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Trauma Bonding

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 5:43 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

If a reader has the book, please enlighten us.

I have her book "The Divorce Remedy" which I think is just a somewhat newer updated rehash. It's a good book, and I generally like what Michelle Weiner-Davis has to say on a variety of topics. In more recent years, she seems to have become a little less chipper when it comes to the damage of infidelity. She now acknowledges the very long and painful trajectory of healing that is required. Yet I feel she is far too optimistic and perhaps overly tilted in the direction of saving the marriage, no matter what.

For instance about infidelity she writes, if you're the betrayed spouse, "You might even be questioning your commitment to your marriage." Gee, ya think Michelle? It's stuff like this I find a bit off-putting, and I think it reveals that Weiner-Davis is sometimes overly casual about the damage. The default should instead be "yes, you are questioning the marriage and are right to do so." She far too often writes in that breezy self-help shorthand that assumes a happy ending and lacks complexity.

If you read the book I read, you may also be struck by how she leans perilously close to the pick-me dance and blameshifting a few times. I think this is because, as she herself discloses, she's all in on saving the marriage no matter what. For example, she falls into the trap of the bottomless pit of "unmet needs" by suggesting that a faithful spouse should scramble around doing research on what makes the AP so attractive to your WS and then figure out a plan for how you can fulfill these needs. Well, I mean fuck that noise. Seriously. And then she wants a BS to dance around like a trained monkey all happy and perky whenever in the presence of their WS.

I've always been confused by this notion of a faithful spouse implementing a 180, being perky and happy, and waiting around patiently for their unfaithful spouse to come back around -- for months?! There's no way I could ever do this, it would induce serious cognitive dissonance. Not to mention, during this lengthy time period, your unfaithful wife is opening her legs repeatedly to another man? Over months? And a BH is supposed to accept damaged goods back after this?

yet this seems to be precisely what Weiner-Davis is suggesting: "Several months ago, you would have been thrilled to have your spouse commit to working on your marriage. Even is the pace of reconciliation is slower than you would like, remember how far you've come. Don't screw things up now."

Really? Don't screw things up now? Hey Michelle, things are already pretty damned screwed up at this stage. Can't unring that bell.

Ugh. This is frankly a repulsive sentiment. Gross. I can't imagine being a simp for that long. I was a chump already for long enough.

In any case, there's an ironic trigger in this part of the discussion for me. I bought "The Divorce Remedy" during my WW's affair, when she was gaslighting me on hard mode and she had convinced that I had falsely accused her. This was precipitated after I'd hacked her cell phone account and pulled up the phone records showing the constant stream of texts and phone calls between her and Her AP.

My WW confronted me when she learned I had done this and started blowing up my phone one Sunday when I was at church alone, trying to pray. I went home and she accused me of "trying to ruin the one adult male friendship I've had" and that I had a psychological problem.

I was wracked with guilt and I was convinced I had a paranoia problem and that I might need professional help. The first sections of my copy of "The Divorce Remedy" are heavily highlighted with notes to myself about what a dick I've been (when I was, in point of fact, not being a dick at all.). What a fool I've been. How I've pushed this good woman away with my unfounded paranoia. Etc. You get the picture. It's sick-making reviewing these notes again.

To make matters worse there's a lengthy anecdote in the book about a paranoid husband who pushed his wife away with suspicions of infidelity. In retrospect, reading this anecdotes again, Weiner Davis is far too credulous in accepting the wife’s version of events. Reading it again now, knowing what know now, it looks to me like the wife probably was cheating on him. But at the time, I took this anecdote at face value and assumed this was a wake up call for me to end my paranoid ways.

So damaging.

My WW was all too happy to feed into this thinking. She suggested I might need an SSRI, encouraged me to see a psychiatrist, and she invoked an in home separation and shunned me completely. Thankfully I ignored her advice to see a psych and get on a medication I didn't need. When she and I have talked about this more recently, I've said bluntly that she was willing to see me drugged and drooling so she could screw another man. She defends herself with bullshit, saying she felt I really was anxious and would have benefitted from anti-anxiety medication.

Of course all of this willful twisting of my head around at the time (even though I didn't realize at the time she was doing this) was in service of her affair. She simply plowed ahead with her affair once she felt she had sufficiently cowed me.

At the time, I was convinced my actions were going to lead to divorce. I was tempted into pick me dance behavior and started heading down that path until about a day into our IHS, I picked up a copy of Weiner-Davis' book. This is when I learned about the 180, read a bit more online and then began implementing it.

Yes, you have to mean the 180. I wasn't "acting" about moving on when I implemented it. I was convinced my actions had led to a probable divorce, so I was trying to get my own life in order and move on.

In any case, after a week of the 180 my WW starting trying to talk to me. One night she suddenly plopped herself down on the couch and tried to cuddle with me while I was simply reading a book. I said to her "what are you doing?" but I buckled and allowed it. I flubbed this part of the 180 by allowing her back in without addressing the elephant in the room. But I was still convinced I had done something wrong

Ironically, it was after this, and having a few more days to reflect, that her reaction to the 180 woke me up out of her manipulation gambit and made me understand I was being played. I realized I wasn't wrong. I realized she was full of shit. In retrospect, she and her AP "cooled it" during this short period, only for her to then plow ahead with the affair and to have unprotected sex in our home a week later, while I was out of town on a business trip.

