Suspecting your spouse of infidelity is one of the worst sensations in the world. Marriage is supposed to be a lifelong commitment between two people, the sanctity of which should never be violated. Unfortunately, some people are incapable of monogamy despite their best efforts, and they will step outside their marriage for a fling or indulge in another romance. The discovery that your spouse is attracted to or actively sleeping with another person is devastating.
Apart from being a betrayal, it is a sign that your spouse's love and dedication for you are not as strong as they led you to believe. The biggest issue with infidelity is the uncertainty that comes with the situation. Many unfaithful spouses are sneaky enough to hide their infidelity and make it difficult to determine whether there is anything to your suspicions.
In addition to knowing that you cannot trust the person you planned to spend your life with, you will be left with countless questions running through your head. While you might be tempted to ask every question that comes to mind when you uncover your spouse's infidelity, some should take priority.
The first question you should ask is simultaneously the most important.
An unfaithful spouse has already demonstrated the worst dishonesty one can experience in a marriage. Asking whether your spouse will answer your subsequent questions honestly is an important step since continued deception will cement the end of the marriage. Understand that asking if they can answer you honestly is not a guarantee that your spouse will answer truthfully but giving them that chance is more likely to convince them to be honest.
Asking this question can help set the tone for the conversation and is best asked before confronting your spouse with the truth of their infidelity. If they refuse to answer honestly or try to lie, the information you have gathered will help you catch them and determine if you can trust them again.
This question is only viable if your spouse is unaware that you know they are cheating on you.
It relates to the previous question by allowing your spouse to come clean about their infidelity and regain a small measure of your confidence.
This question is second-most important in the conversation as it will give you the baseline of how honest your spouse will be about their affair. If they constantly change their story when confronted with new evidence, it is clear that you can no longer trust them. If your spouse willingly admits to the affair after the initial inquiry, there might be a chance for a healthy conversation.
One of the most difficult questions you can pose is why your spouse chose to get involved with their extramarital partner. This question is designed to help you understand why your spouse felt the need to seek intimacy with someone other than you. As hard as it might be to hear, sometimes people cheat because they feel their needs are not being met. This does not justify infidelity but can help you identify where your relationship might have been compromised.
Your spouse might feel that your sex life is dead, or they were receiving emotional validation from their lover that they felt they were not getting with you. The betrayal remains the same regardless of what drove them to get involved with this other person. Unfortunately, understanding why your spouse felt the need for an affair is not enough to produce the closure you need.
When people do something wrong, they often devise justifications to help themselves feel better about it because they know it was the wrong decision. Unfortunately, the justifications we make for ourselves become more believable the more we repeat them to ourselves. A spouse who has an affair is no exception, as they will find a way to reconcile their betrayal of their spouse with their decision to be unfaithful.
One of the most common justifications people use for having an affair is the belief that their spouse is already cheating on them. Even when there is no basis for the belief, they might convince themselves that since you are cheating on them, it is only fair that they get to cheat on you. While this logic is flawed, it is an example of the mental gymnastics some people employ to justify their behavior. Ascertaining this justification relates to the next question you will feel compelled to ask.
The question burning in people's hearts after learning their spouse had an affair is whether their spouse engaged in an extramarital affair strictly for sex or because they have fallen in love with someone else. While this question seems impulsive, it is important to ask it so you understand your spouse's actions completely. The answer might be painful since your spouse might answer affirmatively and express a desire to divorce you to be with their new lover.
However, it is equally possible that your spouse will express remorse and state it was an impulsive mistake. The previous questions to gauge their honesty can help you determine their genuine feelings about their new partner. Regardless of your spouse's response, you can determine whether there is hope for your marriage after this infraction.
Another major question is about the duration of the affair. When someone cheats on their spouse, the length of the liaison can vary depending on various factors. Some extramarital encounters are one-night events that your spouse immediately regrets. Conversely, others are lengthy situations where your spouse is invested in preserving the relationship with their partner. Generally, extramarital affairs last an average of 6 to 24 months, with at least 50% lasting up to a year.
