A Betrayed Spouse’s Guide to Responding to Marital Infidelity – Part IV


Should a Betrayed Spouse take a chance, or kick ‘em to the curb?

There seems to be two schools of thought on infidelity support forums about how a Betrayed Spouse should handle an affair. One says the Betrayed Spouse must confront the Wayward Spouse directly and demand an end to the affair–and throw them out if they do not comply, or risk looking like a wimp. The other says that a Betrayed Spouse should follow a Marriage Builders style of attempting Plan A, follow it up with Plan B, and only after some time has passed jump to Plan D (Divorce).

Only you can decide which road to take, whether to attempt to take a chance on the marriage, or go directly to divorce. Either way, you do have the rest of your life to divorce, and only now to make an attempt to recover your marriage. There are a few factors that may influence your decision either way.

Stay or Go? Which is the right answer? Do I take my cheating spouse back, put my faith in him/her again and hope they won’t do this again? Or do I cut my losses and risk always wondering if I should have tried harder? It’s not an easy decision, and if you’re grappling with it now, you most certainly shouldn’t decide it overnight. You need time to weigh the pros and cons.

Should the Betrayed Spouse Take A Chance?

Some Reasons To Consider Rebuilding:

  1. You love your spouse. You want a life with them. You’re willing to work through this so you can have it.
  2. Your spouse is remorseful, and you believe they do not want to repeat their ‘mistake’. Either they want that life or they don’t. If they don’t, and they’re willing to work with you on it, you may decide to stay.
  3. You want your kids to have a two-parent family (a.k.a. ‘staying for the kids’). If your spouse is willing to work on your marriage, and you want your children’s worlds to be preserved intact, you might decide it’s worth fighting for. Children and family can be a powerful pull, and the simple desire to do what’s best for your children outweighs all the wounded pride in the world.
  4. It’s a bad time to leave. Maybe you’re drowning in debt. Maybe your children are too young, or old enough to know the real story. Maybe you have health issues. Whatever the reason, divorcing right now would make the problem a thousand times worse, in your eyes.
  5. You made a vow. You promised through better and worse, and you meant it. You made a vow before friends and family and God. Your spouse decided to break it, but you didn’t.
  6. You don’t want to “quit.” Maybe you consider divorce a “failure,” and being perceived as “failing” at your marriage is humiliating. Maybe you just don’t want that Other Woman/Man to “win” in their efforts to break up your marriage. Whatever the reason, you just don’t want to throw in the towel without a fight.


Or Is It Time for the Betrayed Spouse to Leave?

Some Reasons To Consider Divorcing

  1. Because you no longer feel what you felt on your wedding day.  For some people, the affair is the final straw in a long and painful disintegration process. For others, it tore apart the fabric of the marriage so badly, it can never be repaired. You may decide this marriage can never fulfill you, so it’s time to end it.
  2. For Your Children.  If the fallout from the affair and the current state of your marriage are making your children miserable, then you may want to end the chaos permanently. Yes, divorce is hard on children. But so is staying and watching one parent behave irresponsibly and another live as a doormat. What lessons do they take from that?
  3. Separate Identity.  You will be answerable only to you. Free to do what you want, when you want, the way you want, within reason. Financially, legally and emotionally responsible only for you and your children, if you have them.
  4. No more lies, no more doubts.  You don’t have to weigh what your spouse says to you anymore because whether they lie to you or not doesn’t matter. Your life belongs to you and they have no say in it, and the only power they have over it is the power you chose to give them.
  5. No more risk of STD’s. Many of those involved in affairs do not use condoms, leaving you at risk for a sexually transmitted disease. If you haven’t been tested yet, do so. Be safe. Remember, it’s not just your spouse you’re sleeping with, but every partner their Other Woman/Man slept with, as well.
  6. You’ve lost all respect for your spouse, and you don’t believe you can ever regain it.  There comes a point in time where you have to decide whether or not you will be able to contribute to their quality of life. Can you get over this? Can you move on and re-establish intimacy, some trust and respect for them? If the answer is “no,” what kind of marriage would you be rebuilding?

No one can make this decision but you, and if they’re interested, your spouse. If they say they want to work it out, then you have a bigger decision to make. Don’t take it lightly, don’t burn your bridges, and don’t act quickly or rashly. Most of all, don’t compromise yourself.
Betrayed Spouse 101

What road to take? Signposts to look for, conditions to consider, hazards to avoid.

