Why ask for details?

sherlock holmes

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?


37 thoughts on “Why ask for details?

  1. DFB says:

    I still want all the details and I’m not even with him anymore! I need to make sense of it– that way I can understand it and hopefully feel like it’s not my inevitable fate in any relationship. Because, like you said, it still comes into collision with my current reality, even when I least expect it.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi DFB – I can relate to that. No matter who your partner is, you need to understand the past so you can live a better future. I just love reading about your new guy! He’s a keeper, for sure. Love & prayers – DJ

  2. FOr me, like many I needed to know everything to try to make some sense. But also, I didn’t want there to be any secrets between them. No intimacy. Nothing. I wanted it all exposed and in the daylight. His secrets and intimacy should be with ME, not them.

    • Not Over It says:

      You know, Sam, I think that is important for me, too. I just never really thought about it that way. I am still having difficulties dealing with the fact that, while he says he regrets the affair and all the pain it brought, he must have sweet memories of wonderful times with his first love, and the intimacies he shared with her and not me. I’m not sure how to approach that one now, after all this time. It’ll probably have to be done in counseling.

      Thank you, Sam! That helps me. Love & prayers to you – DJ

    • flacamama says:

      spot on! i’m on year at dday and this part is my biggest struggle with my CS. he thinks i want to punish or embarrass him. i told him no, its about not having a seperate life from me. his affair was an intrusion, invasion of our marriage, and that in our renewed married life she could no longer exist. she was his little secret. his little pleasure that he shared with no one. well if he wants that he can go back. otherwise the doors are open, the cobwebs cleared and light shines in. its hard. he thinks that i’ll never “get over it.” and maybe i wont. but its not his turn to decide that anymore. its mine. THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS POST!

      • Not Over It says:

        Nice to meet you, Flacamama! I’m glad you could relate to the things everyone has come together to share. You are so right that an affair is an intrusion and invasion into a marriage. It sounds like you are doing well in your recovery and know where you are headed. It makes me feel good to hear positive things like that, and I hope you continue to share here with us.

        Love & prayers,

  3. I too wanted all the details, the when, where, how often – everything. I think it is a sense of trying to piece together what had gone on, so I could put it into context of what was happening in our lives. But I realise it is a dangerous series of questions sometimes. I wish I hadn’t asked about some of the mechanics of the affair as once you have an answer you can’t unhear it. You can’t unknow stuff. I have realised some of the things I asked actually hurt me by knowing the answers – did I really need to know how she liked to have sex? No I didn’t. But that picture stays with me.

    • Not Over It says:

      HI SE – definitely the case with me, too. For me, it’s the details of how they felt about each other and how often they talked and met. The sex part was one thing about which I did not ask details. I thought it was an EA for several months. When I finally found the evidence in receipts of their hotel stays, I had already read a lot of books on infidelity and they all said to be careful with what you ask. So I thought about it for a few days and then decided not to ask those details about the actual sex acts they engaged in. He did say that she was not as open or as skillful as me, but I don’t know that I can believe anything he says about it.

      As others say here, though, sometimes the fantasies we create in our minds about the affair are worse than the reality. I think it’s hard either way. There is no easy way around the fact that our husbands replaced us in their romantic lives with and shared intimacies with someone else.

      Hope you are doing well, SE. Love & prayers, DJ

  4. Still Loving Him says:

    This must be the theme of the day!!! I also wrote a similar post. I also needed to know everything, even how she liked to have sex and how. Every last detail. With that said it has caused a lot of triggers sexually, especially in the beginning. But the truth of the matter is we had both been with other people before we got together and that never bothered me, I’m trying to look at the sex part of his affair much the same way. I know I’m his preference sexually, in life, in love otherwise he would not be with me.

    My husband and I had many conversations during our marriage about STD’s and how the worst thing you could do to your spouse was bring home a disease. My husband brought home 2 diseases. Thank God neither was HIV. I got a nice bacterial infection and HPV… Fun! What in the hell was he thinking? He wasn’t thinking at all, not about his own health not about my health not about our marriage.

    Just the fact that he risked his life for illicit sex demonstrates the sheer insanity and unreality he was living in.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi C – it’s a very important theme for all of us… I enjoyed reading your post. Very passionate and emotional… I also no longer ask details. Somehow you just know when that part of the healing is finished. But I still need to talk about it. Not about details, but about where we are now because of it and where we are going.

      I’m glad you are moving ahead in your healing. Sounds like a lot of us are.

      Love & prayers,

  5. I am sorry. This comment has become quite long and I think I may be rambling through it. This is such a good and common topic for discussion and it may be one of the places I feel the most differences between my situation (and other MLC situations) and infidelity without abandonment.

