Figuring out how to get someone to tell the truth about cheating is equal parts science and art. It’s the first step in healing a marriage after infidelity but often isn’t as straightforward as you first thought.
However much evidence you do (or don’t) have the first step to getting someone to tell the truth is to start talking about it. This conversation won’t be easy but there’s a reason “Is there anything you want to tell me” is a cliche.
If you’re lucky, starting the conversation will be all it takes but that’s often not the case. Let’s dig in a little further.
Starting the Conversation
There is a fine line to walk here. You never want to bring undue stress into your marriage and accuse your spouse of something they haven’t actually done. Obviously, I don’t know the full details of your marriage but I have heard from a lot of married couples so you start to see some patterns.
Note: If you want more specific advice on how to save your marriage then take a moment to take the marriage assessment quiz.
Evidence vs Suspicion
This is really going to dictate how you begin the conversation.
If you have actual evidence that your spouse has cheated on you then it’s still not going to be as straightforward as you think. I’d really suggest taking a moment and reading my guide on husband denying cheating despite evidence (it’s exactly the same if it’s your wife).
Just because you put the evidence in front of them doesn’t mean they’re going to tell the truth so how you use that evidence is going to be important. In short, rather than throw it all at them in one go and allowing them to build a defense with all the information, you’re more likely to get the truth if you give the evidence out piece by piece.
If they lie to cover up one piece of evidence and another piece catches them in that lie then they really have no choice but to tell the truth.
I also cover some advice on gathering more evidence if needed. Sadly, it isn’t always as simple as just having some evidence and we’ll get into why they lie about it in a little bit.
If all you have is suspicion then things are… both better and worse.
It might be your suspicion is unfounded and there’s nothing for them to tell you (which is better) but it’s going to be far easier for them to lie. In either case, the conversation is going to heavily rely on them wanting to tell you which is the case more often than not.
Listen to Them
It can be easy to let your emotions start calling the shots here. You might just want to scream at them but if you really want them to tell the truth, let them speak. Even if you know they’re lying, let them speak.
Pay attention to their body language and make sure your own is receptive. This doesn’t mean you’re poised and ready to throw something at them, it means you’re facing them and nodding as they speak. You shouldn’t be looking at your phone or the TV even if they are.
Priming the Question
Before going straight to did you cheat on me try to naturally steer the conversation towards honesty or infidelity. For example:
Kelly just found out her husband has been cheating on her. She wants to give him another chance, what do I even say to that?
Most of us imagine ourselves to be honest. Even if your partner is cheating on you, chances are they’re telling themselves a lie which makes it alright in their head. We’re human, it’s what we do whether we want to admit it or not. We all tell ourselves these little lies to get through the day.
Let There Be Silence
This can be hard for some of us. It’s certainly hard for me but sometimes the most powerful thing you say is nothing at all.
We’re social creatures and most of us want to fill the silence with something. Anything. Sometimes all it might take is:
Is there anything you want to tell me?
And then just remain silent while they fill the silence themselves before breaking and telling the truth. You don’t need to rush to accuse them or throw your suspicions out at once. Allow them to speak.
You might pretend that you already know exactly what they’ve been doing and you’re just waiting for them to admit it.
Having the Conversation
They Might Tell the Truth
It’s rarely going to be as simple as you ask and they tell the truth. If they’re telling the truth right away then it’s because they’ve wanted to tell you. Most of us don’t enjoy lying and the moment you confront them you’ve offered them a way out.
It’s still not going to be a
Why Cheaters Don’t Admit It Right Away
By far the most common problem is your partner isn’t going to tell the truth.
Sometimes they might want to tell the truth but they’ll still lie.
Sometimes they’ll be presented with undeniable evidence and they’ll still lie.
Sometimes the other woman or man will walk right through the door and point at them – they’ll still lie.
The reason for this isn’t that they’re completely stupid or even that they think you’ll believe a ridiculous lie. It’s because they don’t see another way out. It’s likely they see two options in front of them.
- Tell the truth and suffer the consequences.
- Lie enough and maybe somehow get away with it.
Even if they want to tell the truth on some level, their knee-jerk response is often to lie because we’re hard-wired to avoid stress and conflict. It’s literally written in our DNA.
Getting Them to Tell the Truth
If you’ve started the conversation and they’re not admitting to cheating then there’s still a couple of things you can try.
Note: Don’t be conned by these polygraph testing for infidelity services. I’ve covered them in-depth already and they are not a reliable answer or likely to get you what you want.
There are a couple more things you can try.
Retelling the Story
When we create a lie, we usually only create it in one direction.
I left the office around 3. Met with a client until 5. Was at the bar with a friend until I got home around 7.
Simple. Easy to remember. Learned in that order.
If you ask them what they did that night, they’re likely able to spit that out with embellishments as they go. But if you switch it up a bit:
What did you do before the bar?
What? Oh err… I left the office then I…
It’s rarely as smooth as just ‘I met a client’ unless it’s heavily based on the truth and they really did meet a client before ‘going to the bar‘ for example.
Using Open Questions
Don’t make it too easy on them. Asking ‘did you meet with her again’ gives them a simple yes or no answer. ‘Where were you last night’ is a lot more open and leaves the room to catch themselves out.
And remember what we already covered about not rushing to fill in the silence.
Opening Up and Recovering
There are a lot of tricks you can use to try and catch them out in a lie but even if they work there’s no guarantee you’ll really get what you want.
At the end of the day, getting them to open up and tell you the truth is the first step to healing and moving on. Potentially the best way to get the truth is making sure they know that’s what you want.
- Express empathy for what they’ve done. ‘I know we’ve been going through a rough patch but I want to move on…’
- Be up-front about it ‘I know that you cheated. I can’t pretend it doesn’t hurt but I want to move past it.’
- Be calm when they admit it. It’s likely an emotional moment for both of you but this isn’t the time to punch the air (or punch them). It’s just the first step to moving onward.
Once you’ve got the truth from them it’s time to move on and begin the healing process. If you haven’t already, you should read the guide on getting your husband to leave the other woman (it’s the same if it’s your wife).