Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – email@example.com
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A common theme in the aftermath of an affair is that the non-affair party (NAP) wants to know a lot of details about what has happened. This can be very difficult as often the affair party (AP) will be reluctant to give information, perhaps because they fear it will hurt their partner, perhaps because they are embarrassed, perhaps because they feel that the affair is now over and they want to forget about it and move on.
However, it is often important for the NAP to “re-work” the past – because they may have been living a deception for quite a while, the IP will want to go back over events and work out what they were thinking, what their partner was thinking, where the GP said they were, where the GP actually was. To understand why this is so important to the NAP, imagine that suddenly you wake up in a hospital bed and are told that you’ve been in a coma of the last 6 months. As part of your recovery, you will surely want to know what has happened in that time – what has happened in world events, how your football team has got on, what has been going on in your favourite soap, what has been happening for the people who are close to you.
Awaking from a coma, there will be a gap in your history that you need to go back and fill in before you are fully ready to move forward. I think it is very similar for the NAP – it’s not exactly that they have a gap in their history, but the memories they hold will be incomplete, and will feel false. And imagine, if you were to wake from that coma, what it would be like if everyone said: “There’s no point talking about the past, you can’t change it. So we’re not going to answer any questions you may have about it.”
It is natural, then, to want to get answers to a million questions, and important that the AP is prepared to answer them honestly – this is a key part of starting to restore trust in the relationship. However, in this natural process lies a danger: in some cases the questioning can become obsessive for the NAP and very repetitive for the AP. It is useful to bear two things in mind. First, as the NAP, only ask questions if you are prepared to hear the honest answers. Second, it can be useful to put time boundaries around the questioning, maybe an hour a day, or a couple of hours a week, and aim to reduce this over time.
Counselling can help with this process by providing a safe, neutral environment for the couple to talk about some of the more difficult subject areas and by giving the opportunity to take a step back and review what is happening, how it is affecting both parties, and their relationship.