Rick Reynolds, LCSW
by Rick Reynolds, LCSW
Founder & President, Affair Recovery

Ending an Affair - Step One: Make the Decision

Until the decision is made the battle never begins

Most Wayward Spouses See No Way Out

My Story:

Suicide seemed the only alternative for ending my affair. Not wanting to cause any further pain eliminated honesty as an alternative. Mostly, I didn't want to be seen as "the cheater". Snared by conflicting feelings, I wouldn't decide. Despair hung over me like dark storm clouds. I could see no way out. Failed attempts at ending the affair ignited feelings of hopelessness and left me feeling absolutely out of control.

Crazy as it sounds, death seemed the best alternative. I know right from wrong. My head knew I needed to end it but my heart cried no. I felt responsible for my AP and wanted to protect her. My deception had no end. Here are just some of the mental traps I fell into:

  • It felt I couldn't live without her and I feared the outcome of a separation.
  • I had never experienced such extreme and desperate feelings.
  • I was sure this was my one chance for happiness.
  • I believed she was my soulmate.
  • I even worried that letting go would result in someone else getting to experience the life I'd given up. If I stayed married would I remain forever miserable?
  • Would it be the right decision or would I forever regret this decision?

I began to catch glimpses of destruction in my future. More misery than I ever imagined flooded my life. If the affair was so great why was I so desperate? I finally understood I had no choice. I couldn't break free even if I wanted. My own efforts were not going to be enough.

That reality guided me to the truth:

I was ensnared in a fantasy of my own making.

Reasons to abandon the marriage were bountiful, but reasons to stop the affair seemed unimaginable. Determined, I began ignoring my emotions and thinking of "Reasons to stop the affair".

At the very least, I needed to make a definitive choice one way or the other.

Make the Decision

Step one in ending an affair is firmly deciding to end it. This is a unilateral decision made for you and by you. It is NOT based on an agreement between you and your AP.

Joint decisions between you and your AP leave you in a covert alliance and provide reasons to check in to see how things are going.

This must be an irreversible decision you make to get your life back.

It's not the same as wishing you could want to want to break off the affair. That's a mindset I call "W3" (wishing you could want to want to break it off). Without firm resolve and a strategy, the allure of the feelings generated by the affair will draw you back. There can be no wishing. This decision is about breaking free and has to be final.

An Uncertain Future

Ambivalence is two diametrically opposed desires effectively canceling each other out. It is a state of homeostasis that leaves you 50/50 when it comes to infidelity. We're stuck because 50% of us want the right thing and 50% of us want what we want. The more resolute you are about ending an affair the stronger the tantrum from the other half. Anticipate the civil war that follows the decision to walk.

The stronger your resolve, the stronger the internal tantrum.

Voices in your head will tell you to run back to your AP and that you can't live without them. The internal tantrum will shout that you're making the worse mistake of your life. You must decide beforehand that the inevitable backlash is simply part of the process and do not waver. Your reasons for ending the relationship are still valid and this is the defining moment where you remind yourself of the promise of freedom you're seeking.

Freedom will not come in the shadows of secrecy. After all, it's the secrecy and darkness which empowers our failures and addictions.

Understand why the decision is difficult. This helps counter the voices telling you to give in and go back. For more information read "Why Breaking Up is Hard to Do".

Compromising your morals and values doesn't lead to peace. If you're reading this article, there's a good chance you're compromising your beliefs. You may think you're taking the right path, but I generally find there's at least a sense of internal turmoil. If I'm at war within myself, I'm violating my core self by my decisions.

Breaking off your affair may be one of the most difficult struggles of your life, but until the decision is made the battle never really begins.

Next Steps to End an Affair

  • Seek out expert help from those who have walked down this road before and who are experts.
  • Decide to be resolute, unlike any other time of your life. As of this moment the affair becomes not optional.
  • Consider writing a cold-hard-truth letter to yourself on why you need to end the affair. Be blunt. Be straightforward. Put it away and read it later, time and time again.
  • Tell someone you trust, who is a safe person and who will give you support about your decision. Share with them why you've made the decision and what they can do to help.
  • Consider our Hope for Healing course and finding those who can walk with you in your recovery.

