There are all kinds of feelings, worries, and obsessive thoughts that course through your mind if you are the injured spouse. So it really isn’t surprising when we say there will be arguments about the affair. But if all that you do is fight and blame each other you will find yourselves going around and around in this negative cycle of yelling and condemning that will get you nowhere.
When discussing the affair it is important to have what I call “Open Limitations.” What I mean by this is the injured spouse will be free to ask a question or questions about the affair at any time, but the affair is not discussed for more than 15-30 minutes.
If the discussion about the affair goes longer than 15-30 minutes it can derail into an argument. Following this advice can greatly impact how well the discussions go. You need them to be productive, and done in a way where both you and your spouse feel respected.
The time constraint is intended to keep both of you from feeling defensive and rejected. The longer these talks go the easier it is to fall into a negative cycle of blame and withdrawal. This negative cycle occurs when one spouse blames and the other withdrawals in response to the attack.
If they don’t ask the questions they become and remain anxious and sad, but more importantly they seethe with anger. Allowing the injured spouse to ask a question at any time helps them to process the trauma more quickly without carrying around the question in their head for hours or days.
Allowing the injured spouse to ask their questions when they have them, keeps the injured spouse from mentally rehearsing your answer. You know we all do it, we say to ourselves, “I know what they're going to say, they’ll say...” or “I bet they’re going to tell me that...” Often times when an injured spouse has to sit on a question they mentally rehearse the answer they want to hear, and when they don’t hear what they expected, an argument can in sue.
It is important as the betrayed spouse to give your partner positive feedback for what they are doing right. For being open and honest, for caring and showing you more affection. Remember your spouse feels like they are being chased by an angry seething bull in a tiny ring. Letting them know you appreciate what they are doing for you will only encourage them to continue to get back into the ring with the bull time and time again.
If you dive into the mind of the betrayer, they are usually approaching this from a, “This is a hopeless situation, I can’t be the person to heal them. I can’t be forgiven for what I’ve done.” Giving them positive feedback for what they have done right, no matter how small will only encourage them to continue to move closer towards you.
Do not criticize each other. This is a way to completely derail your marriage. When this happens both spouses feel defeated and hopeless. Turning towards each other with love and kindness instead of criticism will only help you get what you need from your spouse. Clearly asking for what you need is okay, be sure to let your spouse know how much it helps you heal when they are moving in the right direction.
Recap: limit the discussion time because you will find it helps the discussion move forward and will not allow you to fall into the negative cycle of blame and withdrawal. Also, remember that a lot of the instruction we give seems counterintuitive but it works. If you are not sure if it will work CLICK HERE. It helps to remember that you can’t repeat the same things that got you where you are today. You must adopt new habits and skills to change your present situation and your future.