SurvivingInfidelity.com® > Just Found Out
Great Posts for Newbies to Read
I recently found many of the classic SerJr. posts that I had copied to a word document the first time the Notable Threads was posted. I have just the original post not the reponses made to them. So after getting SerJr's permission to repost them, here they are! I wanted to keep them all in one place so I'll post 2 articles to each post since I don't know how long of a post I can make.
The mods do plan on putting many of these in the Healing Library soon, but in the mean time please feel free to keep this thread bumped up for new people to read.
I hope these words can help someone else as much as they helped me!
Communicating with a foggy WS
Messaging is a basic communication skill that converts what you want to say into short and simple phrases that express the truth and get to the heart of the matter. It’s intended to spark internal reflection in another person. The message speaks truth without being adversarial or condescending and this cannot be ignored. It’s not judgmental, in fact it acknowledges the other person’s feelings and right to them, but it does refer to their actions and behaviors and reflect the truth about the situation and put everything into context – hopefully providing them with a compass to follow. It’s short and to the point letting silence prevail and speak.
How you present the message is just as important as the message itself. You want to speak it straight and simple, conveying confidence, awareness, calmness, and control. Remember that you are making open ended comments and not inviting an argument.
Attacking their means and ability to continue the affair:
Wayward spouses are pretty near oblivious to the consequences of their actions. Deep down they know what they are doing is wrong, but the instant gratification feels so good they will try to ignore and downplay potential consequences of what they are doing. You want to lead them to think of the consequences and how they will threaten the quality of their life. The best time to do this is when they are undergoing some sort of crisis themselves related to the affair (e.g. such as a fight with the other person or a family member, poor job performance review, etc) and during the initial confrontation.
Some sample phrases:
“I want you to know that I know exactly what is going on. I’ve been very patient and given you the benefit of the doubt, but I refuse to live with this situation. If your behavior continues I will re-evaluate my desire to stay in this relationship.”
“Do you ever wonder what other people and our friends and family will think of this situation?”
“You seem to be spreading yourself rather thin. How long do you think you can continue?”
“You certainly seem to have this all planned out.”
Attacking their motives:
Unfortunately, D-day and the initial confrontation does not always end the affair and it may continue. Sometimes it will happen in plain sight. At this point you want the wayward spouse to start questioning their motives and point out contradictions.
Some sample phrases:
“There seems to be quite a battle within you and it seems you’re spinning more and more out of control.”
“Do you really believe that the other person will meet your emotional needs once the infatuation wears off?”
“All this drama must be intoxicating.”
“You appear to be struggling to find something but unsure how to get it or don’t know what it is.”
“You say you want this marriage, but you spend your time elsewhere.”
Upon negotiation for reconciliation:
At some point your wayward spouse may try to play the “I don’t want a divorce” card and offer up promises of reform. Hold firm with your boundaries and continue to point out the consequences and put the responsibility back on them – some are just attempting to continue with sitting on the fence.
Some sample phrases:
“So what are you going to do about this? I want to see changed behavior over the long term.”
How to respond to what they say:
Many wayward spouses will try to go on the offensive and shift the blame for their actions onto you or the marriage. You will want to acknowledge their right to their feelings while being very adamant with your position. You want to leave them with no ammunition to fight back and effectively take their power away by agreeing with them and spinning it around to reflect the truth back to them.
Some sample phrases:
WS – “You never cared about meeting my needs.”
You - “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
WS – “I love you but I’m not in love with you.”
You – “It certainly seems that way.”
WS – “I don’t know what I want.”
You – “Yes, that must be confusing for you.”
WS – “I want to move out.”
You – “Do you have any idea when you’ll do that? It’ll help me plan my activities.”
WS – “This marriage is horrible.”
You – “I agree that this leaves something to be desired and should be re-evaluated.”
WS – “I’m angry about…”
You – “Yes… I wonder what you’re truly angry about.”
WS – “The other person is such a wonderful…”
You – “I can see how it can be comforting to believe that.”
WS – “It will never work between us - our marriage is too damaged.”
You – “Although I’m willing to do a lot to save this marriage this lack of progress erodes my desire and ability to fight for it. One day I will have to think of me and our children ahead of it.” - Credit for this line to Bigger.
WS - "If... maybe.... the problem is... blah, blah, blah... big nebulous statement."
You - "What do you mean by that?" (you can repeat this one a few times to try and dig down to see what they're trying to say... if anything)
WS – “Blah, blah, blah…”
You - “I respect your thoughts but I don’t agree. I don’t care to argue about this. I was just making an observation.”
Remember that you want the truth of the matter to speak to your wayward spouse without directly attacking them. They have to come to terms and figure things out themselves – you’re just showing them the direction and providing a positive example. Dealing with a foggy spouse is not about arguing, pleading, or passively ignoring what is happening – it’s about standing firm regarding your own self respect and putting things into context. Cool, calm, collected, and self-assured.
How to Play the Game and Win
It certainly seems as a betrayed spouse that we’re faced with a big dilemma. We often set out to improve ourselves with the underlying intention of winning back our wayward spouse and find ourselves in a competition with the other person. How the hell can we play that game when we’re stuck in the unflattering reality of everyday life when they're off chasing butterflies and rainbows?
Well, this game is initiated by someone who either has a personality disorder or is developmentally arrested. Often the betrayed spouse will react with an intense emotional response, apply pressure, beg, make promises, seek reassurance, and so forth. It doesn’t work.
The wayward spouse has already found the stimulation and excitement they crave in their new relationship. Additional input will be overwhelming as they lack a stable, solid, centered core. Bombarding them with neediness will not help them with what they really need. On top of it, it gives your wayward spouse the means to continue taking the best from both worlds and to create a polarity by comparing you to the other person… and with that neediness you don’t stand a very good chance of coming out on top.
So how do you play the game and win? Don't play it. You stand back, learn about yourself, and how to respect and honor that person. Doing this is very different from trying to “be better than”. You want to create a richer, healthier, more balanced life for yourself and those you care about.
So how do we move in that direction of self awareness and independence? Well, here are some questions to ask yourself to help you take those first few steps:
-What am I tolerating? What am I willing to tolerate?
What boundaries and consequences do I have to set up for myself to protect myself?
-How can I simplify my life to live from a peaceful centered core? How do I clear my mind of all the thoughts to live in the present instead of regretting the past or fearing the future?
-What are my beliefs, values, and standards? How do I become a person of integrity, doing what is right and healthy for me? How do I orient my life around those values to feel fulfilled?
-What do I need to do right now to manage my life? How do I create the time, space, wisdom, opportunity, money, relationships, and sense of self to get beyond my neediness and to provide a sense of well being? How do I communicate those needs and surround myself with positive and constructive relationships?
-How do I focus my mind on my goals and to nurture my empowerment and self?
-How do I protect what is important to me?
As you move along through this thought process – ACT ON IT! Act on tolerating less, informing your wayward spouse of your boundaries, stating your standards, and living out your values in their presence.
Don’t try to compete – be you. It’s the game plan that puts you well ahead of the “game”.
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:35 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Ten Questions to Ask About Reconciliation
You’ve just been confronted with something you never thought would happen to you. Your world has been rocked harder than it ever has before. You deeply love your spouse and made promises of the future together. And those promises have been broken. Right now, you have no normal. The beginning is a very confusing and emotional time. Here's the underlying problem. If you hold on to the relationship because of your neediness or external factors, the chances of getting what you want are slim. The following is a list of questions (condensed from ‘Break Free from the Affair’ by Dr. Bob Huizenga) to ask yourself to try and understand your own motives.
1. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you want the feelings of embarrassment and humiliation to end? You thought this would never happen to you. It might be difficult to face family, friends, or co-workers. Do you mull over what you could have said or done to prevent the affair? Do you think of yourself as a failure and feel eager to reclaim your confidence and self-esteem? Do convictions rather than practical and personal concerns dictate your decisions?
2. Do you really want to save the marriage or are you ultimately concerned and fearful of the financial drain of a divorce and the need to alter your lifestyle? Does the prospect of being responsible for your own financial independence scare you? Or is there a part of you that refuses to consider lowering your lifestyle or standard of living?
3. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you long for the way it used to be? Do you long for the predictability and the seeming comfort of your marriage in past days? Do you assume that by getting your marriage back, to where it was, things will be better? (Note: You will never go back. It will never be the same. Those days are gone and will not return. Your relationship will be different, guaranteed.) Are you holding onto an ideal that may have never existed?
4. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you miss your old role – of being the strong one, the one in control and the one who held it together? Do you feel lost, not sure of who you are, what to do and “at loose ends?” Are you willing to expand who you are? Many proclaim their love for the spouse that is having an affair. They attempt to prove their “love” with the hope of ending the affair and getting their spouse back. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you need to maintain your role as the caretaker or solid one for him and your family? Does the theme of responsibility flow throughout your life? Do you derive a sense of purpose and satisfaction from being perceived as a “strong and tolerant” person? Do your really want to save the marriage or do you feel the need to protect her?
5. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you want vindication against the other person? Do you feel like you have lost out to this other person? You came in second? Does that bother the heck out of you and having the “marriage back” would mean that you can stick it in the face of the other person? Is competition stirring your juices?
6. Do you really want to save the marriage or are you petrified of being alone? Are you terrified of starting over? Can you NOT see yourself with another significant person in your life? Do you think of yourself as undesirable? You may think of yourself as incapable of starting over, incapable of starting a new relationship, incapable of making the transition to a new life and incapable of making decisions on your own. Have you thought of your desires, your skills, your dreams, your hopes and your future apart from him? Do you really want to save the marriage or is your self-esteem battered to the degree that you believe you cannot function independently?
7. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you believe you should stay to protect the children? Do you think you are the only spouse who can care for the children? (You may be.) Or maybe your spouse cares deeply for the children and is a good parent. (That may be also.) Do you think that ending the marriage would make life immeasurably worse for your children? Do you fear for their welfare if you confront his behavior?
8. Do you really want to save the marriage or do you live in the fear that if you talk about leaving you will face danger? Perhaps you might face violence? You might face the emotional game playing at a new level of intensity? Does it seem wiser to hold back, not confront, and not move toward change for fear of what he might say or do? Do you sometimes feel frozen with fear?
9. Do you really want to save the marriage or have you learned to tolerate and put up with a great deal of stress, unpredictability and capriciousness from your spouse? Are you somewhat numb to your own needs and desires? Are you reluctant to state them, and hope he will come to his senses and the two of you can recapture or at least go back to what was?
