The Waiting Game

My wife, Samantha, was not going to sit and wait to see if I pursued recovery. I guess it’s better said that she’d wait and see how I handled myself early on in discovery and the beginning stages of recovery, and see if I was really serious about saving our marriage. If I wasn’t, she would end things.  

She really wasn’t sure if I still wanted to be with my affair partner, regardless of what I said to her. She actually wasn’t even able to believe that I truly wanted to be with her, considering the last two years of my behavior. After over two years of serious emotional and physical contact and living a double life, there was no reason to believe me at all.

Unfortunately, many times a betrayed spouse will wait and see how the unfaithful responds, then take action either way.

I’m not a therapist, but when asked this question yesterday, I felt led to write something about it. The fact is, as unfaithful spouses, we usually don’t change because we want to. We usually don’t break things off with our affair partner because we want to. And, though not all of us are this way, many of us won’t get help because we want to. We’ll get help, give in to an EMS Weekend or online course, or begin actually working on recovery because you make us have to. We realize there will be loss if we don’t. Whether that be the loss of time with our kids, loss of time with you, loss of assets, loss of a potential second chance, or loss of the life we live now in the case of divorce-it’s loss we fear. I would say to give us time to figure it out only empowers the affair, and empowers the darkness we are living in. Some might say it enables our dysfunction and selfishness.

To give us time and just let us decide where we want to be only envelops us in our fear of taking action either way. We have our affair partner clamoring for us and telling us anything and everything to not lose us, then we have you (and maybe the kids) looking to us for clarity and for us to “do the right thing,” but we have no idea what the right thing is. It’s complicated. The right thing for whom? For you and the kids? Or for me? And our consciences are so seared and so dysfunctional we can rationalize any decision that benefits us to be a good one. We are not healthy. We are not sober. We are a wrecking ball. 

We need to have a line drawn most of the time. We need an ultimatum most of the time. We quite frequently need to know that you are not playing games and maybe for once in our lives (and maybe yours too) we don’t get to have things the way we want it. We’ll probably get mad. We’ll probably try all our other tactics of manipulation, bullying, distancing and whatever else you can think up in our inebriated state. We may even go back to our affair partner and complain about you, to them.

But ultimately, we’ll more than likely come back and acquiesce and say, “OK, let’s get help. Let’s do ________.”

If we don’t come back and do that, and if we don’t come to the point of wanting to get help even when we stand to lose you and/or the kids, or whatever there is for us to lose, fortunately for you (the betrayed) you’ve pushed this situation to the point of where you get to make a choice. The choice you should make and need to make, even in the face of grave uncertainty. The choice to do what you need to do for you and all parties involved, which is to further your own healing and put an end to the insanity of this nightmare.

You’ve stood up for yourself, and made a statement that you’re not under my control and you are worth devotion, love, and fidelity. You have protected yourself and though things may not turn out the way you wanted them to, you are taking ownership of your part and getting help and moving on with taking care of you. What this end-choice is will look different for every situation. Maybe you just focus on your own healing and pray that change in you will produce change elsewhere (while distancing yourself from an unhealthy atmosphere at home if applicable). Maybe the unfaithful is removed from the house and the children. I don’t know what the choice will look like for you, but don’t be afraid to make it. The waiting game never works.

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Thank you

Thank you, Samuel, for this post. I have played this game for almost 10 months. I am emotionally exhausted. I have given dozens of chances for opening up to me and disclosing what I need to know to heal and he has done very little, almost next to nothing. Anger management, that's all, and that is not working. I wrote down what needed to be done to save our marriage a month ago and gave it to him after I moved out. Still none of the things I asked for have been done. I gave the ultimatum, put the ball in his court and told him it was his choice. So the deadline I set for myself is almost here. If he doesn't want the marriage badly enough to be truthful, answer my questions, and give full disclosure and an apology, and truly take responsibility for his two EAs with the same coworker, then perhaps, although it will be very painful, it is time to end it. Thank you for helping me to see the betrayer's side of it. This has helped me know its ok for me to take care of myself and let go of a relationship in which I am obviously really not wanted. I think you are helping me to become "unstuck" and become able to let go and for that I am so grateful.


It is amazing how timing really works. I am dealing with this issue right now. My wife has said that she is no longer having contact with her AP (but she occasionally sees him through work). The ambivalence continues (after 5 months) and there does not seem to be a commitment and it continues to be the things that I did or didn't do. Thank you Samuel for writing the words I have been feeling and living.




Thank you for the post. I played the waiting game for three months. He assured me that he had ended the affair. I discovered toward the end of that three month period he was in contact with her. I confronted him telling him I wanted a divorce. He told me that same morning I confronted him, he had finally been able to look at himself in the mirror and for the first time had clarity. He wanted to save our marriage and work on building a new relationship going forward. During the three month period from the initial revelation of the affair to the "clarity" revelation we were both in individual therapy. I really don't know if he would have been at the point of clarity had it not been for the work he had been doing. I asked him to move out of the house when the affair was revealed four months ago. He now has moved back in the house and are in the early stages of recovery. My struggle throughout this entire process has been trying to be patient. I have worked hard on my individual recovery and continue to do so. He is working very hard too. I am at a very different place in this process than he is. Obviously he is dealing with so many things due to his affair than I am. I am discovering and taking ownership of my contributions in the marriage prior to the affair. The choice to have the affair was his! We are now under the same roof, sleeping in the same bed. He is very affectionate toward me-hugs, kisses, hand holding, etc. but no intimate connection. He became very detached from me emotionally and is trying to reconnect. I know this will take time (again, more patience). I want to get your perspective on the desire/intimacy issue with me. Is this a normal reaction of some betrayers toward their spouses in early recovery? I feel like this is another rejection of me by him. I intellectually know that he is dealing with a lot of different emotions but wanted to know if I should be concerned. I asked him if he thought he would desire me at some point and he said yes, or he wouldn't be going through all of the work he has been doing. As I said earlier, we are hugging, kissing, cuddling/holding each other in bed, holding hand, etc. and it feels very real and genuine. We haven't been affectionate with each other like this in many years. Is it possible for him to desire me again? Will it just take time?

