prevent another affairFrom the moment of your first discovery that your partner is cheating (or cheated in the past), your response makes a huge difference. What you choose to do strongly influences whether or not the two of you will be able to pick up the broken pieces and repair your relationship.

This doesn’t mean you can’t express your outrage, hurt and any other emotions you’re feeling, but it does mean that what you say and do will either help shift your relationship back to health or further along to destruction. What’s most important is that you develop a habit of pausing and asking yourself what will bring healing and what will bring hurt – before you take action.

The way you approach rebuilding trust is definitely a place for mindfulness and it’s where many people unintentionally makes things so much worse.

It makes sense if you feel like you have to be on guard and vigilant in the days, weeks and years after your partner’s emotional affair. You anxiously look for the tell-tale signs that he is drifting away from you again. You nervously watch and hope to see evidence that it’s finally safe to trust her again.

You start to operate as if and believe that it’s YOUR job to make sure your partner doesn’t have another affair.

It’s understandable.

When your co-worker makes a big mistake on a financial report that costs your company a client, you step in and make sure this never happens again. You don’t want to feel the wrath of your boss again and you want the company you work for – your livelihood – to thrive.

See also  The 8 Pillars of Trust  - Ways the Unfaithful Spouse Can Help Rebuild Trust

And so you take it upon yourself to do the job yourself…just to make sure it gets done right.

Because you care so much about your relationship and you want to avoid the heartbreak you went through before, you might approach your partner in the very same way. In your mind, your partner has shown that he or she can’t handle the “job” of keeping trust healthy and strong and so you take it on yourself.

Because of what happened in the past, you are convinced that your partner is incapable of controlling urges or resisting temptation. Even despite the changes that may have been made since the time of the affair, you think, talk and act as if it’s solely your job to prevent another affair.

This mindset creates a dangerous pattern. Relationship trust is truly a joint effort. And, when you make it YOUR job to keep your partner “in line” and out of “trouble,” several things can happen…

  • You essentially rob your partner of any responsibility for his or her actions and take away the agency to change.
  • You foster within yourself a sense of superiority which can breed resentment in your partner and frustration in both of you.
  • Trust cannot heal and will stagnate in the weak and fragile state it’s currently in.

The short answer to our initial question, “Whose job is it to prevent another affair?” is….

It’s your partner’s job.

You can’t be everywhere all of the time when your partner is out in the world interacting with other people. You can’t make him or her do anything– and that includes keeping your relationship agreements and promises.

See also  After the Affair: The No Contact Rule

The only person who can ensure that another affair will not happen is your partner.

This is why it is your partner’s job and not yours. This is why, even though your partner messed up big-time in the past, it is up to him or her to learn a new way to be.

Part of the trust rebuilding process involves you giving your partner the space to prove to you, with consistent action, that things are improving and that he or she is making positive changes.

As we said before, creating healthy relationship trust is a joint effort –  it’s not only your responsibility and it’s also not only your partner’s responsibility. You have a job to do too in your relationship.

When it comes to rebuilding trust, your job involves…

  • Creating clear agreements to address specific behaviors.
  • Setting healthy boundaries around situations that undermine your relationship.
  • Acknowledging your habits that put distance and tension in your relationship.
  • Remembering what’s true now (instead of living in the past).
  • Noticing improvements when they happen.

Start each day by re-affirming to yourself the ways you can do your job and also the ways you can provide room for your partner to do his or her job. Let that understanding guide everything you say and do.


Navigating the path back to a healthy relationship after infidelity can be tricky! Susie and Otto Collins are relationship coaches and authors who have created this free Relationship Trust Building ecourse.



    22 replies to "Whose Job Is It To Prevent Another Affair?"

