Best to con­fess an af­fair

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - COFFEEBREAK - Q A

- My mar­riage has been dead for some time. My wife and I both stayed to­gether for the sake of our child.

I’ve de­cided that the mar­riage is in name only and that we both need to move on. I’m ready to move out of the house and file for di­vorce as soon as prac­ti­cal.

I’ve not been faith­ful to my wife and have been hav­ing an af­fair with a woman with whom I’ve fallen in love.

I know my wife will find out about the af­fair dur­ing the di­vorce pro­ceed­ings.

Should I come clean and tell her about the af­fair?

Do I tell her be­fore we file for di­vorce, dur­ing, or never?

Tim­ing Dilemma

- Your tim­ing was off even in this email you sent – start­ing with “dead mar­riage” first, and not the af­fair that’s pro­pel­ling you out the door, which is ac­tu­ally what you’re talk­ing about here.

It’s clear that you see the mar­i­tal di­vide as your valid ex­cuse for an af­fair… and maybe it was.

How­ever, your wife who ap­par­ently knew noth­ing about it, will see it as sad ev­i­dence that you both failed at this mar­riage.

Mean­while, your child may in­ter­pret it as one or both par­ents hav­ing lived a lie, and be an­gry at you for it.

But all you’re ask­ing is, how will your wife’s lawyer per­ceive this af­fair? Will it en­rage your wife enough to af­fect ne­go­ti­a­tions over money, prop­erty, child cus­tody, and ac­cess?

I’m not a lawyer, and you cer­tainly have to talk to yours about this.

But I know some­thing about what you can ex­pect from a woman who learns that she’s been be­trayed in more ways than she knew.

So here’s what I sug­gest: Go to her now, and say that you re­gret that the mar­riage didn’t suc­ceed, and while it takes two peo­ple to ar­rive at the point of di­vorce, you apol­o­gize for the part that you played.

Say that now the most im­por­tant thing is that you both carry on with joint cus­tody in the most am­i­ca­ble way, since you both love your child and he/she needs you both.

Then, say that you’ve met some­one else and it’s a se­ri­ous re­la­tion­ship, but it won’t in­ter­fere with your com­mit­ment to your child or with fair ne­go­ti­a­tions of your di­vorce.

Be kind, and avoid all blam­ing con­ver­sa­tion even if, in her sur­prise, she re­acts neg­a­tively.

Your lawyer may not agree with my ad­vice.

But you asked.

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