Arguably, one of the hardest parts of having an affair is ending it -- especially if you intend to rebuild your relationship with your spouse. It's likely a bitter pill to swallow for the affair partner, who may have been lead to believe that your amorous entanglement was the real deal.
So how do you go about calling it quits -- and how important is it to end the affair if you want to repair your marriage? We turned to Dr. Scott Haltzman, author of "The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity," for the answers.
Huffington Post Divorce: Must you end an affair if you want to work on your marriage?
Dr. Scott Haltzman: The very first step in moving past an affair is to end it. To the spouse of someone who has cheated, this seems like a quite simple thing to do. But to the person having the affair, it’s not so easy. In ways that are not logical, and not fair to the faithful spouse, the person having an affair feels the weight of responsibility to the third party. The most important thing to keep in mind, though, is what I tell all my clients who have cheated: Your first and only promise is the one you made to your spouse. You have no obligation to this other person.
HP: How should you go about ending an affair?
Haltzman: There are four elements to ending an affair. 1. Be direct. Saying things like, “I think we should end this,” leaves room for interpretation. There should be no doubt that the affair is over. 2. Be open to your spouse: Whether you choose to end the affair by email, phone, IM or twitter, you should do so with your spouse over your shoulder. Your mate should know what you say, and, if necessary, have input. 3. Be final. It has to be made clear that the door is closed. Ending an affair is not a temporary hiatus; it’s a never-can-be. 4. Any follow up communication (and there will be follow-up communication) must be shared with your spouse.
HP: Where should the communication take place?
Any form of communication can be used. While it can be done in person, if you choose to do it that way, you must do it with your partner by your side. People can break off relationships through phone, online chat, e-mail, text or mail. Each has its pros and cons. A written communication, such as an e-mail or letter, allows your mate, and even the person you had an affair with, to know exactly where you stand. Phoning or instant messaging may also work, but these modes of communication require more spontaneity and also involve some back and forth, which, unless you have a prepared speech in mind, can throw you off your message.
Because phone calls require back-and-forth and tend to be unstructured, there may be more room for mistakes. You should leave no ambiguity when ending an affair. I recommend that if you do use instant messaging or phone call, you first write out what you mean to say, so you are not left tongue-tied during this very important interaction.
HP: How can you make it clear that the affair is really over, and not just put on pause?
Haltzman: Here’s an example of a 140-character tweet that I use in my book, "The Secrets of Surviving Infidelity": "My spouse is writing this w/ me. I can’t see you again. I need to work on my marriage. Please don’t contact me. Good luck. Don’t contact me."
Here I demonstrate the importance of being clear about not having further contact. In fact, I say it twice. However, because affairs are like addictions, the odds are that the person you have had an affair with will try to reach you again. When that happens, you and your spouse should be prepared to share any communication, and form a team against any continued dialogue between the unfaithful spouse and the paramour.
Click through the slideshow below for celebrities who stuck together despite alleged affairs: