getting them to let go of the affair

By Linda

One of the biggest misconceptions about an emotional affair (or physical affair for that matter) is that they end completely when the spouse finds out. 

Most people believe when the victim confronts their spouse about having the affair the spouse will admit guilt, promise to never do it again, bow down and kiss their feet, send flowers etc.

Well I can tell you from experience that is not the way it always happens and that was the most difficult part of recovering from infidelity – knowing that Doug couldn’t or wouldn’t let it go. 

He said that he was relieved I found out and that he had wanted to end it.  So why didn’t he?  What could I have done differently to help him break free from the affair?

The “I fell out of love (and just love being in love)” Affair

In Dr. Robert Huizenga’s  book “Break Free From the Affair” he discusses the seven different kinds of affairs, the characteristics of the affair partners, what will happen, the chances of the relationship lasting and what a spouse can do to increase the odds of saving the marriage.

I’m going to address the typical emotional affair, which Huizenga terms the “I fell out of love (and just love being in love)” affair.  According to  Dr. Huizenga, this person has found a “significant other” who has stirred those dormant feelings and this person once again “feels in love.”  They experience a high level of guilt and conflict because they are married to a good person and their desire to “find that loving feeling” seems selfish and immature.

Intuitively they know that they are not on the right path.  This person “looking for love” is actually looking for the ideal, someone out there, who will project back to him/her that he/she is close to perfect.  This person needs to be adored or think another adores them. Being in love fills their emptiness.  Sexual intercourse does not need to be a part of this relationship, but often it may end the relationship.  The idealized images are held together by long phone calls, love letters, texts, e-mails etc.  (Can you tell I’m writing this for Doug’s benefit?)

The characteristics of a person who has fallen out of love and loves being in love is often sociable, demonstrative, doesn’t think too deeply, easy impressed, can be manipulative, can be very seductive, flirtatious and a tease, and likes to be around the opposite sex. These behaviors often cover up the inner emptiness and contradictory feelings. 

Does this sound like anyone you know?

 

What can happen?

Dr. Huizenga discusses what a spouse can expect to happen during their affair.  He compares it to a roller coaster ride.  They will give all to their found “love” and at other times might find their way back to you.  The betrayed spouse will struggle with being ignored and feel that they cannot provide the “love” this other person seems to provide.  The cheating spouse will say “I love you but I’m not in love with you.” They may depend on your stability, goodness and understanding.   The victim can also expect the feelings the cheating spouse has for their affair partner to fade over time.

So what is the best way to approach this type of emotional affair?  According to Dr. Huizenga, the best approach is to “back off!”

I know first hand that hearing from your spouse that they love someone else is devastating.  For Doug to give himself to someone else emotionally tore me apart.  When I heard this from him, I responded by making several mistakes in that I tried to pull out all the stops to win him back.  All my efforts really had no effect when you come right down to it.

The reason is that Doug had found all the stimulation and excitement he needed with Tanya, which in and of itself was a confusing thing to him.  By me adding more “pressure” on him it was overwhelming, and the result was that Doug basically closed the door to me.  This confusion was further fed by the fact that he was comparing Tanya to me, and all I was at the time was a needy, depressed, desperate woman.

So what exactly does backing off mean? 

Basically you need to chill out.  Stop asking questions.  Stop pressing.  Slow down.  Stop trying to get any assurances from your spouse.  Be patient, for this “in love” feeling will fade and the affair will run its course. 

Eventually the cheating spouse will ask himself or herself questions about the affair relationship and realize that it is not true love.  But he/she needs the space to figure that out on their own.  Your spouse doesn’t need you pressuring or cajoling him or her.  

And I can tell you this ain’t easy!

Getting Them to Let Go of the Affair with Contextualizing

To make backing off somewhat easier, I occupied my time and my mind by working on me and doing some of the things that I wanted to do.  But one other technique that I learned from Huizenga’s book that I feel really worked to make Doug think about what he was doing was contextualizing.

Basically this involved making comments to Doug about my observations of his affair.  By doing this I pointed him in a better direction. 