    • quistina

      I am 5 months past DDay, and my husband still cannot accept that he had an emotional affair. Even his individual therapist has told him he didn’t have one. He says that because he never intended for the secret relationships (yes there were 2) to cross any lines that he did nothing wrong. He doesn’t see how keeping these relationships, secret email accounts, we’re a form of lying. He has been inconsistent with his responses to me because he is admittingly just telling me what I want to hear so I will feel better. He also has an issue with lying about porn. I told him it wasn’t about him looking at it, but about lying and telling me he didn’t. This lying about porn usage has been going on for most of our 13 year marriage. Overall, I know he is sorry for causing me pain. I have told him I can even understand how this could have happened. You see during the time of these questionable relationships, I was battling depression. I have told him that my depression did not make him choose these behaviors, and that he needed to find out more about himself and why he crossed the line. I have many theories. His response is “Don’t tell me what I need to talk about in my counseling sessions.” I am just at a loss right now. I feel like I am married to a stranger that has no empathy or compassion for me. He tells me generic I’m sorrys, but there is no emotion behind the words. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • betrayedchump

      I am sorry you are having to go through your pain & hurt alone (that is my take after reading your post) from your husbands EA. I am just over 1 year past my D Day of my wife’s EA that she (like your husband) claims was NOT an affair. It just HURTS & HURTS & SEEMS TO NEVER STOP HURTING!!!! You have @ least one good thing going for you & trying to save your marriage, @ least your husband is going to counseling. My question is are you both seeing a marriage counselor together? If you are not I know I would be going together. My wife refuses to go but if your husband is going by himself hopefully he will be willing to go together? I would not go see his counselor that he has now, find a new one that you both like & feel can help both of you!!!! You were NOT given a CHOICE about your husbands decision to have an EA! His EA was & is NOT your fault! His EA was NOT about You! It was about him & what was/is missing in his life for him to be happy & fulfilled. If you LOVE your husband & still want him in your life, then FIGHT for your marriage, it is worth it!!!!
      Peace to you!

    • Gizfield

      Why on God’s earth would a therapist tell someone that sneaking around and lying about it is not wrong?? What is wrong with these people? That is absolutely insane. There are so many incompetent therapists. Just cause you have a degree doesn’t mean you know anything apparently.

      • Strengthrequired

        I agree, but I wonder is it just another lie from the cs? Is the cs really seeing a therapist? Also is the cs really talking about everything to the therapist if the cs really is seeing one ?
        Yet to have someone validate to a cs that you aren’t doing anything wrong, just makes the behaviour that much worse. Definitely having a degree doesn’t make them know everything.

      • Jeddy

        The married mother of 4 ow works for my h and my mil. Since everything blew up on new years eve, I haven’t heard a word from my mil. And guess what? She and the ow are therapists. So it’s by no means going out on a limb to suggest that a lot of licensed therapists suck or cause more harm than good. There are those who genuinely want to help others and there are those who going into the field because they are so fucked up they want to surround themselves with people who have bigger problems than they do. What my mil does is not helping people, she is trying to fill her own void and satisfy her narcissism by waving a license in people’s faces. She has a very warped sense of self importance, but she’s cool with that.

        Just because someone is licensed to do something you’re not, doesn’t make him good at it or a good person. Rather than deal with the reporting structure at her business, my mil has ignored me for almost 5 mos and still has the ow reporting to my h. A marriage therapist with a decent practice. Dumbass.

        • Strengthrequired

          Jeddy, dumbass indeed. What does your h say, about his m not talking to you?
          What a warped sense of character she is. I’m sorry but how the bs became the one that caused all of the problems in a marriage and of course all the problems into the h/w and the family actually believe that the ow/om is actually the hero I all of this, I don’t get or understand it.
          So sorry jeddy, your having to put up with all of this.
          Hang in there, it isn’t a great feeling when you feel you have to contend with inlaws that would rather you not be around, so push the ap onto the cs.

          • Jeddy

            Thanks – he’s not too impressed with her, but their’s is a parentified relationship – she thinks her son is her partner. Ew. That’s a cockroach nest he’s trying to fumigate with individual therapy. At the end of the day she’s his mother, she had him as a teenager, and it’s a very unhealthy family dynamic. Not my battle, nor is my priority to work on my relationship with my mil. I can’t care right now, I frankly have no respect for her whatsoever. It really sucks. And she’s really young considering my h is 47, people in his family live entirely too long, so I need to learn how to cope at some point so it doesn’t continue to sour me. She’s a narc, not a lot I can do.