It wasn't long after this that I secured VAR's, got the recording I've referred to often here, and the rest is unfortunate infidelity history. Side note: The damage from the VAR recording is profound. I've never been able to see her in the same light after listening to it. My WW found the VAR several weeks after DDAY and threw it in the trash, yet I'd already listened to the one conversation several times over and over. What I heard was a woman who was knowing, calculating, who chuckled about the sex they'd had, and who was strategizing with her AP about how to continue to play me. Her voice was deeper, measured, slower. She also did some performative "cute" quirks in the conversation and I was immediately struck by how I'd thought these were unique and special to our relationship, but in fact were just a part of her repertoire for interchangeable interactions with men.

Anyway, it was difficult to do the 180. I was being upbeat, I was getting up quite early every morning, alone in our master bedroom, dressing well (I always have, but I started wearing a sharp suit every single day), and leaving the house as soon as possible. When I came home, I was listening to comedy routines with my headphones in and laughing to myself, leaving for walks, going out for occasional drinks with friends. My WW had already decided to completely freeze me out and shun me (including on my birthday) so it was relatively easy for me to simply ignore her at the time.

I can't imagine doing it for months, which Weiner-Davis say is a distinct possibility.

But it was very hard: Inside, I was dying. Inside, I was having panic attacks throughout the day every day. Inside, I was grieving. So I was putting on an act in that sense. And that's why I say in my own experience, it would have been virtually impossible to implement the 180 over a longer period of time in her presence. Being away from her completely would have been easier.

To answer the question about the 180 specifically, in the book Weiner Davis outlines how she thinks manipulation toward a positive end is actually a good thing: "if the methods we use effectively nip relationship problems in the bud."

She writes ....


"You need to immediately start doing things that are out of character for the way you've been acting lately. You need to become more upbeat in your partner's presence. You need to appear pleased with yourself and your life. If you have phone conversations, sound content, even bubbly."

The 180, insofar as she conceived it and popularized it, is directly meant as a tool to entice a walkaway/wayward spouse back. She appropriately warns it may not work. And I would agree with her that the 180 can definitely re-establish a sense of dignity, at least in the short term.

I'm no longer interested in doing a 180. I'm interested in being authentic and truthful. My WW knows how I feel. I don't try to hide my pain. I don't go around sobbing at the drop of a hat, but I'm not going to pretend to be upbeat about something when I don't feel that inside.

[This message edited by Thumos at 8:40 PM, Tuesday, September 28th]

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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nekonamida ( member #42956) posted at 6:56 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

When she and I have talked about this more recently, I've said bluntly that she was willing to see me drugged and drooling so she could screw another man. She defends herself with bullshit, saying she felt I really was anxious and would have benefitted from anti-anxiety medication.

All I can say is how terrible this is.

Here is a list of side effects for Xanax which is commonly prescribed as an anti-anxiety medication:

- Drowsiness
- Slurred speach
- Headaches or dizziness
- Nausea
- Increased salivation
- Decreased sex drive
- Constipation
- Lack of coordination
- Confusion
- Mood swings
- Strange or risky changes in behavior
- Poor memory
- Inability to concentrate

Not to mention that frequent use can lead to a physical dependency in which you would have had withdrawals from stopping. "Drugged and drooling" is not an exaggeration and many of these other side effects would have made it much easier for her to control and gaslight you further. It's not a stretch to say that someone who openly plotted with AP to deceive you in other grand and alarming ways wouldn't take advantage of something like this after suggesting it to you.

I have to ask - how is truth and honesty working out for you? Does she respond well to it or does she continue to lie, justify, and defend herself?

posts: 5127   ·   registered: Mar. 31st, 2014   ·   location: United States
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 6:57 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

She suggested I might need an SSRI, encouraged me to see a psychiatrist, and she invoked an in home separation and shunned me completely. Thankfully I ignored her advice to see a psych and get on a medication I didn't need. When she and I have talked about this more recently, I've said bluntly that she was willing to see me drugged and drooling so she could screw another man. She defends herself with bullshit, saying she felt I really was anxious and would have benefitted from anti-anxiety medication.

It's unbelievable to me these WS's that unleash this trauma and then try to make it seem like you are the one with the issues. My xWS did that. That kind of gaslighting will destroy you. How can you ever look at them the same way? Put trust into a person that literally is keeping you sick. mad

I'm sorry Thumos that is truly despicable what she tried to do. It's interesting I completely had a nervous breakdown from all the gaslighting and attempted suicide. I was put on medication and he blames me to this day that the medication ruined me and the M.

