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Trauma Bonding

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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 5:46 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

I also think it’s important for those dishing out advice to really evaluate what their true intentions are. Do you genuinely care about the people who come here? Probably not in anyway deeply meaningful. The decisions they make ultimately don’t affect you. You don’t have to witness their children going through the heartbreak of divorce. You aren’t paying anyone’s bills. You won’t be there in any capacity other than to drop your pretty "words of wisdom" and go on with your day. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with forums like these, obviously I’m here, I just think it’s imperative we remember our place as outside observers who only have a small glimpse into the lives of those who find themselves here.

Speaking for myself, I have had the crying children, the financial devastation, the loss of extended family the other various horrors of divorce twice. I am under no illusions that divorce is simple or easy. It is not worse than a bad marriage. It is not worse than living with an unremorseful cheating spouse. It is not worse than living with someone you'll never be able to trust again. It's not worse than limbo. There is absolutely zero easy way out of this. I don't read someone saying they're miserable, they have a lying spouse, they can't get over the infidelities even years later and say "coooooool that's awesome, let me see if I can make them feel shittier by supporting them in wanting a divorce". I also don't look badly upon those who are reconciling with people who are treating them badly. I hate to see it, but I don't hate to see it because I have a twisted agenda. Everyone here is a real person with a real life dealing with a real trauma that I have also dealt with. I'm not on sites for amputees figuring out how to recover because I have no clue about that. I am here. Now, if someone has an amazing R, that is a beautiful thing and I'm happy for them. Very cool for that to happen. If someone asks me how to be happy with a sex addict who relapses, I have no answer for that other than divorcing them and finding a life without sex addiction in it.

I'm not here because I'm a flaming asshole who rubs her hands together with joy at the idea of families ripped apart or sobbing children. I'm not here to replay the worst shit I've ever been through either for kicks. If my presence here is not helpful to anyone, I'd gladly log off today and leave it alone.

I don't work part-time at an animal shelter because I get off on abused and neglected dogs. I don't enjoy seeing the pain of animals who come across the worst of humanity. I work with these dogs because I can actually do something to help them. My entire weekend has been a success if all I did was sit with a terrified dog for an hour and stop her from trembling with fear. If all I do is find a home for a dog who's been there for months. If all I do is treat a wound and help make it better. If the pinnacle of my day there is feeding a starved dog, it was a great day. Probably I do a lot more good there than I do here, but there is some value in virtually holding someone's hand through horrors too. That is why I'm here. That is why I post. I do actually care about other people in this world and I do actually have a lot of empathy for those who feel the pain of infidelity. It's an awful thing to go through.

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

posts: 4783   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8690454
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 6:02 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

To me, pointing out the ways in which infidelity traumatizes a BS is not a slam against R. It is an acknowledgment of reality. You can R with someone who did this to you. You still have to deal with the damage of infidelity within yourself. It still happened and it is still happening with new people showing up every day. It is not anti-R to say "infidelity is abuse and it can create a trauma bond in the beginning" or "gaslighting and TT happens". No discussion on the ways that infidelity sucks and potential ways to help yourself heal is an anti-R thing. I don't see myself in this thread as being anti-R. I know people who have done so successfully and they have spouses who have proven themselves worthy of that second chance. They had to prove themselves worthy for it to happen. There was no downplaying what infidelity did to the BS from the WS or BS. There is acknowledgment of the pain and damage to the BS and support given by the WS. I don't see how you can go in either R or D directions without accepting and understanding what happened.

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

posts: 4783   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8690457
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Underserving ( member #72259) posted at 6:54 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

DD I know you come from a genuine place in wanting to help those who are going through this shit in the best and only way you can. I certainly don’t imagine you relishing in children suffering through divorce. People like you are definitely needed here. Those who have traveled the painful road you have, and come out the other side, are necessary. I’ve read enough these past two years to not think of you as someone who believes D is the only option, even if you might be a bit biased toward it. It makes sense we gravitate toward the decisions we have ourselves made.

I still think doing some internal reflection is good for anyone here, and what their true intentions are. What they are getting out of being on here? At some point, it should be more about what they can offer than what they can get. If you’re 5 years post divorce, and still need to hear constant validation that you made the right choice, maybe don’t use newly betrayed posters as a way to achieve that. If you’re still resentful and bitter about your own situation, and can’t possibly fathom reconciliation ever being a good idea, at least be able to recognize that about yourself, and hone it in when telling a stranger what they should do with their life.

The other thing is, there is a shit ton of support for anyone who wants to divorce. People practically praised on here, and everywhere else, for choosing that option. But if someone wants to R, it’s near impossible to find that same level of support. The R forum isn’t even safe from the pro D folks.

I hope one day I can offer some support to people the way others have for me. I also hope I always remember my place in advising someone I don’t know on something so deeply painful and personal. No matter my intentions, I still have no skin in the game when comes to other poster’s lives. I believe it’s good to always keep that in mind as a personal check before saying whatever the hell you want to someone who is confused and hurting.

