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Should A Wife Force Her Husband To End The Affair?


I often hear from people who are considering forcing their spouse to end his or her affair. They often feel as if they don’t have any real choice about this but they are wondering what the consequences might be the result of forcing their spouse’s hand. I heard from a wife who said: “my husband has been having an affair for eight weeks. He works with this woman. When I found out and confronted him, he said he wasn’t sure if he was ready to break it off. I told him that there was no room for negotiation. I told him if he had anything more to do with her than I would leave him and I would take our children with me. He said he needed some time to think this over. We haven’t really discussed it since then, but I am getting ready to bring it up once and for all. I am going to give him an ultimatum and a deadline. When I was discussing this with one of my friends, she said that forcing him to end the affair is probably going to have very negative consequences. Is she right? Is forcing his hand going to be the wrong call?”

It’s impossible for me to answer this question for this wife. I don’t know the husband or the dynamics of their marriage. But I can tell you that there can be some consequences when you force your spouse to end the affair. I will discuss some of them below.

He May Resent It: I find this to be grossly unfair but it is often reality. Even when your spouse understands why you need to give the ultimatum, he will often resent you for it because you didn’t give him any choice in the matter. They may also feel the loss of the other person and, whether rightly or not, blame you for it.

He May Long For The Other Person Since He Didn’t Have Closure: This is another common consequence. Since he didn’t see the relationship through, he might always think that she was the one who got away. He might obsess over what might have been or what she is doing now.

He May Still See Her Behind Your Back: Because of the things that I mentioned above, some spouses feel as if they can’t possibly let the other person go. However, they often still want to hold onto their family. So in their own mind, one way to make every one happy while they figure all of this out is to continue to see her behind your back. Now, sometimes they aren’t having physical contact or sex at this point, but they are keeping in touch because they just can’t bear to completely let go.

He May See You As The Person Standing In The Way Of His Happiness: There are times when the cheating spouse projects his frustrations onto the faithful spouse. This isn’t fair or accurate but sometimes, he has to put his anger somewhere and he isn’t always going to blame the other woman or himself. He may portray you as the person who doesn’t understand him or who is trying to keep him from true happiness.

You May Also Wonder If He Would Have Ended The Affair On His Own. Insecurity May Be The Result: If you know that the only reason that he is no longer with this other woman because you forced it to be so, then you may always wonder if he actually wants to be with you or if he is only with you by force. This can lead to all types of doubt and insecurity that ensures that the pain continues on.

The Positive Things That Can Come Out Of Forcing The Affair To End: So far, I have only mentioned the negative things that can occur when you make your spouse end the affair. Now, I’ll admit that sometimes, there is some good that comes out of this. Sometimes, he listens to your demands and he breaks it off. So at least at that point the affair is over and they are no longer seeing one another. And in some cases, in time, the husband realizes that ending the affair was the right thing to do. There have been couples who have saved their marriage and have healed in this situation. However, there are also couples who crumbled under the weight of the consequences.

What I Believe Is The Better Option: As you probably can tell, I believe that there is often too much risk with this strategy. Of course, I can’t and won’t tell anyone what they should do with their own marriage. But I believe that it is more effective to state the consequences of him not making the right choice and then allowing him to choose on his own. The script might be something like: “this has to be your choice, but I can tell you for a fact that I can not participate in a marriage where someone else is involved. In order for our relationship to continue and to resolve itself, I need to know that she is completely out of the picture and that you are completely sincere about saving our marriage. Until you can truthfully tell me this, then I can’t participate in our marriage. So you let me know when you have come to a decision.”

You haven’t given him any ultimatums per se, but you have let him know that he will not enjoy the advantages of being married to you while he is carrying on with someone else. So it is now up to him to decide which life he wants more than the other. And as painful as it may be waiting for him to make this decision, at least you will know that it is a genuine decision. So that if he does end the affair and come back to your marriage, you will know that it is because he genuinely wanted to.

I didn’t have to give my husband an ultimatum after his affair.  And I am not sure which way I would have played it.  But at the end of the day, healing is the same no matter the circumstances after an affair.  It can be difficult and painful but if you put in the time and effort, it can be worth it.  If it helps, you can read about my recovery on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com



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