after an affairVirtually all of our posts on this blog to date have been geared towards helping couples save their marriage or relationship after an affair. 

Sometimes however, after all the soul searching, therapy, pain and emotions it becomes evident that the only conclusion that can be made is that the marriage must come to an end.  This can even be the case after you have been able to restore the trust and honesty in your marriage.

Sometimes this is a result of the couple determining that the affair was simply a symptom of a marriage that had already died.  Or it could just be that one partner has made a final decision to end the marriage regardless of the other person’s feelings.

It is true that sometimes the best possible outcome after an affair is the decision to end the marriage, but it is important to try and not rush toward any decision of action. 

When you discover your partner has had an affair there is an overwhelming wave of emotions.  When a person is at their most emotional state, they are less likely to see any potential for better possibilities in the marriage.  For this reason, it is wise to refrain from taking any action until calm.

When it comes down to it, what we’re talking about is quality of life.  Would your quality of life be better if you remained married?  Or would it be better if the marriage were to end? 

You might want to ask yourself “What is the best and worst thing that could happen if I stayed, and what is the best and worst thing that could happen if I left?”

See also  After the Betrayal - Should You Stay or Should You Go?

The answers to the questions above may bring to light many different situations and considerations that may lead you to reconsidering ending the marriage–or to the contrary.  Some things to consider:

  • How would divorce affect the children?
  • What about the financial issues?
  • How would a divorce affect your emotional well-being?
  • How would a divorce affect your mate’s emotional well-being?
  • How would your family respond to you getting a divorce?
  • Are you ready to get back into the dating scene?
  • Are you prepared for the possibility of living alone?

The point is to examine your options thoroughly before you make any decisions.  You have choices. 

There’s no doubt that getting yourself strong and facing the future squarely and intelligently can have great results where you can imagine a future beyond your marriage and survive just fine. 

You can give the marriage everything you have after an affair, and if the decision is made to end the marriage you can feel all right about it.



    87 replies to "After an Affair – Should You End the Marriage?"

    • Karen

      Great post!! I know on my D-day and for the 10 days thereafter, I considered all of the points in your post and felt completely trapped in my marriage because several pertained to my situation!! I told my husband I wanted him to leave (separate), but he refused and said divorce or stay married. I went away with a girlfriend for the weekend in order to get encouragement and think and get away from the betrayer (at least one of them).
      In hindsight, I am thankful as I was able to “calm” down
      and think rationally about my future and what was best for me and my two girls. I still struggle quite a bit 1 month post-d-day as I try to heal my marriage, but I’m glad I “mostly” followed your post and did not rush to a decision.

    • Enough

      These are the things I am wondering about also and trying to get my H to answer. It’s over a year since my d-day and I still don’t trust that he is being honest. He says all the right things but continues to lie. All I want is for him to be honest about his feelings and for his words and actions to be consistent. I want him to answer these questions honestly to himself. I feel like he’s the one who had the affair, but I’m the one having to make all the decisions.

      These are great questions but I still don’t know the right answers. The way I answered these questions last year was different than I answer them now. How do I know it won’t be different again in the future? How do you really know what will be best?

      • Doug

        Enough, I understand your frustrations, but can you tell me…how do you know he is lying? Do you have any substantial proof or is it a trust issue? Are his stories constantly changing or are you skeptical?

        • Enough

          I find proof. Even when I confront him with proof, he tells me just enough to shut me up. When I find additional information, I realize that he is still hiding things from me. This has happened 4 times over the year. I have told him that the lies and the hiding things is what will kill us but he continues to do it. The frustrating thing is that he insists he wants to stay married.

          • Eileen Schenck

            Why wouldn’t he want to stay married?

            He runs around when he feels like it, you must cook,clean,
            do his laundry, change his sheets, listen to his lies.

            Unless you are not considerate of him and not do what
            wives should do…then why keep him around?