BW (32)Found out 3 years post end of AD-day 12-9-19In R

Infidelity brings out the cuss in me. I’m not as foul mouthed in real life. ;)

posts: 752   ·   registered: Dec. 9th, 2019
id 8690467
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 7:43 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

I feel that anyone who has dealt with the type of WS that continued lying after D-Day, refuses to discuss the A or blaming the A on the BS is experiencing a trauma bond. Most healthy people would show a WS like that the door. Staying for kids and finances is a legitimate fear in staying, but the feeling that you cannot be without your WS after being mistreated, lied to and gaslit is definitely a trauma bond.

This doesn't mean that a WS cannot redeem themselves and it doesn't mean that a M cannot R after a trauma bond it would take very heavy lifting and YEARS of therapy for the WS and of course the BS's own healing. I don't think every case of infidelity experiences a trauma bond. Those that are being continually abused post D-Day most likely are experiencing a trauma bond.

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

posts: 8099   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8690476
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 8:35 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

No, we can't agree that a person should simply leave someone who has treated that person badly, because relationships are usually complex, although there are certainly situations in which D is clearly the best solution.

In most situations, the WS has spent a lot of time truly treating the BS well before the A, and sometimes both before and after. From what I've read on SI, most WSes have a history of apparently loving and being loved by their BSes, and vice versa. It's probably true that we've ALL hurt and been hurt by the ones we love.

As I say, relationships are usually complex - the decision to stay or leave is also usually complex.

*****

It's important to note the difference between urging a person to R instead of D and urging a person to consider R as an option in addition to D. Lots of new BSes come here thinking they must R or they must D. Considering their options is often essential to their finding the optimal path for surviving and thriving.

Lots of BSes come here writing as if they are powerless. Recognizing they have options and considering options can empower a BS who thinks they're powerless, and that certainly has empowered some.

Again, I rarely recommend R, but I almost always recommend to BSes to consider as many options as they can think of. Hell, I considered asking my W to keep the A going (because of the blackmail threat), and I considered doing the pick-me dance, though not for long.

To me, pointing out the ways in which infidelity traumatizes a BS is not a slam against R.

I agree. IMO, every BS who considers R needs to consider what their WS actually did and it's impact on their whole life.

OTOH, stating that BSes who don't separate stay together because they are trauma-bonding IS an entirely unwarranted slam against R, and that's how the opening post in the thread read, until it was edited - 3 days after the thread was started.

*****

Look, it's easy to be influenced by persuasive writing. Influencing people is one of the motivations behind writing, along with catharsis, offering support, etc. When a persuasive voice says, 'ALL BSes should separate immediately after finding out,' people can get swayed against their best interest. When people read, 'I've been abused. I'm not going to talk about dealing with how it affects me - but As are abuse, and all victims of abuse should leave their abusers,' people can get swayed against their own best interests.

Obviously, I think it's important to counter those assertions, and keep countering them as often as they're proposed.

The fact is: there are no actions about externals that are appropriate for all BSes.

The best way for a BS to survive and thrive is to work on their internal dialogs - to strengthen the self-messaging that serve their real best interests and to throw out the attacking ones. Let the D/R decision grow from the changes in the internal messaging.

And it pretty much has to be personal work. It pretty much has to be 'I hurt because....' It pretty much has to be, 'I send myself

this

message, and it fucks me up every time.'

Theory doesn't heal.

Easier said than done, to be sure, but eminently doable for all of us.

*****

I still think doing some internal reflection is good for anyone here

I think internal reflection is essential for BSes.

That's the only way the thoughts and feelings that come with being betrayed can be processed out of one's body. That clears the mind so one can make the best possible decision about D & R.

Processing the feelings enables a BS to comprehend what they want. Processing feelings is the best way to recognize an unremorseful WS, to stop being blinded by their image, instead of seeing their reality.

We say to a BS contemplating R to observe the WS's actions, not their words. and to follow that recognition with appropriate action. The implication is to end R if the WS's actions do not move R toward success.

BSes need to monitor their own actions as well to get to the best outcome. It's critical to the BS's healing to make sure that their actions further their healing. Staying with an unremorseful WS does the opposite of heal.

It's critical for the BS's healing to make sure that their actions match their words and vice versa and for them to change one or both when they don't match.

It's pretty common to see posts from BSes that say something like:

This is one of my requirements for R. My W has done nothing to provide it and dodges every discussion of this missed requirements. I'm doing nothing to rectify the sitch.'

IMO, that person will stay stuck until they change from 'I'm doing nothing to rectify the sitch' to something like:

'I'm backing off the requirement for now and seeking help to find the strength to impose the appropriate sanction'

or

'I've filled out the D papers and told my WS I'll file unless the requirement is delivered before next Wednesday.'

