It's difficult to even think about this, but what happens in the post-discovery talk can make the difference between your marriage surviving the affair or crashing and burning in an ugly divorce.
So, you've been caught. She wants to talk. What now?
I've addressed most of my tips to men, but most also apply to women and I'll share some examples from a woman's perspective.
1. There are two sentences that have only one answer - NO. No matter who you are, whether you want to salvage your marriage or run away with your sweetie, it doesn't matter. The answer is still NO. The first question is "Do you love her?" To a woman, her husband having sex with someone is bad, but loving another woman is devastating. If you admit that you loved your lover and you manage to stay with your wife, it will haunt her forever. For her, it will always live in the present tense. "He loves someone else." This will make it nearly impossible for her to move beyond it and it could come back to bite you at any time over the next 30 years. Any why would you want to hurt her anymore anyway?
When I got caught, Hubby asked me if I loved JJ, and I quickly said "No." The sarcastic bitch in me wanted to say something like, "Gee, I've been seeing him for two years and we've met for sex over 50 times. Don't you think it might be more than a casual relationship?" Of course I didn't say that, thank goodness. I didn't want to hurt him and it was clear he was looking for ways to forgive me. He wanted to hear that there was no love in the picture. That's what you wife wants to hear, too.
The other question is, "Did you ever have sex with her in our bed?" I don't care if you screwed an entire sorority in the bed you share with your wife. The answer must be "No." After I caught Hubby, I was ok with most of what I learned, but the fact that he brought several 20 year old bimbos into OUR bed made me crazy. Our bed. The bed where we conceived our youngest son, where we talked and laughed and sometimes cried. The bed where we had sex. Here we are a couple years after that post-discovery talk and the only thing that bothers me about his cheating was that he brought them home to our bed. It's pissing me off as I write about it now, so I'd better stop.
But first let me say that I had several opportunities to bring someone home, but I wouldn't do it. That's a line I couldn't cross. If you tell your wife that you had sex with your mistresses in your marriage bed, it will probably be a long, long time before you have any sex in that bed again. Understand?
2. Answer the questions and only the questions. She's going to start asking you questions. Imagine that you are giving testimony in a legal deposition or lawsuit. Answer the questions briefly and directly without adding anything. For example, Hubby asked me where JJ and I "did it." My answer - "Hotels." Notice I didn't say, "Hotels around town and the next town over. Once we went to the Bay Area. Remember that cute little place that you I went to for our getaway last Valentine's Day? We went there, too." There's no way to win by giving too much information. If I had named specific places, he'd be reminded every time he drove by one of those places. Leave out the exotic or unusual places completely. A brothel, a hot tub, a restaurant bathroom, his car, my car, late at night on County Road 97. It can only end badly for you if you go there.
3. Don't take your lover down with you. Your wife will probably want to know who it is, but what she doesn't know is that she'll probably be sorry that she knows if you tell her. Give a first name only. Hubby asked me for JJ's full name, where he lived, where he worked, etc. I simply said, "No." I wasn't going to take JJ down with me. Period. Why bring the storm down on his family, too? And Hubby didn't really need to know. He was operating on the assumption that the more he knew, the better he'd feel. The truth, though, is that nothing I said on that day would make him feel better. Only time and love could do that. Oh yeah, and a lot of blow jobs.
The other reason not to take your lover down with you is that it can come back to bite you. Do you really want your spouse and your lover's spouse talking to each other?
4. If she'll let you touch her, do so. If she won't, don't push it, but if you can make a physical connection while you're talking it will help her to feel that you love her and care about her when her brain is sending her messages that you don't.
5. Be prepared for the toughest question - Why? The answer I gave to Hubby was simple, "Because I wanted to." It worked at first because he's used to very brief, simple and direct answers from me, but a few days later he asked again and again and again. I didn't answer it until I was ready and had a reasonable answer that was somewhat honest but that wouldn't devastate him. I went with this: "We both know that the fire in our sex life fizzled several years ago and I was craving passion, variety, adventure." You know why that worked? Because he could relate. He craved passion, variety, and adventure, too. Here's another tip. Do not make it your spouse's fault. "Well, you never want sex." "You henpeck me all the time." "You won't try anything new with me in bed." No, no, and no. Those things may be true, but you need to give her a little space before she can hear them. Besides, you know it's not her fault.
6. Postpone the discussion if she's really angry or crying hysterically. She may tell you she wants to talk about it, particularly if she's angry, but she won't really hear anything you say when she's in that state. As for her being angry, if she's angry at the beginning, she'll be angrier as your talk continues, and that's dangerous.
7. Do not talk about it in front of the kids - ever. This may seem like a no brainer to you, but if it's the two of you at home with the kids you might be tempted to send them to the other room assuming they can't hear. They don't need to hear the details of your marital dysfunction. It will scare them. They won't understand what's going on. They may assume you're getting divorced. Don't say anything to the kids unless both you and your wife agree on a message.
