What pushes a married woman into an affair?
Believe it or not, there are some extremely common warning signs as well as right and wrong ways to handle it. If you suspect it is happening, either you are right and she is, or you are right to be concerned.
Either way, I want to spell out what you should look for and how to respond to it.
Sometimes, it starts suddenly and goes straight to her announcing she wants a divorce. I feel like when this is the case, she has generally been frustrated for a long time and finds a new option.
When a woman has been neglected or abused for a long time, anyone who seems to come to her rescue looks like a hero. When her emotions are worn out and she has been considering an escape, it often takes as little as a kind word or listening ear.
If the problems at home have been bad enough, or happening long enough, she is open and vulnerable. Her mind is already in a bad place. She is likely to abandon logic and in an extreme case, she might even be ready to walk away from her children.
There are some common things you will probably see and hear when she is at this point.
Her daily routine will change.
New friends, extra work, new interests, etc. Even the most honest woman in the world will begin making up stories and excuses to be out of the house and even gone overnight. You will see less and less of her as the new relationship develops.
She will probably attempt to soften the impact.
You are a good man. You are a great father. I just need some time to clear my head. It’s not you, it’s me. Phrases like that usually come from someone who has already made up her mind to move on.
When there are kids involved, she will understand that there is no clean cut separation. She will understand that no matter how it plays out, she will still have to deal with you when the dust settles.
She will be fighting a whirlwind of emotions.
The words she uses, the choices she makes, the way she dresses and the daily habits that you are used to seeing will be different. She has begun nesting somewhere else. She is already adjusting herself for a new life.
Her rational mind is torn. Women generally understand emotions and relationships better than men. No woman in her right mind would consider a relationship with a man who is willing to wreck a family. They know that a guy who is willing to have an affair with them, will eventually cheat on them. Her internal desire for security has been overridden by her need for communication, attention or even passion.
But, as I already said, she isn’t thinking clearly by this point.
So what do you do? How do you respond to this?
As I see it, you have two choices. Fight with her or fight for her.
If you believe that it’s all her fault, then you are probably just going to fight with her, argue about it, get all defensive and maybe even blow up at her. Accusations, attacks, arguments… All standard operating procedure for most of us.
Genuine control freaks will probably hack her Facebook page or email to find proof. Some guys will turn into private investigators to verify suspicions and collect ammunition for the eventual court date. None of that helps you move towards restoration.
I suggest another alternative.
Fight for her. Even if the guy you are fighting is yourself, do it anyway. Affairs will almost always run their course. Very few long term relationships begin with an affair. She has fallen for a predator who will normally gets what he wants and move on to another victim when he is done.
When it finally ends, what is she going to do? Where will she go?
If you have gone nuts and forgotten that you love her, will she feel like she can come home? If you have pushed the boundaries of human decency and threatened her or ostracized her, the chances of restoration are minimal.
She made a mistake. She fell for a predator. She is hurting and desperate, but handled it in the wrong way. If you really love her, stay concerned and make sure that there is still a home for her to return to.
Don’t argue with her. Don’t fight with her. Don’t make the problem worse by forcing her to make this a permanent decision.
Whether or not she ever comes back, this is your opportunity to get your act together. Happily married women who feel loved, safe and secure with their husbands don’t need other options. The fact is that, in some way, you have failed her. You have to figure out where you blew it and make sure that you don’t do it again.
As Christians, most men are quick to claim headship. We gladly accept our roles as head of the house, at least until there’s a problem like this. Then most guys are quick to relinquish their position as protectors and providers. Suddenly, it’s all her fault.
Businesses rise and fall on management. If you walk into a restaurant with horrible service and nasty bathrooms, feel free to blame the manager. If another one is spotless and overwhelmingly enjoyable to be there, again, it’s because of management. Someone has taken charge and the environment shows the results.
Marriage is similar.
If you understand relationships, love your wife and keep your family as your highest priority… The atmosphere and environment will show it. You don’t get to claim your place as king of the castle and then blame anyone else when it falls. Own it.
If you are in this position, your wife is showing the warning signs or already declared she is done, here’s my suggestion…
Do not give up on her.
You still have a responsibility to protect her. Part of that is in resolving your own issues that drove her away to begin with. You have to keep your cool and show her that it will be safe, and different, when she has to consider coming back.
If she does come back, don’t try to discuss it unless she brings it up. She will talk when she is ready. Once she starts talking, keep your mouth shut. Let her finish. Even when she stops, it probably to gather her thoughts, not to give you a chance to jump in. Whether it’s through calm conversation or violent screaming, let her do it without interruptions. The answers will be there if you just listen.
Whether she comes back or not, you need to make sure that you don’t carry those same issues into another relationship. You don’t want to go through this again.
I have another suggestion. Get a coach and read good books. It might be too late to save the relationship, but you won’t know unless you try.
The best thing you can do is get involved with Joel and Kathy at bestmarriage.com and let them coach you through this. The next best thing is to get their books or mine. All of them are available through Amazon. And, if you can’t afford a book, message me and I will get you a copy.
Do something positive. Prove yourself as a husband and as a man. Save your family.