Actions gotta match words. Very, very few SIers counsel R with an unremorseful WS.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 9:04 PM, Monday, September 27th]

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 10:11 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

Hi all, nice to see this thread continues to be active. I'm not ignoring it but just was quite busy with some weekend activities with my oldest. Here are some thoughts/reactions in no particular order.....

1. About this thread overall. This is actually starting to remind me a bit of the "Adultery as Abuse" thread I launched last year: https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/topics/648928/adultery-as-abuse/

A lot of people seemed to find that discussion helpful, but there was a vocal minority who seemed upset by the analysis (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. I and others strove to keep that discussion dispassionate and analytical. I think we mostly succeeded. That discussion took a bizarre turn when some folks showed up in the thread and started trying to talk betrayed women out of their authentic, lived experience that betrayal trauma was worse for them than rape. People actually argued with them that they were wrong, and I was rather appalled by that.

Then I realized that perhaps what was really happening is a "who moved my cheese?" moment. If you have an ossified way of viewing certain things and someone comes along to shake up your preconceptions, it can be an uncomfortable process. Actually I've had that happen here all the time. Two wonderful people I can point to who have successfully challenged my own thinking and helped me evolve are Brave Sir Robin and Hiking Out. I've argued with them a lot, but they've challenged some of my own notions and I've found myself thinking more deeply as a result. Not a comfortable process but a necessary one. Iron sharpens iron.

In any case, with that thread last year and apparently now with this thread, it may be that I had inadvertently stumbled on something that shepherds a paradigm shift for some. Adultery as abuse and trauma bonds have been pointed out before. But I've noticed over the past year since that original post, more SI'ers seem to refer to infidelity/adultery as a form of abuse. I find this a salutary awakening. It seems to me that something similar might be happening here. I can't say for sure. Lots of people seem to find it helpful, and a few vocal and articulate voices seem to find it some kind of threat. Sisoon has even said as much, that he's fearful people coming to SI will get the wrong impression being dazzled by my brilliant and persuasive writing, or something. Personally, I think I can be too wordy, but whatever. I find it dubious that my little ol' post about trauma bonds is going to upset the apple cart here. People that show up on SI are generally curious, seeking, intelligent and articulate. They can draw their own conclusions.

I'm reminded of Solzhenitsyn's exhortation to "live not by lies." If trauma bonds are real, and I think they are, then we should be open to discussing them. Moreover I think a strong case can be made that trauma bonds happen in pretty much every infidelity situation to some degree. That doesn't make me or you permanent victims. But it does throw some harsh light on the daily dynamics between a BS and WS -- even when a WS is trying to do everything they can to atone.

Take hysterical bonding, as an example. That's an example of a trauma bond. It meets the textbook definition. Why is asserting the commonality of trauma bonds so controversial here when we all know exactly how common hysterical bonding is?

I can think of very few infidelity situations I've read about here on SI where hysterical bonding has not happened (unless it was an exit affair, or a BS immediately separated from the WS). And as most of us have observed and experienced (me included) hysterical bonding can make things more difficult down the road once the good feelz wear off and toxic memories of the betrayal resurface (and this seems to almost happen to some degree to almost every betrayed spouse). Hysterical bonding is triggered by a betrayed spouse's need to feel wanted. It is driven, incidentally, by feelings taking precedence. I can think of very few examples in which I've read about hysterical bonding in which a betrayed spouse didn't feel terribly conflicted about it, essentially torn asunder by the passionate sex they were having with their unfaithful spouse at the same time as mind movies were popping up in their heads. Or how they felt afterwards, even in the warm glow of post-orgasmic brain highs. The commonality of hysterical bonding to me at least suggests trauma bonds are not imaginary in infidelity situations, but rather somewhat commonplace.

1a. Some here seem to think that analyzing and discussing these things somehow traps one in a victim mindset. As I've already said, I find this to be a form of superstitious and magical thinking, an attempt to whistle past the graveyard, if you will. I've likened this to characters in Harry Potter being fearful to name Voldemort. Naming and analyzing the very real things we're dealing with here is not going to invoke some dark magic permanently trapping us in victim status. It's not wrong and completely right to acknowledge that we were/are (if gaslighting is ongoing) victims. That's not the same as remaining a victim. In fact we had a similar discussion last year in the "Adultery as Abuse" thread. I hadn't yet put my finger on the Voldemort analogy back then, but now that I have, I think it's spot on.

2. As DevastatedDee points out, "Thumos can be analytical without it being an escape from anything personal about himself. It probably helps him heal to learn and think about infidelity this way. It has helped me to do the same. So no, this isn't a debate forum, but this exchanging of ideas and perspectives is actually a healing thing for a lot of people. Seeking to understand trauma isn't an escape from feeling it." This is exactly right, and I appreciate her putting it this way. That's exactly what I'm doing, and I've pointed that out several times.