10. Do you really want to save the marriage or are you bound by your mistrust? Do you find it difficult to trust your own feelings, your own thoughts and intuitions? Are you not sure what you really want or how to get it and thereby prolong your place in the marriage or find it difficult to take the necessary actions to break free from the affair? Does your confusion keep you where you are?
Only you can be the judge of what may work for you. What you are experiencing is perfectly normal. You don't need to make any defining decisions right now. You can make them when you're ready.
The Toughest Part of Dealing with Infidelity
You know... infidelity just plain sucks all the way around. From dealing with the mind movies... to the betrayal and lies... to struggling with self blame... to worrying about finances and our children... there's nothing easy about it. A number of times I've seen the question debated about what is the single toughest thing about infidelity... and everyone offers great insights into this... but I don't think the question has ever really been answered before.
Facing the fires of infidelity is like no battle ever fought before... we fight not just for our lives but for our very right to exist.
You see, at some level we all desire security and stability. So we build up definitions of our reality to provide that for us. You know… this is who I am and how I relate to them. It’s a safety… tangible walls that we build up around ourselves to define our world, establish the boundaries, and to define ourselves.
And then with hellish ferocity a bombardment of lies, deceit, and insults to our very being cause those walls to crumble in on us with D-day. Amidst the smoke and fog and hellfire we are left looking at the fractured remnants of the world we knew... paralyzed by the fear...
Well... you know what? We got what we got.
So pull that knife out of your back, dig in, and hold on because although walls may be crumbled, spirits shall not break! Because when the storm subsides you will kick down those walls crumbled in on you and you will stand again!
It may feel like everything is falling in around you... because it is. But you gotta let go of everything that you defined yourself by... to expand your horizons and build yourself and the world up again... but this time in your image. You see… we’re not only responsible for ourselves and our actions… but also for what we want out of life. When we grow… we break down those walls around us… and we feel scared and confused because we have to surrender our definitions of ourselves, life, and how it works... and we don’t know what will replace them. We may be afraid of all of those unknowns… but they also represent possibility and opportunity. It is at this time of growth that we have to be most nurturing to ourselves to reach the potential that we are capable of...
Change is a fact of life… the world is a dynamic place… and we have to accept that certain elements of it cannot be controlled by ourselves. But the true triumph of the human spirit is to navigate through the change and to become the person we want to be. Who we are determines where we will go… we have the choice to strive beyond the limits with which we have burdened ourselves with.
To rise above the adversity requires employment of many virtues - honesty, truth, and love. But the most important aspect is the absence of those virtues within us - humility or the self awareness to strip away the armor of our conceits and to expose the root from which other virtues grow. This requires dedication to reality - Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life and the more clearly we see the reality of the world, the better equipped we are to deal with it. If our map is inaccurate then we don't know where we are or where we are going. If our maps are to be accurate then they must be continually revised, (which can be terribly frightening to us) as the world is constantly changing. Those who can accept the responsibility and challenge to confront the work necessary to move forward will find themselves living in a new world as they have made the necessary changes in themselves and in their life to overcome the adversity they face.
So... back to the original question...
What is the single, toughest thing about infidelity?
I answer without doubt or hesitation...
It is you!!!
They can shitpound us into the ground but we will not break! We will emerge from the shadows and we will stand again!
And when they see us having marched to the very bowels of hell and back on nothing more that a song and a smile they will exclaim "Good God, holy fuck - that stupid sonuvabitch does not know when to give up!"
We get one shot at this life people... let's make it count
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:34 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Truth Love Courage
You know… I could go on about my story… and I bet in part that may be what you were looking for in this post. But I won’t. There’s no sense in that right now… after all, my story has just begun.
It suffices to say though… a few years ago I was unexpectedly and unceremoniously thrown under the bus…
Maybe my xww was out to destroy me, maybe she wasn’t…
But that’s not the point…
The point was to not let me do that to myself.
You see… there are only three things that we really need of ourselves to live a rich and fulfilling life.
Truth. Love. Courage.
And from that we can forge the pillars of our character.
Truth is to face reality and to see things clearly… to look deep within ourselves and to act with honesty.
Love is what we find… to see the beauty and the joy… and to act with empathy and compassion to others.
Courage is our strength of spirit and determination… to stand by our convictions and to act in defense of them.
And from tempering those with each other we will find generosity of spirit, honor, and sense of right.
And that will fill us with faith in ourselves… and allow us the vulnerability to face ourselves and our fears… and grant us the ability to be at peace with ourselves.
But most important is what we lack within them... for that awareness will expose the root from which truth, love, and courage will grow.
And by carefully nurturing these virtues we give ourselves and the world the most precious gift we can.
You see... what matters isn’t what’s been taken away… but what we have yet to give. What matters is every act of honesty, compassion, and valor that has enriched, empowered, or encouraged not only others but ourselves as well.
Character isn’t just a measure of who we are…
It’s a guiding light to where we’re going.
Character is the future you build for yourself.
Only you can choose who you are.
Only you can choose the actions you take.
Hold onto you… embrace yourself.
Don’t lose faith in yourself… in who you are… and in what you have to offer this world.
Life isn’t a reminder of what we’ve lost… it’s a celebration of what we have to give.
So yeah… maybe a few years ago I was unexpectedly and unceremoniously thrown under the bus…
But the poor bus didn’t see it coming.
The Fog and Defense Mechanisms
I really believe that the term "the fog" can be misleading at times... it makes it sound like some sort of virus that prescribes to set conditions and will follow a certain path. I've compiled some more information on the infamous "fog" to try and explain a bit more about what it is that we're really dealing with.
A wayward spouse’s actions and behaviors conflict with a fundamental element of self perception, such as “I am a good person” or “I made the right decision”. This occurs when they perceive a logical inconsistency among their beliefs – they are holding two opposing ideas. Cognitive dissonance is most painful to people when some significant part of their beliefs about themselves is threatened. This usually occurs when they have done something that is inconsistent with their image of themselves. If a person has a fairly positive self-concept, believing herself reasonably smart, competent, and moral, she will use self-justification as a way to preserve her positive self-image. But self-justification also operates for people with low self-esteem, except that it moves in the direction of preserving their image of not being very smart, not being competent and/or suffering from some kind of moral failing. This dissonance could be experienced as anxiety, guilt, shame, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states. When their ideas are consistent with each other, they are in a state of harmony and balance. Since their desires create a dissonance with their value system, they have a motivational drive to reduce the feelings of discomfort by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying and rationalizing them through the use of psychological self defense mechanisms. It is also a major threat to relationships in recovery because both partners tend to justify their behavior in a way that allows them to be right while either explicitly or implicitly making their partner wrong.
In the case of romantic infidelity, this dissonance begins right from the initial stages of attraction to the other person and grows in proportion to the sliding past the healthy boundaries of a marriage. As they begin sharing common interests, it slides into mental comparisons between the betrayed spouse and the affair partner. The affair partner begins to meet the emotional needs of the wayward spouse as walls are put up to prevent the betrayed spouse from connecting. As the attraction builds, so does the deceit in the form of secrets from the betrayed spouse, and minimization of their behavior (e.g. ‘harmless flirting’). Excuses are found to continue the behavior and eventually as a romantic relationship evolves their perception of reality suffers from self-delusion. Romantic infidelity involves the temporary insanity/irrationality associated with "falling in love". This does not typically happen when you meet an incredible person, but more as a response to a crisis or stressful period (such as a death, job loss, birth of a child, or even the unexpected mundane ness of life). They are in a situation in which they must face a lot of harsh reality and grow up. To temporarily relieve their feelings of depression they will be attracted to people with more problems so that they can feel better in relation and as being needed. The more stable and supportive the betrayed spouse is of the marriage and wayward spouse, the more the wayward spouse will feel alienated towards them. An escape from everyday life is sought and manifests itself in uncharacteristic acts of carelessness that allows a platonic relationship to cross the boundary into an affair. They will attach too much significance to the affair and rationalize that the emotions are so powerful they must be real enough to risk their stability for and have already devalued the betrayed spouse in anticipation.
In the case of philandering infidelity, it is typically taken up as a hobby outside of the marital relationship. Philandering is fueled by feelings of anger and inadequacy and all about gaining a sense of control over their affair partners, whom are merely seen as conquests, and to compensate for their feelings of gender inadequacy. They can be cruel, self centered, charming, and competitive and enjoy being the centre of attention. They wrap an enormous amount of their identity around their sexuality and express that sexuality extensively and may often see other people as merely there to entertain them. Philanderers tend to compartmentalize and attach little significance to affairs, ignoring the disruption created. They may understand that a rule has been broken, but the expected consequences are minimal and the extent and range of the damage due to the betrayal are underestimated.
The defense mechanisms are strategies that are brought in to cope with reality and to maintain that self image. In fact, some are healthy coping mechanisms used by emotionally balanced people through life. But, they are self destructive when the persistent use leads to maladaptive behavior wherein the mental, emotional, or physical health of the individual may be adversely affected. Sometimes, these mechanisms are used far into adulthood if they’ve been found to be effective in the past and become a part of that individual’s makeup. It allows them to continue the behavior, choices, and actions that are hurtful, but still maintain their (warped) sense of self image.
Categorization of Defense Mechanisms
Level 1 Defense Mechanisms
The mechanisms on this level, when predominating, almost always are severely pathological. These three defenses, in conjunction, permit one to effectively rearrange external reality and eliminate the need to cope with reality. The pathological users of these mechanisms frequently appear crazy or insane to others. However, they are found in dreams and throughout childhood as healthy mechanisms.
* Denial: Refusal to accept external reality because it is too threatening; arguing against an anxiety-provoking stimulus by stating it doesn't exist; resolution of emotional conflict and reduction of anxiety by refusing to perceive or consciously acknowledge the more unpleasant aspects of external reality. Denial takes a few different forms:
-Denial of fact: This form of denial is where someone avoids a fact by lying. This lying can take the form of an outright falsehood, leaving out certain details in order to tailor a story, or by falsely agreeing to something. Someone who is in denial of fact is typically using lies in order to avoid facts that they think may be potentially painful to themselves or other’s image of them.
