Affairs happen. They happen even in marriages that appeared to be strong and loving. They even happen in marriages that appeared to be perfect. Having an affair doesn’t make you a terrible person and choosing to end the affair shows character and commitment. However, as Dr. Tammy Nelson explains, it’s important to end the affair with integrity.
Dr. Nelson’s post, “Ending Your Affair With Integrity“, appears on this week’s Huffington Post and she offers several insights into why it’s important to end your affair properly. As she explains it, ending the affair in a bad way could spell trouble for your marriage. She says that it’s important to make sure that the person you had the affair with understands that the relationship is truly over and also to give them some closure.
She gives three excellent reasons for this:
- If you don’t end it well, the affair could come back later and jeopardize the new monogamy you are working on in your marriage.
- If you don’t do this with integrity and respect, you could potentially hurt your affair partner’s feelings, which could mean they will want better closure and the affair could drag on until they get emotional satisfaction from you, which you may be unequipped to provide.
- Some affair partners who feel used or disrespected may seek revenge by contacting your spouse, your boss or even your family and friends in order to create the same chaos in your life that they feel you have created in theirs.
So what advice does Dr. Nelson give on how to end your affair with integrity?
Make sure you are clear about what you will and will not continue to do. One suggestion might be that you let them know that you will continue to care about them, but that you can no longer speak on the phone or answer their emails. If you are having an affair with someone at work, you may need to establish new boundaries for your new office behaviors.”
Dr. Nelson also suggests that it’s appropriate to apologize to the other person and to let them know that you care about their future happiness, as long as you make it clear that you’re hoping to rebuild your happiness through your marriage.
Tell them you are sorry for hurting them, leading them on, or getting them into this mess in the first place. Show empathy by trying to relate to how they are feeling, and take responsibility for your part in the affair. Make it clear to them that you have to end the relationship, although you may have regrets and even ambivalence. It is okay to thank them for all that they have shared with you. And then let them know that you are working on your marriage and that your relationship with your spouse is your priority.”
Ending an affair is never easy, but it is essential if you want to save your marriage. However, just as you hope your spouse will show you some compassion and understanding, you need to do the same for the person you’re leaving behind.