Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

6 Steps To Confronting Your Mate About Betrayal

Do you think your mate has been unfaithful? If your goal is to find out what happened in order to determine what you want to do, then don’t make a bad situation worse by how you confront them after a betrayal. Even though saving your marriage might not be something you're interested in, depending on what happens, healing after an affair is crucial and you might change. Here are six tips for confronting your mate:

1) Do your homework:

First, gather as much information as possible to verify your suspicions. Intuition about betrayal can be wrong. If you make accusations before gathering proof, they will begin covering their tracks, and proof of their infidelity may be more difficult to find.

2) Pick the right time:

Confronting someone in a situation where they will be embarrassed or harmed professionally (such as at work or in front of the children) won’t be productive for a good outcome. Find a time where the two of you can have an adult conversation.

3) Be in the right frame of mind:

Be mature. You want this to be a rational conversation, not an emotional conversation. Refrain from hurling insults and name calling. As hurt as you may be after betrayal, if you’re looking for answers, then try to remain calm. It may seem backwards, but you want your mate to trust you when sharing in order for them to feel safe enough to give you the information. If you are out of control- why would they want to make things worse by telling you what’s going on? This is key in hopes of healing after an affair.

4) Rehearse what you are going to say:

This is highly emotional, and being able to clearly communicate your message in a matter of fact way will surprise your mate and catch them off guard. If you successfully approach them in a rational manner they will be far more likely to respond to you in kind. As difficult as this may sound, if you maintain an attitude of concern for them they will be more likely to honestly engage with you.

5) Keep the end in mind:

To keep your wits about you, keep reminding yourself of the end in mind. Many times life after infidelity involves your mate denying or minimizing what’s going on. They may also tell you that you’re crazy and need to get help. Don’t get defensive and let them make it about you. The betrayal isn’t your fault. Keep reminding yourself that this is about giving them a chance to tell you what’s going on, not about proving what you know through your discovery or who’s at fault.

6) Listen to what they have to say:

You’ll learn far more by not talking and listening to what they say than you will by telling them what they are doing and what they’re thinking. Tell them you’re giving them a chance to come clean. Let them know if they want to have any chance of being in relationship with you they will have to be totally honest. For more guidelines for discovery go to our discovery articles.

Life after infidelity and healing after an affair is possible, and know that rationally confronting your mate is a great first step.

What things did you do well or not so well when confronting your spouse?



RL_Media Type: 

Add New Comment:


Gut Instinct and Denial

What do you do when you have that gut feeling and even attempt to warm your spouse about someone who is obviously interested him/her?  All I got in return was, "No, it's not like that.  It's just a friend from _____". I completely trusted my spouse and was completely deceived. If I had listened to that instinct, I might have been able to stop the sexual affair before it happened.  It was probably too late for the emotional part.

I had been calring giving that advice for weeks before the affair happened. My spouse initially denied it. Once I found the evidence (explicit photos, emails, etc.), it was impossible to deny. I didn't keep a cool demeanor, but I don't believe that an adulterer deserves compassion upon discovery.  Especially considering the boldness of the lies and depth of deception that accompanied the betrayal.

But before that, I was trying to be honest and caring with my concern and trust my spouse blindly.  Maybe I shouldn't have.  Where did I do wrong?

