When we hear about cheating/infidelity, it usually from these perspectives:
The woman being the victim
The man being the "perpetrator" (even though women cheat too)
Why did he do it?
What has to happen for healing to occur?
"I want to know everything before I can trust you again"
Since I have started working with couples more, I have discovered that there is a lot more to infidelity...and it's from the man's perspective.
First of all, many of the books and the therapeutic interventions address what needs to happen for healing to occur, and it places a great deal of responsibility on the person who cheated. The offended party is often portrayed as a victim, and the cheater travels this endless road of apology, guilt, recompense, and walking on eggshells.
Although the person who has been unfaithful does have some actions to take if the relationship is to continue in a healthy fashion, it helps when he can feel like he can openly express thoughts/feelings. He has to know (and feel confident) that he is forgiven and there is a "clean slate" mentality.
For example, most men are not going to respond well to the question "Why?" Either they will become defensive and shut down, or they won't even know where to begin with a response. Better questions address his frame of mind and allow for him to be honest about thoughts/feelings, rather than focusing on the victim's hurt feelings.
"What were your thoughts before it happened?"
"Tell me what you were feeling around that time."
"What can I do moving forward so that we can have more comfortable conversations about what you are feeling?"
Notice that all of those questions allow for a list of responses, and they allow for positive dialogue.
Something else that happens is a woman's desire to know all of the details relating to the incident, and needing total "exposure".
"Who is she?"
"What does she look like?"
"What did you do?"
"Where did you meet?"
"How many times did you have sex?"
"How could you do this to me and say that you love me!"
"Let me see your phone."
"I need access to all of your email accounts."
"Tell me everything that happened!"
"I need for you to check in."
It creates a false sense of security and trust when every detail is revealed, and surveillance begins . Although it seems to be productive, it is actually counterproductive moving forward. Notice that in these exchanges, there is no opportunity for true relational growth, or development of positive communication exchanges. What occurs is very superficial, and the couple will be just going through the motions of healing. Resentment, defensiveness, and dishonesty continues. A better approach as mentioned before is to have open communication about thoughts/feelings, AND for the victim to provide more realistic expectations moving forward. Once the agreement has been made, let go of the past and work on the future.
Finally, something that many people do not consider: he is not going to reveal every detail about something that was pleasurable! Let's be honest, if he fantasized about an incident and received pleasure from parts of it, he does not want to share that...at least not at the time of the incident. No one wants to hear that part of infidelity, but it's true.
So, in my opinion, it is helpful to see the big picture and assist couples by encouraging understanding, open/honest communication, and focus on the future.