Even after an affair has started, many wayward spouses still believe that they have everything under control. This fantasy of control is generally coupled with the belief that an affair partner is still just a friend.
At the same time, there are those that are less certain if everything is as it should be. These feelings often arise after consideration of what is truly important. For those currently feeling confused about their feelings, take heart in knowing you are not alone. More and more spouses are struggling to uphold their marriage vows as they seek to satisfy their needs. Because unlike the limits of vows. Affairs are there only to satisfy wants. Unfortunately, the people having the affairs typically ignore the fact that they are comparing fantasy against reality.
The moment a spouse justifies that their infidelity is “different”, “special” or “true love”. They inadvertently choose fantasy over reality. And once a fantasy is in place, it is easier to see an affair partner as a troubled soul or as a true love. Ironically, some straying spouses see their affair as a way to save an affair partner from an unloving relationship.
When a wayward spouse accepts that they are experiencing symptoms of affair fog, they can start to reconnect with their true feelings. This reality returns when all contact with an affair partner ends. Ending contact includes stopping; phone calls, texts, emails, cards, social media, meetings and any other interactions. While clarity does not return overnight, it does return, and with it an ability to make healthier choices.
Good choices save marriages. And although it’s certain that affairs rock marriages to their core, real love is often far more resilient than expected.
Can we go back to being just friends?
It is so much easier to see an affair partner as only a friend. Especially for spouses who decide to stay married. While all relationships have aspects of friendship, the key difference with infidelity is that affair partners have privileges not offered to friends.
It’s not uncommon for some wayward spouses to feel obligated towards an affair partner. And friendship is a great disguise to support these obligations. For some, the “friend” merely provides comfort and support seemingly missing in their marriage. While others use the appearance of being friends to continue helping the affair partner through a supposed difficulty. By labelling their actions as support, wayward spouses can overlook the fact that the support is actually an act of betrayal.
Affairs are often the result of stretching a friendship too far. What is important to remember is that, once the line is crossed, the opportunity to be “just friends” ends. While many spouses are able to convince themselves otherwise, being honest with oneself will always be a better choice.
What should I do if contact is unavoidable?
Ending contact with an affair partner is vital for full recovery. However, this is not always possible or practical. That said, sharing a common workplace or social circle is no justification to continue an affair.
Avoiding unnecessary contact reduces risk. When a wayward spouse shares a working environment with their affair partner, they need to avoid compromising situations and locations. Ranking the importance of a marriage versus a job can help ease concerns about changing roles. When an affair partner is part of a social or family circle, meetings should be limited and 1:1 contact avoided.
Another option is to be honest and tell your partner of the affair. A real marriage is one where couples help one another with life’s challenges. Even with challenges that are self-inflicted.
What if my affair partner threatens to expose me?
The risk of blackmail came with the affair. The fear of being exposed can leave people feeling anxious and uncertain. Yet fear and blackmail can pale in comparison to the extremes a disgruntled affair partner will go to in order to maintain their fantasy.
There is no easy road out of an affair. That is why now is the always the best time to take back control. Whilst having to admit a mistake is humbling. It will never be as humbling as realising the missed chances to change.
Even after an affair many spouses go onto having far better marriages than before. By simply choosing reality over fantasy, they lay the groundwork for a real love and understanding.
When measured against what truly matters, affairs have little appeal. While they do offer an escape from reality, they never stand the test of time.
A truly great marriage needs the full involvement of both spouses. So, for those of you still deciding what to do next. Remember that the decision to continue or end your affair is yours alone. But whatever you decide to do, be certain to put your attention where it truly belongs.