You're not alone in your struggle, and you don't have to be alone in your recovery.

Next we'll explore how to inform your affair partner that it's over.

If you have been betrayed consider attending Hope Rising: A One-Day Conference for Betrayed Spouses. You can also sign up to live stream the event if you are unable to attend live in Austin, TX.




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Question about giving this to my Husband

It's a long and complicated story, as I'm sure everyones is so I give you the basics. My H started his affair with a very good friend of mine (our families were very close) almost 2 years ago. He moved out just over a year ago. He pretended to try in MC and barely did any IC. He refuses to try anything else, he says he's happy. They are still involved. She lives about an hour and a half away but spends as much time as possible here, at least for the summer, she works in the school system. I'm sure my H is gone from me and if he were to return it would be a very hard road back for us. But I think our 17 year marriage deserves the effort, from both of us. This affair has ruined 2 families, ours, we have a young son and hers, they have 2 teenage daughters. They also betrayed good friends (me and her H) One of the justifications I hear thrown around is do you really think we would be doing this and causing everyone so much pain if it were not real and we are not in for the long haul. My son is unaware of their relationship. Her daughters are aware of the relationship. The damage all around it devastating. So here is my question, would it be appropriate to give this series and supplemental reading to my H? What would be the best timing if any? and scariest of all for me, will I be helping him strengthen his relationship with her? The place I'm in right now is I would love to be able to save my marriage but it's getting harder to say that. I love him but I'm angry and disgusted.

This could be my story!! Did

This could be my story!! Did your husband ever end his affair and give your marriage a chance?

You know the right thing to

You know the right thing to do. If I got all your info correctly, it sounds like it's time for an ultimatum. DO NOT let the fear of losing him or him choosing her stop you from standing up for yourself. "Having him" but not really having him is basically the same thing. He must choose one of you and don't let him take you down that road where he says he's choosing you but still seeing her. Nothing can start healing until he stops what he's doing. He sounds deeply enmeshed in the affair fog and the only thing I know to end that is to make him make his choice and having you both is not a choice available.

I applaud my wife.

I didn't even have to ask... The moment she was caught, even in the midst of not fully understanding what damaged she had wrecked upon us, she cut things off. At first I was upset that she went to see him right after discovery (that same morning)...after all I had kicked her out of the house and that was the last person I wanted her to see. But as she told me, she wanted to make it crystal clear to her AP that it was a mistake, it was done and she was gone. I'm not proud of her mistake, but I admire the way she took full and complete responsibility for cleaning up her mess. She still works at making amends and healing our marriage, working as hard as she can. It may not be enough to save our marriage in the end, but it certainly made me thankful that nothing was dragged out. Honestly, if she would have done anything different or had any hesitation at all...there would be no marriage today.

Living two lives

I'm extremely grateful for this article! I'm a female who is having an affair. I have been hoping for an article like this for quite some time - speaking to us betrayers. I want to first start off by saying that I never imagined I would be in this situation! I was the girl that said "i do" and told everyone that I would be married "forever!" Well now I am 9 months into an affair and I'm stills married and living with my husband who isn't willing to divorce me. We have two boys and he believes we need to do "the work" to save our marriage. However - my AP is so incredible and we connect on so many more important levels than my husband and I could dream of! In addition my AP talks about having a life together and about marriage.... I love my AP's vision for our future. However - I can't seem to divorce my husband... When i read " We’re stuck because 50% of us wants the right thing and 50% of us wants what we want...." That statement hit me cause that is exactly my problem. Currently I am having both - but I don't think I can sustain this for long....especially if my AP has plans for us soon.... Man - I'm stuck really really really bad!! When I think about breaking it off with my AP I feel like I'm gonna suffocate. I feel like I'm gonna be walking away from one of the best "matches" that has found me (finally).... But I also know that divorce was not in my plans when I said "I do." So I am not sure what I am supposed to do anymore! I am essentially living two lives and don't know how to resolve and/or proceed with my relationships! Help!! Please!!

Ditch your AP NOW! You are

Ditch your AP NOW! You are setting yourself up for years of misery if you do not. Gather up the strength and do it! The grass is NOT greener on the other side, I speak from experience on this one.

