Dear Aaron and Rachel,
I caught my husband having an affair about 3 weeks ago. After some thought, we’ve decided to try to work through things. But he’s not being completely honest about everything. I told him that if we’re going to make it work he needs to be 100% honest about what they did, when, where – the whole enchilada! He said he would be honest with me but when I ask him certain questions he tells me that he doesn’t know how that will help us and refuses to answer. I say I need this information to trust him again and he says that my questions are only hurting us more. We always end up fighting after these questions, but I don’t how else to build trust if he won’t be honest with me. Don’t I need all the details to rebuild trust? How do I move forward if I don’t know everything about the affair?
Dear Dirty Details,
Curiosity killed the cat, and it could kill your relationship too. As far as I am concerned, the details of your husband’s affair are none of your business. There are only two things that will help your marriage: 1. Understanding why the affair happened 2. Understanding how to prevent it from ever happening again. You will build trust when you see that your husband is invested in making your relationship work and is willing to prove with his actions that he is faithful to you. Don’t torture yourself with the details. Forcing your husband to talk about something that he doesn’t want to talk about will likely cause you to get upset. This will lead to a fight, and it will not make you more attractive to him or vice versa. Good luck to you both–you can get through this. Instead of rehashing the past, focus on having the best relationship in the present, and you will set the stage for a brighter future.
Hi Dirty Details,
I see a lot of couples on my couch after an affair where the injured partner (the one who was cheated on) are just like you and they want to know ALL the details. I’ve got to say, though, that I’ve never seen this actually help a couple recover after an affair. In fact, it usually makes things worse. The injured partner wants to know things like “Did you ever buy them a gift?”, “Was it just sex or did you ever make love?”, “Did you have sex with them on our bed?”. When we do some exploring, the injured partner usually discovers that they want to know the details because they want to know how in love their spouse was with the outside partner. It helps them to feel safer if they know their spouse wasn’t in love or that their spouse kept at least some boundaries during the affair. Unfortunately. knowing the past details of the affair doesn’t actually help with that and usually makes you feel more insecure.
The way to move forward is to observe your spouse’s behavior in the present – not the past. Is your spouse being honest with you currently? Do they still have suspicious behavior? Do they have weak reasons if a behavior looks suspicious? Are they showing you they care about you and are actively committing to the relationship? These answers about the present will be more important than their answers about the past. They’ll also help you feel safer in the relationship moving forward. Also, have a read of this article from a reader about how infidelity saved their marriage. I think you’ll find it helpful.
About Rachel: Rachel Russo is a Dating, Relationship, & Image Coach who works with marriage-minded singles and couples in NYC and throughout the US. Checkout her website at RachelRusso.com
About Aaron: Aaron Anderson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado and writer for various websites on marriage and relationships.