One of the authors that I have followed is Willard E. Harley Jr. Ph.D., author of several different books including “His Needs Her Needs” (which you can find in “The Library” on our blog). He has a fairly straight forward 2-step approach to surviving an affair. Step 1: Never have contact with the affair partner again, and work to create conditions that make it impossible for them to be in contact. Step 2: Create a romantic relationship with your spouse so that he/she won’t be so tempted to have an affair in the future.
Dr. Harley takes a fairly hard line and counsels victims of affairs to take definite action, and particularly urges wives to be independent and be willing to separate from their husbands temporarily until the matter can be resolved together. Basically the betrayed spouse needs to make it clear that they are not going to put up with the affair.
What serves as a roadblock to this is that often times the spouse in the affair is reluctant to give up their lover. Harley dictates that the spouse MUST stop making any contact and never see or talk to their lover again. He even goes so far as to say that they might have to leave the state that they live in, if that is what it is going to take. This complete disconnect helps the spouse break from their addiction.
All contact with the affair partner must end
Should the spouse be unwilling to break all contact, the betrayed spouse must prepare for the possibility of a lengthy separation. Harley recommends this primarily for the protection of the betrayed spouse’s emotions and it also allows the spouse to withhold the fulfillment of needs that he/she performed before the affair. This goes back to the point that an affair partner meets just one or two of the important emotional needs, while the spouse meets two or three. What then happens is that the spouse in the affair realizes that the affair partner cannot meet the needs that his/her spouse had met, and often results in the cheating spouse letting go of his affair partner all together.
When the married couple decides to reconcile and the cheating spouse agrees to avoid contact with the affair partner, it is now time for the betrayed spouse to learn how to meet the needs that were previously being met by the affair partner. He/she needs to become more available sexually and needs to start joining their spouse in his/her favorite activities. It is usually the case that the lover simply cannot take the place of the spouse, but the spouse can take the place of the lover.
Does the love ever die?
Dr. Harley states that there lies the possibility that the love for the affair partner may never completely die and he/she could remain vulnerable to the affair partner, and therefore should never see that person again.
I must admit that this last caveat makes me feel concerned for the future should Doug ever feel that his needs are not being met. I constantly wonder if he eventually will decide to stray again and reestablish contact with Tanya. At the same time though, I’ve come to realize that a successful marriage is hard work, we’re in it for the long haul and we’re doing what we need to do to meet each others needs. I can’t worry about the future, but only the present and what I can control. It just really sucks that surviving an affair is even something I have to be concerned with in the first place!