How Long Should I Wait For My Spouse To Decide If He Wants To Stay Together After My Affair

By: Katie Lersch: Most people assume that when you are dealing with an affair, it is the faithful spouse who feels the most pain.  People assume that the cheating spouse is mostly fine while the faithful spouse struggles with the pain and the shock.

Although I can tell you that it is very painful to be the faithful spouse, it is not always a picnic to be the cheating spouse either.  I do get correspondence from some of these folks who express heartbreaking regret and who are waiting for their spouse to decide if they are going to divorce them.  They often feel very helpless.  They know that they made a horrific mistake.  They wish that they could change what they did, but they can’t.

And so all that they can do is watch, wait, and hope.  Someone might say: “cheating on my husband is the worst thing that I have ever done.  I am so ashamed of it. I would do anything to make this OK, but I can’t.  I suppose I should be grateful that my husband has not written me out of his life.  But he is not living with me either.  He is staying with friends.  I am so embarrassed that everyone knows about this.  My husband says that in time, he is going to make a decision about whether or not he would ever be receptive to staying together.  He says that he will let me know when he comes to that decision. It has been a couple of months now and every time I ask him about it, he says that I should not pressure him and that he will let me know when he decides.  Some of my friends say that he is just stringing me along and that I should give him a deadline.  They say that I am essentially putting my life on hold.  They say that I should not wait forever.  Are they right?  How long should I wait for him to make a decision when he’s probably going to decide to divorce me anyway?”

I can’t make that decision for you.  But you don’t know that he is going to divorce you.  I was the faithful spouse in my own marriage.  And I will admit that it took me quite a while to come to a decision about saving my marriage. I ultimately decided to do so, but I can tell you that if my husband had pressured me or given me a deadline or ultimatum, that likely would have negatively impacted my decision.

My husband was very patient and I believe that his ability to show me that he cared more about me than about a quick resolution went a long way toward making me comfortable with my decision.  Plus, I wanted some time to watch his behavior to see if it appeared to be trustworthy.  And I wanted to see how serious he was about being deeply involved in rehabilitation and healing.

Although he seemed very enthusiastic in the beginning, I wanted to make sure that he was in it for the long haul. So I waited.  And waited some more.  And he hung in there, which is a big reason why we are still together today.

No one can make this decision for you.  I can’t determine how much patience you have or how important your marriage is to you.  But I do know that many people do vow to wait for as long as it takes because they know that their actions are the cause for the waiting.  If no one had cheated, then no one would be waiting.

It may help to try to see if your husband will interact with you, at least some, while you are waiting.  Perhaps you can begin counseling on your own and then update him on your progress.  If he sees that you are actively trying to work through what may have contributed to the affair, he may be more receptive to trying to work things out.

Regardless, it does just take some time.  Having your spouse cheat is very painful and it can take some time to sort through your feelings and determine what direction you want to take.  But I can tell you that while you are going through this process, you are often watching your spouse very closely for signs that they still love you and are still serious about making things work.  If the cheating spouse seems like they are losing patience and are more worried about their own time frame than anyone else’s, this may cause some doubts.

I think that if you are still interested in your marriage and in reconciling, you have to be prepared to be patient and loving.  Your spouse is likely looking for these behaviors so that he can be comfortable with any decision to try and work things out.

My husband’s patience meant a great deal to me when I was trying to make a decision about our marriage.  I have never regretted giving him one more chance.  You can read more about that process on my blog at

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