Note:  This post is an excerpt from our book “Healing from an Affair: A cheater’s guide for helping your spouse heal from your affair” and is directed towards those who have been unfaithful.  Though the unfaithful can obviously be either male or female, this is written from a male cheater’s perspective.


healing after infidelityRefusing to talk about the affair is the number one complaint women have about their husbands (after an affair), based on our past surveys.  So this is a biggie!

I realize you don’t want to talk about it for whatever reason.  I didn’t want to talk about it either.  I just wanted it to go away.    Unfortunately, that doesn’t matter if you want to save your marriage and help your wife heal.

I know as a man, a lot of times we don’t want to talk about things and we don’t want to express feelings and all that sort of stuff, but you just have to suck it up and do it. You need to sacrifice your quiet cave time and learn to open up.  Otherwise, your affair is going to be the elephant in the room for a very long time.

When mentoring cheaters, one thing I will tell them is that if they want to help their wives get over the affair, recover and heal, they need to wrap their heads around the fact that if they just give their wives what it is they’re looking for and what they need, the healing process will go so much faster.  It will help their wives to “move on” more quickly, which is exactly what they (the cheaters) really want in the first place.

Certainly talking about your affair is arguably the most important thing that you’re going to have to do.  So do it for both of you!

If your situation is anything like many other cheaters, an interesting thing happened after your affair was discovered.  You may have felt like the weight was lifted from your shoulders.  The stress of the affair was magically relieved once your wife found out about it.  Assuming you then ended the affair, you may have felt that it was all over and it was time to move on.  After all, what’s past is past and you promise never to do it again.  So she needs to get over it. 

Well, I don’t think I need to tell you how misguided that thought process is.  For your wife, the pain, the emotions, the anger and the questions are only just beginning.  Talking about the affair so that she understands it is what she needs right now (among other things).

When you do talk about it, be completely honest.  What you may not realize is that when your affair was first discovered you probably only revealed part of the details believing that that was all your wife needed to hear. But as time goes on and she keeps pounding you with questions and she finds out more information and details, it’s like starting all over again for her. It’s like having a D-day over and over again.

I think Linda and I have probably had about 10 D-days. Even two or three years later I released new information. Then we would have to start from day one building trust and dealing with the new triggers.  I screwed up badly here and suggest you do as I say and not as I did!  So be completely honest upfront.

Linda’s input:  I know you think that telling your wife everything will be very difficult for her, and it will.  By verbalizing everything that you did, it’s going to be very difficult for you as well because you will finally realize “Gosh, I really stepped over the boundaries and I can’t believe that I did this.  I can’t believe I caused so much pain.” It’s just as important for you to verbalize the details of the affair so that you can deal with it too. If you keep it in this nice little box and you keep it looking all rose-colored, that’s the way it’s going to stay. You need to get it out so the ugly truth is revealed and addressed.

For more information about our book on healing after infidelity, you can click here.

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    36 replies to "Healing After Infidelity – Talk About Things"

    • exercisegrace

      Excellent Doug, and very well said. In our case, after my husband ended the affair, they continued to work together for a year and then she outed him after she realized he wasn’t “coming back to her” and she quit the business. During this year, he realized what he had almost lost, he realized what he had, and he put himself fully back into our marriage. I had asked him repeatedly if anything physical had happened. He insisted the answer was no. He admitted that things had gotten too emotionally close, but he claimed to have recognized and corrected that. I (almost) completely believed him, told myself we had dodged a bullet, and allowed myself to enjoy our relationship again. By the end of that year, our marriage was better than ever. He was more open with me, more connected with the kids etc.

      And then came d-day. Finding out that it was a PA as well as a full on EA was devastating. He kept trying to tell me that it should “count” that HE ended it on his own. That it had been over for more than a year. That we had already done so much “rebuilding” in that year, and that should “count”. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stand for him to touch me. He was distraught and angry by turns. He felt that “I” was throwing away what we had already rebuilt. He thought I was discounting the progress made during the prior year. It was hard for him to understand that the “progress” was built on LIES. That we were back to ground zero.

