By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from wives who wonder why they insist on further hurting themselves after their husband’s affair by demanding to know all of the painful details. They often will try to tell themselves that it really is better to just let some things go, only to eventually give in to their need for more painful information.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had a three month affair with an old classmate from college. They had both returned to school to get their advanced degrees and they reconnected then. From what I have been able to gather, the relationship was an intense and passionate one. I have put this together from emails that I have read and things that my husband tells me. And every time I question my husband and get an honest response, I am hurt just a little bit more. It is like the scab that has started to form gets ripped off all over again. And then I will let that scab heal just a little more until I get restless again and I will demand more details. And my husband will resist giving me these details because I am only going to be upset. He says I am only looking to negate the progress that we have made. And I am not sure how to respond to this because I don’t know why I want all of these details even though I know that they are going to deeply wound me. Why do I have the need to do this to myself and to him? Am I looking to punish us? Do I just like to wallow in the pain? Because at this point, I have no idea what is motivating me.” I will try to address these concerns in the following article.
You Often Want The Details Because You Want A Very Clear Picture Of What You Are Up Against Now And You’re Also Looking Out For The Future: I firmly believe that your need for information isn’t meant to hurt or punish you. I believe that you want the information because you want a clear picture of what you are dealing with. You want to know the depths of his deception and you need to know how he went about getting away with it for as long as he did. You want to know if he loved her or if he made her any promises. In short, you want to see just how much their relationship is going to damage your marriage.
And frankly, you are also looking for the clues that you previously missed. Because it is just human nature to want to protect yourself from this kind of deception and pain again. So, you want to know what types of clues you should be looking for in the future to ensure that you aren’t caught blindsided again. There is nothing at all wrong with you for wanting and for needing this information. But I believe that there is a better way to go about this to ensure that you aren’t in constant pain.
Make A Note Of The Questions That Pop Into Your Head And Put Aside A Regular Time To Discuss Them To Allow More Progress: When your mind is always working and you’re asking whatever pops into your head, it can begin to seem like clarifying the details of the affair are the bulk of what makes up your life. It can begin to appear that there is nothing to look forward to or no progress to be made. In fact, it can feel as if perhaps there’s no reason to attempt to advance at all when you both know a fresh set of details are going to emerge at any time and then derail you once again.
If you still harbor any wish to save your marriage, then you need to give yourself the space to make some progress without constantly needing to step back. So I believe that it is beneficial to limit your questions for one set time. I am not suggesting that you push down your questions or that you should not demand answers. You never want to constantly wonder about something when the answer is available. But you also don’t want to get into the habit of making the details the only thing that you ever talk about.
So I would suggest journaling your questions as they come to you. Just make a note of them and then let them go, only for the time being. Then, agree with your husband that perhaps once a week (or even twice a month) that you will both sit down and have your questions answered. This is usually a compromise that both people can agree to because the wife knows that she will eventually get her answers and the husband is relieved to know that the questions will no longer occur at a daily rapid fire pace.
Plus, this gives your marriage a chance to at least experience some momentum or recovery before you have the difficult discussions once again. Some people find these set discussions to be somewhat awkward because everyone knows that they are coming. It does get better with time and the more that you have these scheduled conversations, the easier they become. Also, if you are in counseling, you can ask your counselor to facilitate this so that it happens on a regular (but not a constant) basis.
I will admit that in my own situation, I eventually stopped my constant demand of details before my husband demanded it. After awhile, I realized that my constant need for information wasn’t allowing us enough time to heal. So I used the above suggestions myself and it helped things considerably. I still got the information but I wasn’t being hurt on a daily basis. If it helps, you can read more on my blog http://surviving-the-affair.com
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