-Denial of responsibility: This form of denial involves avoiding personal responsibility by blaming, minimizing or justifying. Blaming is a direct statement shifting culpability and may overlap with denial of fact. Minimizing is attempts to make the effects or results of an action appear to be less harmful than they may actually be. Justifying is when someone takes a choice and attempts to make that choice look okay due to their perception of what is "right" in a situation. Someone using denial of responsibility is usually attempting to avoid potential harm or pain by shifting attention away from them.
-Denial of impact: Denial of impact involves a person avoiding thinking about or understanding the harms their behavior have caused to themselves or others. By doing this, that person is able to avoid feeling a sense of guilt and it can prevent that person from developing remorse or empathy for others. Denial of impact reduces or eliminates a sense of pain or harm from poor decisions.
-Denial of awareness: People using this type of denial will avoid pain and harm by stating they were in a different state of awareness (such as alcohol, drug intoxication, or mental health related state such as depression or a sex addiction). This type of denial often overlaps with denial of responsibility.
-Denial of cycle: Many who use this type of denial will say things such as, "it just happened." Denial of cycle is where a person avoids looking at their decisions leading up to an event or does not consider their pattern of decision making and how harmful behavior is repeated. The pain and harm being avoided by this type of denial is more of the effort needed to change the focus from a singular event to looking at preceding events. It can also serve as a way to blame or justify behavior.
-Denial of denial: This can be a difficult concept for many people to identify in them, but is a major barrier to changing hurtful behaviors. Denial of denial involves thoughts, actions and behaviors which bolster confidence that nothing needs to be changed in one's personal behavior. This form of denial typically overlaps with all of the other forms of denial, but involves more self-delusion.
* Distortion: A gross reshaping of external reality to meet internal needs.
* Delusional Projection: Grossly frank delusions about external reality, usually of a persecutory nature.
Level 2 Defense Mechanisms
These mechanisms are often present in adults and more commonly present in adolescence. These mechanisms lessen distress and anxiety provoked by threatening people or by uncomfortable reality. People who excessively use such defenses are seen as socially undesirable in that they are immature, difficult to deal with and seriously out of touch with reality. These are the so-called "immature" defenses and overuse almost always lead to serious problems in a person's ability to cope effectively. These defenses are often seen in severe depression and personality disorders. In adolescence, the occurrence of all of these defenses is normal.
* Fantasy: Tendency to retreat into fantasy in order to resolve inner and outer conflicts.
* Projection: Shifting one's unacceptable thoughts, feelings and impulses within oneself onto someone else, such that those same thoughts, feelings, beliefs and motivations are perceived as being possessed by the other.
* Minimization: unconscious lessening of importance of an experience or affect.
* Hypochondria: The transformation of negative feelings towards others into negative feelings toward self, pain, illness, and anxiety.
* Passive aggression: Aggression towards others expressed indirectly or passively.
* Acting out: Direct expression of an unconscious wish or impulse without conscious awareness of the emotion that drives that expressive behavior.
* Regression: unconscious return to more infantile behaviors or thoughts.
* Idealization: Subconsciously choosing to perceive another individual as having more positive qualities than he or she may actually have or the unconscious overvaluation of a desired attribute of another.
* Rationalization: the unconscious effort to justify or make consciously tolerable behaviors, feelings, thoughts or desires that are unacceptable.
Level 3 Defense Mechanisms
These mechanisms are considered neurotic, but fairly common in adults. Such defenses have short-term advantages in coping, but can often cause long-term problems in relationships, work, and in enjoying life when used as one's primary style of coping with the world.
* Displacement: Defense mechanism that shifts aggressive impulses to a more acceptable or less threatening target; redirecting emotion to a safer outlet; separation of emotion from its real object and redirection of the intense emotion toward someone or something that is less offensive or threatening in order to avoid dealing directly with what is frightening or threatening. For example, a mother may yell at her child because she is angry with her husband.
* Dissociation: Temporary drastic modification of one's personal identity or character to avoid emotional distress; separation or postponement of a feeling that normally would accompany a situation or thought.
* Isolation: Separation of feelings from ideas and events, for example, describing a murder with graphic details with no emotional response.
* Intellectualization: A form of isolation; concentrating on the intellectual components of a situation so as to distance oneself from the associated anxiety-provoking emotions; separation of emotion from ideas; thinking about wishes in formal, affectively bland terms and not acting on them; avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on the intellectual aspects (e.g. rationalizations).
* Reaction Formation: Converting unconscious wishes or impulses that are perceived to be dangerous into their opposites; behavior that is completely the opposite of what one really wants or feels; taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety. This defense can work effectively for coping in the short term, but will eventually break down.
* Repression: Process of pulling thoughts into the unconscious and preventing painful or dangerous thoughts from entering consciousness; seemingly unexplainable naivety, memory lapse or lack of awareness of one's own situation and condition; the emotion is conscious, but the idea behind it is absent.
Level 4 Defense Mechanisms
These are commonly found among emotionally healthy adults and are considered the most mature, even though many have their origins in the immature level. However, these have been adapted through the years so as to optimize success in life and relationships. The use of these defenses enhances user pleasure and feelings of mastery. These defenses help the users to integrate conflicting emotions and thoughts while still remaining effective. Persons who use these mechanisms are viewed as having virtues.
* Altruism: Constructive service to others that brings pleasure and personal satisfaction
* Anticipation: Realistic planning for future discomfort
* Compensation: an unconscious attempt to make up for real or imagined short-comings.
* Humor: Overt expression of ideas and feelings (especially those that are unpleasant to focus on or too terrible to talk about) that gives pleasure to others. Humor, which explores the absurdity inherent in any event, enables someone to call a spade a spade, while "wit" is a form of displacement (see above under Category 3). Wit refers to the serious or distressing in a humorous way, rather than disarming it; the thoughts remain distressing, but they are 'skirted round' by the witticism.
* Identification: The unconscious modeling of one's self upon another person's character and behavior or an event.
* Introjection: Identifying with some idea or object so deeply that it becomes a part of that person. Also redirecting of unacceptable thoughts, feelings or impulses from the external to the self to that the responsibility for an event is internalized.
* Sublimation: Transformation of negative emotions or instincts into positive actions, behavior, or emotion.
* Substitution: unconscious replacement of an unreachable or unacceptable goal by another more acceptable once.
* Suppression: The conscious process of pushing thoughts into the preconscious; the conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality; able to later access uncomfortable or distressing emotions and accept them
* Undoing: unconscious attempt to reverse an unacceptable thought, feeling or behavior by reenacting its opposite, usually repetitively.
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:40 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Understanding the 180
The 180 is often open to misinterpretation. It is pretty easy to get lost in the details and lose sight of the underlying concept.
Fundamentally, it is all about personal empowerment and rebuilding your self esteem. It is not about manipulating your spouse and when this is not understood it interferes with the results. The goal of the 180 is to become the type of person that you want to be. Here's what I understand to be the fundamental basis for it:
1) Master your thoughts.
Ultimately, you determine what thoughts you give attention to and those thoughts will set into motion the dynamics that will affect you. If you tend to focus on the negative you increase the probability that you will become your own worst enemy. It is important to realize how your thoughts create your expectations of the future. By increasing your positive focus you will increase the chances of bringing in positive energy to your life. This does not mean that you’re being unrealistic or naive. It simply means that you are choosing to focus your thoughts and energy on success instead of failure and on the good parts of your life instead of the bad. You want to cultivate the thoughts that you want to have through positive affirmation.
2) Adjust your attitude.
Our attitudes determine our thoughts which translate into intentions which leads to actions. We can be very realistic about the challenges we face, but still form the inner resolve to focus on our belief that we can overcome obstacles and bounce back from adversity. To do so takes belief and patience with ourselves, sustained motivation and energy, accepting our personal responsibility, and willingness to persevere. If your attitude is peaceful and positive then you are in the best position to have the focus and energy available to find solutions. Grace under pressure displays your courage and fortitude even when you are fearful and anxious.
3) Practice acceptance.
Acceptance is something to do for yourself when you are ready to let go of the anger. When we can't accept the situation, we have less energy to spend on the present because we are holding on to bitterness about the past. Acceptance does not mean condoning what has been done or passively enduring mistreatment. It means that you are ready to move forward unencumbered by bitterness or anger.
4) Look for the lesson.
Experiences can lead us to new growth, understanding, and maturity. It is important for us to examine and redefine these experiences to be able to discover and access our hidden strengths and resources that we didn't know we have and learn about ourselves.
5) Continue to nurture yourself.
Make a commitment to continue to nurture yourself so that your energy and vitality will remain high. You are not being selfish to honor your needs, but are providing new growth and fresh perspective.
6) Examine your character.
As humans we all have strengths and weaknesses. It is important to be able to do an honest self appraisal so that we can be real about ourselves. We are all responsible for our character, qualities, and actions and for the effects that they have. As conscious beings, we are also able to acquire those qualities that we desire and it is up to us to use them beneficently.
So there you have it, my personal understanding of the conceptual basis of the 180. The above represents a strategy to take with our lives, and the 180 list provides us with the tactics. Keep the strategy and end goal in mind at all times and alter the tactics as necessary.
Self Care Tips:
1) Whatever you focus your mind on becomes real, eventually taking over your awareness. Therefore we make efforts to “change our mind”: from pain over to relaxation; from guilt and blame to self-acceptance and gentleness; from fear of the future to being in the present. Accept yourself – treasure your idiosyncrasies and foibles. Remind yourself of your strengths, gifts and your proven loyalty to yourself over the years, on a daily basis.
2) Simplify: during more stressful and low energy times, keep life simple, attending to say 5 or so activities per day.
3) Keep occupied as much as possible – make a schedule with exercise in it, stay in contact with friends, make new acquaintances / friends, list things you can do. Know that to begin anything is often better than to think. So keep busy while waiting for something to happen.
4) Now is the only time there is. Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the negatives of the past or the perceived problems in the future. Likely these perceptions, re: past and future are false or distorted. Come back to the present constantly.
5) Keep one focus, not 4 or 5. Do one activity at a time, and engage in it, enjoy it – rather than becoming anxious re everything you have to do. (Keep lists so you can let go of outstanding things).
6) Make sure of good sleep habits, diet, and exercise.
7) Forgive yourself daily and relax. If unfinished activities pile up, it is not that you are slow, lazy or stupid. You are likely expecting too much at that particular moment. Stick to 2 or 3 priorities – shelve the rest.
8) Make use of thought-stopping. Order negative thoughts to go away or put them aside.