    • Jeffrey Murrah


      I enjoyed the post. Calming down and seriously evaluating the choices before you make them are sound recommendations. Many rash decisions are made in the emotional heat of the moment.

      • Doug

        Thanks for commenting Jeffrey. Any input you can offer on the subject would be appreciated.

    • Broken

      Obviously I have been thinking about this a lot. Whether or not I should end my marriage, and I ask myself all those questions you listed. But I think that the CHEATER should ask that question. They should think about why they did what they did and why they want to continue to be in a marriage that they destroyed. I feel like this post is geared more to the betrayed spouse, when really it should be the other way around. Doug… I think the person who destroyed the marriage should ask why they want to be in a marriage they didn’t find fulfilling. Why do you want to stay? Why do you want to be with someone who didn’t give you everything you needed? I didn’t go looking for someone else. I always wanted my H and only him. He didn’t think I was enough. So why shouldn’t he decide if this is what he really wants? Sure he can say that he wants the marriage now, after I found out. But what was he saying to himself when involved with the other woman? I want to know why you stay with the marriage when you can’t stay committed. Why do you choose your wife now? Why is it so important for you to keep your marriage together? Why wasn’t it important before when involved in your EA? It’s so easy to say that your committed now, when you don’t have the OW to fall back on. I’m sorry if this is coming off as defensive and a little snotty, but I want to know why you are so concerned about marriage, kids, and finances now? Why didn’t you think about these things when you were in the affair. With all due respect we are not children or silly teenagers in love. We are adults, who can rationalize between right and wrong. We can tell when we are doing something that can destroy lives. I want to see a post about why the cheater doesn’t care about the marriage when involved in the EA. That would be interesting.

      • Doug

        Broken, You’re absolutely right with what you say. The questions should be asked by both parties involved. I also will take your suggestion and put together a post that addresses your other questions. They are all very good questions, btw.

        • Broken

          Sorry for being nasty Doug… obviously i have been venting a lot lately 🙂

          • Doug

            Broken, That never entered my mind. You have every right to vent and all you questions are good ones. BTW…have you asked your husband those same questions?

            • Broken

              Doug… yes I have asked those questions to my H and he said that if he didn’t want to be with me he wouldn’t be here. We have a hard time communicating… every discussion turns into an argument. But when I ask why he wants to be here, he says he loves me and the kids and that he never wanted to be with her. Who knows if that is true??

    • ruth

      Broken I asked my husband those same questions and all he said was he still loved me and couldn’t get me out of his head. He knew he was guilty of as sin and that was why. I think now he is just seeing if we can make it and if not well than he can leave without guilt.This has been my fear that he is just string me along. If he want was to work he would do anything to make it work and I dont see that.

      • Broken

        Ruth… I asked my H why he wants to be with me and he said it was because he loved me. But I want more than that, and I want him to go to extraordinary lengths to make this marriage work, I don’t see that either.

        • d

          I’ve had that sense too, that my wife needs the familiar comfort of the marriage to get her through the depression, guilt, and withdrawal. But after 6 months (today exactly) since d-day and a lot of soul-searching, I’ve come to the point where I don’t care why she does or does not want to be in the marriage. I’m more concerned about whether or not I’m happy being married to her. She keeps telling me she loves me and that because we have 20 years, 2 kids and a home that it’s worth working to rebuild our marriage. I have to laugh at this. We’ve always had those things, but because now she’s decided to focus on them are they suddenly important? The other day she was feeling sorry for herself for causing so much damage to our relationship. Normally I would console her, happy to be necessary and able to ease her pain. Instead I couldn’t believe how little sympathy I had for her. In fact, I was insulted that she would have the audacity to even bring her needs up.
          Ruth, Broken, I hope you both get to that point. It’s liberating to see your spouse in such an honest light and to have the strength and confidence to say, “when you get your shit together I’ll be over here living my guilt-free life. I hope you realize in time what you continue to take for granted.” I love this empowered side of me. I still have pain and triggers, but the anxiety is gone, the fear of loss. Plus I don’t feel as compelled to mask my anger or sadness out of fear that I’ll push her away. There is a song I heard recently that had these lyrics: I’m not afraid. I’m not afraid. There is a world outside the world we made.
          Clearly we are all mourning a relationship that in hindsight was one-sided. The liberating thing is recognize that we can give that love we had to anyone, and if we’re lucky, we’ll find there are those out there who will willingly give it back to us.

