Stay or Leave? Should You Throw in the Towel after an affair?

So many people ask the question after the affair is discovered...should I stay or should I leave?  Here's our answer.

Wait at least 6-12 weeks, before you make a decision about leaving. This will provide both of you a period of safety in which to fully explore your thoughts and feelings. What follows is some thought provoking questions on whether you should stay or go. You can share these privately, with your spouse or with your therapist. 

Visualize the future. Go down the road as far as you can and speculate what it would be like without your spouse. Think about the immediate future, five years from now, and twenty years from now. Picture yourself attending family events separately. 

  • How would your life be different?
  • How would your children’s lives be different?
  • What difference would it make in your current friendships?

Recall the past. Be careful not to rewrite marital history with a jaded view because of the current crisis.

  • What do you remember about the good times you’ve shared with your partner?
  • What would you miss about your marriage?
  • Have you and your partner struggled hard together to get to this place in your life cycle?

See if you can put your disillusionment aside for the moment and figure out your reasons for staying with your spouse.

  • Do you love your partner, down deep? (Not liking him or her is different from not loving?)
  • Do you like the fundamental type of person your partner is? (Not liking him or her is not the same as the disappointment you may be feeling.)
  • Are you and your partner basically compatible?
  •  Assess your own willingness and ability to meet the challenge of working on your relationship.  
  • Are you willing to understand what vulnerabilities set the stage for an affair?
  • Are you willing to work toward forgiving and being forgiven for the ways you could have hurt each other?