I am the person who originally wrote the information in the first post about the fog. I wrote it a few years ago in another forum similar to this one a number of months after I had discovered my wife's affair. I am both amazed and gratified that it is able to help or comfort others who are going through what I once did.
When my wife had her affair, I was completely ignorant of it. In hindsight, there were some signs, but nothing major, nothing that would make a normal reasonable person in a long-term marriage question the loyalty of his or her spouse. The thing about it is, my wife functioned perfectly logically in every other aspect of her life while the affair was going on. Her judgment, her ability to look at a situation, whether it be buying clothes for the kids, deciding where we should go on vacation, should we fix the old washing machine that broke or buy a new one, if we were buying a new one, which one should we buy, what are the pros and cons of each one - all of these decisions, she could look at objectively, look at BOTH sides of the situation, and come up with a fair evaluation of both the GOOD and the BAD in each choice. But when it came to the guy she had the affair with, she was completely blinded to the bad, she saw only good qualities.
How could my intelligent wife be so blind? I read some of their communications, that's how I found out, it was obvious obvious obvious that he was using her for sexual purposes. It was almost like she reverted back to being a naive 13-year-old girl. When I read her communications to the other guy, that's what I thought of - she sounds like she's in high school and this is her very first boyfriend.
When I first found out about the affair, I lurked on a bunch of these sites and read a lot of the threads. A LOT. I went back years and perused and found many situations that were similar to mine, same basic marriage before the affair, same "rainbows and unicorns" attitude from the cheaters toward their affair partner.
As someone else here posted, I don't think I could be so blind as that.
Also, I've never liked the term "the fog." I don't believe it is an excuse for cheating. But it is a behavior that many cheaters have in common while they are in their affair, and sometimes for quite a while afterward.
Assuming your spouse is actually in the fog, and many are, the best way to snap them out of it, in my opinion, is bring them harshly back into reality. Leave them. Or ask them to leave. DO NOT BE THERE AS THEIR "SAFETY NET." Let them really know, you WILL NOT be there for them. Force them to make a choice.
If they choose the affair partner, and many do, it forces them to deal with their new relationship in the real world, no longer in the "what if" and "if only" "rainbows and unicorns" fantasy land. They must start making plans to be together, they must deal with each other's real-life flaws, YOU THE BETRAYED no longer will be there to watch the kids, do the laundry, pick up the slack while they focus solely on the fun of the affair. Many will snap out of the fog at this time IF, and this is a big IF, you hold firm that you refuse to compromise on the basics - the affair must end and they must re-commit to the marriage. NO CONTACT IS A MUST. If that means quitting a job, deleting their facebook account, deleting their email account and sharing yours, then that is what must be done. Exposure may or may not be helpful, depending on the circumstance, I call it 50-50 based on what I've seen. Telling the affair partner's spouse is almost always very effective.
One huge mistake many betrayeds make is accepting the cheater back with no real ACTION on the part of the cheater. The cheater just gives lip service, yes I love you, yes I recommit to you, but then doesn't do anything like quit their job or delete their facebook or do things to help you get over it. TALK is cheap. ACTIONS speak much louder than words, the old cliche is true. Also true I think is that you have to be willing to lose your marriage in order to save it.
If there is true NO CONTACT, the fog almost always lifts before three months is up. If they still are in the fog after three months, almost definitely they still are in contact if not actively cheating. There also is a common behavior among betrayeds, not all, but many, that is like a kind of "betrayed fog," where the betrayed does not live in "reality" when it comes to acknowledging what their cheating spouse really is doing.
When I went through this with my wife, I took a hard line, I was ready to divorce immediately and she begged for a second chance, which I gave. That hard line was my natural reaction, I hadn't yet discovered or sought out any infidelity or reconciliation advice, it was a gut reaction to when I first found out. I really was ready to divorce, although I didn't want to, but I also didn't want to live with a woman who didn't love me and wasn't committed to me 100%. I was not willing to be anyone's "second choice" or "back up plan" or "plan B." I noticed when I searched through other people's experiences that this reaction and attitude more often than not worked much better than trying to negotiate or compromise with the cheater. What works best I think is to say, "Quit the affair, dump the affair partner, no contact ever again, or I'm filing for divorce."
There was something that someone else wrote called "Just Let Them Go" (I think that's what it was called) which I found helpful after I first found out.
Whenever I struggled in the reconciliation, I told myself I would be OK no matter what. I told myself that I could leave at any time, as long as she was doing what I needed, I would give her one more day. Over time, it was a bit up and down, it wasn't a straight line, but things improved.
What is Disloyal Fog?