But what if your spouse can't help him/herself and brings it up in front of the kids? Two or three days after our post-discovery talk (the one about me), we were driving through town and ended up stopped briefly in traffic in front of a hotel, a Comfort Inn, to be specific. Hubby turned his head toward our son in the back seat and said, "Look, Little TommyKat. That's probably one of the hotels where your mommy plays with her friend." I cannot describe how angry I was at that moment. It just so happened that I had never used that hotel, but that was beside the point. He involved our son. Before I could say anything he gasped and said, "Oh my god, Kat, I'm so sorry. I don't know why I said that." He went on to apologize profusely and promise me that he would never do it again and he never did. Why did he do it? He was hurt and angry and it just came out at the wrong moment. A really wrong moment. It was easy to clean it up with our son who didn't understand what he was talking about anyway. Maybe the point here is that your spouse is human, and feelings of anger and insecurity don't just disappear because you talked things over. It takes time.
8. If you want to stay married, say so directly. Your wife will automatically think, "He's cheating. He wants to leave me." Look her in the eyes and tell her you love her and you want to stay together (assuming that is true). Do it several times during the conversation. Once won't be enough. She probably won't hear it. Once she can hear it, she needs to internalize it, and that takes repetition.
Remember, there are at least two conversations going on at once - the one that the two of you are having and the one that's going on in her head. The one going on in her head is a whirling mass of fear, insecurity, confusion, and anger. You need to make sure that the most important things you have to say cut through her internal dialog. You do that through repetition, sincerity, and physical contact.
9. Don't leave your bed or your home. I guess this is a post talk tip. If you want to stay married, stay. If she asks you to sleep on the couch or in the guest room, refuse. Sleeping side by side after the discovery and the talk may seem difficult and uncomfortable, but guess what? It's going to be difficult and feel uncomfortable no matter where you sleep. If she leaves to sleep in the other room, fine. That's her call, but you stay put because you can't hold her if you're in the other room. Even touching toes in bed is progress because physical contact is bonding. Now what if you want to sleep in the guest room because it's really stressful with her and you need to sleep? Don't do it. That confirms what her head has already been telling her that you don't want her.
Just as you should stay in your bed, stay in your house. I know a guy whose wife asked him during the post-discovery talk to please stay somewhere else for a few days so she could calm down and process everything. Being a basically nice guy, he agreed. That was 18 months ago. He's living in a dingy rented room, paying the mortgage and all of her expenses while she enjoys having the whole house to herself. He even goes over to the house every weekend to do the yard work. And he's still waiting for her to "process everything" and let him come home. Guess what? That marriage is toast, but it might have been saved if he had just stayed home.
Generally speaking, for a couple to stay together, they need to be together. Simple, no? That doesn't mean that they shouldn't have time to themselves, but keep in mind that working out your problems is unlikely if you're staying at the Comfort Inn (alone, or not) while your wife listens to her girlfriends vilify you for days. I'm just sayin'....
10. Beware the flurry of dangerous questions. I already warned you about the two questions that must be answered with a NO and the big WHY? question. But those aren't the only questions you'll be faced with. It will start with the post-discovery talk, but they will continue to appear for days after the talk, maybe even a few weeks. Some of them will make you cringe.
Is she prettier than me? Is she better in bed than me? Are her boobs bigger than mine? What sorts of things did you do in bed? How many times did you fuck her? Did you give her any gifts? Does she love you? Is she married? Were you thinking about her when you and I were doing it? Are you going to keep seeing her? Do you want to?
If you're a woman, expect questions that come from the other side. Did he buy you gifts? Did he give you money? Do you think about him when we fuck? Does he have a bigger dick?
Here are some guidelines to help you. If it's a comparison question, don't answer it because it's a lose-lose. For example, if she asks if your lover is prettier than her and you say yes, she's hurt and her insecurities just heard you say that she's not pretty enough. No, that's not what you said, but that's what she'll hear. If you say no, she'll want to know why you were with her if she wasn't as pretty. Do you really want to get into a conversation about how sexually uninhibited your lover is and how much she makes you laugh and how you really "get" each other? I didn't think so. So, politely and lovingly disengage with comparison questions if you can.
Hubby and I have a deal that we won't ask any question that we don't want the answer to. I reminded him of that when he started the interrogation. Then I answered every question he asked. Some of them came after a moment of silence and I could tell that he as weighing if he really wanted the answers.
On the other side, when I was interrogating him about his decade of floozies, I intentionally asked him a string of very personal questions because I knew they would make him very uncomfortable. Someone asked me recently if I'm passive aggressive. Uh, yes, apparently so. I asked him questions like,"Is Suzi shaved? What did her pussy feel like?" "Tell me what you did with her in our bed. Did you change the sheets every time or did you make me sleep in the same sheets that were messed with her cum?" I was ruthless. It didn't take long for me to see that he'd been punished enough and I stopped.
I guess the point is (besides the fact that you don't want to piss me off - Haha!) that there's a lot of talking that you have to go through that really has nothing to do with repairing your marriage. For some reason, though, getting through the dangerous questions phase is necessary for getting to an initial level of closure.
After all is said and done, though, you need to assess the situation yourself. Every woman is different and responds differently to difficult situations. The important thing is that you be prepared. Think about how you might handle it in advance. You may think you'll never be caught, but no one does. You'll fare the best if you're prepared.