Often the betrayed spouse asks the question, “If my  husband/wife loves the other person, then why save the marriage?  Why don’t they just leave and go be with the affair partner?

why save the marriage

It’s a situation that can be difficult to comprehend.

To offer a different perspective, we pulled portions of a comment string from one of our posts from back in 2010.  In this instance, Linda is questioning another unfaithful person, “Almostoutofit,” who was kind enough to offer his take on things, along with some other folks as well.

This post comment string also demonstrates how often the betrayed spouse is left trying to make sense of what happened and why, since the unfaithful person can’t seem to put it into words very easily. 

In fact, once the affair is discovered and has ended, those involved in the affair often don’t know for sure just what they were thinking – or what they intended.

It’s more likely that a person can accurately answer questions as to what they did (assuming that they are willing to do so). But it’s much less likely that they can accurately explain what they were thinking or feeling at that time.

Here’s the comment string…

Linda asks…

Almostoutofit, what really confuses me is there are such strong feelings and it is so difficult to escape them, why fight them? Why save the marriage? Why not just be with the other person? If that person was so special, and you spend almost every minute of the day thinking, texting, or talking to them? Why are you here? For the betrayed spouse this is very difficult to understand.

At the time of the affair you did everything to be with that person, you risked losing everything, when it came down to a decision, why didn’t you choose to be with that person rather than your spouse?  Maybe you can help me understand it

why save the marriage - why not just leave

“AlmostOutofIt” Replies…

Linda, you asked a great question. I wish I could help you understand it. But quite frankly, I think when I was completely in the affair and when I was with the other woman (OW), I would have left everything. In fact, (luckily) the OW was the one that wasn’t quite ready. When we were together, we talked about what that might look like and how it might work. But when we weren’t together, she wasn’t as sure. Looking back, I think she might have been thinking a little more straight than I was. Actually, I think she was thinking more about the money her husband had – and I didn’t – and certainly wouldn’t. So things didn’t get all the way to that point.

See also  Getting Them to Let Go of the Affair

Now had she said yes, I suppose then reality might have set in. It was all well and nice to talk about leaving my wife and starting over with her. But if it came down to me sitting down and actually leaving, maybe I couldn’t have done it. But I do know that things were not good at home, which made my desire to leave easier. Of course I am sure I contributed to it, but things were not good before the affair started.

I think perhaps the thoughts of leaving are part of the fantasy – the starting over again, thinking this time will be different. But when it comes down to it, perhaps the part of the brain that is outside the fog stops an even more stupid decision to be made. Maybe our subconscious steps up because it knows this is all a fantasy. Plus no one wants to really hurt their spouse – if they knew they would get caught I would imagine most people wouldn’t start an affair. So to truly be with your affair partner, you’d have to tell your spouse and cause that hurt.

Also, thinking through how to leave, what that will do to your family, finances, etc. brings a level of logic to the equation. Perhaps that also keeps the fantasy at bay.

Why Don’t Cheaters Leave Their Spouses for the Affair Partner?

Linda Adds…

Almostoutofit, thanks for your reply, I really appreciate your input because you appear to really think about your feelings associated with the affair. I believe after the affair many men (and women) bury their feelings and refuse to discuss them. They keep the fantasy of the relationship and the other person alive without seeing the whole picture. 

AlmostOutofIt Says…

Thanks Linda – I’m trying to figure out why it was so easy for me to stray and why it felt so good during it. The first part I think I’m starting to get a good handle on. It’s not as simple as saying because I was missing sex. That was the catalyst I suppose, but there’s more to it.

See also  Extramarital Affairs: What to Do When Smart Men Do Stoopid Stuff

As for figuring out why it felt so good – part of my reason for thinking it through is selfish. Being sad/depressed about the affair and all the withdrawal symptoms aren’t any fun. I wanted them to go away as soon as possible and the best way it seemed was to understand them. And to do that you have to get through the fantasy part of it all. I realized the longer I kept the fantasy alive, the longer I would feel those longings and withdrawal. Plus I’m trying to figure what felt so good to try to replicate some of that in my marriage.

“Stupidandtrusting” Chimes In…

Linda,  I hope you will understand when I remind you that it wasn’t the other woman he wanted to be with.  It was the feelings, the fantasy, the romanticism, the idealism – it was nothing real at all. You have helped me remember this many times, so I hope you don’t mind that I remind you of the same and hope that I am not out of line.

This weekend, as we shopped and did our usual holiday things, I definitely crashed emotionally and held that in rather than destroy what was really quite nice if not for the triggers. I remembered what you have told us over and over – don’t compete with the fantasy.

Almostoutofit, I feel like you are still on the fence a bit. Perhaps the loveliest gift at all for your wife would be to have you wholly in your marriage. I know you have seen the pain of the many BS’s you have encountered here, try to envision your wife feeling the way that we have all felt…..

