Have you wondered where the line is between feeling like you know your spouse and feeling like you have to make sure you do? In other words, do you have to put energy into unearthing who your spouse really is or what he or she is really up to? Is your time consumed with snooping out your spouse’s day-to-day life?

I need the truth to get back to normal.

The first thing we tend to do when our spouse does something to cause suspicion is go digging, scrounging up any and every possible detail and angle we can find to help us “know” what is really going on. Suddenly, we have a desperation to fit pieces together that we didn’t even realize were missing or to find evidence to disprove what we now “know” so we can “go back to normal.”

Normal is relative. Usually, it is made up more of desires and hopes than reality. When trust is broken, you are forced to deal with a reality that you would much rather deny. Suddenly, you don’t know what is true, and your whole internal, emotional foundation feels faulty.

When you spend so much time focused on who the other person is, you lose sight of who you are. You lose yourself in them. You weren’t meant to live their life, and yet you experience a deep need to take control of who they are being to stop how you feel harmed. You feel desperately compelled to make them see what they’re doing, admit to it, feel how it’s harming you, and change. How do you get out of that cycle of despair?

You do need to know what’s really going on. However, there comes a point when you know enough to act. You don’t need to know more in order to know there’s a problem you need to address. At that point, your own behavior becomes much more significant than what you’re digging up about your spouse. What are you doing about what you are learning? What is your responsibility? What is his or hers?

Finding a healthy way to seek the truth.

The first step is to confront him or her. Don’t just let Google or Facebook help you fill in the details; let your spouse have a chance. Then use the responses to inform your next steps. Is there denial and more deception? Is there smooth-talking dismissal? Or is there humility and a very real sense of remorse?

Let your gut help you discern what is the truth, and then take appropriate steps to:

  1. Put good boundaries into place so you are not engaging or accommodating whatever it is that broke the relationship.
  2. Let your spouse take responsibility for owning their journey and growth.
  3. Stop digging for more details. You already know enough to act.

Your strength will be in responding to the moment. Make it clear what you will or will not tolerate in your relationship by your boundaries, which include a definitive action plan for when they’ve been crossed. Your action plan isn’t about what they must do; it’s about what you will do if they cross the boundary. It needs to be relevant enough to make them think.

Spend more energy focusing on who you are becoming and less on who they are. You will have much better clarity and wisdom about navigating life around you (including your spouse’s behavior) and will be much less likely to fill in the blanks out of your own fears and suspicion. Don’t allow yourself to become consumed with gathering information. Ask God to reveal what you need to know, but to protect you from what you don’t. Act where you need to act. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself, even when that means protecting yourself from them.

Sharmen Kimbrough MA

Sharmen Kimbrough, MA has a passion for helping untangle the chaos of relationships and has expertise in healing from verbal/emotional abuse, narcissistic victim syndrome, and issues surrounding separation and divorce. She has more than 10 years of experience in non-profit and clinical settings, and has a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling from Liberty University. Her work with the Marriage Recovery Center has brought healing to hundreds of women and couples who are dealing with abusive behaviors in their relationships.

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