Thursday, May 15, 2008

Infidelity: How Much Do I Need to Disclose?

When someone has had an affair, or multiple affairs, the last thing that they want to do is to talk about it and to tell the stories, and yet, that is an important part of healing.

In the early stages of recovery from an affair, the only details that are important are the answers to who, what, when and where. Answers should be clear and specific about meetings, timetables, protected or unprotected sex, etc. The offending partner does not need to volunteer information at this point and the hurting partner should only ask questions that he or she truly wants answered.

Later in the process, and hopefully with the assistance of a competent and skilled couples’ therapist, a deeper understanding of the affair can be discovered. This process will answer questions about both the person who had the affair and the problems and feelings in the marriage before the affair.

Some of the questions about the affair involve the thinking of the person who had the affair such as: When did he/she recognize that there was a developing attraction or feeling for this other person? What was their thinking about this person and how this relationship would affect the marriage? How did they think that their spouse would feel about this friendship? Did this affair develop with a co-worker or someone that they would normally see on a regular basis? How did it move from a working relationship to something more? What were some of the experiences, thoughts and or feelings that happened in the affair that would be helpful to cultivate in the marriage?

Some of the questions to answer about the context of the marriage before the affair developed are: What was the status of connection (conversation and physical) in the relationship? How do you resolve, or not resolve, conflict? Do you have a healthy sex life? What are the conversations that you need to have, but do not, in your marriage? What are the guidelines that you have in your marriage about friendships with the opposite sex? What do you both need to do to stay connected to each other, talk about difficult problems and work through them, and to also recognize and acknowledge normal observations of others while maintaining a clear boundary around the marriage.

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