      His primary emotion after d-day seemed to be one of relief. He had been carrying an enormous burden of guilt and shame. He was relieve, and almost elated that it was finally out in the open. He had had an entire year to process him feelings after ending the affair, and by this point it seemed like a distant occurrence to him. To ME it might as well have ended the day before d day. While I understood that it was good that HE ended it. That he had not gone back into the affair, despite working together, really didn’t help me that much at the time.

      As our counselors have said, he and I are unfortunately on different timelines of healing. His wounds were largely healed, mine were fresh and gaping. However, talking about the affair and answering my questions were two of my conditions of staying in the marriage. I would rather hear a painful truth than a gentle lie. I told him if I ever found evidence that proved him a liar, I would have to reconsider my decision to stay.

    • onmyway

      Great post and I could not agree more with the advice you and Linda have shared on topic, Doug. Exerciseingrace, you are so right about being in different stages of healing! My husband had ended his affair a few months before I discovered it so he had some time to process what he had done before I even knew it had happened. I count that time as part of the affair timeline, though. He was in his own world and I had no clue what the hell was wrong as things had gotten very bad between us but it was all my fault 🙂 , of course. His affair and the other woman were still very much a part of his day to day life, at least in his head, and it affected ME and our relationship. He didn’t have to be in contact with her for that to happen. I think the affair goes on, in some way, as long as the BS is unaware of it.

      One thing I would add are the phases that the BS goes through when it comes to talking about the affair. The CS needs to be willing to talk about affair details months and even years after DDay. It may seem stupid since a certain detail has already been discussed but when you are the BS you can only cope with so much at one time. I know that there are details of my husbands affair that I am just now processing 18 months after DDay and I need to talk about them.

      Doug and Linda, what are your takes on a CS releasing more details in the future, particularly ones that were lied about in the past? Are there any resources in the Higher Healing section that adress the risks of being totally honest (If a CS hasn’t been) even months later vs keeping mum and hoping an as yet untold truth doesn’t get revealed?

      • Doug

        Onmyway, I agree with you. There will be times 2-3 years down the road that the BS will want to talk about something. Something, no doubt that has already been talked about – possibly several times previously. The CS needs to be patient and empathetic and be open to discussing whatever it is that the BS needs to talk about.

        I can’t think off the top of my head whether or not there are resources that address that topic specifically in the Higher Healing area. However, I think it’s safe to say that it’s very important for the CS to be totally honest from the onset.

      • exercisegrace

        I count it as part of “his” timeline of healing but not mine or ours. If that makes sense. His healing started when he acknowledged he did something wrong that violated his religious and moral code. My healing couldn’t start until the affair was disclosed (over a year later). He certainly did have time to sort it out in his mind, prior to me knowing about it. The other advantage the cheating spouse has is CONTEXT. They know exactly what happened, what was said, what was done, and what every piece of that meant and did NOT mean.

        • Strengthrequired

          Our h knew from the start it wasn’t right, they knew it would hurt us. They knew the road they were slipping down was wrong, they just didn’t know how to stop it once it started.
          When my h was overseas when his ea started, he didn’t have the balls to talk to me, he would ignore my calls, when he did call he was angry, cold and wanting to finish the call as quickly as possible. He was with our two eldest, and left them with their Janna while he pranced around with cousin it, doing everything with cousin it, leaving our children with someone they didn’t know, instead of showing his children where he grew up, etc, he was with her.
          He was in lala land where no one mattered except cousin it and her family. How a woman would have a man choose her over his children for a cheap thrill is beyond me, yet she flaunted herself in front of him. Yet she made him believe I was a terrible wife and mother.
          Cheap disgusting thrills for what, almost losing your family, business, home, your life, losing respect from those closest too you and respect for yourself, how is that worth it. for a cheap thrill that makes you feel all warm and Cosy inside, until reality hits. Isn’t reality a bummer for the cs?

          • Strengthrequired

            That’s was supposed to say Nanna, not Janna

    • EyesOpened

      I find this really interesting as my H does not want to know all the details. I pointed out that people on this site generally seem to feel that complete honesty is best. However he CHOOSES not to hear the details if my PA. The only time I disregarded his request was when he began to get upset one day, imagining all the tender moments that OM and i had shared in bed – I had to explain the reality to have him understand that his version far exceeded the actuality. He did confess afterwards it helped but still doesn’t want to hear details. He says that when he recalled my actions at first, it was like driving Into the scene of an enormous road smash-up. Now he feels that he can occasionally see it in his rear view mirror – and doesn’t want it to be any clearer than that. We are 7 months in.

