Reconciling is hard. There is a lot of advice on what to do for the BS and how to help them. This is something that I put together for WS who need to “fix” themselves. “Take what you need and leave the rest.“
Batten down the hatches and ride out the storm. Anchor yourself and stop rocking the leaky boat.
First thing first. You blew up your marriage ship. It is dead in the water and it is your fault as the WS. There is a life boat. You and your spouse escape the floundering ship in the life boat. Now, there is a storm of the century barreling down on your little life boat and you need to hang on.
1. There is no room in the life boat for the AP/OP/OM/OW. NONE, NO ROOM AT ALL. If you keep them in the life boat with you it is going to sink. If you throw them overboard and keep trying to pull them back in or they keep hanging on the side YOUR BOAT IS GOING TO SINK! The only way to get them out of your life boat is to tell your spouse everything, EVERYTHING. Timelines-to-toenails. Once that is all out in the open all of the extra weight in the boat is gone and you have a chance to survive.
2.Your BS is busy. Your BS is bailing water like mad, trying to keep themselves from drowning in the bottom of the life boat that you have them trapped in. They can’t stop bailing during this storm to soothe you, to comfort you, to make sure you are okay. Suck it up, man up, woman up and help bail. They are in the boat with you, as long as they are in the boat with you then you have a chance. You have the chance to save your spouse and yourself. DON’T WASTE IT.
3.Your spouse is exhausted. The Storm drops down to a steady rainfall. You are in the middle of the ocean with no land in sight. You are both still in the boat. When your spouse can’t bail anymore it’s up to you to save you both, so start cleaning out the bottom of the boat. It will feel like you can ever find the bottom, that the water just keeps rising. KEEP BAILING! Even if your spouse is passed out. YOU HAVE TO KEEP BAILING TO SAVE YOUR LIVES! This life boat is the only chance you are going to get to save your marriage, it’s small, rickety, and leaking. Despite all of it’s flaws this life boat is all that is saving you and your spouse.
4. Getting ready to work. The storm has passed, the skies are still overcast, it’s cold, windy and miserable and you are still stuck in the middle of a turbulent sea with a spouse that doesn’t trust you in a leaky, crappy little boat. You can’t make your spouse trust you. All you can do is COMMIT to saving yourself and your spouse.
5. Prepare yourself first. Get it clear in your mind that you are in it for the long haul and reassure your spouse that you are not going to leave them alone in the life boat. EVER! You are going to stay in that life boat until your spouse throws you overboard. Tell them that over and over again. Let them know you are working your ass off to keep them safe. Your spouse can’t help you. They are exhausted, wounded from the blast, battered by the storm. Asking them to help you would be like asking a Prisoner of War to fight for the country that captured them. It is just wrong. You need to gather yourself together. Rinse off the dirt and grime, find anything useful floating in the water that might help you fix the life boat.
6.Repairing the life boat. You need to find all the tools and material to fix the life boat. You may have to dive to the bottom of the ocean and salvage an old ship wreck. You may have to paddle your life boat around to find flotsam and jetsam to use. Start at the bottom. These tools consists of IC, Books, Self healing, resources such as SI, etc… Use the tools and materials that are at your disposal to clear out all of the murky water and start repairing the floor of the life boat.
7. There is mud, muck, seaweed and dead fish in your boat.
****The dead fish have to go first. They are thoughts of the OP. Why the hell are you missing them? If you miss them so much get a divorce. That is the bottom line. If you leave the dead fish in the boat, all that you are going to get is a life boat that stinks of death, decay and rotten fish. They were a anatomically correct life-sized blow up doll and they used you in the same way. Put them where they belong. Out of your thoughts.
****The seaweed is next. This in the idea that somehow your spouse’s behavior before the A added to the reasons that you had an affair. Yep, you heard me. The A is 100% you fault. Is 50% part of the overall marital problems his? Nope. If your thinking was messed up and led to you have an Affair, it was and is probably messed up thinking about the dynamic of your marriage. You can become tangled in marital history and lose sight of what you are fighting for, lose your commitment to saving your marriage.
I’m not talking about rewriting the marriage history to justify an Affair. I’m talking about subconscious blame shifting onto the normal problems that a marriage faces. Like when your husband didn’t pay attention to you even when you tried to engage him.
“We never talk anymore.” you say.
He says, “What do you want to talk about?”
You say, “I don’t know.” Feeling irritated that he doesn’t get it.
He says, “Okay, How ’bout those bears?”
You say, “Forget it.” Disgusted because he is belittling your needs.
He says, “Okay.” He kisses you and goes back to watching the game.
Now, looking at the above example, this isn’t a conversation where blame can be placed. Bad communication, yes. Neglect of affection, No.
*****There are exceptions to this. Alcoholics, Beaters. Notice that I said Normal marital problems.*****
****Muck is a little trickier to clean up. This is inside you. The why’s and reasons. Muck is slimy and has a tendency to slip through your fingers. Muck is the guts of your internal issues. Every individual is different, each individual has different issues, be they FOO, SAb, SA, Drugs, Mental disorders… the list is endless. It is your job to find each slippery part inside you. Your BS can’t help you do this. It has to be something that you do for yourself and by yourself. You can report it to your spouse or not, depending on what you are comfortable with. If you do share this journey with them make sure that you reassure them with each report that none of your issues have anything to do with them, that they didn’t cause the issue, and that you don’t expect them to fix it.
****The Mud. The mud has to be rinsed away. This is your self acceptance. Forgiveness if you like. Divine or from the self. Without forgiving yourself you will always feel dirty. I put the Mud last because without doing all of the work if you forgive yourself it is just cheap forgiveness. It is false forgiveness, a lie to yourself to make you feel better and to let yourself off the hook. Real forgiveness requires reflection, exploration of self, an intimacy with yourself, and understanding who you were then is not who you are now. (Changing who you are is more than an idea that you conceptualize, it is consistent action over a substantial time period. You know when you have achieved change when you actively are consistent and it becomes second nature to correct yourself before you step wrong, instead of stepping wrong and then fixing it.)
Your little life boat hits land. Whew, your both on solid ground again… All of the action, change and accomplishments that you have achieved at this point will help you. The sad fact is, all of the change in yourself that you accomplish may not save your marriage. Your spouse may not have waited for you to finish cleaning the boat. They may have jumped into the sea before you were done. They may have swam into the sunset. If that happens, don’t give up on yourself. Fixing and finding yourself will keep you afloat even if you are alone. What happens if your spouse has braved this journey with you now is not your choice. Your spouse may choose to walk away. Solid ground does not erase the fact that you blew up the marriage ship to begin with. You owe it to yourself, if your husband, family and marriage is your choice, to commit to your marriage completely from the moment you climbed on board the life boat. You can’t take a dip in the sea to test your BS and see if they really want you in the life boat. You have to stay the course. Tie yourself in. Even thinking about abandoning the life boat can sink it. If you are standing there rocking the boat, eventually you are going to fall out or knock your BS out of the boat.
That means DO NOT say:
“Get over it.”
“It’s been long enough.”
“Are you going to punish me forever?”
“Do you want someone else?”
“Maybe you don’t really want me.”
“I should just leave because…”
“I can’t change who I am…”