When people are facing trying times in their marriages, they may consider the idea of temporary separation…But this raises an important question: can a trial separation save a marriage?

can a trial separation save a marriage

Lately we’ve had quite a lot of questions and comments regarding separation after infidelity.  So, we thought we’d re-post an article from a few years ago that addresses this topic.

A separation can often be the result after an affair has been discovered. Though we feel it is possible that being separated while trying to recover can be a good thing in some cases, it can also make it more difficult to save a marriage – unless it is done the right way, that is.

In this guest post, Dr. Dana Fillmore, an internationally recognized Clinical Psychologist, author and marriage and family expert, explains how a couple can separate the “right way” – and furthermore, how it can actually help. But if done the wrong way…it can spell disaster.

We hear lots of stories where the unfaithful spouse feels it’s a “good idea” to separate because they “need some space” or want to “figure things out,” when all they really want to do is have more open access to their affair partner. Obviously, this is not the “right way” to handle a trial separation.

We know that there are many of you who are either separated or are contemplating it and we think this article may provide some very useful nuggets if you’re in that situation.

Even if you’re not separated and have never considered it, we’d like to see your thoughts in the comment section on why you decided not to take that route.

Dana-Fillmore-Headshot-640x1024Can a Trial Separation Save a Marriage?

When people are facing trying times in their marriages, they may consider the idea of temporary separation. They might feel like they need some space, that they need to get away from behavior that’s making them upset, or that they simply need a break from the marriage to collect their thoughts and emotions.

But this raises an important question: can a trial separation save a marriage?

Well, the short answer is yes – if (and only if) it’s done correctly. If not, it can actually end up causing a lot more damage.

So, how does a couple separate the “right way” – and furthermore, how does it actually help?

First, let’s make sure we understand the real purpose of separating. It’s not supposed to be a hasty decision, it’s supposed to be that last-ditch, “Hail Mary pass” attempt at getting things back on track when you feel like you’ve run out of other options.

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When you separate from your spouse, the idea is to get a taste of what life would be like without them. It’s supposed to be a chance to reevaluate the marriage, and see if some new perspective changes the way you feel. Sometimes we’re “too close” to our problems, and once we’ve stepped away, we can see our own contributions to them, how we may have been overreacting, or discover new solutions simply by looking at things from a new vantage point.

With those guiding principles established, what does a separation “done right” look like?

For starters, you have to set some guidelines (that you both agree upon), and stick with them. If the separation is actually going to lead to some positive changes, establishing some ground rules is key.

You may have your own specific rules to establish, but there are also some general guidelines that will help make separating a source of resolution.

Here are a few of the most important:

Time Frame

If you decide to separate, set a time limit immediately. Your time apart should be no more than six months – and in all reality, probably shouldn’t be any longer than three months (especially if you have kids).

Establishing this time frame helps keep you focused on the real reason for the separation – to work on and improve the marriage. If you separate with no clear end in sight, you may just drift apart instead of putting in the effort to make changes and meet a self-imposed “deadline” for sorting out issues.

Live Like You’re Divorced

If the main purpose of separation is to show you what life would be like without your spouse, you HAVE to live as if you were already divorced.

This means splitting up finances (don’t close your accounts just yet, but split up your money as if you were), staying in separate places, even splitting up custody of the kids. You have to really get the sense of being apart – no sharing cars, “hooking up,” or relying on each other the way you did when you were “together.”

If you let yourself fall back into old behaviors, you’re giving yourself a false sense of what splitting up will be like, and worse, giving yourself some of the “benefits” of marriage without the responsibilities – and you likely won’t work on changing the problem areas that lead to separation in the first place.

See also  Jealous of Divorce?

Don’t Date

This is a bit of a touchy subject, since many couples separate because one of them is seeing someone else, but if it can be avoided, it should be! It’s tough to work on one a relationship if you’re starting to develop feelings for another person.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, some couples DO actually get back together after dating other people – it helps them realize what they were taking for granted, and how unpleasant the “dating world” can be. This is NOT our recommended approach, but it does work for some people… You’ll have to find what works best for you and your spouse.

The Ultimatum After an Affair – Should You Or Shouldn’t You?

Don’t Change The Rules

Yes, one of the rules is about the rules themselves – but it has to be mentioned!

