What happens when your long-term affair has been found out? Most of the time, there is the ultimatum of ending the affair and remaining faithful to your spouse or getting a divorce. If only things were that clean cut. There is really no easy pathway through the fallout of infidelity—not for you, your spouse, or your affair partner. Especially when you care about both.

There is, unfortunately, no immediate answer. You’re going to have to think deeply about where you want to move on from here. We have some tips to help you make the right decision.

What is a Long Term Affair?

There are many forms of infidelity, but there are some that last for years. A long-term affair is one that can last for years. Consider this: About 50% of affairs will last between a month and a year, but a long-term affair? Those historically last about 15 months, with about 30% lasting two or more years.

In other words, a long-term affair could potentially start around the time you say your vows to your beloved and last throughout the whole marriage. Depending on what happens, such as the infidelity being discovered or not, both relationships could go on for a very long time.

And during that span of days, months, and years, you might realize that you love both your spouse and your affair partner.

What do you do then?

Marriage vs Long Term Affair: What if You Love Them Both?

Usually, when the affair has been discovered, it is a black-and-white scenario for the faithful spouse. In their eyes, you are a different person, and that plays a role in how this whole debacle pans out. There are four immediate routes available:

  1. You realize that you’re at an unhappy point in your marriage and that maybe it isn’t worth fighting for. You sit down with your spouse and suggest the possibility of divorce.
  2. You realize that you love your spouse very much and would happily end your long-term affair for them.
  3. You recognize that enjoy the thrill of cheating and want to keep doing it, despite having been found out.
  4. You realize that this isn’t black-and-white for you, because you love both, resulting in feelings of indecision, distress, and uncertainty.

Since you’re reading this, you are most likely at the third point. As mentioned earlier, having a long term affair with someone means that you have spent time building up that relationship. It is stable, because both of you are doing upkeep. You both have emotional attachments, but there is also the sexual compatibility, escape, and adrenaline involved with maintaining a secret relationship.

Meanwhile, you have a spouse at home who provides a home, children, security, and community. They are a steady routine that you have come to depend on.

Deciding between either relationship is painful. It’s challenging. You hope that both partners would be able to see it your way, but that isn’t reality. After all, this decision won’t affect just you, your spouse, and your affair partner. It affects your whole family, the work place, friendships, and so much more.

No, you can’t have both. You are going to need to make a decision—and soon.

Examining Your Relationships

Your spouse or your affair partner, who do you choose when you love them both? The key to deciding what to do comes from reflection. You are going to have to remove emotion from this deliberation and also realize that you’re not comparing the two oranges or two shirts. This is more like comparing a salad to a pizza or a family sedan to a sports car.

Your twenty-year long marriage is going to be much different than your five-year long relationship to someone 10-15 years younger than you. With the person you married, you have history: your families, friends, children, finances, and responsibilities. Yes, things might have gotten boring having lived together for so long, but that is what marriage is.

You have built an entire life with your spouse.

As for the affair partner, they might be younger, more exciting, and more sexual than your spouse. But you don’t have the same amount of history with them. The chance of you having spent a night at their place, helping them deal with responsibilities or tending to them when they’re sick, is low.

So you have to consider these things: how well do you know your affair partner? How much history do you have with them? And do you see yourself with them in the future?

Ask Your Questions About Your Marriage vs Affair Partner

Evaluating the two relationships might encourage you to see things through different colored lenses. Again, you’re going to have to avoid being biased. You might want to paint your marriage in a sour light because your spouse is angry and betrayed right now, but remind yourself that there was a reason you got married.

Look at the past, present, and future potential of both relationships, and be honest with yourself.

Here are some questions about the past to ask yourself about your spouse and affair partner:

  • Beyond physical appearances, what attracted me to my spouse in the first pace? What about my affair partner?
  • What qualities made me fall in love with these two people? Do I still think of those qualities as important? Have the qualities I personally value changed?
  • If my marriage never started, what would I have missed out on?
  • Are there major problems with the marriage? Who is causing them? (For this, it is recommended that you have someone impartial analyze this with you. Consider a marriage counselor or infidelity recovery specialist.)

Continue to the present. Push aside any anger or resentment that you feel about your spouse and the current situation. Remember, what they feel is justifiable, as you committed the betrayal, not them.

Consider the following:

  • Do I love my spouse? What about the affair partner?
  • Do I value the time I spend with them?
  • Do I value the life I’ve built with my spouse?
  • Do they support me, no matter what?
  • Am I willing to work on rebuilding my marriage, even if it’s going to be unpleasant at times? Or do I want to pursue this newer relationship?

Lastly, think of the future:

  • Where do I see myself in 5, 10, or 20 years?
  • Do I want to be with my spouse or my affair partner? Would I rather be alone or with someone new?
  • If I stay in my marriage, how will my plans be affected? How will life be affected if I get divorced and move on with my affair partner?
  • How will my children be affected?
  • If I end my marriage, am I willing to risk my friends, family, home, finances, relationship, and work for it?
  • If I end my affair, can my marriage recover? If I go with my affair partner, will I cheat on them too?
  • Do I believe that my marriage will heal and become stronger from this?

On The Right Path and Moving Forward

The way you answer the questions will reveal to you the answer. If you are willing to risk it all and go with your affair partner, it is best to let your spouse know. However, if you truly love your spouse, and if you feel that you are willing to save the marriage, then you need to act now. End the affair and commit to strengthening the bonds between you and your spouse.

Couples Academy is a unique program created by an infidelity recovery specialist that will help you and your spouse navigate the aftermath of an affair. Rebuilding trust is going to take a long time, but if you work together, magic can happen. Couples Academy can show you the first step to making it work.