AP vs husband

Thanks for your response! Tell me what your experience was? I am so worried about going back into my marriage and being miserable, like I was prior to "stepping out." My husband I don't communicate, aren't on the same emotional level, have very limited common interests, have no sexual fulfillment and seem to not get along when it comes to our relationship and love for each other. I felt lonely for years prior to my affair and finally, I let my boundaries become weak and that is when I met my AP. I should also note that in the years prior to my affair, my husband and I tried every thing. At my request, to try and improve our relationship, we did (counseling, books, cds, marriage groups, bible studies, etc.) to no avail. And about the "grass is NOT greener..." I love that analogy - I use to always say that if I fertilized my own "crap" my grass would be beautiful! HA! Okay... So what was your experience. I just want what I have with my AP every day - so badly (I love our relationship, our communication, his emotional maturity, and his physical affection (to name just a few things)). I envision that this relationship is possible and that a blended family is what I will have?? What am I missing? What if my relationship with my husband is not fixable??


You just described my life prior to my affair. To a T. All of it right down to the marriage retreats, bible study's etc. Then along came Mr. Wonderful. Although I did not stay with my husband during my affair, I filed for a divorce to marry my AP. Had the ring and the whole nine yards. Guess what happened when real life showed up. My kids hated him, my family took sides, the more time I spent with my AP the more reality set in. I was isolated from every good thing I had and I was stuck with a wash-out. I know it is hard for you to see the truth about your AP right now while you are in the middle of it, I guarantee you it is the biggest mistake of your life! That awful husband I thought I had wasn't so bad after all when my AP started showing his true colors, they ALL do eventually! My AP was worse, people that have affairs ALWAYS affair down. The signs are right in front of you about your AP and it not working out, stop pushing them out of your mind to justify the FEW good feelings you are getting from him. You have a 2% chance of a long term relationship with your AP during the first 24 months and then you will be divorced once again. What you are describing your AP to be are nothing but feelings. Your affair has nothing to do with your AP or your husband but everything to do with you and your lack of filling your heart with God love but instead you are filling it with a person. The very same problems you have in your marriage will rear their ugly head eventually with your AP. Because they are about you and you alone. Your relationship with your husband is very fixable and can be better than you ever dreamed possible. Your husband is willing to still be married to you. Would you have the same commitment to him if he cheated on you? He deserves a trophy right now. You have to address your own deep seeded issues first apart from your husband and your AP. Oh I get it , it seems very real and life is all unicorns and rainbows and you never felt so happy as you do right now. I promise you that will pass sooner or later and what will you have then? A husband that moves on Suicidal children Children that don't want to stay with you and the man they see as the reason for your divorce Blended family's have to spend a lot of money w counselors. Seeing other people do it is one thing but living it is another An AP that has lied to you more than you lied to you husband Single parenthood Bills you cannot pay All while watching your ex-husband happy with another woman living the life you only wish you could get back So I guess how do you get out of the fantasy of Mr. Wonderful? Make an appointment with Rick in person or video chat, so that someone can love you enough to tell you the truth. It is literally not them (husband or AP) it is YOU! Jana P.S. I attended EMS thinking no one has ever felt as wonderful a relationship as I did with my AP and within 30 minutes in black and white I quickly learned I was nothing more than a cliché at best.

Wow. That rocked.

Jana - I've read your writings and posts over the last few years...Not always agreeing, but appreciating your insight and devotion to fixing the wrongs that were committed by you and your compassion to move beyond those done to you. But honestly, that was the best and most straightforward advice I've ever seen. Damn girl... I'm going to make you my personal motivational coach. From a betrayed husband...thanks.


i agree with "anonymous" above, WOW, jana. from another betrayed husband, thank you. God has blessed you through your circumstances to be able to help others

Spot on!

...and yet another betrayed husband here.
I wish my EX would have learned this before it was too late. Her boyfriend dumped her right after our divorce was final. All of the lying, deception, pain she caused me and our children...was for nothing.


Oh Jana - I sitting here in tears. I am at a crossroads. I know I dont have a hope of a good relationship with AP, but Ive felt alive for the first time in my life. And Im in my 40's with a 'good' man, and beautiful kids - but Ive just been dying inside for years. Being a teenage bride and pushed by family and church - I think Im rebelling? Im so sorry for your story, you are very brave sharing it, and of all that I have read today, you have touched me the most. Im in Australia, so wont be seeing Rick or the counsellors there sadly, but thank you for your courage. x

Same here

Thanks .. that is helpful ... and sounds like truth


Read and Re-Read Samuel's article "Competing with the Fantasy" three times a day. Also read your own post regarding your husband, what you think or don't think you have with him at this point. Once you get to a place of commitment to your marriage it will be more than clear to you that you have placed yourself higher than him. He seems to have all the lacking yet you have none? I totally get that for now. If you choose to come clean and start sorting through issues you will be surprised at how many, if not more, unhappiness your spouse has had with you. Unhappiness that he has endured (pre-affair) because he has put his love for you ahead of himself because he is a good and decent person that will not let his emotions overtake his knee jerk reaction to throw his hands up and bail. Believe me the SEPERATION OR DIVORCE word has crossed his mind more times than you ever want to know, yet he chose to suffer through whatever was going on at the time because he is strong enough to believe in 'one wife for life'. The fall from that Babylon Pedestal betrayers put themselves on is a mighty long one to the crash of reality. Good thing God catches us through our obedience to do the right thing before it's too late. Is that not your current predicament right now? Serving two masters...You will love one and hate the other. Which one will you choose this day? The husband of your youth and commitment or the passing feelings of a satanic LIE? I feel for you girl, but know when you do the right thing with complete honesty your God will clean up the mess and make beauty from the ashes. Everything that you have ever wanted is waiting for you. Reach out and grab the very hand of God that has been there all along. He is calling you and searching for the one that has left the ninety nine. You would not be on this forum unless you still have hope. You have more than hope and Jehovah God is waiting on you, just move your feet in that direction. he has the power to dissolve your feelings for your AP in 24 hours through his ability to overcome the enemy that has sooo ensnared you with a powerful lie. The father of lies wants your marriage and so far he is doing a very good job. Yet you are still married, He has not won yet. Don't let him. Jana

This is your decision to

This is your decision to make. As an adult, you know right from wrong and you are deluding yourself in thinking that it's okay to sit in limbo. Either way, you are going to lose in this deal. you may not see it now, but you will lose your family's respect or you'll regret your decision. Holding everyone emotional hostage is not fair, decent or respectable. It's just selfish. You are hanging onto both out of greed and making excuses for it. You need to make a decision and face the consequences of your choice and actions. Either way, that is your choice to make, but you are treating your husband and children with disrespect. They will all despise you for doing this. Do the right thing...make your decision and stick with it. Relieve these men of the burden you are placing on them. No one respects you for holding on and having this affair. Make a decision, move forward and move on with your life...and let them move on with theirs.

response to two lives

Every emotion you so bravely expressed rang true for me, and in the end, I have to confess it was concern for my AP and what I was leading him into that made me choose to cut it off. We connected on a spiritual level from the beginning, had those conversations my husband would never had, but the longer we were together, the fewer those became. I saw we were putting each other before God. I was leading him away from one of the things I loved most about him. The "affair" had stopped, but I was battling with cutting off communication. I saw myself as the tempter, and I would have rather drown! that I had led this man, who had opened some door that would never close again in me, to myself and away from his Lord, was too much. Such Shame. The pain was unspeakable, and I had to have a lot of support and help. I needed to forgive my husband too, and trust God. Over time I could see the devastation, selfishness, and horror I had subjected others that I loved to, but honestly, in the middle of it I was blind. I really believed things would be better for everyone. That was a lie. I still pray for all involved. My husband and I are still working, neither of us wanting to go back to what was, both believing something else is possible. I have to say God has surprised me in a thousand countless ways, and often it is still a battle. Sin always leaves it's mark, and it's trace feelings. I will not lie. It is excruciating, but the pain is inevitable. You have my love and my support. Do the hard thing and trust the only infallible source, God, not man. I will not judge, I have no right. I remember your pain and pray that you can distinguish love from need. We are all looking for our Savior, just in different ways.

Same here

Thank you ...

Update 6 years later?