If you start to miss each other, good! Don’t change the rules. If you’re struggling to make your appointments and get the kids where they need to be, good! Don’t change the rules.

When things get tough, it’s your chance to learn. Don’t change the rules to make things easier on yourself, instead look for the lesson in the struggle.

The point of separating was to get a sense of life without your partner, and if it’s tougher than you anticipated, that’s a pretty strong sign that splitting up with your spouse isn’t the best idea.

You laid out the guidelines for your separation for a reason. If you change them halfway through, you risk undoing the lessons you were learning, and stopping your progress dead in its tracks.

Work On It

This last rule is the most important of all. No matter what ground rules you set, no matter what time frame you establish, no matter what your problems might be – nothing is going to change if you don’t put in some work.

Getting Over an Affair – Doing Work

This means working on both yourself and the relationship – and it will be different for everyone. If you’ve gotten to the point of separating with your spouse, life probably feels pretty stressful, and this is your opportunity to set a new course.

It could be working on things directly related to your marriage (or the problems that lead to separation), from anger management to problems with addiction, from taking parenting classes to working on money management…

See also  How to Accept Your Marriage is Over and Find Hope Again

It can also be peripheral things that might not have been central to the issues in your marriage, but are “problem areas” for you nonetheless. This could be getting in shape, kicking a bad habit, spending more time on a passion, etc.

The idea is to be the best version of yourself, because it will also translate into being a better spouse. When you are confident in yourself and fulfilled in your pursuits, you have so much more to offer another person in terms of connection and support. This goes for both of you.

If you aren’t working on the things that caused you to separate, the whole thing is for naught.

Remember the real reasons for separation, and make sure you’re going about it in a way that will actually lead to growth and positive change. If you’ve already separated from your spouse, but didn’t lay out the rules mentioned above, that’s ok! It’s not too late to “restart” on the right foot.

Think long and hard before making the choice to separate – and if you do, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons (and going about it the right way). If you keep these “rules” in mind, it truly can help get your marriage back on track!    

Have you considered a trial separation? If so, why, and what was the result? If you did not, what were the factors that caused you to stay married? If you had to do it over again, would you give a trial separation a try?

Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Thanks!

Dana-Fillmore-Headshot-640x1024Dr. Dana Fillmore is an internationally recognized marriage and family expert, Clinical Psychologist and author of “Happily Ever After: How To Be Happily Married To The One You Already Married.” In her 16-year marriage counseling practice and through StrongMarriageNow.com, she has saved thousands of marriages. She is also renowned for helping individuals transform their relationships even when their spouse is checked out.

She also offers a free video series that shows you how to regain the love, rekindle the passion and save your marriage.  Click here to check that out.   


*Originally posted on March 6, 2015 and updated on June 9, 2020.

    32 replies to "Can a Trial Separation Actually Save a Marriage?"

    • Eyeswideopen

      Thank you for this post, very enlightening. My story, or should I say nightmare, started 3yrs ago. At the time of disclosure my first instinct was to run, I stayed put and didn’t make any rash judgements. Well, it’s been a little over 3 years now, and boy how I wish I would have done things differently! I would have separated for sure. I wasn’t looking to just throw him to the curb, as he had done to me, but I certainly think had I been tougher back then, maybe I would feel different today. Though my husband woke up fairly quickly (3-4 wks) after being found out, he I believe never really worried that our marriage wouldn’t survive, and that I think is key. Had my husband felt that there was a possibility that his marriage would really be at risk, I think he would have been quite different in those beginning weeks, months. Sad part is, that 3yrs later I am honestly contemplating a separation.

    • antiskank

      Hi EWO,
      so sorry that it isn’t working out for you. I could easily have written your comment, it fits so well.
      My husbnad hasn’t woken up quite so quickly, though. It is just under 3 years for me and until very recently, he was still spending his energies on longing for and fantasizing about his skank/true love. Lots of lying and pretending and hurting me more during that time but with no real attempt to improve our situation, to rebuild a relationship, or to address the elephant in the room.

      At the beginnning, I too, felt that I shouldn’t make any hasty decisions based on my very extreme emotions. It made sense that we needed to be together to work on making a solid relationship. He had told me what he thought I wanted to hear and I had started believing in him again and trying to get past the betrayal. In time, I realized that there were too many elements missing and too many inconsistencies, he just wasn’t putting in any effort, he wasn’t present in our relationship. I found out why and was devastated all over again. Now he is still not addressing the problems, not trying to make things better, basically just assuming that I will get over it and we can move on like old times.

