For Ann and I coming to a shared definition of her affair in the context of our marriage was essential for both of us. We learned to tell our story together. She filled in the gaps and shared her means of deception with me. This was painful. We had done a lot of life while she was in her affair. Her sharing how she went about it all and her inner world during the affair helped to restore trust. I learned to allow her into my inner world. I had many and various thoughts and dreams that she did not know. This was scary for me to tell but helped her to feel connected with me. Here is Our Story and My Emotional Affair if you haven't read it yet.
Shirley Glass begins part 3 of 'Just Friends' with this,
The Search for Meaning
A vital part of trauma recovery is telling the story of what happened. The only way for anyone to comprehend what seems an incomprehensible event is through the search for meaning. After any personal loss or unimaginable catastrophe, we need to piece together what happened and talk about our experience. Rescue workers receive debriefing, bereaved family members join support groups, and trauma victims create a narrative of their experience. Expressing the emotions and telling the story is the best pathway to healing. This applies to the trauma of an affair too. If you don't know the story of the affair, you may recover but you will not heal--the wounds will always be there.
When you're telling the story of an affair, how you talk together is even more important than what you say. The story of the affair is not just about what happened in the affair itself. The story must include the context in which the affair occurred...The story of the marriage will provide a framework to understand whether relationship vulnerabilities set the stage for an affair. The unfaithful partner must be understood through his or her personal history, attitudes, and unmet needs. Looking at outside influences is also an essential part of the story since infidelity flourishes in an environment of social approval. Understanding the dynamics of the unmarried affair partner will be helpful for all three people affected by the extramarital triangle...
Vulnerabilities must be understood before a couple can weave their stories into a meaningful narrative that accounts for what led to the affair, what sustained it, and how it was resolved.
So what is your story? What was your dating like? What marked your time pre-kids? How did your marriage with kids change for the better? the worse? What occurred in your life just before the affair began? How did you miss each others hearts? Are all the secrets in the open? Is there anything else you would like for your spouse to share with you?