“I had an emotional affair. Should I tell my husband?”


“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

-Luke 6:31, NIV

“I had an emotional affair. Should I tell my husband?” 

Sometimes my analytic software that tracks my traffic gives me phrases people use that lead them to this blog. A version of the above question was one a day or so ago. Whoever typed it in for the search was also looking for someone to answer the question from a Christian perspective.

Here’s my take on “Should I tell my husband (about my emotional affair)?”

Short answer: Yes, tell him.

This goes back to the Golden Rule given by Jesus (see Luke 6:31 quoted above). If your husband had cheated on you, would you want him to keep it secret, lie to you whenever this secret was noticeably bothering him, or tell you the truth? I suspect you would want to know the truth.

Even if you didn’t want to hear the truth from your husband who had cheated, God still calls His followers to love and walk in the light (see John 3:19-21). Keeping that sort of sin secret is not walking in the light. Rather, it is hiding in the darkness and therefore is incompatible with being a follower of Christ.

Another important question to consider: What do you mean by “an emotional affair?” 

An “Emotional affair” is a very elastic term. Be prepared to give your husband specifics as to why you are aware that you crossed the emotional intimacy line with this other man.

Giving specific examples of how you crossed the line emotionally with the other man serves several purposes:

First, it serves as a way to sever the bonds of secrecy illicitly set in place between you and the other man.

Second, it reinforces that this was your choice and you alone are responsible for having crossed said line(s).

Third, if no lines–as determined by your husband upon hearing the details–were really crossed, your husband can tell you as much as is his prerogative (assuming you give him good information and do not withhold damning detail).

Why might you not want to tell your husband about the emotional affair?

1. You are afraid of the consequences of him knowing (e.g. he might divorce you). I saw somewhere on the internet the saying, “When you choose an action, you also choose its consequences.” That idea applies here.

(Please be safe. Especially if your husband is known to be a violent man, this disclosure ought not to be done alone but in a safe environment with at least one other adult–e.g. a pastor or counselor–present. No one deserves to be physically abused including those who have cheated.)

2. You are afraid that it will hurt him. Cheating is hurtful behavior. If avoiding causing your husband pain was really your life-orienting philosophy, you would not have cheated in the first place. At this juncture, it is too late.

Using this excuse to lie by omission is more about protecting yourself from further consequences than protecting and serving him. By not telling, you get to avoid seeing how your sinful choices hurt someone you may still love. By not telling, you get to avoid seeing in your husband’s pain that your are the sort of person who has deeply betrayed your spouse. It is not really about avoiding causing him pain but rather yours.

3. You are afraid it might ruin things with the Other Man (e.g. your husband might have a bad opinion of him, etc). The Other Man never ought to have been in this relationship in the first place. His feelings never ought to have taken president over your husband’s. Your priorities are in dangerous disarray if you are more concerned about the Other Man than your husband.

Also, telling your husband about this relationship is another way to further burn that illicit bridge, which needs burning. There are no romantic Plan B’s in God’s vision for marriage!

It is unwise and disrespectful of your husband to stay in relationship with this Other Man. You have already demonstrated the inability to keep the relationship at an appropriate level in the past. It is unfair for you to ask your husband to accept that you can do in the future that which you failed to do in the past.

Final Thought: Choosing to keep this sin secret will still impact your marriage negatively.

Your husband might know something is happened even if he cannot specifically name it. Even if he never knows or is completely unaware of what happened, you are aware and so is God. The right thing to do is to confess your sin to the one you have wronged, your husband. Further, this is a nasty secret to keep that only grows in destruction the longer it is kept in darkness as to keep it so means to lie by omission daily.

“I had an emotional affair. Should I tell my husband?”

Yes, please do for both your sakes.




2 thoughts on ““I had an emotional affair. Should I tell my husband?””

  1. Great advice, DM. And I don’t ever use the term “emotional affair.” It’s just a way for cheaters to minimize what they have done. It really is an attempt to make things sound better than they are, when in reality, they are horrible. If you ever made any physical contact with your co cheater, you did it in the physical realm, not the “emotional “. That is just trying to make it less tawdry.

  2. An emotional affair is simply FOREPLAY…a prelude to what two adults are setting up and planning to happen. The lust that develops as a man and woman drive deeper into emotional connection and fantasy is considered Adultery of the heart. Does God care about what is going on in the heart??? Would a spouse being a “fly on the wall” feel great watching and listening to these two flirt and demonize their spouses? Would they feel the ultimate in disrespect and betrayal. I think so.

    Take Porn for instance. No “touching” going on there except for perhaps “servicing” ones self, or worse, using your spouses body to “finish” the lust that is started by indulging in Porn fantasy. But all systems are fired up and on “go” and someone is getting off w/o their spouse knowing about it. It drives a deep wedge in the marriage and disconnects the spouses…first emotionally, then physically.

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