Still reeling from an affair?
Affairs are devastating to marriages – there’s simply no getting around that.
Trust has been betrayed, any sense of “normalcy” has been disrupted, and perhaps worst of all…
The people who were cheated on now have to face this haunting mental image of their spouse getting intimate with someone else.
Recovering from an affair, for these reasons and more, is a tough battle.
Now, we won’t dig into the entire process here because there are several components – from agreeing to start your marriage over with a new approach to working toward effective forgiveness – but one of the pieces we will deal with today is understanding how and why the affair happened in the first place.
One of the hardest parts, however, is that talking through these things can mean facing some painful realities and trying to hold some awkward, even embarrassing conversations.
Even if you can get into what the state of the marriage was before the affair…
…if you can talk about unmet emotional or physical needs…
…if the “guilty” party can admit to temptation and do their best to explain why they felt what they did…
It still leaves a huge amount of details unspoken: the specifics of what actually happened.
There’s actually quite a bit of disagreement among marriage counselors about this very topic.
How many of the “gory” details should one spouse share with the other after an affair?
Does knowing exactly what happened make things better or worse?
First, let’s try to understand why such details get left out, even as couples are openly admitting to fault and trying to rebuild their marriages.
• For one, it’s embarrassing. For anyone (but especially men), it’s an admission of weakness, lack of self-control, etc.
Men tend to crave the admiration of women (a factor that contributes to how affairs begin too), and describing the details of how they were unfaithful can feel like risking any respect or admiration their wives still hold for them.
Even when it’s common knowledge, the specifics are difficult to admit.
• It can feel like discussing those particular details (where, what happened, etc.) can pose a threat to any possible reconciliation – so people shy away from them, even if they’re willing to talk about all of the other factors of the affair.
• They are trying to save their spouse from further heartache – and that’s the very reason it might be a better idea to leave the details of the physical encounters unspoken.
While it’s important to reconciliation to know who, where, and why, asking for the details of what actually happened may only be setting yourself up for unshakable mental images that inhibit your ability to move forward with the marriage.
It’s fair to know how long the affair went on.
It’s fair to know if there are any health risks or if there may be a pregnancy to worry about…
But details about the acts themselves won’t do anything but make the whole situation more painful. They will NOT provide relief, no matter how much someone thinks they will.
If you’re facing this very situation, instead focus on:
• the future
• moving forward with your marriage
• ensuring that the environment that made an affair possible doesn’t happen again
If your spouse is asking, you can explain to them that you are willing to share the details they ask about (and you should be), but that you want to make sure that things are moving in a positive and improving direction…
Explain that those “gory” details may have the very opposite effect.
It won’t be easy to come back from an affair, but it is possible – and couples who focus on the relationship they have, making it the best it can be, building trust and love, and creating happiness for the future are best suited to save their marriages.
Are you taking the right approach to overcoming the affair that damaged your relationship?
Focus on the future instead of dwelling on the past.