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Trauma Bonding

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 9:21 PM on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Thumos - a very detailed description indeed. I’m wondering - is your WW aware of you getting your "ducks in a row?"

If yes, what is her response? Offering a new poly, revised timeline, more transparency?

She's aware that I met with an attorney, did the child support calculator, and several times I broached the possibility of simply sitting down with a mediator and coming up with an amicable divorce. She doesn't want divorce and has asked me not to leave her. She tells me she is focused on being the best wife she can be, but apparently that doesn't include offering me any more information on the affair.

As far as her response on offering a new polygraph and the like, she's offered nothing more and insists I have the full story. Of course the story I do have -- unprotected sex in our home, with a friend of mine as the AP, a double betrayal, the ongoing gaslighting, getting my kids involved in it peripherally, and so on -- is all bad enough. Yet, it's reasonable to believe there is more to the story, and all of her behaviors in terms of trickle truth, foot dragging on the timeline and polygraph, the failed polygraph, refusal to let me see texts between them, etc. all indicate strongly in the direction of more.

The question was asked: How does a therapeutic separation differ from another physical separation?

Well, maybe it's a distinction without a difference -- although generally therapeutic separations have a timeline on them (30 days seems to be the starting time period) and are not legally binding legal separations. Depending on how it is defined, it is seen as a possible step toward a restored marriage.

The way I see it in the case of infidelity, it is an opportunity for a betrayed spouse to live alone, practice self care, work on initial healing and self development, and determine if they want to continue with the marriage. Not necessarily a prelude to divorce, but rather as a way to avoid rushing to divorce, and of course that depends on how WS's handles themselves during the therapeutic separation period.

[This message edited by Thumos at 9:27 PM, Wednesday, September 15th]

"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 9:28 PM on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

although the way I see it in the case of infidelity, it is an opportunity for a betrayed spouse to live alone, practice self care and determine if they want to continue with the marriage. Not necessarily a prelude to divorce, but of course that depends on how WS's handles themselves during the therapeutic separation period.

For interest's sake, would you agree that this is similar or at least compatible with the 180? Could it be done while living under the same roof, if necessary?

Me: BS, Him: WS. Mid-late 30s.
Together 15 years, married 5 (11 m at D-Day).
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Currently 4 years (and two kids) into R and optimistic.

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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 10:56 PM on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

For interest's sake, would you agree that this is similar or at least compatible with the 180? Could it be done while living under the same roof, if necessary?

I think so, yes. And as I said above, I fully realize that for many a physical separation may not be financially possible or may not be possible for other reasons (such as health reasons). Admittedly, this is among a host of reasons I myself have decided to stay for now. After my false heart attack scare, I have felt vulnerable physically about being on my own. That's fear, certainly, but it's a rational fear.

To your larger point, I do think the one difference is that, if possible, I believe a therapeutic separation should be more than an in-home separation, whereas a 180 is most often carried out living together. I confess that I find the 180 impractical for carrying out over an extended period of time, even for weeks and I would warrant I'm not alone in that regard. The 180 as first explicated by Davis and then repeated here on SI is an effective arrow in the quiver of a betrayed spouse in the short term, but it can lead to some pretty hefty cognitive dissonance over time.

If possible, I believe a therapeutic separation should be done as quickly after D-Day as possible (this didn't happen in my own case, because I didn't even run across the concept until a year or so ago).

In my own experience, I can say that merely the experience of being away from my home (where the adultery abuse happened) for an entire week, several states away, on my own with my own thoughts and in solitude and quiet, was quite profound. It provided me with much-needed perspective.

That was only 7 days. How much more so then for 30 days? How much more so if I had done it immediately after D-Day?

I don't know. But I can surmise it would have been a better approach than the path I followed of marital counseling, followed by additional gaslighting, blameshifting, footdragging, lack of transparency and so on.

And I want to say again so it's not missed: It's not that I think a therapeutic separation should be implemented in all cases, it's that I think wise therapists and others should start immediately from D-Day with a betrayed spouse in assuming an abuse paradigm -- and that this would entail a firm recommendation of getting a betrayed spouse immediately to safety and away from the abuse, thus therapeutic separation (obviously recognizing it would not be practical in every case). In fact, I think it would be beneficial for the various crowd-sourcing folks here at SI to consider nearly all cases that come to the JFO forum (or those who mistakenly land in the R forum after they just found out) through the lens of abuse and to help newly-betrayed spouses understand and comprehend the extent to which they have been abused and are being abused by wayward spouses.

We all agree that adultery/infidelity is in and of itself abuse. Full stop. With layers of additional emotional and psychic abuse layered in like trickle truth (which is really another form of gaslighting), outright gaslighting, blameshifting onto the "scapegoat" (the faithful spouse), DARVO attacks, rewriting the history of the marriage and so on. Adultery/infidelity is also a form of physical abuse because of the physical harm that betrayal trauma causes to the brain, to the heart, and to other areas of the body. Extended anxiety brought on by being betrayed has real long-term health consequences, such as elevated BP. And exposure to potentially life-threatening STD's is yet another form of abuse.

Start with assumption that infidelity is an act of abuse. An act of abuse that causes long-term damage to a faithful partner we now understand under the broad therapeutic term of betrayal trauma (so much so that betrayal trauma specialists now offer services in almost every major American city). And that this trauma caused by this particular form of abuse also likely in many cases causes a distinctive additional form of unhealthy bonding we can think of as a trauma bond that goes beyond the healthy form of bonding known as monogamous pair bonding. And likely in many cases causes behaviors such as fight, flight, freeze, and fawning (you can look these up for more information).

And if we start with the assumption of viewing all infidelity as a particularly pernicious form of abuse, we can wipe away a lot of clutter off the table for discussion.

Adultery apologists like Esther Perel and her ilk would be anathema within the therapeutic community if infidelity were immediately regarded as an act of abuse.