          • Doug

            D., Great comment! ‘Nuff’ said

          • ruth

            Thank you so much d, that is exactly how I need to feel. Wow you said that so perfectly.

          • Broken

            D… I couldn’t have said it better myself! This is what I meant in my post! Why do they give a shit now? Why is everything so damn important now? The kids, house, $$$, were always there, why didn’t they care before? Because before they were selfish and childish “BAD” people who only cared about their own needs and feelings, never once thinking that what they were doing was destroying a marriage and a family. There I said it.

            • d

              LOL, Broken. My wife told me she didn’t think anyone would get hurt. I asked her, “How did you think no one would get hurt once you fell in love?” Um … uh … no answer to that question. Our 17th anniversary is this weekend. My wife asked me where should we go to dinner to celebrate. I told her it’s just another day in the year. What are we celebrating? Perhaps that’s a bit cold, but I honestly have lost sentimentality over a great many things.

          • Enough

            D, have you stayed? Are you still married? I have started to feel this way for my H too. Part of it feels good, but part of it scares me. Will I ever be able to really care again? If I stay, am I looking at a marriage where my heart isn’t really in it?

            • d

              Enough, I have been liberated from an illusion I created for our marriage. It’s painful in some ways. I liken it to being a kid when you really want to play with your childhood toys but you’re simply too old to play with them. You have to grow up. But in other ways it is liberating because being a grown up means you get to do grown up stuff like stand your ground, speak your mind, and demand more for yourself in terms of loyalty, devotion, and respect. In many ways our old marriage has to be destroyed in order to create something new. That is taking some courage. If you love someone, set them free. Boy, do I understand that now. It’s not just a question of letting the marriage go. It’s a matter of killing it in order to make room for (hopefully) a better, more rewarding marriage. My wife was on a pedestal our whole marriage. I have to knock her down and throw her in the mud to see if I still want to be with that woman. What keeps me around is that I do believe ultimately that I love her more than she deserves. I believe she loves me (though she’s got some emotional work to do on herself to understand that.) And I believe both of us, at 43 years, have a lot of growing up to do. My mantra is that as long as I feel better today than I did yesterday, I’ll stick around for tomorrow.

          • chiffchaff

            I know this is an old post but I thought that what D says is so pertinent at the moment for me.
            I hadn’t thought about, as a BS, being in my own fog of ‘pain and betrayal’ but that’s true and recent actions (or actually, mostly inactions) by my H have lifted the fog from my brain.
            I too am trying to look at whether being with my H in the future is something I want or not. It’s not an easy decision at all with the backdrop of what he’s put me through.

    • Starting Over

      Great things to think about, all of them. I absolutely did not want to end my marraige. I fought tooth and nail. It was never a question in my mind that we belonged together.

      But alas, those thoughts and feelings were not those of my spouse. He was, and still is running on pure emotion. Looking back, had he been willing to continue with our marraige where would I be? It has been nine and a half months since my D day. I have been dealing with it for over a year, actually moved out separated for six months. I filed for my divorce a month ago, after listening to him tell me he was not ready.

      Where would I be had I not gotten my space and really looked at our marraige? He is still wanting to say he loves me and that I am his family and maybe someday…..

      I no longer am. As I told him in the begining of all of this. If you think you are going to change your mind you better do it before I am better because once I get over this, I will never again let you in my life in that way.

