If your spouse has had an affair one of the first things you question is the sex. If you have an affair and your spouse finds out about it, one of the first things you confess is how far you went.
Here’s the thing.
Affairs aren’t about sex.
And yet too often we focus on that.
We overanalyze every little aspect of the sex. How many times. Where did you do it? We want all the details, details, details…We mistakenly believe that somehow knowing every little thing that happened, diving into every aspect of what our spouse did with this other person will make us feel better. On the contrary, it usually makes us feel worse and hinders the healing process.
It’s great to ask questions. But I think we’re asking the wrong one’s when we concentrate on the sex. Does it matter if your spouse had sex with their AP in your bed? Yes, but does it change the fact that they cheated on you regardless of where the sex took place? No. Does it matter how many times your spouse had sex with their affair partner? Yes. Does getting your spouse to share with you every single time, when and where, going to change the fact that they had sex with someone other than you? No. Whether it was once or one hundred times, it still stings. Even affairs that don’t include sex hurt our hearts and our trust immensely.
When we concentrate on those types of questions ( and believe me, I was first and foremost guilty of that when I found out) we’re missing out on the most important details that can actually help heal our marriage.
I spent so much time asking and re-asking questions. It was so important to me that I get the timeline right. That I had an understanding of where he had been, what lies he had told to be able to be there, how long it had been going on, and how many times it had happened.. That stuff matters to a degree, don’t get me wrong. But it isn’t what matters most.
And we get stuck in a rut when we go to that place. Our insecurities are at full speed when we find out our spouse stepped out on us and it’s hard not to care about what our spouse did with someone else. But we’re missing the point. And we’re wasting precious time in that dark place when we could be asking a whole different set of questions that could actually be working toward healing our marriages and our hearts.
Because here’s the hard truth:
Affairs aren’t about sex. They’re about unmet needs.
People don’t have affairs because they’re looking for sex with someone new.
Even affairs that appear to be truly about sex (i.e. a sex addict who has multiple affairs or someone who visits hookers) are not really about sex. They are about someone attempting to fill a void or meet a need in a way that is never going to fill that need.
Affairs are about someone feeling unfulfilled or unhappy in a certain area and perceiving that need met through someone new.
The problem with marriage is that we tend to get complacent. We tend to take our spouse’s for granted. We stop spending time with each other, having fun with each other, giving to each other, complimenting each other and in the process we begin to feel like we’re missing out on something.
And then instead of turning to each other and saying, “Hey, I’m feeling neglected/unappreciated/not communicated with/disrespected/unloved” we turn to that person at work or church or on facebook and begin building a new connection that makes us feel appreciated/communicated with/respected/loved.
It’s hard to turn to our spouse and say those hard things and be vulnerable when there are hurt feelings and resentments and disappointments scattered across the history of your relationship . But we need to. And we need to do it before our spouse begins reaching out to have those needs met by someone new.
It’s our job to meet our spouse’s needs. And vice versa. And if an affair happens one of the first things we need to process (as individuals and as a couple) is what our personal needs are that we haven’t been communicating and what needs we feel haven’t been met.
That is what drew your spouse into their affair. And it’s a hard pill to swallow. Because…I’ve said this before…that means that I (the hurt spouse, the cheated on spouse) have some culpability. Not in the choices my spouse made, of course. No, they didn’t have to have an affair just because they felt their needs weren’t getting met. But…I definitely have some culpability in my marriage being in a place where it was ripe for one of us to have an affair.
If your spouse has had an affair, we just want to encourage you to ask all the questions you want. Ask them a thousand times over until you feel confident in the answers being given. Ask them until you feel secure and safe.
But…at some point…make sure you start asking the right questions.
What are those questions?
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