A good example would be me saying to him something like “You know that the love you feel for her will eventually fade…”   I didn’t say such things to start an argument but to plant seeds in his head instead.  It took time, but I truly feel that this worked quite well.

In closing, I think this following tip from Huizenga’s book about emotional affairs is great and I felt the need to pass it along:

If your spouse is struggling with this type of relationship, make sure you hold and care for yourself.  Your spouse does not have the capacity to do this for you (or anyone) at this point.  Yes, you are OK.  Her/his affair says less about you and much more about the emptiness within her/him.  It is time for you to know you better.  Model for him/her what it means to be a person with a core, with integrity, with boundaries, with values, with meaning, with purpose and actively figure out what your needs are, and get them met.  Maybe she will ask questions.  Maybe she will not.  Maybe soon.  Maybe later.

Click the following link for more information about Dr Huizenga’s book,  “Break Free From the Affair.”

 

 

    36 replies to "Getting Them to Let Go of the Affair"

    • surprised

      Thank you Linda. I always need to be reminded about this. I haven’t posted for awhile. Things came to a head when I found the secret email acct 3 wks ago. All of the sexually suggestive emails were from her altho H didn’t do anything to oppose them. She also said some pretty horrible things about me. H was embarrassed I found all of these & immediately put a stop to all her emails, texts, & calls. Funny it took finding this to make it come to a grinding halt. I know he saw how much it devestated me. He still is not emotionally attached back to me but I know he’s starting to significantly detach from her. Patience isn’t one of my virtues but I need to make it so. I am going to pursue taking care of me and also get involved in a women’s Bible Study this fall. I am so emotionally needy for him to attach back to our marriage but when I show that he shuts me out. Thanks for the reminder & the book suggestion.

      • Doug

        Surprised, it sounds as though he is starting to see her dark side perhaps?! Continue what you’re doing and I bet things will run their course with the OW and he will begin to come back more. Good luck and nice to hear from you again.

        • surprised

          Actually I think he is. When he stopped answering his phone, she threatened him saying “this is work related and if you don’t answer your phone & there’s an emergency I will take it up the chain.” Well, my H being a retired Lt Col in Army Nat Guard and a retired Lt in police doesn’t take well to threats. After that things came to an even more grinding halt. : ) Now if I can just get him to fall in love with me again…

          • Doug

            Surprised, Yes, I’d say the fog has lifted for him indeed. Work on yourself, don’t push things, but try to reignite the spark by doing some fun things together at first, and then go from there.

    • enough

      I’ve done this but for over a year he lied about his contact with her. Now I’ve pulled back completely and he wants to try. For me, its too little too late.

    • Donna

      Pulling back! is that the key to all of this emotional crap we are being put through. I finally feel I can do this although it is very hard. I want to yell and scream, although am doing the very opposite. As I sit here typing on this site to help me and get ideas for my marriage, my gut is telling me that my husband (who has gone away for the weekend) has his OW with him as well. I spoke with him tonight as he rang to say goodnight to the kids. While I was getting him the kids to talk too I heard him say as though he was talking to someone to plug in his phone charger into the car. I asked him about this and he said he was talking to himself… sound dodgy??? I will give him the benefit of the doubt, but my gut is telling me otherwise. IF he is with her, then once again it is an outright lie.. I hope that the fact that I asked makes him writher in self guilt for the whole weekend that they fight. Wishful thinking hey?

      I will ask him again when he gets home and I will remain calm even if he was with her. I will not react the way he is going to expect me too. Or should I not ask him at all and just leave it be and always wonder??? any suggestions.

      Weird thing is, as much as I want to know if they are together it is more out of dissapointment in my husband and the fact that he is still lying. My head is ok, my heart is a tad sad, but really i am feeling peaceful.. is that weird?

      My head is thinking straight, my heart is not hurting too much, I just feel a bit sad at his self destructive behaviour because I am here waiting and wanting to love him if he would only want me back enough. In the mean time I will continue on in patience and enjoy this peace I am feeling at the moment.

