In light of Arnold Schwartzenegger's recent admission that he was unfaithful to his wife of 25 years and fathered a child out of wedlock, I'm betting what compounds Maria Shriver's pain is how long it took for her husband to confess. For over 10 years, she had no idea what her husband had been involved in. The betrayal is bad enough, but believing things are one way for so long when they are not is salt in the wound.
I could expound on the former governor's situation, but I'll shift to my own experiences. When I was still struggling with my secret sins, I didn't think I was lying to my wife about it because I didn't tell her any untruths. My mouth was not guilty of lying, but not saying anything led her to believe things were one way when they were actually very different. That was deception, but my denial didn't let me think of myself as a liar because I didn't tell any lies. Looking back on those years, I was living a lie.
So many people are afraid to let their loved one's know what has been happening because of the fear of hurting them. They assess their spouse's current stress level and don't want to add to the pressure, so they continue to live in a way that is deceptive. In my experience the longer it takes for the truth to come out, the more painful the situation becomes. I've heard wives express after hearing a confession from their husband that what hurt the most was how long it took for them to come clean. The original offense is hard enough to deal with, but fear of consequences leads to living a lie.
When we're counseling a couple who is dealing with sexual betrayal, we help them set up a parameter. If there is a slip (viewing pornography, etc.), the spouse must be told within a 24 hour period. There is never a good time to admit an offense, but waiting adds to the difficulty of it.
I'm heartbroken for the Schwartzenegger's and the other family affected by this. I prayerfully type this post hoping that it will help someone own their behavior and choose to make things right if need be. The consequences may seem unbearable, but at the very least there is the consolation of being free from living a lie.