3. Am I anti-R? No. I'm pro whatever will help a betrayed spouse survive an infidelity attack, the betrayal trauma and PTSD that results, and heal. We know from research that infidelity causes betrayal trauma, and that betrayal trauma causes more physical illness, even years later, than other kinds of trauma. So I want to see people overcome that. Full stop. I've been pretty open about being something of an R skeptic, meaning it seems to me on balance that deeply self-aware WS's who own it, achieve metanoia, and help a BS heal in an authentic reconciliation seem somewhat rare. Heck, those WS stand out glaringly here on SI.

But being more skeptical about the long-term prospects for reconciliation isn't the same as being against reconciliation. That isn't a distinction without a difference. They really are two different things. In fact, it's really just from my standpoint about looking for a higher standard for reconciliation than what I've seen.

I've made the point in the past, and most folks here on SI have agreed with me that many claims of "stronger, better" after reconciliation really amount to a level-set of a new marriage that provides a betrayed spouse with the very things they should have been getting from a wayward spouse in the first place. I have contended and continue to contend that most affairs happen inside of what most people would agree were good marriages. After D-Day they are not good marriages anymore, but before D-Day they probably were. 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. It's a dubious prospect that half of all marriages are bad marriages, so it's probably a safe bet a good portion of divorces are ending what were good marriages. A good portion of divorces (at least a third of all divorces) are also caused by infidelity. I think it's a safe bet that "bad marriages" are in the distinct minority of infidelity cases (Esther Perel, of all people, agrees with this and so do more and more in her field).

So does reconciliation achieve better new marriages than the majority of the good marriages in which infidelity happens? I don't know. It's a good question to ask, don't you all think?

All we really have to go on is anecdotal evidence, and research showing short term success with reconciliation attempts. From what I've seen, an authentic reconciliation in which a betrayed spouse feels they are in a better situation than before and with a truly remorseful spouse seems somewhat rare. Yes, I read the success stories in the Reconciliation forum. I say bravo for them. We also have more longitudinal analysis now suggesting that after the 5 year mark, many reconciliation attempts fail and the rates of successful reconciliation seem to recede. This seems to coincide with the 3-5 healing timeline by which a betrayed spouse begins to achieve some equilibrium. Could it be that a betrayed spouse has been trauma bonded to a WS during this time period, becomes more self aware around the 5 year mark, sheds the stupor of POLF and the like, and decides to move forward with a different life? Could be. We're still finding out.

I've also continually pointed to Desmond Tutu's profound writings about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and the sharp distinction he makes between authentic vs superficial reconciliation. 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.

4. About this idea that I can't be angry on someone else's behalf. Well, sure I can. I can do whatever I want, within reason. Saying I'm angry on someone's behalf is just another way of expressing solidarity with them -- no different from a lot of BW's who express solidarity who say "I'm so angry for you" or "This makes me so angry" about another's situation. There's nothing wrong with it, everything right with it, and I find a WH trying to cast aspersions on it just silly. I don't see anyone calling anyone out when they say something like "I'm so angry about this for you." So why the sudden selective outrage when I say it? I think CT is a very articulate, intelligent lady. If she was offended by me being angry on her behalf, she probably would have said so.

5. 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. If I don't like the way I've stated something because I find it inartful, well, sorry not sorry: I'm going to edit it. I find the obsession with this by some to be downright weird. It's like a game of gotcha in which you've caught me doing something I openly acknowledge doing that hurts no one and only brings clarity. So stuff it as far as this is concerned.

6. 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:

https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/topics/640195/feeling-stuck-in-anger-plain-of-lethal-flatness-phase/

https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/topics/647979/moving-over-here/?AP=1&HL=

https://www.survivinginfidelity.com/topics/653489/a-couple-of-revelations/

Thumos stated that he’s done this multiple times and there will be no more conversation about it. However, has Thumos’ conversations with his WW been as analytical snd theoretical as we see here? If yes, is it possible that his WW doesn’t really get what’s at stake. Does it sound too theoretical to her?

No, brother, the conversations have been long and painful and filled with emotion. Not analysis.

In this thread, however, I've mostly tried to stick with analysis because as DevastatedDee observed, I'm learning and hoping others can learn. Emotions and feelings have their place. So does analysis of one's own situation, as well as theories about infidelity and psychology that can be applied. Philosophy. Literature. Therapy. And so on. All of it. Any of it. If every discussion becomes focused on feelings, I feel it can drift apart, lose focus and can be less helpful. Talking about feelings is helpful, no doubt. So is being analytical. I think the odd tendency to try to force every single discussion to somehow be corralled only into a discussion about one's personal situation or one's interior life is not helpful. That's just my opinion.

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. That's why not long ago I posted a list of logical fallacies most WS's use at one time or another. I did this in order to help BS's penetrate through the white noise and wall of words their WS's throw at them. Feelings were not a part of that discussion, but it was vitally important and a lot of folks seemed to agree:

https://survivinginfidelity.com/topics/653367/logical-fallacies-from-ws/

People got a lot from that thread. It was helpful.