      At the beginning, I told him that I thought separation was a possibility if he didn’t shape up in a bug hurry. His response was to ask “If we separate, will we get back together again?” I am sure that he thought this might be a good idea so that he could spend time with his affair partner, while keeping me on hold if things didn’t work out with her.
      Several times, especially in the past year, I have suggested that we should just separate and each time he begs and insists that he wants to be with me and promises many things. He never follows through and nothing changes! I think that he, too has always felt that I would never end it. I’m sure he thinks he is so wonderful that I just couldn’t live without him.
      I have invested everything, and I do mean everything in this relationship, this marriage, this life so I don’t really want it to end but I can’t take this any more. I can’t change him and dreaming about how I want things to be is not a very healthy way to spend my time. I have told him that it is time to get it together NOW or we will be over this week. I don’t think he believes me or cares. I am sure that he is only staying because he doesn’t want to be alone, he feels comfortable with me, depends on me to deal with life’s issues.

      Trial separation? I don’t know, I think we are past that point. To me, if we separate, it is so I can move on and have a life free of the pain of being with someone who doesn’t value me or love me. I have done everything I can do and can’t do his part too so I will feel no guilt in moving on if it comes to it.

      • Eyeswideopen

        Antiskank, I am so sorry you are going through this still. Three yrs and he’s still not getting it, is def a problem. I know most of the time, sad as it is, the betrayed partner seems to be the one that does the most work, even though they weren’t the ones that cheated. But at the same time, usually the CS is trying too. Ans at the very least past the point of still yearning, daydreaming etc… about the affair partner. In your case I really don’t understand why he doesn’t just walk away from the marriage? I hope you find peace in whatever it is you wind up doing.

    • tabs


      My situation is quite close. I wish I had thrown my CS out, if only for my self-esteem. Like you, my H “woke up” quickly after I found out about the first OW. My mother was literally lying on her death bed, so I didn’t want to turn my life upside down and inside out by throwing by separating. I found out about the second OW about a week later. I constantly regret not separating. Should I have considered divorce, even after I promised my mother I would work on my marriage? I see other couples where somebody has cheated and believe the BS should just leave. Yet, here I am still married. Not even his family knows what happened. On top of that, the second affair didn’t end until 4 months later. That relationship was difficult to stop since it was work related. She eventually moved. I can’t help but feel that my H had his cake and got to eat it too. I don’t hear any remorse in the few conversations we have about the affairs. It makes me wonder if I made the right decision. I hear your agony, because I went through the same pain. It’s been four years since Dday and I’m still wondering if I could have handled things better.

      • Eyeswideopen

        Tabs, Ty for responding to my post. I feel so bad that you were going through something like this while trying to deal with your Mom. I can’t even imagine. My husbands EA & slight PA were with someone at work also, so made it that much harder for sure. I demanded he get her out or that he leave. He eventually had her removed, but not till I had gone to see his bosses. Embarrassing doesn’t even begin to cover how I felt having to do that. My husband did have remorse, and has pretty much done everything right, but that wasn’t until putting me through the ringer for about a month after disclosure. And that is where my problem stems from. It was those early few weeks, when I had already busted him, and he pleaded to me to stay and to give him a chance. He said he would get her out, then a few days later, told me he had a change of heart and wouldn’t do that to her! Hurting me was ok though. We had been married 25yrs when this happened, together 33. He had always worked alone in a one man office for over 30 yrs till his company was taken over, and they gave him a FEMALE operator to help him. The first time he ever worked with a female, and this is what he does! Didn’t seem to matter what she looked like etc….
        We have two grown adult sons, and Grandchildren, which live right next store, and I had to put on a brave face every single day during those horrible first months. Eventually my sons found out, (that wasn’t pretty) and it did help that they knew now. Fast forward 3 1/2 yrs later, and I still feel stuck. I feel resentment, some anger still and most of all severe betrayal. When I needed him the most in those early days, he threw me to the curb. I just can’t get past that, no matter how great he is now. It’s really very sad that people who cheat don’t, or just won’t, see what having their little bit of fun is going to do to their lives, and to the people around them. I hope you get through this. Be strong!

