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

July 7, 2013  |  

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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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