I'm now 7 1/2 years post d-day. I first posted this thread five years ago, when I was nearly divorced. I am re-posting because a friend urged me to. Here are my perspectives given 20/20 hindsight. I still believe them, even now.
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.
Comments? Fire away.