Is Ignorance Bliss? If Your Spouse Cheated, Would You Really Want to Know?

72 comments
July 7, 2013 ‐ By Brooke Dean

If any of you watched BET’s Being Mary Jane last week or even heard about it, you’ll remember or heard that Gabrielle Union’s character, Mary Jane, discovered that the man she had been sleeping with was married and eventually confronted the wife to let her know that she’d been sleeping with her husband for months.  If you didn’t watch, yes that definitely happened.

The wife didn’t take it too well as one might imagine, but to Mary Jane’s surprise (and maybe, your surprise), the wife said she was keeping him. They had two children and she was madly in love with her husband, so while she was hurt, she decided to stay.

Now, I’m not sure if Mary Jane was secretly – or not so secretly – hoping that the wife would leave him.  After all, she felt betrayed by this man, so maybe she wanted to let the wife know what was going on so that she knew she was being betrayed as well. Her heart may have been in the right place by telling his wife and maybe she thought she was doing a sister-friend a solid, but she came across looking silly in the end. What I gathered from the wife is that ignorance is bliss and now, she has to come to terms with the fact that her Prince Charming isn’t the man she thought he was and that their happily-ever-after isn’t so happy after all.

I felt sorry for both women. I tried to put myself in each of their shoes and asked myself what I’d do. I’ve been in Mary Jane’s situation before where I discovered that the man I’d been dating was married, but it was because the wife found out about me and contacted me. I was totally clueless up until I got the phone call that her husband, my so-called man, was cheating on her with me. I ended the relationship immediately without even giving him a chance to explain and never saw him or heard from the wife again. It was that simple to me.

But what if I had found out he was married first and his wife was the clueless one? Would I try to find a way to reach out to her to tell her? While I’m all for sisters sticking together, I’d have to say no. If he is the one cheating, he should be the one to tell her. Besides, most women blame the “other” woman, even if she had no idea he was married. I’m not going to give a woman a chance to swing on me because she has misplaced anger that should be directed at her lying, cheating husband. I’ll let her discover who he is on her own.

Besides, if my husband were cheating on me, the mistress is the last person I’d want to tell me. I can’t imagine the humiliation one would feel from having to find out from some other woman that she’s been sleeping with the love of my life. If my husband would have the audacity to cheat, he should at least be man enough to tell me.  That’s assuming I’d even want to know.

Like the wife in Being Mary Jane, I’m not sure that telling me such a thing would automatically mean I’d leave. It would probably depend on the circumstances surrounding the infidelity. Was it a one-time thing, a drunken night while he was out of town on business with a complete stranger? Or was/is it an ongoing affair? Have we been married for one year or 10 years? Do we share children? Have we built a life worth fighting for and saving? All of these questions come into play when trying to decide if knowing about an affair is worth the pain involved or not.

I guess for some women, it doesn’t matter the circumstances: they’d leave with no questions asked. They’d want to know if the man they’re spending their life with loves and cherishes the relationship the same way they do. If not, they’d rather find out sooner than later so they can get a divorce stat! I get that. If a man makes the choice to stray, then she should at least get to decide if she wants to stay with him or not.

But for other women, the devastation that comes from betrayal and broken trust isn’t worth the life they’ve built together – especially if it was a one time thing that may never happen again. If he used protection, never put her life at risk, realized the error of his ways and vowed never to cheat again, would telling her be a good thing? He may want to clear his conscience, but at what expense? Would hurting her to spare his conscience benefit or hurt the relationship more? Some women would argue that he should live with the guilt as his punishment rather than tell his wife about an insignificant infidelity that could rock the core of their marriage forever.

If my man were currently cheating, then yes, I’d want to know. While some women have a “If you’re cheating, just make sure I never find out or it never gets back to me” stance, I can’t say I co-sign that amount of ignorance. But if it happened a long time ago and he’s been on the “up and up” ever since? Eh, I probably wouldn’t want to know because in that case, ignorance might truly be bliss.

Where would you stand on this issue?

