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a question by Dec 7, 2010
On his deathbed, an elderly man reveals to his children and wife of several decades for the first time that he was once unfaithful to her. Then he dies very, very soon after. Was it the right move to be honest and reveal that truth to his family at that point, or should he have taken his secret to the grave?
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answered:    December 07, 2010
Great question, Debbie. I will have to think through this one for quite a while. My initial reaction is that he seems to be acting in a very selfish manner. Why reveal it now if he had kept it a secret for so long? The only motive I can think of is to assuage his own conscience at the expense of his family members. If he was seeking reconciliation and the good of his wife, he would have revealed it a lot sooner. Perhaps if he thought it would come to light after his death, he thought it would be better to hear the truth from him, rather than to leave lingering questions about validity of it after he is gone. That is about the only scenario that seems to be in the best interests of his family. He must not have thought very much of his wife though. I understand anyone can fall into temptation, but to never tell his wife the truth before his deathbed reveals a hard heart. How can you be two-faced like that otherwise? Maybe he adored her and feared losing her if she knew the truth, but that is a lot of guilt and deception to live with in a relationship. I can't see how he could just go on as if it hadn't happened and have a heathly relationship after that.
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answered:    December 07, 2010
(laughs) I love these types of questions, Debbie! 

No, this was not the right decision. I agree with David. This action/manner of telling his wife and children about his indiscretion was selfish. This was a secret he should have taken to the grave.

He should have told his family soon after it happened and suffered the consequences then. It was one time, which doesn't excuse his behavior, but keeping the secret for as long as he did is equally hurtful as the action itself. Plus, once he's dead they can't talk about it. The wife will never know why this indiscretion happened, and she will have no closure. Now, she's left with this burden...alone. What her husband did was cruel, both the affair and his confession. He escaped the consequences of his actions by keeping it a secret, and he escapes the consequences of being honest through death. All it did was ease his conscience before he died giving him some kind of false sense of goodness. If he needed to confess, he should have done so with a priest, not with his wife. If the secret had been eating him up inside, he would have been compelled to speak to her sooner rather than with his last breath. Instead, he should have been professing his love for her and leaving her words of comfort, not words that will cause more grief. This guy just sounds despicable to me.
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answered:    December 08, 2010
Great Question.


I know that this is a way for the old man to clear his conscience and to at last become honest. But if it was me, I'd take it to my grave. Why would I give someone such heartache for something in the past--what if the wife also had secrets that she was keeping then this would open up new wounds for old sins. Is this the right way to say goodbye? I think not. The best way is to move forward, and if you're really sorry for the past, then make it up to her by telling her how much you really loved her, and how much you loved your kids.

Now if I had a child because of that affair, then I would write a letter in my will-explaining everything. But knowing me, if I had a kid with another woman, my wife would know before my death.

Tough question, no easy answers.
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answered:    December 07, 2010
Erm, you know, I've always tried to stay out of these types of matters b/c there's no way I can possibly know all that was going on in the lives of ANY of the participants at the time of the event or on the deathbed. Personally, I don't understand the man's need to lift the weight of his conscience at that time, but, as I said, I can't begin to understand all of the events and motivations of the particulars, so I usually say this is best left to those who know far better than I. Judging any of the participants or their actions just isn't my style.
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answered:    December 08, 2010
Grave! I would personally admit something to confuse people, like using a family's members toothbrush to comb the dog. Or better yet, "I have a million dollars buried.... " before pretending to die and then coming back with "just kidding, here's a piling of credit cards I never paid off."
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answered:    April 08, 2011
I think it was bad. He should have told her long ago. His death will have a profund impact on her and he doesn't need to upset her more by telling her at this point.
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