Marital counseling to "save the marriage" would be disregarded almost immediately within the frame of abuse (although marital counseling could certainly be warranted much later after a wayward spouse has taken a series of deliberate steps under the Desmond Tutu model for Truth and Reconciliation).

I could come up with other examples of things that could be almost immediately cast aside within an abuse paradigm, but the point is that the first and foremost concern would be and should be the betrayed spouse's physical and mental safety. This would entail confronting both the short term and long-term consequences of betrayal trauma brought on by the distinctive abuse of infidelity. And lastly, bringing it around the topic that launched this thread, it would entail viewing the continued relationship with the wayward spouse through the frame of a trauma bond enhanced by the PTSD and experience of betrayal trauma itself.

So simplifying this model somewhat:

Infidelity Abuse Occurs ----> Betrayal Trauma Results ------> A toxic Trauma Bond results (at some level, and this likely includes things like hysterical sexual bonding) is an outgrowth of the damage from this abuse ----> The Trauma Bond is then attended by the behaviors of fight/flight (elevated BP and heart rate, endogenous opioids flood the body, mind and body are on high alert hypervigilance), freeze (limbo) or fawning (rugsweeping).

Against these behaviors of fight, flight, freeze, or fawning we also have the brain fighting with itself in one of the most severe battles of cognitive dissonance most humans will ever experience. After all, the betrayal trauma of infidelity comes from the one person on the planet we were supposed to be able to trust above all other 8 billion inhabitants. And then we have concomitant experience of strong primary moral emotions (see Jonathan Haidt) such as moral anger and moral disgust, stemming from our visceral reaction based on objective morality. Our physical brains and our intangible minds (proven through things like neuroplasticity) offer us no respite from these moral emotions which assert themselves over and over and ever more strongly if we seek to push them away.

And that's to say nothing of being constantly re-triggered by the very fountainhead of our betrayal trauma pain, the presence of our wayward spouse, for example if we seek an in-home separation or a similar arrangement. I think this is why IHS is often described by the participants as hellish.

All of this, when viewed together, then makes a compelling case for dealing with the fallout of infidelity in a very different way than most therapists currently do, and in a very different way than cases of infidelity have traditionally been dealt with.

[This message edited by Thumos at 11:15 PM, Wednesday, September 15th]

"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 ( Guide #31240) posted at 11:33 PM on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Note: This is not a response to the post just above. I probably won't respond to that.

Thumos, I hope you take this post as feedback, not as criticism.

Consider what this thread might have become if you had started with something like:

I've been reading about trauma bonding, and I think that's a significant part of why I'm still with my W.

*****

I think you're looking for a ritual that will heal you - do steps a, b, and c and you'll be healed. Rituals won't get any BS through infidelity. Getting out of infidelity requires BSes (and WSes) to get out of rituals and to get real.

It's following a ritual to say to oneself,

'I know some powerful, articulate voices say a new BS should do a, b, c...z, so I'll do them.'

It's not ritualistic to say,

'I know they say I should do a, b, c...z. I'm going to do them in the hope and expectation that they'll give me these results.'

'I know they say I should do a, b, c...z. I'm going to do the first 6 in the hope that they'll give me these results, and I'll do these because they make sense. The rest don't seem to be relevant to me. If my plan doesn't work out as I hope, I'll add at least some of the steps I've cut out.'

Mindfulness and intentionality are prerequisites to healing.

*****

You write extensively about infidelity as abuse. In doing so, you invite yourself and others to focus on being victimized by abusive WSes. We all do that to some extent.

But to heal, the BS MUST get to, 'OK, I've been abused. How am I going to get myself out of this?' You don't write about that.

*****

You write about safety.

When I hear safety, I think about physical safety. Relatively few of us are in physical danger on and after d-day. I sure wasn't. I probably thought of hitting my W, but I didn't. Neither of us was in physical danger. I knew our M was shaky. I knew my life as I knew it was gone. But neither of us was in danger of immediate physical harm.

I know I thought relying on my W was ‘unsafe’ – that is, if I relied on her again, she might add to my emotional pain or she might again fail to deliver on a promise. But I also knew that was easy to fix - I just had to take care of myself, and voila! I was safe.

I think I'm safe when I'm on my bicycle, but right now, one of my hips sports an ugly, hard, thick, sore (improved from ‘painful’) hematoma that measures about 11" x 6" because another rider collided with me and took us both down, with me on the bottom. I no longer think I'm as safe as I did since before the crash.

Externals don't make us feel safe. Rather, we look around us, consider our experience, and decide how safe to feel. IOW, for most of us, the thought that one is safe comes from within.

So what harm do you see that a separation (therapeutic or not) will prevent? What scares you about your specific sitch.

*****

Demanding timelines, polygraphs, STD tests, NC, etc. of the WS will tell the BS something about whether or not the WS is a good candidate for R, but it doesn't help the BS heal from the feelings that come with being betrayed.

Talking with a lawyer may help a BS decide between D & R, but it doesn't help the BS heal.

Looking for an IC who is a trauma specialist may work out well, but having watched lots of therapists work with clients (they give demos at conferences), I am confident that some therapists over-hype themselves, and some don't.

To heal the BS has to look inside and resolve (a lot of) the BS's own issues. There's no other way.

If any reader of this post wants to get away from trauma bonding, and/or wants to stop thinking that you're abused and see no way out, and/or wants to stop feeling as if they're in danger, and/or wants to free themself from feeling humiliated (whatever feeling that is) and from intense anger, fear, grief, and shame about things they can't change, look inside.

It might be a good idea to find a good guide (IC/therapist), but the power to heal is inside us, not outside.

[This message edited by sisoon at 11:36 PM, Wednesday, September 15th]

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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Dude67 ( member #75700) posted at 1:40 AM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Thumos - once you fully move forward with D, if your WW decides to save the M, she knows she will have to tell you the entire truth and agree to the poly.

If she still refuses, you then know that she’s still lying and values her own protection, wayward thinking, selfishness and lies over you, your marriage, and son.

