One of the hardest parts of recovering from an affair is talking about the affair itself. Obviously conversations of this nature are bound to be extremely emotionally loaded. Having some guidelines for dealing with these discussions is helpful, and that’s what this article will focus on.
However, there is another issue I would like to address before I get to the guidelines themselves. The first thing we need to discuss here is whether or not it’s necessary to talk about the affair in the first place.
A lot of people out there are absolutely convinced that they have to talk about the affair before they can heal. But I have found that isn’t universally the case.
For some people, talking about the affair is very important. For others it isn’t so critical. It all depends on what information the injured person feels he or she needs in order to heal. If she feels that talking about the affair will help her move on, then you should talk about it. If she doesn’t, then talking about the affair may not be necessary.
If you have been injured in an affair, you shouldn’t be worried about what other people think you “should do” to heal. You should follow your own instincts and determine for yourself what you need to rebuild your marriage and move on with your life.
That may mean discussing the affair in some detail, it may mean getting a basic idea of what happened in the affair, or it may mean not discussing the affair at all. What you do is entirely up to your needs.
One thing is certain, before you ask a detailed question, you should consider the possible answers (particularly the worst possible scenarios), the possible implications, and then decide if you want to know the answer.
I have found that most people want to have enough information about the affair to feel that they can reconstruct the past to fill in what was happening outside of their awareness.
In addition, the injured spouse usually wants to figure out what early signs to look for if it should happen again. And he or she wants to know that the cheater can also identify these early signs and any internal thoughts and feelings he or she is having at such a time so the cheater can stop such a relationship from progressing.
Since the cheating spouse was paired with the paramour during the affair and, in most cases, the paramour had full knowledge of the situation. The injured partner feels that the cheater and the paramour form their own circle, with the injured partner on the outside. The revelations that come out of conversations now between the two spouses help change the pairings so that now the spouses are paired together and the spouse is privy to the complete picture.
For some, hearing too many details about the affair can do more harm than good.
In my opinion, it’s the injured person’s decision whether or not to discuss the affair, not the cheater’s.
If you have cheated on your partner and you are serious about rebuilding your marriage, you will give your partner what he or she needs to heal.
That means that if your spouse feels it’s important to discuss the affair, you discuss it. If your injured partner does not feel this way, you should not force her to listen to information she doesn’t want to have.
The cheater’s job is to be completely honest and give the injured person whatever information he or she asks for.
In the event that the injured person chooses to discuss the affair, there are some guidelines that should help make this process a little smoother. It won’t be easy no matter how you handle it. But the following guidelines should help keep the conversation from getting too far out of hand.
Guideline #1: The Injured Controls the Flow of Information
When you discuss the affair, the injured person should be in control of the flow of information. That means the injured person initiates the conversation, when and if he or she desires. The injured person should also consider what level of detail, if any, is important.
I suggest you avoid comparative questions. These are questions where you compare your physical attributes to those of the paramour. (“Did he or she have a bigger or better @#@#$ than me?”)
Although you might think your relationship has been wonderful and your sex is great, I recommend you keep in mind that even something wonderful can be improved.
Focus on what you can do to improve your relationship and your bedroom activities. Having discussions about these issues (which is very important) will probably be quite difficult without one or both of you feeling criticized. However, if you are going to improve what you had, you have to bite the bullet and work on making your relationship better and more exciting.
The idea here is to get the information you require to move on, while avoiding unnecessary pain. You’ve already been through enough. Make sure you stop at any point you feel overwhelmed. Remember, you can always pick up the conversation again
at a later time.
Most importantly, keep the conversation focused on you. This is your chance to get some of the holes filled in that you need to heal. Keep the focus on that so you can repair your relationship.
Guideline #2: The Cheater MUST Be Honest
The cheater’s job is to freely reveal whatever is asked, and to sensitively inquire before offering information that is going to be particularly hurtful. The cheater should demonstrate that the bond is now with his or her spouse, and no longer with the paramour.
It is absolutely critical that the cheater is completely honest with the information he gives his spouse at this stage. If he isn’t, all it will do is contribute to the overall atmosphere of distrust in the marriage. Your partner is taking a big risk and dealing with a lot of pain in asking these questions. Honor that by being 100 percent honest with your answers.
If there is an answer that you are particularly reluctant to give, because it will be so terribly hurtful, it is better for your relationship to refuse an answer rather than give a less than truthful response.
Having said that, there are two techniques that I feel will help the cheater keep a lid on information he or she feels may be too hurtful for the injured partner to hear while still revealing all that needs to be revealed.
The first is to give information in stages. Don’t open a can of worms by giving your partner every single detail up front. Answer her questions honestly. But omit unnecessary details, unless the injured person asks for them explicitly.
For example, if your partner asked, “When did the affair start?” You might say, “You know that night we were at Ed’s house for a party and I went over to talk to Beth? Well, I flirted with her and we went into the bedroom and started making out.”
You might omit information about an overt sexual move with your hand, the kind of kissing you did, or the endearments you said to each other.
Later, if your partner asks for these details give them freely. It’s important that your spouse knows you are willing to share every single event that happened if he or she feels that’s necessary.
But don’t burden your partner with unnecessary, hurtful information unless your injured spouse asks for it.
In the event that your partner does ask a comparative question or requests an answer to a question that you feel might be hurtful, you might preface your answer by saying:
“I’ll answer that if you want me to. I want to be 100 percent honest with you so we can rebuild our marriage. But you might want to reconsider that particular question. I think you might get some information that will be unnecessarily hurtful, and I don’t want
to hurt you any more.”
Then if your spouse still wants to know, tell him or her the truth. Doing this allows the cheater to be completely honest while still offering a safeguard for information that may truly be more than the injured person would want to hear.
Even in telling the absolute truth, there are different ways to share information-some more hurtful than others. Be sensitive to your injured spouse whose world has been thrown upside down.
Guideline #3: Take Your Time
It’s unlikely you will be able to address every single issue surrounding the affair in a single sitting. Don’t try. Take your time to get the information you need.
Most couples repeat questions, repeat telling parts of the story, and rehash some of their conversations about the affair, particularly during the first few weeks and even the first few months after the affair is revealed.
It’s best if you take it slowly. Don’t rush through this process. If you do, you’ll only get emotionally overloaded, frustrated, and angry. You may even want to limit what you ask in one session, perhaps to one question, or one answer.
It takes time to heal the wounds of an affair. Talking about the affair itself is a major part of the process. I suggest you take as much time as you need to work through these issues.
Talking about the affair is often an emotionally harrowing experience. But if you feel it’s necessary, you may find the results are worth your efforts.
I have found that people who make it through conversations about the affair, often have the strength and courage needed to overcome the other problems in their marriage and heal their relationship.
I hope the guidelines in this blog will help you achieve that goal, so you can overcome the pain you face right now and make your relationship better than ever.
Let me know how it goes with you. I’d love to hear about your marriage. Post a comment to this blog by clicking the link below.