Point and Counterpoint – Are Affairs Based on Fantasy or Not?

Linda Replies…

stupidandtrusting, thanks, having a bad day, and on days like this I have a difficult time talking myself out of the pain, triggers, and the fantasy. Sometimes I just wonder how one woman could be so special even when I know it was all about the situation. I just wonder if the betraying spouse ever lets go of the fantasy and really understands what their life would be like if they chose the other person. 

See also  When Friends are Enemies of Your Marriage

“Tryingtoowife” Adds…

Linda. That’s the question I asked my husband and I can not understand either.

If it was so good that he could not resist the OW to the point of risking losing me and the children, everything, why didn’t he just leave us and enjoy it?! The family and I were not enough for him at the time, so, why not just enjoy his new ‘joy’ he found with the OW?

He says that he knew he would never be able to live without us! He always loved me, us. He just compartmentalized the two lives and they did not cohabit at the same time in his mind. He did not know he would be found out and he already had ended the affair. When he did realize the real meaning of what he had done, he panicked, until then, it was like someone else’s life, not his. Well, nice.

Now I am the one that has the freedom to decide if I can live the rest of my life with someone so selfish.  This is a question I am asking myself as I type. 

Linda Replies…

Tryingtoowife, I would do anything just to erase the memories from my brain. I also know that I am the one controlling those thoughts and that I need to be stronger and more disciplined and push them away.

Some days it doesn’t take much effort but other days it consumes me and I succumb to the thoughts and get angry with myself for not having the ability to let it go. I have said to Doug over and over again it just sucks. I really don’t know any other way to put it. 


So, if you’re the betrayed spouse, do sometimes ask yourself, why save the marriage? Do you often wonder why your husband or wife didn’t (doesn’t) just leave – if things with the affair partner were so great?  How does your spouse explain this away?
If you’re the unfaithful person…why save the marriage?  What were your real reasons for staying?  Did you truly understand them at the time – or did your understanding evolve over the weeks and months that followed the ending of the affair?
Please respond in the comment section below.


    11 replies to "Why Save the Marriage? Why Not Just Be with the Other Person?"

    • joni

      Thank you. I ask these questions about a thousand times a day. Then when a hear a trigger, I want to scream and yell, Why? Why? Why? I’m tired of trying . It’s exhausting.. I still fight the triggers from 36 years ago from another cheating situation. I just want this pain to go away or submerge.. How can anyone hurt someone so badly? Maybe if we were just separated for awhile, but I have no one or anywhere to go. Family 3 hours away.

      • Doug

        Thanks for your comment, Joni. I’m sorry for what you’re going through. Separation might be a solution, but might also just be another way of sweeping things under a rug. Is he doing anything to assist in your healing and recovery?

        You might want to read this as well: https://www.emotionalaffair.org/what-were-you-thinking/

    • Laura Doyle

      This really is an interesting question that really makes you think. It definitely does seem that after the fact many can’t answer exactly what they were thinking during the affair. Thanks for sharing this exchange!

      • Ben

        Yeh or they can’t be bothered to think about it. I just think that they think what they think, feel what they feel and don’t want to admit to it thinking they’d lose their spouse if they told them. I’ve found that my wife believed that if our marriage did end, then she could go off and be with this “special other person”. She showed that she couldn’t be bothered putting in the effort or time to work on our marriage. This was the complete opposite of what she was actually saying to me. So after a year and a half, I decided that I deserved better and that from that point on wouldn’t bother trying also. It’s funny how they decided to try and do the things I’d asked for when I said enough. It’s funny how the way they think and feel suddenly changes when you decide to end the marriage. But I’m sick and tired of living this nightmare. I don’t care for her. She’s put me through hell and didn’t care about me or anything that I needed from her. So I say stuff that! Ive got enough self respect and dignity to not accept being treated like a piece of poo. I might have made my mistakes but I wasn’t the one who cheated and I certainly wasn’t the one who couldn’t get over their affair and treated their spouse like crap whilst simultaneously telling me how much she loved me, how she would do whatever it takes to make it up to me etc etc etc. Just absolute nonsense! Just words without any meaning or honesty!

        • Angie

          Ben I am a year in after DDay and I wanted to Thank you for your words. This is exactly what I am going through right now. I kind of hit a wall recently and stopped being the only one fighting for my 22 year marriage. And now it’s “oh but I love you” “ I want this to work”. Where as before it was all me. I never put 2 and 2 together why he was being such a jerk after dday. You hit it in the head, he was morning his lover. Gosh that hurts. Looking back to last year and how horribly he treated me it makes sense now. I was in such a horrible state of mind. Lost. Wondering how my husband could ever do this to me. Cause I surely couldnt have done it to him. So I didn’t see that he was missing her and taking it out on me. Wow. I’m glad I hit a wall recently because it’s like my eyes have been opened. We literally just started counseling because he sees me pulling away. I’m not sure what it can accomplish because the way I feel is that had he truly loved me he couldn’t have done this. When you LOVE someone it’s easy to be faithful. So thank you Ben for opening my eyes to why he treated me like “poo” for months after dday.

