By Gracilis,  Counselling

The Confession

Her husband had taken his bath. She watched him dress up and when he attempted to leave, she reminded him that their Pastor had promised to visit He acknowledged her but promised to be back as soon as possible. He had barely left the house when the doorbell rang. She welcomed their Pastor and began profusely apologizing for her husband’s absence but he interrupted her by saying she was actually the one he wanted to see.

Her Pastor took his seat and then began to talk. She had had a few doubts about her husband but did not expect this was how she would be informed about a stepchild. She refrained herself from any emotional outburst. There was no need to kill the messenger. After several minutes of one-sided counseling followed by minutes of awkward silence, their Pastor took his leave.  This was the experience of a friend of mine. Even when her husband returned, he refused to engage in any discussion. She had been told. That was all that mattered, especially now when as a Christian, she had to forgive and forget.

For another friend of mine, it was the husband who confessed to her within the first year of matrimony, that he had defied their marriage bed. It would never have been discovered and their marriage has spanned two decades after.

There are several reasons why people decide to confess their infidelity. Ideally, this should be done because we are sorry we have broken the love and trust of our partners. It should not be done just because we want to ease our consciences, avoid blackmail or because we have finally been caught.

When we have erred in this manner, it is always best to let our partners know directly and as soon as possible. We should be able to look them straight in the eye and tell them we are sorry for our wrong while taking the responsibility for our actions. This is not the time to begin to point out areas where we feel they could have been better. Although this might be true, discussing such at this time would be tantamount to giving excuses.

It would be also be preferable  to be  sensitive to the timing of these confessions so as not to emotionally overload our partners. It may be cruel to heap a confession on them when they have just received bad news or have an interview /examination the next day. Equally insensitive is breaking such news on anniversaries or birthdays and on special occasions. The bad memories associated with those dates could linger on for years

We should also consider the place we make the confession. It might be necessary to get the children away or not put your partner in a situation where she might have to explain her behavior to people. A baby- sitter can help if the children are young (except if she is the accomplice). The manner in which the news is broken would also be dependent on your partner’s temperament. If they are given to violence, it may be better to be away from sharp objects, however, it is not possible to entirely predict the reactions the disclosure would bring.

As much as possible, there should be a full disclosure while making a  confession. Finding out later that an affair also resulted in a child will not help one’s credibility. The temptation to go into gory details, however, should be avoided although I believe a partner should be made aware of who the accomplice was. Sometimes also depending on the ages of your children and the circumstances, it may be necessary to also make them aware.

Depending then on your office or position, it might be necessary for there to be a public confession but this should never be done without first making the family aware. It may also be reasonable not to make a confession public, especially in the early stages when the family has just been acquainted. It may also be necessary to ensure there are measures in place for the affected community to deal with their disappointments also. It may actually be damaging to the faith of some people to burden them with the news without preparation.

But in a bid to inform the public or perhaps the church, I have seen several people downplay the incident, making excuses that the” strange woman” was taking advantage of the child in them who needed approval. I think it is also quite bizarre and unfair to make a public confession naming the accomplice. It is maturity to state what you have done and own the crime, This naming and shaming of accomplices  can sometimes actually++  be +another form of blame-shifting which invariably exposes them to hatred. Rather than admit their ideal leader has erred, most people find it more bearable to transfer their disappointment to hatred for the “strange woman”. Unfortunately, such confessions shift the dynamics and the leader is suddenly portrayed as the victim, much to the chagrin of others.

It would be helpful that after making our confession, we actually allow our mates to express themselves. It is well within their rights to ask questions without feeling judged. There is no need to shut them up or swear them to secrecy. This is because sometimes they may require the emotional support of a friend during this difficult period.

Neither should we demand that they forgive and forget immediately. It is a mark of respect to allow the offended partner to come to terms at their own time.

It should be entirely up to them what they decide to do with the relationship following a confession or a discovery. Even if our mates decide to remain, it is pertinent to realize that the trust broken would have to be earned back and it is our responsibility to actually show we have turned a new leaf.

I am yet to meet anyone who was not hurt by their partner’s cheating. To be honest, sometimes it is better to be in a preventive mode by taking caution in our interactions. Refusing to set boundaries and being unaccountable to our partners is course 101 in the school of infidelity. However, when it happens, it is best to confess our errors with as much sensitivity as required while allowing our partners to come to terms with it at their own time and pace. Remember forgiveness does not necessarily mean the relationship should continue and if it does, we must be ready to do all it takes to rebuild trust.

Do you have a confession to make?

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