Disclosing Details Of Your Affair: The Ins and Outs of Discussing Your Infidelity in Your Marriage (Should you talk about your affair?)
Should you talk about your affair in your marriage? This is a very common question and one that many couples struggle with when infidelity is exposed.
Affairs are a common crisis point in a marriage or relationship.
Eventually they get exposed, intentionally or accidentally. This is often when a couple will seek marital therapy; and start working on their issues. This is when couples become confused about the values vs harms of discussing infidelity, and if you’re the one who was unfaithful, should you talk about your affair or just stay silent?
What details about your affair should you talk about in marriage counselling?
How much about your affair should you tell your spouse?
Is honesty the best policy, or should you avoid the issue and skip the details of your affair because it would be too painful?
Couples seeking therapy to repair a relationship after an affair face numerous challenges; but so, too, would they face challenges in a messy, expensive and disruptive divorce.
Remember, couples in pain – in a relationship crisis – typically aren’t thinking clearly.
- One, but often both, is exceptionally emotional and angry
- The other may be guilt-ridden or clamming up, feeling put under the microscope of investigation
- No doubt at least ONE, but more often both people in the marriage, may feel uncertain which direction they should move in, moving between:
- attending marriage counselling (towards healing)?
- heading to divorce (separation and destruction of the bond)?
- or the turmoil of living in an indecisive state of hurt, anger and resentment while you’re figuring out what to do
While divorce is always an option; in most cases, I believe it’s a last ditch option.
Divorce is, of course, an option. And sometimes, for a rare number of couples, it’s the best one.
Only when all efforts to save the marriage have been attempted — at least, in my view.
And I hold this view because, as a marriage counsellor and Couples Coach over almost 3 decades, I’ve seen many couples on the brink of divorce, even feeling near hatred for each other, go on to mend their rifts and find their way back to love with expert marriage counselling.
- I’ve seen relationships full of venom and revenge, re-establish a harmonious connection, through intensive counselling and enhanced understandings of their husband or wife.
- It certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but with effort, care and intention, marital therapy can work.
- But one of the biggest challenges is when they face up to, and discuss, the affair….
So how much detail about your affair is too much to give? And what’s appropriate in terms of sharing aspects of having an affair?
Will it help, or hinder, the rift between you that having a third-party in the relationship has brought?
To reveal too little, or to lie about the details of the affair, only leads to further distrust and anger. But to reveal the full details, can also jeopardize the equilibrium the couple is seeking to re-build.
So what’s the best approach?
Details of your Spouse’s Infidelity – Discussing the Affair
- It’s not uncommon for infidelity to become a marital issue, and often, a core discussion point in couples therapy as both partners try to heal their marriage.
- From my work with thousands of couples, Infidelity is likely an OUTCOME of underlying distance between a couple, rather than a SOURCE. E.g., it’s often the result of distance, disharmony or disagreements in a couple’s relationship, either emotionally, socially, intellectually or physically.
In my professional experience, cheating in a marriage, is not typically the source of the key issues that split a couple apart, but more a symptom.
- However, there are always exceptions, and sometimes a wife’s cheating, or a husband’s cheating, comes out of the blue, despite the partner’s being seemingly happy.
- Sometimes it’s culturally influenced, as I spoke of in my blog on top reasons people have affairs. Sometimes it’s because a partner feels unappreciated, unseen, under-nurtured or put down.
- Whatever the reason your husband or wife cheated, if you’re now in therapy, you’re probably going over some of the details that preceded, as well as the impacts resulting from, your loved one’s affair.
- This is where marital therapy becomes incredibly challenging, and why it’s best facilitated by a highly skilled relationship counselling therapist with specialised expertise in working with cheating, betrayals and affairs.
Why is working through the pain of cheating and infidelity so challenging in marriage therapy? And why should you talk about the affair?
The first reason working through a situation of marital cheating and sexual infidelity is this: it’s a tremendous sense of betrayal. Where there’s betrayal of trust, there’s hurt, and guilt, and pain on both parties; that can readily turn into a blame game that leads to divorce if not handled with nurturing, love and care.
Remember in my last blog, couples in pain – couples in crisis – aren’t typically thinking clearly.
One, but often both, is exceptionally emotional and angry; guilt-ridden or feeling uncertain which direction they should move in – marriage counselling (towards healing) or divorce (separation and destruction of the bond)?
While divorce is always an option; in most cases, it should only be considered as a last option when efforts to save the marriage fail — at least in my view.
And I hold this view because, as a marriage counsellor and Couples Coach, I’ve seen many couples on the brink of divorce, feeling near hatred for each other, mend their rifts and find their way back to love. I repeat what I said earlier because this is such an important point: I’ve seen relationships full of venom and revenge, re-establish a harmonious connection, through intensive counselling and enhanced understandings of their husband or wife. It certainly doesn’t happen overnight, but with effort, care and intention, marital therapy can work. And the marriage can end up stronger than it ever was, and more likely to endure as well as meet the needs of both partners (spouses, lovers).
