The answer is yes; with infidelity, as in all other aspects of LTLRs, openness, honesty and the lack of deceit are vital for long-term intimacy and relationship success.
But there are three distinct scenarios to consider when answering this question. The first and most problematic is when there is an ongoing or recently ended infidelity that the betrayed partner does not know about. The only way for the LTLR to heal, the only way for it to become stronger so that infidelity will not reoccur is for the betraying partner to reveal it. This is the only way for the couple to overcome the individual and relationship dysfunction that led to the infidelity.
In addition, when the betrayal was long term in duration and/or included feelings of love, the more important it is that the infidelity be revealed.
The second scenario involves how open and honest to be when the betrayed partner knows about or just suspects the infidelity. Again, in order for the betrayed partner to recover and the couple to heal, it is essential that the betraying partner to be as honest and open as possible. Answering the betrayed partner’s questions completely is the only way he or she can get over the infidelity, and the only way they can work through it and get beyond the hurt to recommit to the relationship and rebuild trust.
Lastly are the situations in which an infidelity occurred in the distant past but has remained secret. If the LTLR has grown and matured and both partners are happy there may be no good reason to reveal the infidelity. Revealing the infidelity in order to assuagethe guilt of the betraying partner is not a good enough reason to reveal the infidelity and put their partner through that pain. If the betrayed partner becomes suspicious or asks about an infidelity then honest revelation is called for. Another reason to reveal the infidelity is when the relationship is floundering and the partners are unhappy. In this case the past infidelity may be just what is needed to initiate the work that is needed in order to rebuild the LTLR.
The author of Intimacy after Infidelity: How to Rebuild and Affair-Proof Your Marriage (2007, New Harbinger Publications), Dr. Solomon received his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology (Los Angeles). He has been in private practice in San Diego and La Jolla, California for more than 20 years.