Stop Talking to the Affair Partner! Often times we get into power struggles when we’re trying to get healthy. Time after time a betrayed spouse will force their mate into the power struggle of “choose me or your affair partner, right here, right now.” While I loudly applaud their willingness to not be codependent and I further support their right to draw a line in the sand, it’s just not usually that simple in many cases. I’m sure if you’re a betrayed spouse, I’ve already ruffled your feathers this early in the morning, and I’m sorry to do that. I only mean to bring about clarity. Let me explain a bit further. The fact is, if your spouse has been involved in an affair with one person for at least a few months and it’s now a full blown relationship, you’re competing with a fantasy. An illusion. A farce. If you, the betrayed, move right to the ‘me or them’ mentality, I’m sorry, but I think you’ll lose them or at the very least, exacerbate the entire process. They will typically do one of the following: They will say “OK I’ll come home and be with you,” but really only lie and continue to see their affair partner behind the scenes without you knowing. Much worse, you’ll find out they’re seeing their affair partner again and be even more devastated and the entire healing process will be delayed once again. You may also give up prematurely and decide they will never change or get it, when in fact, maybe they will if another road is taken. They will come home, but grieve the loss of their affair partner continually, possibly continue to contact them via email or secret phone or some other method and resent you incredibly. They’ll probably have so much bitterness and numbness toward you and the marriage that you’ll most likely end up not wanting them to be home. You may even ask them to leave the house again as they just can’t or better said, won’t get over their affair partner and make any effort to significantly reconnect with you. They will not come home at all and though they are not secure in the fact that the marriage is truly over, they don’t want to give up their affair partner and they don’t have any vision for how the marriage could be saved anyway. As one spouse said to me yesterday “I don’t even know how to end the affair! Why should I come home now?” They’re not sure the marriage is over, but their affair partner is like a drug and they have zero idea on how to give up this drug they’re intoxicated by. To say its complex is a gross understatement. There is, however, hope and a better way. A suggestion I would make to you would be to tell your unfaithful spouse that you’d like to get help: not just any help but expert, infidelity-specific help. That you’d like to take the pressure off of making any decisions on where they want to be right now, other than the decision to simply get expert help and eventually make a decision. (You’d be surprised how many spouses come to the EMS Weekend still in contact with their affair partner and still not sure the marriage can be saved.) Surprisingly, after expert help and insight, they begin to see they need to give their marriage a 90 day window with no contact with their affair partner. It’s the job of the expert therapist to get your spouse to see the need for that type of approach, not yours, as in most cases they have so much resentment and bitterness inside them, they will not hear it from you at all. They will block you out and refuse to hear anything you say objectively. Pushing the unfaithful spouse to choose you or them immediately doesn’t usually turn out well for a variety of reasons of which I’ve only shared a few for the sake of space. I can’t possibly cover every situation, but these are the most typical responses we’ve seen over the years. Every situation is different, yet there are some very solid, universal truths that must be pondered and utilized in drawing clear lines within recovery.