Infidelity typically involves three people, the innocent spouse, the unfaithful spouse, and the ‘other person’ (the OP).
A common mistake is for the innocent party to seek answers to questions that maybe are best left unanswered. Frequently the innocent partner wants to confront the ‘other person’. It is a natural reaction, but is it constructive?
Rick Reynolds the founder of the Affair Recovery Center (www.affairrecovery.com) says NO. Rick Reynolds, LCSW, holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work and is a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. Over the past fifteen years, he has helped hundreds of individuals and couples struggling with affairs and compulsive sexual behaviors. Rick has been leading “affair recovery groups” since 1992.
Confrontation may seem a great idea and a way of clearing the air, but he points out that there may be unintended consequences:
How much information do you really want? If you think you might be able to get more information from the affair partner, you’re right, but it might not be what you want to hear. If you are married, then you’ve probably already experienced that you and your mate have different subjective realities and different perspectives…it’s difficult enough to process the information from their perspective, much less the information from the perspective of the affair partner too.
Confronting the ‘Other Person’ with the obvious question Why is unlikely to elicit an objective reply. More likely it will be a defensive and subjective explanation – one that is unlikely to serve any useful purpose and may in fact just cause further distress. Rick Reynolds has a huge amount of experience in this area, and he is a realist:
After all is said and done, some of you will still feel an overwhelming need to confront the OP (other Person). For some it will be driven by a need to get the crazy compulsion out of their head. For others it may be a need to face their fears. There can be any number of reasons, but I do suggest you try to get your mind off the OP and onto your recovery. The last thing you want to do is let another person have the power to control your peace of mind.
It is important that the innocent partner move forward in a positive way. Do not mistake this advice as being a recommendation to bury your head in the sand and ignore the problem, rather it is that you need to weigh the benefits of learning what is most likely useless information against the probability that it is just going to add to your pain.