I found out a year ago my

I found out a year ago my wife was unfaithful to me saying she fell "in love" with another man and out of love with me because I wasnt treating her emotional needs well. While I believe I was being a jerk to her (issues I needed to work out) I would have rather her left me then been unfaithful. I had suspicions that something was up and ended up finding pictures of her she had never sent me and pictures of another guy photoshopped saying "I love this man" etc. I was crushed because I love this woman more than anything, shes my best friend, my soul mate, my everything and because of my actions cause her to drift away from me. Anyways, I called her (she wasnt home at the time) and I was in tears and straight up asked her. She told me she would come home. She expected me to have destroyed the house which trust me I was tempted but I remained calm, even better is when she pulled up I was scared but then a sense of calm came over me as if God gave me peace saying that no matter what, it will be okay. Her "relationship" with this man (though not always sexual because he lived in another state and she would see him when we would visit that state saying that she was going to visit her friends) lasted about 11 years. I couldnt believe any of this was happening but here we are a year later. I've changed a lot from the jerk I was and am working at being a better husband and father. Gary Smalley books have really helped as well as these emails. We've tried counseling but they didnt seem to understand our relationship and the cost of outrageous. We did talk to our pastors and they've also been a huge help. One thing I'm still unsure of even though she is here still and we're doing okay is she doesnt seem remorseful and she hasnt asked for my forgiveness for her unfaithfulness. She finally after many months of not is telling me she loves me again which I feel is genuine. Perhaps she is trying to be strong or perhaps she is still struggling with her feelings for this other man. I've read her some of these newletters which I hope have shed some insight to her feelings (emotional overload). I still struggle with trust issues and I want to trust her and stop being suspicious. When should that stop? Will there be a time that she will apologize for her wrongdoings? She also struggles with depression which I think is related. Is that normal for a person struggling with their guilt? Anyways, thanks for these letters, they've been nice to read since I am not the only one out there feeling these things. If anyone has any insight, that would be great. By the way, this month we will have been married 19 years.

Better Have Incontrovertible Proof

My wife lied to me for almost a year before I finally found by accident letters describing how great their sex was.

Confronting your spouse

I followed these steps exactly. The problem was he flat out lied to my face and said "No nothing is going on" I specifically said, "I have these thoughts/suspensions because....I am giving you the opportunity to tell me. If you tell me no then I will believe you because you have never given me any other reason why i shouldn't trust you" Still he said; Nothing was going on.

So when the truth did come out, because he was caught by her husband, it hurt even more because he had lied to my face.

We are trying to work on our marriage.  I think it depends on what all has to be revealed. If it is just an affair; these steps may work. But if your husband has something more, such as a sexual addiction, he has learned to always lie his way out of any situation.

My husband had been lying to

My husband had been lying to me for years. I confronted him 5 or 6 times. Every time I was calm and offered him the chance to be truthful. Even when I had rock solid evidence he lied. It was not until I threw the phone at his head did he decide it was time to admit the affair. Still he lied about every thing from when it started to where it happened. Every detail I learned by digging through his personal things. He had gotten so comfortable lying to me it was not until I was violent did the truth come out.

Confronting spouse

The thing I did well was I had my brother keep my children each time I wanted to confront him about the affair. I only had to confront a couple of times because I got explicit proof (e-mails, texts, phone records). I gave him several opportunities to come clean. I explained very clearly it was not going to be a safe haven at home if he continued to lie to me. He like many other betrayers did not tell the truth. What I didn't do well at was handling the truth and details of the affair. Unfortunately, I would get so angry at him I would slap his face and any other imaginable physical abusive thing that I felt in my rage. The bad part was I couldn't believe that I had so much rage inside of me. It's like something I have never felt in my whole life. He never touched me back, how he kept from doing that I'll never know. I have managed to completely keep it from our children which are small 9 and 5. I never wanted them to have thoughts that were negative about their father. My daughter is so close to me I knew this could be very damaging. I'm sure most people reading this might have a hard time believing I am saved but I tell you that God protected my children from knowing what was going on. Every time I would go into a rage they would be asleep. They never woke up one time, so I know he was there protecting them. I am happy to say that a year and 4 months later with a lot of counseling and a husband that let me use him as a punching bag:( that I am healing quite well. The grief I use to feel that was so gripping and gut wrenching I rarely feel anymore. Also, the constant obsession of the sexual acts use to live in my mind almost 24 hours a day does not play over and over again. It's more on a rare occasion that I might think about it. There is hope to all of you out there that think it won't go away. It can and will. Just keep hanging in there and don't give up.

Not sure

January 29....find out he has been leading double life of smack talking, massive fantasizing, etc. married 3 years ago. I have a strong sense he has been unfaithful. He has let a couple things slip. He told me there were sparks with a neighbor, but nothing happened. How do I know for sure? I am trying to get evidence. This is tearing me apart inside....any suggestions?

What type of affair was it?

Our free Affair Analyzer provides you with insights about your unique situation and gives you a personalized plan of action.
Take the Affair Analyzer

Free Surviving Infidelity Bootcamp

Our experts designed this step-by-step guide to help you survive infidelity. Be intentional with your healing with this free 7-day bootcamp.
I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas