Thursday, October 27, 2011

Why You Need An Escape Plan...Even If You Don't Plan to Leave

©wfmillar and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

Discovering a partner's infidelity can sometimes feel as if you're drowning. In despair. Confusion. Shock. Pain. Most of us experience all of the above and, consequently, an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness. This was done TO us...and now we're left dealing with the fallout.Which is why it's crucial to have an Escape Plan. And Escape Plan is a realistic step-by-step plan of what you'll do if...
a) your husband refuses to end his affair or you have reason to believe he's lying about ending the affair
b) he engages in the crazy-making behaviour common to cheating husbands including but not limited to calling you hysterical, out-of-control, jealous, manipulative, or he otherwise makes YOU the problem
c) he uses Divorce as his trump card, as in, "If you can't just leave the past in the past then we should just get a divorce."
An Escape Plan is your chance to take back your life and put yourself in control of your future. And though you may never act on it, it's paramount to your healing (which includes healing your own battered self-esteem) to have a plan that focuses entirely (though not exclusively) on your well-being.

How do you create an Escape Plan?
•Start by figuring out where you would go if you needed short-term accommodation (ie. your husband refuses to leave/sleep on the couch). It might be your parents' house, a best friend, a neighbour. We're simply thinking short-term here, somewhere you could go to escape for a few days or a week, taking kids if necessary, in order to get your head straight. And allow your spouse to get his head straight and, perhaps, recognize that the New You isn't going to tolerate his bullshit.
•Figure out what logistics need to be in place: For example, if your short-term accommodation involves leaving town, how will this affect getting to your job or getting kids to school? Can you commute for a few days or weeks? Is there somewhere else the kids would need to stay during the week? Would a nearby hotel be a better option?
What will you do for money? Do you have access to your own cash? A credit card that he can't put a stop on? What if your short-term turns into a month or so? Can you afford to pay for a hotel for that long?
Meet with a lawyer to determine what your life would look like if you left the marriage. Again, this is just a dress rehearsal. It's a chance for you to take back the reins of your life and know that you will be okay, no matter what happens. And by okay, I mean that you'll be entitled to what is yours financially.

"But why, if I don't want to separate/divorce?"
Your Escape Plan is as much an insurance policy as an actual plan. It's something to have in place in case things go even more to hell. In case he cheats again. In case his affair never ended. In case the Other Woman announces she's pregnant. It's to ensure you're not blind-sided again. And it's to offer you some security that even if you don't get blind-sided'd be prepared if you were.


  1. Elle, I'm grateful that you keep posting great advice like this. Even though divorce isn't under consideration, I still had a "what if" that needed to be planned for. My husband was shocked when I told him I got a line of credit in my name only. It offered a small measure of security in an ocean of turmoil.

  2. Yes, that's exactly the point. At a time of such turmoil, we need to recognize that there are things under our control. It helps us keep perspective when our lives feel totally OUT of control. A line of credit is a great idea (in any case. Women generally tend to take poor control of our finances) and can give a woman the freedom to leave if she believes she needs to.
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. I got a Binding financial agreement very much in my favour (our countries version of a post nuptial). It's the only thing I felt I could do to safe guard my financial future in case of the marriage ending.

    I also thought this link is clear to follow and incredibly helpful to any situation. I have found a small measure if peace in this clip- even if it only gives you something to do. It's something positive.

  4. Hi Marti,

    I've never heard of a POST-nuptial. What exactly is it? How does it work? I'd love to hear more...

  5. A binding financial agreement is a contract entered into by a married couple or two people who intend to be married. If done correctly it prevents both parties from going to court in the event of divorce or break up.
    I is very hard for a court to set one of these aside once written and signed by both parties.
    (You can not put children in this as that is a separate law).
    My binding financial agreement covers me for Spousal payments, division of all assets and money including superannuation accounts.
    My agreement is 60% for me and 30% for him. It was the most I could get before making it a null contract. My husband signed it as a show of good faith.
    Going to the lawyers was the first thing I did as it was quite obvious that the person I married was not trustworthy.

  6. The biggest thing I had to do was to apply for citizenship. Prior to the Affair, I had no intentions to become a citizen as I was fine with being a Permanent Resident (Plus my country of origin does not allow dual citizenship and everyone I know are still there including my family). However, my Greencard was expiring months after the Affair discovery and after a tough reality check, I refused to let my future here in this country, which I've been living in since College, be in the hands of someone who was able to completely turn my world inside out. And at the time of the decision, we had only just got back together for a month or so and I knew that it was too soon to tell if we will last 'forever'... Fast forward 18 months later, even though there isn't a need for this Citizenship now, I'm still glad that I did it.


  7. wow thanks for this Elle, I have been thinking about it too. Although i am willing to restore our marriage but i feel the need to prepare something just in case it might happen again. I feel that having this "escape plan" makes me more confident in building our relationship again and that whatever happens I know what to do. This will definitely add up to some of my list. =)

    1. Brave,
      Anything you can do to restore a sense of safety can be incredibly helpful. Good luck!


  8. Elle,

    I have been trying to browse to your blogs and I could not see a topic of " falling out of love?" Is it possible to fall out of love after your husband cheats on you? I am in a dilemma right now. I am not sure of my feelings for him.I am happy when he is with me but I feel more happier if I am alone or with the kids. I prefer to go for shopping alone. I feel more relax without him?! I dunno maybe I am just confuse.

    1. I don't think I've written on "falling out of love", though I certainly think it's highly possible in any marriage, especially one marked by infidelity. It's very difficult to continue to love someone who has lied to you and hurt you. I think it comes down to separating the man from the act...which is not even always prudent. Sometimes the act was an aberration that won't happen again. Sometimes it's indicative of true character.
      I can' recall how long ago you found out, but most experts recommend waiting at least six months, even up to a year, before making any big decisions. Your emotions are too unreliable right now.
      That said, some women simply know that this is something they can't or won't get over so opt to end it fairly quickly. Others find that, over time, they just want something more that their partner can no longer provide.
      In any case, there's no right or wrong...simply what's right for you and your family.
      Good luck. None of this is easy...


    2. I was looking for something like this too. I'm not sure I love my husband anymore. I care about him, and I feel bad when he is miserable or unhappy, but I like when he is not around. It has been a few months since I found about his affair.

  9. Very awesome advice. I thought through all these things and discussed them with my BFF and had everything in place (except I never saw a lawyer but I did look a few up and knew who I'd call if it came to that). I think that is one reason our reconciliation has gone so well. I don't feel I NEED him. I'm staying because I LOVE him. I'm not desperate. I'm not needly. I know I could stand on my own two feet if I had to...and I have practically no skills, I've been a stay at home mom for 15 years. But doing these things gave me the confidence I needed to make good decisions. BRAVO!!!!

  10. Knowing I had a plan to leave helped me to feel more comfortable about staying. I felt like I was choosing to stay. That's not to say there weren't days when I went for a walk and wasn't sure if I was coming back. That happened a few times. But I knew I wasn't staying because I was trapped, even if some days I felt like it. I had chosen to stay. In the midst of all the madness, this was something I had control over.




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