>You’ve suspected for a while that something is not right between you and your spouse. Maybe they were spending lots of extra hours “at work” but there was no overtime on their paycheck. Maybe they completely changed their music, hairstyle, or clothing choices to something appropriate for someone decades younger. Maybe they were chatting or texting all the time and then deleted everything so you couldn’t see it. Whatever the reasons, you had a sneaking suspicion something wasn’t right…
If you suspect your spouse is having an affair or is being emotionally unfaithful, do not despair. An affair does not have to mean the end of your marriage. In fact, consider this:
- Approximately 20% of affairs last less than two months
- Approximately 50% of affairs last more than one month, but less than a year.
- The remaining 30% last more than a year
- Very few last more than four years
- Around 3% result in marriage
There are seven specific steps you can take if you have reason to believe your spouse may be unfaithful. This week we’ll be going over two steps in more detail every day so that you have the best chance possible of ending the affair and saving your marriage. There is no guarantee your marriage will recover, but these steps will give you the best opportunity to recover after the affair ends–and consider this:
Step 1) Gather evidence. This step is not so much to use as proof to make the disloyal spouse confess, so much as it is proof to the loyal spouse that they are not making a mountain out of a molehill…something REALLY IS going on. In some states it is illegal to tape someone without their knowledge so you may want to check your state’s laws on electronic surveillance.
Step 2) Confront. Once the loyal spouse is convinced that there is an emotional or physical affair, the first step is to go to the disloyal directly and tell them to their face that you know about the affair and have evidence in a safe place that proves it’s real irrefutably. Then state right out loud that in order for the marriage to work there can not be infidelity and ask them point blank to end the affair.
Step 3) Disclose. When you have confronted your disloyal spouse about the affair and asked them to end it, and they either refuse to do so or have not done so (maybe they took it more “underground”), the next step is to disclose the affair to ONE very respected authority whom the disloyal is likely to look up to and listen to…someone who is likely to be pro-marriage and tell the disloyal that having an affair is not acceptable…that they should end it and work on the issues in their marriage. This one person is possibly one of the disloyal spouse’s parents, a pastor or religious leader, a teacher or boss.
Step 4) Exposure. When someone that your disloyal spouse respects has spoken to them about the affair and encouraged them to end it, but they have hardened their heart and refuse to end it, the next step is to expose the affair to those who will likely be affected by a potential divorce. The idea behind exposure is not to drag your disloyal spouse’s name and reputation through the mud (their ACTIONS are doing that!) but rather to refuse to keep the affair a “secret” and to bring the ugly truth of the unfaithfulness to the light of day. The focus and main concern here is to contact those who may be harmed by the affair, give the facts, and ask them either to support the loyal or talk to the disloyal and tell them to return to the marriage. And YES you contact the other person’s spouse and ask, “Are you aware that my spouse is having an affair with your spouse? I have evidence…” Nothing ends an affair faster than the OP’s spouse screaming and putting their foot down!
Step 5) Carrot & Stick. In this phase you focus on two things: work on yourself to be the person you once were who attracted your spouse again AND allow your disloyal to experience the natural consequences of their choices. You work on yourself by eliminating the things that extinguished love between you two (like judging, angry explosions, enough is never enough) and by re-starting the things that kindled love between you two (like romantic doo-dads). You need to do BOTH…but eliminating love extinguishers is the most important of the two.
You should know that this step is not “long term” because no one can give and give and give forever when an affair is being rubbed in their face. Eventually the time would come for you to say, “I’ve done what I could to win you over and now I need to move to the next step before I lose all love for you.” But…do periodically let your disloyal know that you would love to have them back and work on the marriage. Invite them to return. .
Step 6) Consequences. In this step you write the disloyal a letter and explain that you love them, admit the things you did to contribute to the affair, indicate what you’re doing to end those things, and then say that unless they end ALL contact with the OP and never, EVER contacts the OP again, you need to end all contact with the disloyal. The idea behind this step is to give them a more realistic taste of what divorce could be like–to not have you in their life to meet ANY needs! They also can no longer depend on you for those little household chores, blame you for the day’s events, nothing.
Step 7) Legal Separation. The final step that I’d recommend before divorce is a legal separation. To be blunt, many affairs die a natural death within two years, so if a loyal spouse can stall for that amount of time, there is a good chance that the disloyal spouse would at least consider returning. Thus, as a tactic that will both stall the legal process of divorce and protect both the family assets and the loyal spouse and children, I would recommend a legal separation and suggest a minimum of one year legal separation.
Once the affair is over, there is still more work to be done to recover the marriage…but that will be another post! Tomorrow we’ll write about Step 1 and Step 2, so stay please join us for the full series.
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