9) Stop once per day and ask yourself “What do I need right now. What can I do for myself today to help me?”
10) Don’t be a victim. Do things for you to feel effective and in control. Don’t give in to self-pity.
11) Remember what has worked for you in the past. Likely beneath all the doubts, fears, recriminations, and self-criticism that are swirling around your head, you hear a few faint and muffled words of your own good advice telling you what is good for you. This counsel may be barely audible, but listen carefully to it. You already have everything you need to be happy, including the wisdom you have developed over your life so far.
How the 180 applies to your WS:
The 180 isn't supposed to be a manipulation tactic magically designed to win your WS back - and when it's used that way it doesn't work. It's designed to help you become strong enough to detach and begin building a life without them. If you truly let go of your WS and move on - then (and probably only then) they might actually appreciate what they've lost. If you make empty threats, set boundaries you have no intention of defending, and only "pretend" to move on - your WS will continue to assume you aren't going anywhere. And they'll be right.
Your WS is probably accustomed to them being your main focus. By changing how you usually behave or respond you will change the outcome as they have nothing to draw upon to sustain control over the situation they're creating. When you don't behave in the way they expect, you don't feed their vision of what should be happening. Eventually, they'll have no choice but to see that things aren't the way they thought. Once it's clear that their established and trusted patterns won't work they'll have to decide on a better way of dealing with the reality they are creating. It helps knock them into the real world and offers them opportunity to clarify what they really want to do. It may not necessarily mean that they will commit to the marriage, but it still helps you regain confidence in yourself and the personal empowerment that you need to make it through whatever your future holds. The 180 is about regaining your control through the chaos, pain, and drama. This isn't a game, this is your life. If you do the 180 for the purposes it was intended, you can't lose no matter the outcome. Focus on what you can control - yourself, your own choices, your own well being, your own life.
Bring a Towel
If I could offer you only one piece of advice for your journey, it would be:
- Bring a towel.
A towel is about the most massively useful thing a person could have. Partly, it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you and your loved ones for warmth, you can lie on it on the brilliant white sand beaches, you can sleep under it beneath the stars, use it to sail a mini raft down winding rivers, wet it for use in hand-to-hand combat, wave it in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough. Most importantly, however, the towel has immense psychological value. As it can be used in the cases above, everyone will know that a person who can rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still know where his towel is... is clearly a force to be reckoned with. The long-term benefits of towels have been proven and re-proven many times, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own experience and meandering thoughts.
Don’t worry about your future. Life has a master plan for you, but you are the one in control of it. Be enthusiastic and pursue your priorities. Get focused and stop hiding who you are.
Risk something and stand up for what your stand for. There is good in this world and it is worth fighting for. Go for the things that are truly important to you. Don’t waste your time on anything else. It’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can.
Simplify during the stressful times and keep yourself occupied. Get plenty of exercise. It really does help with the stress. Watch your diet and make sure of good sleep habits.
Realise that you can’t escape the consequences of your actions but at the same time, we can always rise above apparently adverse circumstance through attitude and effort. As our lives are intertwined with others, the choices we make will directly or indirectly impact others. We cannot escape from the consequences of the choices others make – they have to be met and experienced, but even so we are able to exercise our power of discernment in these cases to make choices. You alone are responsible for your character, qualities, tendencies, and nature. Likewise, you are responsible for the effects of your thought and actions on your fellow people. We are all self-conscious with the power of acquiring qualities and extending our influence... and it falls upon us to understand the nature of ourselves to use these beneficently.
Be truthful with yourself.
Now is the only time there is. Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the negatives of the past or the perceived problems in the future. Likely these perceptions are false or distorted. The past can teach us, through experience, how to accomplish things in the future, comfort us with cherished memories, and provide the foundation of what has already been accomplished. The future doesn’t exist yet – it comes from what we make of today. To live life to its fullest, each day must be created anew.
Sing and dance, especially when you’re alone. Having fun is not absolutely necessary, but your life is better when you do.
Don't waste your time on jealousy - sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself.
Accept yourself – treasure your idiosyncrasies. Remind yourself of your strengths, gifts and your proven loyalty to yourself over the years, on a daily basis. Accept your imperfections. Every diamond has flaws and that is what makes them so unique and precious. Forgive yourself on a daily basis.
Kiss your children every night before they go to bed and every morning when they wake up. Do it for no reason other than because you love them.
The first place to always look is within. A little faith in yourself goes a long way. Act true to your character and principles and you can never be disappointed in yourself. The choices you will make will show you for what you truly are. In the end, that’s all we really have.
Cry. Those tears will cleanse your soul. Whatever you focus your mind on becomes real, eventually taking over your awareness. The emotions that you feed are the ones that will rule you. Once you are able to attain mastery over them you get to direct where your life will go.
Smile at people. You’ll feel better about yourself and you never know what it can do for someone else.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know where you are going in life. You still have plenty of time left. Don’t feel frustrated by a perceived lack of progress. Life’s a journey – not a destination. Sometimes we have to rest up and recuperate our strength. This gives us a chance to look back and reflect on what we have accomplished so far and look ahead and plan what we have yet to achieve. You’ll get there – don’t panic. The sun will rise again tomorrow.
Finally, don’t feel ashamed to ask for help. Be careful of the advice you are given, but be patient with those that supply it. Advice is a way for one to relive the past and paint over the mistakes made...
But trust me on the towel.
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:45 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Why Do They Leave?
All too often we hear it. “The marriage was killing me, the love is gone, and we’ve grown apart”. It’s as if the marriage is an animate entity that made the wayward spouses do what they chose to do.
They rationalize with themselves in order to cover up their feelings of guilt. They convince themselves that their marriage was already bad, that their partner really doesn’t love them, and that the affair partner must truly be their “soul-mate” because he/she is the only one that understands them. Next begins the repeated internal dialog of the rationalizations, over and over again in their minds. It is as if they become addicted to the affair, needing the constant high it brings, many times with total disregard for the betrayed. In the affair, the wayward partner falls in love with the illusion of themselves that they have created. Period. Their true selves are warped and then reflected back to them. It is an escape from the everyday realities that must be dealt with and an escape from who they really are.
Over time, they really begin to believe all the lies they’ve told themselves. Their beliefs are reflected in their actions; loving to the affair partner and angry and hostile towards the betrayed. Wash, rinse, and repeat and soon they are deeply entrenched in the fog. If the “marriage” is bad, obviously, they don’t have to blame it on themselves. They can blame “it” on the other. Some of us find it difficult to look at ourselves. Some of us don’t know how to look at ourselves. Some of us never think of looking at ourselves.
It's not that they were necessarily unhappy with the marriage. What happens in many typical cases is that the situation is perfectly good. But then enter the other person. A relationship starts developing with the other person and energy that should have gone into the marriage is redirected. As this relationship deepens, walls are put up to prevent the faithful spouse from connecting emotionally with the wayward spouse. In essence, it's not the marriage that is killing the wayward spouse; it's the wayward spouse that's killing the marriage. The current situation becomes unhappy, because it was made unhappy.
When they leave, they aren't running from the marriage - they're running from themselves. Some people have the narcissistic notion that they are spotless white knights or pure maidens and they can't go back to what they destroyed because they would have to face themselves and put in the effort to make it right. Romantic relationships are often idealized in that we will get what we want without putting in the effort required. However, the status of a relationship is simply the output of what is invested in it. Couple this with the devaluation of the faithful spouse that the wayward spouse cultivates and it is easy to see why. Leaving the marriage offers the path of least resistance for them and the easiest way to deal with the mess they have created -by starting fresh and denial of the truth.
If your partner/spouse leaves and blames it on the “marriage,” don’t buy into it. The “marriage” is not the problem. You are not the problem. Your spouse/partner chose the affair and to escape out of ignorance, fear, or inadequacy.
One statement; two simple words – one noun, one verb, and then add what you will. They are simple in construct… yet infinite in power. Just uttering these two words with conviction gives us the very means to meet our needs… and liberates us from all that encumbers us…
Against all odds and beyond all hope those words will carry us through. We cannot escape from reality, nor can we escape the consequences – they have to be met and experienced, but even so we are able to exercise our power of discernment in these cases to make choices. Change is a fact of life… the world is a dynamic place… but the true triumph of the human spirit is to navigate through the change and to become the person we want to be. Who we are determines where we will go… we have the choice to strive beyond the limits with which we have burdened ourselves with.
The adversity we face can leave us looking at the fractured remnants of all we knew… and can tear everything away. Don’t be afraid to be weak… lay down your armor… you don’t need it anyway. Change will tear everything away from us but that core part of who we are and draw out long dormant and insurmountable potential. The darkest night is dispelled by the humblest of flames.
Anything that is within our control can be accomplished with those two words. It sparks the embers of our essence… which will strike the torches of faith, hope, courage, and compassion to create brilliance of unstoppable momentum and of untold magnitude. Embrace yourself and face the fears… that light will burn away the apparitions and only we shall remain. Let go of the fears and move forward… often our perception of the fear has merely outgrown the reality… face them and set yourself free.
Whatever we focus our minds on becomes real, eventually taking over our awareness. The person we want to be exists within us... somewhere inside is a happy, functioning, vibrant soul just waiting to break free. It just takes conscious effort.
These words are about faith. Have faith in yourself and never, ever loose it. Believing in yourself fortifies your courage to face your fears. It strengthens your resolve to persevere and have patience through painful and difficult times. It bestows upon us a sense of self worth and the tenacity and confidence to stand by one’s principles. It grants us with clarity and understanding to pierce through the veils of smoke and fog. It allows us to see and reach the potential we have within us. It is something that cannot be taken away… and by that reality, neither can any of the other virtues of our character. But most importantly, by having faith and nurturing the gifts it provides, you will cultivate hope for the future. Rise above. Believe in yourself and be true to your character and you will find the peace, balance, and serenity that you seek.
I will. Will you?
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:47 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Fill In the Blanks
Hi, my name is ______ and I just recently found out on ______ that my ______ was having an affair.
We’ve been together for ______ years and have _______ children. I always thought that our marriage was _______ even though the past few years have been _______ due to _______. I never would have believed that my ______ was capable of committing adultery and always thought we were different.
I’ve noticed in the last few ______ that my ______ has become increasingly distant and _______. One night after my _________ was out late, my ________ said we were having problems and that __________. Something didn’t feel right in my gut and I got suspicious and checked the _________ and found a whole bunch of _________. When I dug a little deeper I found out that my _______ has been _______ with ________.