      • exercisegrace

        “his version far exceeded the actuality”……yes, this is exactly why I ended up wanting details. What I imagined in my mind was far more romantic, far more passionate than how it actually was. In pretty much every single scenario, the reality of their affair falls far, far short of what I imagined in my mind. That has given me some measure of peace.

      • tryinghard

        Eyes
        I have asked LOTS of questions but it was more on the bend of why, what, where but I have avoided any detailed sex questions. I’ve read so much about how the sex isn’t nearly as great as we conceive in our minds and so I just leave it at that. I know if I asked for details about their sex he would probably implode. HHHHMMM Well that might be pretty fun to watch!!!! Listen I’ve had sex with him for many years and I know what his, ahem, “assets and liabilities” are in reality. I’m sure she put on a good show for him though because he was paying for it!!! It’s funny because almost all that I’ve read from the OW say the same thing. Thanks for validating it. I’m with you H though, spare me the details.

        • Strengthrequired

          TH, it’s true he was paying for it, and highly priced at that. She would have to be made of gold to get his money’s worth.
          Unlike cousin it, she definately wasn’t made of gold, not even the weight of gold, so she wasn’t at all worth the money he paid her to make him feel ooooohhhhhh sooooooo goooooood and warm inside. If anything he should ask for a refund because instead of being warm and Cosy he turned cold and nasty. Now wouldn’t you think if the ow was all that they were made out to be, then our cs, wouldn’t have been so heartless and only able to see the ow, no one else, not their families, no their friends, not even able to work, just sitting there stuck and frozen cold. Surely that wasn’t worth all that was paid out, a refund is definately in order.

    • ataloss

      One of the issues we have had, long before the EA, is communication. Not only the lack of it, but not having the emotional safety to be honest about our feelings. Now, 16 months in, I am at a place where I do feel that I need to talk about what happened. I have been very stuck. And yet, I am reluctant to even bring it up. For one thing, we are in a much better place and I hate to lose ground. And I worry about his reaction. My H has done many, many things right on this journey, but I know he is ready to be done with it and just move on. I hate making him feel punished and guilty all over again. Exercising Grace nailed it about the separate healing timelines. Ours aren’t even close!

    • Strengthrequired

      I’m not sure I want to know all the disgusting details of my h ea. I do want the questions I do ave about the ea answered truthfully. If it did turn into a pa, I would like to know, I do not want to know the how’s, just the truth. That’s all I care about. I want the images I do have in my Head to disappear, I don’t want to add to them. I want to process what I have and move forward
      As a bs, we have numerous setbacks to handle and cope with. I do however prefer the truth, no matter how much it hurts to begin with, it’s better than being continuously lied to, as once thentruth comes out, it hurts more than what it would have to begin with, and the process of healing is longer.

      • exercisegrace

        I agree it is very important to know whether it was a PA or not. With all the venereal diseases these days, that is crucial information to have. Particularly due to HPV with estimates that 80% of people with multiple partners have it, and the transmission being skin to skin….so condoms don’t prevent it. Certain strains can lead to cancer, and my husband is horrified at the risk he has introduced into our world.

        • Strengthrequired

          It is important to know if it was a pa, there shouldn’t be any lies when it comes to that part of the affair. Honestly it wouldn’t surprise me if cousin it was sleeping around anyway, yet my h wouldn’t believe that for a second, she’s sooooo good, she isnt like that. Of course not, she is just into chasing after married man and trying to break up a family for fun.
          My h knows where I have been, does he know where she has been really? Definitely not…..

    • EyesOpened

      SR – I can categorically tell you it is NOT worth it. I love the refund idea. If only it were that simple. If only I could give back everything I’ve taken and undo everything I did.

    • EyesOpened

      TryingHard – I agree – not ALL the details! But timeline and opportunities etc. H just doesn’t want details. But I can tell it eats him up wondering – and upsets him. I ask what he’s thinking about but he is scared it will open a can of worms and says he’ll come back to it when he feels less emotional in case he gets out of control. I’ve said it’s ok to get out of control – but he says no. I don’t want to push it. It’s hard. It breaks my heart I’ve caused this pain.