        • theresa

          What’s a “slight” PA?

          • Strengthrequired

            I’m wondering if it is oral.

            • Eyeswideopen

              Strengthrequired, had there been oral sex, I certainly would have considered it to be a full blown PA!

          • Eyeswideopen

            Theresa, in my case a slight PA was that they kissed 2x and some very light touching, such as a shoulder touch, while passing by each other in the office. I’m sure had I not discovered it when I did, it would have led to a full blown PA. They had discussed (made plans) that just never came to fruition, for many reasons. Funny, my husband struggles with ED, so it probably scared him that he wouldn’t have been able to perform, but boy there were tons and tons of sexual talk. Ugh….. Sickening!

    • Rachel

      My ex wanted to separate to see if it was good for him. If it was good he’d leave, if it wasn’t he’d stay married.
      We didn’t seperate, we divorced.

      • Eyeswideopen

        Rachel, Sorry about all, but good for you!

    • AnnaB

      I think the Dr Dana’s advice is spot on. I was keen to separate from my cheating husband because I wanted space to think and ‘grieve.’ I was devastated when I found out, and if it wasn’t for the fact that we had children I would have left immediately. However, the other reason I wanted us to separate was so that he might miss me and realise that he’d had something good all along. But he refused to leave, saying it would affect the children. But they were in their mid-teens at the time (3 years ago), and I was planning to tell them that we weren’t getting on very well and had decided to give each other some space. I thought this was the mature thing to do, rather than subject them to the bickering and hushed arguments that were so stressful for the whole house. My H could easily have stayed at his parents’ house a couple of miles away, but I believe he refused because he didn’t want them to know what he had been up to – even though I wouldn’t have told them. After three and a half years we are getting on well and our relationship is richer, and we are very considerate to each other. But I really believe that if we had had that space in the beginning it may have made the journey easier and we would have made progress much quicker. Having said all of that, Dr Dana has made me think that if he had moved out, he would have had more time to think about the OW and possibly make contact with her, and gain her sympathy and all that goes with that situation. I guess there are pros and cons…

      • Eyeswideopen

        AnnaB, I hear you. Guess we’ll never know what might have been, if had done things differently. It is possible that by separating, it might have brought him closer to the OW, but, I think that would save a lot of BSpouses a ton of grief. It forces you to see the truth and where you stand. Think about it, if it really were a mistake, or just a temporary malfunction in the CS brain, as they claim, it would be a no brainer that they wouldn’t want their marriage to dissolve, and that they would do anything to not let that happen. I would have preffered to have known what my spouse would have done had he really felt threatened. Good luck to you!

    • exercisegrace

      I think you have to be very, very careful about a trial separation. I think each situation is unique and needs to be evaluated on it’s own. In my situation, the affair had ended by my husband’s choice over a year before I found out. She outed it in a fit of rage, so had we separated I would have had ZERO concern of him running to her. If I had caught him, I don’t think I would have been able to handle the additional betrayal had he moved in with her or continued the affair. And I know for certain I would have been paranoid that he was with her. it would have seriously impeded my ability to heal. The kids played a large part in the decision too. Unlike my husband during his affair, I took their well-being seriously and was always willing to put it above my own. I was fairly sure I wanted to stay in the marriage, so putting the kids through any more trauma seemed out of the question. It seemed pointless to separate if we were ultimately going to stay together. It was a very difficult time for our kids, mostly our older teens. While I might have benefited from the breathing space, it just wasn’t worth it in OUR situation. Sometimes though, I think it is absolutely necessary for the betrayed spouse to heal and cope without the whole thing in their face 24/7.

      • Eyeswideopen

        exercisegrace, It’s true while each situation might be different, technically if you read everyones story, we are all pretty much the same. Seems cheaters all seem to follow some sort of cheaters playbook. My story differs in the fact that I had grown children, and I suppose it made it easier in that respect. But had I had young children at home, I don’t think that would have stopped me from separating. I have friends that during their marriage they would fight and not talk to each other and the children suffered terribly. Children are pretty aware, having to hide or act differently in front of the kids can be very tough, and causes more stress. To stay because of the children, is not the most ideal either. Guess its an individual thing. All the best!

