After the devastating disclosure of infidelity, intense emotions and recurrent flashbacks are normal. Telling the story of the affair becomes the main conversation. The betrayed wants to know all the details … how, when, why, where, how many times, etc.
Were you in love with this person? Did you say you love him/her? Was this person better than me in bed? The questions are endless and oftentimes we force the betrayer to give us all the details of the affair.
Telling the story of the affair can inflict more pain and many times not be very useful information. It can cause ruminating thoughts, inability to sleep, depression and an obsession about the other person. Esther Perel, couples’ therapist and bestselling author, recommends: rather than asking questions that can be hurtful, and not very helpful, ask “investigative questions” to understand the motive. Questions such as:
- What did the affair mean to you?
- What is it about us that you value?
- What were you able to experience that you couldn’t with me?
- Are you glad this is over?
- What was it like when you would come home?
Having a conversation about the affair rather than allowing it to be accusatory and punitive can lead to growth and self discovery about both of you. It can turn a crisis into an opportunity for a new truth with a new understanding.
When telling the story of the affair, be mindful that honesty and openness is essential but that doesn’t mean you must give all the details and events that can only cause more pain and heartache for years to come.
Hellenic Therapy Center, 567 Park Ave., Scotch Plains, has a team of licensed professionals specializing in marriage therapy. They are available day, evening and weekend hours. Call 908-322-0112 or visit www.hellenictherapy.com or Facebook.