What do you do when your unfaithful spouse won’t end their affair?
8 tips for what to avoid when they refuse to stop.
This post is part one of a 2 part series in what a betrayed spouse should, and shouldn’t do,
when their unfaithful spouse won’t end the affair.
*This post can be for both a betrayed husband (who I normally would write for),
and also a betrayed wife. Because the advice on what you should, and shouldn’t, do
is very similar for both unfaithful wives and husbands in this instance.
But I did write it in the context of unfaithful wives and betrayed husbands.
Part one (this post) = what to AVOID DOING when your wife won’t end the affair.
Part two= what you CAN do, when they refuse to end the affair.
Please hear me as you read this post-
This is in NO WAY to defend the behavior, or make excuses for, an unfaithful spouse.
I’m certainly not doing that here.
Adultery is the most destructive, and selfish, thing a spouse can do to a marriage and family.
I will never defend adultery, or approve of their decision to have an affair.
Anyone who’ve worked with me, read enough of my blog posts and advice,
and heard me speak on this subject, knows I am the most ANTI-affair person around,
(if that’s even a word).
So this post was written with that perspective –
to help you take some tough steps,
and set some hard boundaries,
in the hope that it will be the catalyst
to break through the deception
and addictive cycle she’s in with this affair.
And hopefully, reconcile the marriage,
if that is what you’re still wanting to do.
But, If you’re not interested in reconciling your marriage, this probably isn’t the post for you.
And that’s okay, you have a right to make that choice.
Ultimately, the burden rests more on a wayward spouse to help you heal;
and radical efforts must be done by an unfaithful wife to get free of her affair.
But, the problem comes when they don’t see that yet.
“The fantasy that’s blinding them from the truth.”
They’re still in this fantasy world of what they think they’ve found in their AP,
and what they think life will look like now, without much evidence of real life in it.
But you and I know it’s not the truth.
That’s why I have incredible compassion for them that most in society don’t feel…
because they’re believing a lie. Just like I was once too.
That doesn’t mean they get to call the shots though.
And just like an addict needs to hit their bottom, I think unfaithful spouses need to as well.
Maybe you just found out about her affair, or you thought the affair was over,
until you found out it wasn’t.
My husband was in this same place and unfortunately,
I was the woman deceived and living in a fantasy world of ambivalence.
You can read more of our marriage story here.
But you know it’s not possible, in the long term, to work on a marriage
and have true healing, if they will not end their affair.
So what do you do, as a betrayed husband, when you still want to
reconcile, but your wife hasn’t hit that ‘bottom’, or is still ambivalent in her affair?
She won’t end it, yet she says she doesn’t want to divorce?
First, remember this- you are NOT to blame for their infidelity…so hear me on that,
and don’t take that on yourself. You can only do so much if they won’t end it.
I know it can be so confusing – trying to figure out what you’re supposed to do,
when you discover your wife (or husband) has cheated on you.
But can you set some clear boundaries to protect yourself and
not be dragged further through the mud of dysfunction with them?
I believe you can.
So, look at this post as a strategy session of ways to set boundaries,
for those of you betrayed spouses, who are still hoping for reconciliation for the marriage.
This will help you navigate what to avoid doing, that might
make her think she can continue on in her affair without recourse.
This is not about condoning her (or his) actions or looking the other way.
This is for you to know it’s okay to not continue doing these things
(that are so easy for many betrayed spouses to do)
even if you’re wanting to reconcile, and get them to see the truth.
“Because it’s easy and natural, as a betrayed spouse,
to fall into the pattern of trying to win them back-
by doing anything possible to gain their attention,
and convince them that you’re the better choice.“
But sometimes we can work so hard to ‘win them back’, that it sends them the message
that they can continue without much recourse or consequences- and all you did backfired.
That’s what I want to help you avoid.
This post on how to cope after finding out about your wife’s affair might also help.
So, if you see things in the following list that you have done,
please don’t feel guilty or think all hope is lost.
If you’ve done these things, it’s because you have a good heart,
and you’re trying to reason with them in ways that would have worked before the affair.
Frankly, my wonderful husband did most of these things at some point, and our marriage still was restored,
so don’t let this mean all hope is lost.
