Sick Secrets…


On my commute into work, I listen to a local radio station that dispenses relationship advice. This segment on KS95 is called “Love ’em or List ’em.” Today’s situation involved cheating and the advice given was mostly awful.

A quick recap of the situation:

Angela is the caller. She just got engaged but is sick with guilt over what she did.

Two years prior, she cheated on her now fiance with his brother “regularly.” But she broke it off, and that brother is now subsequently married. The cheater brother told her to never reveal what he did with her to her now fiance.

She is calling in to get advice on whether or not to reveal the fact about her cheating with the fiance’s brother. Angela is afraid that such a revelation would end the relationship, and she really wants to marry this guy whom she cheated on with his brother.

Take a listen below to hear the story as well as listener response:

Divorce Minister’s thoughts for Angela:

1. To NOT tell the fiance is to deceive him–i.e. lie by omission. The choice to keep this a secret is not a noble action but a devious and treacherous one. I can tell you as one who has been cheated upon that not knowing is one of the cruelest aspects of the experience. And don’t be so naive to believe that the fiance is completely oblivious to at least something being “off.”

2. Just consider the consequences of this secret being divulged by third party after you are married. Assuming the fiance is still in the dark about the cheating, think about the consequences of him learning about your infidelity with his brother from someone other than you.

Maybe the brother breaks down from the guilt and tells him? Or maybe a friend who saw you two together says something to the fiance? Or maybe your fiance has always been suspicious and comes across some sort of evidence confirming his hidden suspicions?

Now, you will not only be dealing with the consequences of cheating with his brother but also with the consequences of deceiving him (see point #1). If you are already married, it might mean a divorce. Who knows?

3. You will be starting a marriage with the foundation undermined by deception, and by you having to question whether or not you would be married apart from you lying by keeping the infidelity a secret (plus hoping that secret never gets exposed, which isn’t entirely in your control–see Point #2). This secret is going to be destructive to the marriage whether or not you reveal it. Anyone saying that it will be settled by hiding the truth is selling false goods. It is already eating you up, which means it is already impacting your relationship!

4. When we choose and do something bad, we choose the consequences with them. It is a packaged deal. This hand-wringing over whether or not to tell the fiance is really about trying to avoid the consequences of one’s previous poor choices. The personally responsible and ethical thing to do is to tell him and accept the consequences you chose by cheating with his brother “regularly” two years ago. Whether or not he forgives you and has mercy upon you ought to be up to him. 

If you choose to tell him, it is best to tell the whole truth. A partial truth is fully a lie. It is a way to break trust as you will still be dealing with potential fallout over that partial-truth lie just as if you lied by keeping it all secret. 

When telling him, focus on actions. Do not editorialize and minimize by calling it a “blip.” Also, hiding that this happened on more than one occasion–i.e. “regularly”–is not advised either. He does not need your judgments or assessments regarding what happened…he needs to know what actually happened.

Covering for the brother is strongly discouraged! Part of the consequences of him betraying his brother in cheating with you is dealing with this fallout.

It is not your job to lie for the brother!

If he wanted to avoid the ugly consequences that follow cheating, then he could have decided to act like a decent brother and not cheat with his brother’s girlfriend in the first place.

Final Thought:

You telling your fiance what happened is not what is responsible for damaging family relations. It is merely revealing what is already a reality:

The brother has betrayed his brother and was active in covering those betrayals up. That is the truth of who the brother is. 

The brother created and planted this ticking-truth-time-bomb in his family system by choosing to cheat with you–his brother’s (now) fiancee. He does not get to blame you when the bomb he created goes off as bombs do.

4 thoughts on “Sick Secrets…”

  1. Dear Mr. & Mrs. DM, Oh brother…what a bag of worms!

    I agree with you that the lack of sexual integrity in both the now-married brother and the soon-to-be bride must be tackled a.s.a.p. and resolved. But, realistically speaking, the work that needs to be done is going to require a lot of time, struggle and grace (which will probably require months – if not years – to work through courses like Every Man’s/Woman’s Battle, private counseling and the support of true, Godly friends and family.) Which leads me to my question…

    BEFORE she tells her would-be groom, wouldn’t it be best for this young woman to indefinitely postpone the wedding, seek out wise counselors (get down to the bottom of why she was such a wimp to cheat with her beloved’s brother – or maybe identify a sexual predator?) and challenge the cheating brother to immediately get into counseling with someone who specializes in sexual integrity issues.

    She needs to take control of her own life by telling the brother that before she joins this family, the decks are going to be cleared!

    But cheaters should not just drop the bomb of their pre-marital fornication into the laps of their respective loved ones until they each have met with and coordinated between counselors to find the kindest and most humble way to do so. Case in point: Some narcissists have a way of making every conversation – even a profound confession – all about themselves and shift blame onto the truly injured party. The details given above don’t indicate that the brother actually apologized or that he has any real concern about anyone but himself.

    A “blunt” presentation of the truth can be as wounding as a bullet. Even the “gentle” approach is going to be grounds for her fiancé to call off the wedding. So I’m thinking that revealing this information is not to be tackled casually or impulsively.

    This young lady needs to be prepared to rebuild her life on the foundation of truth and honoring the LORD as a single woman.

    If she isn’t and she goes along with the brother’s plan to keep their history hushed up, she’s going to be handing him control over the rest of her life and his brother’s marriage, playing into his web of secrets, feeling uncomfortable with her sister-in-law for decades and who knows? The brother might target her for coercion/extortion at a later time in his life! (Weird how some familial relationships go out the window when there’s a downturn in fortunes or an estate to consider.)

    ~ Pam J

    1. I agree that she has work to do on herself with a good counselor and/or skilled pastor. That said, delaying telling the truth is another day of her lying by omission.

      Most premarital pastoral counseling programs that I am aware of have a session to divulge each partner’s sexual/relational history. That might be the best time to do this–i.e. with a pastor/counselor present to referee (assuming this pastor/counselor doesn’t minimize or blameshift on such matters either).


  2. I think she also needs to make it clear to him she understands he has every right and reason to call things off and end the relationship. Period. Any sense of entitlement she has to continue this relationship she needs to get over now or she is not truly repentant. I believe part of being repentant is acknowledging and accepting any consequences of your actions. She can let him know she wants to stay in the relationship and she will do whatever it takes, but then she needs to leave it in his hands to make the decision — no matter how long he needs.

    Regardless of any suspicion he may have that something is “off” he’s going to be blindsided, especially considering the family member involved. She needs to give him time and space to process how they have sinned against him and the level and length of deception there has been without pressuring him or love bombing him in any way.

    1. Agreed. Both in letting go of entitlement and that he will likely be blindsided. My point is not that he knows everything but to point out keeping this hidden completely is more fantasy than reality.

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