There are seven specific steps you can take if you have reason to believe your spouse may be unfaithful. Last week we went over the first six steps in greater detail 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.
The first six steps, again, are: 1) Gather Evidence. 2) Confront. 3) Disclose. 4) Expose. 5) Carrot & Stick. 6) Consequences. If you have gone through all six of these steps and the affair is still continuing, most likely your disloyal spouse will be either pushing for a “quickie divorce” to legitimize their affair or might possibly have retained an attorney to start the divorce process.
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 minimum of one year legal separation. Now I am not an attorney, so I don’t give this as legal advice, but during a legal separation, arrangements are made and enforced by the courts regarding who stays where, issues like child support and visitation are addressed, and finances are itemized somewhat and secured. Thus, the disloyal spouse would have a very realistic idea of the costs of a divorce and realistically find out that divorcing is not “free” but rather that it WILL cost them things that they hold dear. Meanwhile, the children will be provided for and bank accounts will not be raided.
During the legal separation, the loyal spouse should continue to work on eliminating love extinguishers and once again reclaiming love kindlers. Both parties can attend individual counseling or go to support groups, but the loyal spouse can also suggest marriage counseling or begin to date the disloyal again. The disloyal spouse may push for a “quickie” divorce in an attempt to introduce their affair partner and try to make their relationship legitimate. If the disloyal does push for divorce or file, most states in the USA now do not require grounds. They call that “irreconcilable differences.” The loyal spouse can indicate to the court that they do not agree it is “irreconcilable” and request 60 days of court-ordered marriage counseling. In the states that do have grounds, a loyal spouse can also declare the grounds in their response, and that will also slow things down. But if nothing else, a legal separation will give all parties involved a chance to recover from the emotional rollercoaster and a likely chance of the affair bubble being burst so that it crashes and burns naturally. It’s awful, I know…but stall. When the affair does end, it’s conceivable the disloyal may still decide they would rather stay apart, but at that point with all good conscience the loyal spouse will have literally done all they could to save their marriage.
Once the affair ends, there is still more work to be done to recover the marriage…but that will be another post!