RESOLVING THE ISSUE AND REBUILDING TRUST—PART I

After couples agree on the basic details, most of the time the betrayed partner wants to know more: “I need to know exactly what happened.” Seeking out the facts, while painful to hear, can help reduce uncertainty and doubt. When people don’t know the basic facts involved, it can become hard to move beyond the betrayal that occurred. People’s imaginations may run wild. We are not saying that every sordid detail needs to be discussed—this can actually cause unnecessary emotional trauma—but the basic outline of what happened needs to be made clear. Questions and doubts may linger, fostering suspicions and anxiety, unless the betrayed partner’s questions are put to rest once and for all.

Betrayed Partner

When seeking out the facts, we strongly advise against snooping on a partner. Snooping is a violation of a partner’s privacy, which can further erode trust among couples. Snooping is also likely to increase the snooper’s anxiety because it’s very easy to take information out of context and interpret it in the worst possible way.

For example, Maria went through all George’s phone records, but she had a difficult time determining what to make of calls to unknown numbers. Maria’s snooping actually left her feeling more uncertain about the extent of George’s cheating. Was the affair with Teresa a onetime mistake or a larger pattern of behavior? The best way to deal with these feelings of doubt and uncertainty is to ask a partner for the facts you want. Asking questions is ethical, can lead to honest conversations, and helps restore trust. Snooping rarely helps couples feel closer and more connected.

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