Anatomy of An Affair: Exit Affairs

Woman Walking Away With Suitcase

If philandering was once predominately a male form of adultery, exit affairs are perhaps the female equivalent. Most exit affairs are the result of women who have pronounced their marriage dead, even buried, while clinging to the security of the relationship until a new source of that security can be found. Typically, they say that they spent years trying to fix their marriage and have simply reached the point of exhaustion. They usually do not connect the affair with the demise of their marital relationship and see the two as mutually exclusive relationships.

Exit affairs are usually discovered early on, as little effort is made to conceal them. Some involved in this type of infidelity might actually announce to family and friends that someone new has come into her (or his) life and is all the things that have been lacking, missing or denied in the marriage.

Many exit affairs are actually an effort to end the marriage, long thought dead or beyond salvage while avoiding being the “bad guy” who files for divorce. The thinking seems to be that by having an affair, the betrayed spouse will file for divorce or show signs of being vindictive, and so justify and affirm the assumption made by the cheater that the marriage has been long dead anyway. Most seem genuinely surprised to find that their spouse was completely unaware of the status of their marriage as being dead.

Combating Exit Affairs

While it would be an easy assumption to conclude that any marriage that has been hit by this kind of affair is beyond repair, as the very nature of it implies that the marriage ended before the affair began, these can actually be the easiest type of affair to bring to a rapid demise. The reasons for having given up on the marriage can often be quickly and easily identified. A demonstrated willingness to correct these things is key if you hope to save the marriage. With counseling and a specific plan designed to address the issues of the spouse who saw an affair as a way out of an untenable relationship many of these marriages can rapidly and simply be turned around.

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23 Responses to Anatomy of An Affair: Exit Affairs

  1. Greg says:

    Yesterday marked one year since my alcoholic wife left me, moved to another state with man with what I thought was our friend. In the interim we found out that our 20 year daughter was pregnant and now has a four old month son. they live with me. My wife came to town when the baby was born in October, filed for divorce, and does not communicate with me at all. This downward spiral began in 2011 when she lost her job, she has not worked since, something that has put a tremendous strain on our finances. She has wrecked two cars both while intoxicated but says she does not having a drinking problem. The guy she now lives with is a drinker also, I am not. She says does not love me and i am the reason she drinks. Didn’t get the chance to ask her now that you are away from me, if i was the reason why do you still drink? We are 60 and 58 respectively, been together for about 20 years. i know what is happening, i accept it, but is it the most painful thing i have ever imagine. I would forgive her, get her into treatment and move on with our lives but there is nothing i can do and it hurts, i mean really hurts. I know the last few years i was not the best husband, i accept my faults, wish she would accept hers. The hardest thing is the feeling of being helpless to do anything about our situation. I am doing the best i can to let go and let God. It is not easy.This is my family and i want to keep it.

  2. Martin says:

    My wife of 22 years had a brief affair which she said she could not give up, we tried counselling for 4 weeks, only 2 with intimacy, she then left the house within 2 weeks. I have told her I can forgive her, and have undertaken therapy to resolve some issues that have contributed to the issues, I am prepared to try, she is not, I am heartbroken, and find it difficult to accept that it is over, I did not think we were in a bad place, we were still close and intimate

    • gentleflame says:

      love your is must allow the healing to now start by accepting you have a faimily that will now be approached and enjoyed in a different manner .believe you me,your radiance,your manifested joy is the signals your ex need to have a rethink.dust yourself up,put the best of u back on the dating scene.if possible date a lady ,same age with your daughter.thank me later.

  3. jove says:

    I think I had an exit affair except my husband wouldn’t bite once he found out. I have a lot of hurt and anger from before my affair that I hadn’t dealt with, hadn’t even realized I needed to deal with, or admitted to myself, that I am now dealing with. I don’t know if this marriage will survive. I don’t know if I want it to. No, I’m sorry folks, I don’t have remorse, I don’t have regret. That makes it more difficult for both of us.

    • Martin says:

      Are you trying to repair your marriage, how long were you married?