        • exercisegrace

          Cheaters do seem to follow the same playbook and I think it creates from there a fairly predictable pattern of destruction for the betrayed spouse. It’s really maddening when you think about it. I wonder if people knew how textbook it all was, how predictable, how mundane……would they be less susceptible? Would they realize they weren’t “different” or “special”? Interesting thought.

          I wanted to clarify one thing. While the kids were a big factor, they were one of many. Had I felt it necessary, they alone would not have stopped me from leaving. I too, have seen situations where the marriage becomes untenable and it creates even more stress for everyone. The biggest factor for me was his level of remorse. He was willing to do the hard work to save our marriage. He went to both individual and couples’ counseling, and met all of my other “must haves” for me to even be willing to try. Had I not seen true remorse, I would have left for certain. But thirty plus years together was not something I was going to toss lightly. I still loved him and I was willing to try to forgive. It’s been a hard, hard road. Three years past d day and I still have days where I struggle. But I am learning to keep the pen to my story tightly in MY fist and not let that whore write any more of it. I have such admiration for the men and women on this board. So many stories and journeys. So many paths, and it has been a privilege to learn and grow with them.

    • TheFirstWife

      Here is my question. We all seem to have the same or similar experiences. Cheating spouse, denial, anger toward spouse, affair fog, etc.
      My question is (mostly towards men who are CH) why do you come running back to your wife upon being found out? It is so typical.
      The CH puts his wife through hell, causes family stress both financially and emotionally, justifies the affair and then comes running back to the safety net.
      What is that about?
      I kicked my CH out upon learning of his EA/PA. He claims he ended it but only after I confronted him about the affair and found out he went running back to her. I told him to leave and he REFUSED! So I called a friend and made srrangements for him to go and stay. Boy was he upset and still did not want to go.
      But the point is why do they come back and want to stay married for the most part? Fear? Insecurity? What is it? I would be happy to know.

      • Sean

        I am a CH. I was stupid and stressed to the point of losing my mind. We moved across the country, I took a new job,we found out she was pregnant just before the move. She is a wonderful outgoing beautiful woman and I am so introverted that its almost self destructive constantly.The new job was supposed to come with a large pay increase but that was ignored right away and that created more stress and frustration add in that I’m so dumb that I can’t get taking care of my pregnant wife correct and paying double for half of what we had back home for a house, then toss in classes that were required but not mentioned for my employment. We weren’t able to just pick up and go back financially. The baby came and she is amazing but I still wasn’t there enough to support her I guess because she’d constantly mention my moods and not getting up with the baby often enough during the night. 12 hour shifts and no sleep. I made a terrible decision and cheated on my wife. I was truly not the man she trusted and married and everything just spiraled out of control. She found out after almost 18 months. I didn’t cheat for the thrill or the pleasure, it was mainly just being someone who didn’t have to(but should have) think about everything going wrong. When she found out we fought and I lied about the severity of things. She took me back but I still hadn’t pulled myself away from the other woman. I didn’t participate in sexual meetings but I was still in contact with her while she threatened to tell my wife that she still talked to me. I should’ve just shown my wife then but I panicked and tried my best to fix things on my own. Things were getting back to normal with my wife and now I know that wasn’t a good thing. We should have been working on getting better than normal but we both became complacent. I was slowly setting myself up to be rid of the other woman without my wife finding out we were still in contact but I left my phone out and didn’t think we would talk again but she sent messages and my wife saw them. It devastated her and made my shame all the more worse. I can’t fix the past and I might not be able to save our future together but she is truly the love of my life and I will not give up asking her to be my wife forever. It does not matter if she finds someone else, I will ask her to marry me at her wedding. I will never hide anything from her again but she is scorned and won’t let us try together again. I understand why and hate that I hurt her so bad but I can not give up. Like I said before, she is the one love in my life that will ever be. We shouldn’t stay together for our daughter, it should be to revive the love that we had before and can still have. She is a strong woman but does not have me to confide in anymore and that hurts so deeply and all I want to do is help her. I can not give up on her. That is why I “came running back”. I don’t expect her to forgive me or take me back, It comes down to me knowing that this will never happen again because I am simply not willing to see that pain in her eyes that I caused her. I’m sorry to take up so much room but besides her and a therapist, this has been my only outlet. I need to improve for her and I want to be there for her.