      • Doug

        Donna, I find it interesting that though you are feeling suspicious about your husband right now, that you are also at peace. I wonder what that is telling you (us)? Are you just numb, or have you come to terms with the possibilities? BTW, I would ask him when he gets home in a calm way – as you mentioned.

        • Donna

          I thik I have just come to terms with the possibility that yes my husband is with her and that he is in a battle of 1 toe in my door and a foot in hers. Even though he says he desperatly wants to end the affair, becasue they both know that is it morally worng while they are still married plus add on to that there guilt also from religious beliefs and family etc… I guess if they are together it just hurts me that I am just not worth it still to him for the lies to stop and really our marriage. Although I have not given up on him, I really am just backing waaayyyy off because I will not allow his destruction to destroy what little worth I do have. I am worth so much more than what his behaviour is telling me and I won’t allow him to ruin me. He has made his choices and as a result if he is not careful he really will end up a very lonely unhappy man. That is the part that saddens me as he does not have to go down that path, as he has said many times though.. we all have choices to make and if he choices the other so be it.

    • Donna

      okay, new development. My husband has just called me back, it is nearing 7am here in Australia. I did ask him very calmly and he said he would be hinest with me and NO, she is not with him and he is alone. He said he doesn’t have many to talk too and he has taken to talking to himself. To the point that he argues out loud to himself and screams at himself. He said that if anyone saw him that would think he was a fruit cake.

      I believe him, I do feel relieved and yet, if she was there I would not have been angry. This feeling I have is lovely and I think it is coming through lots of prayer ( I am a Christian) plus the fact that I feel that my husband and I will come through this stronger and so very refined at the other end.

      • Doug

        Well that is good news Donna. I’m happy you feel you are in a good place and getting better.

    • The Other Linda

      I don’t know about this advice to back off — that’s exactly what my husband wishes I would do so he can happily continue his multiple affairs with several women. We can’t even go on a family outing without bringing along one or more of his girlfriends via texting. We were out in the middle of the ocean yesterday on a boat with our two kids, and he thought it was so wonderful he could text from there — and proceded to text all day to one of his girlfriends, totally ignoring us and getting snappish and resentful when I asked him to stop and be with his family instead. of course he’s a “good Christian”, or that’s how he likes to think of himself (I don’t think Jesus would approve of his behavior!), and he doesn’t feel he’s doing anything wrong becuase there’s no sex (he’s basically impotent anyhow). Yet he tells he that he (who is 50) swings by the place of work of one of his girlfriends (who is in her 20s) to see if she’s working and to hang out with her. And then he goes over other women’s houses. This has been going on for a couple of years now. If we get divorced I can’t afford to keep the house, and it would devastate my children, so that’s why I stay. I’ve asked him to go to marriage counseling several times, and he blows it off. We’re both in our own counseling, but he ignores what the counselors tell him because of course he doesn’t want to stop getting his ego stroked by these other women. I feel so lonely and betrayed. I’ve tried forcing my company on him, inviting him out places, etc. I’ve begged him to spend more time with me. He gives me lip service then goes right back to his old ways. I don’t know what else to do. I am miserable and I feel like a total a-hole for putting up with this in any way shape or form, but he knows he has me over a barrel because of our kids and the house. I am employed, but I don’t yet make enough to swing the house. 🙁

      • Doug

        The Other Linda, Backing off does not mean that you should put up with that kind of crap. You should have grabbed his phone and tossed it in the ocean and told him you aren’t going to put up with that anymore. You know, sometimes if a spouse absolutely doesn’t give up his/her cheating ways, they have to be given an ultimatum. I understand your situation as you describe it and that it would be tough for you financially, but life is too short to have to go through hell like that.

        • melissa

          Interesting that you talk about an ultimatum. I’ve done the backing off and over the last eight months it worked. My husband and I got closer, happier, spent a whole summer together. I felt I could trust him again. I’d given myself my birthday (today) as a date when I’d ‘know’ and was hoping it was all going to be good news.

