How to Help Your Spouse Have an Affair

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More often than not, affairs don’t just happen. Oh, sure, sometimes they do, but there are usually things that are said or not said, done or not done, over the years that are contributing factors.

Also, while I’m not suggesting that the husband or wife who has the affair is in any way justified in doing so, a lot of the time the other spouse has helped to push them in that direction. My wife, Susan, and I often say, “In marriage, there are two people and two sides to every story.” [Click to Tweet] The same holds true when we hear the story of a husband or wife having an affair. Both can point to things that led to the infidelity. And when it occurs, the “guilty” party is usually slammed publicly by friends and others, and the other spouse is talked about as the helpless victim who was wronged by their lowly, good-for-nothing spouse. But people forget that the other spouse’s hands may not be completely clean.

So if you want to help your spouse have an affair, do the following:

  • Don’t really listen. Act like you’re listening, but continue to glance at your emails or the television while they are talking. And be sure not to feel what they feel. After they pour they’re heart out to you, just say to them “You shouldn’t feel that way” or “Why are you getting so emotional about it?…It’s no big deal.”
  • Stop having intimate conversations. When your spouse wants to talk to you about their hopes and dreams for the future, make a really good excuse as to why you can’t talk right now, like “I can’t talk right now; I need to help the kids with their homework” or “You know my favorite TV. show is coming on now. Can we talk about it later?”
  • Constantly criticize, compare, and degrade. Think of ways you can hurt and tear down your spouse with your critical or comparing words… “I asked you to do one thing for me and you didn’t do it. Can’t you do anything right?” Or, “I wish you were more like_________. He’s always doing nice things for his wife.”
  • Do sports and activities only with your friends. Be sure to schedule golf outings or tennis matches with your friends. Check with your neighbor to see if they want to go for a walk. But by no means, do those things with your spouse.
  • Withhold affection and sex. Want to catapult your mate into an affair? Then be sure only to show them affection when they’ve done what you asked them to do. And, make sure you are really well rested and “in the mood” before you make love. Oh, and if your spouse has not been behaving like you want them to behave, then cut them off at least for a while.
  • Spend more time on Facebook, Twitter, and the Internet. This is an easy way to push your spouse away. When you have a few minutes after the kids go to bed, pull out your laptop and spend an hour or so posting, tweeting, and surfing. Maybe even take your smartphone or iPad to bed with you.
  • Invest all of your time and energy in your kids. Say to your spouse, “Look, the kids come first.” Then, be sure that your universe revolves around your children. If your kids need you to clean their uniform or make their dinner, your spouse will just have to wait. There is just no time for dates with your mate during this season of life. Maybe one day…

Of course, no one wants to help their husband or wife have an affair. So do your best not to do the things I’ve mentioned and avoid these 12 Things That Can Cause Marriage Failure. Reading these 10 Ways to “Affair Proof” Your Marriage may help you too.

Are you doing any of the things I mentioned? What are you going to do about it? Leave a comment.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • disappointed in the midwest

    Well put… I have been the victim of all of these “tactics” and sadly, found myself in affair. It is long over, and working towards the long road of reconciliation, but it is VERY difficult. I sincerely would not wish it on any family, especially ones with with kids. I can’t stress enough to ladies, let your husband know he is “the man” on a REGULAR basis. And men, take care of your ladies too!

  • Sweetea44

    Just curious… How well were you taking care of your wife? Did she feel listened to? Like the author said there are two sides and perhaps she reacted w resentment towards you because she didnt feel loved.. Just a thought

  • http://www.naturemoms.com/blog Tiffany

    There is still NO EXCUSE.

  • Mark & Dr. Laura Are Right!

    Yes, I agree there are two sides to the story. Mark has it right! For the female gender I would heartily recommend that you read “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger.
    Finally, I would bet “disappointed in the midwest” is a male. For “Tiffany”, yes “There is still NO EXCUSE.” – Your attitude exudes all over what you’ve stated. Please take my advice in the first paragraph of my comments.

