Dealing with trickle truth after the affair

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Your emotional rollercoaster just doesn’t seem to end. About the time you think he’s finally come clean, another confession slips out. No wonder you’re starting to question if you can ever trust him again.

Or maybe it’s like this: Your life partner should be the one you rely on through thick and thin and trust with your heart; but now that you’ve caught your wife cheating, that foundation of security has been knocked out from under you. You try to believe her when she confesses, apologizes and promises that this time she’s finally been totally honest; but then ‘two trips’ with her lover turn out to have been three, or you find that the dress she claimed her mother bought her was actually a gift from the man she was seeing behind your back. Worse, maybe you find evidence that the affair might still be going on.

If your partner wants to stay with you and work through your marital issues, that’s a start. He’s going to have to work hard to regain your trust, though. The time and energy he gave to her was robbed from you and your marriage. The trust can’t come back unless he’s willing to prove himself. He has to prove he’s trust worthy.

What does honesty mean to you? You need to spend some time coming up with your personal definition. No one can be (or should be) so honest that every stray though must be shared. That’s not healthy, either. But decide what will satisfy you in light of your new relationship.

This isn’t something you have to do on your own. In fact, working with an objective and experienced third party (a marriage counselor, therapist, priest or Rabbi, 12-step group or support group) is crucial during this most trying of times.

It might also help to know that the one who has cheated experiences the pain of disruption, conflict and guilt. Often it wasn’t an intentional affair, but once drawn in, it was a real relationship, as well, with all the emotional ties of a ‘legitimate’ relationship. This isn’t to excuse the actions of actually following through with the affair, but it might give a little window of compassion through which you can reach out to each other as you work toward reconciliation.