Predictably along came some voices to try to steer the conversation into emotions and to try to derail folks sharing examples of logical fallacies. Weird, that. It's almost like some are trying to thought police and control people's conversations.

7. About my motives. My motives are out there for all to see. They are the same as everyone else here. I think anyone claiming to somehow have achieved a Zen-like state with this stuff is probably being inauthentic, like those people on Facebook who curate happy lives like a Potemkin village. I have not achieved Zen-like status, and I doubt I ever will. The betrayal trauma is tramautic. It is life-altering. It leaves lasting scars that hurt when you turn the wrong way, just like physical scars. So my motives are to find my way through this shit storm. That's it. I don't have an agenda. And I sure as shit am not rooting for continued or more misery for others. That's ridiculous. And that I actually do take offense to.

8.

The CYA paragraph that followed was just that ... CYA.

That's JMO, but my perceptions tend to be pretty accurate.

Sisoon, these two statements jammed against one another are fairly jolting. For one thing, it wasn't CYA, it was important context to the "yes." You're just disregarding all of that, for what? To then assert you're always right? I'm wrong about a lot of things. I've seen you be wrong about a hell of a lot of things. You were flat wrong recently about the entire purpose and origin of the 180. If you really feel that your perceptions are always accurate, we probably are just talking past each other at this stage.

9.

Thanks for bringing "trauma bonding" to the table, Thumos. It's real, IMO, and it's important that people have some awareness of it, also IMO.

You're welcome. I'm glad it's helpful. And in spite of the ad hominem we've seen, and always trying to turn these topical threads into odd debates and detours into subjective emotional discussions, I'm gratified that I was able to help folks.

[This message edited by Thumos at 8:51 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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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 10:15 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

No, we can't agree that a person should simply leave someone who has treated that person badly, because relationships are usually complex, although there are certainly situations in which D is clearly the best solution.

In most situations, the WS has spent a lot of time truly treating the BS well before the A, and sometimes both before and after. From what I've read on SI, most WSes have a history of apparently loving and being loved by their BSes, and vice versa. It's probably true that we've ALL hurt and been hurt by the ones we love.

As I say, relationships are usually complex - the decision to stay or leave is also usually complex.

I agree with a good amount of your post. What I was saying wasn't that everyone should divorce and R not even be considered. What I was responding to was Dude67 saying he had been excoriated by suggesting R to a poster who was in the Divorce forum and planning to divorce. I couldn't imagine telling someone who had been cheated on that he should R when he was pursuing D. I still can't imagine doing that.

I'm still not sure exactly how this became an R vs D debate. I'm not even anti-R. Anti-R for me, sure, but not generally.

This:

OTOH, stating that BSes who don't separate stay together because they are trauma-bonding IS an entirely unwarranted slam against R, and that's how the opening post in the thread read, until it was edited - 3 days after the thread was started.

isn't a slam against R. I suppose a small percentage of us are so strong as to not be trauma-bonded after DDay, but just reading here seems to indicate that most of us are. And most of us are regardless of how good/bad/average the marriage was before. It may be for a short time or for a long time, but it seems pretty universal from the anecdotal evidence of reading SI. I don't think we're even allowed to pull posts from other threads in here and I don't really want to do a research project on this anyway. So if you disagree that you see that in JFO and from people posting in the early days, I guess it is what it is. The vast majority of WSs engage in certain behaviors after DDay that qualify as abusive even if they don't mean to be abusive and not one single new BS is emotionally equipped for abuse after this kind of trauma. It does look kind of worrisome to me when someone comes to JFO and says something like they just found out that their WS cheated and is continuing to gaslight and lie and anyone pops up with "You can R with that person" when the automatic response should be "Let's help you get out of this situation". Because no, you cannot R with the gaslighting lying person. You can R with the remorseful person who isn't piling on extra damage, but no one is doing R with the gaslighter. There's plenty of desperate hope for R with the gaslighters, but it isn't happening at that point.

My XWH was a very loving man with me. He was kind and gentle and fun. Verbally and physically affectionate. A good stepdad. I had honestly never been happier than the years I was with him. Before everything crashed and burned in 2017, I would have told you that I was a very lucky woman. I could write poems about how wonderful and smart and amazing this man was. And yet, he was cheating on me like it was his job. Gave me a nasty form of HPV. That is pretty damned complex, I'll give you that. Don't think that because I wound up with an absolute POS that he wasn't for years absolutely precious to me. I wasn't aware of the POS layer. After DDay, all I wanted was to have that wonderful guy back. I understand the desire for having back what you thought you had. I so very much do understand that. I get coming here and going "I want my spouse back" even in the worst of situations. I knew in my heart that there was no getting that back no matter what and oh the grief of it. Some of you seem to have gotten that back and I am not against that in the least.

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?