It is psychological torture.

fBS/fWS(me):48 Mad-hattered after DD1
XWS:51 Serial Cheater, NPD tendencies
Together 25 years, Married 19
DD(18) DS(15)
DD1 (2008) COW, DD2 (2012) MOW, False R (2014) Same MOW. DD3 (2019) Webcam girl

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 8:28 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

I have to ask - how is truth and honesty working out for you? Does she respond well to it or does she continue to lie, justify, and defend herself?

We don't talk about it much anymore. She knows how I feel. She knows I don't believe her "I've told you everything" in the face of destroyed texts, destroyed evidence, 3 years of foot dragging on a timeline and poly, and then a failed polygraph.

When I was on my "alone vacation" recently, I was very blunt with her about how good it felt to be on my own, outside of the home where all of this happened.

I hiked to the top of a modest mountain and while up there, asked a couple of random folks to take my picture. I sent her a picture, and her immediate reply was "who took that?" it's like she's in constant terror I'm going to cheat on her.

Honestly, I feel pretty stuck, as I'm fairly open about here.

The SSRI has been one of the biggest barriers for me to "get past." Seems like a shit sandwich to dwarf all other shit sandwiches in many ways. Her other defense of this is to say "Well, I knew you wouldn't ACTUALLY see a psychiatrist."

And yes, she has given me versions of this quite recently. Not too dissimilar from her saying that she judged her AP was "clean" and safe for unprotected sex, so why am I making such a big fuss out of it?

It's interesting I completely had a nervous breakdown from all the gaslighting

Not to put too fine a point on it, but I basically had a nervous breakdown in early 2020, which is why I consider that time period D-Day 2 and the clock essentially reset for much of my healing.

As I've chronicled elsewhere here on SI, my WW finally agreed to take a poly in Sept 2019. There was additional footdragging for four more months, including her visit to the ER with a panic attack after I had called her earlier in the day to let her know I was scheduling the polygraph.

Then she finally took the poly two days before Christmas 2019.

She failed the polygraph.

About a month later, I started noticing persistent chest pains. My GP did an EKG, then told me based on the results, I'd had a minor heart attack. It took a few more weeks to get into see a cardiologist -- during which time I started feeling like a delicate China doll. FInally got into see the cardiologist in Feburary/March. They ran additional tests - stress test, ultrasound, etc and they don't think I had a heart attack at all, that my heart is actually fine and healthy and that it was caused by a combination of stress/anxiety and a malfunctioning CPAP.

I remember distinctly sitting in the cardiologist's office, my WW sitting nearby dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, and the cardiologist saying "have you had any particular stressful life events lately?"

At that moment, in spite of my dedication to truth, I lied and said "just a demanding job, I guess."

During the whole heart attack episode after her failed poly, I was dead set on divorce. I considered myself spiritually divorced in any case. And this was when I began texting with the woman I've talked about in detail in several other threads here in SI. It was not an EA, although it easily could have been one (could have tuned into one). My heart was apparently vulnerable in more ways than one.

It was only about a week or so after I got the "all clear" on my heart that the pandemic lockdowns started in earnest.

I'm doing much better overall since then.

I'm overweight by about 20 pounds (hard to tell bc my mass in my shoulders and chest hide it well) and I learned recently by reading about betrayal trauma that the elevated cortisol levels from betrayal trauma cause persistent weight gain after a few years out from the traumatic "ground zero" event. I'm making a conscious effort to take much better care of myself this last year.

Anyway (sigh) the damage betrayal trauma does is actually pretty incalculable and I think the science on it is only beginning to scratch the surface.

How's all that for feelings?

[This message edited by Thumos at 2:59 AM, Wednesday, September 29th]

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

posts: 4594   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 8:55 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Holdiung Together, you make some great points. I'll need some time to think on it. You've made me think.

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

posts: 4594   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8690712
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KingRat ( member #60678) posted at 10:16 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

I have a strong inclination -- call it a feeling if you like -- that more reconciliation attempts would succeed if the betrayed spouse were immediately placed in a position of safety, empowerment and autonomy and if the WS were immediately rocked by D-Day, a BS having already visited a D attorney, their own parents and immediate family knowing they cheated, the OBS being informed, a therapeutic separation in which a BS can't be further manipulated in plan A/plan B gambits and the like, and the real prospect of D on the table.

While I do not inherently disagree with the above, I do question the practical applicability of this advice as applied to the newly minted BS.

As someone who grew up with sports, I believe you are what you practice. If you are in a stressful situation, you will default to what you have done before in that situation. If you have never been in said situation, you will likely panic and make very poor decisions. Now, after a series a coach can pull a QB aside and very succinctly breakdown what that player should be doing to counter the rush. It will likely be very sage advice and be the right call; however, once that 260lb edge rusher comes blowing through the line like an Olympic sprinter, all the Xs and Os are going out the window. Panic sets in and bad balls continue to get thrown.

Unless you have been cheated on before, how many people have honestly really thought about how they are going to act and have a plan in place to implement? Probably about as many people who have done a fire drill in their own house and know exactly how they will get themselves and their family out of the house in under 90 seconds taking into account the various exit strategies relative to fire location.