      Sometimes I wonder if we’ll ever get where we are going. Part of me wants to walk out because I feel that I am a constant reminder and bring him down – but then, the roundabout swings back to the original reason we became far enough apart that I ever got here in the first place! We’ve worked so long and so hard to get where we are now – it’s mad to give up. Things are so so much better in so many ways. Boy do I wish I coukd give that refund!!!!!

      • tryingtoowife

        EyesOpened – Don’t give up! and you are doing great just for asking and supporting your husband when he is down. I assure you he needs you to help him to heal, independently of what your future holds, although I hope that you stay together! I used to ask my husband, that if I became to much, he should “leave the boat” for his own sanity, because mine was gone anyway! I was so afraid of the pain I had to face in order to stay (to heal!). He supported me in my worst and darkest moments and today I thank him for at least trying to support, and for always being there for me. We are in such better place, and I could not believe it possible in the beginning! This is the case of – the one that caused the injury is the one that can help to heal! And where there is willingness, together you heal each other! Your husband seems to be a very nice guy that still love you, and you now know you love him only! Wishing you both the best!

    • Strengthrequired

      EO – don’t give up, as you said it’s sheer madnessmto give up. I often think about giving up too, because I’m so sick of the emotional journey, I just want to feel happy again, yet I look atmit asmwell, why my h makes changesmtommake us better, no matter how slow and tedious it seems, I won’t, we hsvemcome so far since d day, and plus its hard to give up on someone you love so deeply.
      Just taking each day as it comes.
      I will say to you at times I have my head so full of questions for my h, sometimes I too worry it’s all too much, and hold my tongue, I worry I will set our recovery back if I ask my h. Then there are times where I feel it is a beter time to ask, so I ask away.
      Yet I’m sure my h gets annoyed having to settle my insecurities. I csnt stand it too, and often get so upset that he made the choice to rock our lives to the core, which has made me feel so insecure, as I can’t stand feeling that way, it’s draining.
      You are doing so well eo, be proud of what you and your h have accomplished. That’s because neither of you have given up.
      Wouldn’t the refund be a good option? Lol if only……

    • EyesOpened

      Thank you both SR and Tryingtoo. I shouldn’t have said that. It was wrong of me – but thank you for your kind and supportive words. It amazes me how much kindness and care you all have after this absolutely exhausting Journet…Especially for a CS!!!

      Tryingtoo – how long is it since your dday?

      SR – I was thinking of you this morning . Your situation has to be so very difficult because she is a part of your life no matter what. Are they actually blood related ? Sure the family would frown on that if nothing else ?

      Right – heading home after a long day now for a glass of wine and some in depth talking!

      SR –

      • forcryin'outloud

        EO – I would like to thank you again for your input here as a CS. I cannot begin to explain how helpful it is.
        I don’t think it is wrong of you to feel like you should leave because of the pain you have caused. I think it shows how much you love your H. My H has said that comment to me before, but I thought he was just sick of the torment of this healing. After reading your post I see it in an all new light. We BS sometimes forget that the CSs who truly regret their actions are in enormous pain too.
        Your regret is palpable…best wishes on your recovery.

      • Strengthrequired

        EO- yes they are, my h family didn’t like it, however her family pushed for it to happen. They were the ones that forced an engagement on my h when he was os. He didn’t know what to do because he was in such a low place at th time. I’m disgusted they could do such a thing and not respect that he had a family already.