Only you can decide what you’re willing to live with. I had previously asked what your strategy is, and, if I’m hearing you correctly, this is it.

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ChamomileTea ( member #53574) posted at 2:37 AM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

It's not that I think a therapeutic separation should be implemented in all cases, it's that I think wise therapists and others should start immediately from D-Day with a betrayed spouse in assuming an abuse paradigm -- and that this would entail a firm recommendation of getting a betrayed spouse immediately to safety and away from the abuse, thus therapeutic separation (obviously recognizing it would not be practical in every case). In fact, I think it would be beneficial for the various crowd-sourcing folks here at SI to consider nearly all cases that come to the JFO forum (or those who mistakenly land in the R forum after they just found out) through the lens of abuse and to help newly-betrayed spouses understand and comprehend the extent to which they have been abused and are being abused by wayward spouses.

I just don't agree with this. Not that intimate betrayal isn't abusive because it is. But there is typically no INTENT to injure. I think infidelity is just so much stupider than the idea that our spouses are targeting us for abuse, like injuring us is the point of the activity. The cheating is about the cheater. It's about getting some extra on the side; extra sex, extra attention, extra validation, etc. etc. If it was simply about spousal abuse, there are much more direct ways to accomplish that.

I agree with Sisoon. That was a beautiful post, btw. And so true, IME.

[This message edited by ChamomileTea at 6:42 AM, Thursday, September 16th]

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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 1:54 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

I just don't agree with this. Not that intimate betrayal isn't abusive because it is. But there is typically no INTENT to injure. I think infidelity is just so much stupider than the idea that our spouses are targeting us for abuse, like injuring us is the point of the activity. The cheating is about the cheater. It's about getting some extra on the side; extra sex, extra attention, extra validation, etc. etc. If it was simply about spousal abuse, there are much more direct ways to accomplish that.

All abuse is about the abuser. It's never about the abused. I don't see how this is much different. No one hits you because you really are a stupid piece of shit who does nothing right. No one calls you names and berates you because you just suck as a person who can't even pick out the right paper towels at the grocery store. Injuring the victim isn't the point. It's the action that feeds something within the abuser that's the point. Cheating feeds something within the abuser. Hitting feeds something within the abuser. Berating someone feeds something within the abuser. The victim isn't even important. The victim's feelings don't matter in any of those cases. The victim's pain is irrelevant in all of those cases. Damage to the victim isn't considered. It's all the same.

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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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 6:56 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

But there is typically no INTENT to injure.

CT thanks for posting because I think it reflects the deep chasm of world views we may have.

I suppose I could stretch this observation to the breaking point and see if it snaps. So let's see: There are actually factions within the United States who believe a husband should discipline his wife. If done with the intent to correct his wife's misbehavior, is this abuse?

I hear a snapping sound.

Intent is beside the point. Abuse is abuse. Now as far as adultery being abuse, we had a long thread on this topic some time ago here on SI, and the crowdsourced consensus was that, yes, adultery is abuse (or use "infidelity" if that makes you more comfortable). The crowd consensus here on SI has typically been in the right direction. I feel quite comfortable leaning in that direction but that doesn't mean you have to.

Adultery is undertaken by individuals who are fully aware of the evil of this act, the destructiveness of it, the toxicity of it. Every single human culture, past and present, across the entire planet has held infidelity to be taboo, anathema and among the worst acts a human being can carry out (although some cultures have institutionalized wife swapping within agreed-upon boundaries). This probably stretches back 100,000 years, possibly longer.

Why is this? Because, in wonky terms, it depletes social capital. In more visceral terms, it rips apart societies where it runs rampant. It breaks up families, the most basic unit of most successful societies. It robs children of financial and family security and scars them. It causes immediate and long-term trauma to betrayed spouses. It implodes basic trust, another building block essential to functioning societies.

The rationalizations, justifications, excuses, blameshifting, gaslighting, etc are all attempts to avoid the true horror of the actions that have been taken.

You write extensively about infidelity as abuse. In doing so, you invite yourself and others to focus on being victimized by abusive WSes. We all do that to some extent.

This strikes me as a form of magical thinking or even superstition, like characters in Harry Potter novels being afraid to name Voldemort. I think we should be bold and unafraid here -- in the face of actions carried out that bring real harm to real people -- and to avoid suggesting to anyone they are just feeling some mild precipitation if their leg is, in point of fact, being urinated upon. I'm fond of quoting Orwell's dictum that "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle."

That's real mindfulness, Sisoon. And no it doesn't invite one to see oneself as a permanent victim, but it does acknowledge the real outcomes and the real abusive nature of what has occurred.

Sisoon asked why I weave the theme of adultery as abuse through my commentary here on SI. Well, because of comments like the above from CT and from Sisoon. It should be a non-controversial statement to say that adultery is abuse. Yet we still see pushback against the notion.

So I don't think the point can actually be made often enough and I think many new arrivals here probably haven't yet thought of it in these terms. I think often when it is pointed out to them, it shifts the Overton window in their minds and allows them to see the situation more clearly. And no, I don't think it enhances a victim mentality.

Happily the tide seems to be turning here on SI. I see "adultery as abuse" as a much more common theme among most commenters now.

Demanding timelines, polygraphs, STD tests, NC, etc. of the WS will tell the BS something about whether or not the WS is a good candidate for R, but it doesn't help the BS heal from the feelings that come with being betrayed.

Talking with a lawyer may help a BS decide between D & R, but it doesn't help the BS heal.

Looking for an IC who is a trauma specialist may work out well, but having watched lots of therapists work with clients (they give demos at conferences), I am confident that some therapists over-hype themselves, and some don't.