(Personally, I did appreciate the days he was kind and gave me some gifts, so, don’t get me wrong-
it did soften my heart a bit; but it would have been more effective later in our recovery,
then when I was in the middle of acting out like a rebellious teen).
Plus, some of these things might not send the wrong message to some wayward spouses,
so use your own discretion here with your own situation in mind.
*It’s important you know that these are my opinions from my own personal experience and perspective
as a once unfaithful wife, and after speaking to my husband- from the betrayed perspective. This is also
from what I’ve heard and witnessed from working with other women who’ve had affairs,
and from my research of what many infidelity experts advise also.
This is particularly about what NOT to do when dealing with your unfaithful wife,
not about general things to do or not do after their affair.
You can read posts for a betrayed husband on various subjects here.
Interview with my husband and his perspective as a betrayed spouse.
8 tips for what not to do,
when your unfaithful wife won’t end her affair:
1. Constantly pursuing & chasing her; trying to win her back.
They’re getting all the attention and affection from their AP than they could ever want (sorry, I know that’s not fun to hear).
But it’s likely enough to keep them on the hook in their affair.
So you might still be pursuing them to win them back to you- bestowing on her flowers and gifts
to convince her you’re the better choice; planning a vacation away, thinking that will solve everything
if she can just go away with you. (hey, we did all those things too).
Pursuing your wayward spouse could also mean still being intimate with her/him;
(knowing full well they’re likely still being intimate with the AP),
which is never helpful for so many reasons.
Yet, all those things are actually the opposite of what will work,
as long as she/he is still with their AP.
Once the affair is over, and she goes through the withdrawal stage, this would be a different conversation.
2. Making any huge decisions right away,
or looking to continually numb the pain.
This is another common thing that’s easy to fall into. You want to feel better, so you might
look for things that will make you feel ‘better’.
This includes not making a big life changing decisions, or spending a lot of money on big purchases for yourself
for awhile (my husband mistakenly bought a truck right after D-day),
or allowing yourself to get close to someone of the opposite sex
because they’re giving you attention and a listening ear. (This happens all too often to betrayed spouses
and will really mess up your own emotions, plus potentially ruin any chance at marital recovery),
It might mean drinking alcohol too much and too often, drugs, gambling or other unhealthy choices.
These things might help in the very short term, but ultimately will add more problems to your life
than you already have.
So take your time with big decisions and purchases, and don’t try to escape your feelings for too long.
3. Constantly demanding her to stop the affair;
even though you have a right to expect that.
There’s a right way to do this.
Badgering, pressuring or trying to convince someone to stop doing something
that is going to destroy their lives, without some type of clear consequence to them of
what will happen if they don’t, isn’t really effective.
It’s normal to want to appeal to their previous loving feelings and logical mind.
But all bets are off with affairs since nothing is normal or logical about them.
So, how do you NOT stop badgering them to end the affair before their life,
and your families lives, blows up?
Realize that trying to control someone, pressure them, threaten them or badger them to stop
any behavior- WITHOUT CLEAR CONSEQUENCES of what will happen if they don’t-
is not likely to give them the motivation to end it.
They need to see what they will lose if they continue, not just hear demands to stop.
Even though you have every right to expect them to end an affair!
But by just demanding they stop the affair, you can actually (unknowingly) be empowering them to continue in it
because they see it as everyone else against them, and they’re seeing YOU as the bad guy.
This only helps them justify the affair in their mind even more and drives them away from you more.
4. Don’t make it so easy for them-
or be at their beck and call to do whatever they want.
Some betrayed spouses think if they make life easy for them and do whatever they’re asking,
that it will convince their unfaithful spouse to stay in the marriage.
Giving into all their demands and expectations while they’re in their affair –
especially if it’s just to help aid them in continuing their affair- doesn’t help your situation.
This could mean always being the one to pick up the kids from school, or drive them to their games,
because she’s busy “with him”, or answering her immediately every time she texts or calls,
or having everything be like it was before- a set amount of money available to her still,
or access to the house to come and go as she/he wants- while they’re openly still seeing their AP.