    • Strengthrequired

      I would actually like to say, although I know it is upto both the cs and bs to work on preventing another affair, but I honestly think for how I have worked at saving my marriage, that, it was not me who went off and had the affair, that it is upto my h mostly to make sure his head is on straight and his morals and dignity are kept in check, and he protects our family the way he should have everyday, with no stops along the way, no selfishness, just to be mindful of what his actions if aren’t watched can destroy what he loves. I know what I want, fooling around with another person is not on my agenda, so my h has to make sure our marriage is always on his agenda, to watch over and respect still all times.
      He needs to do the protecting, because I’m worn out. Lol

    • quistina

      betrayedchump – We are seeing a marriage counselor, whom we like. Unfortunately, my husband is active military, and because of his job has to see an active duty provider.

      strengthrequired – I have wondered whether my husband was seeing the therapist as well, but our marriage counselor is also active duty, so based on the discussions we have had during our sessions, the 2 professional are talking. My husband has not been to an individual counseling session in over 2 months. He says that his appointments keep getting cancelled/rescheduled b/c his provider is working some special duty. I have wondered what my husband has told people about me. A mutual friend told me that my husband’s therapist said to watch what he says to me so as not to throw me into a deeper depression. I have been in remission for 2 years…

      I feel like I am the one doing all the work and being made to feel guilty about it. I am proud of myself for being so calm when we do talk, when I try to express how I feel and what I need from him. In return I get defensiveness, and usually him bringing up how much he hurts – and how he hurts more than me!

      • Strengthrequired

        Quistina, sorry honey, your going through this, if there was anything I wanted my h to tell me, that was the plain simple truth, none of the lies that I think was more to protect himself, then to myself. Goodness it took him over a year to get away from his ow, so nine of his lies were protecting me. The truth although hard to take at first, would have been a hell of a lot easier than the lies and drizzled truth, that would follow after being found out each time.
        I would tell my h, just tell the truth, someone will always get hurt, but it’s better than the torture of truth that gets found out over and over again, due to the lies that were told instead.
        All I know my h wasn’t protecting me, he was protecting himself and having to face what was done.

    • betrayedchump

      Always be PROUD OF YOURSELF, You did not have the EA, HE DID! YOU ARE A GOOD PERSON, YOU ARE NOT TO BLAME, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY! The GUILT IS ALL HIS, NOT YOURS!!!! His defensiveness shows he is still justifying his bad behavoir. Get a differant counselor NOW!!!! DO NOT continue to see that so called counselor that tells your H he did nothing wrong. Your H did WRONG, HE had TWO EA’S! NOT ONE, TWO!!!! Keep your head up DO NOT let your H drag you down to his pathetic selfish level.
      PEACE to you!

    • quistina

      Thank you all! It is so nice to have the support and reassurance one can find here. Sometimes I wonder why I keep trying. I cannot change him or what he thinks. I just keep hoping that we will come out of this with a stronger relationship. I will have to figure out what I can live with and what I can’t. Good luck to everyone.

    • Karen

      This is all well and good but I did this once. Then He had another emotional affair with the same woman and refuses to tell the truth about it. In addition, he abused me verbally, emotionally , and physically when I continued to ask questions that he would not give answers to. There is no trust . I gave him trust and grace the first time. He just cheated again. Now what? Just keep on giving him grace while he keeps on having emotional affairs? I am devastated. I moved out because of the abuse. I can’t forgive this time. I refuse to be a doormat for him to walk on when he comes home from his tryst with the AP. What are your thoughts?

    • Strengthrequired

      Karen, you hold your head up high, you gave him the chance to redeem himself to you, he stuffed up royally. You need to look out for you. These ea, bring out such bad behaviours in the cs, it’s crazy how they behave.
      I think you did what was right for you, and what is healthy for you, he made his bed now let him lie in it.
      If he is that into to he ow, let them have each other, because honestly they deserve to make each other miserable. Hugs to you.

    • quistina

      Oh my, Karen. Thank goodness you removed yourself from the abuse. All we can do is take care of ourselves. You know what you need. If he can’t help you with that, well, that’s ultimately your decision. I think you being apart right now will help you focus more on you, and hopefully find the answers that are right for you. good luck.