But what usually also needs to be worked on is how the couple works out what the betrayed partner should know about the affair.
This difficulty stems from the person who has cheated, being unwilling to reveal full details of the affair, and the reasons are numerous. To reveal too little, or to lie about the details of the affair, only leads to further distrust and anger. But to reveal the full details, can also jeopardize the equilibrium the couple is seeking to re-build.
So what’s the best approach when it comes to discussing your affair?
Why you need to talk about the affair and infidelity in marriage therapy.
The truth is that the truth IS always the best approach, and anyone not willing to give the truth is attempting to mitigate the damage, but only doing greater damage to the relationship in the longer run. Remember, an affair isn’t just a physical event – it’s a betrayal of trust, usually relying upon multiple lies (working late, travelling for business, just up at the gym with John or Sandra, etc.).
And to heal from cheating, the lies have to stop.
Here’s what people who cheat TELL themselves about their affair discretions (revealing or not revealing actual facts):
- not being totally honest/forthcoming with facts about an affair — and/or not disclosing facts at all — can prevent a meltdown or emotional outburst in their partner
- fear of looking bad in the eyes of the marriage counsellor or friends
- not wanting to face up to the real impact their affairs/cheating has had on the psyche of their partner, and the stability and quality of their marriage
- wanting to negate taking responsibility — wanting to brush it under the rug (sweep it aside)
- wanting to be able to secretly continue the affair, even if its just a few phone calls – reluctance to let go of the affair partner or emotional connection with the extramarital partner
But this doesn’t work.
HONESTY must be the number one priority in a marriage that’s on the rocks, or recovering from an affair (infidelity of any sort). AND honesty is cleansing.
Why is full and open honesty after an affair so important in the healing?
Because without honesty, there’s no trust.
Without trust, there’s no relationship.
Not to mention the turmoil both parties feel when they feel they can’t be honest with one another. or aren’t able to rely on each other’s information as being an accurate reflection of what the person is going through, thinking, feeling or needing in the marriage.
And the broken trust is as painful as the thought of the affair itself – the lies, the deceptions and other untruths that allowed for the affair to continue undetected, perhaps for several years or more.
So yes, honesty is important, and you need to own up to the details of your affair.
But under the assistance of a focussed Couples Coach who truly knows the best way to rescue and repair from a betrayal.
Why? Your couples coach can help you manage the very volatile emotions and concerns you’ll likely be feeling as you work towards healing the breakdown in your marriage.
Are you a couple in crisis?
Contact me ….
If your relationship is in real trouble — e.g., your marriage is on the brink of a divorce — you may find yourself seeking a marriage therapist or relationship coach (read how to choose a marriage therapist/counsellor).
Chances are, however, that if your relationship is in trouble —- there’s been frequent fighting, painful impasses and disrespect or distance. Perhaps there’s even an affair at the heart of the issue.
An affair that arose due to underlying issues, or which led to a deep rift in trust levels.
So now, you and your spouse are likely in a state of turmoil about what to do after one, or both, admit to an affair.
That’s because affairs can either cause relationship strife — or arise from relationship strife, and underlying marriage difficulties — and often, both. It is a sign of difficulty or weakness in the primary relationship and/or it causes a break, a shift — as sometimes it’s simply a random occurrence. (A choice, but not sought out, per se).
There’s simply no doubt that discovering your spouse’s affair, or admitting to your own affair, is extremely painful for everyone involved.
No one starts out in a marriage wanting to cheat, or be cheated on, yet it’s incredibly common in marriages. So don’t beat yourself up if your marriage is in trouble — get professional help, instead, to sort out what can be done to heal, and repair, the relationship — before it results in a nasty divorce, vindictive custody battle and/or residential disruptions and financial ruin.
The good news about painful discussions about affairs and infidelity in a marriage is this…
And I’m sure it’s hard for you to believe there is good news, but stay with me here…
The good news is that extremely painful points in life can also bring an opportunity to learn and grow, as a person and as a partner.
In a marriage, the painful points — yes, even an affair — might be just the change-point opportunity to bring you and your partner back together again, but in a more solid, respectful, compassionate, passionate and sustainable relationship dynamic. Not every marriage gets a second chance; but yours can, if both spouses are ready and willing to make the effort to bring the relationship back to a happier place where there’s genuine respect, care and love between the two of you.
So if you are going to embark on relationship therapy (marriage counselling or couples coaching) after an affair, what are the phases the relationship will go through?
Read on or if you want to get help fast Book Your Call With Me
For more about these phases, book a call with me to see how I can help.
No matter where you are in the stage of relationship repair, a Couples Coach can help you find your way with less stress, less duress and a better chance of genuine repair — not a half-applied bandage approach, but a full relationship recovery.
Details are on this page.If you are struggling through a relationship crisis then don’t let the pain and disconnection drag on any more.
Make contact and get help right away.
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Thanks for reading, and I look forward to helping facilitate your relationship healing (repair and recovery).