The affairs that last longer than a few months are harder to hide since that level of commitment is difficult to hide from a spouse. Nevertheless, your spouse might have successfully hidden the affair for that long and made it difficult to determine how long it has existed. Asking your spouse how long the affair has lasted helps you reinforce their emotional investment in it and whether he genuinely regrets it.
After a while, you will have to ask more unpleasant questions about your spouse's affair. While you do not need the explicit details of your spouse's extramarital encounters, there is one question you must ask. If your spouse failed to use protection (i.e., condoms, birth control, etc.), then they have introduced one of several risks to you or introduced a life-altering variable. Unprotected sexual intercourse increases the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI), especially since your spouse now has 2 partners.
Alternatively, a spouse who fails to use protection risks impregnating their lover or becoming pregnant with their child. The former presents a danger to your health and ability to have safe sexual relationships, while the latter introduces a child that is not yours and was born from your spouse's infidelity. Determining whether your spouse used protection can be reassuring since the risk of STI and pregnancy are diminished, though you should still get tested since condoms are only 98% successful.
Probably the question you are most interested in is determining whether your spouse has ended the affair or if it is ongoing. The question "is it over" or "was it a one-time thing" are 2 of the most common questions people ask their spouses when infidelity is uncovered. It is understandable since confirmation that the affair is over provides hope that you can still save your marriage. This question helps determine whether your spouse recommits to the marriage or commits themselves to their extramarital partners.
Whether the affair is over should always wait until the previous questions have been answered, so you have a better chance of getting an honest response. It also prevents false hope when one or more of the previous questions yields an unacceptable answer. From there, the questions become about assessing your spouse's stance on the situation and how dedicated they are to fixing their mistake.
This question might seem trite, but it plays a significant role in determining whether your spouse genuinely wants to make amends. Their infidelity hurt you in ways they might not have understood before, but this question helps put things in perspective. Asking them if they feel they deserve forgiveness forces your spouse to consider the gravity of their infraction and introspect about how deeply they might have hurt you.
If your spouse instantly answers that they feel they deserve forgiveness, their remorse is likely disingenuous. However, if they hesitate before answering or initially claim they do not deserve forgiveness, their remorse is likely genuine. Either way, this will force them to consider how they plan to make amends and try to save their marriage.
Hiding an extramarital affair is a big deal, and it shatters the foundation of any relationship, but people who can hide something like that might have other secrets. These secrets might relate to the affair or be completely separate. For example, a man having an affair with another woman usually requires him to court her in the same way he would have courted his wife. This means expensive dates or gifts that might have eaten into your shared savings that your spouse covered up to hide his secret.
Alternatively, perhaps your spouse is hiding an addiction to gambling or alcohol that you two never discussed before. Even small secrets are important, like lying about how they spend their evenings when you are not with them. Even the smallest secrets left between you can destroy your marriage, similar to how an affair would. This question should cause your spouse to divulge these hidden facts to rebuild faith.
The odds of saving a marriage after an affair can be depressingly low, but it is possible with help, which is why your final question should be about seeking professional counseling. If your spouse is willing to attend marriage counseling, there might be hope for salvaging your marriage and restoring your relationship. If they refuse, it is essentially a confirmation that they are unwilling to work on the problems that led to the affair.
Counseling is not always successful, but putting in the effort improves the chances of overcoming the affair and returning to a somewhat stable relationship. While counseling might not save your relationship, your spouse being willing to attend counseling can make all the difference and improve the odds considerably.
Infidelity is one of the worst betrayals a spouse can commit against the person they married. Unfortunately, it is more common than most people would like, and it usually ends the marriage when the affair is discovered. In some cases, the couple can work through the affair and rebuild their marriage through a long journey designed to restore intimacy and rebuild trust. The odds are not great, but the potential is there.
Divorce becomes the next step for most couples if the marriage cannot be saved. The only silver lining about this situation is that infidelity usually sways the divorce process in favor of the spouse who was cheated on regarding asset division and child custody. We realize that is cold comfort, but hopefully, it provides some solace.
We all hope never to experience divorce, but 50% of all marriages yield the same result. When divorce is imminent, it can be a stressful experience due to the complexity of the process and the emotionally turbulent scenarios you might encounter. Information is the best weapon against these scenarios; the more you know, the less likely it will blindside you.