    • Jen says:

      I think there are greater things to aspire to in life aside from what we ‘want’ in the moment. I think you owe it to yourself (and the promise you made all those years ago) to give the marriage 150% for as long as you can. You might have anger and resentment towards your husband, and he probably has a lot of things he is frustrated by in you! Even if you were to move on with someone else, they would have their own problems that would cause you to feel anger and resentment eventually.

    • gentleflame says:

      when we are finished with a wit a career,we must take the trouble to minimize the pain for everyone.why not for a start suggests an open marriage to ur spouse and go further to agree what the rules will be.its human for some folks not to be able to accept the dream life will not be theirs.if u are someone committed to a dream life,the best of golden cuffs will not tie you down to a marriage.a knowledge of your spouse should guide as you exit because there is no point if any gets killed in the process.

  4. Redd says:

    My husband of 12 years this year is having an exit affair. I knew my marriage was struggling and we have our fair share of financial up and downs because he is self employed. I did disconnect from the marriage, BUT I BEGGED my husband to go to counseling and he wouldn’t. Long story short, he has been seeing this woman for 3 months. Of course she does EVERYTHING he says I don’t, but you’ve already told her what you say I DON’T DO!!! To add insult to injury, he’s moved out, she comes to his house and I saw her car there 1 day and I got out screaming up a storm!! He was in t here with her & they heard everything but they did not come out!! He blames me for everything! He cusses me out, talk to me like I am nothing. I know that I did contribute to the issues in the marriage, but it’s because we don’t know how to effectively communicate with each out when we are having serious $$$$ which has been the entire time we have been married & I have stood by him every step of the way!!!n When will he see how much this has destroyed me & when will he feel bad for his actions? Not to ention we have a 7 year old and this whole thing is just a mess!!!

    • Cheryl says:

      I’ve been where you are. Leave him alone. The pain goes away. It will get better. Promise
      Much love your way

    • gentleflame says:

      take my word.resolve to be a better person in your next relationship u kept going after this guy running away,why not for the first time turn around and see the many great guys who thinks the world of you.

  5. Pingback: I was so stupid! - Page 8

  6. vk2207 says:

    My husband and I have been together for the past 10 years of which, married for 1. My uusband has always been emotionally immature and though I had accepted this we would get into arguments over managing finances etc. Thoughout the 10 years my husband had an emotional affair twice, but quickly stopped once I discovered it. But 4 months ago he informed me that he is in love with a woman from his office and there is just no way he can live with me. This is still an emotional affair. Now he has moved put of the house and asking for a divorce. I am desparate to save my marriage. Any help?

  7. Jenn says:

    When does it get easier? Are they every remorseful? He hates me more every day!!! His family has sided with him because he is now happy. They have told me how kids not being with their father is my fault. It is also my fault because these things happen when the woman doesn’t appreciate their husband. Good people have affairs all the time.
    I wanted to show our kids that I was not to be his door mat!!!
    No matter what I too blame myself way too much! I was not perfect but had decided that I would not cater to his every need. He saw this as I didn’t love him any more.
    So much pain for me and the kids while he is happy with his decision to leave.. please help as I am very depressed.

  8. Jenn says:

    My husband did the same thing after 25 years of marriage. He now blames me as if my reaction to his affair is the reason that we are getting divorce. He wanted me to lie to our adult children as to the reason for divorce. He told them and the court that it was not the affair because our our marriage was over long before divorce. I was completely unaware of how our marriage was over. He continues to believe that this is my fault stating that it ended because of how I reacted to his affair and not because of affair.
    I refuse to accept this. I don’t seem to be able to move on. It has been two years since I discovered their affair and we are still fighting over stuff. He is still with other woman and seems very happy even tho the kids have very little contact with him. It seems all worth it to him…

