I sometimes hear from wives who are extremely motivated to know if there was an emotional connection with their husband’s affair partner. Many wives fear the emotional connection more than anything else, which is often why the husband will try to deny that there was one. However, the wife often isn’t satisfied with this half hearted denial. So she may ask for more answers and dig a little deeper. And this is usually when she finds something that indicates that the husband might be keeping something from her.
I might hear a comment like: “my husband had an affair with one of my children’s therapists. I actually really loved this woman. She had become like a member of our family. So when I found out that they were having an affair, I completely assumed that he was in love with her. Frankly, she is quite lovable. She’s quite sweet and caring. Before she betrayed me in this way, I really liked her. And I’m sure that my husband has some pretty intense feelings for her too. But when we try to work on our marriage or even when we are in counseling, he will deny that there was any emotional connection. He will say that it was only physical. As I said, I had serious doubts about this so I went and saw the other woman. She said that in her mind, it was definitely both a physical and emotional relationship. I could tell she was trying not to hurt me when she added that perhaps she was seeing something that wasn’t there because she wanted to believe in him. I have my doubts about these claims. I’m sure there was an emotional connection because we all know each other so well. Frankly, it kind of makes him a jerk if it was only physical? Why would he be lying about this? And is our marriage over if he won’t tell the truth?”
It’s very common for a cheating spouse to deny an emotional connection. He can’t really deny the physical connection, as there had to be something that drove him to betray you. And, since you can’t see or know of his emotions, this is something that he can easily deny, unless there are letters or emails that prove he was declaring real emotion. So, he knows that this is all going to be hard for you to prove. And he knows that if he freely admits emotion, then this is going to hurt you. So, he would rather just deny this and avoid the topic altogether.
There’s another possibility also. It’s not uncommon for the other woman in the affair to assume more of an emotional connection than the man. Yes, he may have felt something but the other woman is much more likely to feel that she is in love than the other man. I don’t mean to offend anyone by saying this, and I’m sure that there was always exceptions. I realize that this seems like a double standard. But from what I’ve learned from people who comment on my blog, most often, the married men don’t have as much of an intention of emotionally committing to the other woman as he might lead her to believe.
Of course, the other woman may completely believe that he was deeply in love with her. He may well have even have told her as much. But this doesn’t always make it true. And the only person who really knows the depth of his emotion is the husband himself.
There are a couple of options you can try in order to get him to give you a more accurate picture of the relationship. You can try having a very open and direct conversation that would go something like: “if our marriage is ever going to recover from this, I need complete honesty from you. Keep in mind that I know the other woman. I know that she’s a very lovable person. So I am finding it hard to believe that you didn’t have any real feelings. Frankly, I suspect that I might view this even more negatively if you could sleep with someone for whom you felt nothing. We can’t move past something if we don’t put it on the table and I suspect that you are holding back. I need complete honesty from you. I know that you don’t want to hurt me. But at this point, I value honesty over protection. I need for you to tell me the truth. So, can we finally talk frankly about this right now?”
I can’t promise you that he’ll suddenly start speaking all of the truth immediately. But over time, if you continue to show him how much you value honesty and how much you already assume and realize, he will likely feel more safe to open up in time. This wife had mentioned counseling. I suspect that the counselor would also gradually probe this also.
I’d like to make one final point. I understand that you need the truth. I defend your right to have it. I believe that you deserve it. But as someone who has gone through this, I can tell you that you want to be careful that you don’t make your husband’s feelings for her your sole concern. Yes, you want the truth. But once you get it, the focus should shift to “how are we going to move past this?” The husband was already trying to do this. It’s important that once you do get the truth, you don’t use it to punish or to score keep or anything else. You use it as information to help you to determine what you are up against in moving on. And then you do everything that you can to move past this.