What Is The Expected Outcome When You Leave Your Marriage To Pursue The Person You Had An Affair With?

By: Katie Lersch:  Most of the correspondence that I get comes from people who are in a marriage where an affair just ended and they are wanting to save their marriage eventually.  Occasionally though, I hear from someone who is considering ending their marriage to pursue an affair.  I sometimes wonder why they’ve chosen to reach out to me, when I make it pretty clear that I would never advocate for an affair.  But I think that perhaps they are looking for an honest answer – even if it is brutally honest one.  And maybe, just maybe, they are looking for someone to speak the truth.

They might explain something like: “I don’t want it to sound like ending my marriage is something that I take lightly.  It isn’t.  This is heart-wrenching for me and I know that whatever route I choose, it is going to hurt in some capacity and it is going to feel wrong. I honestly did try to end the affair and go back to my marriage.  I did make an honest attempt at that.  But it was a disaster.  Because I was always thinking of the other man.  I wasn’t really present when I was with my husband.  And he knew it.  My heart was somewhere else.  I just could not help it.  So I have made the very hard decision to leave my marriage to pursue this other man.  And the affair relationship is not even a sure thing. Because the other man is trying to save his marriage with his wife.  However, I suspect that as soon as he knows that I am available, he will choose me. And, I just can’t see any other way – even with the risk.  I can not be happy without him.  And I’m willing to risk everything for the chance of being with him.  So, now I am wondering what are realistic expectations with this?  What am I looking at moving forward?”

I’m going to say this as gently as I can.  I believe that you probably already know the answer to this question.  I’m not psychic.  But I know this because, from your own words, you repeatedly used the word ‘risk.’  The point is, you already know that this is an enormous risk for so many reasons.

First of all, I probably don’t need to tell you that the odds are so heavily stacked against you.  Second marriages don’t have the best odds of survival.  Even worse, second marriages to people who were affairs have absolutely dreadful odds.  I’ve seen some statistics that put the chance of success in the low single figures – meaning far less than ten percent or not even one out of ten.

Add that to the fact that you’re dealing with a man who is actively trying to save his marriage and I’d bet that the odds are even lower than that.  You’re assuming that he will choose you, but you don’t know that.  And assuming that he does, he may well resent you for breaking up the family that he was trying to get back.  If he has children, they may most certainly resent you, which will put additional strain on the relationship.  Not to mention that it’s very hard to have an affair-type relationship once you’re married.  Once the secrecy and scandal are gone, the excitement is usually also gone.

Marriage is hard.  This is true even when you start out in the most honest and righteous way imaginable.  It is true even when you’ve done everything right.  But when you start out in secret and shame and you shatter people along the way, then that relationship is already dealing a great deal of baggage that it’s going to drag along behind it throughout its existence.

That isn’t even considering the lack of trust that many couples in your situation deal with.  You already know that your husband-to-be has the ability to stray in his marriage when things get tough.  Who is to say he won’t do this to you?  These fears may always be in your mind (competing with that baggage that I discussed above,) for your attention.

Now I know what you might be thinking: “I know it’s going to be hard, but it’s also going to worth it.”  That’s truly for you to decide.  It sounds as if you already realize that it’s going to be a struggle.  I hear from many folks who did pursue the affair and who ended up deeply regretting it.  I have no idea if your marriage could survive if you turned your attention toward it.  But it seems to me that at least you might want to give the other man a chance to save his family before you pursue him.  Otherwise, you are trying to take someone else’s husband and someone else’s family member.  If he eventually divorces his wife (without outside influence from you,) then you would be in a different scenario.

But as it stands, the expectation for someone who leaves the marriage to pursue an affair is bleak.  You don’t need to take my word for this.  The statistics and odds for this are extremely daunting.  And all you have to do is look around at well-known couples who have tried this to know that it is often a disaster for all involved.

I know that at times it seems as though your marriage doesn’t stand a chance post-affair.  I thought this also.  And yet, I’m still married today.  I was not sold on saving my marriage at first.  But I’m glad that I did.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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