Part 2 of a 2-Part After Infidelity Series
After learning that your spouse has committed adultery, what do you do? What questions should you ask after an affair? How should you prepare yourself for the possible responses?
In this article, we cover questions 6-10 in a list of 10 questions prescribed by Dr. Shirley P. Glass in her book, NOT ‘Just Friends.’ Find the first five questions in Part 1 of this series.
While these questions will likely be difficult to talk about with your spouse, having an open discussion may set you on the road to recovery and relational restoration after infidelity.
6) Did you talk about love or a future together?
When a husband or wife discovers that their spouse has cheated on them, the mind fills with every imaginable scenario and situation. During this time, it is crucial for the involved partner to share honestly (as much as the betrayed spouse wants to hear) about the affair. By exposing the truth, the unfaithful spouse can dispel any assumptions the betrayed partner may conclude or envision in their minds. An honest answer is the only way the affected spouse will find out what truly happened.
It is also important for the involved partner to not gloss over any components of the affair in an effort to cover up their actions or protect their spouse’s emotions. The situation will be much worse if the betrayed spouse discovers the subsequent dishonesty at a later stage.
Dr. Glass advises, “If you are the betrayed partner, make a strong effort to hear the story without filtering it through your own subjective lens. Infidelity does occur without falling in love. You must be open to versions that vary from your belief system unless you have valid evidence that you are getting a watered-down rendition.” At the same time, the involved partner needs to admit whether they were in love with their affair partner. If you talked about running away together, confess it to your spouse. He or she deserves to know the truth in order to eliminate any exaggerated scenarios they have formed in their imaginations.
7) What did you see in your affair partner?
It’s easy for a betrayed partner to feel as though their spouse’s affair partner must be better than they are – more attractive, more interesting, more exciting. By identifying the specific traits or qualities that actually attracted the unfaithful spouse to his or her affair partner, the affair partner seems more human. This may help the betrayed spouse, who will likely wrestle between the two extremes of “glorifying the lover as an incomparable rival and disparaging him or her as a despicable human being.”
By admitting the nature of the attraction, the involved spouse begins to acknowledge the role they played in acting on the temptation. According to Dr. Glass, this is an important step, as “Involved partners must recount the ways they encouraged the affair and invested energy to keep it going. It is less likely that an infidelity will happen again when the involved partner owns up to having been a full participant.”
As we discussed in Part 1 of this series, David acted on his attraction to Bathsheba. Some may excuse David based on the physically alluring nature of Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop, but David could have stopped with a glance. He could have looked away and gone no further. Instead, he tracked her down and got someone to fetch her and bring her to his bedroom. Ultimately, at some point, spouses who commit adultery make the conscious decision to do so.
8) What did you like about yourself in the affair? How were you different?
In an affair, the involved partner can become whoever he or she wants to be. They are free to break away from preconceived notions and long-time expectations. As Dr. Glass explains, “A strong attraction of affairs is the opportunity to try on new roles: the insensitive, detached husband becomes energized by his own empathy and devotion; the sexually uninterested wife is exhilarated by newfound passion and erotic fantasies.” As your spouse talks about his or her affair, get them to express what they liked about themselves during that time and what changes they might make in order to obtain a similar result in your marriage.
9) Have you cheated before? If so, how was this time similar or different?
The only way to heal after an affair is to remove every cancerous cell of adultery. It is excruciating, but you must address everything. Betrayed partners who refuse to confront their partner’s infidelity send the message that it was not a big deal to them and future indiscretions will be treated with the same indifference.
If this was not the first occurrence, ask your partner how this time was similar or different from previous episodes.
“This is an opportunity to examine any patterns of infidelity or near misses that may be relevant to how this affair unfolded.” Affairs begin for many reasons. Figuring out how this one started and what kept it going will help to prevent future recurrences.
If you have any hope of restoring your marriage, you need to acknowledge the wrong done and purge sinful habits. You will never experience God’s perfect design for marriage if you insist on holding on to your sin.
10) Did you have unprotected sex?
An alarming number of people involved in affairs do not use protection. In her book, Dr. Glass cites a National AIDS Behavioral Study of unfaithful spouses between the ages of 18 to 49. According to that study, 60 to 64 percent did not use condoms with their extramarital partner.
“Regardless of protestations, both spouses should be tested for AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Willingness to submit to the humbling medical exams and tests is an act of consideration and accountability by the involved partner that will remove another obstacle to resuming safe marital sex.”
Christian Counseling for Talking About Adultery
Discussing the questions in this article is a painful process. Many couples avoid the conversation altogether, and their relationship ends up even worse than before. Dr. Glass’ list of questions is a good starting point, but the best option is to seek the guidance of a professional Christian marriage counselor. A professional Christian counselor in Spokane will be able to cater each session to your unique situation and circumstances. They will help you understand what caused the affair, guide you through the repair process, and teach you how to prevent future infidelity.
“NOT ‘Just Friends’” by Shirley P. Glass, Ph.D. with Jean Coppock StaeheliPhotos
“Heartache,” courtesy of Takmeomeo, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; “Partners,” courtesy ofPexels, pixabay.com, CC0 Public Domain License; ”
Committment,” courtesy of Wilson Sanchez, unsplash.com, CC0 Public Domain License