    “Finding out my husband had been involved in an affair for six years with his first girlfriend blew my whole life apart.”
    Yeah, I bet it did and I can only imagine. People think my story sounds awful because of the 3.5 years the affair lasted. I get it, my situation started with a Bomb Drop and ~2 weeks later Sweetheart announcing he was leaving to have the affair-so the 3.5 years in my situation was not hidden. When his affair became physical I was prepared—as much as one can be. By then I knew it would happen and the signs it had become physical—changes in how he acted towards me—were obvious.
    I didn’t discover an ongoing affair and then have to learn to deal with the situation. I think that discovering an affair that is already going on—for years or even only months—changes the sort of trust-betrayal and may have a more serious effect on the betrayed spouse’s trust in their judgment. I didn’t question reality and what I had thought was my marriage. I didn’t have to review times he had been with her and lied because they hadn’t happened yet.

    Sometimes I talk about the gap people in my situation experience between discovery and recovery. Often there is not yet a full affair—though sometimes it has already started. The MLCer leaves with the communicated intention of dating. Sweetheart’s affair had started emotionally, so his intention was not to find someone, but to take it to the next level. And they had worked together, so that’s how they had their time together.
    I still went through the not trusting and the being his jailer periods. But I think it was a lot different—and I was being his jailer because he was still having his affair after coming home. It was clear I should not trust him because he was taunting and testing me.

    We recovered. But that recovery was so different than what it seems to be for most of the blogs I follow—which are not MLC situations with a gap between discovery and recovery. That’s why I follow and read them. The recovery part is what still eludes me in my writing. Are the MLC situations like mine that get to reconciliation going to have a recovery like mine or more like most other affairs? In other words, was my situation unique even for the MLC part in how we recovered?

    Sweetheart did take his affair underground for a year and discovering that was a hit to my self-trust and judgment. But even then I knew we were not through the MLC; that year was still rocky and we’d dropped out of the counseling early on. Discovering the affair was not something that shocked me; devastating as that was, I was prepared and responded swiftly. That year did the most to harm my trust for him—even though there had been two years of the crisis before he was home for that year. But still, when I read the blogs it seems that how I felt was not as bad as you guys have felt and I wonder why. Honestly, I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me!

    I don’t want to choose one evil over another, but sometimes I wonder which scenario is easier for a betrayed spouse to handle—and likely neither, it depends on the individual. Is there more devastation knowing that one’s spouse has been leading a secret and double life, or by having that spouse leave to have another life—with another person? I would be willing to be that many of the people at my forum who are in the midst would rather be in your shoes—having a spouse who is working toward recovery even though that spouse may resist some and even many aspects of the process. But from my years later vantage I feel so relieved that I did not have to find out about a secret life which would have enabled me to doubt my judgment. And I’m even relieved that I was able to do so much of my learning about affairs and personal healing without the additional challenge of having to work on healing my marriage at the same time—with his resistance. Most of you are dealing with the shock and anxiety that comes with discovery and a guilty spouse who wants to recover but resists the process—since it brings forth the guilt—can stall personal recovery.

    I had time to rebuild trust in bits and pieces as Sweetheart was having his affair. Other than that one year he hid it, I felt little reason to question my trust of my own judgment and through the years of his affair I saw changes and improvements in his behavior even though he was having an affair. I trusted other parts of him—the parts that were not about fidelity—before he ended the affair for the final time. Maybe that helped. He returned to responsibility with finances and household chores and early in the crisis defended his action (or hid them) of putting me on the health insurance—he was living with the alienator and she told him that was not allowed.

    I think both you and Paula hit it: we need to feel that our lives make sense. And one of the big betrayals with infidelity is the betrayal of self; betrayed spouses lose trust in their own judgment. “How can I trust anyone and anything if I can’t tell if someone is being truthful to me?” I only had that briefly and since I had known we were not yet healed during that secret-affair time, I quickly pulled myself out of it. Sweetheart (and MLCers in general) had done the history rewriting at the beginning, but it was so absurd that I did not buy into what he was saying and so I was able to maintain trust of my judgment. I mean seriously, my having frizzy hair is not a reason for leaving me and the alienator and he having a shared dislike of steak does not make them soul mates! Oh, and he wanted a divorce in 1997—and yet we were not married until 1998. He was not being a smooth liar; he was just being absurd and believing his absurdities.

    I was not interested in the details of his affair. That’s another “why?” for me. I did want details in the beginning before the affair was physical —details about the alienator. But what I learned was simply reassuring—she was not a match for him. And later I think it’s because I just found her irrelevant and refused to give her any power. She was not someone I knew and so I did not have that added betrayal of a friendship.
    When he came home—for another failed return—after the affair was secret for a year, I did ask for some details. At that time or the year before I was trying some different recovery techniques and one was to set aside time for questions. Schedule the time and the length and reserve questions for that period. If I felt the urge outside of that time, ask first and only continue if he agreed. It was the secretiveness that enabled all of my questioning—how, why, what… But it still didn’t work—and as I said, that was a failed return. But those months after he’d been home for a year were perhaps my most vulnerable when I questioned my judgment—maybe even more than right after Bomb Drop.

    • Not Over It says:

      No need for apologies, RCR – your story is an amazing one, and you have done so much in coming to understand it from both sides. I appreciate you sharing it here.

