My Husband Is Asking Me To Please Be Patient Since He’s Having An Affair. But How Can I?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives whose husband has been caught having an affair and who can not come to an immediate decision as to how he is going to handle this. And that is usually when he starts using phrases like “please just give me a little time” or “if you could just be a little patient, then I promise I will come to a decision soon.” And frankly, this can feel like a concession that is just way too much to ask.

I heard from a wife who said: “I caught my husband having an affair with a coworker. I was so furious that I told him that he needed to quit his job immediately because I didn’t want for him to have any contact with her. He balked at this and said in this economy, he can not afford to just leave his job when he doesn’t have anything else lined up. I wasn’t sure that I totally bought this, but a few days later, I caught him texting her. Upon questioning him further, it’s clear to me that his not leaving his job isn’t all about the economy. Part of it is that he is not sure that he wants to let her go or just abruptly end the relationship. He says that he has strong feelings for us both. He is asking me to just give him a little more time to determine what he wants. I feel that this is too much to ask. It’s as if he expects me to just wait around while he has relationships with both of us. And I can’t do that. I won’t do that. But I don’t want to just pack my bags and leave my husband either. What can I do?”

This is a very tricky situation. Because on the one hand, you don’t want to be forced into making a rushed decision or concession. On the other hand, it is absolutely unacceptable for him to ask you to wait around while he decides if and when he wants to end this. If your marriage is important to him and he wants to act with integrity, then he will act without delay.

Often though, the people in the affair get very caught up in it and are somewhat out of touch with reality. Things feel very immediate when they are in the middle of the infidelity. But once they step back and gain true and real perspective again, then they realize how wrong they were. That’s why it’s important that you don’t just allow him to have both relationships while you wait patiently. Because if you do this, then he really has no incentive to leave her or make a firm decision. After all, he has both of you and as of now, so the clock isn’t ticking.

I can’t tell you what to do or even suggest what is better in your situation. I can just share that in my observation and experience, if a cheating spouse has no real incentive to stop, then they won’t be in any hurry to stop. And the longer that the affair goes on and the more involved they get with the other person, the more damage this is going to do to your marriage. So it’s my opinion that it is in your best interest to encourage as quick of an end as is possible.

With that said, this isn’t always so easy because if you force someone to do what they are resistant to doing, then they will often resent you and see you as the bad guy in the equation. Not only that, but when you force him to end the relationship, then he may always see her as the one who got away. Or he may pine for her when he may not have done that if he had decided to end the relationship for himself. So this leaves you in a situation where you there are pros and cons to both strategies, which is why I suggest a sort of hybrid strategy between the two.

I think that telling your husband that you are not going to participate in a relationship of three while still waiting to see what is going to happen is reasonable. So I’d suggest a conversation that may work something like this: “I don’t have any patience for my spouse cheating on me. I realize that you think that you need time to work this out, but I can not participate in a marriage where there is more than two people. When you decide that you want to have no contact whatsoever with her and you are ready to commit fully to our marriage and it’s repair, then I may be willing to discuss this further at that time. But, until then, I can’t really just wait around for my husband to decide if he wants to be with me or someone else. You can either stay with friends, or we will be nothing but roommates until you come to a decision. I can’t have so little respect for myself that I will allow you to have relationships with both of us. When you are ready to be committed only to me, then let me know. Until then, I will be working on myself and my own healing, but I won’t be working on this marriage until it is just the two of us.”

In this way, you are allowing him all of the patience that can reasonably be expected in this situation, but you aren’t disrespecting yourself by knowingly allowing your spouse to have a romantic relationship with someone else. This way, he may be inspired to act a little more quickly. And you will likely see where his heart and his loyalties lie.

I know that this is difficult, but sometimes, you just have to respect yourself enough to remain firm on what is truly not acceptable to you.  There is always compromise when healing from an affair, but this sort of patience is just not realistic and it doesn’t benefit you.  I know how hard this is, but with healing, it does get better.  If it helps, you can read more about my recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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