Dear Jacob, Should I Show My Wife Proof of Her Affair?
I found out that my wife cheated on me about a month ago and that she’s been sexting other men for about a year...
I found out by hacking into her Facebook account and looking at our phone records. She doesn't know I have proof of the one time she physically cheated and it is eating me up.
The thing is, she's starting to come back to the marriage now. I asked her to stop texting these guys and for the last 2 months she has stopped completely, at least as far as I have seen on the phone records. To me that is progress on her part even though she doesn't know I am watching her.
I have proof of only one occasion that she has done the physical cheating and I have been secretly looking at the Facebook and phone records for 2 months now. She could guess that I’m looking at her phone records, but she doesn’t know I have access to her Facebook account.
Right now, I am trying to heal our marriage because I love her, but I’m keeping what I know a secret for the time being because we are trying to get counseling.
I have asked her if she has cheated on me a couple of times over the past year and her answer is always no… When I ask her, she suggests that I have more freedom to cheat on her, and she says with the way I act that she feels I may have cheated on her. I have never cheated on her and that is why this hurts so much. I do not want this to hinder our healing and with God’s help, I have forgiven her. I just hate that I know her secret and that she doesn't know I know; I don't want this secret she has from me to eat at her when it’s not even a secret anymore!
Jacob, what do I do? Do I show her proof of the affair? When do I show her? Or do I just keep what I know between me and God and let her deal with it not knowing that I know.
Thanks for your help,
This is definitely a bit of a strange situation that you found yourself in. There are a couple things that stand out to me, and I’m going to address those first, then I will tell you what I think you should do.
If Your Wife Has Really Stopped Her Affair,
Count Yourself Lucky
The first thing that stands out to me is that your wife seems to have made a meaningful change and stuck with it for the past two months. This is awesome! In these kinds of situations, it is much more common for the wayward spouse to say they’re going to change, but then to go back and find some new way of cheating. I’ve had many men over the years who have come to me excited because they thought their wife was coming back to the marriage, only to find out a couple weeks later that she’d been lying and had no intention of stopping her unfaithful activities.
So! The fact that it’s been a full two months and you still don’t have any reason to believe that she’s continued sexting or anything else like that is wonderful. I really hope this continues, because it sounds like you’ve been gifted with a wife who is truly capable of withstanding temptation and making meaningful change in herself. A rare gift indeed.
Just Because She's Stopped Cheating Doesn't Mean She's Ready to Accept Responsibility
The second thing that sticks out to me is what she says to you when you have asked her whether or not she’s been unfaithful. I probably don’t need to tell you this, but her response reeks of guilt and trying to shift blame away from her. It’s the classic response to an accusation… “What? No, of course I haven’t cheated! How would I even do that? I should be asking YOU if you’ve cheated, not the other way around!”
Do you see what your wife is doing with this response?
She’s trying to shift the guilt she feels onto you. It’s highly unlikely that if your wife were being totally objective and honest, that she would actually claim to suspect that you had an affair (unless there’s something you’re not telling me). If she does, then it’s because she has force herself to believe it as a way to cope with what she’s done. So, don’t take it personally when she accuses you of cheating; it’s simply a coping method for her to prevent herself from feeling guilty.
With those two things out of the way, let’s talk about what you can actually do here.
If You Show Your Wife Proof of Her Affair,
Here's How to Do It:
As is true in most situations like this, there is no strictly right or wrong answer here. What I’m telling you is what I would do in your shoes, feel free to take from it what you will apply this advice however you like.
I think that you should have a calm sit down conversation with your wife and basically just tell her what you told me here. Don’t spend a lot of time talking about what you know she did, instead put the focus on moving forward and why it is that you’re telling her this in the first place, which is ultimately for her own benefit.
Initially when you tell her, she is either going to try and deny it again, or more likely, she will get angry. I wouldn’t show her the proof you have unless she adamantly refuses to admit it, and either way, have a plan ready in your mind for how you’re going to move past that stage of the confrontation and focus on the parts that really matter.
There are three things you want your wife to take away from this conversation:
- You’re overjoyed that she’s made meaningful change, you can feel her coming back to the marriage, and you’re excited for the future.
- You love her unconditionally and you forgive her, and you’re asking her forgiveness too for all the times that you neglected her and were anything less than a great husband.
- You don’t want her to go on feeling guilty for no reason, and so you’re telling her what you know in an effort to give her a true clean slate.
You could also consider, after getting through that third point, offer your wife an open invitation if there’s anything else she wants to tell you.
Tell her that you think you know everything, but that the point of this conversation is for her to be able to walk away with a clean conscience, and that if there’s anything she needs to tell you in order for her to make that happen, that now is a good time to do that. Make sure she feels comfortable, and you need to be ready to offer that same level of forgiveness to whatever new thing she may or may not confess to.
Whatever You Do, It's Time to Let Go of Suspicion
One other thing, I think that at this point, you should stop tracking your wife’s phone and Facebook activity. You can either tell this to your wife (if you think it would be helpful), or don’t. This is more for you than for her.
Basically, by letting go of complete knowledge of what your wife is doing, you are forcing yourself to trust her again and give her a truly clean slate.
THAT is unconditional forgiveness. The ability to give complete trust and love even when it is entirely undeserved.
Unconditional forgiveness means offering complete trust and love even when it is entirely undeserved.
Whatever happens, I think you are doing an extremely impressive job here, CGB. You’ve done an excellent job of coping with this wayward phase that your wife is going through, and I sincerely hope that you are able to fully repair your relationship and enjoy a happy, lifelong marriage together.
Much manly love,
Update on CGB's Decision:
Why He Decided Against Showing Her Proof
I have spent some more time discussing this situation with CGB, and he's decided to wait until after meeting with their marriage counselor to either confront his wife or not.
His reasoning is that his wife is extremely defensive right now.? He doesn't want to risk pushing her away from the progress she's already making in the marriage. He feels - and I agree - that a marriage counselor who has met with both of them personally would better understand the best way to navigate this tenuous situation in the marriage.
So! If you're here reading this and you're in a similar situation, keep in mind that you know your marriage better than anyone.
If you feel that confronting your wife with proof of her affair will risk doing further damage to the relationship, then you can't go wrong with waiting. A marriage counselor - someone who is there with you and knows exactly what your marriage is like right now - will be better able to help you make the correct decision.