      I think you didn’t need to know so many details because, for most of it, you were aware. You didn’t need to go back to understand what your life and marriage really were. It wasn’t newly discovered knowledge of something held secret from you that tore your life apart. When you did come to the point of learning that he had kept secrets, you did have questions. But the alienator and all she represented were still not new information. Interesting…

      My coach has said, and I believe, that pain is pain. It fills up whatever place it can, like smoke fills a container. It cannot be compared or dissected.

      I had a friend who found out that her husband had been keeping his smoking a secret from her for seven years. Shortly after my Dday, she came and shared this with me. She went to counseling and said she didn’t think she would ever be able to trust him or have a normal relationship with him ever again. She was devastated.

      From my perspective at the time, it seemed trivial compared to what I was going through. Smoking… really? But pain is pain. She also suffered a breach of trust and the unveiling of a secret that made her realize that her life was not what she thought it was. He made up elaborate stories and did much to cover his tracks. How could she ever learn to trust anything he said again? She and I suffered different kinds of betrayal and different levels of betrayal, but from where she sat, her pain was all-consuming. I understand that feeling, no matter what caused it. I hope he never has an affair, because I do believe that if pain is like smoke, there is smoke that will make you cough, and then there is smoke that will snuff the life out of you…

      The smoke caused by infidelity is always the snuff you out kind. We all suffer in our own way.

      Grace and peace to you, dear one,

  6. kayboo24 says:

    Like most of you I wanted every little detail I could get. There were many of the same reasons as above, but I also wanted to know because I couldn’t stomach the idea of them sharing some private memory of their time together. By having him tell me everything, then nothing remained between just the two of them. He told me she was really weird and always worried about smelling. She was always putting on deodorant. He told me about the last time they were together and how he couldn’t stay hard, so they couldn’t fuck, and she freaked out saying,” you don’t want me anymore…go home to your fucking wife.” Later I used that information to take jabs at her, it made her very aware that he shared everything about their affair and her with me. I love knowing that he never talked about me with her, and did not allow her to mention me at all, I was “off limits”. Once she tried to say something and he jumped all over her and she knew from that point on that even though his body was with her, I still held his heart and soul.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hey Kayboo – Good point. Like Sam and Exercisegrace – you took away the deliciously private moments and showed them for what they were in broad daylight. I love your story about the last time they were together… how I would love to throw something like that in my husband’s OW’s face. Unfortunately, they parted with sweet promises of loving one another forever, and hoped God would provide a way that they could come together in this life. If not, they would find each other in the next… I think I need a barf bag…

      Love & prayers,

  7. exercisegrace says:

    Looks like I am in the majority as well! I wanted to know every little detail, and as Samantha said above, I wanted to know for a very specific reason. I wanted there to no longer be secrets that only the two of them knew. Nothing shared in the dark. I had spent far too long “out of the loop”. too many decisions made by “them” that impacted both my and my childrens’ future. My imagination conjured images of them having the best sex ever, every day, really romantic stuff going on. Turns out that was not the case AT ALL. So for me, it was a relief to hear the details, and that it didn’t come close to my worst dreams. This turned out to my advantage when the AP showed her bunny boiler side and decided to keep harassing/stalking us. I told my husband that she can’t hurt me with what I already KNOW. I have told him repeatedly that having the WHOLE truth from even, even painful truth, is better than finding out things from the parasite. It’s like someone lobbing a grenade at you. Hers land with a dull thud instead of a bang. And it’s because I insisted on knowing the details. By doing so I have disarmed her.

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi EG – I like that – you have disarmed her. I think I’d like to throw a grenade back at mine. Just kidding.

      I am really going to do something about this. You and Sam and Kayboo have given me something that I must have heard before, but is only now coming through loud and clear. Take away the precious little secrets…

      Thank you! with love & prayers,

  8. Looking back I think in the beginning I wanted details so I could throw it back in his face. I wanted to hurt him like he hurt me. I wanted him to feel disgusted with himself.I wanted him to feel like a flippin pervert. I would ask if he did this or that disgustingly and then asked if he liked it better then I would spew at him and tell him what a f%$%^^ jerk he was.

    I would say crude horrible things that he had never heard come out of my mouth. That was the first 4 days. After that I left for three weeks and played mind movies in my head but never asked him for details. When I came back and decided to stay I would ask details but that time it was trying to understand how invested he was with her.And I wanted the truth because the mind movies were torturing me.I wanted to know the first time exactly how it happened.

    Then I wanted to know how many times, if they went anywhere together, when and how ( like when in our van was it oral or intercourse,) I wanted to put together a timeline and compare our life to it, what was real what wasn’t.

    Later I wanted to know because I didn’t want him to have “secrets” with her that I didn’t know. I am convinced some day in the future she and I will meet up. If she stays in Celebrate Recovery she’s gonna have to make amends. I don’t want any surprises. If they did anything that might surprise me I don’t want to be caught off guard.

    Now when I ask for details it’s to understand why she was worth throwing everything away for even tho he didn’t think he would get caught.There is always an element of getting caught. I don’t want the sexual details. I did want and still do know how she talked to him that turned him on so that his mind became jello. He doesn’t want to share that with me and as far as why she was worth it, he has yet to give me a well thought heart felt reason. I hope some day as we continue to heal he will have given it serious thought and contemplation and be able to share that with me. I also think it’s vital for his recovery and helping other men. He finished his Study online with setting the captives free and they want him to help other men.

    Our counselor says that asking for so many dangers can become pornographic to us. I agree. The only difference from watching porn and our mind movies are the characters involved. Because I believe pornography is sinful and hurts people (especially those who are involved as victims in sex trafficking, rapes, murder because of it.) Knowing anymore details and playing movies could be harmful to my spirituality, so now when a thought tries to come I just shut it down. I really haven’t had very many thoughts for about three months now. It’s different for all of us isn’t it? Blessings!

    • that should have been asking so many sexual questions……….

    • Not Over It says:

      Hi HE – same here. I also wanted to hurt my husband in the beginning. I also do not dwell on the sex. I turned away from God for a long time, but I am now filling my soul with His teachings, and He helps me not to dwell there.

      We are all different and yet very much the same. The difference for me today is God. I would still be a tormented mess if not for Him.

      Love & prayers,

  9. Teresa says:

    I asked for all the details because I could NOT believe that MY H was willing to throw away 25 yrs of marriage for a nobody!! His excuse of “Just conversation” has almost destroyed everything we worked so hard to achieve!
    He AND the cow had all the pieces of the puzzle, and I only had a few, and as HIS wife I felt I should know as much as the two of them! No more secrets!
    I still don’t feel I have all the answers, he can’t “remember” everything….and that is something I have to live with….I don’t like it, but we have bigger issues at this point, like his being Passive Aggresive, and still not opening up to me!!
    Counseling this Tuesday…can’t wait to get started!!

  10. Teresa says:

    I came across this a while ago….for me, IT says it all!

    I came across this letter online which beautifully explains why we keep asking questions about the affair, I read it to my husband he just didn’t ‘get it’ or perhaps fear still will not allow him to help me heal. But I hope that for you it may prove to be a tool which will open them up to you…Blessings to all who are feeling this pain.

    “To Whomever,

    “I know you are feeling the pain of guilt and confusion. I understand that you wish all this never happened and that you wish it would just go away. I can even believe that you truly love me and that your actions hurts you emotionally much the same way it hurts me. I understand your fear of me discovering little by little, everything that led up to your affair, everything that happened, and everything that happened afterwards. I understand. No one wants to have a mistake thrown in his or her face repeatedly. No one wants to be forced to “look” at the thing that caused all their pain over and over again. I can actually see that, through your eyes, you are viewing this whole thing as something that just needs to go away, something that is over, that he/she doesn’t mean anything to you, so why is it such a big issue?
    I can understand you wondering why I torture myself with this continuously, and thinking, doesn’t he/she know by now that I love him/her? I can see how you can feel this way and how frustrating it must be. But for the remainder of this letter I’m going to ask you to view my reality through my eyes.

    “You were there. There is no detail left out from your point of view. Like a puzzle, you have all the pieces and you are able to put them together and be able to understand the whole picture, the whole message, or the whole meaning. You know exactly what that picture is and what it means to you and if it can effect your life and whether or not it continues to stir your feelings. You have the pieces, the tools, and the knowledge. You can move through your life with 100% of the picture you compiled. If you have any doubts, then at least you’re carrying all the information in your mind and you can use it to get answers to your doubts or question. You carry all the “STUFF” to figure out OUR reality. There isn’t really any information, or pieces to the puzzle that you don’t have.

    Now let’s enter my reality.

    Let’s both agree that this affects our lives equally. The outcome no matter what it is will affect us both. Our future and our present circumstances are every bit as important to me as it is to you. So, why then is it okay for me to be left in the dark? Do I not deserve to know as much about the thing that nearly destroyed our relationship as you do? Just like you, I am also able to get the meaning of words spoken and things you did, and just like you, I deserve to be given the opportunity to understand what nearly brought our relationship down.
    To think that I can move forward and accept everything at face value is unrealistic and unless we stop thinking unrealistically I doubt our lives will ever “feel” complete.

    You have given me a puzzle. It is a 1000 piece puzzle and 400 random pieces are missing. You expect me to assemble the puzzle without the benefit of looking at the picture on the box. You expect me to be able to see what I am looking at and to see it in the same way as you. You want me to be as comfortable with what I see in the picture as you are. When I ask if there was a tree in such and such area of the picture you tell me don’t worry about it, it’s not important.
    When I ask whether there were any animals in my puzzle you say I can’t remember, it’s not important. When I ask if there was a lake in that big empty spot in my puzzle you say, what’s the difference, it’s not important. Then later when I’m expected to “understand” the picture in my puzzle you fail to understand my lost feeling and confusion. You expect me to feel the same way about the picture as you do but deny me the same view as you.

    When I tell you about this problem you feel you have to tell me off for not understanding it, for not seeing it the way you see it. You wonder why I just can’t accept whatever you chose to describe to me about the picture and then be able to feel the same way you feel about it.

    “So, you want me to be okay with everything. You think you deserve to know and I deserve to wonder. You may honestly feel that the whole picture, everything that happened is insignificant because in your heart you know it was a mistake and wish it never happened. But how can I know that? Faith? Because you told me so? Would you have faith if the tables were turned? Don’t you understand that I want to believe you completely? But how can I? I can never know what is truly in your mind and heart. I can only observe you actions, and what information I have acquired and slowly, over time rebuild my faith in your feelings. I truly wish it were easier.

    “So, there it is, as best as I can put it. That is why I ask questions. That is where my need to know is derived from. And that is why it is unfair for you to think that we can effectively move forward and unfair for you to accuse me of dwelling on the past. My need to know stems from my desire to hold our world together. It doesn’t come from jealousy, it doesn’t come from spitefulness, and it doesn’t come from a desire to make you suffer. It comes from the fact that I love you. Why else would I put myself through this? Wouldn’t it be easier for me to walk away? Wouldn’t it be easier to consider our relationship a bad mistake in my life and to move on to better horizons? Of course it would, but I can’t and the reason I can’t is because I love you and that reason in itself makes all the difference in the world.”

    • Thank you.
      I love this. It helps me understand why I don’t feel such a need to know. I’ve never felt I didn’t know. I did not feel there were missing pieces in my world view. It was Sweetheart’s world that was so fragmented and because of that the alienator was able to ooze into the broken cracks. They did not share a secret life and world, that world seemed transparent.

    • Paula says:

      Teresa, I think I saw that a long time ago, but thank you SO MUCH for pointing it out again, it is even more poignant now, with more time, more healing behind us. DJ, I wrote that comment, quite off the cuff, in response to our friend, userdand, when I realised he didn’t understand that I wasn’t deliberately trying to self harm OR hit my love over the head with his mistakes daily. The points that you, and others have made here are so relevant, too. I remember saying to my love, in the first week post Dday, you will need to answer every question I have, even sexual ones, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you feel, because I need to try to make sense of this, repaint the picture I had of who we were (find the missing pieces! )as I thought we had it all, we loved each other, we had great family, a relatively “comfortable” life, and I just adored him, to pieces. I recall an early counsellor explaining to my love that he had 16 months to come to terms with what he had done/was doing – he worked his way through his confusion, and made the decision that it was me he wanted, but I was COMPLETELY in the dark that there was even a “competition” on, or that there was anything wrong! I was playing catch up the whole time. I was still as besotted with him as I had been more than two decades earlier. I was very concerned that she was somehow “superior” in bed, as she is well practised (mid 40s, never been in a relationship that has lasted more than six months, has a child – I have never slept with anyone else, I was SURE she must have gleaned some “skills” that I had somehow missed along the way) and I wanted to know what it was she did to turn him on so much (he says to this day that if there was some little technique, or cutesy thing, he would tell me, as it would be to his advantage, as well!) He has shared NOTHING that she had/did/said that did it for him in that way, he says there was nothing, she was cold and clinical. Who knows what the truth is, but I accept what he says now. I told him that I would consider every question, I knew many of the answers would sting like crazy. He was very good, obviously very uncomfortable, but because we initially had one of those infamous honeymoon periods post affair, it made it easier for him to be honest, even if he was squirming in his seat as he answered. I still got some, “I can’t remembers,” or, “I don’t knows,” including when and where their sexual “debut” was, I eventually got that out of him, I think he had actually forgotten/blanked it out (it was in our holiday home, with all of our children and hers, there, I had allowed them to go there overnight, I was joining them the following day – THAT is how confident I was about our love, and my friendship with her, but more about how he felt about her – the multiple cheating ex-girlfriend!) but mostly he was very honest, I remember VERY early on, he even volunteered a sexual tidbit about a “thing” they did once, something he did for her, which caught me offguard a little, but I wasn’t angry or overly upset, after all, I had imagined even worse!!! I had to rewrite our history to include his unspoken dissatisfaction. We still made beautiful love almost every day, we talked (or so I thought – talk is obviously not communication!) we laughed, I thought we were still madly in love. I needed to also wrest that power “she” had over our love, by dissecting it, piece by piece, so that THEY could have no “secrets” – even if it hurt, I needed to know what was said, what was discussed, what plans were really made (she was telling me they were planning marriage) etc, just as others have stated here.

    • Junebug says:

      Excellent and spot on.

      • Junebug says:

        Well, that reply entered weird. Anyway, I need to know and I don’t know that I ever will have all of the puzzle pieces. Part of my history is being ‘held hostage’ so to speak by someone else and there are days I could spit nails I am so angry about it all.

