DEAR DEIDRE: ALMOST 18 years ago, I scratched my seven-year itch, and didn’t get caught.
Now I’m overcome with guilt and I don’t know if I should confess all to my wife.
We’ve been married for 25 years. I’m 55 and she’s 52 and we have three adult children.
When the children were small, life was very stressful.
I was working long hours and felt under pressure to bring in money and provide a good life for the family.
My wife and I had no time together and we stopped being intimate.
It was impossible, with toddlers climbing into our bed or waking us in the night.
I felt bored, frustrated and sex-starved and wondered if this was all there was to life.
I’m not proud to admit this but when a younger female colleague made it clear that she was interested in me, I didn’t resist her.
We had a short affair that was based purely on sex and which fizzled out once the illicit thrill had worn off.
In the early years I put it out of my mind.
But lately, as my relationship with my wife has matured and deepened, I feel terrible that I’ve kept this big secret from her.
Sometimes I lie awake at night, imagining how she’d react if she found out.
It also doesn’t help that this younger colleague has recently been moved back into my team.
I no longer feel attracted to her, although my past indiscretion is constantly on my mind.
But I realise that if I rock the boat now with my marriage, could implode.
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Or perhaps my wife would understand that it was a one-off, long ago in the past, and means nothing.
Should I tell her? Or should I keep quiet and try to live with the guilt?
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DEIDRE SAYS: There is some psychological evidence that the seven-year itch is a common phenomenon, as the initial glow of love has worn off.
But you got through this and now have a strong, happy marriage.
It’s no wonder working closely with your younger colleague has prompted fresh feelings of guilt, but you’ve learned from your mistake.
I would advise you to draw a line under all this.
Honesty is not always the best policy. Sometimes, all it does is cause pain and misery.
If you confessed, you’d get this off your conscience – but for your wife, who is blissfully ignorant, the news would bring misery.
Do not tell her, unless you’re prepared to lose everything you’ve built over the past 27 years.
If you can’t cope with the guilt, get it off your chest by talking to a counsellor, in confidence.
My support pack Counselling will tell you where to access this help.