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  • tiffany.sides

    I spent a year and a half with a guy, who was in a relationship with another girl. I was aware of there relationship, but every time i asked him about her he’ll be like its nothing and there not together. We were co-workers. We began to mess around. He asked me to be his girlfriend FIRST but i was afraid of being hurt again and i had just got out of a relationship with this other guy. After i found out about the other women. I chose to tell her best friend about me and the guy relationship, and the best friend told her. Afterwards i just went to the left and they went to the right. I was surprise that she took him back because the whole time they were together he was cheating with me. I stopped all communications with him. Its been about a year since i last seen him, which is a good thing. He still continues to contact me. But i do think about him, like we had some really good times. But i choose to just ignore him and treat him as tho he doesn’t exist. I know i played a part in this and in the end i still got hurt by him. SMMFH

    SN) #SideChicksHaveFeelingsToo.
    #PleaseDontJudgeMe

  • theluvdoc

    Alot women say oh im leaving once I know he stepped out. Wrong move, get the details as to “Why” because if you dont know why he did it and its related to you then you will carry it into the next relationship. Some women have wack sex and dont realize that their man needs some crazy sex. Point is there is a reason in 8/10 cases all guys arent hoes, they need something more. Chances are you leave you will do the same to the next guy (you most of the time attract the same type). Women step out for the same reason, and never tell their man to step it up. Ya’ll are just a bit better at not getting caught.

  • Ms_Sunshine9898

    Yes I would want to know, it would be hard to deal with but I would need to know. . .

  • Rashida

    I would like to know so I can decide what’s best for me on my own terms. I doubt I could stay with someone like that. I wouldn’t just take him back for certain! Counseling, all of that!

  • Nya Jacobsen

    I slept with my ex a few times after he married the girl he cheated on me with. Part of it was revenge because she knew he was in a relationship with me when she started sleeping with him. I didn’t like playing second, so it was short lived. Even though I think we both revered him as a charismatic, humble, intelligent man he was still a lying, deceitful, selfish, disloyal boyfriend in my case and husband in hers. I want to know the truth about infidelity so I can make a well informed decision. And it would probably be to honor myself enough to leave.

  • real

    I think it depends on if you have kids with that person. I never knew how strong my mom was until I grew up. My dad cheated on her through their marriage but she chose to stay to give me and my brother a two parent household and put her emotions aside. She waited until we both were in college to make her move and get a divorce. She is now happily with her boyfriend. Now that I am an adult and married with a child. I will as well if it comes down to it put my feelings aside for the time being and raise this child in a two parent household. some people fail to realize when you lay down and make a child its no longer just about you

    • Aaliyah

      Interesting. Did you or your brother know (or pick up on any signs) that your father was cheating? If so, how did that make you (or your brother) feel? Do you believe that the infidelity affected your views of men, in terms of how they should treat women in relationships?

      I bring this up because I unfortunately have had to witness BOTH of my parents on-going indiscretions in their marriage. And it made me depressed at times that I had to witness the clandestine conversations or be bold-faced lied to about my parents whereabouts. This definitely negatively affected my view of men as well as not respecting the “sacrifices” that women make to maintain a relationship. Because of this, I would have rather they’d both be honest and open about their shortcomings — I confronted both of them on more than one occasion — rather than commit to the “appearance” that their 37-year marriage was still intact.

      By both of my parents staying in a dysfunctional situation, it confused me as to what I should do when faced with disrespect from any potential mate or boyfriend. Usually you are taught that when someone does something wrong you address it, find the root of the problem, and determine a resolution. You do not hide it or attempt to sweep it under the rug.

      Eventually the dirt that keeps being swept under the rug will start to seep out of the sides. Then, you’ll have a BIGGER mess to clean up than if you addressed the small mess in the beginning.

    • Laine

      Interesting… But now, in retrospect, would you still have wanted your mother to put her feelings aside for you or would you have wanted her to be happy (with someone else, or single…)?

    • Laine

      Interesting… But now, in retrospect, would you still have wanted your mother to put her feelings aside for you or would you have wanted her to be happy (with someone else, or single…)?

  • Laila

    If you’re married and you cheat the covenant you made between God and your spouse is broken, whether you confess it or not.

  • God Sent

    Pure devastation!!! I found out through my niece that my husband whom I was married to for 3years at the time and together for 18years, had another woman for 8years. He lied to me until I got up the nerve to contact the woman myself. I learned a whole lot of hurtful things. He was in love with this woman and i couldn’t get over the hurt for a whole year. I left him because he was not the man I knew nor was in love with anymore. It was like I just didn’t know him. We have 2 children between us and he has a daughter I raised and I have a son he raised. His loss not mine. Let ‘em GO!!