I confronted my ________ with what I found and they said there was nothing going on and that _________.
Wow… sounds pretty familiar, huh?
The reason for this is that all forms of infidelity at some level or another share the same construct and basis. As such, there are a number of principles that one can apply to nearly every affair and they will hold true:
- The affair is not your fault. Your wayward spouse did not have an affair because you weren’t meeting their emotional needs. Your wayward spouse had an affair because they failed to protect themselves from their own vulnerabilities. Affairs are rooted in fear and are in no way a reflection of the marriage regardless of whether they blame it on you, the marriage, the other person, your doggy, or anything else under the sun.
- Affairs are the manifestation of a wayward spouse's attempt to medicate their internal fears. Often, the fear is of intimacy or inadequacy and these fears create the barriers preventing one from getting their emotional needs met. A lack of a solid, stable inner core enables the drive for external validation that greases the slope of inappropriate behavior.
- This inappropriate behavior conflicts with the vision they want to have of themselves which drive the necessary lies, denial, and self deception in order to justify and rationalize their behavior. Your wayward spouse is not under some foreign influence – one must be in command of their faculties to know which lies to tell themselves.
- Until your wayward spouse does the necessary introspection to take responsibility for their choices, if they ever do, your marriage will not get better. They need to resolve why they did this and how to have a healthy, functioning relationship. You are not responsible for their choices, or for the consequences thereof. This does not, however, absolve you from doing what you can to improve yourself for yourself.
- You cannot control your wayward spouse and, as such, you cannot directly control the outcome. Let your wayward spouse make their own choices and focus on yourself and your healing. To do so requires setting up boundaries. A boundary is not an expectation for someone else to change, but a conditional requirement for you to change in order to protect your wellbeing. Your own wellbeing will never interfere with someone else’s.
- There is no quick and easy way out of this. Action is needed to promote a change and there will be risk associated with any action. However, no action will promote no change.
- Fear is the great paralyzer that draws the shadows longer. You must value and protect yourself, in spite of the fear of losing your wayward spouse or enforcing boundaries, because if you don't....all your fears will be realized anyway. The threat of the wayward spouse is a direct affront to your intrinsic value.
- You are always a worthy human being, and there is never any reason to conduct yourself, or allow others to force you, in any direction in which your basic merit and rights as a human being are challenged.
- Your goal is not to rebuild the marriage at any cost… your goal is to guide yourself to where you need to be, regardless of the outcome. You cannot directly choose your circumstances, but you can control yourself and indirectly, but surely, create the world you seek.
- You need to look out for yourself and figure out what it is that you want. Do what is best for you and do not compromise on your fundamental beliefs, values, and character. You alone are responsible for writing the chapters in your story.
- Change is inevitable… and you do possess the capacity to rise above it.
- Life will move on… but you gotta move with it.
- You're gonna be okay.
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:48 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Will the Affair Work Out in the End?
Successful relationships are built on a few governing principles around the fundamentals of mutual and self respect. Affairs are based on a foundation that eventually turns on the affair partners themselves as the relationship is destroyed by the same flaws that made it possible to begin with. What drives an affair is the excitement of instant gratification, not commitment and investment, and once the excitement wanes; there is nothing left to restore the passion.
Affairs are built around the emotional fallout of a marriage. The wayward partners bond over the perceived problems of the betrayed spouses and set up an “us vs. them” dynamic. Most of the affair is built up around resentment of the betrayed spouse. Often, once the betrayed spouse says “Toodles! Have fun with that” there is very little left to sustain the affair. This element of the affair is all about looking at things in relative terms and not on the absolute value and merit of it, in its own respect. The other person can no longer compete with the betrayed spouse, and without that method in mind, they settle back into their true selves as old patterns and behaviors emerge. Little focus was put into building the relationship and more was put into destroying those around them. They can’t move forward constructively because they are encumbered by the destroying the past.
This sets up a template for victimization of themselves. All their problems are blamed on others, and their happiness is placed in their partner’s hands. This precludes one from acting with personal responsibility and empowerment and reinforces patterns of escape from dealing constructively with issues and taking ownership. A focus on the negative sets into motion those same dynamics that will affect one. Little forward thought is present on how to nurture and grow.
Successful relationships are built around an intricate balance of giving and taking. Affairs are all about taking. To sustain a relationship one must be willing to have their emotional needs met, and to meet the needs of the partner. When a wayward partner falls in love with their affair partner they are only looking to meet their own needs. They do not fall in love with their partner, in the proper sense, but fall in love with how they feel from the extra validation and ego stroking and how see themselves reflected back. Often, they are relieving their own feelings of inadequacy and insecurity by bonding with one who has significant personal issues (and really, how wonderful can a person be, that would sleep with a married person?) and they are thus able to feel a sense of superiority. They may feel better temporarily, but those same issues are still there, and they have included more that are hidden and festering away. Additionally, to protect those emotional investments that are made, a successful relationship requires proper boundaries, honesty, thoughtfulness and empathy for others and a willingness to make decisions mutually.
Affairs require broken boundaries, deceit, and betrayal making unilateral decisions. There is no respect of the wayward partner (how can you respect someone and put them in such a destructive position?) or respect of yourself (in the same regard). Leaving the marriage for the affair reinforces these destructive habits and instead of feeling like meeting the other’s needs, giving them undivided attention, and working on the relationship, it sets up patterns for resistance, avoidance, and resentment. This not only leaves the relationship vulnerable, but actively destroys the feelings of love.
A marriage, in the simplest of terms, is the output of two people. If it’s broken beyond repair, then the implication is that one of the partners is broken. They can run from the marriage, but they’re only running away from themselves. And if you run from yourself wherever you go, are you ever really there?
That being said, there are still a few hard truths to consider. Sometimes when the affair breaks, the wayward partner will not return to the marriage out of not wanting to face their shame, devaluation, and taking the path of least perceived resistance. Sometimes, the affair will continue out of pride and a need to justify that what they were doing was right. In both cases, they’ll often enter a downward spiral of making poor choices in effort to prove something to themselves, which perpetuates a cycle of self destruction. They may very well continue their behavior until the end of their days and be left scratching their heads wondering what the common link to all of their problems are. However, there are a few that will face themselves, learn to take responsibility, and ensure that they begin taking positive and constructive steps forward to commit to their emotional balance and health. After all, they are in charge of their own destiny and happiness. Character is destiny. We build that character with every decision we make and that, ultimately, is what guides us through life. We cannot escape the consequences of the decisions we make or that others make - but even against all odds we can always rise above adversity. Every person is responsible for his or her character and qualities and has the capacity to gain new qualities and extend our influence. You included.
Inevitably, a good portion of affairs come to a juncture of negotiation between the wayward spouse and the betrayed spouse. A dialogue opens up about the potential of reconciling. Many of these are false (and time and actions will tell) and nothing more than an attempt for the wayward spouse to keep the betrayed spouse as a security blanket. Some are genuine attempts by a remorseful wayward spouse to reach out. Some are just a chance, and some are just a fool’s last hope.
At this point, communication is critical. It is important to get your message across to your spouse effectively. The fundamental challenge in negotiation lies not in the conflicting positions, but in the conflict between each spouses’ needs, desires, concerns, and fears.
During this negotiation process we can either take up positions or discuss interests:
– something that you have decided on
- can be satisfied in only one way
- tend towards an adamant yes/no and are concrete/explicit
- set up an adversarial framework
– what caused you to decide
- can be satisfied in a number of ways
- provide motivation towards resolution
Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests as well as conflicting ones. Just because the other party’s position may be opposed to yours does not necessarily mean that your interests are opposed. This is what makes agreement and problem resolution possible. Finding out your spouses’ interests is at least as important as figuring out your own.
One of the most useful ways to uncover interests is to first identify the basic decision that your spouse probably sees you asking them for and then to ask yourself why they have not made that decision. What interest of theirs stand in the way? Each side will have multiple interests that may be independent or shared.
The most powerful interests, of course, are basic human needs such as:
-economic well being
-a sense of belonging
-control over one’s life
If you can take care of the basic needs you increase the chance of reaching an agreement and of the agreement lasting.
The fundamental purpose of negotiation is to serve your interests. Naturally, the chance of this happening increases when you communicate your interests. It is important to look beyond past grievances towards the future concerns. If you want your spouse to take your interests into account then explain to them what they are specifically. Don’t state or imply that your spouses’ interests are unimportant or illegitimate (unless they are completely unreasonable) – being willing to address theirs will allow you to take a strong stance in setting forth the seriousness of your concerns. You must establish the legitimacy of your concerns. You want your spouse to feel that you are not attacking them personally, but rather that the problem you face legitimately demands attention. People will listen better if they feel that you have understood them. It is important to acknowledge their interests as part of the problem. If you want them to appreciate your interests, begin by demonstrating that you understand theirs.
It is vital to put the problem before the answer! If you demand an outcome before explaining the reasons they will not hear the reasons – they will be focused on preparing arguments against your position. Give the interests and reasoning first and your conclusions and proposals afterward. Be concrete but flexible – know what your goals are but be open to how you achieve them. After your interests have been identified convert them to options.
Be hard on the problem, but not on the person. If your spouse feels personally threatened by an attack on the problem they will grow defensive and may cease to listen. This is why it is important to separate the person from the problem. Being firm in talking about your interests proves your commitment and this is the place to spend your aggressive energy. Both spouses strongly advocating their interests can stimulate each other’s creativity in thinking up mutually acceptable solutions. It is important to be supportive and respectful and demonstrate concern with meeting their needs and attacking the problem separately. This will help your spouse to dissociate from to problem in order to join you in doing something about it. Supporting the other side improves the relationship and increase the likelihood of reaching agreement.
To illustrate the above principles, let us consider the issue of boundaries – the wayward spouse has asked “What do you want me to do?” One could simply reply with “You must leave your job.” as one of the conditions (assuming the affair partner was a coworker). That is clearly a position and sets up for an adversarial confrontation as the condition cannot be altered. Firstly, it will be seen as manipulative and threaten the basic need of control over one’s life (and potentially other basic needs related to their career), but is also clearly leaves no room for discussion – it has become a go or no-go point without a means to further explore the real issue. On the very basic level, the interest of the betrayed spouse is that the wayward partner removes themselves from situations where inappropriate relationships could develop with other people (clearly a non-negotiable). Once this interest is expressed, there may be a number of viable alternatives that both can agree to (such as a NC letter, no work related trips, contacting HR, or pursuing a job elsewhere).