Actually I think I point out the same thing all the time. We're saying the same thing here. The "DIY kit" of initial steps for a newly betrayed spouse are not an incantation. They aren't magic. Nor am I looking for a magical formula myself. That said, I think most would agree that these steps are fairly SOP. Of course, some situations might have distinctives that would lead an individual to leave out certain steps, but I can't think of very many situations I've seen here where that would typically be the case. There are always exceptions. The initial steps a betrayed spouse can and should take are important for placing a betrayed spouse in the driver's seat, restoring some of their agency and autonomy and putting them in a much better position to heal. Again, frankly I'm surprised these steps are even debated anymore.

Lastly insofar as my own motives here, they aren't actually that important. I've noticed a repeated attempt to stray into my motives for positing here on SI. That's a form of the genetic fallacy. But regardless, my motives are the same as everyone else here: figuring this out and hopefully helping others figure this out. I find the lack of intellectual curiosity about these subjects odd; I myself am very curious about what's going on here, what's the dynamic, what's happening in the brain chemically and neurologically, what is the endocrinal impact, what's the impact on the nervous system, what else is happening in the body, what are the long-term outcomes, and much much more. I feel I've only scratched the surface. Lacking curiosity about such things, in my view, is a bit like suffering from a major illness and having no interest in finding about it at all -- but merely turning oneself over to medical practitioners and having a strange listlessness about what is actually happening. That seems foreign to me, but as the kids like to say these days, "you do you."

Having this interest, diving into it, writing about it, talking about it, discussing what common steps can help newly betrayed spouses regain their own footing ... well, I'm sorry but this isn't about finding a magical combination of words or ideas. It is about learning, seeking to understand and finding out what works and what doesn't work. That's why, for example, SI essentially has landed on a standard piece of advice to avoid MC after D-Day, at least in the short term. Because a large enough crowdsourced contingent wrote consistently about negative experiences with marital counselors who sought to save "the marriage" and privileged that over dealing with the actual toxicity and fallout and trauma from the adultery itself. If we hadn't been curious and compared notes and sought to understand, it's unlikely this type of wisdom would have developed.

You write about safety.

When I hear safety, I think about physical safety. Relatively few of us are in physical danger on and after d-day. I sure wasn't. I probably thought of hitting my W, but I didn't. Neither of us was in physical danger. I knew our M was shaky. I knew my life as I knew it was gone. But neither of us was in danger of immediate physical harm.

About this. Well, I think we fundamentally disagree here. This is angels on the head of a pin stuff, frankly. Externals can in fact put a person in a place of safety. This is a bit like saying there's no difference between a small town in Louisiana in August, and a mountain ski town in August. Of course there's a difference, and this external has an impact on psychology, on behavior, and more. The Buddhist masters like to talk about ignoring one's externals, but as a former Buddhist practitioner I found this type of thing laughable (and it's why I no longer am one). A seatbelt makes a person more safe in an automobile and reduces the chances of grave harm. Not allowing oneself to drive drunk makes one's chances of safety increase. Generally not staying out after midnight is an external condition that can increase safety (ask just about any police officer). Etc. Etc.

I think there's nothing wrong with the term as it should be applied to infidelity situations. Betrayed spouses are very much placed in an unsafe environment with a wayward spouse on just about every level -- mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Unsafe unprotected adultery sex exposes a betrayed spouse to grave potential harm. But even if STD's aren't shared, the new science about microbiomes has only scratched the surface of this complexity within our bodies. An unfaithful spouse exposes a faithful spouse to microbiomes that are against the betrayed spouse's will, knowledge, consent. Once that Rubicon has been crossed, the microbiome is altered. And we don't yet fully understand the long-term consequences of this, aside from the more horrific damage an STD may cause. Yet that's only one small example. I could fill pages more of examples in which a betrayed spouse's safety is threatened (to say nothing of false domestic charges fomented by so very many WW's). it just seems unserious and rather silly to argue this point about safety, and I think better of you, Sisoon.

By the way, as an example of a worldview that would ignore safety, I find the story about Epictetus just sitting there enduring leg torture until his bones broke to be absurd. It's meant to be laudatory. I find it laughable and egregious. It's one of the points at which Stoicism reveals its internal contradictions and deep flaws as a workable philosophy. The philosopher-king of Stoicism was no great shakes, either. He forced his adulterous wife to have sex with her AP while he watched, then slaughtered him in front of her, then forced her to have sex with him bathed in the blood of the affair partner. Yeah. Anyway. The placid image of Marcus Aurelius as some sort of saint is belied by his actual actions.

So what harm do you see that a separation (therapeutic or not) will prevent? What scares you about your specific sitch.

I'm glad you asked this. Insofar as my own situation, there are probably two ongoing harms I can spot almost immediately. There are others, but let me just address two: 1. The external (yes, external) of being constantly re-triggered in my own home, where the adultery happened. 2. The re-triggering nature of my WW's presence on a more daily basis. That's why I found my experience on my recent sojourn so interesting and informative. I felt the actual harm decrease based on externals. Duh.

What scares about my specific situation? Lots of things. I've already written about that extensively here on SI, and feel it's getting off track to catalogue it all again here.

[This message edited by Thumos at 8:10 PM, Thursday, September 16th]

"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 7:19 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

To heal the BS has to look inside and resolve (a lot of) the BS's own issues. There's no other way.

If any reader of this post wants to get away from trauma bonding, and/or wants to stop thinking that you're abused and see no way out, and/or wants to stop feeling as if they're in danger, and/or wants to free themself from feeling humiliated (whatever feeling that is) and from intense anger, fear, grief, and shame about things they can't change, look inside.

It might be a good idea to find a good guide (IC/therapist), but the power to heal is inside us, not outside.

This is all true. No divorce, reconciliation, timeline, truth, evidence, apology, WS remorse, lottery ticket win, trip to Disney, perfect sunset on the beach, antidepressant, no contact, awesome therapist, etc. is going to heal us all by itself. No one thing heals us of any psychological trauma. My healing came from within, but I had to change my externals to facilitate it. I can only tell you that removing the causes of my trauma made it a lot easier to heal. Much like the victim of a dog mauling will heal more easily by not recovering in the lobby of a veterinarian's office.