This is not to shut down this conversation or to say analytical threads are without any merit. In fact, I enjoy debating ideas and analyzing concepts. But I stop short of advocating a specific stance based on my beliefs of how one should proceed, even if those beliefs are supported by sound evidence, because I wonder if they do more harm than good. I know many people in JFO are acting in good faith, but I worry about the effect of offering such specific unsolicited advice to a person in crisis mode. What if the person is not emotionally ready to take such steps? I am more concerned with the effect of indirectly shaming the person.

Now this is my own opinion, but I believe most new BSs do not want advice. I truly believe most want to not feel so damn alone and find support in just knowing there are others out there that have felt or are feeling just like them. There is immense comfort in not feeling like you are not the only person on the planet going through this. I think they already know what they should be doing but are so, as you aptly described, "shell shocked" that they are not emotionally ready to make such a cerebral decision. So perhaps the greatest benefit is not setting them in a particular direction, but to support taking action--whatever that may be--to help themselves become more emotionally resilient and avoid complacency.

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Dude67 ( member #75700) posted at 1:51 AM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Thumos refers to betrayal trauma and I think he’s correct - every BS will undergo some level of trauma, whether perceived or not.

The area where I think this gets differentiated is whether one’s WS was malicious and cruel to the BS both during and after the A. I don’t mean malicious in the sense of continued lying and TT. I mean malicious as being outright cruel.

IMO Thumos’ WW falls into the later category. R isn’t easy by any measure snd under ideal circumstances, but to try to R with the "formerly" cruel snd malicious WS is a whole other ballgame. How the BS was treated is significant.

Thumos, and any other BS who was treated cruelly and maliciously can of course R. However, as Thumos has mentioned, the maliciousness he heard on the VAR, for example, is indelible. Lasting damage has been done due to this malicious snd cruel behavioral , directly connected to the A of course, but really in a totally different category.

As long as BS remains attached to the cruel snd malicious cheater, their negative feelings will continue. After five years will this pain dull, perhaps a little, but is a slight numbing sufficient enough to live a happy life?

Health and happiness are at stake. One has to really sit down snd think how many more years to invest, only to succumb to the generally held statistic that the BS will pull the plug around year five of supposed reconciliation.

It’s a risk- reward computation. To me the numbers tilts highly towards D around year five when the WS was malicious and cruel. How many more years is one willing to waste when there is this limited time we have on this earth?

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KingRat ( member #60678) posted at 3:15 AM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

I understand this topic is about, so I do not want to stray too far from the subject. For me, personally, what has made the most sense to describe what a BS experiences after Dday is the concept of ambiguous loss.

When we think of things like hysterical bonding, pick-me dance, and other seemingly never-ending flood of conflicting emotions, I see these behaviors as a manifestation of the first stage of grief: denial. The bonding may be an consequence, but I do not see the BS as subconsciously seeking to bond. We are attempting beginning to grieve our marriage, our family, basically every thing we thought we had up until Dday.

The thing about ambiguous loss is it tends not to be as linear as concrete losses. There is no funeral to help usher us on into the grief process. We do not have person after person come by to confirm our loss. We do not a collective of people confirming that our worst fears are being realized but letting us know that there is much love and support to be found while we get our way to acceptance.

With ambiguous loss, the grief cycle is frozen. We do not have an idea what we have lost, or if we even have a loss at all. One of the things I remember when I first came upon ambiguous loss, I was reading about two parents whose teenage son suffered a traumatic brain injury. For those that do not know, brain injuries are very difficult to prognosticate. I distinctly remember the mother describing how she could not begin to grieve because she did not know what to grieve or if she should be grieving at all. I very much related to the situation. What does this mean? Is our marriage dead? Is this just the new beginning? Should I pull the plug? What if she finally gets it? Am I walking away too soon? What am I doing here after all this? I found myself stuck in this loop. I was oscillating between the beginning stages of grief: denial, anger, and bargaining. The inability move on to acceptance caused additional trauma.

I do not want to go off the subject, but I just wanted to throw this out there for those interested in learning more about grief and why grief associated with infidelity can seem especially traumatic. The main struggle is learning how to reach acceptance without closure.

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 4:10 AM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

I had not heard of this concept King Rat. Thanks for posting it. I feel like we are getting somewhere.

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:39 PM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Anyway, I'm not against reconciliation. I will say I'm finding out more and more for myself that reconciliation as it is generally defined means that in my own situation I have to consume a massive shit sandwich, and it may be that I'm just really not up to horking that thing down.

I’m really puzzled by this statement. In your posts, you report again and again that your W is not remorseful, is not contrite, has not done the trust-building actions required to rebuild trust, is not willing to do the work required to R. R is impossible unless both partners do the necessary work.

I understand that staying together is a shit sandwich for you, but I don't understand equating that with R. I don't understand associating R with your situation at all.

Some here seem to think that analyzing and discussing these things somehow traps one in a victim mindset.

Let me be clearer then, even though it means wielding a 2 x 4: I think you, Thumos, have trapped yourself in a Victim mindset, and I think your theoretical threads basically serve to confirm your choice.