The only hard boundaries we can really enforce on the ones we place on ourselves to ensure that we do not passively endure a toxic situation. When communicating with your spouse, focus on the real problem – not the perceived solution. The interests are not negotiable, but the options may be. This dialogue may just be that fool’s last chance… but best to make it a fool’s, best, last chance
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:53 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
What Does This Mean?
I see this question quite a bit. A new BS inevitably comes across some evidence of one sort or another. They found hidden cash, or a new cellphone, or a new email address, or something in the internet history, or their WS was unavailable for a period of time, and so forth. Naturally, the BS wants to know what this means. Is our WS still in contact with the OP? Is our WS having an affair? Is our WS lying to us?
When faced with the onslaught of maddening confusion and trying to make sense of it all, there are a few principles to keep in mind.
1) Contradictions do not exist.
It's simple reality. Contradictions do not exist. To believe in one is to abandon rationality to believe in something that you want to believe in. When you're faced with contradictions, then some of the underlying assumptions made are wrong. When your WS states something that contradicts a known fact (or even something they have already said) then you don't have the whole truth.
2) Liars lie to protect themselves.
If they wanted to protect you, then they wouldn't have done whatever requires the lying in the first place. Lies are intended to protect the offender from facing the consequences of their choice and action. The lies can be either direct intentional lies, or by omitting information. Those who have nothing to hide will hide nothing. If they're hiding information from you - you can bet it serves their purpose.
3) The simplest explanation is often the correct one.
This is also known as Occam's Razor. One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything. This Razor underlies all scientific and theoretical modeling. If you can explain all of the behaviors you observe with one simple statement, that statement is likely correct.
4) Know when you know enough.
There's a rule of thumb called the "40/70 rule" which refers to both the amount of information that you have found and the probability that you are making the right decision with that amount. If you have less than 40% you should seek more... you may be running under reckless assumptions and be taking unforeseen risks. But the increments of information necessary to guarantee greater-than 70% are increasingly difficult to obtain, yield rapidly diminishing returns in terms of accuracy, usefulness, and invested resources, and are often counterproductive because they lead to slow decisions and analysis paralysis. Once the information is within that 40%-70% range you can most likely go with your gut and be right.
A good portion of wayward spouses will come up with all sorts of wild stories to explain things or trickle out the truth slowly. Of course, often we'll believe what we want to believe. Remember though - the facts are the facts are the facts. If something doesn't add up based on them, then you can bet your ass that you're being misdirected for an ulterior motive. A little logic goes a long way.
“SerJR, don't forget that in addition to the lies that liars tell you, there are lies that liars tell themselves. After a period of time passes, the liars begin to believe their own lies. My H had managed to convince himself with the passage of time that he became involved with the principal OW only after we separated. My recollections and concrete evidence contradicted his cosmetic restructuring of events. Yet he persisted in this belief. He declared himself 100% certain. Only when repeatedly pressured by more than one marriage counselor did he admit that his memory made no logical sense? Yet he had come to believe it. Never forget: if they don't succeed in convincing you, they will convince a far more gullible subject, themselves.” - Mantis
You left me cast into a pit of despair…
And so I learned to climb and found perseverance.
You left me in a cloud of deceit and confusion…
And so I learned to see and found truth.
You left me cowering and paralyzed by the fear…
And so I learned to stand and found courage.
You left me without that which you thought I cherished most…
And so I learned to appreciate and found beauty and love.
You left me with everything fractured and crumbled…
And so I learned to build and found hope.
You left me beaten and broken…
And so I learned fortitude and found healing.
You left me a victim without options…
And so I learned responsibility and found empowerment.
You left me in chaos…
And so I learned control and found direction.
You left me without any means…
And so I learned assertiveness and found confidence.
You left me in the wrong…
And so I learned integrity and found dignity.
You left me with everything out of order…
And so I learned temperance and found balance.
You left me ruthlessly assaulted and despised…
And so I learned mercy and found compassion.
You left me with no time…
And so I learned patience and found peace.
You left me mocked and ashamed…
And so I learned humility and found growth.
You broke the trust…
But you can trust me that you messed with the wrong woman…
You left me lost and alone…
And that is exactly where I found myself.
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:55 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Awesome thanks!!!! Copying right now :)
Lost the Day
Has it only been a few years?
Seems like more than a lifetime ago, really.
It doesn't really matter...
Because I lost that day.
Everything gone within the blink of an eye.
Left alone... lost... and in the dark.
Beyond sorrow... beyond tired... beyond despair...
And swallowed by what I had feared most.
And it fucking choked on me.
I lost that day.
But I would not lose myself.
It was MY day.
It was MY battle to fight, it was for MY life,
And it was gonna be on MY fucking terms.
No longer willing to just face my fears...
But to seek them out and hunt them down, one by one.
Because there is only one goddamned thing in this world more powerful than our fears...
We lost that day.
Failure is never measured by being beaten, broken, or damned...
But in allowing those acts to hold us back.
The truth of life lies within each of us.
So bring it on - it won't matter.
We'll simply do as life dictates and rise above every single time.
We lost that day!
And it matters not.
For after even the darkest night
The morning will always come.
And our journeys will begin anew with hope reborn in ourselves.
Grasping our fate in our own hands...
And opening up the future in our own way.
Any fool can save the day...
But it's our truest measure in how well we can lose it.
It doesn't matter how the world came to be...
What matters is the path one takes in walking through it.
The day belongs to US!
Am I OK?
The agony and betrayal of an affair can shake us to the very core of our being. It violates our feelings, our sense of wellbeing, our experiences, and what we thought was safe… leaving us exposed, vulnerable, and fearful as we are stuck unable to move on from the memories, images, rage, and powerlessness.
We’re left to question everything. Can I forgive? Can I trust? What part did I play in this? What is the right thing to do? How long will I feel this way? What can I do with the power I have? Will I recover? What do I want? What now?
But, there is one question… and one question alone, that is crucial to surviving and eventually moving beyond with a sense of relief and increasing joy. This is one question that you are already asking, over and over again desperately seeking an answer. And, most likely, you’re not even aware that you are asking it. But it’s there… constantly, just below the surface.
The question, and the answer, are found in your own journey of healing to peace – it will come from within you from your own self discovery. You probably won’t believe it, because is some ways it is just too obvious and simplistic, but it’s important to delve deep into it and reflect on it with intentionality.
So… what is the question?
Well… underneath it all, we’re all desperately asking ourselves one thing, or something very close to it:
“Am I okay?”
Huh? That’s it? Don’t answer this yet. Think about it. Step back and think about it.
“Am I okay?”
If you can’t answer this positively, think about it on a deeper level. The basis of our emotional pain is founded in fear and reinforced by the negative belief structure we have about ourselves. We’re rarely aware of it, but it resides just below the surface of our consciousness. The key if to discover what it is that we’re really afraid of, how the situation impacts our sense of self, and how to handle it. Inevitably, the fear arises from the significance and interpretation we have attached to the situation.
Spend some time alone to closely examine what is going on with you internally. Ask yourself:
1)Why am I upset?
2)What are all the thoughts running through my head about the situation?
3)What am I feeling? How do those thoughts make me feel?
4)What is my biggest fear in all of this?
5)How does this situation make me think and feel about myself?
6)What is the core issue in all of this? You may not be aware of it, but, inevitably there exists emotional filters about ourselves through which we perceive everything related to:
-Fear of vulnerability and that we aren’t safe.
-Fear of failure.
-Fear that we are fundamentally flawed.
-Fear of being controlled.
-Fear of abandonment or not belonging.
7) What thoughts, feelings, and attitudes do I have that support this core issue? How can I take responsibility for them?
8) What is my opportunity for personal growth and development for me here?
9) What do I need (needs are often the inverse of our fears)? What requests can I make to be responsible for my needs? How can I protect them?
10) What specific actions do I need, and can I take to resolve this issue, heal, and move forward?
After you’ve thought about these questions, and have had some time to come up with some answers… think about that one, fundamental question again with purpose.
“Am I okay?”
The implications of responding to this question are profound. Even just knowing what the question is that we want to ask provides us with purpose and direction. Once you can answer it in the affirmative, you are liberated to take responsibility for your own decisions and therefore fate, and to move forward and experience life with the power of knowing that you truly will be okay.
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:57 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
You know... I felt an awful lot like a failure... I mean the hero's supposed to win the battle in the end, isn't he?
What they don't tell you is that heroes often do fail.
Did my marriage fail? Yes. Am I proud of that? No. I was awfully proud of what I had... and all of that was stripped away.
And that lead to shame... the surest measure of goals never attained.
But that shame... lead to humility. By stripping myself of all conceits I exposed the roots by which the virtues of truth, love, and courage could flourish.
I was cast into a pit of hell and the devil laughed his ass off...
And I grabbed that fucker by the horns and told him to sit down, shut the fuck up, and enjoy the show.
Heroes may fail in the task, but they never fail in themselves. The real battle was never for my marriage... it was for me all along. If I was to truly fail... it would have been my doing. No way was that gonna happen.
Character isn't defined by what's happened to a person. It's defined by the choices a person makes.
So go ahead and throw me a label... cast me off into that pit. But I've gone over the edge and come back again. Go ahead and label me... the only ones that matter anyway are the ones I ascribe to myself... and I refuse to limit my potential. And besides... that label might come in handy to wipe my mouth after I eat the devil's lunch on him.
These last I don't think were written by SerJr, but they are classics all the same.
Healthy Personal Boundaries
Healthy personal boundaries are a way to protect and take good care of ourselves. We all have a right and responsibility to protect our dignity and defend ourselves and those boundaries let others know when their behavior is not acceptable to us. It is important to assert our self respect and develop a healthy relationship with ourselves.
Setting these boundaries is an integral part of ensuring a healthy dynamic in a personal relationship. It is important to communicate these boundaries without blame to ensure the message is heard but still let them know how their behavior is affecting us. A simple way to lay out these boundaries is to use a basic structure:
When you – a description of the behavior that you find unacceptable. You want to make this as specific as possible and not rely on your perception of the behavior but to be about the actual behavior itself.
