Part VII: He Tells Details
It turns out the full details of an affair are never given with the first confession. Those particularities are given in short narratives over time. Three days after we reconciled, I approached Todd to let him know I was ready for more information. As a therapist, I advocate for full disclosure on an able-to-handle basis and I felt strong enough to hear the truth. We agreed to maintain our nightly routine of devotional reading and prayer before discussing any new dimensions of the affair. After our spiritual time of strengthening, he drew closer to my side and bravely answered what I thought I needed to know.
My initial questions centered on the physical nature of the relationship. I knew in my heart there was more than he was admitting, but I wanted him to say it out loud…and he did. He confirmed my worst nightmare. More questions. Did he use a condom? What about STDs? Pregnancy? What began as a tingling sensation in my fingertips turned to numbness that infiltrated my entire body. My heart pounded inside my chest cavity- I thought it might explode. Breathing was labored, palms sweaty, dizziness set in and I clung to consciousness by a thread.
In the ensuing moments after this latest confession, I wrestled against hatred for both of them. He claimed he pursued her, but seeing how he didn’t rape her, I saw two consenting adults. I must admit I had visions of driving to the West Coast and killing her, the only thing that stopped me (besides my conviction that murder is wrong) was the thought of what the six o’clock news headlines might say, “Jealous Wife Drives Across Country to Kill Husband’s Summer Fling in California.”
I decided this unnamed woman wasn’t worth prison and hell, but I did seriously consider throwing my husband out of the house and taking back my promise to forgive him. Then I came to my senses and decided again to forgive him precisely because he didn’t deserve it.
I knew this was possible because Jesus demonstrated it on the cross when he said, “Father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34, NIV). I forgave because it is hard and few expect to be forgiven for such deception. The truth is, those who have been forgiven much, love much (Luke 7:47, NLT) I knew if I could offer complete forgiveness, my husband would love me even more.
In her book, Not “Just Friends” author Shirley Glass uses the analogy of windows and walls in the context of affairs. During the affair the affair partner is given a window into the marriage and the betrayed partner is given a wall into the affair. When the affair ends and the couple decide to reconcile, this must be reversed. The betrayed spouse must be given a window into the affair and the affair partner must receive a wall.
With each fact my amazing husband provided about the infidelity, the fortified walls he had built around the affair came tumbling down and I was able to walk in greater peace. For three months this stranger had a view into my life and marriage, she knew details about me and I didn’t even know she existed. That had to change if our marriage was to survive. I had to have a clear view into the affair and she had to have a barrier into our marriage.
The healing process is hindered when the unfaithful spouse fails to provide the information the faithful spouse needs in order to move forward, this is why full disclosure is crucial after a betrayal. My husband owed the affair partner nothing and any promise he made to her was already trumped by the sacred promise he made to me in 1997. I am his one flesh partner, no one else; God blesses marriages not adultery. My wall into the affair became a window and I got everything I asked for. She had no right to expect identity protection and in the end, she didn’t get it because he tells details as often as I inquire.