathe. You are stronger than you think.

 If you have a question for me about love, relationships, infidelity, 90s pop culture trivia, thumbprint cookies, or anything at all, email rarelywrongerin@gmail.com. As always, your anonymity is golden. xoxo

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