I feel – the impact the behavior has on you. It is important to not let this define us but rather be an emotionally honest expression of our feelings.
I want – a description of the behavior that it is you want from the other person.
If you – again a description of the behavior that we find unacceptable.
I will – a description of what steps you will take to protect yourself and that boundary if it is violated.
Realize that you can only control yourself and not the other person. This part is not a form of punishment or manipulation but a way to protect you. The consequence should be realistic and within your power to enforce.
So an unhealthy boundary would be saying “You can’t go out any more”. This is quite visibly an aggressive means of manipulation and control and does nothing to create an environment of mutual respect or emotional connection. It will create an aura of defensiveness and possibly be looked upon as a challenge.
A healthier version would be “When you go out and do not let me know where you are I feel insecure and worry about what you are doing. I want to be with someone who is completely honest and transparent so that I can have complete trust in them. If you do not wish to respect my needs and be a partner in this marriage then realize I will confront your behavior, voice my concerns, and insist of counseling. Should nothing change, then I shall maintain my dignity and self respect and re-evaluate my desire to stay in this relationship”. A statement such as this asserts your personal power over the situations you will allow yourself to be in. Strong, simple, and dignified.
Not only does the boundary have to be set, but we have to be willing to enforce them. It is not meant to be a threat or form of punishment – it is a consequence of the other person’s behavior. The only way that we can do this is to judge that our own self worth is more important than the final outcome.
Boundaries are a way to take ownership of our personal empowerment and avoid being a victim. They are a vital part of learning to communicate in a direct and honest way.
(This is a summary from http://www.joy2meu.com/Personal_Boundaries.htm)
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 11:59 AM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Why People Cheat and Lie About It
People cheat and lie about it because they have too much to loose in their M to simply leave it.
Not because the M or you are not enough.
People cheat because they need reassurance about their own value.
It’s not about YOUR value.
People cheat because they don’t love themselves enough.
Not because you didn’t love them enough.
People cheat because they have boundary issues.
Not because the OP is “irresistible”.
People cheat because they are afraid of true intimacy and being seen as who they really are.
It’s not about loving the OP. There cannot be true love without intimacy.
People cheat because they make themselves believe they won’t get caught.
Not because you and your family are worth loosing.
People cheat because they don’t respect themselves.
Not because you didn’t show them enough consideration.
People cheat because they are afraid of being alone, forced to face themselves and look within.
Not because they need “space” or “time”.
People cheat to escape from themselves, their responsibilities and their issues. It’s all about not wanting to deal.
It’s not about what and who they’re dealing with.
People cheat to live the fantasy.
It’s not about the OP being better than you.
People cheat by their own choice.
Not because you or something you said or did “made them” cheat
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 12:02 PM, June 27th (Sunday)]
I'll add a few more that are still being bumped on a regular basis, but this way they will be all together.
This primer is intended for betrayed spouses that have just arrived to the site looking for a quick-start guide of advice and what to do.
The first important thing to note is that there is no instant gratification, recovery, or magic bullet. Recovering from an affair takes hard work, sacrifice, patience, commitment, and time. Right now you are confused, in pain, and feeling helpless. Most of us have gone through the same.
This will likely be the worst experience in your life. You are a prime candidate for depression and should see a doctor (get checked for STDs) and counselor if you are having trouble coping and carefully monitor your diet, exercise, and sleep patterns to ensure that you are at your best.
An interesting fact is that most affairs resemble each other very closely. The words, actions, attitudes, and beliefs of the wayward partner come from a common script. This similarity allows for a general plan that can be modified according to the specifics of the situation.
It is important to realize that the wayward spouse has entered a realm of irrational thinking. They have done something that does not agree with their core belief and value system. What happens is that they enter a fantasy world and will repeatedly rationalize and justify what they are doing to avoid ownership and responsibility for their decisions. They will use many psychological self defense mechanisms to deny reality. Likely, they will shift the blame for their choices onto you or the marriage, rewrite the marital history, exaggerate trivial issues, and engage in lies and deceit to lessen their guilt and justify their actions. Right now, they are unreasonable and no amount of logic or explanation from you will sink in – in fact it will entrench them further in their irrational thinking. This is commonly referred to as ‘the fog’.
Don’t buy into you causing the affair. Both partners are 100% responsible for their part in the marriage. You may need to critically examine yourself to see what changes you need to make, but you are not responsible for your spouse’s decision.
It is also imperative to realize that you cannot control your spouse. You cannot control the circumstances that you will face. You can, however, exercise the power of discernment in these situations and control the situation that you allow yourself to be in and your contribution to it. You have the ability to apply motivating factors to your spouse by:
i) Making the marriage a good place to be
ii) Making the affair a bad place to be
iii) Making the marriage difficult to leave
The affair serves as a way to siphon off underlying tension and fear that they probably have from not really knowing what their needs are or how to get them met. Since they have quite a bit "invested" in both relationships and the impact of the consequences will hit hard, it's probably become difficult for them to make a decision. Your wayward spouse likely won't make a definitive decision and will waffle back and forth depending on their selfish desires as well as their true needs. This is fence-sitting and you'll spin your wheels and run over the same territory time and time again. So, address those polar pushes and pulls your wayward spouse is feeling and kick them off the fence.
The worst thing you can do is to do nothing. Your wayward spouse will see this as passive approval of what they're doing and it will embolden them to continue their behaviour. Worst of all though... it is giving up your power to chose. Realise that there is a very high risk to reward ratio with any forward action you take. Your wayward spouse is having an affair and most likely blaming you for this. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking a stand and not tolerating this behaviour.
From this stage forward you will want to bring a new approach to your communication and interaction with your wayward partner and anyone else that knows. You will still be connected to your partner but you want to have your feelings, thoughts, and actions under control. Speak the truth, directly and with quiet assertiveness and let your silence speak volumes. Be calm, steady, and in control with both your voice and your body. This technique carries power because it comes from your centre and illustrates your dignity and confidence.
Here is a summary of the general tactical plan:
Step 1) Gather intelligence on your spouse’s activities, even is your spouse has admitted to an affair (don’t be fooled into thinking it is over). Use a journal to record and document all suspicious behavior and keep it factual with times and dates and the activities. Consider reviewing cell phone records, internet history, etc to get as much evidence as possible. This is necessary research and if caught you will likely be accused of invading privacy to which the response would be “I was revealing your secrecy”. You will also want to have an informational visit with a lawyer to educate yourself about your rights so that you can make informed decisions.
Step 2) Confront your wayward spouse with the fact that you know about the affair and ask your spouse to stop. Do not give away all of your sources if possible – that will educate your spouse and allow them to hide the affair better in the future. They may not admit to it, and will likely deny and come up with wild explanations and minimize the relationship, but they need to know deep down they’ve been caught. You will be able to see it in their eyes.
Step 3) Lay out your boundaries to your wayward partner and let them know they are not open to debate. Healthy personal boundaries are a way to protect and take good care of ourselves. We all have a right and responsibility to protect our dignity and defend ourselves, and those boundaries let others know when their behaviour is not acceptable to us. Boundaries are about not allowing ourselves to be in a situation to be further hurt, not about manipulating another. You have to be willing to enforce them and the consequences. A simple boundary composition consists of “I want…”, “If you…”, “I will”. For example, “I want to be in a committed, open, and honest relationship. If you cannot respect me or my needs, then I will evaluate my desire to stay in this relationship.” Other vital boundaries include that the spouse has no contact with the affair partner, is willing to provide emails, passwords, cell-phone bills, etc to rebuild trust, as well as counseling or others depending on the situation. Make sure you don't take up a position but instead express your fundamental interests to your wayward partner. Positions become go or no-go points while expressing your interests allows you to come up with mutually acceptable alternatives. Make sure you are aware of which are needs and which are wants. We have to be able to judge that our own self worth is more important than the final outcome. Boundaries are a way to take ownership of our personal empowerment and avoid being a victim.
Step 4) Judicious Application of Reality:
If your wayward spouse has not broken off the affair and committed to the marriage then expose the affair to anyone who can apply pressure and influence to end it. If the other person involved is married inform the other betrayed spouse – they have a right to address the problems in their marriage as well. Also, if the affair is work related expose it to coworkers, supervisors, and the HR department. You may also decide to expose it to your and your spouse’s family and friends at your discretion or anyone else who can reasonably be expected to apply pressure. Be careful of the advice given by others and do not attempt to recruit your spouses family to your side - If they ask questions, answer honestly, but in the long run, do not expect their support. Exposure is a strong weapon to end the adultery. Affairs thrive on disrespect, deceit, and fantasy. Once they are revealed for what they are the fantasy world starts to crumble. Your wayward spouse will be furious and blame you because you’ve wrecked their little fairy-tale, but you are letting your spouse receive the consequences of their actions. Don’t try to bear the burden without exposure – that would be condoning the disrespect shown to you.
Consult a lawyer and find out where you stand. This will give you the information you need to start planning your contingencies. You may not want to walk that road now, but it makes sense to have it paved beforehand. Deactivate your wayward spouse and shut down their resource supply. Cancel their cell phone. Disconnect the internet. Consider emptying out half of the bank/retirement accounts (believe me that a wayward spouse is already thinking about this). Cancel joint credit cards. Make sure your insurance/retirement information is all up to date. Change your beneficiary to your children in trust of a relative on that and any other accounts you have. Draw up a new will, change the power of attorney to someone trusted. Get together all bank statements, statements of income, proof of the affair, etc so that it's readily available for the lawyer. Make certain that if you want to reconcile, you consistently explain to your wayward spouse that once they cut off contact with their affair partner and stick to it (and is transparent and honest so that you can verify compliance - handing over emails, passwords, etc), you are willing to resume your marriage and to recover without making them pay for their mistakes for the rest of their life. Show them a way back. Once your wayward spouse sees that the consequences of their actions will impact the quality of their life, there exists a chance that they may start to take responsibility for their choices.
Step 5) If the confrontation did not end the affair, it is time to make the marriage a good place to be and work on yourself. Read up on the 180 in the BS FAQ section of the Healing Library. It is a mechanism for you to retake control of your life, rebuild your self esteem, move forward with confidence, and show your partner that you respect yourself. Stay dignified and the class act the whole time. This is about personal empowerment through monitoring your thoughts, adjusting your attitude and nurturing yourself. This will also show your spouse that you can be an attractive partner in a revitalized marriage. Typically, this will last for 3 to 6 months depending before your next steps.
