To Save My Marriage, I Have To End The Affair. What Do I Say To My Affair Partner? That It’s Over?

By: Katie Lersch:  Many people start an affair knowing that it is one day going to end.  I know that some people become “serious” about their affair partner and want for the affair to turn into a lasting relationship.  But from my observation, this thinking is in the minority.  Most people don’t intend to end their marriage.  And even those that do sometimes change their minds about this once their spouse discovers the affair.

Interestingly, even though most people know that the affair is going to end, few people give any thought as to HOW it is going to end.  Some have no choice but to end it because their spouse finds out.  Others find that it has just run its course and there is no reason to continue on with it.  Regardless of the reason, there is often a dilemma as to what to say or do in order to break it off.

Someone might say: “my wife isn’t completely sure that I’m having an affair, but she strongly suspects it.  She confronted me last night and although I denied it, I know that she’s going to be snooping and trying to find out.  So I know that I need to break it off in order to give her nothing to find.  I worry about how the other woman is going to take it.  Because there’s not going to be any warning.  I just need to end it quickly and then move on.  I know that this isn’t necessarily fair to her.  And I feel very guilty about that.  I never made her any promises, really.  But I still feel that perhaps she got her hopes up that there eventually might be something more.  So how do people end an affair?  Do they just say that it’s over?  I admit that other than my marriage, I don’t have much experience with relationships, so I’m not sure what is the best way to do this.  I don’t want to make the other woman mad so that she’ll go searching out my wife.”

Your Spouse Is Your First Priority: I admit that breaking it off can be tricky.  But it absolutely must be done. And although it’s admirable and understandable to not want to hurt anyone in this scenario, I think that your ultimate responsibility and consideration should be to your spouse.  Whether you made promises to the other woman or not, if she knew that she was dating a married man, then she had to know that there was a risk that this whole thing would one day be over with some pain involved.

You Can Be Gentle.  But Also Be Clear, Final, And Decisive: I think that most of all, you want to be clear.  You do not want to give the other person hope that you might change your mind.  If you do that, then you’ll have more than ever to deal with because they will be bothering you, still in your life, and trying to get you to change your mind.  They may even try to blackmail you to stay in the relationship, threatening to tell your spouse.

You know the other woman and I do not.  You know her personality and how she might react.  Still, I think direct and to the point is best.  I think something like: “I made a mistake in starting this relationship and I”m very sorry.  My decision to end the relationship is not about anything that you did or could do now.  This just me realizing that I did something that I should not have.  And the only way to fix this is to stop doing what I know is wrong and to try to make this right.  I know that you got caught in the middle of this and for that, I am deeply sorry. But I have to end this immediately and irrevocably.”

You might be surprised to find that they don’t really argue with you and that they accept it, or tell you that they were expecting this all along.  Some will even say that they were considering ending things themselves because they agree with you that the relationship was wrong.

However, some will debate with you and will try to get you to change your mind.  Some will tell you that they know that you will be back eventually.  In that case, I think it’s best to firmly and gently stand your ground.  The last thing that you want to do is to debate them or to argue into the future.  You might try: “no, I won’t change my mind.  I put a lot of thought into this and no matter how you slice it, I had a very serious lack of judgement and made a mistake.  No matter how I feel or what I think, there’s no denying that the right thing to do (and what I want to do now) is stop making a mistake and to do what what I know is right.  That’s why I won’t be changing my mind or coming back.  I’m very firm on this decision.  I truly am sorry.  But this is what I need to do and will do.”

Don’t Give In Or Give Them A Pay Off: Hopefully, it ends there.  If they refuse to take no for an answer or they keep trying to contact you, make sure that you don’t give them a pay off for doing so.  Don’t engage.  Don’t debate.  Don’t get angry.  Just ignore them.  You’ve made this clear so there is no reason to continue to discuss it.  If you ignore them and they still won’t stop trying to contact you, then you may need to change your phone number and shut them down on social media or however you have been communicating.

People who don’t get a pay off usually eventually stop trying.  And you just have to remember WHY you made the decision.  The affair is wrong.  It must end.  So you have to make this clear.  You can certainly try to be compassionate and apologetic while delivering the message, but the message still must be clear and final.  And after it is delivered all contact should be cut off and the attention should go to your spouse and to saving your marriage.

Try to remember that your spouse is very important in all of this.  They are your motivation to end it and they deserve your attention and concern more than anyone else.  So your goal is to deliver the message quickly and efficiently.  You can try to do it compassionately, but only if that’s not going to give the other person the wrong idea or any hope.  Because the goal is to turn your attention to where it belongs as quickly as possible – and that is on your spouse.  The sooner you do that, the sooner you can start to try to make this right again. I do know how tricky this can be. You can read more about what happened after this process in my own life at this at

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