      • Not Over It says:

        Hi Junebug – I don’t think any us ever gets all the puzzle pieces. Problem with that is that our minds generally create a far worse picture than it acually was.

        I still have anger, too. I don’t know if that will ever really and completely go away. We would never have anything to do with anyone else who betrayed us and deceived us in that way, and yet we strive to rebuild a loving and trusting relationship with our cheating spouse again. Sometimes I am still amazed at that.

        Hope you are well.

        Love & prayers,

    • Not Over It says:

      I remember the article from Teresa, too. Doug posted it on Emotional Affair Journey a long time ago. I had almost forgotten about it. Thank you, Teresa, for sharing it again!

      Love & prayers,

  11. nmwf1 says:

    Hi all, I still don’t have the answers I seek, and the mind games take me over the edge pretty often, My husbands response to uncomfortable questions is I don’t remember or I don’t know all I know is I love you with all my heart. You are my whole world, etc,,,,, Last week I had a re-trigger that I had, not long after D Day.
    I was feeling blue one after noon last week and I had remembered back to a conversation (during the EA time) that we had on the phone when he was driving home after work, I remembering him telling me, in sort of an irritated voice, I recall, and I quote: Do you realize you ask me the same things everyday! (of course he named a few of those things), FLASH FORWARD, I kept running that over in my head one day last week until he called me right after work, I tried to make conversation, but was chocked up,because I realized that we still talk about trivial things, because lets face it, unless a big event happens, that is what you do. We were talking about nothing really, all of a sudden I couldn’t take it anymore, I demanded to know what the hell him and her talked about everyday on the way home from work, (he would call me for a few minutes and then camp on the phone with her) I cried uncontrollably , I reminded him of what he had told me back then, I told him how could he have had so much to talk about with her, because I know they didn’t just have idle chat, he said to me, I hate what i did to my beautiful wife, i hate that I destroyed you, I love you with all my heart, you are my whole world.(he always avoids what I ask by telling me those things) I told him that I do feel his deep love for me, and that I love him with all my heart, however it doesn’t change what happened and I want answers, I told him that a year and a half has gone by and some days I feel like it happened yesterday. I told him that there are days when I wake up fine, and other days I wake up and feel anxiety, to the point, it almost feels debilitating or paralyzing, it can literally shut me down for a few hours until I find the strength to pull myself out of the frame of mind I’m in. I told him I wanted to know what him and her talked about, I want to know what joy he had gotten out of their private conversations, I told him I wanted to know what she meant to him and how he could risk our marriage. I said to him, I do feel your deep love for me, but your love for me didn’t stop you from having an affair with someone else, and I love you so deep it hurts, but my love wasn’t enough to keep you from having an affair with someone else either, I told him that is what hurts so much. . I don’t believe him when he tells me that he can’t remember when I ask him questions. One nite in one of my emotional melt downs, I was screaming at him about giving me answers , and I remember him telling me that he just didn’t want to hurt me anymore than he already has, To me that ment that he is still hiding secrets from me. I want to know the whole truth, I mean really, Its not like I don’t imagine things anyway. Either way the pain is just as strong. I would rather know everything. I too don’t want to feel like him and her have secrets together at my expence. I really have much more to say on this subject but I am exausted right now. nite all.

    • Not Over It says:

      Very good response from Paula, NM. You have to be careful about what you ask because it can never be unsaid if he does answer. Don’t ask in the heat of the moment. You will likely say and ask hurtful things that may not be necessary. Think it over for a day and then decide if you really need that answer.

      What I hear in your words is a need to know the level of intimacy they shared, and that is truly necessary knowledge for your healing. But how much does he need to say for you to know it? Has he ever answered any of your questions about it?

      He likely said many things to her when he was all caught up in the heat of the moment that he would love to take back now. You will never know it all. It is usually much worse than they will ever admit. Affair partners feed off each other.

      I also asked my husband many times how he could talk to her for hours and yet not be able to say 1 minutes’ worth to me. He never could answer, except to say that he didn’t live with her so he didn’t need to come to any decisions with her. There was never a need to disagree or to go over options for payments on dental work or how long his mother should spend with us on our third honeymoon trip (yes, she did that.) If there was even a hint that they would disagree on something, they simply changed the subject. It was always mutual gratification of their ego needs. That never gets old or tiring for most people. We love being validated and made to feel special.

      Have you talked to your counselor about the need to know their level of intimacy? If she is worth anything, she will understand the importance of that question.

