How much information is important for you to know,
and which questions will only hurt you more?
Do you really need to know all the details of her affair?
Or maybe you thought you were hearing the truth about the details of their affair,
only to discover more lies, and ‘trickle truths’ later?
Since I primarily write for unfaithful wives and betrayed husbands here,
that is how I’ll be writing this post,
but do know that much of this information
will apply if you’re in the opposite gender.
This is a difficult subject and to be honest,
there’s risk for both the unfaithful wife and the betrayed husband.
The unfaithful wife is often afraid to honestly answer those questions,
out of fear that sharing those details will only produce more hurt and anger in her husband.
READ PART 1: To the unfaithful spouse, “why the betrayed wants details…”
But a betrayed husband often feels shut out of a secret side their wife shared with someone else-
that’s extremely painful and can prevent them from moving forward in trusting her again.
How do you navigate this delicate subject?
Realize that sometimes your imagination can be worse than reality.
Many betrayed husbands will try to process his emotions and confusion about his wife’s affair,
by coming up with the answers to his questions on his own.
If he doesn’t have all the information, or is afraid to really ask what he wants to know,
he’ll sometimes try to imagine what might have happened instead.
Or, he might piece together parts of her story, just to make sense of it, and see if there are any discrepancies.
What the betrayed husband doesn’t understand, is that what he’s imagining is probably much worse
than what the honest answers really are; if she felt she could safely answer his questions without backlash. .
Is it possible to know too many details that will actually hurt your healing and not help?
Yes, I believe it’s possible.
Even though I believe you have a right to know the answers to your questions,
that doesn’t mean you should know everything.
There are some details that will definitely result in more hurt than healing for you.
But it’s still not up to her to make that decision.
This is where the help of a marriage therapist can be of great benefit,
to help you both navigate what is most important for them to know,
and possibly be there when some difficult things are discussed.
Before you try to uncover all the answers and details to your questions…
Remember, you can’t UN-know what you discover.
It’s an obvious fact, but one that many of us need reminding of-
especially when talking about how much do you really need to know about?
My husband and I have been at this same place you find yourself in now.
I think he would tell you- there’s some things he needed to know, and some things he didn’t and were probably more harmful than helpful.
There were things he needed to know, even if it was very difficult for me to say- and hard for him to hear.
So do you need to know details about her affair?
Only you can say for sure.
You might be thinking I’m saying don’t ask anything. I’m not saying that.
You absolutely need to ask questions.
To be honest, I would have a hard time NOT asking a hundred questions- since I’m a “questioning girl” by nature
(Hey, I heard my name even means ‘questioning one’ so I can’t help it).
I’ve got 9 questions for you to ask YOURSELF-
before you ever ask her anything about her affair.
1. Do I need those images in your head?
Many of the questions you want to ask will paint vivid pictures in your mind of your spouse and another person.
Those images can easily open the door to a daily battle you don’t need to fight, and will often hinder your progress in healing.
2. How will knowing these details help me?
If you ask questions about the sordid details, will it really make you feel better to know how your spouse touched someone else sexually?
How will knowing any of this help you to heal or will it only make it more difficult to move forward?
Will it truly be helpful to you to know the details about their sexual activities? Probably not.
3.Why do I really want to know the answer to that question? Have I asked it before?
Is it out of curiosity or necessity? Usually the ‘curiosity’ questions don’t provide the full story, and so it never truly helps to know.
Repeating stories/information keeps them alive in your mind, and ultimately gives them power.
Once you ask a question, and receive the information, pray and give it to God, if you come from faith.
Don’t revisit it again. Leave it in the past.
4. Is her answer going to be an accurate representation of where she’s at now-
at this point in her recovery?
Or, is this only going to reveal her frame of mind during her affair?
Remember, some of her answers will be different when she comes out of affair fog,
than when she’s right in the middle of affair fog.
It’s like comparing a fantasy life with real life.
No long term, genuine relationship can ever last when founded on a fantasy life.
Plus, do you really want to understand her motivation to sin,
or the details of her deceived state of mind while acting out in her affair?
Sometimes these answers might help you both get closer to understanding why she did it,
but it’s a fine line between why she strayed, and trying to make sense out of deception.
Affair fog isn’t an excuse, it’s a real thing. You can read about what affair fog is not, here.
5. Will her answer help me get closer to a place of healing,
or could it actually hinder my healing?
6. Am I trying to know this to compare myself to the other man?
Nothing good comes from asking questions comparing yourself
to the person your wife had a relationship with.
That person is hopefully now in the past- leave them there.
(Easier said then done, I know).
Plus, usually knowing the details only leads you down a path of increased jealousy and feeling worse about yourself.
Remember- whatever you’re comparing to- was based on the lies and illusions that come from an affair.|
Nobody can base a strong solid relationship on that fantasy.
Try not to obsess about the other guy in your mind- the truth is, most women “affair down”.
Meaning, they choose guys who are way less than their husbands in so many ways-
which shows it wasn’t so much about ‘the guy’ being great or you being not great, than it was something missing within her.
7. What will I do with this information?
Really check your motives in this; are you planning on telling others, or use this against her in the future?
I can guarantee you- this is one of her concerns in telling you.
8. Is my health at risk?
The only good question that follows learning your spouse had sex with someone else is:
“will you please go have a full screening of tests for venereal disease?”
The answer to this question needs to be a non-negotiable ‘yes I will’,
in order for there to be true reconciliation without fear of either spouse getting a sexually transmitted disease.
9. Could my safety, or my family’s safety, be at risk?
It’s important to know if there’s any risk of your safety, or your families safety
by asking enough questions to gauge whether the affair partner might not be stable.
Sure, it seems like an impossibility… but we’ve all watched the news stories right?
As you process the answers to those simple questions, more questions may pop in your mind:
Did they kiss? How intimate were they? When? How often? Where?
Does my wife love him? How am I compared to him?
The real answers to those questions will probably come more slowly, and sometimes painfully.
Many questions just lead to more questions, and can derail you in your healing progress.
Or, it can easily lead you down a trail of hopelessness- wondering how you both will ever be able to get past this.
When that may not be reality at all.
Just remember this truth-
There’s no answer your wife can give you that’s going to truly help you heal,
or that will satisfy you enough to make sense of her infidelity.
I encourage you to take your questions to God instead.
Ask Him to help you know which questions are important to your healing and your marriage restoration and which ones you need to let go.
This is a verse I’ve often referred back to when my mind won’t stop the obsessive thoughts:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
You might also be interested in these posts:
A video interview with my husband-reflecting on our healing.