3 Reasons To End An Affair
If you’re reading this article, you may be thinking about ending your affair. But on the other hand, you might be thinking, “There’s no way on earth. I’m not about to end this thing. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.” I still ask that you listen to these three reasons for ending an affair.
Maybe you’ve vacillated back and forth about this, saying, “Maybe I shouldn’t continue with this.” Or maybe just as I said before, you’re thinking, “This is the best thing that ever happened to me.” So without further ado, if you’re wondering if you should end your affair, or even if you see no reason to end your affair, there are 3 things you need to consider…
If You Live Inconsistently With Your Beliefs & Values, You Become A Different Person
First, evaluate your beliefs and values. Are you living inconsistently with your beliefs & values? If so, you will become a different person. But it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Beliefs are things you hold to be true. Values are the way you expect people to live, behave, and act, based on what you believe to be true. For example, your belief and value system could be that marriage is to be just between two people and should last a lifetime. That you’ve made vows to each other. That’s not just a legal bond, but you’re actually committed to each other for a lifetime. Then, if you violate that, you’re living in contradiction to your belief and value system.
You may think, “Well, that doesn’t really mean anything.” But it actually does! When you live in contradiction to your beliefs and values, you start to become someone different than what you were.
“When you live in contradiction to your beliefs and values, you start to become someone different than what you were.”
Here’s another example. Maybe your belief and value system was, “Marriage is an institution. When a person commits to that, you’re going to be together for the rest of your lives. In sickness and in health. In wealth and when you’re not wealthy,” and all those kinds of things. If you believe that to be true, and are having an affair, then you are violating your morals. You’re violating your beliefs and values and you have to become somebody else. Why? Because your beliefs and values are part of your identity.
“Your beliefs and values are part of your identity.”
And you understand that cheating, whether you’re actually cheating on your spouse or you’re helping your affair partner cheat on his or her spouse… Cheating is a total lack of integrity. Please don’t get mad that I say that. You know that integrity is when you do the right thing, even when it doesn’t benefit you. Integrity is when you do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.
A few years ago, one of my friends was having an extramarital affair. We had been friends for a long period of time. One day, we were talking about it while riding around in his car. We decided to pull into a convenience store. We went inside and he bought a pack of gum, but the young woman behind the counter gave him too much change. So when he got back into the car and realized he had too much change, he got out, went back in, and gave the money back to the young woman.
When he came back to the car, he told me, “I had to do that because integrity demands it.” Now he was my dear friend, so I could actually talk to him this way. I looked at him and said, “Does integrity also demand that you be faithful to your wife? Doesn’t integrity demand that you not be cheating on her with somebody else?”
All that being said, do you really want to become somebody different than who you are now? Do you want to become a person that does not have the high standards of your beliefs and values? To live a certain way of life that you believe is right? If you don’t, then go ahead and have the affair if you will. But know that it’s self pleasing to the maximum. It’s all about you feeling what you want to feel at a given moment without consideration to the other people involved in that marriage. You say, “Other people?! You think there’s more than one wife, more than one husband?” No. The other people involved in that marriage would be, for example, if you have children, it also can be, for example, in-laws. There are all kinds of people that are affected by a marriage.
Now that’s the first thing. If you’re contemplating ending an affair, remember, the sooner you stop doing something in contradiction to your beliefs & values, the sooner you can start being “you” again. And maybe, you will become an even better version of yourself because of what you learned.
Emotions Change, But Consequences Last.
A second thing to think about if you’re trying to decide whether or not to end an affair is emotions change, but consequences last. If you’re in an affair, you might say, “But you don’t understand how this feels.” I do. I understand how strong the emotions are, but this deep emotional intensity during an affair lasts between 3 and 48 months based on research. (And 48 months is extremely rare.) Most of the time, these emotions last less than 2 years. It won’t always be there. It doesn’t last forever.
