Here are the rules for separating from the affair partner:
1. Allow your spouse to participate in the severance. By allowing your spouse to have a say in how it is done will help your spouse find closure as well. Also, because the affair involved so much secrecy, this moment of truth is refreshing for them. Remember you and your spouse are a team.
2. Make it a clear, absolute, severance. There are a number of ways to separate from the affair partner that we will talk about but, however it is done, don’t let there be any question whatsoever that there is a glimmer of hope in the world that there could be anything between you again. This is expressed through your tone of voice, your body language, and the words you choose.
3. Do not be cordial or kind when you severe the relationship. Do not be friendly at all. Short of cruelty, the colder and absolute, the better. In fact, it is cruel to the affair partner if you even leave a glimmer of hope that you will be back. Don’t lead them on and more importantly do not lead your spouse to believe that you may be unfaithful at any point in the future.
4. You’re doing it “For Love”. Do not tell the affair partner your leaving them and staying with your spouse “for the kids” or because of the “commitment you made” or your “duty to the family”. You are staying with your spouse and rejecting all others including them because you are madly in love with your spouse and what you did with them was a complete and total mistake. Then you want to say “never contact me again, I do not want to talk to you” or “I do not want any sort of intimate relationship with you ever again”.
5. Don’t look back. Make it a clean break. Asking them how they are doing, trying to show that you are not as mean as your cut off was, or that you guys can “be friends” confuses them and will open the door to more trouble. It is natural to want to check up on the affair partner but resist the temptation.
6. Complete openness and honesty. From now on there should be no more secrecy between you and your spouse. You must decide to volunteer any communication that may happen with the affair partner before you are asked to do so. This includes texts, face-to-face, e-mails, or anything else. It is important to avoid any communication with the affair partner but if or when communication unavoidably happens be quick to share it with your spouse. Do not underestimate how helpful this will be.
7. Maintaining a Safe Place. This is where the hurting spouse enters the process. If you are the person whose spouse has had an affair then it is very important for you to encourage an environment where they can be completely honest with you. This means that when they come to you and tell you about communication with the affair partner it is important to not loose your cool.
In fact, they are breaking the pattern of secrecy and lies which is one GIANT step in the direction of healing your relationship. It can be hard to celebrate the fact that they are honest because it hurts to know the other person is still out there living and breathing. But realize that your spouse is moving away from this destructive behavior and choosing YOU. Moreover, have a mini-celebration knowing that your spouse did not give into the temptations that resulted in the place you are now. If they did give into temptation, do not give up hope.
What you must do in order to move forward in the process is to completely cut off the affair partner. It must be done in a way that makes sense to the spouse who was betrayed because you are the healer in the process and only the one who made the mistake and had the affair can cut off the relationship.
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“Brad Robinson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and an expert in infidelity recovery in Tulsa, OK. Together with his wife Morgan Robinson they teach people about how to understand and overcome infidelity and how to make their marriage thrive even after betrayal. You can learn more about their work by visiting www.familyandlifesolutions.com”
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