Telling your partner that you know he or she had an affair is an extremely scary idea...
Here's how to prepare for the conversation and exactly what to say, so you can move on and heal together.
First things first....
I’m so sorry you are in this spot and need to confront your partner about his/her affair. You must be so hurt, overwhelmed, angry, and scared.
Please know that this is a normal reaction to a very traumatic situation.
You will not always feel the way you do right now.
You CAN heal from this, your relationship can recover, and you can feel love and trust again. It is going to take a while...but it is do-able.
So let’s focus on the first few steps and then we’ll get to the next mile....
First, it’s critical that you take care of yourself.
The right time to confront your partner is NOT seconds after you’ve concluded an affair is going on. I know you want to, I know it will be really hard NOT to confront this immediately, but please don’t.
How you handle the confrontation conversation is going to be very significant in determining how quickly you both heal from the affair. We want it to go well.
For the conversation to go well, you need to be as calm and peaceful as possible.
If you haven't already, please take a minute to read this post: How To Survive Infidelity - The First 24 Hours. This will help you take care of yourself and get into a calmer, more peaceful place so you'll be able to think about your next steps.
Once you feel calm and in control, I’d like you to plan out how you will tell your partner that you know they cheated.
As upset as you are, and rightly so, you cannot attack your partner in this conversation.
I bet you’ll want to and I completely understand that.... but if you do, you’ll push your partner away and drive them TOWARDS their affair partner. This is exactly what we don’t want!
You need to come across as calm, caring, sincere, genuine, and understanding.
Here's how to prepare for the conversation...
Step 1. Schedule a chat and make arrangements.
Ask your partner for an "appointment" as soon as possible.
Tell your partner that you have something important to discuss and you don't want to have any interruptions. You can have your meeting at home or you can go to a public place, just make sure there is privacy for your conversation.
If you choose to talk at home, make arrangements for your kids to be somewhere else, turn off TVs and devices. You want a calm, peaceful environment with no distractions.
Step 2. Prepare yourself and your evidence for the meeting.
Before you sit down with your partner, prepare yourself and your materials for the meeting.
This will be one of the most important conversations you ever have and I'd like you to be calm and collected. You can make notes about what you'd like to say.
I also suggest you prepare an evidence file that you can have nearby, if you need to use it during the meeting. Place only the most significant evidence in the file.... just a few things, not everything!
We want your partner to know that you really do know about the affair, but not feel overwhelmed or attacked. Plan to share the evidence file only if you must.
Step 3. Behave carefully during the conversation.
As hurt and upset as you are, it's important that you stay calm and respectful as you discuss the affair.
I know you don't want to do this, but... I want to position you as a strong, loving, compassionate partner who wants to make this relationship work.
If you come out with both guns blazing, you'll push your partner away and closer to their affair partner!
Your husband will think, "My wife is horrible! My girlfriend actually gets me and cares about me."
I know this doesn't seem fair, and it's not, but it's absolutely the right approach.
Try to avoid being angry, attacking, making judgments, calling names, or making threats. These actions make things worse.
Step 4. Tell your partner what you know.
Tell your partner that you care about him/her and that you are committed to making the relationship better.
Express sincere willingness to work through your problems, to make your partner feel more loved, and to increase the happiness in your marriage.
THEN... tell your partner you know about the affair. Keep it short and sweet, just reveal the facts.
Don't get into a debate. Take a firm stance: "I know that this is going on and I want you to end it."
Expect your partner to deny the affair; most people do. Respond with "I have very good reason to believe that this IS going on."
Provide the evidence file if absolutely necessary.
Step 5. Ask your partner to choose which path to go on.
Tell your partner that there are 3 ways for you to move forward..
Path 1 = he/she comes clean about the affair and agrees to end the affair immediately via writing a letter to the affair partner. Click here for a sample affair partner break up letter.
Path 2 = he/she wants to deny that an affair is going on, so you will need to share your information with 1-2 trusted friends and the other person's significant other so that you can bring the affair to end.
Path 3 = he/she refuses to end affair and agrees to move out of the house until the affair is over.
Here's a sample script for the "I know about your affair" conversation:
Feel free to personalize it in any way that makes sense to you. Just remember to avoid blaming, being nasty or judgmental.
You can read this script to your partner if you like, just ask that they sit and listen for the whole thing before saying anything.
If you prefer, you can write this out as a letter and leave it for your partner, then ask that they come talk to you when they’re ready to discuss it. If you choose to leave this for your partner to read, you'll need to attach 1-2 pieces of proof so that your partner knows you really know about the affair.
I’ve been thinking a lot about our relationship the last few days and I realized I have not been taking very good care of you lately. I have been very busy with _________________________. I have been completely focused on __________________ .
I have not made enough time for you or for date nights and I imagine you feel pretty neglected. I would bet you’ve felt unimportant, not a priority, and unloved. I feel terribly for not being there for you and not loving you the way you deserved.
I want to make things better between us and I am willing to do whatever it takes to improve our relationship.
I have heard you complain that __________________________. I have also heard you say that you wished I’d ____________________________________. I know you also crave _______________________________ .
I understand and I want to talk further about what I can do that will make these issues better for us.
I am willing to make all of these changes and more, but I cannot do that until you end your affair.
I recently discovered evidence that’s convinced me that you’ve become emotionally (and physically) intimate with _______________ and I want you to end that relationship so that we can have a chance to rebuild our relationship.
Learning about your affair has been the most painful experience of my life. Make no mistake, I am devastated, hurt, and broken. But I love you and I choose to believe that you acted out like this because you were hurting too.
I am sorry that you were hurting and that you were hurting so much that an affair seemed like the solution. I wish things had gone down a different path, but my love for you is stronger than this and I know we can recover if we work through it together.
I’d like to you take some time and think carefully about what you’d like to do.
The way I see it, there are three ways out of this situation...
Option A – You agree to permanently end your relationship and take steps to avoid any/all contact with ___________. You agree to work with me to create a plan to restore our relationship. (Please see the 11 Steps for Affair Recovery Guide)
Option B – You’re not sure you want to end the affair or you don’t believe it is an affair, in which case I’d like to discuss this matter with a couple of close, trusted friends to help us sort our way out of this and I’d also like to inform your affair partner’s partner, so that he/she can take steps to protect his/her relationship.
Option C – You don’t want to end the affair, in which case I will ask you to move out of our house and have no contact with me until you are willing to end the affair. We will need to figure out how to handle financial details, visits with the kids, and other shared responsibilities, but I would like to have as little contact with you as possible. It is too painful for me.
When you’ve made a decision about what you’d like to do, please let me know. This is your choice. I will not force you to do anything.
I love you very much. I have loved you for __________ years, ever since that moment when ________________. I love you for _________________, and your __________________, and your _______________________.
I want to be your best friend, someone who is always there for you, someone who makes you feel like the most important person in the world. I want those things for myself too. I know we can get through anything. I am certainly willing to try, I hope you will too.
Free Resources For You
Dr. K's Blog - Infidelity
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