Hey! I’m in the exact same situation as you were 6 years ago and can fully relate to the 50/50 reality. I have the exact same feelings for my AP and I’ve tried to end it a few times and have continue to struggle with following through because of my love for her and our connection as soul mates. May I ask how things turned out for you? I would really like to hear how things turned out for you, and how you feel about your decision 6 years later. I hope to hear back from you. All my best!


Thank you for your honesty .... dealing with similar sentiments, though I ended the relationship with AP. It's funny, because I could write almost the same things ... yet, even though at this time (7 yrs ago) you don't know what to do, when I see someone else write almost exactly what I would write, the truth and the right thing to do seems so much more clear and obvious. Thanks

How did your situation end please?

Hello, how did this end please?

Affair love is not real love.

Affair love is not real love. Real love is the husband unwilling to destroy a whole family life. Your AP talks about getting married and having a family? You already have that. Please go watch the videos on the Affair Recovery youtube channel so you can understand why you can't walk away from what you have to just start over and do it all again with someone else. It's awesome to hear what a WS is really thinking because they are rarely willing to share that withe the Betrayed spouse who is being destroyed by the minute. Take the time to RE-create that cocktail of brain hormones with the man you originally had them for and drop the AP like a hot potato.

Heartbreaking thoughts

As the betrayed spouse, it is heartbreaking to know that my husband had such strong feelings -whether you call it love or not - for another woman, and that he chose me as the "right thing to do," not the thing he wanted to do. I want to be loved and cherished as the one he wants to be with, not someone he has to learn to love but doesn't really want. This keeps me from being able to let go. No matter what he says, I will always know that it was such a struggle to decide to stay with me. It was not something he wanted but something he felt he had to do. It makes me feel that it is hopeless on my end. How would I ever believe it even if he did turn around and love me above all others?

Re: Heartbreaking thoughts

You have described exactly how I'm feeling, too. My husband is absolutely certain that he loved - and still loves - his AP. And I am his obligation because of our three children and the 18 years we've been married. In our case, the choice may have been easier because his AP is also married with three children and not willing, from what I can gather, to give all of that up, either. It is obvious that his heart is not fully here though we do have some pretty good moments from time to time. We are in week 10 of the EMS Online course, and to his credit, he has participated fully - done the homework, engaged in the discussions, etc. But my doubts are enormous! I, too, so desire to feel chosen and wanted that I wonder if I can ever let go of the fact that he is having to work so hard to build a relationship with me. I find solace in the Psalms, but particularly Psalm 9:9-10. "The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you." I certainly do not mean to be "preachy" - rather just to share some comfort I have found. Though my faith has been profoundly strengthened as we have walked along this road, I still find myself with such doubt and distrust. Every single day it's a conscious choice I have to make to believe that somehow we will be refined from walking through this fire. Notice I said "we" - I can believe it for myself, but buying into the idea that our marriage can be better than ever is often just too overwhelming a thought to entertain. So I have to hold on tightly to certainties, like the love of Christ is enough to sustain me; and hold loosely to fleeting thoughts and emotions and feelings which are bound to change over time. I know that we are no longer the same people, and as we (hopefully) mature and grow through this process, we will begin to see the new people we are becoming. And there will be a whole new love to go along with that. As I work through this and slowly, very slowly, let go of the idea that my husband's "falling in love" with another woman will always trump his feelings for me, I find myself a tiny bit more hopeful. Ultimately, I am only responsible for my own actions and there's absolutely nothing I can do to change what's happened or how he feels about me. But I can seek the Lord with all my heart, soul and strength and rest assured of His promise to never leave me or forsake me. I am certain my husband will fail me again (hopefully not by having another affair!), as I am certain I will fail him. This walk of forgiving and being forgiven will last as long as we are together. It's messy and hard and I'm sure there will be days I still long for a different past and mourn what I feel was lost, but my hope is that if we stick it out, doing what's "right" even when it's not our first choice, then there is a brighter future ahead. That was a long and convoluted thought to let you know that I am experiencing much the same thing you are! Hang in there! Each of us will get through this.