          Sadly I’ve found out that my husband has got in touch with the OW again. Allegedly to reply to her request for help (again! the woman is ever so needy) and he fell back within 24 hours into the old pattern of calling her and then they arranged to meet at a conference. I am absolutely devastated: he’s betrayed my trust, broken the promise he made me not to be in touch with her and shown no honesty or transparency (he could have told me she’d been in touch and we would have decided on a strategy together, I thought). So I have issued the ultimatum: her or me. He says he has telephoned her to say he did not want any more contact with her but I don’t know if it’s true. I’m back at square one: hurt, angry, sad and very disappointed in him. I don’t know if we’ll make it this time, I’m not sure I can live in a marriage where there is no trust any more. I’m feeling lost and low and unable to understand why he has so little regard for our marriage and has fallen back into his old pattern with this woman.

          • Linda

            melissa, I am sorry that you are back to square one, all of us live with the fear that I our spouse will have a relapse and begin the affair again. I don’t understand why they can not give it up, what is so appealing about the OW. I believe that it is the fantasy. I have said that if Doug began again that I would walk away. I know that is easier said than done because I know that if he went with her ultimately he would realize that he had made a terrible mistake. By then the damage would have been done, I would have moved on with my life and his decision would have greatly effected our family. I know that, but when someone is under the influence of an affair they only see what they want to see. I know you are facing a difficult decision right now, try to focus on what is best for you. Linda

    • Karen

      The Other Linda, your post bothered me all weekend, and I so wanted to post and encourage you, but I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I agree with Doug completely but also understand your dilemma of wanting things to be normal for your kids. I too felt the same way after D-day. . . . completely trapped as I didn’t want to hurt my kids. I “hear” a lot of anger in your post, rightfully so, and you don’t mention how long post D-day it is for you or how old your kids are. You CANNOT, repeat CANNOT, change your husband; you can only work on you. Can you think of 2 things, just 2 things, you can do right now to work on you? Can you speak calmly with your husband about how you feel? If so, tell him you will not participate in family outings unless he leaves his cell phone at home. He is not responding to your attempts to reconnect, so for the moment, stop attempting. And prepare yourself for the ultimatum talk – if your kids are old enough, talk to them (believe me, they know more than you think); I’m not sure if you’re enabling your husband to have his cake and eat it too, but he definitely is showing you and your family disrespect, and you need to work on yourself to be strong enough to end that disrespect, one way or the other. Your husband will have to make the choice. Don’t give up!!! And take care of yourself – when’s the last time you did something for yourself???

      • The Other Linda

        Here’s an update — my husband and I went out for a night (I initiated, as always), and we had what I thought was a good talk. I told him my counselor (whom I’ve only seen a few times so far) is more or less pushing me to get a divorce, and he got really upset — at the counselor, of course, not at himself for pushing it to this point. This Monday, I find a note in my car from him, telling me “I get it now” and “please help” — help him stay in line, I guess. And he agreed to go to marriage counseling. So for two days there was a little light, but now guess where he is? Off to see one of his female friends. He wants me to be sympathetic to this woman’s problems, when of course I just want her to go the heck away, and now he’s mad at me for not liking her. I’ve never met her; it’s the principle of the thing. So now, two days after what I thought was a heartfelt letter and a new leaf turned, we seem to be back to square one. What I’ve done for myself, to answer the questions, is I quit an extremely stressful job (although a steady income), and I’m now working a job I love. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of needs. Kids are 12 and 16 (boy and girl). My daughter wants to go away to college, and she’s told me it’s because of her father — who isn’t a bad father, by any means, but I’m sure she’s disgusted by his behavior. Husband goes in for back surgery tomorrow – he has been home for months on comp, which hasn’t helped either, but he admitted to me he’d hoped I’d keep working two full-time jobs so he could quit his and do…what? I think he really wants me to support him. Ugh. Calgon, take me away… And thank you all for your kind and supportive replies! I really appreciate it!

