I read somewhere that confession cleanses the soul, but I am not sure how I feel about that. If I had been cheated on, I’d want my spouse to tell me. I’d want him to be so overcome with guilt that he broke down and told me, and then promised me it would never happen again, and meant it.
But if I were the cheater, I’m not sure. I think the answer is very complicated and needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis. In the first case, let’s say someone has cheated just once and never plans to do it again. They had a terrible drunken one night stand and it was horrible and plagues them with guilt. I think they should tell, and here’s why. They’ll probably wind up confessing eventually anyway, since guilt is a cruel mistress (no pun intended). If you confess after a few months go by, it makes matters worse. Plus, your spouse will start to look at everything you did during those months and scrutinize them for guilt-ridden actions.
“Did he buy me those flowers just because he felt bad? I thought it was because he cared.” Stuff like that. The second case involves an ongoing affair. The main question here is are you REALLY going to stop? Because if you confess and then continue to cheat, there will probably be a divorce in your not-so-happy future. But if you really can cut it off and you want everything out in the open, maybe you should tell.
The question your spouse will want to know is, if you feel so bad how could you let it happen repeatedly? A question with a not-so-easy answer. Also, it is important not to make it seem like you’re confessing simply to alleviate your own surmounting guilt. Don’t say things like, “Oh, now that I’ve told you everything I feel so much better,” because that is like saying your confession was selfish, and if you’ve cheated on your spouse, coming off selfish is probably a bad idea.
I’m not really an expert in relationships; these are just my opinions. Sometimes confessing is a bad idea, if you think your spouse could hurt you or react violently. The best way to avoid all these problems is simple: don’t cheat in the first place.