      Take care, NM. Love & prayers –

      • exercisegrace says:

        NM and DJ, I can so relate. We are fast approaching the one year anti-versary of D day, and I am triggering all over the place. At the same time, I want so very much to start putting this in the background of our lives. I DO NOT want to think about it, have some level of discussion about it every day. I have been working on a letter to my husband. Trying to figure out what it is that I still need. What exactly is feeding my triggers, and my insecurity. NM, you pretty much nailed it when you said you asked him what she meant to him. It is that, almost exactly for me. I know most of the details, of what they did and where. About how long it lasted, etc. I have never read any of their correspondence, and he claims to not remember any specific things he wrote to her (affair ended two years ago). And that is not really what I am asking for anyway. I really don’t WANT to read any of that even if he hadn’t deleted it all. I am asking for the difference between the relationships. What she meant to him, when he swears over and over he “never stopped loving me”. Well then where was that love when he was having sex with her? It doesn’t mean much to me when he says it was “awkward” and “mechanical”, that it “never felt right” and he had…ahem…”issues” that he never had with me. I know or thought I knew what it meant when he and I said “I love you” to each other. It meant commitment and forever. It meant exclusive rights. So what did it mean when he said that to her? Tantrum warning……………….I DON”T CARE that he says he knows NOW that he didn’t really love her. That he didn’t really mean it!!!!! He said it to another woman!!

        Whew. Sorry guys! Thanks for listening!

      • Not Over It says:

        HI EG – that has been my sticking point, too. What she meant to him, what level of intimacy they had… that was the point of my post called “Knowing Too Much and Yet Not Enough.”


        I know all the details that I know I’ll ever get, but what I need to know is what is in his heart. What did she mean to him, what does she mean to him, does he still love her? Their parting letters were so full of love and passion. It fills me with doubt when he tells me it was all a colossal mistake and that he loves only me. How the hell… I don’t believe him.

        And around I go again…

        Not going to dwell on it today… I’m pushing through the triggers. Haha. I’m going to Chinatown for the Chinese New Year celebrations. Have a great weekend!

        Love & prayers,

  12. Paula says:

    nm, we all feel your pain. I still have that pain, three years and eight months out from Dday, just as intense, just as raw and sore. Can you hear what he is telling you, though? He doesn’t want to tell you, because he is scared that when he was that horrible man, that awful creep (and he can’t be now, or you would have left) he said terribly tender and soft and loving, or sexy, insert whatever you like here, to her, and he doesn’t want you to hear any of it, because it will rip and tear at your heart even further – yeah, and you thought that wasn’t possible, right? And it can’t be unsaid, or undone. If you REALLY (and think VERY carefully, because it cannot be unheard) want to know, explain it all very clearly to him. That is what I did. I can’t be there, I can’t hear the tones, the inflections, or know the absolute truth, I can only hear what he tells me happened, or did not happen. I needed to know. BUT, it is hard, you cannot unhear any of it, and it is very hard to not bash your husband with any of it in the future!! And you can’t if you ask, and expect a truthful answer!! I love my boy still very deeply, and I also feel his love for me, and it is brain boggling to try to understand how they could do this – it is forever, we cannot recover what we used to have (and my God, I want that, but know I can’t have it!!) I have always known that about affairs, we talked ad nauseum about that for decades, but did it stop him? NO. Can’t change it, gotta learn to live with it eventually, or kick him out. That simple. Sorry I can’t wave my magic wand and take it all away, but short of lobotomy, this is it 😦 It’s not easy.

    • exercisegrace says:

      Paula, what a great reply. You spoke so much to my heart here. There is no “right” answer. No words of explanation that make it “ok”. And I know that. But I think my heart does not. My husband and I have been together thirty years. We were each others’ one and only. He has destroyed something precious and sacred, and it can never, NEVER be regained. He says he feels the same loss I do, that the loss of that hurts him deeply. I want to scream in his face when he says that! Why oh why then did he give that away so cheaply? To such a bunny boiler who is to this day! trying to attack me, simply for being his wife and having what she somehow thought should be hers?

      Am I asking the wrong question of him? Do i need to somehow just assume that I mean more? I hear his words, but they are now just “words”. He never stopped saying he loved me during his affair, and now all his words of reassurance fall very flat to me. They just sound like words.

      • Not Over It says:

        If he keeps his word to you to be transparent and faithful, and keeps saying those reassuring things, you will slowly heal. One year out from Dday is not that long, my dear friend. At two years, I am more accepting of his reassurances, though I still don’t believe some of things he says. Paula sees things clearly and speaks directly, but she’s over three years out. It will come, EG.

        Praying for you,

  13. nmwf1 says:

