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.
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]