Externals don't make us feel safe. Rather, we look around us, consider our experience, and decide how safe to feel. IOW, for most of us, the thought that one is safe comes from within.

This philosophy seems more suited to when one is in a situation that cannot be changed. A prisoner of war, a soldier on the field, on a plane experiencing turbulence, a child of abusive parents, etc. This is, to me, last resort philosophy. This is "I will master the pain" instead of "I will take my hand off of the hot stove" when applied to infidelity.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 7:21 PM, Thursday, September 16th]

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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emergent8 ( member #58189) posted at 8:59 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Thumos,

The initial steps a betrayed spouse can and should take are important for placing a betrayed spouse in the driver's seat, restoring some of their agency and autonomy and putting them in a much better position to heal. Again, frankly I'm surprised these steps are even debated anymore.

You write this. But also this:

I confess that I find the 180 impractical for carrying out over an extended period of time, even for weeks and I would warrant I'm not alone in that regard. The 180 as first explicated by Davis and then repeated here on SI is an effective arrow in the quiver of a betrayed spouse in the short term, but it can lead to some pretty hefty cognitive dissonance over time.

Can you explain the latter? What is the appropriate amount of time for 180 to last? 7 days? 30 days? What about it is impractical long-term? Does not put the BS in the driver's seat? Does it not help them get to the best physical and mental position from which to heal? How does it cause cognitive dissonance? I wonder if that is worth exploring for you.

You also expend significant verbiage taking issue with some of the finer points of Sisoon's response, but you miss (or ignore) the larger point. How does any of this help the BS heal? How does any of this help YOU heal? You tend to talk in the abstract, but it is clear that you are assuming your own experience, which is by no means universal, to be a typical experience. You then get frustrated when people cannot separate the two. When Sisoon wrote:

Consider what this thread might have become if you had started with something like:

I've been reading about trauma bonding, and I think that's a significant part of why I'm still with my W.

He had a really good point. I doubt you would have got much pushback. After all, you are the expert on your scenario. You are the boots on the ground. Please do not assume you the expert on mine though. I know my bond with my spouse was not built in trauma (though I certainly experienced trauma upon learning of his A). Whether or not that affair was abuse, I do not know, but at this point it does not matter to me because we have moved on and reconciled. I feel good about how we achieved that. My route to recovery may not be for everyone but it worked for us.

Finally, and I hesitate to write this, but please know it comes from the very best place. My take on your situation (very VERY gently) is that you truly have been abused by your wife, both during and after the affair. Her lying has never stopped and you know that. You've also had a pretty significant health scare that knocked you back a fair bit and then a pandemic happened and you're still stuck. You know you need to leave but aren't prepared/ready/comfortable doing so. You are now stuck in analysis paralysis and are doing a thing that I tend to do when I'm feeling overcome with anxiety, and that is to try to research my way into the right answer. You are researching and reading everything because you believe that if you better understand what is going on it will somehow help you make a very difficult and daunting decision. Please know though, no amount of research or intellectual debate in the abstract can answer this question for you. I want the best for you. I really am happy you have taken some space and that it has allowed you to get perspective. If that has been helpful for you I really encourage you to see what you can do to get some more space. I would hate to see you stay stuck much longer.

[This message edited by emergent8 at 9:32 PM, Thursday, September 16th]

Me: BS, Him: WS. Mid-late 30s.
Together 15 years, married 5 (11 m at D-Day).
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Currently 4 years (and two kids) into R and optimistic.

posts: 656   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8688824
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hysteria625 ( new member #79300) posted at 9:34 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

if I relied on her again, she might add to my emotional pain or she might again fail to deliver on a promise. But I also knew that was easy to fix - I just had to take care of myself, and voila! I was safe.

As a BW in limbo-hell, "that was easy to fix" strikes me like a slap to the face.

I just recently started researching and trying to understand 'trauma bonding' as it relates to my personal situation, BW (f44), WH (m53)...ongoing EAP with 20 year old coworker. Married 25 years, together 29 years - since I was 15 years old.

I realize my situation is going to be unique. All situations are unique. But for me, this is NOT easy to fix. I know I need to work on myself, and dammit, I'm trying - but there is a this primal pull to never go back and experience the pain I did in childhood - the loneliness and abandonment of not feeling like anyone truly cared for me. I had one friend in elementary school, I was the fat kid, so was bullied incessantly. No one ever protected me. The fear of loneliness and abandonment paralyze me and makes "taking care of myself" HARD. I've always been his caretaker and never have had time to figure out what I am outside of a wife and mom. Working on myself is HARD.
Wah wah wah - I get that I need to let it go...I'm an adult now with a ton of accomplishments, and have a good life in spite of the shitty childhood.

I just hope no one here thinks that everyone can just start taking care of themselves with such ease. 180 is HARD when your every instinct, no matter how crappy you've been treated, is to figure out what went wrong and just try to make it right again.

Married 25 yearsTogether 29 years1st EA = Summer 20072nd EA = Winter 2021 / Dday 4/17/21

posts: 36   ·   registered: Aug. 19th, 2021
id 8688834
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crazyblindsided ( member #35215) posted at 9:35 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

My healing came from within, but I had to change my externals to facilitate it. I can only tell you that removing the causes of my trauma made it a lot easier to heal.

This is how my healing is going. I had to remove the cause of trauma and my environment. It was impossible with the type of WS I had. There was no way I could heal in that environment.

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: 8080   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8688836
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emergent8 ( member #58189) posted at 9:40 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

I just hope no one here thinks that everyone can just start taking care of themselves with such ease. 180 is HARD when your every instinct, no matter how crappy you've been treated, is to figure out what went wrong and just try to make it right again.

I absolutely agree. The 180 is HARD - probably harder when you've been treated crappy (and therefore have learned to expect to be treated that way). That begs the question though (and I say this gently and with love), if you cannot take care of yourself while living with your spouse, why are you living with your spouse? Don't you deserve to be taken care of?

