by Dr. Robert Huizenga, The Infidelity Coach
Here’s a great question that is very common when one person in a relationship has had an affair and just can’t seem to let go of the OP (other person).
“My husband admitted to the affair, but yet he still continues to contact this person and has asked me to be patient. He said he will need to get her ‘out of his system’ and to give ”
Ending the relationship with the OP is often a gradual process.
For example, in the 7th kind of affair I describe (I want to be close to someone…which means I can’t stand intimacy), ending the affair often takes time. Yes! No! On again! Off again is the scenario.
Affairs also lollygag for those who are “in love”…and just love being “in love” or My Marriage Made me Do it.
So, in particular kinds of affairs, expect a roller coaster ride. You don’t have to like it. But be prepared. Breaking off an affair relationship, as in no more contact, may take weeks.
So, let’s assume this is your case. Here are a few things to do:
1. You are entitled to set some limits. Keep clarifying the limits, but don’t make them ultimatums. You don’t want to paint yourself into a corner, especially with this kind of affair. Experiment with phrases such as: “This is extremely difficult for me. I refuse to share you with another person. And, I know it is difficult for you. But, at some point I will draw a line in the sand.”
2. “Get at” the specific issues. Ask, “What does it mean to “get it out of your system?” What are a couple or three things you need to “get it out of your system?” (If he/she is open to this exploration, the prognosis is good.)
3. If he/she is reluctant to go there, throw out suggestions. “Is he/she controlling you?” (very often the case). “Does it feel good to be wanted by two people?” “Waffling like this seems to be theme in your life?” “Are you afraid to face the hurt? Are you afraid to lose something?” Allow your voice to trail at the end. Do not be dogmatic. Open the door for discussion.
4. See this as his/her problem. (I know! I know! Easier said than done!) Define your standards. Get your personal needs met. Begin to design the future for you. And tell him/her, “I would like to make it with you, but if not, I will certainly create something wonderful for me.”
5. Notice the changes in your relationship. Do you see a movement toward what you really want? Are patterns changing? Is their more effective, in-depth, heart-felt communication? Sometimes the larger picture is comforting.
6. Surround yourself with people who accept and listen to you. Friends/family often blurt out: Get rid of the #$%#$! They fail to understand the complexity and long-term process.
Remember, affairs are exceedingly complex and don’t go away easily. You will never forget, although the pain and memories fade over time. As well, it takes, on the average, 2-4 years for most couples to work through effectively the trauma.