The only extra thing in this thread from me is that the healing of the BS needs to be the primary focus after DDay and sometimes it might be seriously beneficial for them to get out from under the typical post-DDay mindgames from the WS for a while and do a lot of self-care. A new BS needs a moment to get their bearings and regain their own sanity before they can make any decisions. The 180 is often suggested, and this is just a step beyond the 180 and would be used for the same purpose. Some of the best Rs here probably started with some serious asshole behaviors right after DDay that caused more damage for the BS. This idea isn't anti-R. It's pro-BS.

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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id 8690515
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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 10:28 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

I would add that I think of my own stances here regarding adultery as abuse, betrayal trauma, trauma bonds, therapeutic separation and the like as pro-reconciliation, not anti-reconciliation.

And that's based on my own experience, so it's a good thing I've seen all the missteps and wrong moves one can make in these situations and learn from them so others don't have to.

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.

[This message edited by Thumos at 10:38 PM, Monday, September 27th]

"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: 4527   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 10:38 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

That's a very good possibility. It could limit the amount of extra damage done by the WS that makes a BS unable to even consider R with them. Don't people say that it's often the lies after DDay that kill the marriage?

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

posts: 4783   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 10:51 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

might be seriously beneficial for them to get out from under the typical post-DDay mindgames from the WS for a while and do a lot of self-care. A new BS needs a moment to get their bearings and regain their own sanity before they can make any decisions. The 180 is often suggested, and this is just a step beyond the 180 and would be used for the same purpose.

Yes, and often the 180 is difficult in practice for any length of time. It was designed by Wiener-Davis as a quick reverse psychology tool - and I don't doubt the efficacy because it actually worked for me.

But as I've said here on this thread, trying to sustain it can lead to some serious cognitive dissonance.

How is one to "Be cheerful, strong, outgoing and independent" after the devastating trauma of D-Day? It just isn't real.

I doubt very many BS's feel cheerful, strong, outgoing or independent. Not for a long time.

Likewise the advice to be patient, not be nasty, angry, or cold. Well, good luck. For all the talk about feelings, doing the 180 amounts to some pretty robotic actions denying how one truly feels. Not authentic.

"Never express moral outrage." Why? Especially when we now know your own brain is crying out with maelstrom of primary moral emotions?

"Listen, and listen some more." Really? I mean, before and after D-Day I didn't want to have to listen to more lies. Who should? How many BS's actually can do this?

That's why a therapeutic separation would be wise: remove the BS from the front, just like a shell-shocked soldier so they don't have to fake anything.

"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: 4527   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 11:05 PM on Monday, September 27th, 2021

Ha, yeah, my 180 was just me being cold and very very brutally honest. Not a great tool for anything and it certainly didn't feel good to not be able to just be in my own home. It's so hard to wear any sort of mask after DDay.

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

posts: 4783   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
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HoldingTogether ( member #29429) posted at 12:52 AM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Double post. Damn!

[This message edited by HoldingTogether at 7:15 PM, September 27th (Monday)]

Us-Reconciled.
You keep waiting for the dust to settle, and then, one day you realize... This is it, that dust is your life going on around you.

posts: 10000   ·   registered: Aug. 25th, 2010   ·   location: New Life
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Gottagetthrough ( member #27325) posted at 1:04 AM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

This is very interesting, and i believe wh and i have a trauma bond after tears of horrible marriage

posts: 3674   ·   registered: Jan. 22nd, 2010
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HoldingTogether ( member #29429) posted at 1:14 AM 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.

Most of this I do not disagree with. I think a BS should do many of the things you are suggesting. I just don’t happen to believe that the idea of a “therapeutic separation” is necessarily a good idea.

I am a big believer in the BS coming out of the gate hard. I believe the sooner that a BS can empower themselves to take charge of the situation and establish firm boundaries, requirements and dealbreakers the fucking better. I have often said that there is a vanishingly small window in which the BS can shock their WS into pulling their cranium out of their colon; let too much time pass on that window and your odds of getting a WS to actually fully understand, accept and take ownership of their own fucked up thinking and shitty behavior starts to dwindle down to close to nil.

What I think a “therapeutic separation” would be doing would be just kicking the fucking can down the road. Letting time pass on that window of opportunity. Giving the WS time to bolster and solidify all the bullshit justifications and rationalizations they have been building in their mind all along. Or, even more likely, get deeper and deeper into their affair with all their new free fucking time.

Look, if your WS refuses to respect your boundaries, if they reject your requirements, if they break your fucking dealbreakers then file for D. Don’t go off and “therapeutically separate” Fuck, for a lot of them that would be a fucking gift you may as well wrap it and put a fucking bow on it.

My FWW managed to pull her head out of her ass precisely because I was there holding her feet to the fire.. Every time she tried to roll out some bullshit rationalization I fucking called her on it. I made her see it for the bullshit it was. Was that shit easy? Fuck no! Was it my job or my responsibility? Also fuck no.