This also is true regarding the intensity of the sexual union itself. For example, a younger guy in his early thirties telling me about it. He was having an affair with a woman who was in her fifties, and saying it “was the most phenomenal sex” he’d ever experienced in his life. And he was telling me, “I will give up my marriage. I will give up my children so that I can feel this intense emotion. It is going to always be amazing. It’s going to be amazing for years and I’ll swap whatever I need to have this.” But what I told him is, “It’s not going to be that way forever.”
It’s just like the emotional intensity of an affair, the sexual pleasure going to stop too. (Or at least it’s going to decrease dramatically.) It’s called sexual habituation. Any two people making love to each other over a period of time will eventually lose the ardor. What I mean by that is sex doesn’t necessarily go away. (And hopefully it doesn’t in a good marriage for example.) But it gets to the point where it doesn’t have the same intensity. It can become more mundane. And so if you think, “I’m going to keep doing this because of the intense emotions.” Then whether they’re emotional or sexual, I’m telling you it’s going to stop. And if you’re looking at me saying, “You don’t know what you’re talking about!” Unfortunately, I really do. Not just from my own experience, but with the thousands of couples we’ve helped, their marriages, their situations, and also from reading research. So, simply put, it’s going to stop, but there are consequences… What does that mean?
Consider The Consequences (Think 10-10-10)
That’s the third thing I want to talk about- consider the consequences. There are always consequences for behaviors. We often tell people to think 10-10-10 (based on a book by Susie Wilson). How are you going to feel about this in 10 Days? 10 Months? 10 Years? What are the consequences in 10 Days? 10 Months? 10 Years?
And, who is affected? Your children, your family, the affair partner, his/her children and family… Everyone who is connected to your marriage is impacted by your decisions for years to come. So remember to consider the 10-10-10 rule.
Don’t Forget About The Effect On Children
In the 3 Day Workshop we do with couples, we ask this question, “If you were to bring something from your childhood that represents the emotions of your childhood, what would it be?” And then we have them explain what those emotions were. When we ask that question, we’ll start talking about different things from their childhood. Many of them actually bring up their parents divorce, i.e. “this particular item reminds me of my parents’ divorce.” And then, they start talking about how painful it was and how it still affects them to this day.
People used to say, “Well, you shouldn’t just stay together for the children.” Then they realized how selfish that sounded, like you’re just discarding the children altogether. You don’t care what they think. You don’t care what they feel. And so the phrase it’s been modified to is, “Well, it’s actually better for the children.” But that just isn’t true. Now, are there rare situations where it’s better for the children? The answer is yes. I mean, if they’re in danger, getting away from the person causing that danger makes all the sense in the world.
But generally speaking, the greatest fear that kids have is losing a parent. And so if you continue in this affair and your children find out about it, even if you stay together, they’re going to be affected by it. Or if indeed your spouse divorces you because of it. Or if it’s your lover, his or her spouse divorces that person because of this. Then it’s going to be an effect on him, on you, on the children, on everybody.
And Don’t Forget About The Effect On You
And don’t forget the effect on you. It’s definitely going to affect your future in years and years to come. I can’t tell you the number of people I run into who said, “I wish, somehow, I could get all that back. I wish I could do it differently now.” Why? “Well, I became somebody I didn’t want to be.” Why? “Because the intense emotions finally went away, but the consequences didn’t go away.” And so if you, through a lack of integrity or violating beliefs and values, then what do you expect to come back to you someday? Oh, and it’s not just consequences in your life. What consequences do you expect to come into the lives of your children someday? Because you see there is research about that- if you wind up divorced because of this. For example, your kids are much more likely to get divorced themselves. They’ll have a different view of marriage than kids who grew up in homes that were together and solid.
So remember, it’s always your decision. Ultimately it is up to you to make up your mind about what you want to do. But those are the three reasons to end an affair.
If you need any additional help, we have an Affair Toolkit to walk you through these next steps:
– For the spouse needing help with deciding to end the affair: https://marriagehelper.com/affair-toolkit-help-in-deciding-to-end-the-affair-video-series/
– If your spouse had (or is having) an affair: https://marriagehelper.com/affair-toolkit-for-the-hurt-spouse/