I sometimes hear from wives who have tried various approaches to get their husband to end his affair. And yet, nothing has worked. Either the husband has refused to end the affair, has begged for more time to make up his mind, or has continued to see the other woman despite his claims that he wouldn’t.
I often hear women say things like: “sometimes, I think that I should just go ahead and let him have his affair. Maybe I should just let it run its course. Because I’ve tried everything to make or force him to end it and he never does no matter what I do. Is it a good idea to just let him have his affair and then have the last laugh when it ends?”
This is a difficult question for me to answer. In my own situation, my husband was willing to end the relationship, so I’m not sure what I would have done (or which tactic I would have been forced to take) had he refused to break it off. I can tell you that I know many wives who have been forced to just let the affair run its course because there was no other choice. And sometimes, this does ultimately work out to the wife’s advantage when the affair blows up in the husband’s face and he comes running back.
However, I’m pretty clear on the fact that I couldn’t continue to have a marital relationship with my husband while he continued to have an affair. Because that is allowing him to pursue two relationships while you turn a blind eye to the situation. This is only my own opinion. Yours may differ. But I have to wonder what incentive he has to end the affair while you sit by and allow it to happen, even if the situation certainly isn’t your fault.
That’s why I think that if you’re going to take this approach, you have to make it very clear that you are out of the romantic picture while he’s continuing on with the affair. In other words, if he chooses to pursue that, then he can’t continue to pursue your marriage (or you) at the same time. So, you’re allowing the affair to run its course (because he hasn’t given you much choice,) but you are setting very clear boundaries. And because of these boundaries, he may well have an incentive to end the affair sooner rather than later.
So how would this work in a real-life scenario? Well, if you’ve decided that you’re just going to go ahead and let him continue on as he is right now, I still think you need to be verbally clear on the boundaries, so you might consider a script like: “it’s pretty clear to me that you’re unwilling to end the affair right now. And that is your choice. But it is my choice that I’m not going to participate in our marriage while you are having an affair. Once the affair is completely over and you have cut off all contact with her, then we can talk about our marriage. But until then, I just can’t engage with you in that way. Once you’ve decided that you want to participate in our marriage completely faithfully again, then we can discuss this further.”
Notice that I didn’t beg or plead. I didn’t waver. I didn’t give him choices. I didn’t make him any promises about what was going to happen. I was very direct and clear. If he was going to go ahead and continue on with the affair, then he couldn’t have the marriage at the same time. In this way, the wife is giving him a little time to let the affair end in a more natural way, but she’s also letting him know that, until the affair does in fact end, he’s not going to have the benefit of the marriage.
As I said, this is only my take having been through infidelity myself. It’s my belief and experience that your husband has to have some incentive to choose fidelity and rehabilitation. And if you are allowing him to have the affair and the marriage at the same time, then he really does not have that incentive.
Related Article: Saving a Marriage After an Affair