Heartbreaking Thoughts

I can’t thank you all for these posted comments. They are hopeful and make me feel less alone than I do right now. I discovered my husband’s infidelity with someone I know two weeks ago. He said he was glad he was caught and was ending it. I kept being hopeful as we have connected better in the last two weeks than than in the last two years. Only, to find out he was using WhatsApp instead and was continuing the communication while”working on our marriage”. I am so heartbroken and sad for his brokenness that prevents him from appreciating 30 years together. I have never experienced such an emotional rollercoaster of disbelief.

Me too

This is me too. He told me about his 9 month affair one year ago and "ended it". Last week, he ended it again... for the eighth time. If I didn't love this idiot so much and trust that his own values and faith will eventually win out, he'd be out. He's chosen our family every time, and swears that this time is different. I really hope so. Something I've finally fully realized is that this affair is an addiction. He is an addict going through withdrawal. Looking at it through that lens is finally allowing me to take things a little less personally and turn in a different direction for help. My tears and anger just push him away. That sucks, but it's true. He has to be out of the affair long enough to get clean. One "drink" is too much and twenty is never enough. He is finally seeing that too, at least some of the time. I wish I'd recognized this a year ago. Hopefully this will help someone else!

Hi dj

Hi dj
What you want and what you know to be right are 2 different things. But believe me, when you choose to do the right thing over over the short term "want" it's because in our heart, doing the right thing IS actually what we want.

The "want" is a recognised addiction. The "right thing" is REALLY what we want but it's just that the short-term want is SUCH a powerful itch that needs scratching. It's hard not to scratch that itch but what we really want is for the itch to go away so we can get on and and love the "right thing".

You were chosen for the long term. The ultimate "want".

I hope you are happy

affair resulting to a child

Maybe you could help me understand the process of ending the affair wherein the unfaithful spouse has a child with the AP. No contact rule is not applicable. Or can it be possible? I have opened myself to the idea that he would have visits to the child. Are there any 'rules' or steps that I need to know? D-day was 5 months ago and I still feel so much pain. The unfaithful spouse is not helping as he appears to be not driven enough to take the necessary steps to make drastic changes. We have 2 lovely children and I am barely keeping it together. Help!

How are you??

Hi Strongwill,

I was hoping to touch base to see how you are doing. I am in the same situation where the child is 2 months old and wondering what are appropriate boundaries. Just looking for some guidance.

My husbands AP is pregnant

I finally found a post that talks about this. I am so sad right now. He is staying with her to help her because she has illnesses in addition to being pregnant. I have been abandoned once again. He says he loves me but feels sorry for her and ashamed that he told her we were separated and getting a divorce when he started the affair but we we rent and we were happily married. She was an old girlfriend he reconnected with on line afterc38 years. Shes holding him hostage in a way saying that if he doesnt stay with her and help her raise the baby she will tell her family and police that he sexually assaulted her but it's not true she left me a voice mail stating she opened her legs to him out of love. He doesnt want to turn her in for this so he stays with her and helps her...he wont talk to me on the phone while hes there bc she gets angry and upset and might lose the baby...he won't tell her that he doesn't love her or doesn't want to marry her bc she will use the baby against him and keep him from the baby. Worst of all for me is that we lost our own baby at a time when we separated and he wasnt there for me and he feels like this is his way of changing that pattern. His choices? To abandon me or abandon the baby He told me my friends and family will take care of me and asked me to be there for him when it's all over...when will it be over? When the baby is born, when it goes to college? We are in limbo I know he loves me but cant choose me over a child

This so ironic reading about

This so ironic reading about suicide this moment when my husband told me two days ago he have been having suicidal thoughts because he have hurt me and let down both of our family. He cheated on me ended the affair last October on his own and I found out in June. At first I told him we were done but now some of the anger has subsided we have been to counselling.

Sorrow Cycle

What a proudly simple but potent story ! “It felt I couldn't live without her and I feared the outcome of a separation.
I had never experienced such extreme and desperate feelings.
I was sure this was my one chance for happiness.
I believed she was my soulmate.
I even worried that letting go would result in someone else getting to experience the life I'd given up. If I stayed married would I remain forever miserable?
Would it be the right decision or would I forever regret this decision?”

EXACTLY the thoughts of a person struggling to break free . Add the endless *longing* and depression after the affair is cut off, you’ll set yourself up for a year long cycle of longing/sorrow/regret and depression afterwards .