    • Doug

      Annie, Thanks for commenting and welcome. My initial response is that it seems that your husband is addicted to, and manipulated by, the other woman. If he is hanging on because of being pressured then he will eventually be in for a rude awakening with this woman. Being 5 states away should make it much easier for him to break away, and if he were to end contact, the intense feelings will fade. He may want to talk to a therapist to deal with his self-esteem issues, and at the same time I think that you should be supportive, but as you say, not to the point of being foolish. Show him you care for his well being and point him in the right direction, and let him help himself. In the meantime, keep working on you.

      • last2know

        Where do I get the drugs Donna is on……….?

    • Liz

      The other Linda, I would like to say I can’t believe some of the stuff you put up with but truely nothing suprises me anymore. I do feel for you and your children though and I question is the house worth it? If you can not afford the house is all the things that he is doing worth the house or the craziness he is putting you through? I have learned through all this that I am the only one that can make “My Happy” and beleive me if I am not, there are not many people around me that are but I’m working on that. I also have children and you would be amazed what they think! There is no dought he has problems, but are you being fair to you and your kids?

    • The Other Linda

      We’re starting marriage counseling on Friday — wish us luck.

      • Doug

        Please let us know how it turns out. Best of luck!

    • Donna

      My husband told me the otehr day thathe loves me 20% and OW 80%. Says he can’t walk away because I have not given him a reason too. He does love me, however his heart is with her. Says he wants to stay with his family and keep working on his feels for me and letting go of OW. He is still talking to OW though as he does not reallyw ant to let go and he does not know how he will do it as he is in love with her. He is still lying to me, he is obsessed with love songs and finding the right lyrics so he can txt her or write them to her. He is like a teenager. He has looked at the cartier love bracelets, they are like a versiion of the chastity belt, this time it goes around the wrist of the OW and he keeps the key… I only kow this as I found a little note book of his with the picture drawn in it and a website. He also had a login number and username to OW bank details. He had made a deposit of $200 to her as she had no $$$.. I know because I logged in and saw! He tells me that he is not supporting her at all. He is so messed up. Really he is like a lost little boy who can’t give up his lolly. She has moved 2.5 hours away so that will make it harder for him to see her. Do these men ever eally get over something like this? affair love.. hmmm, I amstarting to REALLY believe that he IS in love with OW and what we had was nothing compared to what he has with her. He said it has been the worst affair ever, and there relationship is not without its pain. He said that if she was not around he could love me easily, however she is and he has a taste of OW now and that is obviously better for him! He said that my patience is what he has needed and that is why he can’t leave me. If I was ranting and raving then that would push him away for good. I have created a safe place for him at home so to speak while his world outside is ricky. He said OW is angrty and now that she is alone in a new area with no friends and family, she will most likely get cranky and want my husband more and more. Lets hope her neediness with push him away. Who would klnow.. he is obsessed with her. For a man who is very strong willed and determined, he has become a weak pathetic sight.

    • Tina

      Linda, how long after finding out about the affair and “backing off” did it take for the affair to run its course. I have been making the exact same mistakes as you did, and I have committed to “backing off” and working on myself. I just want to know if I have a long road ahead of me as far as him continuing to have a relationship with this girl. Oh and to add to the mix, I’m 4 months pregnant.

      • Linda

        Tina, that is a loaded question and by my answer you can see all the stupid mistakes that I made. Initially in September I found out that Doug had been making a lot of calls to Tanya, when confronted he said the usual line “we are just friends”. I believed him and began to work on our marriage with little results. In December as much persuasion he finally admitted that they were more than friends and that it was over. He really downplayed the relationship and I believed him. So I continued to try to be the perfect wife. In January when I finally saw the phone records and realized it was more serious than he admitted, that there was still contact I went on the deep end and didn’t know what I was doing. By Feb. and March I was on hopeless until I found Huizenga website and brought the book “How to Break Free From the Affair” and “Divorce Remedy” by Michele Weiner-Davis. The books helped me realize the mistakes I was making and guided me through the process of backing off. Honestly I didn’t follow everything completely but I definitely changed a lot of things I was doing. In April I finally told Doug that I will not share him with her, I will move on with my life with or without you. I feel by May he was finally coming back to me and showed an interest in working on our marriage. I have learned from all my research and this website that often when a spouse tells you that it is over, that in their head they believe it is over because they are not texting all day, or spending hours on the phone, or seeing each other on a regular basis. They are unwilling to understand that even a quick phone call can bring back the addiction. If I could do it over I would have insisted on the final no contact letter that is outlined in many infidelity books. As you can tell I made a lot of mistakes and I believe that if I would have displayed more power and control the amount of time the affair continued would have been much less. Linda

