I’ll start by saying, I’ve been willing to try recovery since the discovery of the affair but infidelity recovery is not easy. I moved past him not ending the affair immediately. I dealt with throwing him out of our home and him STILL talking to her. He’s had more chances than his behaviour deserved but I always had an exit plan.
I have had an exit plan since day one. Each time I’ve had a further discovery, each further blow since discovery one I have had to consider if I use it. Most recently I’ve been ready too. It cemented to me if nothing else how comforting that plan is and how practical it would be to use it.
An Exit Plan is for Everyone
I urge everyone to have an exit plan and wanted to talk about why that doesn’t mean you’re ambivalent to your marriage. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to recovery your marriage. It just means that you are aware that your partner has been unreliable at some point in time and you may need to protect yourself from this unreliability in the future.
No one goes in to a marriage expecting infidelity, or the need for an exit plan. No one. Not one of us said our vows on our wedding day, or agreed to move in with someone, or even just agreed to be exclusive thinking they will cheat on me. I know I didn’t stand there, as I made the vows that I had written to my husband, that we would be right here just two years later. Never in a million years did I think my husband would be the “type” to cheat. Never. I was completely and utterly blind to the possibility in fact. Even when I suspected something I told myself I was stupid and paranoid, I played it down again and again.
Reality is I need that plan. I need to know where I will be in any eventuality because I have responsibilities that I cannot just walk away from. My son has me. I’m his solid. His never wavered. So I have to have a plan because I can’t just fuck with that. I need him to know that everything will be ok.
Having an exit plan is simply reassuring yourself that in whatever eventuality you are going to be ok.
Why is an Exit Plan Important to Recovery?
An exit plan is important because it allows you set boundaries that you can stick too rigidly. In the aftermath of the affair there is a huge pressure on the betrayed to say what it is we need. Making decisions at this point though is impossible so it became apparent that it was important that I had a back up for the worst case scenario, that if I needed to walk away, then it would be easier for me to meet my responsibilities, to my child, my work etc if I had a plan in place.
I didn’t want to. It was clear to me that I wan’t my marriage. However that I needed to be secure in the boundaries that I was going to place, particularly after several points of discovery and heartbreak that I had never before experienced. Feeling like I could not live any longer in the pain I was experiencing. Boundaries were what I needed in the first instance. When I didn’t want to make that decision about whether to stay or go, but needed something to protect myself and give myself some even footing. Especially when it felt like my life, my whole belief system and my world was crumbling. Life was very difficult before I decided what my boundaries would be.
Boundaries then the Exit Plan
Boundaries are so important when you’re in recovery from an infidelity, it provides some safety for you as the betrayed spouse, and some clarity on expectations for the unfaithful spouse, they need to be explicit. Some examples from mine were
- Complete fidelity is necessary, this includes flirting, sexting, texting inappropriately, and crossing boundaries of friendship such as talking negatively about your spouse to other women. Hiding texts. Hiding behaviour.
- No unnecessary contact with the OW. If contact is needed it is to be open and flagged to the betrayed spouse including work communications.
- Communications with the OW are to be kept to the bare minimum required to work. No chat. Emojis. Personal conversations or otherwise.
- You share your location with me
- I have access to your password vault
Each one of these things came with a consequence. Largely that our relationship was incompatible with them not being met. That I would act on this immediately. That he would be expected to leave the marital home until we could arrange further accommodation and the sale of the home. There were other things too, including financial protections as well.
All in all it spelled out what I expected and what would happen if this wasn’t met. Thats not to say it was a dictatorship, I just laid out what I needed to remain safe enough to try and recovery my marriage. I needed those boundaries, they offered scaffolding to our fragile relationship.
What was in my Exit Plan
So I’ll wrap up the post with the Exit Plan things to think about. I’m not writing out my plan here because it’s my plan specific to me but here is some questions that I thought about:
How will I manage financially? Will my partner need to support me short term / long term? Will I be able to manage our outgoings?
What about jointly held debt?
How will I manage to maintain the children’s schooling and friends?
Where will I live?
Where will my partner live?
How will I manage the animals?
What access will my partner have to our jointly owned spaces?
How will I manage my finances? (We have Joint Accounts)
How will I inform family?
How will I maintain my job? (I’m a shift worker which is very difficult as a single parent)
I came up with a plan, I discussed what I needed from my spouse with him and agreed it and then I squirrelled it away.
I hope I never have to use it, but I’m glad I have it.
Pin it for later reference…