Does Knowing The Details Of The Affair Heal The Wife?

By: Katie Lersch:  Many people believe that having the faithful spouse learn all of the details of the affair is going to be necessary for healing.  You will often hear that spouse say: “I know that it will be hard to hear, but I feel like I need to know everything.”  Sometimes, friends and love ones will have their doubts about this.  And the cheating spouse may understandably be leery about giving more hurtful information at a time when a spouse is already so hurt.

A husband might ask: “I honestly do want to save my marriage, but my wife is constantly asking me questions about my affair. I try to answer, but it doesn’t matter.  She will think of more questions.  It is like a never ending quest for information.  I have told her a lot of the truth. However, there are some things I hesitate on.  At one point, early on, I was actually contemplating running away with the other woman.  We were researching plane tickets and property in another country. Looking back on it now, I think it was pure fantasy.  Now that I can look back on it with a head that is a little more clear, I truly don’t think that I would have gone through with it. But that is the sort of thing that I’m not sure it is beneficial for my wife to know.  I am not sure that I could make her understand that it wasn’t real.  Still, she persists in demanding that I tell her everything.  She insists that knowing everything is what is it going to take for her to heal. Does knowing everything heal the wife?”

I am not a therapist or mental health professional and I would highly suggest you consult one.  But I am a wife who has gone through this.  I wish that healing was as easy as just hearing the truth.  But honestly, this is just one step in a long line of steps toward healing.

I do believe that a wife does need all of the important information so that she can know what she is dealing with. She should know who the other woman was.  She should know where the cheating happened and for how long.  She should be given information that allows her to understand why the cheating happened.  And she has a right to know how you carried this out without detection so that she can look for warning signs in the future.  I believe that, to the extent you can, you should be truthful. Lying to your spouse about important details is not something that is going to help with the shattered trust.  You do not want to keep important details from her.

However, from my own experience, I can tell you that certain details can be hurtful and very hard to get out of your head.  Knowing that you were going to potentially flee the country with this other woman might be the type of detail that I am talking about.  I would strongly suggest speaking with your counselor about this. And if you choose to disclose this, I would carefully choose the right time.  Sometimes, it becomes just too much to deal with all at once.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t want to know the truth.  I did.  I needed to feel that I wasn’t being lied to in order to heal. But, the truth and the details weren’t necessarily what healed me. What did was that my husband was willing to do the work.  He was willing to stay close to me and work hard with me to restore the closeness and intimacy in our marriage. He was willing to overcompensate some of the time to reassure me that I could trust him.  He stood by me when I was struggling and when I tried to push him away because of my anger.  He was willing to work on himself in an attempt to address the issues that contributed to him cheating.  He was willing to become the best partner and husband that he could.

This helped much more than the details of the affair ever could. Because at some point, in order to heal, you have to look to the future instead of the past.  This doesn’t excuse you from telling your spouse the truth.  She does need to know the truth.  But those little details that go beyond the truth aren’t what heals you – at least in my experience.  It is the process of working together to rebuild.  She may not be willing to rebuild unless she feels like you are making an effort and being truthful to her.  There is a difference between staggering or reconsidering very hurtful details and out and out hiding things from her. And the difference is not always clear.  That’s why I’d strongly suggest talking this over with a counselor.  Because they would have the expertise to tell you if your spouse is ready to hear everything.

I’m not sure that I would want to know if my husband was planning to leave me, although it would not matter a great deal to me now because I know that all of this is in the past and I’m confident that we have rebuilt.  I think that is really the key – getting you both to the point that you are willing to do the work and then doing it.  Your wife may still doubt that you’re willing to do the work, which is why she’s asking more of you.

It’s important that she be willing to tell you what she truly needs to know.  If you aren’t sure what this is, it’s very helpful to ask an expert.  An expert can be therapist or you can check out self help resources written by experts.  But most of us just don’t have the skills and knowledge to decide the best course of action for ourselves.  I know that was the case with me.  My husband and I needed a lot of guidance to keep us on track.  You can read about more things that helped on my blog at


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