      Well, I am no longer in the fog of hurt, betrayal and pain. I am thanking someone, not him, not her, but some thanks are in order. The one thing our marraige did not lack was love. That is still evident. We loved and still love each other very much. But it was 100% disfunctional. My husband is an alcoholic. Alcoholics by nature are very selfish people. He always had this unrequited sense of self entitlement. He still does.

      The one thing that helped close those last little wounds for me was a conversation we had about a month ago. (coincidentally, this was the weekend before I filed my divorce papers) He was telling me how much I have changed and how that proves that this was all my fault and if I had just been this person the whole time, then we would never have gotten to this point. Then he asked me if through all of this, he had changed at all…..

      Well the answer to that and everything else hit me. It was at that moment that I finally knew that my marraige was and should be over. No. The answer was no. He hasn’t changed one bit. His new relationship is just as tumultous if not more than ours was. He is still the main cause of this. And as for me changing so much….I explained to him that I firmly believe that the way I was, Unhappy, depressed, overweight, was a direct result of the way he treated me. Because look, he is gone, so is the weight, so is the depression….I am beautiful, happy and so much better!
      Now I still have my moments. Right now I am angry at him because ten years ago…I was 25 years old…wanted to leave. Wanted to find someone to treat me right and have a family with….now I am 35 mostly teenagers and one 9 year old….that family I wanted, that dream I wanted is not going to happen. Not in the way I wanted it. And now he tells me that back then, he stayed with me because of the kids. Now I am angry because he stole ten years of my life from me. I am 100% posotive I will be happy in the future, and happier than I ever was with him….but….what could have been and what never will be makes me angry.

      • Doug

        Starting Over! Good to hear from you. Great stuff as usual that people can learn from. The one thing that struck me with this comment was that your soon-to-be-ex husband blamed you for his affair because you have grown and changed. Talk about selfish!

      • Doug

        Starting over, I want to tell you that he may have stolen 10 years of your life, however you may not have appreciated your new life or have grown as much as you did without those ten years. You are a new, happy person and sometimes it takes pain and suffering to arrive at that point. I am very happy for you and hope that your new life is filled with the love you deserve. Linda

        • Starting Over

          Thanks guys! I really am so much better. And you are right. The dreams that I had may not have been what I needed either. I still do have a wonderful family. My kids and I are so very close that the only thing missing is him and I am finding now that is not such a bad thing. The kids and I just had our first drama free holiday ever (talking about his drinking and being stupid) and this weekend we are going to have our first ever trip. Taking them camping and to the boardwalk for the weekend and they are sooo very excited! I still come back at least once a week. I just try to find things that I can put my two cents in for. Lol…maybe thats my suggestion. Maybe a post a week about how to handle when they say they DONT want to continue.

          • d

            Information on moving on is helpful, Starting Over, believe me. Thanks for your input. Good luck to you.

            • Broken

              d… I can understand how you feel about the anniversary thing, when our anniversary came along this year, he didn’t get me a card, we went out to “celebrate” but it wasn’t an intimate celebration, we invited some friends with us. It didn’t feel special at all, we didn’t hug or kiss or even touch each other at all. Not to say we didn’t have a good time, but there was no real “value” to the day at all, this time it felt like another day in the year. That’s what sucks about affairs, they make your marriage lose value. You start to not cherish it like you did before, and you definitely lose the sentimental value of it. Things become less important now, because you feel like your spouse hurt you so bad.
              Every once in a while I listen to love songs, and I remember how much all the words meant to me before his affair. I always thought well this song is us, i love him so much, I would kill for him. Now when I hear those same songs I think well it’s all bullshit and I wish the words could have some meaning now. I want to remember that feeling of being in love sooooooo bad. Because I remember what it felt like, and it was great!!!