  • snook57

    Good advise that might be better presented in a positive vs. negative light; e.g. How to help your spouse value your relationship: Really listen, have intimate conversations, refrain from constant critiques, engag in activities with your spouse…

  • Sarah Pearce

    We have been doing those things for years with no one else on the horizon. What am I doing wrong (lol)

  • Chele

    Seek counsel , it is wrong regardless. Both sides aren’t being nurtured but 1 usually makes the CHOICE TO STRAY

  • SGS462

    What if the cheating spouse is the one who doesn’t communicate intimately, withholds affection, and is disinterested in the marriage. I knew something was wrong long before the affair but since there was no communication I had no idea what it was.I didn’t know what to do. In hind sight with more knowledge (that I now have) I could have done more but I still don’t know if it would have been enough. If there is no communication and no effort it doesn’t seem likely that the result would have been different. Nothing I tried seemed to work. Even after I found out about the affair and we went to counseling I still didn’t learn much. I know that no one is guiltless but don’t put too much blame on the non cheating spouse.

  • SerialMonogamist

    All of these things can lead a spouse to be dissatisfied with their marriage, or leave the marriage, but in no instance should ANYONE be made to feel like they are to blame for the other’s infidelity. It is a choice made by an individual regardless of the circumstances. My spouse could be cold, heartless, uncommunicative, disinterested, etc. and that should prompt me to leave (after having tried to improve the situation) if I had any integrity. It should not prompt me to run into someone else’s arms behind the back of my spouse.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Good point…thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Snook57…good idea for another blog!

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Thanks for your thoughts. There are certainly situations where the cheating spouse just make a very poor decision, period. Every couple has unique circumstances so one size does not fit all when it comes to this issue.

  • http://www.MarkMerrill.com/ Mark Merrill

    Serial, thanks for commenting. I don’t believe I used the word “blame” in my post. It’s not a blame game. And, as I stated, there is no excuse for having an affair. I’m just suggesting that both spouses should love one another well and not ignore or push the other away by doing or failing to do certain things.

  • sameoldstory

    ….said the woman who likely neglects her husband and feels entitled to do so, without ever suffering a consequence.

  • http://www.naturemoms.com/blog Tiffany

    That a big assumption to make and very untrue in my case. I don’t claim to be perfect but I put a lot of WORK into my marriage and it is going strong, almost 17 years later. I try to treat my husband like he is still my boyfriend… all the stuff I did to “catch” him I still do to “keep” him. I also highly recommend The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger (like the commenter above). I read it 10 years ago…. BEST book ever if you want a happy marriage.

  • Stacy L B H

    I couldn’t agree more, SerialM! There is no excuse, but… the other party’s hands may not be clean is just a roundabout way to place blame on the other spouse. No thanks. I also agree with Snook57’s comment below. The points made would have been better presented in the positive vs negative.

  • http://susanme.com/ Susan Merrill

    I think the point of this blog was to get you thinking about you. In other words, we cannot be responsible for our spouse’s behavior but we are responsible for our own behavior. And if our behavior is not loving, are we not greasing the track of temptation for our spouse? Mind you, my spouse is driving his own train, but am I piling on the coal that is making him go faster? My husband wrote this blog, but I am not thinking of what he has or hasn’t done. My responsibility is–me. And sadly, I confess, I needed this–been a little pre-occupied lately. You know, work, kids, health, etc. I’m guilty of at least 4 of the above blog points :/

  • Moe

    I’m guilty of cheating & my spouse did almost all of the things mentioned here. I suffer from depression and anxiety.. I’m also constantly reminded of all my mistakes. Therefore, I have so much guilt, shame, worthlessness & hate myself. Yes, I chose to cheat. And yes…. I believe he pushed me into. Sorry ppl.. I’m entitled to my feelings. We’re now contemplating counseling as I have moved out (about 3 weeks) but at the same time, he’s seeing someone I thought was my friend. Someone I talked to about our issues. I’m hurt beyond words. He’s controlling & manipulating. I, once & for all want to go to counseling to finally (after 13 years) of back & forth with each other to try to completely repair our lives and start anew.

  • Moe

    I failed to mention I withheld sex from him. As I knew we were in trouble & I was very depressed. Who he’s seeing now gives him sex ALOT. They are both sex addicts.

