An Affair to Remember

An Affair to Remember

How Much Knowledge is Too Much Knowledge?

By Shirley Glass

July/August 2003

Q: I'm seeing a couple who's recovering from the husband's affair. While the husband's stopped all contact with the other woman and doesn't want to dwell on the past, the wife insists on knowing the details. How much disclosure is needed for the couple to heal?

A: How much to share and when to share are issues that confront every couple trying to recover from the discovery of infidelity. It's common for the betrayed partner to obsess over learning the graphic details, while the unfaithful partner tries to suppress descriptive information. Information that's disclosed too early in the process can be destructive, but total avoidance only intensifies alienation caused by the affair. I actively structure the timing and the process of disclosure to maximize the healing effects of sharing the story of the affair because I've found that revealing the details of an affair is seldom constructive in the presence of uncontrolled emotional intensity or unresolved ambivalence about the future of the marriage.

Discovering that a partner's been unfaithful is a traumatic event that shatters all the basic assumptions of commitment, love, and honesty. Understanding the story of what happened is an essential part of the recovery from that trauma. In most cases, the betrayed partner's demand for information isn't meant to divert discussion away from marital problems (as some clinicians have suggested) but to put the pieces together into…

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Topic: Couples

Tags: affairs | couples

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1 Comment

Monday, September 4, 2017 2:20:00 PM | posted by John
Dr Glass uses a very nice approach to reaching empathy on the part of each partner in the couple. I suspect it leads to a better understanding of how the affair came to be and what needs to be attended to in the relationship.