Friday, December 11, 2009

"What type of underpants does she wear?": How much info is too much?

The news is full of details of Tiger Wood's exploits. The women, the sex, the locations, the status of each "relationship"... It's all there for the whole world to discover.
For those of us involved in less public pain, discovering the details about our spouse's affairs often requires some sleuthing...or endless questions. But how much info about our spouse's extracurriculars should we know. And is there ever too much?
I wanted all the details...right down to...well...the dirty stuff. Annie was the same, asking over and over for details about the Other Woman's (OW) vital stats.
A lot of betrayed wives find themselves obsessing about the details of the affair: From where they had coffee (and whether the OW took sugar or a sugar substitute) to where they had sex, for how long and whether they talked before, during or after. Many of us also ask the same questions repeatedly, as if we simply can't absorb the answers.
"Experts" offer up plenty of opinions about what you should know, if you should know and why you should know.
As a recovered obsessive interrogator (ROI), let me clarify a few things:
1. If your spouse wants to remain married to you, he needs to answer any and all of your questions honestly. I've heard it said that when your spouse was engaged in the affair, the OW had the window into your marriage. Now it's time to switch and give you the window into the affair. It can go a long way toward restoring trust and helping you realize it wasn't the romantic sexcapade you might imagine. Then again...
2. Be sure you really want the information. There is such a thing as TMI, in terms of affairs. When I realized that much of the information I was getting was only feeding my obsession with what SHE had that I did not, I put the brakes on. My questions were no longer about trying to understand the affair, they were psychological self-flagellation. I implemented the 24-hour rule. If I felt the need to know something and I wasn't sure if I really needed to know, I forced myself to wait 24 hours. If I still wanted to ask, I did. However, almost every time, I couldn't even remember the question. It was some minor detail that fed my masochism...not my healing.
3. You're not crazy! Your need to hear the details over and over again is not evidence of your declining mental state, but rather your post-traumatic state. Betrayal is traumatizing and anyone who minimizes its effect doesn't truly understand it. People who've been through trauma (whether betrayal, accident or disaster) often need to tell their story over and over as that's how they process it themselves. You can't tell the story when you don't really know the story. Hence the need to create the whole picture.

In short, the BWC says that getting the answers to your questions is part of the healing process. Your spouse's willingness to answer your questions honestly – as painful as the experience is for both of you – helps restore trust and allow you to move forward with transparency and honesty, vital for a healthy marriage. 

1 comment:

  1. Problem is, he doesn't want to reveal the details. He wants to forget about it and put it in the past. I was obsessing over wanting to know everything in the beginning, but now, I'm tired of the pain from it when I do find out. There is a point when it does become TMI...I'm trying to now wrap my head around the why he did it instead of the details of their "thing". And yes, I do know what kind of underwear she wears..........he posted a photo of her in a shirt and undies along with other photos of her around the house doing dishes, etc. in an on-line photo hosting site. And guess what, my ass looks much better than hers! LOL!



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