I Tried To Give Up My Affair. But I Can’t

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from folks who seem to be sincere when they claim that they still love their spouse and that they want to save their marriage, even when they have cheated on them. It’s my inclination to want to help anyone in this situation, especially if this involves a family with children. But one scenario often comes up that really frustrates me. And that is when the cheating spouse will tell me that they really and truly want to end the affair, but somehow, they just can’t.

An example of a comment that I might hear is something like: “I know that in order to have any chance of saving my marriage, I’m going to have to end the affair. I know that this is the right thing to do and I know that I owe this to my family. After I told my spouse about the affair, he immediately told me that if I didn’t end the affair, he was going to take my daughter and go and stay with his family for a while. He said that I will always be our daughter’s mother and that he will always try to facilitate that relationship, but that he wasn’t going to try to hold the marriage together if I was still seeing the other man. My husband was actually very calm and matter of fact about this. I respected the way that he handled it. I realized that I wanted to try to save my marriage and my family. I promised my husband that very evening that I would end the affair the next day. And I did. I completely believed that it was over and that I would move on with my family and never look back. But, about a week later, the other man came by my office. I took one look at him and my heart turned to jelly. Literally, I can not resist this man. I can’t stop thinking about him. If he gets close enough to me to touch me, then it’s all over. I have been with the man twice since I told my husband that it was over. Each time, I tell myself that it will never happen again but then it happens again. I’m so disappointed in myself. I want to end this affair. I have tried to end this affair. But for some reason, I can’t. What can I do?”

I am going to admit right now that I’m objective about this. I was a faithful spouse who was cheated on. I try to be understanding and patient in all scenarios, but this one poses a challenge for me. Because when you say that you “can’t” quit the affair, that’s not really accurate. You are choosing to give into temptation. Because at any point during these meetings, you could have excused yourself and promptly left. Would it have been difficult and potentially painful? Yes, it would. But how painful is it going to be for your spouse when they found out that you lied again?

Playing Fair: I don’t mean to imply that there aren’t real feelings for both people. I believe that this is possible. But you have to ask yourself which is more important to you – your family or the affair? And you need to be really honest with yourself. Because if you ultimately want the other man, then pretending otherwise isn’t fair to your spouse. This is cruel and dishonest. Because he is at home thinking that he is going to overcome his pain and his suspicions so that he can work this out with you. He is acting in good faith. Doesn’t he deserve the same from you? If you can’t give him that, shouldn’t you be honest?

I do concede that I am sure that it is difficult to just abruptly break off a relationship without much closure. And yet, if you truly want to save your marriage, this is what you must do. Sometimes, this means steering well clear of the other person. Or this means making it crystal clear that you don’t want to see or hear from them at any point. Sometimes, this requires that you change your habits, your routines, or even your phone number. But even if these things are inconvenient and difficult, it has to be worth it to you.

Saving a marriage after an affair is a challenge regardless of how willing and motivated both people are. The trust is a major issue that must be overcome. And every time you continue to see the other person when you’ve told your spouse that it is over, you whittle away that trust just a little more. And you send messages and signals that this deceptive relationship is more important to you than your marriage. If you are truly sincere, this is something that you need to avoid. I know that this process is difficult. But your actions put it into motion. So, now it is up to you to stop it.

I truly don’t mean to sound cruel or impatient. But this is just one of those situations where what you say and what you do need to match. Because your spouse is going to be watching you closely. And if you truly want to save your marriage, you need to know that your actions are in direct contrast to this. My suggestion would be to do whatever is necessary to avoid the other person. If you aren’t in their presence, then you don’t have to worry about continuing the affair. Steer clear of them and spend the extra time on your marriage.

Again, I’m not trying to be abrasive.  But as someone who has been where this husband is, I know how much this hurts.  Play fair and do what you’ve said you’re going to do.  And if you can’t do that, please be honest. If it helps, you can read more about my healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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