‘Don’t rock the boat’: Is ignorance bliss when it comes to cheating?

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Discovering a partner has been unfaithful can be heartbreaking, especially in later life.

Finding out a partner or spouse has been having an affair is heartbreaking whenever you hear about it – but imagine discovering they have been unfaithful later in life when you were in the midst of enjoying a happy retirement together?

While some people would feel better knowing the ins and outs of their other half’s infidelity, others believe that ignorance is bliss at this stage in life.

Either way, each person will have their own individual reasons for their choice and Starts at 60 asked readers to share their thoughts on the difficult debate in an online poll. It sparked a mixed response, as some over-60s shared their own personal experiences and revealed whether they felt better knowing or would prefer to be kept in the dark.

Overall, 79 per cent of people who took part in the poll said they’d want to know about the cheating – with 21 per cent voting to remain in the dark.

Revealing their own devastating experience, one reader explained they found out accidentally, effectively taking any decision out of their hands. They wrote: “This is happening to me now. My partner is leaving me to be with his sister-in-law (her husband died 18 months ago) but I found out accidentally.”

Elsewhere, another reader insisted they’d want to know straight away, writing: “Yes & all the minor details.”

However others explained that they’d prefer to remain in ignorance – depending on the circumstances, with one reader writing: “I’d like to know when [it happened], not years later… if we’re still traveling OK… don’t rock the boat… my heart was shattered but I’ve found me again.”

Another agreed and said they’d only want to know if the affair was long-term, not temporary, and wrote: “I’d rather not know if it’s a temporary thing, but if he wants out of the marriage I need to know.”

Meanwhile, one reader explained that she had been through the heartbreak herself – so could see the argument from both sides.

“Why rock the boat after so many years together,” she began. “Yes it is wrong, but what I understand is that each partner of older couples nearly always come back together.”

However, she added: “Being on the other foot, I found out my partner was married after living together for 6 months.” She explained that they had a happy relationship in the time they were together, while she was unaware of his deception, and even went on to have a child together – something she has “no regrets” about.

According to Relationships Australia, research has previously revealed that emotional affairs are more common than sexual affairs – with many partners perhaps not seeing their behaviour as ‘cheating’. A previous study, cited on their official website, also found that women are usually more hurt by emotional infidelity while men find sexual infidelity harder to get past.

“In Australia, while societal norms around relationships are changing, some authors argue that the overwhelming majority of people have the expectation of fidelity of sexual and emotional connection in committed relationships,” the organisation explained.

So, would you want to know if your partner or spouse was cheating in later life?

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