Last Married Mondays post, I talked about ways to recover from affairs and betrayals. In that post, I just touched on the very beginning stages of recovering from affairs, betrayals, and lies. Today I am going to be talking about when extreme measures need to be taken by the betrayed partner. There comes a time, when no change happens, where you can’t put your life on pause forever and wait for the unfaithful/addicted to “get their act together.”

Signs that it may be time for an in-house separation could be:

  • They have not stopped lying, betraying, breaking boundaries or cheating
  • They are not doing recovery work if they are an addict or they refuse to get help
  • They act as if they can keep hurting you with no sense of consequences
  • The fighting never stops
  • You both need to clear your heads
  • You need to show, and know, what life without your spouse would be like

Marriage is comprised of two unique and equal individuals. Both feelings matter and both people should feel safe and secure in the relationship. If there is no safety, and the unfaithful/addicted won’t provide safety and has proven to hurt you over and over again, it’s time for a change, it’s time to take care of yourself first. If you don’t want to pull the trigger by divorcing, an in-house separation is a good consequence to set up to show the unfaithful/addict that things need to change.

When doing an in-house separation as a last-ditch effort, there needs to be boundaries and rules in place. Each situation is unique, and so, making a list of what fits your situation best would be a good place to start. Now, in-house separation might not give the unfaithful/addict a clear message and an out of house separation might be best in that case, only you can decide that. Below are some things to consider when doing an in-house separation:

  • Boundaries

    • Boundaries are important, and if the unfaithful/addicted is able to respect those boundaries, then it shows you they are taking this separation seriously. For instance, if the unfaithful cheated physically, you may want to initiate a no-touch boundary during the separation. If your spouse is an addict, then you may want to initiate the boundary of contact only when discussing recovery oriented topics. Only you can decide what you are comfortable with and need in order for you, the betrayed, to know that your spouse is taking this seriously and truly cares to change
  • Time Frame

    • Knowing how long you want this separation to last is something you want to know before you tell the unfaithful/addicted spouse. If you have an addicted spouse who keeps breaking boundaries or lying, one way to establish timeline is to figure out how long it takes for your spouse to lie again and double that for the separation. So if you spouse lied one month ago and lied to you today, then you would separate for two months to see if the spouse truly is committed to honesty and recovery. 
  • Kids

    • If you and your unfaithful/addicted spouse have kids, then you two need to consider how this will affect them. For instance, if you have family dinners on Fridays, it would be a good idea to keep family dinners on Fridays during the separation so your child has a sense of security and stability. Also having age-appropriate discussions about what is happening is a good idea. If you have a younger child you could simply say, “Sweetie your father and I are going through a tough time right now and are taking some space to heal so we can come back together again.” Only say that if you are sure you are going to be coming back together again though. Age appropriate honesty will help your child feel safer and more aware and not as worried and shell-shocked by the separation.
  • Schedules

    • If you and your spouse both are hungry, who gets the kitchen? If your spouse and you both want to watch TV, who get the TV room? These are simple things to consider when doing a separation. Take into account both your schedules and know that 6pm is when the unfaithful/addicted spouse will eat and you will have the kitchen at 7pm. That way you truly are getting a sense of what life is like without the spouse. That is very important for the unfaithful/addicted to realize so they can then make a decision to either be all in or all out. 
  • Be open to change

    • Sometimes the separations are initiated, believing that there is no way to reconcile because the unfaithful/addicted has made so many mistakes, lied to you over and over destroying trust, or just hasn’t even shown remorse for their actions. Sometimes, during the separation, the unfaithful/addicted will have these moments, that wake them up to what is at stake. If they choose to keep cheating, lying, betraying, and disregarding you, they will lose you. Everyone knows that most addicts have to hit rock bottom before true change begins, and that can happen with people who have affairs as well. Sometimes the separation will wake them up, and they will do the work, daily. They will be honest. They will respect your boundaries. And why? Because this has woken them up to what is important in their life. Are their spouse and kids more important than the next high or escape? That is only a question that the unfaithful/addicted can answer. And you as the betrayed will be able to see if you and your kids are the priority in the end because their behavior will shift. In recovery, most psychologists say, “Believe actions, not words” because the unfaithful/addicted has proven that their words cannot be trusted, and the only thing that can be trusted is the unfaithful/addicted’s actions.
      • When and if you see a shift, it might soften your heart and make you realize they just needed to hit rock bottom and they truly do love you. So don’t feel weak if you are starting to think about ending the in-house separation. Trust your instincts and only move back into the bedroom when you are sure you and your spouse can be in recovery, can go to therapy together and give the marriage a real shot at healing.

In-house separations are painful, to both parties if both parties love each other and want to be together. There are a number of cases where the unfaithful/addicted might not change. They might not show remorse and cry. They might still be selfish and not care to consider your feelings. That might happen. But if that does happen, you know you made the right choice to do the in-house separation. It means you know that you can now set yourself free and get healthy and end the cycle of “abuse” so to speak. You, the betrayed, are so worthy of love and respect, and hopefully, if you have to ever have an in-house separation, your spouse will show you the love and respect you deserve after their betrayals.