If you suspect your husband is having an affair or is being emotionally unfaithful, do not despair. An affair does not have to mean the end of your marriage. In fact, consider this:
- Approximately 20 percent of affairs last less than two months
- Approximately 50 percent of affairs last more than one month, but less than a year.
- The remaining 30 percent last more than a year
- Very few last more than four years
- Around three percent result in marriage
There are seven specific steps you can take if you have reason to believe he may be unfaithful. There is no guarantee your marriage will survive, but these steps will give you the best opportunity to recover after the affair ends. Infidelity 101: What Is An Emotional Affair?
Step 1. Gather evidence
Just to be clear, it is very typical for a disloyal spouse to deny they are having an affair, even if you walk in and catch them "in the act", so to speak. They jump up and as they're putting their clothes on they'll say "It's not what it looks like!" So this step is intended to confirm to yourself that you are not making a mountain out of a molehill... something really is going on. Before you hack into his computer or install a small tape recorder, you may want to check your state's laws on electronic surveillance. Some typical "evidence" could be gathered by looking at emails if he leaves his email open (print them!), looking at his cell phone pictures and texts if his phone is left unlocked, or logging onto your joint cell phone bill online and looking for a large number of minutes to the same phone number. How To Catch a Cheater
Step 2. Confront
Go to him directly and tell him to his face that you know about the affair and that you have evidence in a safe place that proves it. Don't tell him where it is, or what it is necessarily, just let him know that YOU you know. Then, state that in order for the marriage to work, there cannot be infidelity. Ask him point blank to end the affair. Make sure he understands that ending the affair means that he can never, EVER contact the other person again. He must agree to be accountable for his time by sharing passwords to all his accounts (Facebook, all email accounts, cell phones... etc.). How Snooping Helped Me Survive Divorce
Step 3. Disclose
Disclose the affair to ONE very respected authority who he is likely to look up to and listen to... someone who is likely to be pro-marriage and to tell him that he should end the affair and work on the issues in your marriage. This person could be one of his parents, a religious leader, a teacher, or a boss. Meet with this person in confidence and explain to them that you expect them to keep the matter confidential, but that you need help. Then explain that your spouse is having an affair and give them the facts. If you can, show them the evidence. Then ask the respected person to help you and support you as you talk to your husband and again ask them to stop the affair.
Step 4. Exposure
Expose the affair to those who will likely be affected by a potential divorce. The idea behind exposure is not to drag your your husband's name and reputation through the mud, but rather to refuse to keep the affair a "secret" and to bring the ugly truth of the unfaithfulness to the light of day. In his mind he may be thinking something like, "Oh yes we might be disrupting four people's lives, but don't I deserve some happiness too?" What he doesn't realize is that a divorce will not affect four people—it will be a like the ever-widening wake of a nuclear bomb, affecting possibly hundreds of people! For this step though, there should be a focus to the exposure. Contact your own family (parents and siblings), his parents and siblings, his church or place of worship, your co-workers, some of his co-workers, your employer, his co-workers, and the other woman's spouse and inform them of the affair, that it is serious, that your marriage is in trouble, and ask for help. Nothing ends an affair faster than the other woman's spouse screaming and putting their foot down. Infidelity: Are Lawsuits The Best Revenge?
Step 5. Carrot & Stick
In this phase you focus on two things: working on yourself to once again be the person who attracted your spouse AND allowing him to experience the natural consequences of his choices. You should work on yourself by eliminating the things that extinguished love between you two (like judging, angry explosions, enough is never enough, etc.) and by re-visiting the things that kindled the love between the two of you in the first place. You need to do BOTH... but eliminating love extinguishers is the most important of the two. Why I Cheated
The second part is about NATURAL consequences. This doesn't mean punishing the disloyal parties, but rather letting them know that you are not leaving the house so they can move their lover in. If he wants to be with his lover, he will need to move out and the kids do not go with him. There is no reason for the children to leave their home, their bed, their neighborhood, their friends and their school because he has chosen to be with the other woman. Therefore, a natural consequence is for your husband to lose some time with your children. He needs to learn that that's the cost of choosing to have an affair, and is what will happen if you choose to divorce. Allow him to experience that hurt because it will teach him quickly how much affairs hurt and cost.
Step 6. Consequences
In this step, write your husband a letter and explain that you love him. Admit the things you did to contribute to the affair and indicate what you're doing to end those things. Then express that unless they end all contact with the Other Person and never, EVER contact her again, you will be forced to end all contact with him. The idea behind this step is to give him a realistic taste of what divorce could be like—to not have you in his life to meet ANY needs! If he attempts contact, you should say:
"Are you calling because you're ready to end the affair? Oh you're not. Then please respect my wishes for no contact until you're ready to do that. Goodbye."
Then hang up.
By this point, it is likely that life is not going well for him. As he persists in doing what he knows is wrong, he might feel the need to have someone to blame for his problems. Hopefully this fairly drastic, nearly final step will help his to take personal responsibility for his choices. 5 Definitive Reasons Not To Get Back With Your Ex
Step 7. Legal Separation
The final step that I would recommend before divorce is a legal separation. Many affairs die a natural death within two years. Therefore, I suggest that the couple pursue a legal separation because it will stall the legal process of divorce, and protect the family at the same time. I generally recommend a minimum of one year of legal separation. The disloyal spouse may push for a "quickie" divorce in an attempt to legitimize their affair partner, but if nothing else, a legal separation will give all parties involved a chance to recover from the emotional roller-coaster and a better chance of ending the affair. Once the affair is actually over, it's conceivable the he may still decide that he would rather stay apart. But at that point with all good conscience the you will have done all you could to save your marriage. 4 New Ways To Approach Divorce