    Here it is Sunday morning, my husband just left to go back to his job site (he will be back Thursday nite) , he had to leave a little early this trip because him and a couple of the guys have to take back some heavy equipment with them. First of all I value everyone’s opinions here, and I read all of them, but sometimes they too give me triggers. Anyway, when my husband came home this past Thursday nite, I was very happy to see him, and he was happy to be home, we had a very nice couple of days, until I woke up yesterday morning feeling that dreaded pit of anxiety, I shrugged it off the best I could, but I could not seem to shake it all day, I pretended to be happy all day, but inside I was miserable, because I want all of our days together to be happy but without closer that elephant is always weighing on my shoulders. So last night I told him that I wanted to talk about things again, without a meltdown, I wanted to have a normal conversation about things that were bothering me, as always he is willing to listen (with dread in his face I might add) but i told him that this thing, never seems to go away for me, I told him, that I feel his deep love for me, and that I love him the same, (his eyes teared) I told him that I hold such anger, jealousy and resentment for what him and her did, and that I really don’t know how long it will take for me to come to terms with it and be able to just let it go. I said that unanswered questions hold me hostage because i think I deserve to know the whole truth. I told him I couldn’t understand how he could look me in the eye back then with such deceit and betrayal and never waver. I wanted to know how he could have her on hold on another line on his phone while I was telling him I love him, then get back on the phone with her and pick up where they left off with out a hitch. His F****ing answer to everything is (sill) I don’t know. I asked him who initiated the phone sex, he said he didn’t know, I asked him who started talking intimate first, he said he didn’t know, I asked him, did you ask her to send you pictures of her crotch or did she just out of the blue start sending pictures, he said he didn’t know,I don’t remember. Of course my anger started flaring because I was trying to talk about things instead of scream, an of course he refuses to give me answers, no matter what I ask, I told him then if you don’t fucking know than who does. I told him maybe i will call her again and get the answers from her, I told him that i got more answers out of her in the few minutes that I talked to her last summer than I have gotten from him since I found out. (other than the ones he had no choice but to give me because of evidence) . I told him that I want him to go to counseling with me, and he agreed that he would. I told him that this was not about punishing him, its about me healing, He said that he is destroyed inside because of what he did to me, and that he regrets what he did. I said to him : I feel your pain and I know how much you regret everything, but my pain is different, for months you were enjoying yourself with your (little Cu*t) having intimate conversations with each other, phone sex and picture mail and talking to each other for hours on end, texting little things to each other. and reminiscing about old times and what ever else. I told him you brought someone else into our marriage that didn’t belong, I told him that the fact that she was an ex from years ago leaves me wondering if I was his second choice. i said I would never want him to ever feel like he was my second choice , but that is exactly how I feel. He tried to tell me, you were always the one for me and always will be, i said oh really, you expect me to believe that at this point. Kind of a little late to try to convince me don’t you think. I told him brought someone from the past back into your life that should have stayed in the past, I told him that he was not naive, he had to have known it was not a good idea to contact an ex girlfriend under any circumstances , he said he wasn’t thinking that way, I told him no the only thing you weren’t thinking at that time is about me and how I would feel. I said one phone call and the sparks flew and he was sucked in, I told him from that moment on you were having the time of your life at my expense until you got caught. And now I have a deep agonizing pain, just knowing that another woman was the one on your mind and in your heart for months and it wasn’t me. I just wasn’t a factor at that time. I told him it make me sick and I don’t know if i will ever get over it. Much more was said, but i am going to set up a counseling session with my counselor for the both of us. Sometimes I feel so defeated that another woman was able to hold my husbands attention away from me. I feel a little lost today! take care….

  14. Paula says:

    nm, and EG. Boy, my heart is breaking for the pair of you, for all of us. It is a hell we never thought existed on earth. That sounds so trite, you think of the physical despair so many suffer worldwide, and wonder why we are so struck down by this. But, we are. The “I don’t knows” are probably the truth, nm. He doesn’t know. He doesn’t have the self awareness required yet, to answer you. If your counsellor is good, they should be able to help him understand his whys, and give you an answer (of sorts) to the whys. I have most of those now, it helps, but it doesn’t, because nothing takes any of this away. Ever. That is the hard truth, that just drives me insane. It will never “go away” I have worked my butt off to get this far (recall two -embarrassing now – suicide attempts and three separations!!) but I will never be the whole person I thought I was ever again. My heart aches, my body aches with the heartbreak. It seems unbelievable that a loving, sane person could do this to another loving, sane person – but even more so if it was the person they love – or even once loved! Like you said, EG, my head knows so much, but my heart is still, forever, shattered. I too had the “I love you so much”‘s during the 15 months he was fucking my friend and contracting chlamydia and HPV, which now has me on six monthly checkups/colposcopies, despite me having absolutely no form of cancer in any of my family history (I am so blessed in this, I know.) Defies belief. I also know it is possible to love more than one person at a time, he has told me that, but I already knew that (although he says he never loved her, and never told her those words – whatever) but what is unbelievable is that you are not treating one of those people like you love them – she had full knowledge of me, I had none whatsoever of her, or rather what her “relationship” was to him, I truly believed they were “just friends,” after all, he talked about her to me often – that is not love, that is lying, cheating and surrendering one of those people “you love so much” to the other’s mercy – she enjoyed their fun, dirty little secret, it gave her a power rush, a feeling of superiority over “stupid, trusting, invite-me-to-your-most intimate-soirees-and-holidays Paula.” I accept all of this, but I am not healed in the way I hoped I would be. I am in the process of trying to stop posting/reading blogs, as it has become its own addiction – my only outlet for my pain for a couple of years now – but here I am, just a few days later. Who knows if I will ever “move on.” Just know that all you feel is normal, and we do understand, despite my “hard” advice(?)/comments, I do feel very deeply for you xx.

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