Our blogging friends Paula, NMWF1 and Userdand have been having an interesting conversation in the comment section of my post entitled “She doesn’t trust him anymore.” The last part of it deals with why betrayed spouses feel the need to know everything about their spouse’s affair. Paula wrote a good explanation from her experience. Here it is:
“Speaking for myself, I needed all the details not at all to prevent it from happening again, although wouldn’t that be great, lol! I needed ALL the details because this was a supposed friend of mine, of over 32 years then, we ALL spent a bit of time together, even just her and I – with or without our children – she came on our family holidays, parties, social events, and I felt this overwhelming need to write the TRUTH of our history, that those fifteen months were a huge lie. What I truly believed about my relationship (fidelity, trust, deep, deep love and honesty) was all a lie, and I needed to replace the lies with the truth. I needed to know the wheres, whys, hows, so I could work out how the hell they actually physically did this, as we were FRANTICALLY busy, and I couldn’t conceive how he found six hours driving time during the day – let alone the time it took to romance and/or screw her! I needed to know how he worked out WHERE to shag her. I needed to know if he thought they had a future at any point along the way, how close my children were to having a new stepmum (close at one point.) I needed to try to understand why I had NO IDEA about any of this, why I didn’t suspect, why I was seemingly so stupid, lol. I needed to know if they practiced safe sex. They didn’t. So I needed to get tested for STIs, etc. I had one. I couldn’t imagine why they didn’t, I am the child of a gay man who came out in the mid-80s, closely followed by the initial AIDS epidemic, and I have always been pedantic about safe sex, in the aftermath of realizing my mother, as well as my father, were at risk as their marriage fell apart. I had reiterated it millions of times, to him (in case of disaster, eg, drunken one night stand, affair, please don’t have an affair, but if you do, DO NOT bring a disease home to me!!) to our teens, to anyone who would listen. He just explained that didn’t that explain how selfish and “nuts” having an affair is? No excuses, just honesty about his state of mind. (I believe it was a type of mental breakdown, ABSOLUTELY no excuse, but kind of a type of “explanation” of sorts, but I also know he consciously CHOSE this course of action rather than talking to me, or a health professional, or a trusted friend….) I needed to eliminate some of the imaginings – that they were “in love,” that she was his “soulmate,” (gag) not me, that she was a superior lover, all of the insecurities and frankly wild imaginings by me! I needed to know if she was physically dangerous, if I needed to protect my children (she was! I did!) Of course he could lie further, but I believe he was committed to the truth, by then, especially now with the advantage of hindsight and time, and it has helped. Yes, some of the truths hurt a lot, but I wouldn’t change the fact that I know them, not for anything. This is part of him showing renewed commitment to me.”
My reasons were much the same, but I’d like to add to it here.
For me, searching and asking for details at the beginning was a part of making sense of my life again. Finding out my husband had been involved in an affair for six years with his first girlfriend blew my whole life apart. Nothing was certain. Everything was in question, from the day we met on through all the years.
Every person needs to feel their lives makes sense… they need a sense of self and a sense of place and belonging. Like most betrayed spouses, I didn’t feel like my life made sense at all. There was this huge part of MY life that I had known nothing about. My life as I knew it had all been a sham. I needed to make the pieces fit in order to find some sanity again. I turned into Sherlock Holmes. I left no stone unturned.
For example: There was a letter she wrote a few days before Christmas a few years ago. She apologized for calling him when he was with his family but she was missing him so much that she couldn’t wait until we went home. (He was working in another city and we had gone over to visit him.) He wrote back that we were getting ready to go out for lunch and everyone was in the room when he answered, but it was ok. No one asked anything.
When I read these two notes, it hit me that I remembered that day. We were getting ready to leave the house, and Daniel’s phone rang. He looked at his phone and quickly left the room. We assumed it was a business call and waited around for several minutes until he emerged, looking flustered. We were irritated at being kept waiting and brushed it off.
Her life with my husband and my life with him almost collided on that day. For the rest of that day, he was distant and irritable. We didn’t enjoy our time with him and as soon as lunch was over, we left him in a bookstore while the rest of us went shopping together. I thought he was worried about work. After I found out the letters, I realized he was actually upset that he couldn’t spend more time talking to her. I needed to re-write our history as I had known it. It was far different from reality and I needed to know the truth in order to figure out my life. It was heartbreaking but I needed to do it.
Not everyone needs to do this. I did. What are your thoughts on this?