Me: BS, Him: WS. Mid-late 30s.
Together 15 years, married 5 (11 m at D-Day).
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Currently 4 years (and two kids) into R and optimistic.

posts: 656   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8688838
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ChamomileTea ( member #53574) posted at 10:22 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Sorry, but no. I'm not going to agree with that. None of it. I've said that I agree that adultery is abusive, but that is apparently MY MISTAKE. I should have said that adultery results in abuse.

Intent matters. Now, of course it's your right to divorce your WW at any time and for any reason. It's not necessary to gin up the worst possible motive. One needn't look past the fact that the adultery happened to justify divorce. Hell, these days most of us don't have to have grounds at all. But in R, I really do think intent matters. My fWH's intent was to prove to himself that he could still pick up women and fuck them. And yes, he had painted a big 'ol bullseye on my forehead years before that, and he had directed all of his middle-aged angst there... but his actions were still about HIM. But he had NO IDEA the extent of the damage. He had no way to know how much pain his actions would cause me. Yes, he knew they were wrong, and yes, he might have used his own empathy to check that. Problem was though, his empathy had been put in a box so as not to trouble him while he acted on his INTENT. It's all part of the mental gymnastics a cheater needs to perform so they can give themselves permission to do something they KNOW is wrong.

We can only imagine this experience of being intimately betrayed, until it actually happens to us. And when it does, we end up exploring that possibility with our healthy empathy, not empathy that we've locked in a box because it's in our way. And still, until it's happened to us, we fall short in our imaginings. I can't believe the bad advice I have given to friends over the years because I just didn't get it, not until it happened to me. There was NO WAY that I could have guessed what kind of damage this experience does, the immensity of it, how it triggers our innate fear of abandonment, how it breaks open all our old scars and amplifies the pain, how it makes us question everything from the meaning of love and commitment to our own existence and place in the universe. And if I didn't know any of that, even though I was really open to empathizing, how can I expect my WS, who is already so fucked up in his head (and avoidant) to know it?

No. I just don't believe that the WS's INTENT is to harm us. The fact is, they do their dirt behind our backs. The INTENT is that we won't find out and therefore, we won't be injured at all.

Shortly after dday, I realized that I felt a certain sense of duality when dealing with my fWH's adultery. When I was stepped back and looked at it clinically, I felt calm and in charge. When I was empathizing with what MY experience had been though, I felt anguished and panicked. And of course, we do have to eventually deal with all those feelings, which is why it takes so long to recover, but this was my first glimpse of how my own ego was involved. Even though I couldn't name it yet, the insult to ME was the main source of my pain. Over time, I realized that my fWH's cheating was about him and not about me at all. Yet the insult remains, right? ..the pain remains. Logically, I knew it was about him , but I really wasn't emotionally accepting that. Eventually though, I did. His bullshit is HIS bullshit. It's no reflection on me. I don't own him and his choices don't define me. I can still love and enjoy him despite the fact that he's imperfect, and that is largely because I have broken though my emotional dependence on him. He's gravy, not meat and potatoes. I depend on MYSELF emotionally. I am meat and potatoes. The ego work is hard to describe. We have to defeat our expectations of what should be and replace it with a healthier respect for our own resilience and abilities. I had to put the adultery in context with reality and not in the giant scope of my own emotional response to it. Adultery happens all the time, and it's always wrong. But it damages something inside of us which is outsized to what it ought to be, I think. Our fear of abandonment which is lying dormant since birth is switched ON, and our response is amplified by every previous emotional injury we've ever had. When you think about it, the reaction is ENORMOUS. We are traumatized. Nothing had ever hurt me that bad, and at that point, I had lost my father, grandparents, and even an earlier romantic lover to death. Death. This was worse than DEATH. shocked What we're talking about here is a couple of people fucking on the sly, and our response to that is... it's worse than death. That's outsized, don't you think?

Anyway, I'm not required to still love my imperfect fWH after all that. It's a choice. It's not "trauma-bonding" or anything like that. Because love wasn't what I thought it was. It's not some inescapable emotion that you "fall" into. The Disney version of love didn't survive the adultery. Love is how you choose to direct your actions and attention toward someone. It's an action. It's a verb. It's conscious. I choose to love, and I own my choice. I choose the ground I stand on, and I own the choice. I choose to R, to strive for R... and I own my choice. I'm not a victim anymore. My agency has been returned to me and I'm not being forced to do something against my will. I choose. And if it turns out I don't like my choice, I'm free to choose again. I'm not trapped.

I think you just have to decide what it is you're looking to find. If you look for pessimism and hopelessness, you're sure to find it. That doesn't make your world-view the true one or the last word on the subject though. You are NOT trapped. You've got the same freedom of choice we've all got. You are choosing where to stand and how to interpret the data, and you are remaking that choice every day you stand there. If you're unhappy with your choice, only you can change it.

posts: 4689   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016
id 8688850
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 10:53 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Intent matters. Now, of course it's your right to divorce your WW at any time and for any reason. It's not necessary to gin up the worst possible motive. One needn't look past the fact that the adultery happened to justify divorce. Hell, these days most of us don't have to have grounds at all. But in R, I really do think intent matters. My fWH's intent was to prove to himself that he could still pick up women and fuck them. And yes, he had painted a big 'ol bullseye on my forehead years before that, and he had directed all of his middle-aged angst there... but his actions were still about HIM. But he had NO IDEA the extent of the damage. He had no way to know how much pain his actions would cause me. Yes, he knew they were wrong, and yes, he might have used his own empathy to check that. Problem was though, his empathy had been put in a box so as not to trouble him while he acted on his INTENT. It's all part of the mental gymnastics a cheater needs to perform so they can give themselves permission to do something they KNOW is wrong.

