I sometimes hear from wives who feel that they are hearing complaining or even scolding for something that is almost their right – continuously talking about their husband’s past affair or indiscretions. Wives often feel as if they have a right to continue to ask questions or to continue to bring up the affair when it crosses their mind. But often, the husband who had the affair disagrees and quickly loses patience when conversations continue to return to his mistake.
I heard from a wife who said: “my husband has becoming increasingly frustrated because he says I talk about the affair too much. He says that it is beyond time for me to leave it in the past. It has been six months since I found out about the affair and I still have a lot of questions and a lot of need for clarification. But my husband says he has already told me all of the information that he has. He says he’s tired of me telling all my friends about the affair because he feels that the affair now defines his life. He says he doesn’t want to continue to live his life as the husband who cheated. He says that I am going to have to move on and stop talking about it so much because he can’t continue to live like this. So now I am just as frustrated as him because I can’t imagine not talking it. Perhaps in a few years when we have fully healed and all of my questions have been answered, I could do that. But to me, it is still so fresh and I still have a lot to say. I am sorry that he doesn’t like talking about this, but I need to talk about it. And frankly, it is his fault. If he had never had the affair in the first place then, this wouldn’t even be a topic of conversation or an issue. Who is right here?”
Believe it or not, even as a wife who has dealt with an affair, I can see both sides of this argument. To tell the truth, there is a real risk in your marriage becoming defined by the affair if you are not careful. I do understand feeling as if you need all of the details and you need to be able to speak your mind when the thoughts present themselves. However, if this goes on for too long, your spouse can begin to believe that no matter what he does or how hard he tries to make it right, there is never going to be any silver lining for him because he will never be able to escape this one mistake. And, it can be very hard to truly heal and to just enjoy one another once again when you never know when that more affair talk is going to be right around the corner.
You Should (And Can) Find A Balance That Makes Everyone Happy: As someone who has been through this myself, I understand that the idea of being censored or of not being able to ask questions or speak your mind likely seems completely unfair. And you would be right. No one is saying that you have to censor yourself on a continual basis. What I am suggested though is that you consciously try to limit it to one (or a few) set times that you both come to expect. That way, you will feel reassurance in knowing that you will be heard, addressed, and answered while your spouse also knows that he doesn’t have to tip toe around you because the affair talk could escape your lips at any time. So, he gets some relief and you get some reassurance that you are going to be heard.
Understand That The Affair Talk Should Remain Between The Two Of You: I have to say that I have come to agree with people who insist that the details of the affair remain between both of the spouses. I know that it is tempting to continuously confide in your friends or family, but if you constantly take part in this, you are limiting the relationship that your family will have with your spouse should you choose to reconcile down the road.
I can’t tell you how many people tell me that they wished they would have kept the affair to themselves. The reason for this is that often the people to whom you confide just will not or can not leave it in the past. Often, you find that you have healed and want to move on but your coworker will continuously bring you back to the affair in subtle but obvious ways. Or you’ll start getting the vibe that your mom will never trust your husband again. I understand that it feels good to confide in someone, but when you do, you have to understand that you are probably going to change their relationship with your spouse. And this could also affect (and hurt) you in the long run.
So I know from observation and experience that any talk about the affair should remain between the spouses or a counselor or neutral third party. Bringing friends and family into the mix is almost always a bad idea that will turn out to be damaging later. Not only that, but it can’t be undone. You can’t tell your friends or family to forget about what you’d said once you’ve already uttered those words.
So what happens if you’ve said too much and you regret it? Control what you can right now. Agree to find an acceptable middle ground with your spouse and limit the talk to the two of you at an agreeable time and frequency. Don’t get me wrong. It is your right to have your questions answered and your observations respected. But it also helps to limit the talk to something that is tolerable to both of you.