How Do I Help My Husband End His Affair?

By: Katie Lersch: I very often hear from wives who are trying very hard to inspire their husband to end his affair. After all, it’s fairly obvious that it’s going to be extremely difficult to save your marriage when it’s no longer just the two of you. There are many reasons that a man will give for being reluctant to end the affair. Some men tell their wives that they just don’t know how to do this in the right way with as much compassion as is feasible. Because the wife wants to end this as quickly as possible, she might consider “helping” her husband to end it.

For example, a wife might say: “my husband has been having an affair with an underprivileged client of his. Before I knew that he was cheating on her, he used to tell me all sorts of sob stories about how this woman had nothing and had such a difficult life with no support. He has clearly pitied her from the beginning. And now, when I am telling him that he must end it with her or face ending our marriage, he says that he doesn’t want to end our marriage. But he says that he just doesn’t have any idea how to break things off. He says that the other woman depends upon him for emotional and financial support and that she has no one else. He says that this is going to devastate her. He says that he has no idea how he is going to face her or look her in the eye and tell her that she is on her own. To be honest, I don’t care. That might sound mean, but I am sure she can find someone else to help her. I know that her life is difficult, but she has made my life difficult. My husband and I can’t be responsible for every one who is down on their luck. Frankly, I have considered sending her an email and signing my husband’s name to just get it over with. But I’m afraid that he would be angry with me for this. At the same time, the affair has to end and soon. I don’t have any patience with this and I’d leave my husband if he ultimately didn’t make a move. Should I help him end his affair? And if so, how?”

Believe me when I say that I completely understand wanting the affair to end immediately. And that means now. To many of us, that means today and not one day more. But at the same time, I am a firm believer in the necessity that it is the cheating spouse who is the one who ends the affair. I believe this for many reasons.

First, it’s important that the other woman truly believes that it is over. If you go and tell her this, she is going to wonder why the husband didn’t deliver this message and she is going to smell weakness. Really, you just want for her to accept this and to go away and she isn’t likely to do this if your husband can’t look her in the eye and tell her that it’s truly over.

Second, it’s important for your husband to own up to what he did and be big enough to clean this up. Plus, it’s more psychologically real if he has to be the one to do it. It’s important that he doesn’t think that he can stall or pretend that he ended it when in fact he didn’t. Unfortunately, cheating spouses often have to make a final and difficult choice. If they truly want to save their marriage, then they can’t expect to still continue on with the affair. And frankly, it looks really bad when a husband tries to stall. It can understandably make his wife think that he isn’t sure about her or the marriage or perhaps he still wants to hang onto the other person.

I’d suggest a conversation something like: “I know that you are worried about what might happen when you end the affair, but not ending it really is not an option if you are being sincere about wanting to save our marriage. We can’t even start the process if the affair is still happening. And frankly, your reluctance to end this at once makes me question your sincerity. I know that you feel responsible for her and that you feel that she has a tough life. But honestly, you are a married man who has been unfaithful with her. This means that you can not be responsible for her anymore. Quite honestly, when she had an affair with a married man, she had to suspect that it wouldn’t end well. Maybe you can direct her to social services or find someone in another office to take her case. But I am very clear on the fact that I don’t want you to continue to have contact with her. This is not negotiable. If you can’t face her, then send her an email or text. But let her know that this decision is final and that there will be no more contact. If you feel the need to arrange for someone else to handle her case before this, then I can live with that. But this needs to happen soon – within the next few days. And you should not be in contact with her in the meantime. Your priority should be our marriage. Not anyone or anything else. ”

Hopefully, this will allow him to see that he must take some action. The rest has to be up to him. He truly does need to be the one to end it. You can suggest things (like email and arranging for someone else to help her) that might make this easier on him. But ultimately, if this is difficult, it’s his own doing. And he should eventually accept that.  Saving your marriage after an affair is difficult enough without having to worry about the other woman.  The sooner she is out of the picture, the better.  If it helps, you can read more about my own situation on my blog at

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