    • Tabs


      I had grown children when I found out about the affair: one in high school and the other in college. So there was really never any question of staying married for the kids. But ironically, the one person who seems to have helped me the most is my daughter. She constantly talks to me (even now) about “how I feel” and wants me to be happy. What is really unfathomable is that she knew about the affairs before I did. Somewhere in our convesations, she told me that she and her brother both could deal with a divorce. At no time should I stay married because of them.

    • Rachel

      You have one smart daughter.

    • Eyeswideopen

      Tabs, sounds like you have a wonderful Daughter! It’s amazing how we might not see something, but people around us do. Were we that blind and trusting? I hated myself for that.

    • Eyeswideopen

      Thefirstwife, good question! Hope a CH does answer. Would love to hear from their perspective.

    • Golfgrrl

      Hi Everyone –

      I caught my CH in an EA which eventually turned into a PA without my knowlegde. I threatened to throw him out when I found out about the EA. we went to therapy – during which he lied. I kept my mouth shut and lo and behold TWO YEARS later, I discovered his PA (same woman).

      I TOLD EVERYONE. Packed his stuff up in garbage bags (all of it), changed the locks on all the doors and the garage door code and put it all his stuff in the garage (I thought this considerate since it was raining). Told him that if he didn’t come get it all, it was all going in the garbage the next day. Lucky for him, his brother helped him move all his stuff and got him to his moms – where his stuff sits in the garage.

      That was October.

      Today he is in counseling. I am in counseling. We are in counseling (he set this up and he is participating). What a huge pain in the ass. I can’t help but think that if I’d kicked him out originally, things would have been a lot different. Mostly, that I would not have wasted the last two years.

      Side note: he cut off all contact with the OW, stopped drinking and thinks we will weather this and be together until the end.

      Now, If only he could convince me!

      I hope everything works out for everyone. I can only say, and this is unique to me, as is every case to those involved, sunshine is the best disinfectant. And when this situation was shone in the light of day and given the air to breath and the time to start to heal, it seemed to put us on a steady path.

      We might not stay married, but at least we are showing each other respect and have decided to be the best partners in parenting to our children, if not partners in marriage.

      I think that separation helped open his eyes and mine, too.

      Also, a really good book that I found was “Not Just Friends” by Shirley Glass. Really talks about what is happening on all three sides of affairs (CS, BS, AP). Gave me a lot of insight and understanding – which is turning into compassion. Turns out it is not uncommon for CSs to return to their homes/spouses.

    • Tabs

      Eyeswideopen and Rachel,

      Thanks! My daughter has proven more stable and reliable than my friends. Plus, I don’t like talking about my CH’s affairs with my friends. Most of them think I should have gotten a divorce, which fuels my insecurity regarding my decision not to separate or at least throw my H out.


      “Not Just Friends” is a very helpful book. One of the best.

      • Eyeswideopen

        Tabs, no need to thank. Sad that we are all here. Though for me continuing in my marriage, is a struggle, I in know way would encourage or discourage anyone else’s way of handling things. I too have not told a single friend. Didn’t want to have to defend my reasons to stay or leave, and didn’t want to cause a rift in the friendships as we share all the same friends. I have had my Daughter in law to confide in, but have been very careful with that also. Though she is amazing and totally unbiased.
        I am sorry to have had to meet you all through such a tough and horrific time in our lives, but it certainly helps being able to talk to other people who totally understand!

