How Often Should You Talk About The Affair When Trying To Heal?

By: Katie Lersch:  I often hear from folks who aren’t sure how much they need to keep rehashing the affair in order to fully heal from it.  Typically, the faithful spouse feels the need to talk about it quite a bit while the cheating spouse would rather it not be the most common topic of conversation.  I heard from a wife who said: “my husband feels like I want to rehash his affair too much.  It’s not as if I bring it up every hour, but I suppose I do have questions about it every day.  It’s just that I have a lot of questions and curiosity and my mind tends to run away with me over it.  I find myself thinking about it all of the time.  And when my mind wanders, then this often gives rise to more questions that I want answered.  My husband says that we will never truly heal if I bring this up every single day.  My husband said that my constant need to talk about the affair is like constantly picking at a scab which hasn’t yet had the chance to heal.  I disagree.  I feel as if we can’t really heal if I’m not allowed to talk about it.  I feel as if I should be allowed to talk about it whenever I want to.  I feel as if I deserve an answer to any question that I might have.  Am I wrong here?  How often are you supposed to talk about the cheating when your real goal is to heal?”  I will try to answer these questions below.

Why I Believe There’s A Fine Line Between Talking Enough And Talking Too Much:  Believe me when I say that I usually take the side of the faithful spouse.  My husband had an affair also, so I am typically much more sympathetic to the spouse who did nothing wrong.  However, with this said, it is my experience that it is possible to dwell on the affair so much that it delays or impedes your healing.  Part of that same healing is rebuilding your marriage and learning to relate to one another in new and positive ways.  This process becomes more difficult when the affair is always the central topic of every conversation.  You do not want for your marriage to be centered on the affair.   Eventually, you want to move past it.  And when you are constantly bring it up even when most of your questions have already been answered, you delay that process.

With that said, the faithful spouse needs to feel as if the cheating spouse is more than willing to address their concerns and answer their questions.  If your spouse feels as if you are holding something back, then it’s only natural for them to continue asking the questions until they get the answers that they need.  You can help yourself by being very forthcoming and willing to answer what has been asked of you.  Because if your spouse knows that you aren’t trying to hide anything, then they won’t need to keep asking.

Why I Feel That Scheduling Time To Talk Is The Ideal:  From my own experience, I believe that the best way to handle this is to actually schedule a set time to meet to discuss any issues that might have come up.  This way, both people are free to work on rebuilding their marriage without that shadow always over them.  And because the faithful spouse knows that there will always be time for them to have their say, then they will likely no longer feel the need to always bring it up.  Counseling is a good time to have this set time, but if you aren’t in counseling, you can always schedule just one dinner a week to check in with one another.  If you find yourself with questions before the set time, make a note of them and by all means bring them up later.

The thing is though, that in order for your marriage to heal and become strong again, you will need to relate to each other in ways that don’t have anything to do with the affair.  You need to learn to interact again, laugh again, and have fun again.  And constantly talking about the affair or bringing it up again just when you’ve started to make progress can halt or delay this process.  I’m a firm believer  in open and frequent communication after an affair.  But I also think that sometimes when the affair becomes the sole focus of your marriage, then that is a destructive pattern that you need to stop.  To me, the affair has already hurt your marriage once, so there is no need to allow it to be wounded repeatedly by bringing up things that have already been addressed.  And, a regular time to check in is usually a nice compromise for both sides.

Believe me when I say that there was a time when I wanted to discuss my husband’s affair on an almost constant basis.  But, it soon became evident that this was hurting my marriage rather than helping it.  The once per week schedule worked very well for us because I knew my questions would get answered and my husband knew that I would back off for the rest of the week.  We did eventually save our marriage in part because of this type of compromise.  You can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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