"My husband discovered my affair 2 weeks ago and we've been talking about it every day since. I think things are getting better, but he keeps asking harder and harder questions.
He really wants to know sexual details. What questions should I answer about my affair? Should I answer anything he asks?"
- Shannon, Washington DC
Hi Shannon. Great question. Encourage your spouse to sit down and write out as many questions as he has for you. Some people want to know every detail of the affair, some want less detail.
The reason I recommend that your spouse write the questions down is so that he can get them out of his head and stop mulling over them all day. Make sure that he secures those questions in a safe place so kids and friends can't accidentally find them.
I'd prefer that you guys NOT talk about the affair every day. I'd like you to have some days off in between tough conversations so that your stress levels can come down. I know that's hard when you're hurting, but I'd like you to try...
Please schedule some time to talk privately and let your spouse ask you every question they have. Answer those questions as completely and honestly as you can. Yes, it will be painful. Yes, your spouse will be incredibly upset. Yes, it's going to suck. But... it's the right thing to do.
If the conversation is getting too hard or too much, ask for a break and agree on a time when you'll come back and continue. During the break, do something to calm yourself down - take a walk, listen to music, take a shower, meditate, anything that feels right to you.
Holding anything back will create major problems in the future. You may think you're protecting your spouse by sparing a painful detail, but what usually happens is that the truth comes out later. Your spouse will assign tremendous value to these details, so please, don't skip or whitewash anything. If you don't know what to say at any point, it's ok to say you don't know, but do try to offer a rough idea.
There is one super important exception... I’d like you to NOT share any sexual details of what happened.
These details can further traumatize your spouse. Instead, suggest to your husband that keeps an ongoing list of the questions he has and if he still wants to know sexual details in 6 months, that you and he can talk about them with a therapist.
Another tough spot is the why question. Most spouses become very focused on WHY the affair happened and this can be one of the hardest questions to answer. To help you start thinking about this, please check out this blog post on why people have affairs. It will help you figure out some of what lead you down this road.
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