I Want To Decide To End The Affair, But I’m Struggling. How Do I Make This Decision?

By: Katie Lersch:   Much of the time, the people who I hear from are those who are the faithful spouse.  They are not the ones who cheated in their marriage, but they are dealing with a spouse who has.  Sometimes though, I hear from a spouse who is cheating and who is looking for a way out.  They know that the affair is wrong. They know that they are causing damage and are on the cusp of causing a lot of pain.  But they don’t know how to untangle this mess.

Many intuitively know from the very beginning that they must end the affair.  But they soon find out that this is easier said than done.  They want to do it in the right way.  They want to do it in a healthy manner.  And they want it to be final and lasting so that they can move on to more important matters – like saving their marriages.  But they aren’t sure how to make all of this happen simultaneously.

Someone might describe this situation: “I know that I need to end my affair.  But the other man has almost become dependent on me emotionally.  I don’t think that he is going to just accept my ending it.  I think that he will be devastated and will try to talk me out of it.  And I know that we are both going to be hurt.  I have developed quite strong feelings for him.  To be honest, I don’t want to end it.  But I know that I have to and need to end it.  My children are more important to me than anyone else – including the other man.  I know that jeopardizing their family is irresponsible and inexcusable. So I need to end it.  I am trying to make a firm decision about this because I know that my wavering is not going to benefit anyone. When I think about making a firm decision, I feel sad that it is coming to an end and then I want to call or see the other man.  So I worry about my ability to make a decision and carry it out.  How do I make this decision so that it will stick?”

I think that there are a variety of things that you can do.  And I will discuss them below.

To Get Your Resolve Up, Play The “What If” Game And Arm Yourself With Statistics:  I think that you know that this has to end and why it has to end.  But if you need anymore inspiration, imagine that you continue on with the affair.  Imagine that you are caught.  Then imagine your children shuffling between two households and living in broken homes.  Then, look up some statistics on children of divorce.  These statistics are not pretty.  Children of divorce struggle academically, financially, and socially.  If you need anymore inspiration, look up the odds of a relationship that started as an affair lasting for the long term. The odds are extremely bad.  So the risk that you are taking is for something that isn’t likely to work anyway and it could have negative implications for those you love the most – your children.

Set It Up So That You Can’t Help But Succeed:  I hate to compare ending an affair to a diet or to an addiction, but honestly, there are many similarities.  In order to be successful, you have to set yourself up not to fail.  That means you throw out the junk food or whatever you are addicted to and you begin healthier habits.  You make it hard to cheat.  You put safeguards in place and you buy healthy food so you really have no choice but to stay the course.

This relates to an affair because you need to do the same thing here – make it very hard to cheat.  This means you end the affair in a way that makes it very clear that the decision is final and will not be changing.  You cut off contact and change your phone number or email if you have to.  The truth is, when you don’t have to see or talk to him, it makes it far less likely that you will not stay the course.  The first step of this is to be firm when you break it off.  You don’t need to debate it or offer a long explanation.  Saying that you are focusing on your family is the truth and it is enough.  Then make it clear that you wish to have no contact moving forward because anything else would just be painful, confusing, and not in line with what you’re trying to do.

Following Through: Once you’ve made the break, you have to follow through. No checking in or checking up.  No texts or calls.  You truly have to place your focus on your family exactly as you have said that you are going to. Is this going to be easy?  Probably not.  But I would bet that as soon as you do it, you will know that you’ve done the right thing.  And that will make things a little easier.  The more days that you get behind you without contact, the easier it gets. In essence, you are breaking a habit.  This is not impossible, but it requires repetition.  Take it one day at a time and remind yourself of why you are doing this.  Family can be a very strong motivation.  When you are tempted to back slide, remind yourself of those statistics that you looked up before.

I do applaud you for putting your family first.  I get a good deal of correspondence where people are only thinking of themselves.  That puts you ahead of the game.  Healing is totally possible and it makes your marriage stronger. You can read more about the healing process on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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