  • more

    is ur not going to leave him then why know?

  • Hope4more

    Yes it is always better to know the truth and you can deal accordingly with that information. if the love is somewhat strong then stay and work it out, if not don’t chase him, replace him.

  • Ayisha

    I would want to know. Once I know I will leave my husband

    • kay

      Cosign!!!! What you don’t know can kill you.

  • 91kia

    I was dating a man who had been with a woman for 12 years and they have 4 kids. Abd i knew sincr day one. Not proud of it, but it wasn’t supposed to happen. He’s 10years older than me and he pursued this relationship. Long story short he’s over 30 unemployed and uneducated I’m in my early 20s and got everything. His babymom knows all about me and I know about her. He makes it seem like he hates her and don’t want to be with her, but won’t fully committ to me. It’s been along 16 months but I’m leving him for good. I I’d want him to leave her for me, but what imma do with a grown man with nothing?

    • FromUR2UB

      Exactly?? I was just about to ask you why you want a 30+ man with four kids, no job, cheating on the woman who’s likely supporting him, and has been with over a decade. He’s not even worthy of the woman he’s with. The only reason he’s with you is to try to feel desirable and like he’s not so worthless. Since that other woman has put up with so much crap from him, the fact that she wants him is not enough anymore. Can you believe it? He has lost respect for her for wanting him! When people know they’re about nothing, they will ALWAYS do something to mess up a good thing because they don’t really feel deserving of it. You keep messing around with guys like him, then eventually you will become the woman who messes over good guys, because you won’t feel you deserve them. And damnit! Drop him before you have his baby!!

    • Gotta Be #1

      I am alive because of a man who cheated on his wife with my mom. She stupidly dated this man for over 15 years. As I child I grew disgusted with the both of them because of their selfishness. I hope you really do leave this guy and don’t bother with any other men in his situation. You are worth more and believe me, kids born in this type of union do not enjoy being brought here that way.

  • Gonewiththewind

    Right before our 3rd year anniversary this past may I found out my husband had an indiscretion 8 months prior. At the time we were married 2 years and 3 months. I had no idea anything was happening or had happened until he lied to me about something very small and unrelated. I pushed him to tell me if he lied about anything else and he came clean. Needless to say I got the shock of my life, I was still honeymooning. He says it happened once, there was no sex involved but a lot of touching. The person he did it with, at work might I add, no longer works there. I suspected she liked him but I had no idea he was even remotely interested in her. Now months later I still get very angry whenever I remember this happened, but for the most part, I love my husband and I live the little life we are building. I find myself unsure whether I can completely forget this because I have already forgiven, but I certainly will not divorce my husband for an indiscretion. Time will tell whether I made a mistake or not but for now, I know his behavior had nothing to do with the strength of our marriage but everything to do with him as a human being. I see him working on himself and for me thats good enough for now. Marriage is for better or for worse the way I see it, cheating or not I wouldn’t want anybody else by my side when the storms are raging.

    • taz

      You put two condoms in his wallet? That part sounds like a bit much…

      • Gonewiththewind

        Yea but honestly if he is going to slip up, id rather he be safe while doing so.

        • IJS

          They say there’s a sucker born every minute. When you put condoms in his wallet, you basically told him that you accept his cheating. Trifling men seek out women like you because they know they can get away with anything.

          • Gonewiththewind

            o Ok Thanks for the advice I guess.

  • FromUR2UB

    Mary Jane’s heart was not in the right place when she sought out his wife to tell her she had been sleeping with her husband. She was just getting revenge on the husband, and I really don’t believe she cared that she had to hurt the wife to do that.

    The only women whose coattails I would pull about a man cheating on them, if I knew with certainty, would be my daughters. I wouldn’t even tell my sisters, because when women are in love with a man, she’s not in a place where she can hear anything bad about him. All she’ll do is get mad at you and accuse you of trying to mess up her thing. My daughters are the only women with whom I’d take that risk. People may think they’d want to be told, but after he gets through telling her what she wants to hear, and she realizes that she really doesn’t want to do anything about it, then she’ll pick her guy over anybody else.

