Infidelity Denial: How to Cope When Your
Spouse Won't Admit the Affair
By Susie and Otto Collins
It's difficult enough to find out that your spouse had an
affair. But it's even worse when he or she refuses to own up
to the infidelity. Or perhaps your partner has confessed to
having an affair, but denies that it is significant.
Either of these situations can leave you feeling angry,
helpless, frustrated and possibly wondering
if you can stay in this relationship let alone trust him or
Jackie was crushed when she discovered that her husband Tom
was having an affair with one of his co-workers. There was
no denying what was going on as she literally walked in on
Tom and the woman passionately kissing in his office.
Sometimes she wonders how long the affair would've gone on
had she not decided to surprise Tom that day by bringing him
lunch from his favorite restaurant.
While Tom did not deny that he was having an affair (that
extended beyond the kiss Jackie witnessed), he has
continually refused to acknowledge that his infidelity has
broken trust between the two of them.
Whenever Jackie suggests that they talk about why the affair
happened in the first place or requests that Tom go to a
relationship coach with her, Tom accuses Jackie of blowing
the whole thing out of proportion.
He claims that their relationship will get "back to normal"
just fine if she'd just forget the whole thing. These
blow-ups leave Jackie feeling frustrated but also
embarrassed as if she's the one who's done something wrong.
It is obvious that Jackie and Tom are at an impasse in their
relationship. Not only was trust broken because of the
infidelity, but they strongly disagree about how to turn
their relationship around and move toward trust and
connection or if this can happen at all.
Imagine what it also might be like to have reliable
evidence that your partner cheated but he or she continues
to flat out deny that an affair happened! This can not only
lead to further confusion (both internally and within the
relationship), but will probably also stand in the way of
healing and improvements occurring between the couple.
Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself when dealing
with infidelity denial in your relationship...
1.) What do you need right now?
Go within and ask yourself what you need right now to help
you feel better. Keep in mind that no matter how much you
yell, cajole, or push, if your partner doesn't want to admit
that he or she had an affair or that the infidelity has
damaged trust in your relationship, it's probably not going
But you can focus in on what you can do for yourself at this
Of course, we encourage you to be sure that the evidence you
have that an affair happened is reliable and clear. If there
is a chance that a misunderstanding has occurred and an
affair didn't happen, you will still need to repair trust.
When in doubt, get more information.
In the event that your partner either admits to the affair
or you feel confident that the evidence of an affair is
accurate, stay focused on determining what would be helpful
to you right now.
Perhaps you need some distance from your
spouse. If so, give yourself that space and communicate with
him or her about your intentions. Ask yourself what would be
nourishing and soothing for you and then consider doing
2.) What next step do you want to take?
Keep in mind that you don't have to plan out the rest of
your relationship or life at this time. You probably have a
lot of conflicting feelings and perhaps a fair amount of
confusion. Ask yourself what next step you want to take.
You can think in terms of what you need for this moment,
this day, this week or this month which may help you to not
You might be wondering if you want to stay in or leave this
relationship. If so, our website:
may be helpful.
Talking about your feelings and possible plans with a
trusted friend or family member or a counselor or coach may
also assist you in making decisions no matter how big or
While you can't force your spouse to admit an affair that he
or she isn't ready to admit or to acknowledge the
seriousness of what happened, you can set boundaries within
You can make clear what you are willing to accept in the
aftermath of the infidelity and what you
are unwilling to accept. Then follow through on the
boundaries you have set up.
You can also try to keep yourself open when you listen to
what your partner is saying to you. This may feel nearly
impossible when there is little or not trust. But when you
are completely closed down, trust cannot begin to rebuild.
Infidelity denial can feel like an added hurt to an
already hurtful situation. What is perhaps most important is
that you stay tuned in to you and to what can soothe you at
this moment and take those steps. Know that ease
and healing are possible.