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Dear Fiona: I Regret Having An Affair – Will Confessing Help?

couple look lovingly at each other

The problem…

“I work as a writer, and I wrote a guide to having a successful affair. I didn’t write it to encourage people to have affairs – in fact I want the opposite for people. I don’t want them to make my mistake.

“I wrote it so that if people are being stupid enough to have an affair like I did, I want them to know how to hide it. Also, to ensure it never ruins their life, because eventually everyone realises what a terrible mistake affairs are. I put my children, and my affair partner’s children at risk. I betrayed trust. I am not even half of a decent human.

“I therefore am asking you Fiona, should I confess? Should I go and apologise to the man’s wife? Should I tell my husband? Will this ever go some way to redemption of some kind?

“I never meant to be a bad person; I lost passion and attention from my husband, and someone else offered it. I was getting older and was vulnerable. I think I had previous grief from so many things in my life that it manifested itself in the self-sabotage of an affair. I think I should now tell the truth, but should I?”

Fiona says…

“You don’t say how long ago your affair was but, from the way you’re writing, I’m guessing it was a while ago. You have, apparently, ‘got away with it’ – without those most likely to be hurt by it finding out. Yet you are clearly struggling with the guilt you feel, and you are not enjoying feeling this way.

Woman thinking
What will confessing now really achieve? (Alamy/PA)

“So, do you really think that telling this man’s wife and your husband will make them feel good? It might help you to feel better if you confess, but I suspect that it will make them feel a whole lot worse. If they know nothing about it, then aren’t they, perhaps, better off not knowing?

“If you think your husband has suspicions about this (especially if he’s voiced them), then I agree that you should probably tell him. If he’s been keeping his suspicions to himself though, then it could be that he’s afraid of finding out the truth.

“Show him the love, care, and respect you should have been showing him all along. Work at improving things in your marriage and rekindle the love you once had for each other – that should go a long way recompense him for your affair. Telling him will make him shocked and hurt – he will no doubt feel betrayed and may want to separate from you – how is that going to affect your children?
I certainly don’t think it’s your place to tell your lover’s wife. That’s his responsibility – he is equally at fault for betraying his wife.

I suspect what you really want is forgiveness…

“You are asking for ‘redemption’ but telling people who you’ve hurt (but who possibly don’t even know they’ve been hurt) isn’t going to redeem you. I suspect what you really mean is you want forgiveness, but that might not be forthcoming from those involved, I’m afraid.

“You can, however, learn to forgive yourself, if you work at your marriage and put right what went wrong between you and your husband. Build trust, respect and indeed love between you once more, and learn to live with the guilt of this secret for the sake of your husband and family.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.