But it was something that I chose to do. Because I knew that somewhere, buried underneath all that dysfunctional thinking and fucked up coping mechanisms, was the good and decent person I had married. I owed it to myself to see if I could figure out a way to help that person find their way back out. And because I knew that we had something together that was worth saving. That I wanted to save.

It wasn’t fucking altruism, I’m not a fucking martyr, not some enlightened saint full of forgiveness. It was selfishness it was me working for what I wanted. Pure and simple.

I have, as you put it, a “strong inclination -- call it a feeling if you like” that if we had done a “therapeutic separation” for 30 days or two weeks or whatever arbitrary number you want to pick. She would have used that time to convince herself that she was right and justified to do what she did. Still would have been bullshit of the highest order, but she would have used that time to chisel that bullshit deep into the fucking bedrock of her psyche. She would have hammered that shit in so deep that nothing would have ever fucking dislodged it.

And why? Because to do otherwise would have meant facing the person that she had become. And that was the one thing that she was the most fucking terrified of doing. She would have fought it like a fox chewing off its own leg to get out of a trap. The only thing that kept her from doing that was the fact that I was there calling her on all her fucking bullshit. Shining a bright spotlight on all of her fucked up behavior.

So is that the course I think every BS should take? Of course not. Would I even recommend it? Probably not. But if someone wants to know what worked for me I will happily share it. Let them make up their own mind about that shit. Secure in the knowledge that, in one case at least, it actually fucking worked out.

Look, if you wanna D, go ahead and D. If your WS isn’t coming around, go ahead and D. All a therapeutic separation is gonna do, in my opinion, is prolong the inevitable.

But if you are at all interested in R, then I think a separation is a bad idea.

So the idea of suggesting that as some kind of blanket recommendation seems, to me at least, to be setting people who might want to R up for failure.

I’m not going to even get started on the 180! What a miraculous combination of 50% brilliance and 50% pure unadulterated horse shit that is.

[This message edited by HoldingTogether at 7:30 PM, September 27th (Monday)]

Us-Reconciled.
You keep waiting for the dust to settle, and then, one day you realize... This is it, that dust is your life going on around you.

posts: 10000   ·   registered: Aug. 25th, 2010   ·   location: New Life
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thisissogross ( member #30294) posted at 1:26 AM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Best of luck

[This message edited by thisissogross at 9:36 PM, September 27th (Monday)]

[This message edited by thisissogross at 3:36 AM, Tuesday, September 28th]



i edit frequently because i have to

posts: 367   ·   registered: Dec. 3rd, 2010   ·   location: southern us
id 8690557
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 3:40 AM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

The 180 is supposed to help the BS get their bearings and get their boundaries strong after a trauma.

180 is NOT a tool to to try and inspire a response from the WS. If that's your understanding of the 180- then you don't understand the 180.

If memory serves, the 180 was created by Michelle Weiner Davis in her book Divorce Busting. So yeah, the list was designed to make the BS a more attractive choice, particularly as the BS becomes less readable and the WS begins to worry that the BS is losing interest. That's why there are so many stupid ones in the list, like "Be cheerful, strong, outgoing and attractive".

I do think we use it better though when we're using it as a tool for creating emotional distance and breaking our enmeshment with an unrepentant cheater.

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

{edited for typos.. again}

posts: 4886   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 3:27 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

The book is no longer in our library, so I can't check it, but my memory of the 180 is that MWD was reporting what a client of hers finally did because she was done with trying to change her WH. The client was shocked to find that her H changed after she started the 180. The original 180 was a list of tactics the clients used. MWD stated, IIRC, that it was to be used at the user's risk, and that the user should expect that it would usually not change the need to D.

If a reader has the book, please enlighten us.

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.

posts: 26513   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8690633
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 4:02 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

I remember thinking the 180 as advised was a pretty good idea. It was about detaching and getting some emotional space for yourself. When I read the whole list, I thought it was pretty repulsive. It's game-playing if you do it the way it was listed in that book. It's manipulation and a version of pick-me dancing. I'm with ChamomileTea, we use it in a healthier way here.

HoldingTogether, I have thought about what you wrote and I'm still not sure what to say about it. Kind of blows my mind. I can't imagine coming at this from your perspective. I don't have the patience or the interest in trying to force someone to change. My pride wouldn't allow it. Show me who you are and I'll believe it. Treat me a certain way and my reaction isn't to try and force you to regain your humanity. I get selfish in a different direction. I get "well fuck you, then" selfish and I walk away. I don't fix or try to fix. I don't think it's my place to fix and the idea that I'd have to make a grown adult treat me well just sounds like a project instead of a partner. It sounds like you got what you wanted in your situation, so I'm glad it worked for you. It's just an alien concept to me and not one I'd recommend to most people because I don't expect it would work with most people.