  9. Stephanie says:

    To the women that commented. I know it is very difficult. It’s never easy to let go when you love someone and have been with them so long. I had been with my ex for 13 years and had stood by his side. When I was 35, he was 33 and he left me for an 18 yr old. It’s been 6 yrs this year since that happened. I have realized a few things. He has no idea what love and sacrifice are and he has to be with someone, anyone. I have rather enjoyed not having someone to “cater” to. I went back to school and have two degrees and just began my Masters. My point is that as much pain as you are feeling, just remember a lot of us have felt it. I for one thought I was dying the day he left. I had two young children to support and he was offering nothing. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I felt relieved in a way. He had been extremely one-sided throughout our relationship and as painful as it was to admit, I almost began to realize that he had kept me down in a way. So my heart and prayers are with you both. But I promise that one day you will look back and realize that if a person could do that to you after he made vows then perhaps he isn’t the person you want to count on down the road. Time sometimes does not heal all wounds but it makes it much easier to deal with. Make new memories for yourselves, build your support network, seek out support groups or groups that you have common interests with (reading, sewing, walking, etc) but just remember you are not alone.


  10. Sue says:

    My husband left me in January 2013, telling me I didn’t cuddle him on the sofa and rubbish like that, also that I hadn’t supported him through near bankruptcy 20 years ago. All of which were not justified accusations. When I asked where he was going he said he had options and finally told me he was moving in with another woman and he couldn’t discuss this any more as he had to go to bed and get up for work the next day. He had been seeing other women, mostly through internet dating, which I accidentally found out about 5 years ago. He promised he’d finished with all that, guess what, he didn’t. He’s now living with the woman he left me for who he had sex with at least 3months before I was told he was leaving he moved in with her the day he left me. How’s that for betrayal.

    • Mark1952 says:


      I am so sorry that you are going through such a horrible thing.

      Unfortunately, your story isn’t all that uncommon these days. Others have been in situations that are quite similar.

      Be sure that you are taking care of yourself. Make sure you eat healthy foods, try to get some sleep and do your best to act from your own core values instead of being sucked into fights on his terms. You don’t say if you have children, but if you do, be sure that they are being cared for because their lives are affected by this as well.

      Would you consider registering for our online forums and sharing your stroy there? Be sure to create a screen name that will not cause you to reveal too much of your real life and make your privacy an issue. Like I said, many others have been through almost exactly the same sort of thing and can share what they have learned anmd experienced.

      I can assure you, that if he is having an affair, the “problem” in your marriage is the affair and not some list of stuff that happened over 20 years ago.

      If you read through some of the active and past posts on our forums, you will likely find some with whose stroy you will connect. Feel free to joiun in the discussions and begin your own thread to seek advice from our members. Marriage Advocates is a community of folks with shared experiences, a willingness to help and wealth of ideas. Please join us.

      We care…


  11. Marie says:

    My husband of 21 years of marriage began an affair over a year ago and left me for her about 6 weeks ago. He is 42. I am so devastated. Just the other day he assured me that he was very happy with her. The woman used to live in his old neighborhood when they were teenagers and was the neighborhood slut. Everyone made fun of her. I told him she still has a very bad reputation and he said he doesn’t care about any of that. He is happy with her no matter what. However, how can he know if he is happy with her since the affair has only been known for 6 weeks now? He said they both click and have things in common. Before the affair was discovered, there were a lot of lies and I know he couldn’t have seen her that much since none of his habits changed at home to raise my suspicions.

    He kept telling me over and over again that he was happy with her. My heart is broken. I need some advice on this.


    • Mark1952 says:

      I am so sorry you are experiencing this, Marie. It is one of the most devastating things many people ever have to go through.

      Would you be willing to register on our discussion forum and share your story there? There are folks in various stages of similar situations and many who have experienced the same sort of pain and loss in the past. They all would love to help and support you as you go through this.

    • gentleflame says:

      take my word. going after this guy running away,will not help .no matter how long we must accept we dont own our spouses and we will not always be
      able to reason out things the way we do. A wise position in your position will accept what is on the ground and deal with the legal consequences of a seperation or divorce and chart a new beginning.if you re-positioned yourself you can find a far better life than the one you had with him.i feel your pain but you must stop the attempt to stop a moving train with your feet.

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