    • betrayedchump

      Good for you that you moved out to protect yourself from your CS! Go talk to a lawyer & file for divorce (if you are married) NOW! As they say fool me once, shame on you , fool me twice, DIVORCE WE ARE DONE!!!! You DESERVE BETTER so get rid of your CS & find yourself happiness, you desrve it!
      PEACE to you.

    • quistina

      Just curious… Are any of you members of the Higher Learning area? Is it worth it?

      • Doug

        Yes I’m a member 😉 I certainly like to think it’s worth it as there are hundreds of healing resources not found on the blog. But like anything else, it’s only as good as what you make out of it. If you utilize all the resources as well as get involved on the forum you can discover a world of knowledge and experience. That said, hell, it’s only $9.95 a month and you can cancel at anytime. That’s two packs of smokes or 2 ice coffee latte frappuccinos or a six pack of good beer. I also realize it’s not for everyone. If you have any further questions, feel free to shoot me an email.

    • quistina

      Doug – well, I don’t smoke, don’t drink coffee, and don’t like beer! But this site, other than my therapist, has been what has gotten me this far in my recovery, so I do think it will be worth it! Funny thing is, right after DDay, having found this site, talked to my cs about it and sent him links to articles for both me and him. What did he do? One morning I get up, he is at work and left me a note saying he took all the power cords from our computers and hid them, so I wouldn’t be tempted to look at “those websites”. He thinks I have made up the term emotional affair. He says since he never intended anything by the secrecy or innocent flirting, it wasn’t wrong. Hopefully, he’ll see the light.

      • Doug

        OK, a cheap bottle of wine or two shots of tequila!? If not, then you need to take up some vices! 😉 Seriously, I’m glad our site has been helpful. Nothing like a little denial on the part of your husband, eh?

      • NoDoormat

        I know this was over two years ago, but in case anyone else reads this and benefits, I felt compelled to respond.

        (aside: I was in the miserable throes of dealing with the same ugliness when you posted this, so I’ve got the benefit of looking back from the other side)

        That was straight-up mental abuse. He was trying to control your access to information and help for your own well-being because it was protective of his feelings and ego. How selfish and fucked up is that?!

        I’ve not seen the ultimate outcome in your case yet, but if anyone sees themselves in her words, please, you must escape the gaslighting and mental abuse or your essence will be destroyed! I ended up hospitalized for over a week thanks to the cruelty I endured, and almost three years later, I am still not recovered.

        Please be strong and stand up for yourself. Sacrificing more for the sake of saving the relationship right now will not pay off in the long run. You’re only allowing them to take, take, take more of you away until there’s nothing left but an empty shell.

        You deserve better.

    • quistina

      I told my cs to get out a week ago. We were talking, but it soon turned into an argument. He refuses to acknowledge any emotional connections with either ow. One day, early on, we were arguing over him giving me a drawing ow#1 gave to him, We had decided to put all of ow’s belongings/gifts in a bag for a later discussion of disposition. When he didn’t hand it over and kept asking, “What if you are wrong?”, I couldn’t take it anymore and grabbed the picture. He lunged at me attempting to get the picture but ended up having his arm around my neck, choking me. Since then I have tried to get him to see that there was some connection there, especially for him to put my safety at risk over losing that picture. Well, during this recent argument I brought it up again. He argues that our ideas of what happened then are different. I say that no matter what led up to it, the end result was me being physically hurt by him, whether he intended it or not. He sill refused an emotional connection; and although he says, “I take full responsibility for my actions.”, he follows it with him saying I provoked him. I said if there was no emotional connection, then I should be afraid to be around you because you could lose control again and something similar happen. He disagreed. That is when I told him to get out.

      In MC this week, he said he feels he is being punished by being out of the house, and if I needed the break, then why don’t I leave? What an idiot! I calmly explained to him that it was his actions that got us here, that my full-time job is a stay-at-home mom, and that I didn’t need a break from the kids, only him. He replies, “It is a punishment then.” Our MC interrupts, telling him it is a consequence, and usually consequences aren’t pleasant!

      Good news is that c will be going to a new IC next week. She even wants to meet with both of us the first day. Maybe now he’ll get correct guidance from an IC after hearing both sides!

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