Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: Sending you a huge THANK YOU for standing up for the sanctity of marriage in your answer to "On the Brink" regarding her desire for having an open marriage. I feel you give excellent advice to all who write to you. Keep standing up for what is moral and right. -- Faithful Roman Catholic, Chicago

DEAR FAITHFUL ROMAN CATHOLIC: I do think that for most people an "open marriage" leads to far more problems than it is worth. Holding onto each other makes more sense to me for a host of reasons.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I strongly disagree with your advice to "Guilty" in New York City. She feels guilty about an affair she had and feels she ought to tell her husband. You told her that if it comes up, she shouldn't lie, but that she should not tell her husband. I wholeheartedly disagree! If she cares about her marriage, she must tell him. How much better to be honest with her husband and not wait for it to surface and then tell the truth. If "Guilty" wants her relationship with her spouse to continue and thrive, this "indiscretion" (as you called it) needs to come out in the open, and they need to heal from it together. It is dishonest to try to carry on without recognizing the consequences of the affair. Carrying around such a heavy burden of guilt and sin is detrimental in every way and will eventually affect the quality of their marriage. The fact that Guilty feels she should tell her husband about it three years after the fact tells me the affair haunts her -- probably daily. She will not find peace until she confesses to her husband and apologizes for jeopardizing their marriage. Like the old adage goes, "Confession is good for the soul." -- Tell the Truth, Reno, Nev.

DEAR TELL THE TRUTH: I accept your opinion and want to further discuss this distressing situation. I agree that Guilty will feel relief after telling her husband, and I understand your point that if she is still holding onto it, the situation is bothering her. I ask, though, to what end is she sharing this information? If it is because she wants to unload her guilt, what happens next? Obviously she will hurt her husband's heart. And?

I am not a believer in lying -- period -- let alone to your spouse. But I also do not think it is kind or thoughtful to dredge up the past in order to relieve yourself if, in reality, it likely ends up creating a deeper wound for all.

Now, playing devil's advocate, I do see that if all cards are on the table that could create space for a refreshed relationship between the two. But if the primary reason for revealing this violation is to take the weight off of her shoulders, I actually think the revelation will be selfish.

I would very much like to hear from others on whether they have had success in situations like this. Let us continue this conversation. Please, Readers, share your perspectives.