    • AloneByMyself

      So I’m not sure what to do now. I have, unfortunately or stupidly, had several D-days. Two years ago my wife was forced to confess about the affair she was having with a co-worker after his wife found emails on his iPad. I was told it was only emails and some texting. I was shocked and angry but I decided to believe her when she said it was over and we could work on things to save the marriage. Ten months later my wife was forced to confess that she had been carrying on another email and text affair with an old high school flame. Again her hand was forced because his wife had found the emails and texts. They were forced into complete disconnect. Looking back, I should have done something different here but I was so angered and hurt I just looked at her and told her that was her last chance. Hyper-vigilance set in and I watched her every move. I knew she was probably cheating again I just needed the opportunity to prove it to myself. Last month I got the chance and found she was indeed, cheating with a third man (a former co-worker) via text and email. I found out she had tried to meet this man to make the relationship physical. I also discovered she had lied to me about the second affair. They had both openly discussed leaving each other’s families (both are married with two children) for one another and she had even made a promise to meet with him if he ever came around to visit his family in my city.. I confronted her about this latest revelation, packed a bag and left that night. This actually seemed to wake her the hell up. I honestly think she felt I would never be able to leave her because of the kids or whatever delusions she had that I would just take her abusive behavior forever, in the name of love. We got into therapy. I was hanging on to the lie I was telling myself she had never actually had sex with any of them. Stupid me. It’s been one week since I found evidence on her computer that she had been meeting and having sex with the first guy a year before she was forced to disclose the affair. Also, she had never given up contact with him and had been having an affair with him via texting the entire time, up until about two months before I confronted her about the third affair. I cannot believe anything she is saying now. She is, right now, in therapy with me but I’m so out of love with her I can’t even imagine loving her again. We’ve been married for 14 years and have two beautiful children together but she didn’t give a sh*% about that before. I flew off the handle after the “last straw” disclosure and told her our marriage is over. Our MC told me to cool down and think hard about it before making a final decision. My wife has been doing and saying all the right things. She has agreed to full disclosure, but she had before and still lied, so I don’t care. Her words are meaningless to me now but she is genuinely putting in real effort for the first time in years and my MC says he thinks she really is trying, but he also said that before knowing she had lied to him about the first affair as well. I honestly think I should take her knife out of my back and use it to cut the cord from her. Right now I’m only in counseling to do the divorce right and I’ve told her this, which has openly crushed her. If I had it to do over again, I would have walked out after the second disclosure. If I knew then what I know now, I would have left after the first one. I promised her I would do MC for 3 months and we’re starting month two now. I’ll be damned if I sink to her level and go back on my word.

    • Mommabear5

      Hello, I just found out about 5 weeks ago about my husband’s EA and almost PA which is a miracle it didn’t happen because somehow the OW didn’t make the first move. My husband is very contrite (after blaming me at first for being cold and causing him to run to another), and trying to be the person I always wanted him to be. I wanted a separation and we were advised against it, so he is on the couch every night, but somehow part of me feels this is not helping me heal since it’s really life as usual except the sleeping situation. It doesn’t help that the OW is still at work which makes me so mad. He feels hopeful about our future, as we do have many children which was what prevented me from kicking his ass out right away, but I feel somehow I am denying myself some freedoms to see what I really want for the rest of my life. He says he wants me and he will never stray again. How long will I feel suspicious? I am constantly wanting to check his phone, although I know he has been good since all of this came out. Ugh why is this so hard? I don’t know what I want!

      • TheFirstWife

        I am sorry for you. But good thing you found this blog.

        I am hopeful your H gets it and gives up the OW and commits 100% to you and your marriage.

        Sadly that is not usually the case. It is rare the cheating spouse says the affair is over and it is. Most often there is continued contact. Sorry to say but that is the pattern or trend.

        So I am all for being vigilant on phone and texts and FaceBook and all of it. If I had I eoukd have known my H went back to the OW after 6 weeks if no contact.

        He used Skype so I could not see her # on our cell phone bill. He changed pw on his email account AND set up a secret account as well.

        Please keep your eyes open. Every guy is different and your H may well be the one who does all the right things. But don’t be surprised or blown away if he backslides and lies or is less than 200% honest. It could be par for the course.

    • Nil

      Just stumbled upon this post, 10 months too late!!
      Separated 10 months ago from my wife who had been having an affair (supposedly emotional) for over 4 years & has continued to lie & deceive over this period. She lived in denial of it being an affair inspite of lies & tell tale signs & insisted upon continuing this other relationship. I walked out of my own home – in order to give both of us space to think & figure things out. Reflecting upon this trial separation, I feel I could have done a few things better.
      # 1 – I left my own home. And provided for her in this period. Instead, if there is a choice, its better to make the betraying partner leave, only then the impact would hit him/her. Had this choice perhaps but I couldnt then be so harsh with her, loved her too much for that. And felt too weak in the knee to stay put with her nonsense.
      # 2 – After moving out, I kept pursuing her to reconcile . That encouraged her to make further demands, including apologising to her, the children & the families for my walking out.
      # 3 – Went to a MC who had no experience about handling an affair stricken marriage. For many of them, the affair is an outcome of a bad marriage, not the other way around.
      The biggest challenge is that of blaming oneself & revisiting the past to see what could have been done differently to avoid this outcome. I find it difficult to let go of the latter even today. I regret I didnt research enough 4 years ago, to find this portal – for the articles from Linda, Doug, Sarah & the numerous followers have made me much wiser now.
      But maybe it was all slated to be this way, for me to be free, to rediscover myself, find strength within & not be dependent on another emotionally or physically. Easier said than done though. I continue to deal with these challenges. Also wonder how I can get into a new relationship while continuing to be this new self that I want to be.
      Learning & Growing each day.
      Thanks Linda, Doug & Sarah. I got on to it too late to be able to save my marriage. But this website, nonetheless, has been my savior.

