by Cynthia M. Braden, MFT
How much do you really want
to know about what happened?
Many people believe that discussion of affair details should be kept to a minimum. They think that talking about details may further damage the relationship.
However, it has been shown that if the unfaithful partner meets the hurt partner's need to talk about the affair, the greater the hurt partner's rebuilding of trust and sense of healing.
When the unfaithful partner is willing to discuss the situation in as much detail as the hurt partner needs, and answers questions honestly, more the relationship may grow and survive.
For this disclosure to work, the hurt partner must be able to listen and respond calmly. Emotional safety is extremely important in this situation, so when asking for affair details, the hurt partner must practice phrases like...
I'm listening, continue please,
Questions can be written down and answered a few at a time, or when it's safe, for example in a therapy session. The hurt partner must realize that becoming enraged by information they have requested negatively reinforces the unfaithful partner's willingness to be open. Processing rage in an individual session is a good idea.
Any lie discovered after the the basic story has been revealed pushes recovery back even further, because the hurt partner feels betrayed yet again. So the sooner that accurate details are given the better. Unfaithful partners do not need to fill in details beyond what is asked for. Research shows that very few couples dealing with infidelity develop a thriving relationship without help, so let me know if you want to try to make things better.