When you have had an affair – and fall in love – you think you now have to start choosing between two women: your wife and your affair partner. But that’s not actually true.
The relationship with your wife probably feels safe, and predictable even though it is rocky yet also feels disconnected, uncertain and maybe broken beyond repair.
The relationship you have with your affair partner more than likely feels like an addiction. One you know is wrong and damaging but one you can’t seem to turn away from. You feel appreciated, desired, valued, and alive again.
This is the place where most men get stuck. They believe they are choosing between two women and that feels like a no-win situation, and one you simply cannot make.
After working with hundreds of men that have had affairs, I don’t think the decision is between two people. I think the decision is two separate decisions:
The first decision is: Can I have the relationship I desire with my wife?
This is a yes or no answer, but you won’t ever know the answer until you try. Since you’ve likely tried before and been unsuccessful, you will need to take a new approach if you want to get a different result.
The affair partner helped you to realize what it is you DO want. Now it’s a matter of whether you can feel the way you want to feel in your marriage.
If the answer becomes yes – then all is well. You get the intimate relationship you desire and you don’t have to blow-up your life.
If the answer is no, then your next step is un-winding the marriage as gently and lovingly as possible.
If the answer is no because you don’t want to continue trying, your work is to overcome and quiet the judgments and voices in your head.
Once the decision about your marriage has been made, then….down the road there may be another decision to make: Can I have the relationship I desire with my affair partner?
You might think the answer is obvious since she’s the one that brought all those feelings to the surface, but let’s take a step back.
I say this because now that there’s a new on-ramp into this relationship. The woman who was at one point your affair partner is now the woman with whom you’re attempting to create a committed relationship.
It will not be the same relationship when you (or both of you) are now available to create something real together. There’s a difference between being with someone when you are unavailable and unable to start a committed relationship and when you are now available and wanting something real and lasting. The dynamic between the two of you changes significantly. It will not be the same relationship.
I’m NOT saying it can’t work. I’ve seen affair partners create a loving, connected, life together.
I have also seen when it’s a complete shit-show.
Here’s my point:
The decision isn’t choosing between two women.
The decision is first figuring out if you want to remain in the relationship with your wife and if you can create a relationship that feels really good?
If that answer is no, then your next decision is does this next relationship have a chance given the new circumstances surrounding the relationship?
Here is the important part- if that answer is no, that doesn’t mean that you made a mistake leaving your marriage just because the affair relationship didn’t work out. It means she was there as a gift to you – to show you what you were missing and truly desired in your most intimate relationship. It also means that now is the time to welcome in option C, D, E… until you create the relationship your heart has been longing and reaching for the entire time.
Take the next step to get an answer for your marriage.