Early recovery is a very trying time for both the Betrayed Spouse and the Wayward Spouse. For many Wayward Spouses it is a time that they feel pulled between their emotions and their minds. This can lead to a phenomenon called “withdrawal.” Withdrawal is a very painful stage for the Wayward Spouse. It is made up of a combination of thoughts and feelings including anxiety, restlessness, guilt, confusion, depression and occasionally actual physical pain. They feel a sense of loss, not necessarily over the Affair Partner, but over the relationship and how it filled certain needs. In a remorseful person with a conscience, withdrawal creates a terrible conflict.

Unfortunately, rather like an addict thinks one more fix will stop the craving, the symptoms of withdrawal can lead the Wayward Spouse to think contact with the Affair Partner will take away the misery. It is very hard to want to sympathise with the Wayward Spouse in withdrawal, especially when you are in your own pain and unhappiness. Do your best to show your care for the Wayward Spouse as a person. As long as the wayward spouse maintains no contact with the other person, those feelings will gradually fade. For most people, they fade in a few weeks.

One thing that can help the Betrayed Spouse determine how recovery is going, is “trust, but verify.” A truly remorseful Wayward Spouse should be being entirely honest and transparent, even if at first it seems unnatural to you both. This is not to punish the Wayward Spouse, but to help the Betrayed Spouse feel safe again. While the actual methods used will vary from couple to couple, some tools/methods include: activating GPS tracking on the Wayward Spouse’s cell phone, swapping cell phones on random days, making frequent contact during the day (phone calls, text, pxts), informing the Betrayed Spouse if there will be any change in the daily schedule, writing a no contact letter for the Affair Partner and giving it to the Betrayed Spouse, changing cell and/or home phone numbers, sharing all e-mail passwords, deactivating social networking sites, removing any of the things that helped make the affair possible, and organising an accountability partner. These things may not be necessary forever. Often as trust returns couples renegotiate the requirements.

Remember, the reason the affair happened, was because the participants failed to take even the most ordinary of precautions. Extraordinary Precautions are a tangible list of boundaries the Wayward Spouse writes and lives by. They are an acknowledgement of not being able to rely on natural ability, but needing to go beyond the norm. It’s not so much a list of restrictions imposed by the Betrayed Spouse, but an acknowledgement of areas the Wayward Spouse needs to focus on in order to protect the marriage, and help make the Betrayed Spouse feel safe from  future infidelity. The best Extraordinary Precautions are written in partnership. While both spouses are whirling from d-day for months and months, attempts and actions by a repentant and remorseful Wayward Spouse will be apparent.

Other things to consider:

  1.  Is the Wayward Spouse truly remorseful and at least trying to make amends?
  2.  Is the Wayward Spouse being transparent and honest?
  3.  Is the Wayward Spouse willing to go to marriage counseling?
  4.  Do you actually want to stay in the marriage?

A refusal by the Wayward Spouse to end the affair and return to the marriage doesn’t mean that recovery is not possible, but it is a tougher road for the Betrayed Spouse. Assuming the Wayward Spouse has chosen recovery, consider their commitment to doing what ever you require to feel safe in the marriage. Transparency and eliminating independent behaviour are crucial to a Betrayed Spouse who feels vulnerable to further deceit. This requirement doesn’t only protect you, it protects the marriage from further destruction. It’s in the best interest of both spouses and the marriage if the Betrayed Spouse feels safe about their choice to attempt recovery and rebuild after an affair.

Suggested Reading:
Extraordinary Precautions
Ending Your Affair
Marital Statistics
Lay Your Burden Down

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4 Responses to A Betrayed Spouse’s Guide to Responding to Marital Infidelity – Part IV

  1. Hirender says:

    I have been working in another continent for the past 30 months, visiting family every few odd months, last August 2014 and last February when I visited my wife’s behavior had changed considerably towards me….

    I confronted my wife the day I discovered sexual pictures of her and another man a few weeks ago, this was a few days after I went home, The day before that happened, she basically told me that she had grown apart and she did not feel like being with me but needed my help financially for the next three years to pay for the mortgage so that she and the kids could stay put, after that she said she would take over all payments…..she would sell the house when our son of three would turn 18 and give me my share then. I asked her then if there was another man….and as always she retorted ” who would take a woman with two kids at 46.”

    She obviously had no way out of denying the other man when I confronted her.