  • Haa Haa

    When I was single, I had a cheater. He was dumb enough to make a s-x tape wearing a ring I had bought him for his birthday. The relationship ended the very day I found the tape still in the machine. He came by a month later thinking I would change my mind. I kept his butt on the stoop and made it clear I don’t take cheaters back. I don’t regret getting rid of him. I am friends with his sister and he is pushing 50 and still single, doing the same old same old.

    • MrsRivera

      Lol wow.

  • Music

    In all honesty, I would want to know. 9 times out of 10, our intuition will let us know that something isn’t right. I would prefer to know for a fact than to be left assuming and acting all paranoid. There are too many diseases out to just say you wouldn’t want to know.

  • Nikia D-Shiznit

    We all have choices, and cheating is a choice. I don’t care about the “why,” but the fact that it happened is enough for me to say goodbye. Married or not. We are all faced with temptation every day, and we practice self control, we weigh options, we look at consequences, we have the ability to communicate wants and needs, we have the ability to make informed decisions. Most people are opportunity cheaters, so with that said, if he/she cheats and is taken back, how do we know if the person won’t cheat again if the opportunity presented itself?

    How can you establish all of the fundamentals of a strong relationship once the trust has been betrayed. Fool me once…..

    • Herm Cain

      With that being said if your husband s/o comes to you and says I love you I want to be with you forever but I’m bored and I lust for other women what will you say women talk about communication and say you want honesty but you don’t you want to know so you can nag and shame him

      • Haa Haa

        I am a keep it real with me person. If my husband said he was bored and lusted for other women, I would divorce him and set him free. I don’t want anyone with me who is not 100% into the relationship. We don’t have kids, so there is nothing to work out. I owned my home and its contents well before the marriage, so there is nothing to split up. I would respect his honesty. I would rather hear the truth than have someone sneaking around while with me.

        • Herm Cain

          Understood you keep it black and white which I don’t think the average relationship especially long term can there’s a grey area for most and definitely for those with kids she may not leave or tell the man to just rather make your life hell for being honest

          • Nikia D-Shiznit

            I would leave. I can respect him for being honest and giving me the choice of staying.or leaving. If he is bored, he can leave. There are men who want one woman, and I don’t want a man who doesn’t. I’m with Haa Haa all the way.

    • MrsRivera

      Well said.

  • http://BlissedOutBelle.com/ Shawna K: BlissedOutBelle.com

    I actually watched ‘Being Mary Jane’, and the wife’s reaction did surprise me. However, to tell you the truth most women say they want to know, but deep down would rather not know. 9 time out of 10 they’re not leaving their man regardless, and sometimes the pain of knowing is too much to bare.

    Someone close to me found out that their boyfriend/ father of their child was cheating. When I asked her what she was going to do, all she said was “I don’t know, I wish things would just go back to how it was before.” Obviously, her desire is wishful thinking. The way he cheated and went about it was disrespectful in the worst way, to the point where there’s no reason to take him back.

    What would you do if your man said ‘he loved the other woman, and that’s where he wants to be’, but later recanted his statement? This is exactly how the situation went down.

    • MrsRivera

      Wow, your friend needs more self love and self worth. Anytime someone tells you they love someone else and would rather be with them then later changes their mind and comes back , that’s when anyone who respected themselves would tell that person to find someone else to be their option/back up plan… Poor girl.

      • more

        this is how most woman are ! they wont leave

  • Child_Puhleez

    Of course I’d want to know. Duh. Even if it was harmless flirting (emotional cheating) or him having lunch or dinner with another woman, I’d want to know.

    I wouldn’t trip over something like him having lunch or dinner with a co-worker, as most of my friends are male, but still tell me. I have no problem telling my whereabouts & the reasons for my whereabouts.

    I believe in keeping the lines of communication open, anyway. If you feel like you wanna check for someone “better” speak now or forever hold your peace, because baby, I’ve got options, too. *shrugs*

  • get real

    White men cheat on their black Nubian queens? I’m shocked.

    • Music

      Race doesn’t matter. A man is a Man

    • Nikia D-Shiznit

      A man’s inability to control his unbridled sexual tendencies encompasses all races. As if black men don’t run rings around their non black women…

      I didn’t know trolls had internet services from under bridges..