        • Tina

          Linda I tried the whole backing off thing for like half a day and everything was going good. We were getting along again. Then I found out from a friend that he was making out with the OW at a club this weekend and proceeded to blow up on him through text. How, when I find out things like this, do I keep my cool? Am I supposed to confront him or just let it go?

    • mahalia

      Thought i would chime in here–I hope this is still an active discussion. I found out about my husband’s affair this April when the OWs husband (!) payed me an uninvited visit with phone records and copies of e-mail in hand. I wasn’t surprised because I suspected the shenanigans, but I was still devastated. Weird how that works. As you might expect, I have been on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster these last six months. We have three young children, and have been together for 14 years–so the idea of walking away still feels pretty scary.

      There has been little relief to date because he is still seeing her, although he tries to be evasive about it when questioned directly. I have tried to adopt Dr. Huizenga’s strategy of backing off, not to get him back necessarily but to keep myself sane. The turmoil was making me ill, and I don’t want to give something as unwholesome as an affair that kind of power. At first I thought that leaving him alone and working on myself would sort of give his affair the green light. However, I realized that since he’d already been involved with her for three years and has no intention of stopping, he isn’t likely to be swayed by my pain or anger anyway. So I’m working out, slowly getting in touch with friends, and reaquainting myself with some hobbies I’d let go over the years. I don’t know if it will save our marriage–the affair is only part of the problem–but what I can tell you is that it’s making him nervous. 😉 He’s noticed some changes, and doesn’t seem to know how to react. For example, I can tell he is becoming attracted to me again, and he is clearly unsettled by it. I think in his own weird narrative that wasn’t supposed to happen. The OW is supposed to be his new true love, after all…

      Again, I have no idea what will happen next, but I’ll tell you what I do know: however unhappy and betrayed I’ve felt, I am *so* glad I’m not the one having an affair. He gets to deal with the constant neediness and the teenage-level subterfuge and yearning, whereas I am free of that. I’m slowly accepting the idea that I might not have a lovelife any time soon, and I’ll be fine. At this point, he’s going to have to raise the bar a bit anyway for that to happen. The kind of man he is right now, she can have him and I’ll do more interesting things in the meantime. I realize that sounds callous, but I’ve catered to him and his moods for years–it’s a relief to let that go.

      A final postscript– I’m sure part of the allure of their lurve affair is the juvenile drama swirling around it (yes, I got the I-love-you-but-I’m-not-in-love-with-you cliche tossed at me). However, all of the angst and deception seems pretty tiresome–at least from my point of view. Besides having standards, I am probably much too lazy to have an affair. 🙂 Anyway, I’ll check back in and let you know how things go and see how the rest of you are doing.

      • Linda

        Mahalia, Thank you for your comment, I feel you you have calmed your emotions and are taking all the right steps and focusing on you. Yesterday I was thinking about the dynamics of the affair and what would have been the best way to deal with all the drama because I know I went about it the wrong way. You definitely are right on target, I believe the only way for the betrayed spouse to move away from the lover is for the spouse to experience all the drama, the neediness, all the qualities they failed to experience in the beginning of the affair. In essence let the affair partner become the clingy, insecure wife and you become the exciting, care free lover. Hopefully then they will realize how much they are losing. Keep working on yourself. Linda

