One of the most common problems that I hear about is having repetitive questions about the affair. It’s absolutely normal (and quite understandable) to want to gather all of the information that you possibly can. However, there comes a point where you get tired of asking and your cheating spouse becomes tired of answering. And you can start to wonder at what point are you going to have to stop this cycle. Often, you’d like to stop, but you hate the thought of having outstanding issues about which you are still unsure.
A wife might say: “I honestly feel as if my husband is still withholding some of the details of his affair. I admit that he has told me a lot of things – and some of those things must have taken a great deal of courage because they are very damaging. But I still believe that there are things that he doesn’t want me to know. So I find myself asking what are essentially the same questions but in different ways. My husband has finally caught onto this because last night he snapped at me and said: ‘there is going to come a time – and that time is going to come very soon – where you are just going to need to stop with all of the questions. I can’t keep going on like this. It feels like we can’t get through single day without my getting grilled repeatedly.’ His words have some truth in them. I do have questions every day. But I only keep asking because I know that he hasn’t told me everything. At what point do I have to stop?”
I don’t know of any rule or guideline on this. And it’s my belief that you have the right to ask for information. Yes, husbands get very defensive about this and they will try to call you off because every time you ask a question, they feel exposed, ashamed, and badgered.
And, your husband might have a point if he has told you everything already. I know from experience that after a while, asking the same questions over and over does become pointless. It’s a frustrating cycle that just isn’t productive. So, I do concede that there often is a point where you’ve been told essentially everything and you are still asking the same questions because you still just can not wrap your brain around these whole sets of circumstances.
But, not being able to fully understand it doesn’t mean that you haven’t gotten the information that you’ve asked for. Here’s an example which might help since it isn’t about infidelity. Bear with me because I think that this is relevant and will help. Recently, my child abruptly quit a sport that he loved and in which he has invested a lot of time. I have repeatedly asked him to explain his reasoning. And, over and over, he has told me that the commitment was too much, that his grades were suffering, and that it wasn’t fun anymore. These are all perfectly good reasons. He gave the exact response that I had asked for. Still, it bothered me. So, I kept at it. Did he not like his coach? Did he not feel like he was not good enough? Did he have problems with one of his teammates? His answers were always no. And this frustrated both of us. And I still don’t completely understand why he quit – and I may not ever understand it. But I’ve decided that our relationship is not worth my continuing to pester him. He gave me the information. I can’t get inside his mind and feel his same feelings. So I just need to move on and be here to support him if he needs me. He seems perfectly content. It is ME who is experiencing the turmoil, but I know that I need to let it go.
Ask yourself if you are at the same point. Has he told you everything but you still just can’t understand because you wouldn’t act in the same way? If you can look at this and know that your husband has answered what you have asked and you are just churning the same old things with disastrous results, then it is probably time to seriously scale back. Likewise, if this process is just making you feel worse and you are just ruminating and churning the bad feelings, ask yourself if this is worth it.
I understand that you need all the answers. And if you don’t think you have them, then it’s certainly worth a conversation. You might try: “I completely understand that it does us no good to continue to debate the same old issues. But you need to understand that I continue to ask because, in my heart, I wonder if you have told me everything. I suspect that something is being held back. Once I have all of the information, then I do intend to move on.”
This may work. But if it doesn’t and if you remain stuck, then you may want to consider brief counseling just so the counselor can help you determine if you have all of the information. Sometimes, this is useful in more ways than one. Knowing that you have a set time and place to address the outstanding issues frees you up so that this no longer needs to be your sole focus at home.
But I don’t think there’s a magic benchmark as to when you need to quit asking questions, although I think that it makes sense to scale back when you are hearing the same responses over and over and you are not learning anything new. I think that most of us can feel it when we are just in a cycle of frustration.