Step 6) If the previous steps have done nothing, then it is time to show to show your partner the reality of the situation and what they will be missing without you in their life. Tell them “Honey, I would prefer that the marriage would work and that’s what I’m willing to do, but I can see that it’s impossible now. Ending it is not what I want, but the present situation is something that I want less. So ending it, for me, is moving forward.” In this stage you cut off all communication with your wayward partner. This prevents the wayward partner from getting positive or negative emotional needs met from you. This will facilitate your spouse making a decision and also provide you with emotional detachment. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney to protect yourself, your children, and your assets - do not let your wayward partner know this as you want to get all of your ducks in a row - hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. This will protect you regardless of the outcome. This stage can last again anywhere from 3 to 12 months. Looking at the first 6 months though (steps 5 and 6) should give you enough information about where things stand with your WS.
Step 7) There is no guarantee – sometimes all that you can do will not result in your spouse returning and being a committed partner. Sometimes, regretfully, you will have to cut your losses, protect yourself and your children, and move forward and onto divorce. If this does happen though, you will have the comfort of knowing that you did everything possible to salvage your marriage.
Should the affair end and the wayward spouse return to the marriage, reconciliation will be a difficult road to travel. You will know that your spouse is committed when they:
- Take responsibility for their choices and actions (without blaming you).
- Recognise the pain you were made to suffer because of their choices and are remorseful and empathetic for you (not just feeling sorry for themselves).
- Set up plans to ensure that this doesn't happen again. This includes no contact with the affair partner or other potential partners and taking measures such as blocking them from phone/email access, constructing a No Contact Letter, commitment to finding another job if appropriate, and so forth.
- Are 100% honest and transparent and willing to answer any questions and provide any information to rebuild the trust. This includes giving you access to the tools of the affair such as emails, phone, etc in order to verify their compliance.
- Are actively trying to make amends to the marriage.
You will have both built up walls to protect yourselves. Those same walls will prevent you from connecting emotionally. They have to be taken down very carefully. Some tips for successful reconciliation include:
- Avoid spending too much time together to try and force recovery.
- Don’t just try to move forward and forget – this issue must be addressed although not the exclusion of everyday life.
- Avoid bringing up the affair repeatedly for anything not related to the affair, and do not belittle your spouse.
- Exhibit trust to the wayward partner only where trustworthiness has been shown. Continue to monitor the wayward partners activities to ensure the affair is over.
- Do spend more time together doing things that you both enjoy.
- Do seek professional counseling.
- Do ensure that you try to meet their emotional needs and not engage in destructive behaviours or habits.
Above all else, make sure that you keep faith in yourself and take care of you. That faith will nurture the natural honesty, compassion, and courage within you to carry you through. Stay true to the standards, morals, ethics, and beliefs that you hold yourself to. And know that you're gonna be okay.
Betrayed Spouses Bill of Rights by Holly-Isis
1- You have a right to the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. By having an affair, your spouse has closed off the relationship with you and opened one with the OP (other person). You have a right to insist this is reversed for your healing and to assure that loyalties have been realigned.
2- You have the right to trust- but verify. Trust has been broken, ‘snooping’ is not snooping. It is verifying that someone proven to be a liar, sneak and cheat has changed their ways. Like an addict, a WS(wayward spouse) will often go back to their emotional fix. You have a right to verify this is not happening.
3- You have the right to insist there are only two people in the marriage. That choice was made when you made vows to each other. Even a moment with a third person is too much. You owe your WS no time to ‘think about it’. There’s a marriage or there’s none.
4- You have a right to know who the OP is, the flip of this is you do not have a right to harm or harass this person. Hold yourself to a better standard than the OP did.
5- You have the right to choose to give the gift of reconciliation or to divorce. You have the right to take some time to make that choice. If you one day realize you cannot live with the truth of what has been done, you have the right to walk away.
6- You have the right to insist your WS gets STD testing done and to see the results. Even if the WS claims it has not gotten physical, as many WSs will admit to “only a kiss” when it has gone much further.
7- You have the right to insist that your WS initiates and honors NC (no contact) immediately. You have a right to have input and to be a witness to how NC is established.
8- You have a right to set and enforce boundaries. This is not blackmail or any of the other negative words your WS might use. This you protecting yourself.
9- You have a right to hold onto evidence for as long as you need it to feel safe. Your WS has created an atmosphere of risk and danger. It is natural to have a safety net to counteract what has been brought into your marriage.
10- You have a right to know who your WS’s friends are and the nature of their interactions. If it is kept a secret, it is not healthy for the marriage and therefore something is amiss.
11- You have the right to out the affair to anyone you deem will help you and/or your marriage. This is not your secret to keep, this is not your shame to hold. You owe no protection to those that failed to protect you.
12- You have a right to heal on your timeline. As long as you are making steady progress, you are healing. It is a slow process and a WS that says things along the lines of, “You’ll never get over this!” does not have a full grasp of the damage betrayal causes. This is a healing process that takes from 18 months to five years.
13- You have a right to yell, cry, fall apart and otherwise handle this in any way that relieves some of the devastating pain, shock and loss of trust. Your world has been turned on its end. You do not have the right to physically, verbally or otherwise abuse your spouse.
14- You have the right to insist on a true marriage. A marriage of partners, where you love, honor and protect each other. If you feel your marriage is missing one of these components, either fixing it or leaving are your only two options. You don’t have the right to cheat and/or turn someone else into a betrayed spouse.
15- You have a right to love yourself. Often the betrayed have forgotten themselves as an individual. This is the optimum time to remind yourself that you are unique and lovable in your own right. That as much as you might love your spouse, you should love yourself enough to refuse any sort of mistreatment.
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 9:40 AM, July 6th (Tuesday)]
katherine41's Hindsight is 20/20
I'm now 2 1/2 years post d-day. I am nearly divorced. Here are my perspectives given 20/20 hindsight.
This applies for the foggy, unremorseful, and cake-eating WS's:
1. Reconciliation is ONLY possible with a WS who is quickly and consistently remorseful.
2. How quickly?
In retrospect, I wish I'd given my foggy WH ONE MONTH and no more. Yes, there are stories on SI of WS's de-fogging months and months later. I read those stories and held out too much hope for my own WS. Some WS's never de-fog. And if they are still gaslighting and justifying over a month later, folks, I'm sorry, but it's not looking hopeful.
3. What do you mean by consistently remorseful?
Some WS's act real sorry in brief spurts. Or they get a dose of de-fogging (usually by an outside source) and promise everything. For a few days. Or sometimes even a week or two.
My hindsight rule of thumb? Before a BS should believe that R is happening, a good solid month of remorse, without lapses of justification and gaslighting, needs to pass. I often leapt at the "opportunity" to R with stbxh on the barest of efforts on his part.
4. I wish I'd not given a damn if I made WS angry.
I ran around after d-day scared of making stbxh angry at me. Scared that he'd leave me. Ya know what? A remorseful WS isn't going to "leave you" just because they caught you snooping at the caller id on the cell phone. But a lying, still-cheating WS surely will bluster and get all up in arms.
5. Define your minimum standards and stick to them sooner rather than later.
Minimum standards? These are the MUST-HAVES for your marriage to continue. YOUR must-haves. Think hard. We BS's will have a lot of wants. Pare away the wants. Get down to the core. If these core issues can't be met, the rest is pie-in-the-sky anyway.
My minimums were: NC with OW; firing coverupper; honesty, especially financial, and MC.
My wants were many, including apologizing to my parents, curtailing "guys' nights" out, getting rid of some loser friends, more intertwined activities, . . . and so on. I found my core by working really hard and honestly, "If he doesn't do XXX am I willing to stay married?" The "wants" would have made my marriage a helluva lot better, but I was truthfully willing to stay with much less.
I needed my "minimum standards" because I twisted in the wind so much. When I finally defined my minimum, well, it was a lot easier to gauge when stbxh was bullshitting.
For example, stbxh offered to move to a new town and "start over." Sounds great, right? But when I said, "yes, but first you have to fire coverupper," he wouldn't do it. He wanted to take me on vacations. "Yes, but come to MC this week." He wouldn't do it. Or the times he wanted to move home. "First send all the bills to our home address and give me your passwords." [The honesty issue]. He wouldn't do it.
6. Never reveal your sources
Listen to me. Never reveal your sources. An unremorseful or foggy WS will lie to the bitter end. They will swear on their children, their parents, on the Bible, etc. Just believe in yourself and your evidence. If you are confronting the WS, don't reveal the way you got your info. If they lie, just keep repeating, "You are lying and I know it."
7. Gather up your army
You are at war for your marriage. Don't namby-pamby around. Depressed? Get anti-depressants sooner than later. Not sleeping? Get sleeping aids sooner than later. Hell, yes, go shopping and update your look (men and women). Get to IC. Vent away here. Out the OP to their spouse, their job, their friends.
8. The strategy
Given the above, I wish I had done the 180 for two months and no more. In month one, I wish I had defined my cores. I wish I had not reasoned, argued, pleaded. I wish I had just done the 180 for that time. Each time I failed, I wish I'd dusted myself off and plugged away at it again.
Then, if WS had not de-fogged or was breaking NC with OP after two months, I wish I had proceeded to . . .
No contact for months three and four. I wish I hadn't called him to cry. To hear his voice. To get my fix. To check up on him. I wish I had stuck to e-mail about the kids and finances ONLY. If this didn't de-fog WS, by month four or five, I should have:
10. Finalized divorce preparations, maintaining NC.
By getting finances and paperwork in order. Retained a lawyer.
11. By month six, if the WS was still in the A, still breaking NC, still not remorseful. . . well, it's just my opinion that their actions are screaming volumes. They aren't gonna change.
File for separation or divorce. And let your lawyer play hard and fast. Don't interrupt the process. Don't be scared of making the WS mad. Please, he or she has been cheating on you. I don't know one of us down in separaton and divorce whose WS "did right" by us in the divorce.
Yes, it is possible to R, even after a divorce. Is the divorce making them de-fog? Don't stop the process, but refer them to your core issues. Hell, my stbxh has asked to R with me right up to this day. But you know what? He has NEVER done the four things all at once.
[This message edited by ThriveNotSurvive at 12:03 PM, June 27th (Sunday)]
Thank you DS for changing the title!
Thank you thank you thank you
Wow... I didn't see these when I first joined a few weeks back. Thank you!