~Author, anonymously known as “Pit-of-my-stomach” on Talk About Marriage forum
Adapted, with permission, from the thread “Never Say Never”
I don’t think the majority of people involved in affairs, or even drugs for that matter, set out with the intention of becoming drug addicts or adulterers. It is a snow ball effect. Most people don’t even know it’s rolling until its already gained significant speed and can very easily get out of control.
The Disloyal Spouse doesn’t always realize what is happening or they see it through “the fog.” A bad (often dismissed as “innocent”) decision starts the ball rolling, which forces another bad decision, which may be difficult to cope with, which is rationalized, which kicks in all of the defense mechanisms, which force more bad decisions…. Etc, etc, etc…
You are not as strong as your mind, and in affair situations your mind IS ON DRUGS. It most often starts as something “innocent”… Chemicals get naturally released into the brain–fed small doses of “love drugs” i.e. phenyl ethylamine (or “PEA” — a naturally occurring trace ammine in the brain. PEA is a natural amphetamine, which releases Dopamine. Dopamine stimulates the production of oxytocin). This begins “intrusive thinking,” where it seems like your brain is fixated on the object of your affection. When your heart rules your head, there’s actually one part of your brain running the other: the cortex is the area of your brain that controls logical thinking, while emotions are processed by the limbic system. When too many happy chemicals like PEA and dopamine flood your brain, they head straight for the limbic system.
The Disloyal Spouse is now on the addiction path. Then their mind can begin a process of defensive mechanisms which can and will shield them from realizing what is really happening, and before they know it–they lose control. But most often I believe the Disloyal Spouse thinks they are in control of the situation as does any “addict”. They don’t see it; after all that IS a defense mechanism. It’s your mind’s way of protecting itself, an unconscious process that tries to reduce the anxiety associated with instinctive desires. The most well known and common defense mechanisms in the mind of an adulterer would be Denial, Rationalization, and Repression.
Denial is probably one of the best known defense mechanisms, used often to describe situations in which people seem unable to face reality or admit an obvious truth (i.e. “more than friends”) Denial is an outright refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring.
Denial functions to protect the ego from things with which the individual does not want to cope (for example, guilt). While this may save us from anxiety or pain, denial also requires a substantial investment of energy. Because of this, other defenses are also used to keep these unacceptable feelings from consciousness.
An example of denial might be: “I know we texted and talked on the cell phone for 6000 minutes this month, but we’re just friends! It’s not an emotional affair!
Rationalization is a defense mechanism that involves trying to explain an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behavior. Rationalization not only prevents anxiety, it may at the time seem to protect self-esteem, self-concept, and personal dignity. Rationalization can kick in when confronted by perceived moral failure or wrongdoing (for example, on Discovery Day); people tend to blame other people or outside forces rather than take personal responsibility.
An example of rationalization might be: “You ignored me when I wanted to talk so I have a right to find someone who pays attention to me” or “I never did love you–I’ve been unhappy for YEARS so I found someone else.”
Suppression is another well-known defense mechanism. Suppression acts to keep information out of forefront of your conscious awareness (for example, selective memory regarding conversations or acts with the Other Person). Sometimes we do this consciously by forcing the unwanted information out of our awareness, which is known as repression
An example of suppression might be the Disloyal Spouse claiming to “forget” when they first had sex with the Other Person–claiming “I don’t know.” An example of repression might be the Disloyal Spouse purposefully “forgetting” how happy they were just last Christmas.
Sublimation, Displacement, Projection and Intellectualization are other defense mechanisms which play small parts in the process of mental self protection in affair or addiction situations…
Often the Disloyal Spouse attributes “outside forces” to what happened that lead to an affair (for example. “it just happened”). Outside forces don’t get people into these situations, but “inside forces” can… Thus, a person is responsible for their actions and the decisions they made to get to that point. Your brain + the love drugs (amphetamine, oxytocin, dopamine, etc. …) + addiction defense mechanisms can lead to situations that put your marriage and family in jeopardy. So protect yourself and your marriage! It could happen to almost anyone, don’t kid yourself!
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:29
It slows down their answers to your questions, because they are thinking how to say things so you won't feel hurt right now and they can say to themselves that they're acting to "help" keep you from hurting.
The Fog isn't just something the cheater is in, it's something that they surround themselves in to keep the truth hidden from us. The Fog scares us because we know we're not seeing things as they really are, just a partial reality to keep us away from the truth.
“Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword”
Affair(s) are the ultimate cowardly move.
Even the 'fog' summation of 'having cake and eating it too' implies not being able to take the risk by leaving the 'safe' relationship behind to pursue another relationship.
To me, someone engaged in affair(s) behavior has no sense of self worth and truly must feel completely pathetic to pursue and engage in this behavior. To a certain degree I wonder how much digging at FOO and other issues is a deflection/justification as it ultimately dilutes the simple fact that they wanted and chose everything that happened and that at that moment in time, it was ok for them.