        • mahalia

          Linda, thanks–and I think you’ve nailed it. Most affairs *do* unravel, and I do think the OW/affair partner starts to look pretty unappealing eventually. The only thing I’m wary of is that even if he leaves her and returns to me with open arms, the process isn’t over. I don’t want our reconciliation to be yet another emotional rush for him. I need to know that he is tackling the weakness that got him involved in the affair in the first place–he needs to learn something from this. We’ll see. 🙂

      • surprised

        Mahalia – thanks for your post as a reminder. I’m not doing as well as you at backing off but I need to. Everything I read says it works & people like you post here that it has worked for. Kudos to you! That is so awesome!
        Linda – thank you for your book suggestions & thanks to both you & Doug for offering the webinars. Even tho I am not good all the time at following the advice it has been a help – much more than any of the 3 counselors I’ve seen!

        • mahalia

          Surprised, I don’t want to give you or anyone the impression that I am good at this–because I’m not. I feel really lonely and sad sometimes. But the benefit of the backing off strategy for me (when I can pull it off) is that I feel like I’ve reclaimed a bit of myself and I’m not controlled by this situation. I mean it still hurts, but it’s not crippling anymore. You’ll get there! If I can be presumptuous enough to make a suggestion, do it for yourself, not for him or your relationship. At the moment, you are the strong one in your marriage, and to keep your strength up you need to take care of yourself–it’s for his own good too that you do so. Rememer, you are the counterpoint to this woman–you have his back in a way that she never could. This is someone who encouraged him to risk his marriage, and likely his self-respect. That isn’t the work of a true lover, let alone a friend–it’s the work of someone really damaged. You are much better than that and if he is worthy of *you* he’ll realize it someday.

          I also really encourage you to try another technique of Huizenga’s called “charging neutral.” You’ll find better description in one of his articles or his book, but in brief it’s a very calm but firm way getting your point across. On the occasions that I’ve done it successfully, it’s made all the difference. I feel about six inches taller, and at peace. Again, I’m still really struggling but these methods do let some light in.

    • Toni

      I think I’ve backed off but I’m not sure if I have enough. We are in separate bedrooms and I still do his laundry, make dinner, rub his back, and we have amazing sex, basically I do the things that I was doing prior to the EA. I don’t bring up the OW and I act like she doesn’t exist when he’s home with me. Sometimes (like this week) he’s distant from me and other times he’s engaging. I’ve reconnected with old friends, gone back to school, taken up hobbies I’ve wanted to but I’m not sure he sees any of it. He suggested date night with no phones but on the other nights he goes in his truck and calls her and texts her when he goes to the bathroom. He says he doesn’t want to be a divorce man but feels like we are heading there but he also says I’m owed a chance. There are times when I feel like a doormat or that I look desperate to our friends because they can’t believe I’ve stayed. (this has been going on for 2 1/2 months now. Have I backed off enough? I have told myself that by 1 Nov if things don’t start changing that I will then give him an ultimatuim. So I’ve started thinking of a life without him. I also think that the guilt is starting to weigh on him too and he’ll make a decision soon. All of our friends have made it clear to him that he’s handling this all wrong and he tells them she makes him feel good. He acts completely different with her then he does with me. I know this because our friends have told me. There are times that I get so angry I just want to scream at him but I just act happy when he’s around. I also believe that this is a little of a revenge affair from when I read the Break Free book. So now I’m not sure if I back off’d enough.

    • fiora

      I’m reading this, and having so much trouble with the idea of backing off. I’ve gone the opposite direction…he claims he is “polyamorous” and can love more than one and doesn’t measure out his love, but I’ve seen the way he lights up when she enters a room–we are all part of the same social network–and the way he will tend to be off in a corner with her. I’ve seen a few of the text messages and the other messages he sent–when he thought he had deleted them. None of them that I’ve seen is specifically a problem–except that they clearly state a level of love for her that he no longer expresses for me. I am apparently just the one to help with the practical issues, I bring in all the income for the family, do all the planning and thinking about kids’ needs. She is free to be his spiritual/emotional partner, because her husband also is the one who brings in all the income.

