Here’s my take on what I feel is an incredibly successful reconciliation.
My wife and I are going on 21 months out. Our marriage has truly never been better – in every possible way. We have found a way to move past the hurt and find a new relationship that hasn’t existed for 20+ years.
What I’ve learned is that reconciliation demands a BS that is able to let certain things go. I have come to recognize that certain aspects of the affair (in my case a LTA with very difficult obstacles to overcome -but it might be ANY circumstance) will never sit right with me. They will always bother me. I’ll never be able to wrap my head around them or make sense of them in any way – because they DON’T make sense. Even my wife recognizes that some of the things she did, or the events that transpired, are so over the top and egregious that she can’t reconcile them in her own head. It was imperative that I let them go – or, at the very least, put them in a place where they don’t overwhelm me. I needed to make the conscious choice to let them sit, to not allow them to continue to hurt me – and, maybe just as important – to learn how NOT to bring them up all the time so that our marriage could heal.
That understanding is SO essential for reconciliation. Without being able to move past some of these demons that can NEVER be quelled it’s simply impossible to move forward. I read posts here about people who simply cannot put the demons in their place – they are stuck on details of the affair that preclude reconciliation, let alone forgiveness. I feel awful for them and often want to scream at my computer screen, “If you can’t let go, move on!”
That ability doesn’t come quickly – or easily, btw. In the first months I was paralyzed with shame, anger, hurt. I couldn’t contain the rage that dragged out question after question, insult after insult.
But, you know what? With time I came to realize that this person who sat beside me on the couch, taking it all on the chin, tears streaming down her face due to her own personal shame and humiliation, was truly sorry for what she had done. I realized that her guilt was as overwhelming as my loss. I realized that continuing the interrogation no longer mattered. It no longer brought me peace. It just hurt… both of us.
It takes two to reconcile. It takes a spouse who is truly remorseful, who understands the depth of the pain he/she has caused and is willing to take any steps necessary to remedy their choices.
You need me to stop seeing certain friends? Ok. You need me to answer questions? Here are the answers. You need me to stop drinking? I’m signing up for AA. You need me to learn to communicate better? I’ll make the IC appointment. You need me to change jobs? I’m already looking.
There are so many posters here, desperate to be truly reconciling, with a WS who is, what I call, RB – “reconciling but…” The husband who wants to hold onto his marriage BUT he won’t leave his job where the OW works. The wife who wants to stay together for the kids BUT won’t follow through with IC to address her self-esteem issues. Reconciliation means putting your betrayed spouse before EVERYTHING else so that they, and you, can heal.
Reconciliation requires two people to truly be able to recognize the depth of the betrayal but also be willing to look past it toward a better future. To be, as my wife eloquently wrote me, “on the other side of awful.”
I firmly believe that while the logistics surrounding reconciliation require some time to work out, it’s pretty clear early on who is a candidate and who is not. As I’ve said in the past, it’s not all that difficult to look into the eyes of a husband or wife (someone who, after all, you know better than anyone) and see if they’re “all in” or not.
Is your spouse “all in?” Or are they still “reconciling but…?” If they’re all in – help them. Give them the opportunity to make amends and recreate your marriage. Make the choice to move past the hurt and give yourself a chance to live again.
As for us? We’re at a place where we’ve never been before. It’s a wonderful spot – with the type of love, passion and support that I’ve looked for my entire life. Difficulties remain. Sadness can still overcome me. I have occasional bouts of anger. But they’re controlled, by myself and within reason. The affair doesn’t run my life anymore. I do.
I hope it no longer runs yours.