        • Strengthrequired

          Ohh and it has been hard, it’s a good thing I know my h, and I know he definately affaires down with someone he never would have. Sometimes I think how he must have felt trying to fight his feelings for me due ti him feeling so guilt ridden and pressured by his family to be with her, he didn’t know how to escape it. From the moment I found out what had happened, he kept telling me to hold onto him tight and not let go, he needed to break away from her, but didn’t know how to do it, yet he had to do it himself. I cannonly imagine how he felt, with him feeling he is hurting his family no matter which way he turned, and I know her family would make it worse on him even though they pushed it on him.
          His mind was so over the place, he couldn’t handle the guilt of causing me so much pain and just wanted to walk away from everything and everyone.
          Why some families make someone feel so bad about himself more than what he was to begin with I dont know, they saw their chance to take advantage of him when he was away from me and took it, and all it did was push him further into depression, and have him responsible for their daughter and her children, and break his own family apart.
          They are pathetic, so glad they are in a different country. If I didn’t love my h as much as what I do, I would have left. I wouldn’t have fought for him, as putting up with his family and the drama they have caused is just way to much. What hurts is they had no respect for my children’, it was all about them, yet how can I expect them to stop and think about the children involved, when they didn’t care about my husbands feelings. Any decent family would have said, let him sort his life out with his family first, don’t act on your feelings, he needs to be available before you start up anything, you only just left your h get your life sorted out too before starting a relationship with a married man.

      • tryingtoowife

        Eyesopened – Sorry! I don’t come here very often. Answering your question: It has been long, a very long time! As I have not been very sure and willing to embark in this journey. I believed that we were finished and I had just to finish some part of our lives together regarding our children (teenagers) in the best way possible, before we could part, “pacifically” if possible. And on the way do the best to heal ourselves a little if possible, as I still cared for my husband, and he did ALL he could to atone his bad choice and showed regret. But we somehow found that in this process, we created a new relationship, a good one, not great as “I” felt we were before, but we are now working together for the same outcome. The best relationship possible, after the destruction. We are going on for 37 months, and we are good together.

    • lost

      EyesOpened, thanks for your perspective. My H is the same way, he hates this subject because it reminds him of the pain he has caused. Each day he tells me how sorry he is and ashamed of his EA. Once I found out, he deleted all texts and his FB page, and deleted her from his phone. It happen so quick, I dont know whether to believe, she really didnt mean anything to him or he just didnt want any reminders of her , of course I always think way to much into everything. Not sure if anyone else thinks the same way. He has had no contact with her at all, since I found out, but i always wonder if, I hadn’t found out if it would have continued. He says if was just an ego boost, but sometimes, I go over this in my head , and wonder if it was more.

      • Xterra

        Hi Lost,
        My wife did the exact thing when I found about her EA – sent him a message on FB, deleted him from her contacts, and erased all texts/sexts (I did recover a lot of them). She says he was just her fantasy and he didn’t want to be with him, but their messages to each other said otherwise. I often wonder how much longer it would have continued if I hadn’t found out as well. But we are focussing on our marriage and each other, and we are now in a much better place! Hang in there!

        • lost

          Xterra,
          thanks for your comments, My H and I are also trying to focus on our marriage too, and I have to say it is so much better than before EA, but I have days that I can’t seem to get details out of my mind, I guess its normal ( I think ) I will always wonder WHY this OW, tried to contact my H in the first place, was it for just a friendship or was it her intentions to be more, she knew that we were married, so It makes me crazy to think, this whole situation was her trying to split us up, ALTHOUGH It didn’t work, it made us closer

          • Strengthrequired

            Lost- that’s their (the op) intention to get between us and our spouses. They know the cs is married, has children etc, but they think that the old sparks or history from long ago is enough to break a family. So they try. They cause alot of pain and heartache, yet if we are truly lucky to get through such a difficult time in our marriage, then it can be stronger.
            I too have frequent times when I just wonder why? Why did it have to come to this, for us to be stronger, why did it have to come to this for my h to realize I do love him, yet have me tormented with all the thoughts that return through triggers.
            Why is it she caused this but still has no faults in his eyes. Why has she not had karma hit her like a freight train, like the aftermath she left behind after she hit us like a freight train, and left us cleaning up the pieces.
            I guess her karma day will come, and when it does I hope she looks back at what she did to my family and truly realize what she did was so wrong and she regrets ever hurting another person for her own gain and pleasure.
            Knowing me, if I was a fly on the wall, I would actually feel sorry for her, as the penny finally drops. It would have to be hard to face when it does.

            • lost

              StrengthR,
              You are so right, I hope Karma comes around for these Op who, look to come between a marriage. My relationship, I have to say is so much better then before EA, but it is sad , it had to happen to realize what we have together. So. maybe the Karma is that they don’t always accomplish what they set out to do, because they never think that just maybe the bond between that marriage is stronger. I guess that is what I’m counting on anyway.