This is where we're different for sure. When I realized that my XWH truly lacked enough empathy (for any amount of time) to not do something that everyone knows is extremely painful to your partner, I felt fear. I was terrified to be tied to someone who could do that. Unsafe doesn't do it justice. I didn't take his empathy-challenged state as anything but a threat. No matter how much I loved him or how much I had believed he loved me or how much he didn't intend to hurt me that deeply, the fact that he lacked the empathy and concern for me to not do it to me was profoundly damaging to realize. So maybe he didn't know the feeling from personal experience, but I didn't either. I'd gone through two marriages and a number of relationships and not cheated because all I had to do was be a conscious being in society to know that it was a horrible thing to do to a person who loves you. I haven't had a lot of things done to me that I know not to do to others because it would be really painful. Same applies to all of us.

What does intent even mean when the person in question cannot care about your pain? My XWH's intention wasn't to wreck me emotionally. It was to have sex with lots of women half his age. The very fact that I didn't register in his decision-making aside from him needing to lie to me and hide it is so very abusive that I can't even find words for it. Maybe Thumos can, I don't know. The negation of my importance as a human being by the person who was supposed to love me the most was the most abusive part of what he did. Even worse than having pieces of me cut out due to HPV. Your point of view seems to be that since he didn't mean to hurt you, it's not abusive. I could not possibly see it more differently. That is exactly what is abusive about it. No one hits if they care about the person's pain. No one insults if they care about the person's pain. No one cheats if they care about the person's pain.

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

posts: 4643   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8688858
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 11:02 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

What we're talking about here is a couple of people fucking on the sly, and our response to that is... it's worse than death. That's outsized, don't you think?

There's the stealing of your reality, the wall that comes up between you and your partner because of the lies, the loss of what was special between you and this other person, the disregard for your feelings, the loss of your sexual consent, the threat to your physical safety, the disrespect, the changing rules of the relationship without consulting you, the realization that you aren't a team in life but are instead being stabbed in the back. It was worse than death and rape for me personally. That probably does seem ridiculous to the dude who was just out getting blown by some 20-year-old, though you notice that dude wasn't exactly encouraging me to go out and get some strange while he was busy. He kinda knew it was bad and he wouldn't want it done to him.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 11:05 PM, Thursday, September 16th]

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

posts: 4643   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8688860
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ChamomileTea ( member #53574) posted at 11:50 PM on Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Your point of view seems to be that since he didn't mean to hurt you, it's not abusive.


No, Dee. What I said was... "I've said that I agree that adultery is abusive, but that is apparently MY MISTAKE. I should have said that adultery results in abuse." What that means is that, in most cases, the abuse is not intentional. It's the result of an action that was NOT about us.

I am NOT arguing that people shouldn't divorce their cheater, particularly not if you believe that as a person, they're nothing more than the sum of their worst actions; an insect caught in amber, never to grow, never to learn, and never to change. That's just you doing you at that point. You see something unacceptable and put it out of your life. But you can't speak for me. I believe that people grow and change. Sometimes that constant flux results in something unacceptable and toxic for awhile. But for me, everything is fluid, in a constant state of change. The man I married would never have cheated on me, not in a million years. The man that cheated on me was NOT that young, earnest man I married. And the one I forgave, was NOT the same man whose INTENT was to prove he could still find and fuck other women.

If you want to divorce your cheater, you're not wrong. But neither am I wrong for deciding to keep mine.

posts: 4689   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016
id 8688866
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DevastatedDee ( member #59873) posted at 1:03 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

I'd never say you were wrong to not divorce. I'm not anti-reconciliation. I absolutely do believe that people can improve themselves and become better humans. I don't judge people as being the sum of their worst actions either. None of that changes how I view this question of infidelity and abuse.

Now for me personally, I'm one of those for whom this would have been a dealbreaker no matter what. My XWH could become a fantastic man that I'd be lucky to have and I'd not so much as glance in his direction. I hope he does become a wonderful caring human being, the guy I thought I had married (maybe I did, who knows?). I hope that he becomes that man and finds someone equally wonderful to love and spend his life with. The reason I have no interest in it is that what he did killed what we had and there's no getting that back no matter what. I'd never see him the same way. I'd never love him the same way. No one who hurts me worse than what my rape did could ever have a sufficiently good relationship with me. He destroyed what we had, and that's that. I would rather be single, and luckily I don't mind being single.

That is not to say that you cannot have a great R and be extremely happy to have chosen to work that out. None of what I'm saying about infidelity being abuse, intent not mattering, or how I think a therapeutic separation can be healthy for a new BS makes that not so. As you say, people can change. Some people are better suited to try R than I am or my XWH was.

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

posts: 4643   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8688882
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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 1:13 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021

It's not necessary to gin up the worst possible motive.

Hey CT, you make some fair and good points. I don't really think I'm doing what you've noted here and don't want to be mistaken for doing that. I don't view my WW as a James Bond supervillain cackling maniacally about abusing me (although I did have the rare pleasure of listening to a recording of her chuckling in a knowing and really off-putting way when discussing the affair with her AP).

Look, I really don't think intent matters all that much to this larger point about adultery as a series of abusive actions and choices. Because, I mean, really, a WS's intent certainly isn't noble -- now is it?

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, but WS's aren't filled with love for all mankind when they carry out infidelity, that's for damn sure. Now you would probably say, yeah but their intent wasn't to hurt their BS.

Well, the more I read in JFO, Reconciliation and Wayward forums, the less convinced I am of the legendary lack of guile we are supposed to assume from the very word "wayward" -- as if WS's are some sort of mercurial woodland satyr accidentally carrying out harmful actions they never *intended* would hurt you. As time has passed, I've only become more convinced that in fact in very many cases -- and one might argue in the plurality of cases -- there is some type of animus directed against the BS (and you only have to jump on over to Reddit's adultery thread to see this in action). Remember the infamous WW who humiliated her BH by arranging for him to cross state lines so he could fix the heater at her fuckpad cabin with the AP? And then chortle and chuckle at the BH's expense? What was the intent there?

