Ending the Affair

Continued from “How do Affairs Begin“. If you have not read that article first, please do so, as this article continues a story described in that article.

What should Jane do now? #

Jane should be aware of a few things. The elements make an affair exciting and intoxicating are the same that consume it later on. These relationships begin on the weakest possible foundation, and collapse under the strain of everyday life. The romance is intoxicating, and the affair partners almost always believe they are the exceptions to a pattern in nearly all affairs. Quite simply, relationships that begin as affairs have between 3% and 5% of succeeding.

Consider this: A relationship that begins on a foundation of betrayal and lies cannot easily become one of trust and loyalty.

So Jane can also make the more difficult choice and recognize that while John had not been meeting her needs, Jane is now actively committing the worst betrayal John is likely to ever experience. She can end the relationship with Bob and sever all contact. Then she can come clean, ask for forgiveness, and tell John that she wants to work on their marriage. Finally, as it plays out, they can seek help.

How She Might Tell John #

If Jane decides to move forward and reveal the affair to John, she needs to know that it is going to be extremely difficult. In all likelihood, John will be devastated beyond any imagination. The fact that Jane is coming clean helps, but John is unlikely to be able to control his emotions at first. This is an unimaginable betrayal for John, and it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for him to react rationally at first.

When a spouse learns of this type of betrayal, the most common feeling they express looking back is as though they had suddenly been disconnected with all reality. Everything they ever believed suddenly comes into question, even the most obvious truths cannot be trusted. Is white really white? Is this water really wet? Is this burger truly a burger? These questions will seem absurd to Jane, but they are very real questions for John, because his brain has been disconnected from reality. He is suffering PTSD.

Jane absolutely needs to understand this, and fight every urge she has to try to fix him. She cannot. He needs to process everything. But there is much Jane can do to help him.

  1. Above all, Jane needs to be deeply contrite. She needs to ask forgiveness over and over. Saying she is sorry or that it was a mistake will only make it worse. She needs to humble herself and ask forgiveness. No matter how he reacts, she needs to keep asking, and not expecting him to react in any particular way. Even if he says he forgives her, she needs to keep asking.
  2. Jane needs to join John in his pain, not talk him through it. She needs to do everything he needs to feel more comfortable.
  3. Jane needs to be honest. Every lie at this point will only make things worse, even if she thinks it is to spare John further hurt. John is desperately searching for every truth he can hold onto to guide him back. If he finds a lie, it will likely make him collapse even more.
  4. Jane needs to show her willingness to do anything it takes to fix their marriage.
  5. Jane needs to not only cut off all contact with the other man, but she should offer John that they write a letter together and mail it physically (or email it) to the other man, stating that she is rebuilding her marriage and they should never have any form of contact whatsoever.
  6. If Jane works with the other man, she will probably need to quit her job now, or try to get transferred. The notion that Jane will ever see Bob again in any capacity will be devastating for John.
  7. Jane needs to be patient and understand that she cannot comprehend what John is going through, but understand that he likely has little control at all over his feelings and probable mood swings. Jane needs to that John’s healing will be faster if Jane stays the course with him, and gets in his pain with him with total openness and honesty.
  8. Jane needs to accept that this will take time. On average, while the pain is worst and most frequent at the beginning, and gradually gets better, it generally takes 2 to 5 years for this kind of wound to heal.