            • Strengthrequired

              Lost – I would hope karma is alot more then that lol, karma is supposed ti be three times worse to what pain was caused to someone else. I think just them knowing that our marriage is stronger than what she first thought isn’t enough. The aftermath caused was so much more.
              Yet I guess anything is better than nothing. Lol
              Take wha I can get at this point..
              I too believe my h and I are in a better place now, intimately. It is such a shame tha something like thus has to happen for eyes to be opened.

          • ataloss

            Lost, I to have spent way too many hours wondering why this OW? What did she offer that I did not provide? I have accepted that there is nothing special about her at all. Anyone who stroked his ego and made him feel important at that point in his life could have been the OW. I have also accepted that she didn’t have an intention of breaking us up. He was nothing more to her that ego stroking as well. She was in a bored marriage and all this sneaking around was exciting. Any man who was willing to play with her would have been fine. I know every situation is different, but in my case, I gave her too much credit. She had no plan to leave her H anymore that my H would have left me. They were using each other for selfish gain.

    • onmyway

      Doug, thanks for your reply ! It always amazes me how timely many of the topics raised here are. I have been having this very issue 18 months post D Day . I spoke with my husband about my need to go over details again and it went very well. I am feeling more comfortable with the idea that my husband is being honest about everything primarily because he has worked hard at not becoming defensive during my questions and understanding that this is a normal process we go through as a BS and he didn’t make me feel bad for asking. He also gets that I may need to ask again 6 months or 6 years from now. I made it clear that it is not about NOT trusting him now ,because I do, it is just that I need clarity on certain points in order for me to better understand the hows and the whys of the whole affair.

      Thanks again!

    • EyesOpened

      FCO – thank you for saying that. I certainly don’t want to moan – but because those of us that acknowledge that we are the offenders do try to ‘absorb’ and heal the pain of the person we love – as well as overcome both our own issues and the emotional destruction we have caused around us ….. When you are trying so hard to climb the very steep mountain – if someone throws another rock in your backpack – it’s hard not to want to take a rest! I just keep reminding myself that my H must have been injured and weighed down by all the rocks I threw at him – and if he could keep going – then so must I! As the BS you have someone to blame. As a CS you only have yourself to blame – so you have to absorb the lot. But every time I feel sorry for myself I remind myself that I put myself here – no one else. So I deserve all I get. This is not supposed to sound like self pity – it’s just supposed to be an insight of what could be happening in your CS’s head! Every so often my H reaches out and pulls me through a difficult moment – and I’d like to think I do the same for him. Those moments are very lovely indeed.

    • EyesOpened

      Lost. I would say that your h did the right thing. I know it must be hard not to focus on the questions that you have about whether he cared/ whether he would have carried on etc… The point is – he didn’t continue and there is no contact NOW. THAT’s the important thing. He is there with you now and the OW is a nasty piece of history to be forgotten and let go of. What’s great about YOU is the familiarity, the loyalty ( I know it’s hypocritical but EVERY BS has that over the OM or OW – its value continues to rise and rise over time too), you are THERE and most of all – after all that we put you through – you still love us. The key is not to become too obliging. As someone said on this site. If they walked out when you stood your ground – the end would probably come a lot further down a very painful road anyway – so better now than later! I say that with some caution – there may need to be some time to allow them to come out of the fog first .. But I realise you are saying there was no fog for your h, Lost.

      • lost

        EO, thank you so much, you made me feel so much better about this situation. I think it is great when you tell your story, we all get to see a different side to this awful and crazy time in our lives. The OW referred to my H as her “BABE” and it bothers me so much, when I ask my H, he states he can’t explain why she would say that, but he didn’t feel the same towards her. I really want to believe him but its hard, I know he would tell lies, just to keep me from hurting any more than I already do, but the lies hurt more than the truth ( which I do tell him) so I’m not sure whether to believe him or not

    • EyesOpened

      SR – it’s hard enough for most but your situation is just awful. Thank goodness for this site.

    • Strengthrequired

      Eo, I hope you see this, but your response to lose was so good. I also believe that we the bs have one over the ow/om, and it is exactly what you said. We stay because we love you the cs. Of course with time it gets more and more appreciated by you our cs.
      So thank you for confirming that.

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