We came across the following piece of advice somewhere online. Neither one of us can remember exactly where, though it has the distinct feel of the Marriage Builders forum.
In general, it offers sound advice for betrayed spouses to follow after affair discovery. As with any advice piece, it may not apply in its entirety to your situation. So as they say… “Take the best and leave the rest.”
Advice to All Betrayed Spouses:
- You can’t MAKE anything happen.
- There is NO magic bullet.
- Recovery will NOT be instant gratification.
The fog does NOT usually go away until no contact has been established and has gone on for quite a while, sometimes it may take as long as the affair itself lasted.
All You Can Do Is:
- Make changes to yourself that show the wayward spouse (WS) what you can be and what is possible.
- Make the home, with the betrayed spouse (BS), a safe place for the WS to be and a better place than the affair.
- Request, not demand that the affair end.
- Exhibit care, compassion and concern for WS’s well being.
- Protect the rest of the family from WS’s actions as much as within your power.
- Protect your and the family finances as much as is legally possible.
- Expose the affair to anyone within the circle of influence of WS and the other person (OP), including OP’s BS.
You Should Not: (as much as is within your power)
- Finance the affair in any way. (This includes rent at another place, car payments or paying for babysitting so the WS can meet with OP)
- Allow the children to have any contact with OP
- Discuss the state of the relationship and expect a commitment from the WS.
- Attend marriage counseling as long as there is contact between WS and OP. (WS often considers this as a good faith offer that absolves them of responsibility for the break-up of the marriage since they can say they tried counseling and it still didn’t work)
- Trust the WS to tell the truth about anything.
- Attempt to use the threat of exposure as leverage. Exposure is a good thing but it should not be used as a threat and must happen without warning to be of any real value.
- Leave the marital home or ask the WS to leave before the beginning of Plan B. (This refers to Dr. Harley’s Plan B where WS is asked to leave and have no contact with the BS until they end the affair)
- Threaten divorce or file for divorce unless you wish to end the marriage. (except in the case of having to file as a means of protecting marital assets from an actively WS.)
- Make threats, attempt to coerce or belittle the WS.
- Attempt to implement any marriage saving practice or principal other than unilaterally. (You can’t make him/her do what is right while they are wayward.)
- Simply sit around, worry about the affair and wallow in pity for yourself. (Do something with the kids and ask WS to join you or go out with friends)
- Beg, plead or cry to the WS.
If the Affair Ends and the Wayward Spouse Begins to Return to the Marriage:
- Avoid spending all of your time together trying to force recovery or trying to fix relationship issues.
- Do NOT bring up the affair repeatedly in an attempt at revenge for anything the WS does that is not related to the affair or even the affair itself.
- Do NOT belittle the WS to anyone for any reason.
- Do NOT exhibit trust of the WS except where trustworthiness has been shown.
- Do NOT reward the WS merely for ending the affair.
- Do NOT agree to simply move forward and forget the past. (The issue must be addressed, though not to the exclusion of daily life)
- DO spend more time together doing fun things other than working on the relationship.
- DO show compassion and care for the WS and support them through withdrawal from OP.
- DO continue to monitor WS’s activities to ensure no contact is ongoing and the affair has not just gone underground. (Talking about snooping here)
- DO continue to implement marriage saving principals unilaterally until such time as the WS begins to participate actively in recovery.
- DO seek professional help in order to approach the issues surrounding the affair and its aftermath in an environment that is safe for both you and WS. Even simply having a witness to discussions can help to prevent heated arguments from ensuing.
Feel free to add any of your own words of wisdom in the comment section below.