10 Questions to Ask Your Unfaithful Spouse

6. Did you talk about love or about a future together?

Talking about love is likely to bring to the surface errors of assumed similarity. The betrayed partner might insist that love and marriage were part of the picture and won't believe otherwise. If the involved partner does confess to being in love, this admission can make sense of events in a way that rote denials never could. It would explain why the affair went on so long and why it took so long to recover from the loss.

If you are the involved partner, however, you should not fabricate a story of unrequited love just to satisfy your partner's misguided projections. Be honest about whatever romantic declarations or talk of the future did occur. Otherwise, your betrayed partner may fill in the blanks with scenarios that are far more painful than the actual truth. Admit it if you ever shared dreams of "riding off into the sunset" together or said "I love you" in the heat of passion. I have seen it backfire when betrayed partners found incriminating love letters or e-mails after involved partners denied exchanging words of love or dreams of the future.

If you are the betrayed partner, make a strong effort to hear the story without filtering it through your own subjective lens. Infidelity does occur without falling in love. You must be open to versions that vary from your belief system unless you have valid evidence that you are getting a watered-down rendition.

7. What did you see in the affair partner?

The betrayed partner will already have a portrait of the affair partner, but it is almost never the whole picture. Betrayed spouses are prone to place all the blame on the affair partner, preferring to believe that their gullible spouse was manipulated and seduced. They may not be willing to accept that the person to whom they're married took an active role, and therefore displace a lot of the anger and rage onto the affair partner. Involved partners must recount the ways they encouraged the affair and invested energy to keep it going. It is less likely that an infidelity will happen again when the involved partner owns up to having been a full participant.

Al and Amber quarreled about their divergent perceptions of his affair partner, Zelda, who worked for him. Amber regarded Zelda as "a bitch and a manipulative slut who was out to get Al's money." In reaction, Al glorified Zelda's competence and loyalty. But the more Al talked about Zelda, the more he realized that he could never have maintained a long-term relationship with her because of her mood swings. Amber, on the other hand, grew to understand that Zelda's constant praise and high energy appealed to Al. Finally, they arrived at a combined picture of Zelda as a hard-working woman with a charged personality who used flattery to get what she wanted.
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