    • Finished

      Hi all . . . Doug and Linda, I really love this site. It’s like having a friend to hang with who doesn’t get tired of hearing it all the time, even when you get tired of hearing yourself! I’m just wondering if anyone out there has tried staying with their spouse, but “just as friends.” We are discussing trying to do this, mostly for the kids. I guess we’d be “with benefits,” too, unless one of us gets involved with someone else. But that also seems crazy, because we technically wouldn’t be divorced. And I’m totally done with men, I have no interest in ever trusting anyone ever again. I’d rather be alone. So it would really be just about him, if he went back to the OP or met up with someone else. He still works with her, and it’s been 2 1/2 years since I found out about them. We’ve tried counseling and moving on. But then a year ago he started talking to her again, and I had finally begun to trust him again. Now I really don’t believe anything he says anymore. I want a divorce, but he doesn’t. And I really don’t want to hurt the kids. And financially it makes so much more sense to stay together, plus we help each other out. I know it all sounds crazy, and we’d obviously have to lay down some hard and fast ground rules. But I just can’t see myself as his “wife” anymore. He’s still my best friend, and I can do best friend. But I can’t do wife. Not with him. Not anymore.

      • GG

        Although I commend your wanting to be friends because of the children, I don’t understand how being a friend with benefits will work. A friend is someone you can trust and share your life with. If your husband cheated on you, he betrayed your trust and disrepected you. I don’t consider that being a best friend. There is no benefit in there for you Finished!

    • TLC

      Hi Linda and Doug, My situation is a little different to most posts as once finding out about my husband and best friend I simply left with my two boys. I gave him a choice to pursue a road for us to build or to continue you with her and the rest is history. I have sinced gone through extreme pain, hurt and angry. During this whole period did not involve family or friends and said it was between us and for our boys sake tried to be his friend. It has been nearly six months and I feel good about myself, my business is going well, I have brought a house and most of all have had some of the happiest times with my sons (7yrs and 4yrs). Our marriage was not good due to losing a house in fire in April 2010 and we both coped very differently. He drank and socialised, I battled insurance. I have just brought a new home. We live in a new town 45mins away from my husband and have started a fresh. The boys have their times of sadness but enjoying the fun times which werent around while living my husband. He had the whole 3 of us living on eggshells… the affair explained that. My problem is now whenever I drop the boys off or talk to him he brings up that I left him, about his one night stands, how every women loves him, or how he is still going down the “Barb” track. He will then repeat the wedding vows to me and said that what he has is a sickness. For better or for worse and that I left him. He interogates the boys about whether I have been talking to men. That is definately a ‘no’ at this stage but I do have male clients. I just do not know how to handle this because I am the betrayed and I have come off better off (I believe). He is still holding on to the illusion that she will leave her husband but the reality is his life is an absolute mess from the guy he use to be. People are telling me he is sick and loss and I try and talk to him but just get it thrown back in my face. Truely I feel as though I am the one that has had the affair. What or how do I handle this for the kids sake? What are the right things to say to make him see that what he has done is not what I believe is right. Last night I told him that I had boundaries, he knew them and crossed them so I knew it was time to leave. He just doesn’t believe he has or it is an issue. I just so need to move on.

      • Lynne

        In a word, he is “delusional”………another would be “completely narsassistic” (okay, that was two words)! It’s clear that he is hurting, he lost his family, and the AP hasn’t left her marriage, so he hurts and wants to blame you. He is totally manipulating you by saying those things. I’d stop saying anything to convince “him to see that what he has done is not what you belive is right”. Your actions in leaving have already sent your message that what he did is not right…..nuf’ said. Perhaps developing a one line response to his comments might work…..something that you say each and every time he makes those RIDICULOUS comments, and that you never deviate from. He’ll eventually get it when he can’t engage you in his illness. Something like “have a nice weekend with the kids, I need to go now”. In any event, if talking him through it and rationalizing with him would work, it would have worked already!