You focus on being abused – the power lies with your W. You express unhappiness with what you’ve been doing, but you don’t say, ‘I’ve accepted this crap. I’m going to stop.’ Instead, you keep the focus on what your W did and does. You ignore the facts that 1) you accept the abuse, 2) you are responsible for getting yourself away from it/her, and 3) you have the power you need to save and heal yourself.

Further, note that you’ve said it’s COVID that keeps you from filing your D papers. Again, you're saying the responsibility and power lie outside you, when we all know that you make a decision every business day (maybe every day, if you can file online in your jurisdiction) not to file.

You post threads that at bottom look for general rules that apply to every BS. I think that probably means that you're looking for someone to tell you what to do. If that’s accurate, again, you give responsibility and power to the rules/rulegiver, not to yourself.

It’s normal for BSes to look for rules when they JFO. The vast majority figure out that they have to blaze their own trail out of this crap. It’s taking you far longer than most SIers need to heal. You are the only SIer I’ve run across in over 10 years who repeatedly opens theoretical discussions that focus on what's been done to you in terms that distance the writer from the pain.

I’m very aware of the post hoc, propter hoc fallacy. WRT infidelity, though, I care about - and I think we all need to care about - healing, not logic. Isn’t it worth changing what you’ve been doing, at least as an experiment? Isn’t it wise and scientific to experiment with different approaches that might benefit you a lot?

Besides, WRT getting out of infidelity, I'm more interested in what works than in logic. Sometimes, one or more things happen in one area after something changed in another. If the result is healing, I'm not sure it's beneficial to argue about whether or not the result was caused by the first change.

Again, that’s feedback. That’s how I view your actions and your words and your words based on what you've said in your posts. You are free to use the feedback as you will.

(there was even an extended and somewhat tiresome discussion about my word choice of "adultery"). I found that odd at the time, and still do.

You should have let this lie.

‘Adultery’ has specific meanings, especially in law, that simply do not cover all infidelity. Your W's A fits every definition of adultery I've ever seen. My W's A does not. EAs do not. And yet we all face the same obstacles to reclaiming ourselves. Victims of EAs sometimes face additional obstacles, especially when they have to deal with no penetration/no A attitudes.

You argue that not saying 'adultery' minimizes betrayal. You want to use 'adultery' to demonstrate moral outrage.

I say moral outrage doesn't get anyone very far. I'm a lot more concerned with what the BS does to get out of infidelity, to survive, and to thrive.

I know - you don't accept the fact that 'adultery' has a number of definitions and is basically a legal term.

About this editing thing. And? So? I edit ALL THE TIME, and I'll continue to do so. I tend to write out loud, I have the ability to crank out many words in a short period of time, and I am constantly refining my thoughts.

OK ... that's usually fair. I think you materially changed the meaning of your opening post after you received some criticism. BTW, you can open a 'mod, please' thread and ask for the original text to be restored.

About emotions. I've got plenty. I'm not a robot. I've discussed my own feelings at length. If you need to read more about that, you can do so in these threads

Feelings are hard to express verbally, but you really go overboard with thoughts. Those threads are not about feelings. If they were, you’d use terms like sad, scared, ashamed, desire, love, and their synonyms a lot more prominently than you do.

Again, feelings are important. They are also not everything. Avoiding analysis only in favor of feelings leads to subjectivity, relativism, and probably some level of irrationality.

Affect always trump thought. Read Sylvan Tomkins.

Maybe the biggest fallacy of all is that a human being can be objective.

My stance is that infidelity is an act deserving of divorce. We can all agree?
R is a huge gift from a BS. Yes?
A WS needs to be the one to show the BS that R with them is something that would be better than D. Does that make sense?

I certainly agree D is a good response by any BS to any A.

I'll take the liberty of rewording your 3rd point: I would advise any BS contemplating R not to offer R until the WS shows they're a good candidate for R.

But I'm not sure R is a huge gift from a BS.

It's not much of a gift to a WS who wants out.
It's a gift that is very likely to backfire if it’s given to a WS who is not remorseful.
It's a gift that is very likely to backfire if the BS doesn't want R.

Like HT, I have a hard time taking credit for giving a gift, when one reason I offered R was because I wanted it. So I don’t view offering R as an unequivocal gift.

My W does.

That combo – BS see R as a want, WS sees it as a gift – is probably very positive for R. IDK … maybe R is a huge gift the BS gives themselves....

*****

Thumos,

I read Weiner-Davis essentially the way you do.

But I'd really appreciate someone actually posting about the original 180 as described in the book in which it first appeared.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 6:23 PM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

your W is not remorseful, is not contrite, has not done the trust-building actions required to rebuild trust, is not willing to do the work required to R.

That isn't what I've reported at all, in fact the opposite. You must have not been paying attention. I've reported numerous times -- and actually listed out several times -- the many things that she's done, consistent acts of service and much more. What she hasn't been able to do is to be fully transparent about the affair and explain certain questions I have. She failed a polygraph, waited three years to give me a timeline and destroyed texts and other evidence.