  • Roza

    I thought this was hilarious! Putting it in a positive way would have been too boring. We’ve read countless of those articles.
    And of course, I’m guilty of doing a couple of those, as are probably all spouses. It was a great reminder. Thanks for your creative writing, Mark! I admire you and Susan lots!

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  • Debbie Vickers Pietrzykowski

    Thank you for posting this. Though you’re right that there is no excuse for bad choices, behavior like this is a set up and makes it very difficult when someone somewhere else is kind and shows interest. We have to do our best to keep each other’s cups full so we’re not dying of thirst when temptation comes along.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve never read such poor article. It wasn’t even funny. If you don’t like your spouse anymore, just tell her.

  • Delivered

    I agree with all the above statements. It is vital to put your spouse first. That said, there are times when a wife will go beyond putting their spouse first to the point of the spouse taking advantage of it and it never being enough. When one is out of God’s will and not reciprocating putting their spouse first it can become one sided. This happened to me and it got to where I couldn’t do enough for him even after I exhausted who I was to please him and he had an affair and left. It boiled down to a spouse who was utterly selfish leaving an infant and a 10 year marriage because life no longer revolved around him. I now remarried to a man who biblically adheres to God’s plan for marriage of putting each other first. When Christ is at the center of your marriage and not our own interests, there is no room for an affair. God is my deliverer!

  • Kathleen

    I agree with your article & advice on this topic, Mr. Merrill. It takes two to make a marriage and two to undo one. Vows encapsulate a lot of “show up,” not merely the “don’t do”s.

    Always enjoy reading your work. Thank you.

  • R Young

    strongly agree

  • Elwood

    Oh my . . . my wife is doing all of these things . . .

  • Marc

    Ouch. This is all true… believe me. You don’t have to do all of these for it to happen.

  • T Ashe

    Hahaha, I did not do any of the things listed above and my x wife cheated anyway. Cheaters are going to cheat, I choose to follow The Lord Jesus irregardless of what other choose to do!

  • Bek

    A saying our pastor has be hitting home lately is, “The problem is me, not you. The solution comes from the inside, not outside. Christ in me, my eternal hope.” Both parties need to look at their own problems and not blame the other for the problems. When this happens, both parties can then have mature adult conversations that provide healthy results.

    I did want to make a comment about listening. Sometimes I really want/need to talk about something and want my husband’s full attention, but he really is focused on a task. It took some getting used to on both sides, but now I say, “I have something that I need to talk to you about, is now a good time?” He responds with, “Yes,” or, “Give me a moment.” This allows him the time to finish up an important task he was in a grove on. Then he’s able to give me full attention without worrying about remembering where he was on his task.

  • Paul

    Spot on.

  • Brian Odom

    Mark is 100% correct. There is a difference between “blame” and “responsibility”. Blame is when someone happens where you had no control over. For example, getting hit by a drunk driver. The person who was walking is completely innocent. Responsibility implies that an action or inaction may have led to a reaction. For example, I’m walking down the street, someone yells a racial slur, and I decide to hit him. I would get charged with assault and battery, however I would not have done that had I not been provoked. I am to blame (which is why I’m being arrested), but the person who instigated the incident was responsible.

    If your spouse is non responsive, callous, and cold, the other person feels unappreciated. Again, I’m not justifying the act of cheating; I’m simply explaining why. However, especially for men with children, getting up and simply “leaving” is not the ideal solution. The reason being is that by leaving, you’re not going to have full custody of your kids (regardless if you cheat or she cheats), so you must be rational in your decision. It must be worked out, because leaving means you won’t see your kids full time. So if that’s important to you (it is to me), it must be a factor.

  • Brian Odom

    Also, the dynamics of cheating are different for men.

    Ask yourself, why do men cheat? And you’ll hear all the answers. Men want sex sex sex, they can’t control themselves, men are selfish, men can’t be trusted, men can’t seem to keep it in their pants, etc. It’s the man’s fault. Doesn’t matter what she does, he’s going to get the blame.

    Now ask yourself, why do women cheat? And you’ll hear completely different answers. He wasn’t attentive enough to her needs, he ignored her, he took her for granted, he shunned her, thus allowing her to become emotionally attached to someone else. And magically, it’s the man’s fault anyway.

    The reason people run into someone else’s arms is because that person is giving them affirmation and praise. That person is listening to what that person has to say and is concerned about them. If there is coldness and hostility at home, this explains the behavior. Don’t be the catalyst for this behavior.

  • Jason

    My wife does every single one of these things on a daily basis for the last year (she started by specifically telling me she was going to witthold all sex and affection for a while… So far a year and counting), and while I haven’t had a full ongoing affair, I have ended up having sex with other men more than 10 times. At this point I’m now ready for a divorce. I have no idea why she decided to do this and kill our 10 year marriage.

  • Chris

    Oh come on…. an affair is a fantasy. An affair partner praises the cheater and he/she feels “understood”. But it is not real…the affair relationship doesn’t have to deal with real life and its annoyances – kids, bills, mopping up flooded basements, etc. If you feel you don’t get praise from your spouse, then maybe YOU should give more praise. Affairs are about entitlement and selfishness. How can there possibly be a good outcome from an affair? You will devastate your spouse and your kids’ sense of security and stability. Is that worth it? It’s all about getting cake and the “neglected” one is most likely using the affair partner for his/her selfish ends too. Who wins here? The cheater is feeling like a winner, but in the long run, everyone loses. Grow up, speak up about your grievances, and if it’s unbearable, have the decency to leave the marriage.

  • Brian Odom

    Porn is fantasy. An affair is fantasy that has become real. Most who feel they are not getting enough praise have done everything and exhausted all options. It’s easy to say, “to get praise, you should give praise”, as if they haven’t done that yet. When you give of yourself over and over repeatedly and it’s not reciprocated over time, THAT’S the magic moment when it happens. They feel they’ve done all they could and their partner couldn’t care less about them. But they still love them to not break up.

    Leaving the marriage is even more selfish. That says, “I want my cake” and get the hell out of the house whereas an affair isn’t throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    We are human beings and we have needs for self. They HAVE already spoken up about their grievances (self), but the other one still isn’t doing anything about it. If self isn’t being satisfied, then yes, it’s selfish, but your partner should want to do the things for you to satisfy self. If they don’t, then that’s when someone looks for someone else to do that. Once grievances have been aired, the other person should be on high alert.

    The good outcome is the family (and kids) aren’t being split apart because one person decides to quit on a certain area. Leaving the marriage would certainly devastate and destroy your kids sense of security.

    Let’s say “Jennifer” is a mother of two and her husband “Jason” is neglecting some of her needs. She feels she’s not getting praise from him, and yes, she’s already tried giving more praise. But Jason likes his golf, his fishing, his video games, and at the end of the day, he doesn’t pay attention to his wife’s romantic needs. Jennifer is a stay at home mom, so she’s not looking to break up the family. However, Jason has pretty much stopped being affectionate. And on the rare occasion when he does, there’s never any foreplay or loving intent.

    Is Jennifer “selfish” for wanting a regular sex life? Perhaps, but if the husband isn’t providing it, should she shut down her life because he shut his down? Leaving the marriage would separate the kids from dad, and she doesn’t want that. She’s not looking for a stepdad for her children. That’s too drastic. She simply wants sexual fulfillment. She’d much prefer to get it from Jason, but he’s unresponsive and insensitive.

    So… Jennifer has an affair to meet that satisfaction. The outcome? The kids still see their father and he’s in the house every day. Jason is happy with his life and doesn’t have to hear her nagging him over sex and lack of romance. And Jennifer is happy, because now she feels satisfied sexually, albeit not with Jason. Her needs and her kids’ needs are all being met without throwing a bomb and blowing up the whole family. The kids don’t care about mommy and daddy’s sex life; they just want to see mommy and daddy together raising them.

    Because there’s nothing more selfish than blowing up everything, abandoning kids, fighting over money, all over one person refusing to sleep with the other.

  • SMH

    You must be delusional to think putting up with disrespect, distrust and risk of getting an STI is less selfish than leaving with your emotional and physical health intact. You are not talking about a marriage of love and trust, you’re talking about a marriage of tolerance and selfishness. Let me ask you a question, what happens when the kids are older and move out?