      I demanded complete openness and transparency. I want passwords. I want to be included…she was MY friend, too. I want honesty and daylight on the relationship he claims is all so innocent.

      He said he would include me in such things…but hasn’t. He says he is not in contact with her at all. He says she has “dropped off the face of the earth”. I have had facebook messages from her, because I tried communicating with her too, and she says she has backed off and wants us to heal.

      So why don’t I believe any of it?

    • The Home Base

      I just wanted to chime in, because I cant seem to find enough adjectives to describe how being the victim of an emotional affair hurts. As a good man, that works very hard, who has had his wife swayed away by some man from her past, the feeling is of utter and complete emotional rape. You feel like the biggest and most sacred part of yourself that you have to give someone, and having gave it all to your wife, was taken and used like toilet paper, and flushed down the toilet. Self esteem, is not even a word in your vocabulary, when you find pages of secret texts back and forth. SECRECY IS SECRECY and NOT PRIVACY, KEEPING secrets, having a cell phone lock pass, is all like added vinegar in your wound. Life does not prepare you for anguish like this, and if youve got a single ounce of humanity in your body to claim, put yourself in your spouse’s shoes and imagine them with someone else, doing it to you.
      I have but my own daughter to keep me of any purpose on this earth now.

    • Alecia

      I think the issue that many of us have with backing off it two fold…at least it was with me. I have control issues. Complete Type A personality. I wanted to fix what he had broken. It took a lot for me to realize that I couldn’t control his choices. Even if I could control his time, schedule, etc. I certainly couldn’t control what he thought about or felt. So, in a sense we really do have to “let go.” My biggest issue was all of the talk going on around me from family and friends. And I chose to listen to them. Everyone decided that if he couldn’t make a clean break or completely choose me then he must not really want me, or he must want her more. Being in an affair really is like “invasion of the body snatchers.” It was amazing to me the things he believed in order to justify his choices. My husband ended up contacting his OW about a year after he ended the affair and it picked up right where it left off. But that was what he needed to get completely out of the fog and see her for who she really was. Honestly, as hard as it is to do, and has hard as it is for outsiders to understand, we really do need to be patient enough to understand that they will most likely realize come back to us. Sure, non of us wants to be the consolation prize. We want them to choose us from the get go. But that’s not the way this usually pans out. If we want our spouses to come back to us we have to be willing to allow them to make the necessary terrible choices that will propel them back towards us on their own.

    • ChristBrown

      I somewhat agree, but you’ve got to be ready to leave their messed up selves and know that you deserve better! And believe it! Do your self awareness exercises, find your core values, inventory your relationship, find your/their attachment style, and get ready for a whole new life for you. Let them know your pain, make them bear witness, collect your thoughts, give them a list of what you need and say this is it or goodbye, no games, no pretending, just reality.

    • Camper

      Thanks for sending this blast from the past. OMG this describes my H’s affair to a T, except that he was also having sex with her.

      I learned of my husband’s affair in. December. It had been going on for two years, and I kick myself for not having suspected anything. He did not disclose it, rather, I discovered it after he messed up in a comment about a mail order package delivery. I confronted him a couple days later, and he said he had been wanting to end it for some time. I learned later that he HAD ended it once but she seduced him back into her arms.

      Being a classic conflict avoider, “backing off” came quite naturally to me. Over the subsequent weeks and months, I would check in with him maybe once a week to see how he was doing breaking it off. He claimed it had to be done gradually; otherwise, things could get “volatile” since she seems to be emotionally unstable. Yeah right. Patience is not one of my virtues.

      His answers to her frequent and very verbose, manipulative e-mails became fewer and further between. She eventually showed up AT OUR HOUSE and demanded a resolution. She was actually willing to “share” him with me and I told her no, not interested. He sent her a proper no contact e-mail a couple days later.

      I still wonder if they might be back in contact, but I have not been able to come up with any proof of that. I continue to stay backed off in that regard. WE seem to be connecting a bit better than we used to, and are doing fun things together.

      Thanks again for posting that. It is so us.

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