Question #1 about affair confrontation
Dear Anne – I have found 100’s of text messages on my husband’s cell phone between him and a woman he works with. In these text messages they tell each other “I love you” and other sexual things. When I go to see my husband at work I see the knowing glances they throw each other’s way. My husband is angry at me for looking at his cell phone, and says I’m invading his privacy. He admits to “flirtatious behavior” with this other woman, but completely denies that there is any kind of affair going on. My husband is angry with me for not trusting him, and now he’s asked me to quit coming to his workplace. I have other proof, and I know my husband is having an affair. I want to restore my marriage, but I just can’t bear that he won’t even come clean about this. How do I get my husband to confess his affair?
Dear Anne – The other day when I went to our computer, my husband had failed to close his email account, and I found that he had been sending emails to another woman with photos of his erect penis, and she had been sending him photos of herself as well. When I confronted him, he claimed they’re just friends. Is my husband having an affair?
Dear Anne – My wife is starting to spend hours each evening texting another man, a high school flame she has reconnected with. I try to connect with my wife, but she seems irritable and claims we have nothing to talk about. My wife claims I just need to trust her, they are “just friends” and I have nothing to worry about. She also insists that I do not invade her privacy by reading any of their correspondence – what should I do?
Dear Anne – I have solid evidence that my wife is having an affair. I have confronted her with it and still she denies it. I just want my wife to admit to what she’s done. I’m willing to forgive and do my part to become a better husband. I really want to forgive and put this whole thing past us, but I just can’t when she continues to deny that it happened. I don’t need to talk about it. I don’t need any details. I don’t want to punish my wife. I just want the truth. How can I get my wife to admit to this affair?
An affair is anytime you take emotional or physical intimacy that belongs to your spouse and give it to someone else. There does not need to be sexual intercourse for an affair to have taken place. And in case you’re in any doubt, oral sex is sex.
Marital affairs researcher, Shirley Glass, author of “Not Just Friends,” tells us that the word “just” does not belong in front of the word “friends.” The fact that someone would feel a need to put “just” in front of “friends” indicates that the relationship is inappropriate, even if the affair has not yet crossed physical boundaries.
If your spouse merely has some of the signs of infidelity such as being distant, working late, or becoming critical, they may not necessarily be having an affair. There could be other explanations for such changes in behavior.
But if your spouse is spending hours texting someone else, that is at least an emotional infidelity.
If your spouse is sending photos of their genitals to someone else, that is definitely an affair. (And there is a high likelihood physical sex has also occurred.)
If your spouse is telling another woman “I love you” and exchanging emails, insisting you should no longer come to the office, and you have other proof, adding in his defensiveness and insistence that you should trust him, you don’t have to be in doubt. He’s having an affair.
Those who cheat are notorious liars. They come up with the most amazing explanations to explain their behavior, and leave the innocent spouse feeling like it’s their fault and/or that they are losing their mind.
You are not losing your mind.
Listen to your gut instinct, that still small voice inside of you, your intuition. It’s not lying to you.
How do I get my husband to confess his affair? How can I get my wife to admit to this affair?
There are many things to consider when confronting an affair.
Is this the right time?
If you want to maximize the chances of healing your marriage, you want to consider your timing for a confrontation carefully. Most importantly are you ready for the truth? What will you do with the information once you hear the truth? Can you handle it in the best possible way? Are you strong enough?
Secondly does the timing seem right for your spouse?
No one can tell you not to confront the affair, and if you feel that you cannot live another day without getting the truth out on the table, then it’s probably time to confront.
Unpleasant Reality: They may never admit it!
There are three different ways a spouse may react when confronted. These reactions have less to do with the way they are confronted and more to do with what is going on inside them.
Some will tell the truth when asked directly. Some questions you could ask are:
Are you having an affair?
Do you have strong feelings for someone else?
Are you keeping secrets from me, about a relationship with someone else?
Is there someone else who is often occupying your thoughts?
If they tell you the truth, you are blessed. That’s a great thing that they’ve been able to own their behavior and now you can begin to move forward as a couple.
