Stopping an affair means first understanding why it happened.
The biggest fear of many married couples is that their husband or wife will have an affair. They fear seeing their Toyota Camry parked in the lot of that seedy hotel on I-5. They wonder why their spouse is always working so late (and so closely with their assistant), and they stress over why their partner slams shut their laptop the moment someone else enters the room.
Many times, this affair exists only in the imagination of the worrier. Their distrust in their partner isn't warranted and they've never been cheated on, unless you count occasionally picturing Heidi Klum or Taye Diggs naked.
But, this isn't always the case: affairs do happen. In fact, most of us probably know someone who has been involved in one. Perhaps we have even been involved in one ourselves. It's not much of a stretch — some surveys suggest that as many as 75 percent of married people cheat on their spouse at least once.
Affairs can happen behind our backs, submerging us in the "ignorance is bliss" concept and never exposing us to the heartache. But the truth is known to come out eventually. When this happens, those of us who have been cheated on wonder one thing: how do we stop an affair.
The most important thing to understand about how to stop an affair is that you, alone, cannot stop one. You can yell, you can scream, you can dole out ultimatums like most people dole out morning pleasantries, but the person who is actually having the affair has to be the one to end it — they must pull the plug.
Still, there are four things you can do to help assure that they yank hard enough:
1. Confront Your Partner
In the hypothetical, How To Stop An Affair handbook (hypothetically written by Hilary Clinton, Tori Spelling, and every other single celebrity wife), the first step is the confrontation. You must tell your spouse that you know (because, ala Friends, they might not know you know). Unlike other confrontations — such as those for drug or alcohol abuse — this shouldn't include friends, children, families, coworkers, or mother-in-laws: it should only include you and your spouse.
2. Get To The Root Of The Affair
When people cheat, they very rarely do it for the physicalities involved. You may worry about the beautiful women at your husband's gym or that chiseled coworker who shares a cubicle with your wife, but most people cheat for emotional reasons, not physical ones. Thus, while you aim to figure out how to stop an affair, you must first figure out what caused an affair. Something in your marriage was failing, and an affair is the ugly, glaring symptom.
3. Work Together On Changes
The person who has strayed from the marriage is the one most culpable. It's hard not to side with the person who has been cheated on, but the cheater doesn't entirely hold this culpability alone: the things that lead to an affair are generally the fault of both partners involved. A husband who cheats may have a controlling wife; a wife who cheats may have a husband who ignores her. Whatever the reasons, affairs are something both people have hands in.
4. Allow Your Partner To Grieve
Some affairs are very short-lived; the person involved gets no more attached than any of us were to the XFL. Others involve much more emotion. When your partner is involved in the latter, it's appropriate to give them time to grieve. This may seem unfair to you, and quite frankly it is, but it's also necessary. If you really want to know how to stop an affair, you must be willing to understand that your partner may be sad about never again seeing the other man or other woman. Just be sure not to let them grieve for too long — acting on edge for a week or two is reasonable, but refusing to get dressed and singing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen” every night on the front porch is a little much.
Remember — you can't force someone to stop having an affair but you can take the necessary steps to restore your relationship with your partner.
To learn more about how to stop an affair, click here.