How Do I Make My Husband Understand That Leaving Little Things Out About The Affair Is Still Lying?

By: Katie Lersch:  When wives learn about their husband’s affair, many of them think that they’ve taken great pains to make it quite clear that they expect the complete and total truth.  After all, when you are caught in an affair, you’ve been caught telling the ultimate lie.  So if you have any hope at all of saving your marriage, it makes sense that your spouse would expect complete honesty moving forward.

You would think that this is a pretty straight forward concept and yet, in reality, I find that many couples are not clear on EXACTLY what is expected in terms of total honesty.  Many cheating spouses are trying to spare their spouses pain.  So yes, they will try to be truthful when they are asked questions about the affair, but at the same time, they are not going to go out of their way to spill any hurtful details that are not specifically asked about.  Of course, the wife or faithful spouse can take great offense to this and many consider these omissions to be nothing less than lies.

For example, a wife might say: “I am furious with my husband for so many reasons about the affair.  My life feels so different now.  And I’m not sure if we are going to make it, although I would like to try to salvage things for my children.  However, right now I just can not tolerate lies.  I detest lies and liars. And my husband has made me think that he is indeed a liar.  I told him after I caught him in the affair that he must tell me the truth about all things.  I told him that I wanted to know everything.  I felt that he was being somewhat vague on purpose, but he absolutely insisted that he’d come clean with everything.  Well, yesterday I was having lunch with a friend that I haven’t seen in some time.  I confided in her about the affair.  I was hoping that she would support me and commiserate with me once she got over her shock about my husband.  Well, imagine my own shock when she told me that she already knew about the affair.  Apparently, her husband saw my husband with the other woman and confronted him about it.  My husband assured both of them that he was going to tell me about the affair, so they kept quiet, thinking that my husband would confess.   I am so embarrassed that people knew about my husband and did not tell me.  This makes me wonder who else knew and who else is now pitying me behind my back.  Of course, I came home and told my husband off.  I did call him a liar because that is what he is.  He apologized, but insisted that I never specifically asked him if anyone else knew.  Do I have to ask?  Doesn’t common sense dictate that when I tell him that I want the whole truth, that is exactly what I should get?  How do I make him understand that not telling me about these sorts of things is the same thing as lying?”

I understand your outrage.  It had to feel so awful sitting there with your friend and once again feeling as if you were the last to know.  This probably doesn’t help all that much, but what you are going through is extremely common.  A man who wants to have a chance to save his marriage is going to hesitate to offer up information that makes his wife even more angry or humiliated.  He may have suspected that telling you about your friend would just make you more upset at him.  He may have been waiting for the right time to do it, hoping to spare you from getting so much upsetting information so soon.

I am not making excuses for him.  But many men in this situation will tell you that by not just blurting out everything all at one time, they are trying to spare their wife from overwhelming pain and from information overload.  Yes, by keeping some things from you for the time being, he is also sparing himself from your anger. But I don’t think that every man in this situation has selfish motives when he doesn’t immediate tell everything.

That said, sometimes, when you want him to give complete and full disclosure, you will have to spell that out in painstaking detail.  It helps to write down what you most want to know and then present that list to him and tell him to start talking.  Now, I have to disclose that I have done this and it didn’t necessarily give me the relief that I thought.  I wish that I had broken the questions down over time – spread out over days – because it CAN feel very overwhelming and painful to take all of that in.

If you feel that your husband isn’t going to be truthful, I’d recommend doing this with a counselor.  They can press your husband and ask for clarification so that you don’t have to.  And if your need for information is hurting you more than helping you (or you’re trying to take in too much too fast,) they can speak up and tell you.  They’re ultimately trying to help you receive the information that you need in the healthiest way possible.  And we ourselves rarely have the objectivity and restraint to do this for ourselves.

If you don’t like the idea of counseling or your husband won’t go, there are self help books that actually list questions where you can check off and write in his answer so that you don’t have to repeat yourself.  This way, you’ll know what has been covered and you will have a record of his claims.

But to answer the original question, to make him understand that omissions are as problematic as lies, you have to keep reminding him.  With repetition, he will get the message. And if he is serious about saving his marriage, he will begin to comply.

I did have to constantly remind my husband about full disclosure.  But over time, I came to realize that I really was beating a dead horse.  I was asking the same questions over and over because deep down, I was hoping for different and better answers.  I didn’t want to deal with what was in front of me.  All of the questions (and repeated answers) just kept us in the past tense, at least some of the time.  Over time, I just let them go.  I figured that I knew quite a bit and that my focus was best spent on the future.  This realization improved things greatly.  You can read more about that on my blog at

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