[This message edited by Thumos at 6:24 PM, Wednesday, September 29th]

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 6:28 PM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Further, note that you’ve said it’s COVID that keeps you from filing your D papers. Again, you're saying the responsibility and power lie outside you, when we all know that you make a decision every business day (maybe every day, if you can file online in your jurisdiction) not to file.

Again wrong. This makes me think you give bad advice with an agenda and may not have my best interest at heart bc this is not what I've said. What I've said is that during a global pandemic I myself do not feel I should invoke a divorce process. Not because I can't but because I don't feel it's appropriate. I have many other reasons, which I've also outlined.

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 7:07 PM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

I certainly agree D is a good response by any BS to any A.

I'll take the liberty of rewording your 3rd point: I would advise any BS contemplating R not to offer R until the WS shows they're a good candidate for R.

But I'm not sure R is a huge gift from a BS.

It's not much of a gift to a WS who wants out.
It's a gift that is very likely to backfire if it’s given to a WS who is not remorseful.
It's a gift that is very likely to backfire if the BS doesn't want R.

Like HT, I have a hard time taking credit for giving a gift, when one reason I offered R was because I wanted it. So I don’t view offering R as an unequivocal gift.

My W does.

That combo – BS see R as a want, WS sees it as a gift – is probably very positive for R. IDK … maybe R is a huge gift the BS gives themselves....

It looks from the outside like a pretty big gift to me. The reality is that we have many options in life and many roads we can travel down. I've yet to hear anyone regret that they divorced a WS. Odds are that anyone who divorces will walk down a different path and find happiness somewhere else. We adapt and we move on. There are millions of people we can love in this world. Healing is probably easier without actively working on a marriage with the one who hurt you so badly. A BS who divorces most definitely doesn't deal with the stupid judgments like those who R do. Please please everyone hear me that I'm not saying that it is wrong to R. I'm saying that when a WS hands this immense trauma to a BS and the BS chooses to stay and love them and rebuild a marriage with them, it is a BIG DEAL. It is a gift even if the BS wants it. To say otherwise is downplaying what a profound trauma infidelity is and the damage it does. When I've said it hurt me worse than being raped did, I was not being hyperbolic. It genuinely did.

I spent a few months contemplating what it would take from me to R and I was flattened by the concept. Maybe it really is that I'm not suited for it and that's where I'm so awed by it. It could well be that it's more immense from my perspective than from many other people's. It could also be that though I had loved my life with my XWH so very much, I had already gone through starting over once and I had the playbook for that. But even when he was saying every right thing, attending every therapy appointment and every meeting, reading books, and making huge efforts (buying me a classic car, of all things) for financial recompense for money he had spent cheating, I'd feel like I had a full body itch because I was still there. I was planning my exit. I don't say many nice things about my XWH here for obvious reasons, lol. Fact is in the first few months after DDay, he was doing a lot that many WSs here haven't gotten around to after years. I'd tell him I was leaving and he'd make an immediate appointment with a therapist and beg me to go. Seriously. When he relapsed on drugs 8 months in, I was so relieved that I danced around the house and cried. That's awful, but that's real. What I'd had with him before 2017 had been so good that I couldn't deal with any lesser version of it. Any other version would have been lesser because I had lost that intense love and trust I'd had for him. I won't settle for less than that, so the deal was broken.

So maybe I do view R as a bigger gift than you do. I do think of it as a profound thing, to choose to continue loving someone who did this to you. To choose to rebuild a life with them. It's to be honored. It's no small thing. It's not casual. It's not even close to being easy. If gift isn't the right word, I don't know what is. It's something so large that it can't be truly earned.

DDay: 06/07/2017
MH - RA on DDay.
Divorced a serial cheater (prostitutes and lord only knows who and what else).

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nekonamida ( member #42956) posted at 7:12 PM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

That isn't what I've reported at all, in fact the opposite. You must have not been paying attention. I've reported numerous times -- and actually listed out several times -- the many things that she's done, consistent acts of service and much more.

I don't agree with everything Sisoon said but I definitely agree with him about the lack of contrition, remorse, and doing the work of R your WW has repeatedly shown. Acts of service aren't R. Saying sorry isn't R and any sorry she can give you is immediately undone as soon as she responds to your pain and talk of the A in such an atrociously arrogant and unempathetic way. Not wanting D is not R. Doing whatever you want in bed is not R. Being scared that you will cheat is not R. Everything you listed about transparency and work aimed at making you feel safe and heard IS R. So is supporting you and accepting accountability about every aspect of betrayal you suffered such as her attempt to convince you to get psychiatric help that you did not need.

If all R took was her being a better homemaker and partner with nothing more, you wouldn't be here still struggling.

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 7:40 PM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Oh, I don't think we're in R - that isn't what I meant. We are in limbo. But I can't dismiss what she's done either. Some here have accused me of hating my wife. Far from it. I feel meh about our relationship but I also feel an obligation to be accurate here and not paint a picture if a supervillainess.

