It’s very important for the betrayer to answer all the questions of the betrayed spouse. Having answers helps calm the obsessive thoughts of the betrayed. Being truthful and honest about the affair also helps the betrayer begin to rebuild some credibility. Oftentimes, the same question will be asked over and over again by the betrayed spouse and it’s important for the betrayer to answer the same question over and over as if it’s the first time. This needs to happen for as long as the betrayed partner needs it to happen. There are some good reasons for this, but I won’t go into them here.
There will come a day when these Q&A fact-finding conversations will end, but it usually takes a lot longer than the betrayer thinks it should. The more willing he/she is to discuss the affair and answer the hard and painful questions, the sooner that day will come. The more evasive he/she is, the longer this time-period will last.
It’s very important that, after the “facts” of the affair are revealed, that we get down to the real questions regarding why and how of the affair. Ultimately, we want to learn things about what a person was thinking and feeling and what they hoped an affair would do for them. These questions are so much more important. However, we have discovered that it’s almost impossible to get to these deeper, more meaningful, heart issues while there are still lingering questions regarding the activities surrounding the affair.
We help walk our clients through the truth-telling process. Again, I won’t deal with that here. All I want to do here is give a few “warnings” when it comes to telling the truth.
First, avoid what I call “truth throw up.” Throwing up the truth, or vomiting out the truth, is going too far in the opposite direction.
You can be a little “too truthful.”
Sometimes, a guilty spouse has been wracked with pain and shame for so long that it just feels good to puke out the truth.
He or she is so tired and miserable from hiding that he/she just needs to let it out. No one can deny that, when you’re sick, a good puke always feels good. However, we also all agree it’s not good to puke all over your spouse. Puke goes into the toilet, not into your spouse’s mind and heart.
This is very selfish. Disclosure day is not a day for you to feel better about yourself. Disclosure day is not about “getting things off your chest.” Disclosure day is not about you finally being able to get a good night’s sleep.
It is possible to over share some things about the affair.
When telling the truth, you must also show concern and consideration for your spouse. You don’t need to unnecessarily traumatize her any more than you already have.
It will be important to share things like “what” (an affair), “who” (Sally), “how long” (8 months), and perhaps more generalities like how you met, if you’re still seeing her, and what your future intentions are. However, when it comes to specifics, let your spouse take the lead. You might say things like:
“I want to tell you everything you need to know, but I also don’t want to cause any more pain than I already have. Do you have any questions that you need me to answer?”
“It’s been going on for several months, would you like to know exactly when it started?”
“We would eat at local bars and stay in local hotels, would you like to know where?”
“I did invite him to our home a few times, and we did make love. Do you need to know more about that?”
“I can’t remember right now how often we were together, but it was a lot. Would you like me to try to give you an approximate number of times and dates?”
Sometimes your spouse will want to know details. Other times, it will be enough for him/her just to know that it happened and that it’s over. Again, the unfaithful spouse does not get to determine what the betrayed spouse can or cannot handle. Let the betrayed spouse take the lead.
If you still need to puke your guts out, find a trusted same-sex friend who is emotionally mature and who can take it. You’ll feel better by vomiting out all you’ve been hiding. It’s good to confess your sins, even your deepest, darkest ones–to the right people. He may even turn into a trusted accountability partner in the weeks and months ahead.
What is the best way to tell the truth?
While it is best for the unfaithful spouse to voluntarily tell the betrayed spouse about the affair before being discovered, this rarely happens.
If you happen to be reading this and you are currently having a secretive affair, run to your spouse now and tell the truth now! Your healing journey will begin at a better place because of your confession.
However, if you wait until after you get caught (and you will get caught), your spouse will have reason to doubt your remorse. It will be the age-old question, “Are you sorry because you’re sorry, or are you sorry because you got caught?” Don’t leave him or her wondering how long you would have kept up the game if your affair hadn’t been disclosed. The longer your affair lasts the harder and the longer it will take to heal.
When it comes to telling the truth, don’t make your spouse pry it out of you. Don’t make him or her play detective.
Give complete and full answers while avoiding the previous attempts to be evasive.
You can’t fake this. If you’re truly repentant, it will be evident. If you’re faking it, time will reveal it. Your spouse will now have an extra radar detector in his/her brain for the rest of his/her life. No one will ever be able to pull one over on her again. She will learn to trust her gut instincts and her intuition. The only reason you got one over on her before is because she denied her good sense. She feels like a fool for being tricked by you. Good luck trying to deceive her again.
If you’re the betrayed spouse, here’s some advice for you as you obtain the information you need.
If you’re the betrayed spouse, as I said earlier, you deserve to know the truth.
Feel free to ask about anything you need to know. However, a word of caution, you will be responsible for the truth you hear. You will live with that knowledge forever. Here is a rule of thumb: Don’t ask a question that you don’t want to know the answer to.
We would coach you to avoid asking questions about…
The third party’s body, sexual performance, etc.
The specifics of their lovemaking like positions, games, etc.
The reading of love letters, emails, texts, etc.
Some betrayed partners feel like they must know this information. However, almost all of the time such people later regret it and wish they could delete this information from their memory. There is nothing to gain from learning about the gory details of the affair. However, there is much emotional harm that can be done. Save yourself the pain. Much of this is irrelevant information.
THE AFFAIR WAS AN ILLUSION!
The affair was a fantasy that took place in real time. Remember that it was not “real life.”
Nothing that was said, or written, or done in the affair can compare in any way to what happens within a committed, monogamous, marriage relationship.
The affair was the “most fakest” thing your spouse ever engaged in. All correspondence, gifts, and sexual depictions need to be interpreted in that light. It was all a lie.
Even if he ends up leaving you for her, it will eventually die. Such relationships fail 97% of the time. Why? Because it’s not real. The fantasy bubble will eventually burst, along with all those love letters, sexual encounters, and warm fuzzy feelings. It was all fiction. “Affairs” can’t live and thrive when exposed to the light of day.
Proceed with Caution!
How you handle the days of the affairs disclosure will either help or hinder the healing processes.
Oftentimes, it’s not the affair itself that does the greatest amount of damage, but how the affair is handled.
The only way you, as the unfaithful partner, can make this moment worse is to tell more lies.
The truth will eventually come out. It always does. This is a universal axiom:
“For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Luke 8:17)
Tell the truth the first time. You only get one first time to tell it. The truth really will set you free.