      • GM_I

        What makes u women think us men aren’t in control of our sexual tendencies when a man is unfaithful? Men like variety, being in a relationship or marriage doesn’t stop that. Some men will honor their relationship and not cheat when they desire another woman, other men will cheat. Regardless of the reasons, both types of men are in complete control of their actions. Any man who says he lost himself in the moment or couldn’t control himself to the point his body didn’t obey his will, is nothing but a puss-c. Right or wrong, real men take ownership of their actions & are unapologetic about doing what they want or whatever makes them feel good or happy, no matter who likes it or not.

        • Guest

          I agree with you to an extent. I just can’t agree that real men are unapologetic about doing what they want because if they are in a relationship and really care about the woman, there are some men out there that will be apologetic. Not so much about sleeping with the other person, but for hurting the person they are with.

          • GM_I

            I didn’t mean it like that, and what ur speaking of is different from what I’m saying. When I say “be unapologetic about doing what u want”, I mean don’t be sorry for actions u chose to do. If u hurt someone like a GF/wife lets say cheating, he can be apologetic for hurting her in the process, but not feel sorry for the actual infidelity if its really what he wanted to do. Don’t be sorry u cheated, be sorry u couldn’t be honest with yourself as a man whom couldn’t be satisfied with only one woman & rather doing what makes u happy out in the open, chose to lie about it like a little boy who will be punished for it.

            Men just need to stop being puss-c and afraid to be whatever type of man that suits them, regardless of how he will be looked upon by women or society as a whole.

            • Haa Haa

              The same energy used to make a date with someone else could have been used to tell a partner you want to be with someone else. The problem is most cheaters want to do what they want and still keep the partner around. Most people aren’t grown enough to end the relationship and then do what they want. That is the part I have a problem with. The men I have dealt with know where I stand and where they will stand if they cheat. I don’t cry over men. My husband knows that and even after 10 years if he cheats, he is out just like I would do a boyfriend of 6 months.

              • Onlyhis

                I’ve never posted on here before, but your statement caught my attention. I said the same thing. I’ve been married for ten years and after having to place a child for adoption, my husband couldn’t handle his emotions and cheated. I was devastated!! We already had the understanding that, that would be the only thing that ended our relationship, so I knew I would be walking out. It didn’t happen. I still feel the pain daily, especially since I only found out a month ago. He has vowed to never do it again and we immediately sought counseling. My point is, you just never really know until you’re put in that situation. I’m still trying to forgive myself for forgiving him.

              • Tessa

                “most cheaters want to do what they want and still keep the partner around”

                So true. If I knew my husband would stay with me if I cheated, I would probably have a boyfriend…but I know that is a deal breaker and my desire to keep him is a lot stronger than my desire for variety.

    • Alexis Morris

      race doesn’t matter? did anyone say it was in interracial thing? it’s a man thing, a marriage thing.

  • AwareLady

    *If it happened a while ago, one time and was protected….I don’t want to know.
    *If it was a while ago and NOT protected…I NEED to know
    *If it is ongoing…I NEED to know.
    Some may say well what is the difference. Welp, there is a difference and I won’t go into the technicalities of it all. But these are my thoughts on the questions asked.

    • Nikia D-Shiznit

      Semantics….

    • hollyw

      My sentiments, exactly.

  • PleaseDOBetter

    First, it needs to be clear what did the cheating consist of? Everyone has a different definition for what cheating is. Some view cheating as basic as flirting with someone else, while others see cheating as more extreme, such as intercourse or oral sex. If that person is my boyfriend, then I am leaving. I would want to know why the cheating occurred, but the fact of the matter is that I am still leaving. If it is my husband, it would depend on the circumstances.

    I think a large component missing out of the comments thus far is WHY the person cheats. We can’t always assume narcissism as a reason. Maybe that individual tried to come to you multiple times about problems in the relationship/marriage and you couldn’t be bothered. If that is the case, while I don’t condone or justify cheating, I can understand it. It could also be something deeper, something physiological.

  • Thatcouchaintyours

    Yes… if you’re not mature enough to handle the truth, then you are not mature enough to be in any relationship period. I personally would never stay with someone I knew cheated on me.

