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  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    Overcoming the Pain of Infidelity (Guide)

    In the tormenting predicament of discovering your significant other's ongoing extramarital affair, the initial and most crucial step involves confronting them and deciding on the course of action. Although there are hardly any definite rules while addressing infidelity, our extensive encounters with numerous couples indicate that silently permitting an affair to continue, hoping it will dissipate on its own, is a strategy bound to fail.

    If your significant other is indulging in an ongoing affair even after your confrontation and refuses to terminate it, they might be proposing an open relationship or feeling undecided between you and the external individual involved. If an open relationship is suggested, deliberate the implications thoroughly before you accede. Individuals often acquiesce to such a proposition due to the dread of losing their relationship or the belief that their views towards sexual exclusivity are antiquated or overly traditional.

    Although exceptions exist where unusual arrangements seem to work for some couples, our experience shows that open relationships rarely succeed in the long run in our society. Typically, either one partner's emotional needs disallow sharing their significant other with someone else, or emotional intimacy is restricted to keep the relationship open, ultimately leading to a distant and unfulfilling connection.

    If your partner is adamant about not ending the affair, it's probably because they derive immense satisfaction from that relationship. They may not wish to abandon their existing relationship, but the allure of the external relationship is so enticing that they don't want to conclude it unless absolutely necessary. In such circumstances, we recommend taking a definitive stand, expressing your refusal to tolerate an ongoing affair, and insisting that your partner make difficult decisions to resolve this predicament.

    For example, consider the story of Matthew, who justified his affair by stating that he wasn't particularly discontent with his marriage to Helen, but yearned for the chance to be with other women. He was middle-aged, burdened with responsibilities, and desired freedom. They attempted an open relationship, but it led Helen to despair. Helen agreed to wait for two months, after which their marriage would end if the affair persisted. When the two months ended, Matthew concluded the affair and continued to work on their marriage in therapy.

    However, such situations don't always result in the same outcome. While setting limits, the aggrieved partners might inadvertently push the partner involved in the affair further into it. It's important to understand that there is no definitive solution to this issue that works universally. The major risks of permitting a partner to continue an affair to decide what to do are the potential for long-term indecision. Some partners don't wish to end their marriage or the affair, as both feel significant, and ending either one leads to a considerable loss. They choose not to decide between the two relationships, leading to a state of inertia.

    The potential benefits of allowing an affair to continue are primarily the delay of painful decisions about the future. On occasion, affairs run their course and end, and the couple continues with their marriage. Alternatively, the benefits and risks of forcing a decision regarding an ongoing affair revolve around the injured partner regaining a sense of control and affirming their self-worth. However, pushing for a decision might lead the participating partner to end the marriage when the injured partner still wants to continue it.

    If it appears that a partner's affair is going to continue for some time, it's still essential to discuss the boundaries to set regarding the external individual. For example, you might negotiate whether phone calls to or from the external individual are to be allowed at home. You may need to decide how to handle your finances, how to interact either separately or together around your children's activities, whether to continue with family trips, and so on.

    Facing a painful dilemma when your partner refuses to end an affair yet doesn't want to terminate your relationship can be challenging. The decisions you both make will have consequences that you will have to live with. Hence, tread cautiously while taking into consideration any advice from others.

    It can be equally reasonable to decide to stay for now as to push for a decision. Avoid making significant life decisions when you're upset, exhausted, or drained, as it can be risky. During these times, many individuals find that a professional trained to assist with complex life decisions offers a valuable outside perspective.

    In circumstances where your partner is undecided about continuing the affair versus ending it to preserve your relationship, it is crucial to understand the complexity of your emotions. You may feel naive for permitting your partner to maintain the other relationship. Friends may advise you that you're foolish to allow it or recommend strategies to secure a favorable divorce settlement.

    However, it's essential to remember that comparing your current relationship to an affair, with its novelty, thrill of secrecy, and fewer daily demands, can place your relationship at a disadvantage. You may also fear the potential outcome of forcing the issue, worried that your partner might choose the other person.

    It's essential to comprehend the risks of pursuing any option and to be prepared to live with the potential consequences. The primary risk is the potential for long-term indecision. Often, the partner involved in the affair doesn't want to end either the relationship or the affair; both seem important, and ending either one creates significant loss.

    There are also possible benefits of allowing an affair to continue. On a short-term basis, it allows the couple to delay making painful decisions about the future. Sometimes, affairs run their course, they eventually end, and the couple continues with their relationship.

    Navigating through the treacherous waters of infidelity is a challenging process that involves confronting your partner, setting boundaries, and making difficult decisions. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but with careful consideration and perhaps professional guidance, it's possible to find a path forward that respects everyone's feelings and needs.

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