    Over the next two weeks we had many discussions with me not ever raising my voice or shouting, always talking in a calm tone…..this surprised her as well as me….in the past years I would certainly shout and we would have arguments…..I guess the suspecting an affair part is a lot more stressful lthan actually finding out, for me at least this was the case….I could never prove it before but due to her behavior and attachment to phone and email for long hours I suspected something was going on.

    During these discussions we arrived at two options for us as the way forward, to work on rebuilding our marriage for the sake of our kids, or go to mediators and get divorced.

    She keeps being extremely cocky, having a high handed attitude and has clearly said she does not regret it and she loves the other man.mshe also refers back three of four years back when I had an alcohol abuse problem….which I have since stopped, and in all the trips I went back home to my family in the last 30 months, I have not taken a drop of alcohol even beer or wine.

    Yesterday, I had sent her a couple of links ( forgot to mention I am traveling out of country now for two weeks…and will be back with my family next week) as I am doing a lot of reading around affairs and rebuilding broken marriages and similar articles…she again retorted in quite a cocky manner trying to justify her behavior and literally putting a gun on my head and saying I have threatened her in the past, was an alcoholic etc etc and she is trying hard as the affair was ending any ways.

    So from having no other man in her life, she accepted she had one and she loved him, and three weeks later she says it was ending any ways……

    Most times she pushes this attitude I have been quite calm and not retorted back only reminded her that it she who cheated and lied while I was away and even when I came back, but this time it was on mail and I felt I had to give her some thing back.

    So I let her I know I had some of her email, pictures and messages as recent as two weeks before I got back and even during the time that we were talking this through after D day…..the man had sent sexual content pictures of himself to her while I was still the and she was more possessive about her phone and email than she ever was…..all passwords and access codes changed now……all pictures and related mails were deleted as she demanded I leave her alone for a day……she was busy with finding all further proof and deleting it.

    Her response to my mail letting her know I had these details……she wanted to have distance from me and the topic, if I wanted to work on the marriage then I have to give her time and space at this time otherwise she can’t move forward.

    In my mind all this constitutes to her not being honest and the only reason she is saying to me that she wants to work on our marriage again is because she can’t financially cope and she knows it will be difficult for me to find a job in Belgium any time soon…..which means she wants to patch up for the next few months I will be at home, then if I do not get a “good job” ( she insists I get only a good job…..I am willing to stay in Belgium doing any job for the sake of the kids and the marriage)…I would have to leave the country again and then have no good way to make sure she does not restart with this man or another man.

    I have been extremely patient, no sign of anger to her, inside I am anxious and nervous…..I really truly want to give her a chance and support her through this painful process…..but she avoids talking to me much, avoids activities with me even though I let her know I enjoy doing stuff with her, even small things like putting a trampoline together……cooking…..

    She acknowledges that she has noticed a huge change in my behavior during my last trip when she was found out and the previous trip in February…..but nothing I want to do and can do for her makes her happy….even a suggestion to take to Paris for the weekend in November……no response!!! Paris!!!

    After a lot of pushing she finally agreed today to go to the mediator in Belgium……she stated clearly that she does not want to go for counseling…..she says it is too early and she can’t do it now…..so I am going to the counsellor……I think I am handling this trauma extremely well……but I want to get this off my chest and get further advise how to best handle this and the way forward.

    Could you please give me some advise, am I doing the fit thing for me?

  2. Pingback: A Betrayed Spouse’s Guide to Responding to Marital Infidelity – Part V - Marriage AdvocatesMarriage Advocates

  3. a wife says:

    So, how would you know the spouse is being transparent and honest when an affair was right under your nose in the first place? I find it is impossible to tell if the truth is being told now, or if it ever was at all in my marriage.

    On remorseful and wanting to make amends, this could be bells and whistles to alleviate guilt and the affair could be continuing. As this is what happened to me. Any gestures of kindness were for the wh for himself to feel he wasn’t that bad.

    As far as marriage counseling, that was used so that wh could say he tried, I was told by the ow wh told her what was discussed.

    I am not sure I want to stay in the marriage, it was changed so much by force by the wh. I am not sure what I would even be staying in.

    • Hello a wife. Waywards say and do the most hurtful things. It’s understandable that you don’t know whether you even want to save the relationship. I invite you to join us on the forums at MarriageAdvocates.com, where many of us have been through what you’ve experienced, and quite a few have recovered our marriages (including me). We’re willing to help you through this time and to help you heal, regardless of what you ultimately decide to do.

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