It might seem like the questions will never stop, or that there are no answers that can satisfy. However, there is a kind of “healing intelligence” behind these questions, and they usually occur in roughly the following sequence. Although there can be more than one motivation for asking a question, a bit of introspection will reveal the core of what you are searching for.
Shock: “How could you do this!?” “How could this have happened!?” “Do you have any idea what you have done to me?” These first questions frequently are the emotional equivalent of shaking your partner by the shoulders as you try to comprehend that the affair really happened and at the same time convey the way you yourself feel so shattered. The affair is still not completely real to you. You are demanding that your partner somehow reconcile the person that you thought you knew with what you have discovered. There are seldom satisfactory answers.
Piecing it Together: “When did it start?” “Who started it?’ “Has she been in our house?” “So last Christmas, all of that “business” texting… ?” The facts. You are now starting to piece things together. You need to rewrite the history of your relationship and you are doing research. Hopefully your partner will cooperate. You need to know what happened to start to process it all.
Tests: “Do you love her?” “Do you love her more than me?” “Was sex better with her than with me?” “Are you just staying with me because it is easier?” “Do you really regret what you did?” You are trying to get reassurance, to reestablish yourself as his only love. Your partner has to answer perfectly for you to be satisfied or else you will keep asking. Depending on your situation, the answers can be helpful or hurtful, or some combination. You may find yourself repeating these questions in the hopes that you will get the answer you want. Your partner may start telling you what you want to hear out of desperation.
Obsessive questions: These are the ones you ask over and over and it almost doesn’t seem to matter what the answer is, you find yourself asking again and again. “What attracted you to her?” “What does she have that I don’t?” “Where did you have sex?” How many time did you have sex? “What was sex like?” “Why did you do it? “Did you think of me while you were with her?” As you can see these can be some of the same questions that you ask in other categories, the difference is, you find yourself asking them over and over no matter what answer you get. The answers will either make you feel worse or satisfy you for a short time only and you return to them again and again.
These are also the questions that are most likely to lead to intense arguments. Unlike the other types of questions, these are really expressions of feeling. For example, “what does/did she have that I don’t have?” can be a statement about how undesirable or inadequate you feel. That feeling can be so painful that you cannot bear to be completely aware of it. And if you are, perhaps at this point you do not feel safe sharing your vulnerability. Putting him on the spot is much safer. When you find yourself repeating these kinds of questions, see if you can ask yourself what you are feeling underneath. Then you can decide if you want to share the feelings.
Reflective Questions: These come later, after the initial shock and devastation and some emotional sharing has occurred: “Why did you feel you had to go outside the marriage?” “Why couldn’t/didn’t you come to me if you were that unhappy?” “How did you justify it to yourself?” “How did your feelings towards me change?” When you ask these questions you notice that you actually are interested in the answers and are willing to hear things that might be hurtful. These questions carry the healing potential to open up important conversations between the two of you.
One way to track your relationship’s healing process is to think about what kinds of questions you seem to be asking the most. Most discoverers of affairs at some point get stuck in “test” and/or “obsessive” questions which can cause conflict to escalate to an alarming degree on one hand, or emotional distancing to avoid such conflict on the other. Marriage counseling is one way to get help to move through the painful feelings these questions represent and eventually establish a healing dialogue.