      • Kittypone

        So many of us are hit with the “what if’s” usually in hindsight…..I am 3 years post DDay and wondering why didn’t I buckle up and made my CH leave after he told me he wasn’t sure he could stay with me and having me live with his “unlove”…..the only “saving grace” was that his AP was online and living 2,500 miles away in another country, also married and with no way to come into the States unbeknownst to her family….still, even though their affair was conducted mainly online and over the phone, there was plenty of phone sex, sexting and dirty pics both ways….three years later, I’m sure that if we had separated, I would’ve healed a whole lot faster and would have so much less PTSD…..to this day, I still get triggered by some things, still hate that harlot with a burning passion and still don’t trust my h any further than I can throw him……I have pretty much stopped caring for him, most certainly don’t feel any love for him and just hang on because I don’t have a pressing need to be somewhere else…..I suppose I will change my mind if I get fed up with this “non-living” or if I end up meeting someone else to fall in love with (not that I’m trying, mind you, I don’t go out by myself and don’t have any Match.com profiles or any such thing)….

        • Nil

          Thanks for responding.
          I feel sorry for you. It is very difficult indeed to be staying in a dead relationship, seeing each other day in & day out but without love, trust or compassion. Perhaps strangers or flatmates have better vibes.
          I couldnt do this at my end. My spouse asked me to stay put as a ‘friend’, for the sake of children, while she would have gone on with her life as usual. I couldnt trust her since it was the 3rd time & we wouldnt have recovered or healed together since there was no acceptance or remorse.
          We are headed for a high conflict divorce since she refuses to accept this outcome. Thats better than the nonsense that I have lived through.
          I wish you all the best Kittypone. Hope your patience pays off & your husband can come back to his senses. And that you can take a path that works well in the long run.

    • Jackie

      I found a text on my husbands phone looked up the number and it was an escort. A size 22 escort. (Im a size 12 and he was always moaning about my weight). He denied it said there had never been another woman he had sex with. I looked on his laptop and found he had put himself on sex sites looking for sex with male or female. His reply ‘i wasnt happy, we didnt have sex as often as we used to and when we did it was laborious. I was actually devastated. I had a urine infection but i came home and told my husband i had an std. I said to him i could only have got it from him. I kept asking who he had been with and he kept saying noone. He rang the dr to make an appointment. In the end i said cmon who was it. He said an escort. I threw his bags at him and told him to get out. He said it was only once. I said dont care if it was 100. So i said u can actually cancel your drs appointment as i dont have an STD but i knew that was the only way id catch u out. I didnt sleep, eat and just drank. He wouldnt answer any of my questions. I had my 3rd urine infection and my girlfriend (a nurse) told me to actually have a test so i did. It was the most humiliating experience of my life. I went home packed 2 bags full of his stuff, drove to his work gave his bags to his boss and drove home locked all the doors and wouldnt let him in. I packed the rest of his clothes, put his gilf clubs near the door and told him to pik them up. All weekend he was texting how much he loved me, he had stuffed his life up etc. I didnt reply then 2 days later he took $400 out of his bank account and paid another escort. He has text me at least 15 to 20 times a day or ringing so i told him i needed 2 weeks without any contact and blockedchim. In that time i pulled myself together, stopped drinking andxtold him i didnt need 2 weeks to think our marriage was over. Im moving on etc. He has been an absolute mental mess. He keeps saying he is lost without me. I replied every action has consequences and this is yours. Im seeing a counsellor for myself not to try and save my marriage. 18 years we have been together. I am so happy on my own, i have a great support network but enjoy my own company too. So to all the cheaters u do not deserve to have a great husband or wife beside u. You chose to have an affair no one forced u. The grass is never greener on the other side for a cheater but it definitely is for the betrayed spouse.

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