  • FamuRattler85

    I would want to know if I’m being cheated on. Point. Blank. Period. I don’t care we’re just boyfriend/girlfriend or have been married for 20 years. I deserve better than a cheating spouse. Knowing how many women are, I wouldn’t tell the wife if I found out that her husband had been cheating on her with me. I’m not cool with some woman turning on me because she didn’t want to hear the truth. I would just immediately end the relationship with that man.

  • Mia

    I’ve been in Mary Janes shoes. The wife called me, I told her everything, how he played us both and it was the worse thing ever! Not only did she keep her man but she turned on me, and harassed myself and my family for 3 years.

    I say, if you discover you are with a mm, it’s best to dump him and tell the wife nothing. You never know how ur honesty cud backfire on u.

    • dddooonnnttt

      You’re right. Curtly tell the wife that you didn’t know he was married and you will be cutting all ties and to never contact you again. That’s crazy that happened to you.

  • Guest

    Forget about the emotional drama and let’s dicuss the fact that a husband can bring home std’s and even worse hiv, so yes I would want to know if he cheated so I could protect my health.
    Ignorance may be called bliss but when you are ill because of his infidelity it can be called slow death.

    • SANDRA

      THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! I tell it everytime but people don’t listen !!! unfortunately, there is a lot of men and women who catch HIV through their unfaithful partner. That’s just a fact.

  • roxanne

    I found out about my husbands affair with a co worker. The pain that I felt and still feel sometimes makes me wish I had never found out, but on the other hand I’m glad I did because now I know who i’m dealing with no fairytale bullshit anymore

    • Music

      I’m really sorry that happened to you. Stay Strong!

    • SANDRA

      So, you stayed with him, right?

    • Renae

      Roxanne I went through the same situation about 7 years ago, and I feel exactly the same way you do.

  • Marquis de Sade

    I’d want to know so I can plan an effective exit from the marriage + strategized a legal counter-attack if there’s a sizable amount of assets to divvy J.L.P

    • Nikia D-Shiznit

      Agreed

    • Music

      Amen!

  • DR.FUNK

    Is it “cheating” if you both have an “understanding” about these matters?
    Some people do roll like that.

    • PleaseDOBetter

      I would say no, it would not be cheating. It would be an open relationship. From the people I have observed who have open relationships, BOTH partners are open about sleeping/spending time elsewhere.

    • dddooonnnttt

      No, but those people are probably not who this article is referring to. And even people with those kinds of arrangements typically have rules that could make certain people (friends) or events (on an anniversary) off limits and thus make them ‘cheating’.

    • Ayisha

      It’s still cheating

  • hollyw

    Interesting topic. I’ve had this very same discussion an increasing amount of times in the past year for some reason lol…while my friends/dating partners all differing opinions, I consistently continued to state that if I wasn’t married, I’d want to know, b/c 9.98x out of 10, I’d leave my partner. However, if I were already married, kids, house, etc and it was more of a one-time slip-up, I might be more inclined to go the ignorant bliss route.

    Each of our disagreements seemed to be based on two mitigating factors; a sense of honor/integrity/decency, and the nature of an admission. Those who would tell their partner, or want to be told, either had some idealistic sense of honor/trust, or thought it’d be disrespectful not to, but those who wouldn’t (like myself) tended to see admissions more of an act of selfishness, like a cathartic release…of course, for folks I dated, wanting to be told also coincided w/ an increased option of them divorcing their partners, as well. I’m more of a “til death do us part” kinda gal lol… o.O And put security higher than honor..?

    …of course, there are outlying factors, like being cheated on w/in the first year of marriage, having a chronic cheater, or him having carried on an affair. Not saying I’d automatically divorce, but it’d def be a different story…ijs. *shrugs*

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    • Guest

      I agree that it depends on the circumstance, like you said. If it were once or twice and he was sure to wrap it up, I would want to know because I don’t ever want someone to be able to tell me anything about my husband. After that, we could probably work it out cause that’s what I would want him to do if the situation were reversed. If it was an ongoing affair and he’s spending money on her? Oh..all hell is breaking loose lol If he makes it to the next day, we would have to get separated and figure out what to do from there..

      • hollyw

        That’s what I was saying, there are worse ways of betrayal than cheating, like doing some sneaky sh*t (affair, or otherwise) behind my back that others will find out about and bring shame to our family, or another lie he’s been carrying around for years, like he was married w/ kids before us, etc. etc…

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