That's it. You've decided you're leaving today to be with your soulmate. Never again will you settle for the dreary, disconnected existence you've been living, when you can have the breath-stopping, romantic, intoxicating life you've been having in secret during your affair.
Sound familiar? If you're considering ending your current relationship for a new relationship, you may want to slow down and ask yourself these questions first.
Do you really know your lover?
No one is perfect, but when we're in the throes of infatuation, we have a difficult time seeing any flaws in our partner. Everything they do seems wonderful, the relationship is perfect and nothing will ever change that. You convince yourself that no one has ever made you feel this way before. If you're still in this infatuation stage, you're not seeing the relationship realistically. Everything changes over time, and routine could settle in quickly. Don't forget that your lover knows you're married and is complicit in the lying that having an affair requires.
How real is this relationship?
Most affairs are conducted in secret, where it's easy for both of you to be on your best behavior for the limited time you get to spend together. Nothing from the outside world has really touched your relationship. It's like being on a perpetual vacation. Once your affair sees the light of day, the fantasy relationship will become part of the real world — with all its boring and repetitive aspects.
Are you being objective about your marriage?
Your marriage and spouse will pale in comparison to your affair. It's easy to focus on what's not working in your marriage because the contrast is so stark. Admitting to yourself there might be positive aspects of your marriage and your partner may be inconvenient, but that doesn't mean it's not true. When you're looking for the negative, it's easy to find. The same is true about finding the positive, but you have to be willing to see it. Try working to see the positive in your current relationship.
Are you being honest about your contributions to your marriage?
If you only see your spouse's failings, you will be likely to repeat your own mistakes in this new relationship as well. Having an affair as a way to address the problems in your marriage is a choice you made. Looking at what led you to pick this option will reveal a lot about you and the role you play in the success of your relationships.
Is your happiness more important than your children's?
Whether you believe it or not, your spouse will likely be devastated by your decision and its cause. As an adult, they will hopefully find a way to cope. And when you leave a marriage, your children have to leave it, too. Yes, they want you to be happy; they just don't know how much unhappiness it will ultimately cause them. That's because they haven't experienced it yet.
Are you aware of the dismal statistics your new relationship faces?
You won't be coming to this relationship with a clean slate, and that will put stress on it from the start. If you're both leaving marriages to be together, the stress will be that much greater. Second marriages statistically fail at a higher rate than first ones. Those that start as affairs fare the worst of all.
Are you prepared for the reaction of your friends and family?
We like to believe that those closest to us want the best for us. This isn't always true when it comes to affairs. It may be a bumpier ride for your lover to be accepted into your existing world. Divorce, under the best of circumstances, divides those closest to us. When infidelity is present, these divisions can be both unexpected and harsh. This may draw you and your lover closer together at first, but can create resentment and distance in the long run.
Escaping the world you created with your partner for the new and exciting one you hope to have with your lover may seem like a good idea now. The unanswerable question is, "Will they look the same in the harsh light of day?" Only time, and the impact of unavoidable collateral damage, will tell.