Thinking about staying in your current marriage or relationship may be painful, but most of that has to do with the fact that you've rewritten history. Nearly everyone in an affair does. You’ve mentally exacerbated the bad times and faded the good ones. You’ve misplaced the memories of the happiness you’ve had together and enthroned the nastiness.

However, your mind is playing tricks on you to make your current actions doable. The spouse or partner you may be vilifying now can be the one you love more than any other, but that can only happen if you choose to end the affair and do the right things.

If you end the affair now, you may well have a chance to save your marriage or current relationship. Actually, not just to save it but make it better. If it were everything that it should be, you likely would not have entered the affair. However, all that can be overcome and you can build a relationship that will be better than you ever imagined.

How to End the Affair and Save Your Existing Relationship

The first step to ending an affair is to make a firm decision that you are ending it. If there is anyone you trust, tell that person what you are doing and that you have decided to end it. Let them become your support, your encourager and if necessary, your courage.

The second step is to end the affair now. Do not put it off because of a special day coming up or to find a better situation or to make it easier on your lover or any other reason. Hesitation devastates. Act now.

The third step is to tell the lover that it is over. Whether you do it face-to-face or by a handwritten letter, do not go into explanations. Do not talk it over with your lover. Do not express love, loyalty, or longing. Make it quick, to the point, and without discussion. Sound harsh if need be. Any other approach will cause your lover to maintain hope that you will change your mind, and that is the cruelest thing you can do. End it quickly and sharply and then end all contact. That is an act of caring and love.

The fourth step is to tell your current partner, if you are in a committed relationship, that you have been unfaithful, that it is over, and that you wish to make your relationship work. There are situations where this is not wise, but most often it is. Use the following three criteria to decide:

1. Confess if your current partner has ever asked about the affair and you lied.

2. Confess if your partner has any possible way of discovering your affair. (As much as it will hurt to hear it from you, it will hurt much worse to hear it from someone else.)

3. Confess if you have emotions that potentially will keep you from developing closeness with your partner. If you feel guilt, shame, regret, fear, anger, resentment, or anything else that negatively affects your relationship with your current partner, they have the right to know what it is and why it exists.

The fifth step is to make sure that you have no further contact with your former lover. Do whatever you need to do to make it impossible for the two of you to communicate. Change cell phone numbers. Remove Facebook friends. Change email addresses. If necessary, change jobs. In extreme situations, change cities. Further contact will very likely lead to more involvement. That hurts everyone. Now that you have made the decision and are doing the right thing, do not allow yourself to fall into any situation to hurt anyone again. Not your spouse, partner, children, family, church…or your former lover.

The sixth step is to seek the right help to make your current relationship better. If it were all that it needed to be, you probably would not have had the affair. This is not to blame your spouse/partner or to blame you. No blame is needed. There is a weakness and that needs to be rectified. Seek a counselor, a mentor couple, or an intense workshop that will help both of you:

  • Understand how the affair happened.
  • Repair your relationship.
  • Facilitate forgiveness.
  • Develop a great future together.

The seventh step is to help rescue others who are in affairs. When you heal your marriage or relationship, you will be in a unique position to help others struggling to end their affairs. You will not have to seek them out; they will instinctively find you. When they do, guide them through making the right decision and following through with the right steps.

Joe Beam founded LovePath International, an organization that provides marriage help to hurting couples. For more information on getting help for your marriage, click here.