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Is It Appropriate To Ask A Spouse To Take A Polygraph Test?

I found out that my wife had an affair. She did not disclose this, I had to find out for myself. Although she asks for forgiveness, I am troubled by the notion that this is not the first time, yet it may be. I cannot read her mind, and since she lied about it, I can only expect that she is capable of lying again. She has proved herself to be a cheater and a liar. I don't know if I can keep her with me, (after twenty-five years), with just one affair. But my mind would be made up if I knew that this has happened in the past with others.

Asked on Nov 26, 2010Improve / edit this question

5 Answers

Christine Marie   L2: Contributor   94 answers   +57 votes
This answer has +3 votes  by

After 25 years, it's going to be very hard for her to gain your trust back.  I know this is going to be an extremely difficult hurdle for you to pass.  While you may feel as though you are constantly suspicious, it wouldn't be wise to express that outwardly to her.  You want her to know that she has to earn your trust, but you don't need to make her feel bad about it on a daily basis.  This will only push her away and you will not be able to get your point across.

I would suggest the best way to get through this is to find a marriage counselor.  This is a fantastic way for you to both express your concerns with someone there to mediate and help you find a solution.  When you are this wounded in your relationship, trying to work it out together may lead to more arguments than progress.  A therapist can help you work through your feelings.  They can help you to express to your wife how hurt you are and how hard it is for you to trust her.  She may be able to express the reasons for why she cheated and possibly tell you more.  The most important thing is for both of you to be honest in the therapy sessions.  If you are concerned about her being truthful, take the first step by expressing your worries first and saying exactly how you feel.  If you truly want to save your marriage, you can't be afraid to let it all out. 

Also, don't be afraid to change counselors if you aren't happy with the way sessions are going.  You should both feel like you are getting what you want from the therapy.  Best of luck to you!

Posted on Nov 26, 2010
Barbara Sonja Biller   L3: Expert   529 answers   +436 votes
This answer has +1 votes  by

I think a pre-promise would work better to avoid these types of situations, such as.....a pre-relationship document that says, "I promise to inform you of any possible notions that I might be led astray."  That way the other person has a chance to not feel like a piece of crap, and be awarded something special such as an apology for the impending ignorance.  If you haven't done this and allowed the other person to feel like a piece of crap, then the other person should wear a pin that says- I'm a piece of crap.

Posted on Nov 27, 2010
Barbara Sonja Biller   L3: Expert   529 answers   +436 votes
This answer has +1 votes  by

This will also help devoted people identify pieces of crap.

Posted on Nov 27, 2010
Jake Andrews   L2: Contributor   14 answers   +9 votes
This answer has +1 votes  by

I really agree with what Christine said. I really couldn't have put it better myself. Trust is the most important thing in a relationship, and without it, no healthy relationship can be had.

So, first, you have to decide if you want to conitnue the relationship. After 25 years, that is a really tough decision. The trick is that you must first forgive, but don't forget. We are all human and capable of grievous errors, but that doesn't mean that we normally do things like that. Yes, she betrayed your trust, and lied about it. She may do it again, or she may not. It's impossible to trust her at this point, but what you have to decide is if you CAN trust her again at some point in the future. Don't make this decision lightly. Follow Christine's suggestion and get some counseling. It's absolutely vital.

And, to adress the topic question about the polygraph... don't. In fact, I wouldn't even bring that up. Yes, she betrayed your trust, but she knows that, and living with the shame out in the open like that is humbling enough. Asking for a polygraph will simply mortify her, salting the wound and adding insult to injury. If there were other infidelities in the past, it may be better not to know about them, because they can't be changed, and she may be in a different place now. Aside from that, polygraph tests are notoriously unreliable, and can't even be used as evidence in court, so you might get a false-positive anyway.

In the end, while she did not live up to her marital promises to you, that is no excuse for you not to live up to yours. In times of crisis, even in situations like this, you still need to fulfill YOUR end of the bargain. By being a loving and supporting husband, and willing to forgive her and work on whatever issues led to the infidelity in the first place, I have faith that you guys can re-forge whatever connection has kept you together these past 25 years, and hopefully make it stronger in the process.

I wish you both the absolute best of luck.

Posted on Nov 28, 2010
Sandy Shannon   L3: Expert   420 answers   +312 votes
This answer has +2 votes  by Debbie Edwards

Jake's right. Do not do a polygraph. They are unreliable at best. And they are no guarantee that this will happen in the future, unless you are suggesting you give your wife polygraph tests on a frequent basis to ensure she is living up to her promises. Of course, that may be one way to guarantee that she does leave you!

What bothers me most about your question, however, is that you say you had to find this out for yourself. I can't tell if something she did was so suspicious that you followed up on it or, based on your quick call to try polygraphs, whether you have been looking for a reason to end the marriage. If it was based on suspicious behavior on her behalf, then maybe your motives are pure and you are simply in a dilemma. However, I also think you've answered one of your questions. If there was suspicious behavior or signs this time, there should have been for any possible previous affairs. Or, if you  missed them, maybe that's why she had this affair and (possibly) others. Lack of attention.

A marriage is a partnership. When something goes wrong, it is rarely the fault of only one person. Usually there has been a breakdown in communication resulting in feelings of isolation, lovelessness, boredom, etc. It takes a strong person not to react to those kinds of things and tough out the marriage, which may be in name only at that point.

I know you are angry and have a right to be, and I am not saying your wife is blameless. In fact, she owns the bulk of the blame, but you need to check out your own behavior in the marriage as well. . Have you been attentive, helpful, loving, available, nurturing, supportive? Or has this marriage been more one-sided. What have you done to keep your wife loving you? What are you willing to do to make your marriage work? You can cheat on your wife without seeing another person: If you are not there for her,if you spend your time away from work, working, being your with friends, sitting in front of the tv watching sports, etc. and not spending quality time with your wife, you are not being much of a husband to her. And I've yet to find a person who has not lied in some way, shape, or form. So be honest with yourself. Forgive your wife and work together to rebuild your marriage. Think about what drew you to her and what kept you together for 25 years. Pray together for guidance because few marriages can withstand these kinds of storms without faith and guidance from God.

God bless!

Posted on Nov 29, 2010

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