My Husband Cheated And Doesn’t Know What He Wants. How Long Should I Be Forced To Wait In Limbo For Him To Decide?

By: Katie Lersch: It would nice if the spouse who was having an affair always had a solution in mind once he got caught. It would give the faithful spouse a lot of reassurance if it was immediately clear that the cheating spouse wanted to save the marriage. This isn’t always the case though. Sometimes, the cheating spouse is very honest about the fact that he doesn’t know what he wants.

A wife might explain the situation this way: “I was floored when I found out that my husband has been cheating on me. I was even more floored when he said he didn’t know if he wanted to end things with the other woman. He says that he still loves me. He says that he does not want to break up our family. But he also admits that his feelings and commitment to the other woman ‘are complicated.’ He is asking me to ‘give him time to come to a decision.’ I feel that it is not fair to make me wait and hold up my life in this way. But at the same time, I don’t just want to abruptly file for divorce if there is a chance that somewhere down the line we might fix this mess – especially for the sake of our children. However, I don’t want to allow him to hold up my life forever. How long should I give him to come a decision?”

That’s an answer that I can’t give you. I don’t know your tolerance for waiting or how long your spouse plans to ponder this. I do understand that you don’t want to end your marriage abruptly without having all of the information. I agree with this. I took this strategy also because I know that divorce was very drastic and could potentially be something I’d regret, especially if I knew that I had acted too swiftly.

With that said, you make a sound argument that it’s not fair for you to be in limbo while waiting. I think that one way around this is to not allow yourself to just be waiting without making any progress in your own life and toward your own healing. Who is to say that you can not start counseling and start moving toward recovery without him? You do not need to wait for him to come to a decision for you to start the process.

You Don’t Have To Wait For Him In Order To Begin Moving Forward: Regardless of what happens with your marriage, you will likely need self work to move toward healing. You don’t need his cooperation or his presence in order to do that.  Plus, taking this time for yourself may give you a clearer perspective on how long you are willing to wait.  But important decisions made in haste and peppered by hurt are not always the most sound decisions.  It’s better to calm down and take careful consideration.

Clarifying Your Position: Another consideration that you’ll have to make is whether or not to continue your marital relationship and all that implies while you are waiting. Many people take intimacy and the romantic aspects of their relationship off of the table when they are in this situation. Because it’s very difficult to just carry on with your marriage when you know that there is another person in it.

There really is no set time for this or any rules. But obviously you want him to be open and to move in the direction of a resolution as soon as is possible. And you want to be very clear on your own direction and boundaries.

You might try something like: ” I certainly wouldn’t want for you to lie to me and say that you want to save our marriage and eventually end the affair if that is not the truth. I obviously have no choice but to either wait or file for divorce. I feel I owe it to our family to wait. But I won’t wait indefinitely. In the meantime, I will be working on myself and evaluating what it is that I want. You are not the only one who is going to make life decisions right now. And since we are both making life decisions, I don’t think it’s wise for us to resume our marriage as it was before. We might decide to do that later after counseling- but not right now. My continuing on in a romantic relationship when I know that you’re seeing someone else would almost be condoning it and I will not do that. I trust that you will let me know when you’ve come to a decision. In the meantime, I will be taking care of myself and figuring out what I want moving forward.”

This lets him know that you won’t be being intimate with him during this process. He needs to know that he has to make a decision to end the affair if he wants to resume your marriage and it’s important that he knows that you are just not going to wait around forever.

Stay busy. Get counseling if you need it and focus on yourself. It’s important that he sees that you value yourself enough that you’re not just giving him the power to decide your future. You are part of the decision-making process as well. It’s not just about what he wants. It’s about what you both want.

In my own case, it was the opposite.  My husband was waiting for me to make a decision.  It took a while.  But in the meantime, we both worked on ourselves as individuals.  My family was definitely a consideration.  You’re welcome to read more on my blog at

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