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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emergent8 ( member #58189) posted at 9:06 PM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Thumos - I truly don't believe that anyone here has anything but your best interests at heart. I have said it before, you and I have similar original D-Days. It breaks my heart to see how stuck you still appear to be.

But here is the thing, HT had it right when he said you are a pretty prolific poster. You have made thousands of posts here in a relatively short time. You are clearly a smart guy. You have read more books about infidelity than probably most posters here. You speak with the confidence of an expert (despite no actual expertise beyond your own experience). Hell, the whole point of this thread was to assert a new standard practice for all BS who wander upon this site (how very audacious!). As a result of this, people - particularly new BS who have arrived here and do not know which way is up - are going to listen to you. Rightly or wrongly, that makes you powerful. It is important to get it right.

This may be one of the reasons why it's rubbing a few people the wrong way to hear you confidently assert this new (rather inflexible) "standard practice for all new BS". Many here, including myself, have disagreed that your standard practice would be appropriate as a one-size fits all. Many of those people are happily reconciled but instead of heeding that input, you have been dismissive suggesting that they are either unicorns or must be trauma-bonded to their WS to have stayed (I am paraphrasing). You have conceded that a "therapeutic separation" would not be practical for many new BS so I will give you that, but still you seem intent on a one-size-fits-all rather than a more flexible approach taking into account the particularities of each individual scenario. (Please note, no one that has disagreed with you has suggested that a period of separation would not be appropriate for some).

This is all the more baffling when you yourself refuse to follow your own advice. I'm not trying to beat a slowly-dying horse here, and I know you have jumped through hoops justifying to yourself your own reasons for staying, but the state of your relationship with your wife is clearly not acceptable. If a new member came here and relayed half of what you have relayed about how your wife has lied to /manipulated you (and continues to do so!), I have no doubt that you would be the first to suggest hard-line action. [Of note, I believe Sisoon's frustration has come from gently nudging your energies and efforts towards doing the same. Let me repeat.... Sisoon!!! Possibly the most pro-R poster here! (Sorry, Sisoon, I know you'll take issue with this).]

Look, if you want to stay with your wife in perpetual limbo - fine. You and I and everyone else know that without some shock and awe she is not going to wake up tomorrow (or the next day or the next) and come clean. That ship has clearly sailed for her. Regardless, that is your choice. As HT said, "you do you, boo". You have your reasons, it is not my place to try to understand them. Why though, is there room for subtly and nuance in your relationship and not in the relationships of others?

your W is not remorseful, is not contrite, has not done the trust-building actions required to rebuild trust, is not willing to do the work required to R.

That isn't what I've reported at all, in fact the opposite. You must have not been paying attention. I've reported numerous times -- and actually listed out several times -- the many things that she's done, consistent acts of service and much more.

None of this matters if she cannot be honest. Mere months ago she was trying to paint herself as the victim of your "near-miss". Those are not the actions of a remorseful spouse.

Finally, with respect to the editing issue. I absolutely identify with perfectionism and I often edit my own posts because I struggle to let typos or grammar issues sit when I re-read them (even if it is clear what I mean), but your 'edits' go far beyond typos and grammar and go into content. This wouldn't typically be a big deal if they were done immediately (before the thread has exploded) but when people have written several thoughtful responses to your original post and the thread has gone on for several days and pages and you continue to alter the original post such that the thing they have responded to no longer exists it is frustrating for those who have participated and either misleading or confusing for a more casual reader. I know that this probably isn't going to change your posting pattern - we are who we are - but maybe issuing a notice at the bottom of the post indicating that the post has been edited significantly would go a long way in avoiding the exasperation of those who have taken the time to post.

Edit: Similar *original* D-days. I see from your tagline that you're now operating from D-Day 2.

[This message edited by emergent8 at 9:09 PM, Wednesday, September 29th]

Me: BS, Him: WS. Mid-late 30s.
Together 15 years, married 6 (11 m at D-Day).
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
5 years (and two toddlers) into R. Happy.

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 9:21 PM on Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Emergent8, thorough and mostly fair. Flying today so replies will be limited. However I intend to think on it and respond later.

maybe issuing a notice at the bottom of the post indicating that the post has been edited significantly would go a long way in avoiding the exasperation of those who have taken the time to post.

You have the right of it on the perfectionism. I want to say things the right way. I can't remember what I originally posted and what the big difference is bc I tend to edit fast on the fly and I'm quite sure I had no intention to frustrate or obfuscate. But your suggestion is a good one.

"True character is revealed in the choices a human being makes under pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelation, the truer the choice to the character's essential nature."

BH: 50, WW: 49 Wed: Feb.'96 DDAY1: 12.20.16 DDAY2: 12.23.19

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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:57 PM on Thursday, September 30th, 2021

1) You still haven't explained how you've come to equate R with a shit sandwich, when you're in limbo and never have been in R. That equation is terrible logic and does a disservice to you, to your readers, and to people in R. I understand how you think R would be a shit sandwich in your sitch - that's the nature of wanting R while believing, as you do, that your WS is still dishonest. That, however, doesn't justify creating and promulgating a false image of R. I bet you can even name the fallacy you're using.

