My Husband Is Asking Me To Be Patient While He Breaks Off The Affair. Is This Reasonable?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives whose husbands are asking them to wait while he takes his time about breaking off the affair. To be fair, assuming that the husband really intends to end the affair, he usually genuinely believes that he has a legitimate reason for not just abruptly ending the relationship all at once. And he can feel that he’s only asking for a tiny bit of time to do this in the right way at the right time. But, what about what the wife wants? What about what is the right time for the wife?

I might hear from a wife who says: “my husband has been having an affair with a woman who he grew up with. He used to live down the street from her and this woman’s mother practically raised my husband. Their families were very close. She moved back to our town to care for her aging mother. So, my husband feels a sort of responsibility to her. When I caught my husband, the first thing out of his mouth was to beg me not to leave him. He literally fell to his knees and told me that he loved me and our children more than anything in the world and he begged me to allow him to make things right again. I told him I would think about that, but I demanded that he break off the affair immediately. He hesitated when I said this and I knew there was a problem. He then explained that he feels responsibility toward the other woman because she is going through such a rough time with her mother. He asked me to have just a little bit of patience with him so that he could let her down gently and compassionately. He said it wasn’t like she was a stranger and that, because of the circumstances, he is going to see her around town and he can’t bear to just drop her so cruelly. Well, what about what is cruel to me? I feel like she made the choice to cheat with a married man, so she should have to deal with whatever that means. I believe that I should be my husband’s only priority right now and it bothers me greatly that cares about how she feels. Is it reasonable for him to ask me to have patience while he breaks it off? Am I out of line?”

I will admit that my answer to this question is biased. I have dealt with infidelity in my own life. And my answer is that no, it is not reasonable to ask your spouse to have patience while you end the affair. If you really value your wife and your marriage, then the affair needs to end immediately with no questions asked. I realize that not every one is going to agree with my opinion. But that is how I feel.

I do know that people are going to be hurt by this. But there is no way to avoid that. The wife is going to be hurt. And none of this is her fault. She didn’t do one thing to put this into motion and yet she is affected by it. She is the one who is legally committed to this man and she is the one who should get his priority right now if he wants to save his marriage and show her that she is more important to him than the other woman – to whom he has no commitment whatsoever.

I concede that it is unfortunate that the other woman is going through a painful time in her life. In fact, that pain might have made her more vulnerable to make the unfortunate decision to cheat with a married man. And I am not without empathy for other people and their pain. However, knowing the husband for as long as she has, she knew that he was married and had children. And yet, she chose to begin a romantic and secret relationship with him anyway. She had to suspect that it might not end in the way that she had hoped. She had to suspect that one day his wife might find out and then he would have a decision to make.

Well, the time of that decision is now. And I believe that the nod should go to the person to whom you have promised to love and be faithful to forever. Sure, that vow may have been broken. But it is how you handle things right now that is going to dictate what happens tomorrow. When you have betrayed your spouse,  you will have to work very hard to make things remotely right again. Asking your spouse to wait while you end the relationship at your own slow pace isn’t right. And it puts your recovery in jeopardy.

So no, I don’t believe that this wife was out of line. And I wouldn’t blame her in the least if she told her husband that she had no patience at all. In fact, I might say something like: “sorry, but I am fresh out of patience. I understand your wanting to break it off in a compassionate way, but you need to do it immediately and you need to make it clear that it is final and that there is no room for negotiation. She honestly is not your responsibility. I should be your highest concern. And until I am, I can’t put my efforts into our marriage. I will always worry that I am second best and that is not fair. So I’m asking you to break it off today. And until you do that, then don’t ask me to reassure you that I won’t take action.”

I know that this might sound like a threat. That’s not my intention. You can say this in a firm, but non aggressive way. Because you are just stating how you feel. I’m not saying that the husband’s intentions aren’t admirable. But in my opinion, there are misplaced. He’s hurt his wife enough. Asking her to have even more patience when none can be expected just isn’t fair.

Once you get over this hurdle, do your very best to put her behind both of you as soon as possible.  It is best to get her out of your love and not to let her back in.  So as best as you can, don’t continue to think about or fret over her.  Focus on yourself.  I know it’s difficult.  But I also know that it can be done.  If it helps, you can read more about my healing process my blog at

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