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

posts: 4783   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
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HoldingTogether ( member #29429) posted at 5:23 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

HoldingTogether, I have thought about what you wrote and I'm still not sure what to say about it. Kind of blows my mind. I can't imagine coming at this from your perspective. I don't have the patience or the interest in trying to force someone to change. My pride wouldn't allow it. Show me who you are and I'll believe it. Treat me a certain way and my reaction isn't to try and force you to regain your humanity.

That’s fair enough. I don’t think my approach is a one size fits all for sure. But maybe some perspective and contex might help you to get your head around it.

I think that I was better able to empathize with wayward thinking due in part to my own history. You see, I am a recovering alcoholic and it never ceases to amaze me how many corollaries I found (and am still finding) between addictive behavior and wayward behavior. I know first hand what it is like to behave in a foolish, selfish, self destructive manner. I understand how a person can know, on one level, that what they are doing is destroying themselves and damaging everyone around them; and yet at the same time keep lying to themselves and rationalizing and justifying their own behavior in order to push that knowledge down. In order to keep chasing some illusory and temporary “fix” for their problems.

People aren’t simple black and white creatures. We are complex and complicated. Inside of our heads are whole committees arguing and vying for control. For a long time the worst parts of me were yelling the loudest. The parts of me that hated myself, the parts of me full of insecurities and doubts, the selfish entitled parts of me. Those were the parts that were yelling the loudest. So they got all the attention, they got to be the ones driving the bus.

But the other parts of me, the sensible parts, the parts that like myself, the empathetic caring parts of me? They were all still there too. They just weren’t strong enough or loud enough to make themselves be heard over all yelling the broken parts of me were doing.

A big part of getting sober was about fixing the broken parts of me, but almost equally important was learning to shut out, tamp down and counter a lot of the negative self talk in my head. That and learning to recognize and listen to all the better parts of my nature.

And I didn’t get there overnight, and I didn’t get there all on my own. Hell, I didn’t even start the journey until my life became so unmanageable as to be intolerable. When shit got bad enough that the lies I was telling myself became too ridiculous even for me to believe.

I got help, I got support, I got a program, I got accountability and people who would call me on my bullshit. Both the bullshit I was telling them and the bullshit I was telling myself. I got the courage to be truly vulnerable and open up to others about the mess going on inside my head, and I learned that I was pretty fucking far from alone in all my doubts and insecurities and self-recriminations. I came to realize that everybody is full of similar doubts and fears and insecurities. That it wasn’t that everyone else had it all figured out and I was just some giant fuckup. All those people I thought had their shit together? They were just as fucked up in the head as me.

They had just figured out healthier ways to cope with their shit than drinking themselves to oblivion on the fucking regular.

What a revelation huh? Sounds simple, straight forward and logical, but it wasn’t for me. I had to work at that shit.

So when my wife started to act out of character from the woman that I had known and loved for over a decade? When I discovered that she had behaved so unbelievably badly, recklessly, and selfishly? That she had acted in a way that was essentially slamming down the self destruct button on not only her own life, but on the lives of two families full of people who I knew she cared about and cherished? I didn’t just assume that deep down she must have always been some Machiavellian mustache twirling villain. I assumed she must be fucking broken. That something inside of her must be deeply malfunctioning.

That was simply the only answer that made any kind of sense.

And I happen to believe that people can change. More precisely: that people are always changing. And if they can change to the worse, stands to reason that they can change for the better.

I have to believe that. Otherwise where does that leave me? Might as well go pick up a fifth of bourbon and get back to drinking myself to death.

I believed that my WW could become a FWW. That doesn’t mean I had limitless patience. And it didn’t mean I was going to let her keep hurting me indefinitely. Not everyone that comes to AA meetings gets sober either. Some people just don’t have the strength, the tools or the will to change, and when that is the case there is no amount of help anyone else can give them that will fix the deficit. But as long as the desire to change is there and the work is being done I am willing to try to help them on the journey.

Up to a point of course, and I suppose that point is different for everyone. Make no mistake about it though, it was tough fucking love. It wasn’t easy for either of us.

So no, I don’t think my story or my situation would be a good fit for all, or even most, situations. But I wasn’t in all or most situations. I was in mine. Which is kind of the point I keep trying to make about blanket one size fits all recommendations being thrown about.

Still though, if I had to put money on it, I would be willing to wager that most successfully reconciled couples could recognize at least some of the things I have been saying here.

The problem might be that most of them don’t really stick around after they get there, so we don’t hear as much from them as I might like. Hell, I’m a bit guilty of that myself.

HT

[This message edited by HoldingTogether at 11:38 AM, September 28th (Tuesday)]

Us-Reconciled.
You keep waiting for the dust to settle, and then, one day you realize... This is it, that dust is your life going on around you.

posts: 10000   ·   registered: Aug. 25th, 2010   ·   location: New Life
id 8690652
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 5:37 PM on Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

Okay, now that makes sense, HoldingTogether. Thanks for that explanation! I think you're right, infidelity has a lot in common with the active addiction mindset.

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

posts: 4783   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8690655
Topic is Sleeping.
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