Do They Really Want To Be With Me?

Yesterday I was talking to a betrayed spouse and their question was “How do I know he really wants to be with me?”

My humorous reply was “Well, he’s there with you now, taking the heat isn’t he? He could be with her, but he’s with you, trying to get it right, riiiigggghhhhhht?” She laughed and thought about it for a bit, and we continued our dialogue. It didn’t settle the issue once and for all as many infidelity related issues are not settled once and for all in a mere sentence. However, it did point her down the road to a better understanding of some things the more we talked.

Reality is, for the most part, if the spouse didn’t want to be there, he/she wouldn’t be. Yes, if the affair partner was married and wanted to work on their own marriage, they may have had the affair cut off for them and so it can be easy to think that merely ‘by default’ they are there with you. However, if the spouse is there in the home, showing effort, I think it’s generally a good indication of where they want to be. Note: if financial issues prevent them from moving out, or if you are in an in-home separation, I understand that may not be the case. This blog may not be the most fitting for you and I’m sorry for that. I totally get that every situation is different to some extent and I don’t want to offend you or marginalize you in any way. It may not be true for you and I’m aware of that.

However, for those who are in the same house giving it a best effort (and even that is debatable for some I know), then I’d venture to say they want to be with you or are at the very least, trying to be with you. The “what abouts” are what’s going to seek to undermine the entire healing process though. What about what they did together? What about what they shared and what they said? What about her looks and what about their physical intimacy? The "what abouts" are truly endless. It will take expert help to navigate through them. I’d recommend Harboring Hope which is exceptional for the betrayed spouse. 

While the pain you are in and the reminders are both valid and difficult to overcome, I’d like to focus on the fact that many times we can let the “what abouts” continue to steal from us the present. The unfaithful spouse may be there, in the home, working on the marriage doing what they can to save it. One big problem is they may not even know what to do and are only trying to not anger you any more than you already are. Alternatively, if they are refusing to get help and are refusing to work on the marriage, then perhaps it’s time to end the charade and separate and maybe even head towards divorce. That’s the God’s honest truth. If there isn’t a desire to at the very least get help and sincerely work, then I’d suggest you implement consequences to that behavior and move towards pulling away from the toxic environment altogether.

However, if they are working, showing effort and dedication, I would suggest three key points:

  1. They are in their own way choosing you. They could be elsewhere probably, or at the very least, maybe in a hotel or somewhere else but they are there. If they are leaning into the pain and the anger you are experiencing, then at some level they are working at it. Is it enough? Well, it depends on the amount of time passed and what help has been implemented. Some say “well, just being here isn’t enough”. I get that and for the most part agree. However, early on, momentum is hard to come by and produce and until they, the unfaithful, are given steps and procedures to implement, they will likely be lost, clueless on what to do.
  2. Beating them up with anger or resentment will not prove helpful. I know it happens and will continue to happen and you deserve to know all the details of the affair(s). However, continuing to berate, antagonize or torture your mate will prove frustrating and exhausting. Getting help to prevent the anger or resentment from winning is a far better choice. Without the right kind of equipped, expert help, it will continue to happen time after time after time. During sex, during dinner, driving together, you name it. If it’s there, it will find a way to the top and while understandable, it must be slowly but surely addressed properly if healing and new life is going to be found. 
  3. Take the pressure off to make any decisions. Unless you’ve received expert help in a controlled environment, it may be too early to decide what the fate of the marriage is. Yes, even if its years down the road. If it’s been a considerable amount of time, coupled with expert help, then maybe it is time to make some decisions. Maybe they just don’t want it and you might be addicted to being stuck? We’ll talk about being addicted to being stuck tomorrow. 
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