        • TLC

          Thank you Lynne, will take this on board and give it a go. Will make a concerted effort to keep it to the boys and say goodbye. As hard as this has been I definately have become a stronger person and are enjoying the simple things that I had forgotton about in life. A relationship is a huge part of life but it isn’t everything. I’ve also realised how one very bad relationship with someone can cost other relationships that you just don’t realise. Some of my friends just found his treatment of me and my making up excuses to hard and distance themselves or I did from them. Those friends have come back on board and said “Your back”. I do not hate my ex husband, and accept what has happen. I am no longer bitter and hope in time I can forgive but just too much has happened for me to love him as a wife should. Looking forward to my future. Thank you once again.

    • KF

      Thanks for all the posts and comments…I found out in February and have had trouble wrapping my head around the fact that my wife of 15 years could do this to me and our marraige. I see from all the posts that no matter what the outcome of my marraige I should remain strong and make the decisions that matter most for me. I feel empathy for all those here, this is somewhere where I never wanted to be….

    • A&W's Momma

      I am warmed by this website and the story that Linda and Doug are sharing with us. It gives me hope and a positive view on how marriages can and should be. I unfortunately am now a statistic, my ex-husband is a wonderful person for the most part, has fallen in love with another women and has chosen her over me. I am heartbroken by this, but it has not broken me. Somewhere down the line, God willing, there will be someone special for me. But I just wanted to thank you for sharing your most intimate and vulnerable thoughts and feelings with us. It helps more than you know.

    • Cindy

      It’s been about a year from dday and things are going really really well. A couple of months after dday my hubby also told me that I made all the changes in the marriage and he has basically stayed the same so the affair must have been my fault. If I had a gun I would have shot him. I was enraged. During the last 15 years I was doing soccer, baseball, PTA, basketball, sleep overs, homework etc… I was a mom I’m sweats and no makeup. My kids are in college now and the affair may have been the catalyst for my changing originally but I continue because it makes me feel good about myself. I lost weight, I exercise, I wear makeup, I go out with the girls, I take care of myself. I may have originally made changes because I was so desperate to “win” him back but I like the new me. I explained to him that they were changes I needed to make to make me feel good and they would have happened “post” kids with or without him. My changes didn’t save our marriage. Our marriage would not have survived if he didn’t make changes or put in the effort. I think it makes the betrayer feel less guilt if they can of they can blame their spouse and say ” see, I didn’t make any changes”. He did, trust me

    • Decimated

      I decided to leave my marriage and file. But, before I did, I needed to make sure that I did everything possible before giving up. I didn’t want any regrets going forward and I needed to be able to tell our children that I honestly exhausted every possibility before deciding on the nuclear option. I stayed over a year trying to work on us but in the end she did very little in terms of effort and she showed almost no remorse. It took her 8 months to see a therapist. She stopped going after only about 6 visits. She was unwilling to make the changes that were necessary for me to feel safe and valued in our marriage. I also realized she was probably still in contact with him. I never got the whole, honest truth from her. I never even got a heart felt apology. I just couldn’t continue without that.

      It is sad because we really did have a good marriage for the first 12 years. We were both happy with 3 happy children. Her affair was a product of a mid-life crisis. She was 39 at the time. She lost her parents four months apart. After that she was never the same. Her affair started within a year of that…old crush…Facebook. At first she deny everything and then would try to blame me. This was slowly destroying any chance of R. I survived countless D days. It seemed like every week or two, for over a year, I was discovering new lies and info.

      Our divorce is final now…so is his. He has dumped her but she still remains confused and ambivalent about us. She just wants to live free and go out partying with her friends. He tried to contact me wanting to talk…I have no interest…nothing to be gained for me. I am moving on as best as I can. It has been so long since I have lived with peace of mind. I miss the way are marriage was before all of this happened but I realize that it is gone, never to return. She had plenty of opportunities to fix what she broke. She had no real interest in the gift or R that I was offering so I must leave her behind.

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