Why Would I Want My Spouse To Know All The Details Of An Affair?

Much of the time, when I hear from folks on the topic of the details of an affair, I hear from faithful spouses looking for a way to force their spouse to tell them everything. Or, I hear from the cheating spouse who wants to know just how much they have to disclose. There is usually a concern about the information hurting their spouse or actually making things worse.

It’s relatively rare for me to hear from cheating spouses who have absolutely no problems coming completely clean and willingly giving up all of the hurtful details. But it does occasionally happen. And it usually comes from people who don’t quite understand their own motivations.

Someone might say: “I cheated on my husband with a man who really doesn’t interest me in any way other than the sex. He really didn’t have any redeeming qualities. I realize that. And I didn’t tell my husband about the affair because I knew that it would come to a natural end. My husband caught me though. And unbelievably to me, he didn’t immediately kick me out or cut me out of his life. He says that he doesn’t know what he wants to do yet. But he says that in order to make a decision, he needs some information. He wants all of the details about the affair. At first I felt very uncomfortable about this. I didn’t want to hurt my husband about all of the details. But he continued to press me on them. And once everything started spilling out, I almost couldn’t stop it. I mean, I let everything go. I told him about how I got a second phone so he wouldn’t suspect anything. I told him about going to a hotel with the other man when I was supposed to be at my sister’s. I told him how I let the other man do things to me that I had never done with my husband. I have no idea why I gave up all of this information. My husband acted like he wanted it, but now I can tell it’s hurt him very much. The weird thing is, if he asked me for more details, I suspect that I’d let even more come out. Why? Why do I have no problems giving him the details that are going to hurt him?”

Well, this is only my opinion, but it seems that there are two potential possibilities here. One, perhaps somewhere deep down, you want to hurt, shock, or startle him enough so that he pays attention. Perhaps you had the affair because of pent up resentment, or your perception that your marriage was missing something. Maybe you are hoping that by sharing the details, this will wake you husband up and inspire him to take some action. Or, perhaps you want to hurt him in some way because you were harboring some resentments.

If this is true, you must know that betraying someone and causing more problems in your marriage is not the way to handle this. Sure, your spouse deserves the information that he is asking for. But there is a big difference between giving him the details that are going to allow him to know what he is dealing with and then saying things meant to hurt or shock him.

The other possibility here is that you suspect that in order for your spouse to be willing to move forward and perhaps to try to save the marriage down the line, you’re going to have to be truthful with him. I get this. As a spouse who was on the other side of this and was cheated on, I can tell you that the details can be very important to the faithful spouse. It can become very important to you to get all of the pieces of the puzzle.

But again, there’s a difference between wanting to be honest and wanting to be hurtful. People often ask me how much to tell their spouse. I believe that your spouse needs to know who they are dealing with, what they are dealing with, and how and why this happened. They need to be able to get a clear picture of reality.

But, you can do this without telling them about specifics in terms of sex and small details that do not matter – and will only cause pain. The sexual details with the other man is an example. Of course people who have affairs have sex. This is a given. And your husband already knows this, but pouring salt in the wound by being explicit and hurtful just isn’t necessary.

If you’re unsure as to why you might be freely sharing hurtful information, it’s important that you dig a little deeper. Understanding your motivations is part of healing. And it is part of making sure that this doesn’t happen again. It isn’t always easy to understand what drives us at times like this. If you’ve considered all of the above and are still unsure, I’d strongly suggest having a counselor hear you out. In fact, that’s good advice regardless because often, we are too close to the situation to be able to see our motivations clearly. But understanding our motivations is vital to healing and to making sure that we don’t repeat the same disastrous behaviors.