I know you are feeling the pain of guilt and confusion.
I understand that you wish all this never happened and that it would all just go away.
I can even believe that you truly love me and that your indiscretion hurts you emotionally much the same way it hurts me.
I understand your apprehension to my discovering little by little, bit by bit, everything that led up to your indiscretion.
And I know that you were uncomfortable with everything that happened during that weekend, and everything that happened afterward.
No one wants to have a mistake or misjudgment thrown in their face repeatedly.
No one wants to be forced to “look” at the thing that caused all their pain over and over again. I can actually see, that through your eyes, you are viewing this whole thing as something that just needs to go away, something that is over, that she doesn’t mean anything to you, so why is it such a big issue?
I can understand you wondering why I torture myself with this continuously, and thinking, “doesn’t she know by now that I love her?” I can see how you can feel this way and how frustrating it must be. But for the remainder of this email, I’m going to ask you to view my reality through my eyes.
You were there.
There is no detail obscuring your point of view. Like a puzzle, you have all the pieces.
You are able to put them together and be able to take in the whole picture, the whole message, or the whole meaning.
Also, you know exactly what that picture is and what it means to you.
And only you know if it can still impact your life and whether or not it continues to stir feelings in you.
You have the pieces, the tools, and all of the knowledge. You can move through your life with 100% of the picture you compiled.
If you have any doubts, then at least you’re carrying all the information in your mind and you can use it to derive conclusions or answers to your doubts or question. You carry all the “STUFF” to figure out OUR reality.
There isn’t really any information, or pieces to the puzzle that you don’t already possess.
Now let’s enter my world…
Can we agree that this affects our lives equally? The outcome, no matter what it is, will impact us both.
Our future and our present circumstances are every bit as important to me as it is to you.
So, why then is it okay for me to be left in the dark? Don’t I deserve to know as much about the night that nearly destroyed our relationship as you do?
Just like you, I am also able to discern the meaning of certain particulars and innuendoes of that night. And just like you, I deserve to be given the opportunity to understand what nearly brought our relationship down.
To assume that I can move forward and accept everything at face value is unrealistic and unless we stop thinking unrealistically I doubt our marriage will ever heal.
You have given me a puzzle.
It’s a 1000 piece puzzle and it feels like 400 random pieces are missing. You expect me to assemble the puzzle without the benefit of looking at the picture on the box.
You expect me to be able to discern what I am looking at and to appreciate it in the same context as you.
You want me to be as comfortable with what I see in the picture as you are.
When I ask if there was a tree in such and such area of the picture you tell me don’t worry about it, it’s not important.
When I ask whether there were any animals in my puzzle you say don’t worry about it, it’s not important.
When I ask if there was a lake in that big empty spot in my puzzle you say, what’s the difference, it’s not important.
Then later when I’m expected to “understand” the picture in my puzzle you fail to understand my disorientation and confusion.
You expect me to feel the same way about the picture as you do but deny me the same vantage point as you.
When I express this problem you feel compelled to admonish me for not understanding it, for not seeing it the way you see it. You wonder why I can’t just accept whatever you chose to describe to me about the picture and then be able to feel the same way you feel about it.
So, you want me to be okay with everything.
You think you deserve to know and I deserve to wonder and imagine. You may honestly feel that the whole picture, everything that happened is insignificant because in your heart you know it was a mistake and wish it never happened.
But how can I know that? Faith? Because you told me so? Would you have faith in me if the tables were turned? Don’t you understand that I want to believe you completely?
But how can I?
I can’t ever really know what is truly in your mind and heart. I can only observe your actions, and what information I have acquired and slowly, over time rebuild my faith in your feelings.
I truly wish it were easier, Michael.
So, there it is, as best as I can put it. That is why I ask questions.
That is where my need to know comes from. And that is why it is unfair for you to believe that we can effectively move forward and unfair for you to accuse me of dwelling on the past.
My need to know stems from my desire to hold our world together.
It doesn’t come from jealousy. It doesn’t come from spitefulness. And it doesn’t come from a desire to make you suffer.
It comes from the fact that I love you. Why else would I put myself through this? Wouldn’t it be easier for me to walk away? Wouldn’t it be easier to consider our relationship a bad mistake in my life and to move on to better horizons?
Of course, it would, but I can’t. And the reason I can’t is that I love you. And that reason in itself makes all the difference in the world.
I’ve encountered the above letter online a number of times on various websites where hurting spouses attempt to recover from infidelity. Others have reported seeing it multiple times as well, and it’s origins are unclear.
This letter strikes a chord with Hurt Partners everywhere. Probably because it so accurately describes the power imbalance so characteristic of early affair recovery. “Michael” and “Wendy” are random first names.
Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires...) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.
We schedule three double sessions with you in total. You complete an extensive online relationship questionnaire. In that final meeting, we spend almost two hours with you explaining, from a science perspective what's working in your relationship, what's not, and how to fix it.
It's all done online, either week-by-week or over a weekend.