I personally would shake and sob everyday for MONTHS . Going back to the reality of a crappy, and unhappy marriage and letting go of my affair partner was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

For us, it took *years* to fix and heal the marriage .


Since there are numerous ways to end a "bad marriage" ----- why not just end the marriage with dignity before having an affair? And do you really want to spend your life with an AP that eagerly participated in such deceit. How can any relationship born in deceit survive the Long haul of Life?

Believe me it does. My

Believe me it does. My husband and my best friend destroyed both our marriages so they could marry. They’ve remained married for 25-years. And from the outside it appears they are doing better than well together. Personally, like you, I don’t understand why.

Second marriage

The divorce rate of second marriages is high per most internet sources.


You make an interesting point, if the very relationship was born out of deceit by them having an affair with you- meaning they weren't faithful enough to not engage in a relationship where you were being unfaithful how could you trust them for future in your own relationship?

Obviously such a person doesn't place a premium on fidelity and faithfulness....
I'm sure the statistics of such marriages succeeding are low....


My marriage was a little boring after 20 years but was not bad. Even my husband says we had a good 75 percent marriage. He does not know why he had the affair but he does regret and has apologized. I just cannot seem to accept his apology. It is not enough yet it may be all he has. What does one do when a sincere
Heartfelt apology is just not enough?


My husband called his affair a foolish fantasy that caused him great guilt and shame. I almost feel sorry for him but I don't.
I do not know if we will make it---- but the emotional immaturity of two people in an affair is one of the hardest parts for me. I realize that I want a mature and stable partner and affairs are so immature. This is so hard to figure out!

I do not think the faithful spouse ever gets past an affair

My husband had an affair and we are still together six years later. He is remorseful, doing all the right things.

Still, I will never be able to heal from this. We get along great and some things have even improved for me in my marriage.

Nevertheless the wound is deep and the scab easily dislodged.

Sorrow Cycle

Why did you go back to a bad marriage? I am the betrayed, and I would not want my partner back if he felt like what we had was a bad marriage. Id' rather move forward without him.

In our case, my DH had chosen an affair partner who was an alcoholic who was sleeping around on him even, while telling him she loved him and begging him to move in with her. She had ruined her marriage previously by having an affair, and I suspect had been in several other affairs. She was not a healthy person--and even then, and him knowing this, he had a hard time breaking it off. He told me she didn't even know how to be a good person.

I'm still trying to decide if staying with him is the right decision, 22 months after he FINALLY after several tries, broke things off. I'm wondering if it is the right decision and we DO have a good marriage. In fact, he appreciates me now instead of taking me for granted. If we didn't have a good marriage, I think divorcing would have been the better option--even if it was just him who thought the marriage was bad.

Do you still feel the marriage is bad? You say it took *years* to fix and heal the marriage. Was that because of the affair? Or were you fixing other things that were bad about the marriage?

What about the spouse

I read this article and all this man thought about himself. My husband cheated on me with a married woman. I don’t understand how you can go into an affair and not consider your spouse..the one person whom has stood beside and taken care of you thru everything. If the marriage is bad, talk to us, we may not be happy either, but would never cheat. After 40 years of marriage this pain is what my husband has left me with... letting me know another woman is more important than me. I don’t want my marriage , but I definitely would never get in another relationship. I go to counseling but my trust is destroyed. I would never get in another situation like this.

To Sonoma33

I am currently going exactly through this! My WS's AP is an absolute trainwreck - sleeping around, just filed for bankruptcy, dropped off of her nursing program, can't pay her rent, etc.!! But after ending the affair a 1st time two months ago, went back to her after 2-3 weeks of no contact!

And although he knows in his mind what he's leaving behind and destroying, and still claims to be in love with me, he just cannot resist, as if he had been bitten and caught in the web of this black widow!

How can we recover when I made it clear that he had to choose - and he can't get a grip? I love him very deeply and care for him... and it kills me to see him make a choice that he, himself say, is probably the worse decision he'll ever make.

Did you give your DH such ultimatums?