What will her (or his) motivation ever be to end their affair if everything is still as it was,
with all the benefits and stability of the marriage, while still being able to continue on in the affair, without consequences?
5. Begging, crying, or being needy so they choose you.
I’m just going to say it- begging, crying or otherwise seeming needy isn’t too attractive.
I’m sorry to say, but you’re begging, crying or pleading with them with a voice of reason,
won’t really change their hearts too much, when they’re still acting out in their affair.
I know this firsthand as my own heart got so hardened while in the sin of my affair,
and I hardly allowed myself any reaction at all to my husbands despair.
I’m embarrassed and saddened by that now.
Being needy, or following her around isn’t really appealing to most of us
but especially to a wayward spouse who is still deluded into thinking the other guy is her soulmate.
She’s had to cut off the empathy part of her heart toward you, so she won’t feel any reaction to your emotions.
Most unfaithful spouses do this, even subconsciously, to continue the other relationship.
So the best thing you can do instead is to get healthy for yourself- in your mind, body and spirit.
This means-see a counselor (yes, guys I’m talking to you- because it will help you!),
get out and exercise in the fresh air and eat healthy to renew your body, and work on your spiritual
life and relationship with God if you’re open to that or come from faith.
Let your unfaithful spouse see that you are strong and will do okay without them.
I know it sounds backwards, but sometimes they need to see that you will be okay without them
and that you’re getting healthy and working on yourself- all these little things can help.
If the marriage doesn’t survive this, you’ll at least be in a better place to move forward on your own.
6. Making threats, or setting consequences, that you don’t follow through on.
When we don’t follow through with what we tell them will happen, it really helps put the power back on them
so that they’re in control of this situation. It also tells them you’ll stay with them no matter what they do.
Making threats that if she does X, then you’ll do Y ;and then NOT doing Y only tells her
that you’re not serious about the consequences you’ve set.
That is really one of the worst things you can do.
It’s seriously like telling your teenager to not sneak out at night or he’ll lose the car privilege or his cell phone-
but then you discover he snuck out of the house last night and instead of taking the phone or car keys, he gets another “warning”.
Yes, this isn’t too different than that.
7. Using anger, or demeaning the affair partner, to control the situation.
Their inability to truly SEE the AP for who they are, and the amount of emotions that stirs up inside you,
is completely understandable and justifiable.
Yet, remember she/he is not in their normal reasoning mind thanks to affair fog and everything involved
in luring them into their illusion of bliss.
When you berate her AP, you’re actually pushing her to him out of anger toward you,
and worrying about him, or feeling sorry for Him.
I know it’s incredibly frustrating.
Not criticizing their AP might be one of the hardest things you’ll have to do right now,
but in the long run, it’ll be better for your wife (or husband) to see the AP’s flaws for themselves.
8. Shaming them, or using guilt, to make them stay with the family.
I know it’s tempting to heap the guilt and shame on them.
This will be an especially easy reaction for you if you’ve grown up within any type of shame based environment.
But giving them more guilt is not going to help your cause.
I assure you, she probably is feeling guilt and shame already.
I know, her actions say otherwise.
And it’s entirely possible for someone to compartmentalize enough, and live in sin long enough,
that they no longer feel that same conviction about what they’re doing.
The bible calls that having a conscience seared as with a hot iron.
If we continue to ignore guilt, and God’s call for repentance long enough, our conscience can get hardened.
But it takes a while to fully get to that place.
The Holy Spirit’s job is to draw us to Himself/God.
He is the restoration business and He’s good at leading wayward souls back to Him while also needing to respect free will.
I won’t get into all the theological parts of that right now, I’m just saying don’t think your guilt or shame
is going to convince your wayward spouse to turn back to you better than what God can do.
Also, It’s also pretty common for an unfaithful to make up all these excuses and rationalizations for
WHY they are justified in having the affair- but you guilting them only drives them further from you-
giving them more justifications to distance from you.
Whew! I know that was a long list and a lot of ‘WHAT NOT TO DO’.
But I think it puts things into context and lays the foundation for what TO DO which is in my next part of this series..
Read Part 2 here- “What to do when your unfaithful spouse won’t end their affair.”
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