    • Jennet

      Hi this the questions I’ve asked mysekf nearly everyday and also asked my husband never get a decent answer ‘I don’t know’ fudnt want to lose you, always lived you sbd still do. Ha if you loved me that much you wouldn’t gave don’t it!!
      Her she certainly didn’t want to lose her husband that earns terrific money and has the lifestyle to go with it. She has never admitted the affair to her husband. I told him what was going on the day after I found out and a year on he confronts my husband with me there asked very direct questions ‘did you have intimate, sexual relations with my wife?? My husband couldn’t do anything but tell the truth as I was standing next to him. Did he squirm or what! So as far as I can see they used each other for whatever gratification they got out of it unfortunately for my husband perhaps the fantasy woman wasn’t so nice after all just a cheat and liar like all of them. The BS are left feeling like it’s our fault and all the crap that goes with it. Day after day. I’m sticking with my husband if 50 years I ve got too many good memories to let this destroy my family and if course myself.
      Good luck to you all jennet

    • Joy

      It is comforting to read these and others comments to know you are not alone. I am about 2 1/2 years from d day and I still have a hard time with triggers and such. We have stayed together he has apologized and said sorry, we have been to therapy (stopped about 9 months ago) but I still have the thoughts that maybe we would of been better off apart. I can’t seem to wrap my head around how he could do that to us, especially since we are both divorced mine because My ex-husband had an affair with my best friend who he left me for (that was many years ago and they didn’t stay together). I love him, he loves me, but I still can’t get over the selfishness sometimes. We’ve discussed the reasons why and sometimes I just don’t buy it. Our relationship has gotten much better but the triggers come and they can be hard. I try and work through them but it’s not always easy.

      • Jitsulady

        My second huge D.D. was August 8th 2022 , 4 days before long road trip to Texas. We drove from PA.
        His 3 mnts so called phone affair, was really a 19mnt physical/emotional affair.

        He ended the next day after being caught
        I have asked him multiple times , how does one just shut off something someone , that
        Was so important to you that you would risk everything for , your job ,for taking vac days to be with her, to your wife , family, our home we bought just 3 years prior ,everything we built together for a screw.
        If she was that important to you and it was so good and worth it at the time ,
        Why are you not with her now. Why didn’t you chose to be with someone who made you forget everything just to be with her….
        I never intended to leave you. I never intended to see her.
        I couldn’t stop until I got caught and reality slapped me in the face.

        I don’t believe , that reality never was never there in his face. I believe they chose to enjoy what they’re getting having their cake and have a wife at home to cook clean take care of the dogs work 40 to 50 hours a week , make lunches for him. Tell him that I appreciated him for everything he does for us , all the while he is out having a good time, me thinking he is working his 12 hr shift him taking vac days to be with her.
        While my vacations were by myself and the dogs.
        They don’t tell their aps that hey , my marriage was bad because I chose to screw around with you
        I stopped having sex and doing things with my wife because of you.
        It’s all bullshit.
        Lies to justify their huge ass selfishness.

    • Jennet

      I agree with you 100 per cent. It is just one big ego trip until they get caught and all the lies they tell is to try and justify what they are doing.
      They want their cake and they want to eat it regardless of the consequences and we’re left to pick up the pieces and to try and understand what the hell has happened to us through no fault of our own. Jennet

      • Jitsulady

        What annoys me is they call it a mistake. A mistake is when you make the choice to do something wrong once and correct it.
        Deliberate – is when you consciencely chose to do it over and over again , that’s not a mistake.
        It’s Deliberately well thought out.
        You have to put the app on your phone to tex , talk, video each other then delete it.
        You make the effort to make sure you get a vacation day in, so you can go see her.
        You had to Google directions to drive there.
        You had to plan where you were going to stop to kill time on the way home because you were to be working till 8pm
        You planned times to call each other
        You made the effort , time ,for her for each step to court her. and neglected everything at home.
        Our home , your families & me all neglected.
        Everything that was mine you gave to her.
        You took my sanity
        My self worth
        My sleep
        My trust
        My best friend in you
        My heart and shredded it.
        My value as a wife & lover
        My inner peace is gone.
        How I veiw other women.
        Your affair changed me.
        I didn’t ask for this.
        No one asked me if I wanted to be in this affair..
        No one..

    • Jennet

      You have to think of yourself as the BETTER PERSON you are not a cheat and a liar you are so much more than that. Please believe in yourself you will feel much better in time and believe me it does take time and none of it will be easy. None of us betrayed asked for it but here we are in the hell of it all.
      Look after yourself on your journey Jennet

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