Crappy Marriage

Leaving a crappy marriage is totally okay. No one will fault you for that. Where you lose my respect is that you had an affair instead of just telling your spouse you want out of the crappy marriage.

There is NO EXCUSE. If your marriage sucks, then leave. Then, go date whoever you please. That is the mature thing to do. You were mature enough to say "I Do" in front of people. Go tell your spouse "I can't" and get out. You'll keep your honor and self-respect by doing the right thing.

Sorrow cycle

There is no way that I could find my way to forgiveness if my husband was so desperately pining for his AP. My husband and I have worked very hard to regain my trust but I can tell you, if I thought he still had these desperate feelings for her, I would not have been able to try to find my way to healing with him. Don’t do me any favors. I have been betrayed enough.

Letter of goodbye

Early on after D-Day, to ensure an "end" to the affair, I ask the unfaithful spouse, together with his hurt spouse, a letter to the AP. This serves a couple of good purposes. One is to demonstrate to the hurt spouse that the unfaithful spouse is willing to end the affair with regret. And secondly, it provides a means for discussion between the two for the mentioned topics of this article. Most always this has a very positive outcome in treatment.
"Dear Jane or John, I have made a decision. I want to be with my wife (husband) and family. I no longer want to continue a relationship with you or keep any secrets from my wife (husband). Everything is out in the open and disclosed. I realize now that I used poor judgment in getting involved in this in the first place and I regret that and the pain it has caused my wife (husband) and family. We plan to get help to understand how I could ever have betrayed my own values as well as my family.
I will no longer have any contact with you and I ask that you not contact me. I will no longer respond to any emails, texts, calls or any other attempt to communicate with me. In fact, I will show all emails or texts to my wife (husband) and together, we will decide the course of action to take should they continue.

Your name

Which is worse?

My situation is different from most. My husband didn't have "an affair" he frequented prostitutes. There's very little written about how to recover from that situation and why he chose prostitutes over me. My husband wants our relationship to survive but it's taken me 2 years to even think about it. I've read about everything I can find on the subject but it's very limited. Most of the articles are written about recovering from an affair. This is different. I want to know about the psychology of why people chose anonymous sex over a relationship.
I've learned much on this journey. Has anyone else out there survived this?

"Which is Worse" resources.

I did listen to an episode on a podcast by Esther Perel that is similar to what you are describing. The podcast is "Where Should We Begin" and the episode is Season 2 and episode 7. there's another similar one in season 1, episode 4. I don't know if they'll be helpful, but maybe. I hope one of the moderators here has more to add for you.


The affair says more about your husband's needs than any fault of yours. I am not a professional but in my opinion men who have affairs often have deep seated emotional issues that often need individual counseling.


I know this to be true about my husband and he knows it as well. He was horribly sexually abused by his church youth leader as a pre-teen 40+ years ago. He has had a hard time finding a proper counselor. I can tell he has PTSD and doesn't deal well with any drama, including discussing the affair with me. He has tried very hard in his own way to be there for me now, and he has apologized several times, but I wonder if we can make it if he won't go to counseling.

My situation

From being the unfaithful to the now betrayed. I’m trying to survive. I chose meaningless sexual encounters for reasons of being broken angry hurt and rejected by my husband. I chose the WORST possible way to handle his rejection. I turned into another person to handle my pain. I did things I would normally NEVER do. I broke mentally. I can’t answer your husband and his choice of prostitutes for partners. I too am finding little resources for my situation. Everything is geared towards either the betrayed or the unfaithful but not towards if you have been one and now you’re the other.

Sex addiction

You might want to look up "sex addiction" in your search engine? My husband cheated on me for ~20 years, including during our courtship and marriage. He had numerous partners, and could not even recall many details of the multiple encounters. We survived after >2 years of hard work, lots of individual therapy and couples therapy (online Skype sessions with Wayne at AR) for both husband and wife, and participating in the online course. We were not able to diagnose his problems on our own, and the therapists were able to figure out that he had a mix of "sex addiction" and "love addiction." There is literature out there to explain the psychology, but we needed therapists to help us to know what to read and where to go next. We are in recovery now, and I am grateful that we made it through the tough times. I never thought that I would say this, but our marriage is truly stronger now.


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I would highly recommend giving this a try.
-D, Texas