My Husband Was Honest About His Unfaithfulness But Lies About The Details

By: Katie Lersch:  One would think that husbands who were caught cheating would already know that the jig is up.  You already know the worst of it – that he has been unfaithful to you and that this may mean that your marriage is in serious trouble.  So, what is the point of being so secretive after this comes out?  What can be worse than cheating?  And why add fuel to the fire by not coming clean about everything?

A wife may have this unfortunate scenario to deal with: “my husband admitted to cheating before I caught him.  I had some vague suspicions, but I do not even know if I would have followed up on them.  I was sort of telling myself that I was overreacting and being paranoid.  So I am not sure what might have happened if he hadn’t admitted to it.  So far, what he has told me is that he had a three-and-a-half-week affair with a woman from his work.  He said there were basically three encounters and that is it. Needless to say, I really want more information than this.  These basic details just do not cut it.  I try to ask him how old she is, what she looked like, what started the affair, etc.  But he will shut me down and tell me that all of this doesn’t matter because it was over and it wasn’t anything meaningful to begin with. This isn’t good enough for me.  But no matter what I say, he won’t budge.  So I started digging around on my own.  And I found proof that the affair was going on for longer than 3-and-a-half weeks.  That makes me wonder what else he might have been lying about.  Why would a man confess to cheating but then lie when it comes to the details?  Because at this point, the cat is already out of the bag.”

Why He May Have Confessed: There are many potential reasons and I will try to list some of them here.  First of all, let’s talk about why he may have confessed when he didn’t appear to need to.  Sometimes, the other person in the affair is threatening to tell.  Sometimes, he believes that you know or suspect more than you do.  Or, it may be as straightforward as the fact that he feels guilty and he wants to do the right thing.  And sometimes when people are cheating, all of a sudden it hits them that they have put their marriage at risk and they feel deep regret about this.  They suddenly want to save their marriages.  And they know that in order to do that, they have to have enough respect and care for you to be truthful. So confessing is the first step toward that.

Why He May Not Be As Forthcoming With The Details: As to why he may be lying about some of the details, I think that the most likely reason for this (and one that happens very regularly) is that he doesn’t want to hurt you or trouble you more than he already has.  He’s going to make the affair seem as short, as meaningless, and as casual as he possibly can.  In short, he’s going to downplay it as much as is feasible because he thinks that it is going to hurt you less and make things easier for him.

Now, we both know that he is technically lying.  But often, husbands do not see it that way.  In their minds, they honestly believe that they are protecting you from getting hurt. So you have to decide how important you find each piece of information.  I do believe that you need the information in order to piece together what has truly happened and why.  But sometimes, we become obsessed with wanting to know EVERYTHING and all this does is feed our obsession and slows our healing.

If you are going to counseling, your counselor will likely lead your husband to disclosing vital information.  If not, then it helps to define what you most want to know and then firmly asking him for this information.  You might say: “I know that you are trying to keep from hurting me, but I need to know more than just the basics. I can’t heal if I don’t know exactly what I am dealing with.  It’s not fair to keep me in the dark but expect me to move on.  I am not asking for every detail.  But I need to know more than just a shell of the whole story.  So that it’s not too overwhelming, we can deal with a little at a time.  Why don’t we start with the true duration.  Because I know that it was longer with three-and-a-half weeks.  Let’s start by telling the truth about when it actually started and when it actually ended.

Then listen to what he has to say.  He may balk or try to stall.  If he does, tell him that he is only delaying your healing.  Having a counselor on your side can help or even showing him self-help that discusses how much you need to know so that he can see that this isn’t just coming from you – it is coming from the experts who are trying to help you both through this.

My husband tried to keep some things close to the vest to ‘protect’ me.  But I made it clear that this did not work for me.  He eventually saw that this wasn’t helping his cause.  There’s more to the story on my blog at

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