desire again....

thanks so much for commenting. it is in fact possible, however, can you tell me more about the affair? was it emotional and physical? how long has he been without contact with her? I know there was the three month issue, but how long has it been since then? there is a high degree of normalcy to this, however, i'd like to get a bit more insight into the situation, as for him to NOT desire you right now, is a bit of a concern. there is always a reason for that, but if you could share more that would be helpful before i give you some insight to what i perceive....the good news is, your intimacy can be more than just restored and really be wonderful and healthy. hope to talk again soon with you.


The affair started out as an emotional affair that became physical. The affair lasted five years. He was a master of compartmentalizing his life. It was with a coworker. She was a married woman. His last contact with her was a month and a half ago. This was just six days before his clarity moment. It was the day after her birthday. He met her in a parking lot and he said that he expected to have feelings for her like he had before the affair was revealed. He didn't have any of those feelings and felt like he knew where he wanted to be which was with me and trying to save our relationship. There has been no contact since that day. He has moved me and our relationship to the top of his list of priorities. He is doing many things for me-grocery shopping, making the bed every morning, washing clothes, etc. trying to show me he is thinking of me and I am a top priority. His therapist feels that this is a normal reaction given the amount of guilt and shame he is carrying around. As I indicated in my earlier post, he couldn't be more loving and affectionate toward me, just not interested in a more intimate act at this time. He told me last night that he is feeling much more emotionally connected to me and his desire is growing. Let me know if you need any further info. Thank you again.

some thoughts

well K, it's somewhat normal, but also concerning as well. from what he is doing, it sounds like he is trying which is what you want and hope for after the affair has ended. it is though, somewhat concerning that he will not engage in any sexual behavior, but again, that may be due to some internal issues he is dealing with. for example, many times men who engage in pornography for a while, are unable to have sex with their spouse for a while, since they are detoxing from the adrenaline and chemical release in their brain from the porn. they are detoxing and it will take time and the right help to help them re engage with their spouse. it's very similar with an affair partner. they will always go through a detox phase, unless it was a one night stand, and that will translate into a necessary detox period as well. not all unfaithful men are like this, but it's common to see this sort of reaction. i would make sure someone is involved that has been through infidelity, as he will need help understanding how to reengage and how to reconnect with you. it's really one of the most difficult points of recovery, reconnecting physically for some couples. by pursuing him, it may make things worse, so for now, i'd encourage you to not pursue him, but to take it slow and think about getting help from Rick here, in the form of the emsw maybe.....your turn now. :)


Thank you, Samuel. Your advice on not pursuing is exactly the approach I am taking. I am letting him be the initiator taking it a day at a time. I do feel like our new relationship, if successful, will be based on a much deeper love for one another. To be perfectly honest with you, I am glad he didn't immediately want to engage in sexual activity with me. I really feel like he is doing some real work on himself trying to find out what was missing/needed during this time. I am doing the same. I do know that at some point, engaging sexually will need to be part of our recovery. I will be in touch.

Need advice on waiting...

We are 3 weeks past D-day, and it has been almost 1 week since my unfaithful husband's last contact with the ap. He says he has cut off all contact, but it hasn't been that long, and he just groans around the house and mutters curse words under his breath. We have two elementary age kids which is why I've let him stay in the basement, but its creating instability for our kids. My daughter came running into my bedroom in the middle of the night saying she had a bad dream, she ran away and got adopted and I was trying to find her. Those kinds of dreams are not her usual happy and innocent type dreams. I don't know how long to be "patient" to let my husband get over his ap, and how long to stop "waiting".

Should I have kicked him out so he feels the loss more? We lived out of the house for the 1st week, just letting him see the kids at sports practice or a quick stop home. The 2nd week, we lived in the same house, then he got back in touch with his ap, he got kicked out for 1 night (which is when he contacted ap) and how we are finishing up the 3rd week. I told him his f-ing actions over the past year, and current behavior are creating all this instability for our kids and told him about the dream. He blames me because he says its my fault he has to sleep in the basement. If you have any advice, would so appreciate it.

Waiting game

I have been playing the waiting game for 6 months. My husband confessed his affair last August, and moved out a week later saying it was to make things easier on me. The affair had lasted 5 months with a co-worker. He took a 6 month lease and was supposed to move back at the end of February. He has now changed to a month-to-month lease and I have no idea how much longer we will live apart. He knows I want him to return but now says it is due to work issues and his staff are working from his house and he doesn't want them at our house. He also threw away his wedding ring just over a month ago during an argument and I found it and tried to return it to him about a week later. He said he doesn't want it back until he can fully be my husband again; blaming it on work issues. He claims the affair has been over since he told me, but they still work together and I have no "safety" in that I only see him when he decides. I told him I forgave him for the affair. But I don't believe I can forgive him if it has continued on these past 6 months while I've been trying to heal and cope with the situation. I'm afraid to not believe him as I have no proof. So I've just been waiting and taking each day as it comes and hoping.....always hoping.

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