Again, to all readers, thinking you've been forced to eat shit is par for the course. If, however, you're a BS and persistently think R requires eating a shit sandwich, R probably is not be for you. The point of recovering from being betrayed, IMO, is to enable you to feel joy again. If you don't see R as your best root to joy, your best bet is probably to stay away from R.

2) I ask you directly: Will you request that the mods restore your original opening post? I understand perfectionism as well as anybody else does, but changing one's meaning after receiving negative feedback is something different from perfectionism.

3) I may be more invested in your best interest than you are. I believe your actions keep you stuck. I believe you can act in ways that will get you unstuck and healed.

Getting unstuck is not easy. You need to experience being stuck as a problem. You need to see that you, specifically, can solve the problem. You might need to see the problem is solvable in general. And you need to be willing to do the necessary work.

You get to choose your response to your W's infidelity and to your belief that she has not yet become honest. You're entitled to choose to stay stuck. I'll honor your choice.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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TwoDozen ( member #74796) posted at 5:53 PM on Thursday, September 30th, 2021

I happen to appreciate analytical conversations

So I just wanted to chime in and say that I have taken a lot from the discussion in this post from both sides of the argument that I might not have if the OP didn’t posit the original question/s

So thanks for posting this OP and thank you to all the various opinions for and against

Much love TD

[This message edited by TwoDozen at 5:56 PM, Thursday, September 30th]

Play stupid games ; Win stupid prizes

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Bigger ( Attaché #8354) posted at 7:38 PM on Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Thumos,

Editing posts is fine, but your edit changed the whole context of the message. As I said: you implied that nearly all post-infidelity relationships are trauma-based and that this was supported by a lot of research and implied that this made remaining married a risky idea. Statements that I couldn’t really find any real research to support. For continuity a new post with clarification or an addendum to the older original post would possibly have been better.

I actually think we are ALL impacted by the trauma of infidelity. Totally irrespective of rug-sweeping, reconciling or divorce. In fact – the reason I found this stie was a consequence of the PTSD / Trauma infidelity placed on me about 15 years earlier.
I have always been quite self-confident and assured but realized that the effects of my former fiancé’s infidelity was negatively impacting my relationship with my wife (who has never cheated) and even my kids. There is basically only one thing clear after discovering your spouse has cheated: No matter if you divorce or reconcile you need to deal with yourself because you will bring yourself and your baggage to the next relationship, be that a relationship with your present spouse, a new partner or even yourself.

Had I not dealt with those issues – issues that were no fault at all of my wife – I guess I would be in a trauma bonding relationship with her.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that a BS just rug sweeps and carries on with the marriage content that there is no active sex going on between WS and OP. Reconciliation is so much more than that.

I have used this comparison before: You wake up in the ER and are told your unhealthy eating, lifestyle, smoking, drinking, and stress led toy having a coronary attack. You realize a change is needed. You read all about nutrition, get the latest health-diet books, buy some go-fast shoes and spandex clothes, join a gym, and read about yoga… Getting all that info doesn’t improve your health. Especially if you are munching on fried chicken while reading about veggie salad. It’s not until you implement the changes, start the jogging, wear the spandex, eat the tofu, and do the yoga and lift the weights that your life changes. I’m guessing that if you stick to it then in 10 years you might be in great shape. At that point you might reflect back on the change. You might admit the catalyst was the incident caused by your past mistakes. You would NEVER say "thank God I got into a situation that required I changed" because you could have done all that before the incident. It’s not the affair that can make a marriage good / reconciled, but the hard WORK done to make a marriage good / reconcile. That work could be done by us all without having the affair as a catalyst.


Some poster equated reconciliation to unicorns…
I have been around for over half a century. Traveled the world, been on safari in Kenya, farms, and ranches all over the country, whale-watching in the Arctic, diving in Indonesia, elephant parks in Thailand… Never seen a unicorn so I guess they are rare. Maybe even non-existent.
But I have seen reconciled couples. Both here online in virtual-world and in real life.

It seems they have one thing in common: None of them "just" reconciled. They all seem to have done a lot of work – both individually and as a couple – to be where they are.
I have seen a lot of couples that claim to be in reconciliation that aren’t, just like I have seen divorced people that still have their noses stuck firmly up the derriere of their exes. IMHO it’s mainly because they aren’t healing the damage – the trauma.

Then there is the issue of abuse… Well… yes… infidelity is definitely abuse and nobody should tolerate abuse. However I think it’s a rare case where the abuse is intentionally directed at the BS. The WS never expects the affair to be discovered. They think it’s the perfect crime. There is no intention of causing pain and there is a naïve believe that if you don’t know it can’t hurt. But yes it’s abuse. Should you stay in an abusive relationship? Well… no… not if it’s ongoing. But that’s the crux of the matter: To reconcile the infidelity – the cause of the abuse – has to be over and a firm and definite intention and will to make amends and fix what was done wrong.
Divorce is fine too. But even then the BS has to deal with the effects of the trauma.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

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Topic is Sleeping.
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