I recently received a question via email that I thought would be a good focus for this blog post.
Here is a problem a woman is facing in her marriage:
(In order to protect her privacy, I am describing this in my own words.)
She caught him flirting with more than one woman via text messages.
Each time she catches him doing this, he says he doesn't know why this happened and promises never to do it again.
She catches him, (again,) flirting sexually via texts.
She feels he has slept with these women. (I believe this is likely.)
She wants to know WHY he did it and what exactly happened.
She's asking for his honesty but he doesn't want to talk about it.
And like so many betrayed women, she begins to doubt herself and wonders:
- If she's asking too much of him?
- If it really matters whether they talk about it or not?
- If she can move past this without the details and honesty?
The answer is, "NO," to all three of these questions.
It is extremely important for him to take responsibility for his actions.
You can not change what you don't acknowledge.
She is also at high risk from his behavior in two ways:
- Physically - due to the possibility of getting an STD.
- Emotionally - due to ongoing emotional trauma.
There's a good chance he may have problems with compulsive sexual behavior.
If so, this won't begin to change without treatment from someone who specializes in treating this behavior.
There is a pretty good chance that she only knows the tip of the iceberg, in terms of what he has been doing behind her back.
Every woman deserves to know what is happening in her marriage. And every woman deserves to know what is putting her at risk.
If he will not get honest about his infidelity, she can have him take a polygraph.
Please don't assume that asking for this is being "mean," or is asking for too much of him.
This isn't about taking revenge or about punishment.
It's about acknowledging that you matter - and so does getting to the truth.
Taking steps to reduce risks to your emotional and physical health is a must.
The goal is: No more lies. No more deception.
She is facing something almost all women who have been betrayed face, whether it's serial infidelity, an emotional affair, or a one-night stand:
- Finding a way to get the truth out into the open with a resistant partner.
- Learning about the main details of what happened.
- And understanding why it happened.
I don't recommend that you side-step finding out about any of these things.
Avoiding talking about what happened means the entire problem will be swept under the rug, serial cheating will continue, and she will be emotionally and physically traumatized in the process.
No woman ever deserves that.
Set the bar high for how you want to be treated in your marriage.
A man who wants you in his life will learn how to step up in order to stay in his relationship with you.
Hope and healing . . .
Roberta Wands, M.A.