My Husband Won’t Tell Me When The Affair Began

by: katie lersch: When wives are trying to evaluate how they want to react to their husband’s affair (and whether they want to save their marriage in spite of it,) many will want as much information about the affair as they can possibly get. They gather this information because they want to see what they are up against. They are trying to evaluate just how serious the relationship with the other woman was, if it’s likely to continue, and what it means to their marriage right now. To that end, one of the most common concerns that wives have is how long the affair lasted. It’s often somewhat easy to get a sense of when the affair ended (or was supposed to end,) but it’s more difficult to figure out when it began – unless you have the cooperation of your husband or the other woman.

I recently heard from a wife who was determined to find out when her husband’s affair began, but he refused to tell her. She said in part; “I feel like I need to know when the affair began because I want to know how serious it really was and at what point in our lives and our marriage were we so vulnerable that he would cheat one me. Last year was a very up and down year for us. On the one hand, we traveled quite a lot, reconnected and had a fabulous time. On the other hand, one of our dear friends had some serious health issues and I spent a lot of time at her home helping out. So I want to know if he cheated on me when things were good (which would be very difficult to understand) or if he cheated on me when I was doing what’s right by helping a friend. And I’m not sure which is going to be worse. It would be awful to know that the second I was away for very legitimate reasons, he was unfaithful to me. But it wouldn’t make sense for him to cheat when things were going very well for us either. At this point it doesn’t seem to matter what I say because he refuses to discuss the time frame of the affair. I feel like I have a right to know. How can I get him to start talking?”

Why Men Are Sometimes Reluctant To Discuss When The Affair Began (Or The Time Frame Of It.) The wife was right. She was entitled to have her questions answered. But I suspected that the husband was hesitating to tell her because he knew that the truth was going to upset her very much. And honestly, if the affair lasted for a long time, men are often reluctant to tell you this. It might have been important that the husband wasn’t insisting that the affair was just a one night stand or lasted for a very short period of time. This could have meant that the affair lasted for a decent amount of time and that the husband knew that this was going to be very difficult for the wife to hear.

That’s just speculation of course. There could be many other reasons that the husband was reluctant to discuss the time frame of the affair. And the wife might not ever get completely definitive answers. At some point in time, she was going to need to ask herself if she was going to continue to focus on this question or if she was going to tell herself that she couldn’t change the affair (or the facts that surrounded it,) but she could make a choice about how (or even if) she wanted to move forward with her marriage right now. And frankly, sometimes when you do begin to move forward and your husband sees that things are getting better, he is often more likely to open up because he feels safe to do so.

What You Might Say To Get Your Husband To Tell You When The Affair Began: So far, the wife had been asking her husband about those two specific events (which were when they were traveling and when she was tending to their sick friend.) Although this was absolutely understandable, she wasn’t getting the results that she wanted. So, I thought she might have a better chance of actually getting an answer if she formed the question more broadly. I suggested something like: “I’m asking when the affair began because I’m trying to evaluate what we are up against so that we have the best chance of beating this. And I need to know what left our marriage vulnerable so we can look at changing it. You don’t have to give me an exact date right now (although I’m going to want that later,) but could you just give me a general idea of a time frame and how serious the relationship really was.

He may not immediately answer with the exact date. (And frankly, many men would not remember the exact date anyway.) But hopefully he will better understand why you need and want this information and may slowly begin to open up, especially as things start to get better over time.

I know that you probably feel like you have to know EVERYTHING about your husband’s affair. But, to the extent that you can, try to focus on the long rather than the short time. Information has a way of coming out over time. If you can keep moving forward and phrase things in the right way, I’m confident that things will begin to improve. Even when things look quite dire, healing is possible. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, after some struggles, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is in tact. I no longer worry my husband will cheat again. If it helps, you can read more of that personal story on my blog at

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