My Husband Says He Doesn’t Want Me Or The Other Woman. He Wants To Be Free Of Us Both

By: Katie Lersch: It’s understandable when a wife gives her cheating husband an ultimatum that he has to choose between her and the woman with whom he has been cheating or having an affair. But often she’s not anticipating a husband who announces that he doesn’t want to choose either woman.

As an example, I might hear from a wife who says: “when I found out my husband was cheating on me with a mutual friend of ours, I immediately told him that continuing on with his relationship with her was not going to be an option for me. I told him that he needed to end it at once. At first he didn’t say much of anything. But he continued to act weird so I asked him once again if he ended the relationship. He answered that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to do that. I told him that he could not have both of us and that he had to choose. It broke my heart to say this because I didn’t want to lose my husband. Despite his cheating, I have to admit that I still love him. After a couple of weeks, he told me that he had decided not to stay with either of us. He said that he needed to just be on his own without any relationships to determine what he wanted. Plus, he felt like if he chose one of us, he would be hurting the other one. And therefore, he would rather not choose either one. I am devastated. To be honest, I never thought that he wouldn’t chose me, especially because of our children. Will he eventually change his mind? Should I tell him what an idiot he is being?”

Understand What It Might Cost If You Apply More Pressure: I am not going to tell you that you are not justified in feeling what you feel. Because you are. It’s not fair for him to cause this type of pain and then to just walk away. However, bringing this to his attention isn’t likely to make the situation any better, unfortunately. It will likely only make him feel defensive – which makes him even more likely to retreat or to avoid you.

My own husband didn’t hesitate to end his affair, but I believe that if he did, I likely would have backed away a bit and focused on myself.  I have learned the hard way that when you attempt to manipulate, shame or guilt your spouse, you are almost assured to get the exact opposite behavior of what you are hoping for. Most always, we try to force him into acting or behaving in a certain way but he resists this because no one wants to feel as if they are an adult who hasn’t been given a choice.

Ultimately, even if it doesn’t seem like it right now, you want him to decide to come back to you on his own. You want it to be his decision, made of his own free will without pressure.  I know firsthand that you are likely afraid to give him this option because you fear that if you do not apply the pressure and constantly remind him of his commitments to you, then he is going to move away from you, which means that your marriage might ultimately be over. I do understand this concern. But I have to tell you that giving a spouse ultimatums or threatening him rarely turns out well. I understand that you want to maintain your marriage. But it helps to try to think beyond this. Because ultimately, what you want is a healthy and happy marriage that has healed. This isn’t like if you have to force him to come back to you and then he resents this.

Why Working On Yourself Is Never The Wrong Path: Instead of applying pressure, I would suggest taking this opportunity to work on yourself. Sometimes when I suggest this, people tell me that working on themselves is wasting time while their husband is still undecided. I don’t see it as a waste of time. To me, it is just the opposite.

Because honestly, no matter what your husband ultimately decides, the outcome is only going to be enhanced if you are as emotionally healthy as you can possibly be.  Also, when you pick yourself and make yourself a priority, this sends a very strong and distinct message to your husband.  In essence, you are showing him that you are valuable and that you have other options rather than just waiting for him to change his mind.  I’m not insinuating that you should pretend that you don’t care about your marriage.  Obviously, you do.  And there is nothing wrong with being truthful about this.

But, you can’t control what he does.  You can, however, control what you do.  And one of the best things that you can do is to take care of yourself and do some self work to determine what YOU want.  So many wives in this situation are so worried about what their husband wants and what he is going to do.  But you should worry equally (if not more) about what you want and what you are going to do.

It’s not unusual for a husband in this situation to eventually change his mind.  I believe that this is actually more likely if you back away, focus on yourself, and turn down the pressure.  But there are many factors that go into how this turns out. That’s why I would suggest focusing on what you can control – which is you.

Taking the time to focus on myself after my husband’s affair was the best thing that I could have done.  I really can not overstate how important this was to my well being and to my recovery.  I also think that it made my husband respect me more and realize that I would no longer settle for bad behavior.   If it helps, you can read more on my blog at

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