Some will tell the truth only when confronted with evidence. Be prepared for “trickle truth.” Most unfaithful spouses are way too scared to come clean the first time around. You’re best off to encourage more truth by thanking them for being honest (about the parts they are being honest about), instead of harping about what they aren’t saying yet. Just begin the healing work. If you can get them to agree to come to one of our healing intensive weekends for couples, we will help to create a safe dynamic for you both as well as a clear understanding of how important telling the whole truth is, so your spouse can understand there is a reward in being truthful, although the healing journey certainly is difficult. The reward of living life on a much higher level on the other side is so worth it.
Some will not tell the truth ever (even if you show a film of them having sex with the other person – they’ll try to convince you you’re losing your mind, and the movie is fixed or of someone else!) The lies the unfaithful who are not ready to confess can conjure up are often hilarious. What’s not remotely hilarious is being on the receiving end of these lies. We so want to believe our spouse is telling the truth, that there is in fact nothing going on, that we find ourselves feeling like we are losing our minds.
It is not your fault if your spouse doesn’t tell the truth. The motto of those having affairs is often “deny, deny, deny.” They tell such elaborate lies, that sometimes they even convince themselves. Those who may not have crossed physical boundaries yet, become “intoxicated” with the affair high. They start to lose their rational reasoning capabilities. Trying to have a reasonable conversation with them is often like trying to have a logical conversation with a drunk. You can’t.
What are you going to do?
It so important to be clear on what you have control over and what you don’t. Nothing you can do or say can make your spouse do anything. You cannot make your spouse confess if they are not ready to come clean. The only thing you have control over is yourself. What is and isn’t okay with you? What are you going to do?
Most importantly – Do not lose your dignity. Don’t engage the craziness. Don’t get sucked into the lies. You are not losing your mind.
It’s important to decide what you will do if your spouse chooses never to admit to their affair. There are no right or wrong choices, and no one can decide for you.
You may choose to stay in your marriage with an unconfessed affair, and accept the fact that your spouse won’t admit to it. If that’s your choice, realize that when you confront the affair, you have no leverage. In other words there is no negative consequence to your spouse for not being truthful.
If it’s your choice not to stay with your spouse if they aren’t truthful, be very clear on what you will do if they are not willing to admit to the affair before you confront them. You may even want to seek some legal counsel beforehand so you are clear on where you stand, in what can and cannot do.
If you choose to confront the affair, be clear on three things first:
1. What you will do (or won’t do) if they don’t admit to the affair
2. Keep your dignity
3. Do not engage the craziness
For example you may simply say (totally calm): “I know you’ve had an affair, and I respect the fact that you are not comfortable being honest about it. That said, I’m not comfortable being married to someone who will not be honest about an affair. Since you are denying your actions, I cannot continue to live with you. Please move out by the end of the month. You may sleep on the sofa until you find a place.”
Be sure you’re ready to carry through with whatever you’ve decided. If you are not ready to do what you say you’re going to do, you’re not ready to confront the affair. If you say they have to move out and they don’t change, and you let them stay anyway, then your words were a threat and you have weakened your relationship and your position.
Again, do not engage the conversation. Do not defend yourself. Do not get loud, or try to prove things. Just say, the same words over and over. “I know you’ve been unfaithful. I respect the fact that you don’t want to admit it. I’m simply not willing to stay in our relationship, that being the case. That’s my choice. Thank you for respecting it.”
Make it clear; “If you can be truthful about your relationship with ______, I can not only forgive you, but I’m willing to own my parts in how I may have failed you in our marriage, and I’ll change and learn how to be the kind of wife/husband you need.”
“Let me be clear, I love you, and I want to heal our marriage. If we get a divorce, I’ll be sad to be sure, but somehow I’ll manage. I cannot be in a relationship where I don’t have the truth.”
The above is not meant to be a script. You must do what’s right for you. You must choose your own words. The words above are merely an example of what you might say, without engaging craziness or losing your dignity, and while creating the safest possible environment for their truthfulness.
©Copyright 2005 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.