Heck, in your own case, you've told us that your WH essentially created an inaccurate mental model of you in his head as sort of a shrew and scapegoat for his woes, holding him back, ruining his fun. Then he carried out an affair to validate himself. At least some of that had to be wrapped up in his imaginary resentments he was carrying around about you. He felt *OK* about doing it because you were such a bossy downer all the time (and you were not, this wasn't true, this was just his imagination). Yet can't we say that his motives, his intentions, were not for only for his own selfish regard, but also carried with it a little pack of lies he was telling himself about you?

I don't know, you're on the ground in your own situation and I may be reading too much into that.

What that means is that, in most cases, the abuse is not intentional. It's the result of an action that was NOT about us.

Yeah, I can sign onto this, CT. I think you're right. Sort of. Again, see above. I'm skeptical that there's no ill will from a WS toward a BS when they carry out affairs. I do agree that isn't the main thrust of it for most WS's, but you'd have to agree that they way most affairs start is with two people complaining about what assholes they are married to. Sure seems there's at least a bit of a hostile motive there.

Anyway, I don't think intent matters when it comes to infidelity, because the upshot -- the outcome, the fallout, the damage -- is the same as if the intent had been hostile from the get go.

There was NO WAY that I could have guessed what kind of damage this experience does, the immensity of it, how it triggers our innate fear of abandonment, how it breaks open all our old scars and amplifies the pain, how it makes us question everything from the meaning of love and commitment to our own existence and place in the universe.

But CT, doesn't the above statement undercut your own point later that "What we're talking about here is a couple of people fucking on the sly, and our response to that is... it's worse than death. That's outsized, don't you think?"

That sounds a lot like some things my WW said to me that were just additional insults after D-Day. My WW said it wasn't her *intent* to hurt me. But she separated from me during the affair, literally shunned me for weeks, and convinced me I had falsely accused her. That certainly felt personal. That certainly felt like an intent to harm. She also went to elaborate lengths to cajole me about how sex with the AP was just "meaningless" and how "immature" I was if I couldn't understand that. I mean, heck, it was just two people fucking on the sly, right? What's the big deal? She told me I was sexually immature because I couldn't understand precisely what you have also said. I just don't see it that way, and I don't think I ever will.

Infidelity is a BFD because it's a BFD. It's a BFD that causes trauma because it does. Full stop. There's plenty of brain science now to back this up. You can't talk your brain out of certain things. It's a physical organ. When it receives an injury, it reflects that injury. Adultery is deeply injurious because it is a special form of betrayal. It is among the most toxic and injurious acts humans have catalogued over time because it is carried out by the one person you have reposed the most trust in on the entire planet. An earthquake or other natural disaster traumatizes you and leaves you with PTSD. It doesn't leave you with this type of PTSD because it didn't come from another person; it came from impersonal natural forces. A terror attack (and I've been in one) leaves you with trauma and PTSD. It was directed at you, but it still wasn't personal like the betrayal of infidelity. Think of concentric rings that grow ever closer to you and your intimate personal life. That's why it is a BFD, along with the fact that nearly all humans intuit just how harmful it is to human functioning. It erodes the basic building blocks of successful human life.

If you look for pessimism and hopelessness, you're sure to find it.

I'm neither Ted Lasso, nor George RR Martin. I'm somewhere in between. That is to say, a realist. I'm not a sunny optimist because I don't think that's a realistic way of being in the world. I'm not a pessimist, either, because that is also an unrealistic view of the world and human affairs. Being a BS has made me all the more pragmatic and realistic.

Can you explain the latter? What is the appropriate amount of time for 180 to last? 7 days? 30 days? What about it is impractical long-term? Does not put the BS in the driver's seat? Does it not help them get to the best physical and mental position from which to heal? How does it cause cognitive dissonance? I wonder if that is worth exploring for you.

emergent8, great post.

To answer your questions:

1. I don't know how long, and really it feels overly prescriptive to say how long -- but from what I've read, most therapeutic separations are recommended for a minimum of 30 days. I can only guess this is probably because it takes about 21 days to break a habit and then the extra week is there to give a BS some much-needed space. The habit of being around the WS is broken, and then a BS can truly make some informed decisions about what they want. It's a theory of change, if you will, and I'm willing to be proven wrong.

2. In terms of "long term" implementation of the 180, I just don't think it's all that workable because Davis didn't really design it for that. It was designed as a tool for gaining some short/medium-term reverse psychology results. It definitely works, because I have myself done it.

3. In terms of cognitive dissonance from the 180 over time, what I'm referring to here is the inevitable tension of the somewhat artificial cheeriness that one must carry out for the 180 to be successful. Yes, the 180 is a healthy tool for helping a BS gain perspective and to start moving forward with their lives. But I think it can cause cognitive dissonance when you know you're not feeling "cheerful, strong, outgoing and attractive" -- again, your physical brain typically will only put up with lies for so long before it starts causing you a lot of pain in response. I think that's probably the case with the 180 if someone tries to carry it out for an extended length of time. However, nota bene, I myself have only ever implemented it in short bursts, so I can't say for sure.

Finally, and I hesitate to write this, but please know it comes from the very best place. My take on your situation (very VERY gently) is that you truly have been abused by your wife, both during and after the affair. Her lying has never stopped and you know that. You've also had a pretty significant health scare that knocked you back a fair bit and then a pandemic happened and you're still stuck. You know you need to leave but aren't prepared/ready/comfortable doing so. You are now stuck in analysis paralysis and are doing a thing that I tend to do when I'm feeling overcome with anxiety, and that is to try to research my way into the right answer. You are researching and reading everything because you believe that if you better understand what is going on it will somehow help you make a very difficult and daunting decision.

All true, and I don't take any issue at all with you pointing it out.

You tend to talk in the abstract, but it is clear that you are assuming your own experience, which is by no means universal, to be a typical experience.

I actually have had the experience in JFO and elsewhere of finding out just how common my experience has been, how unoriginal most WS's are, how repetitive the patterns are, how often they repeat the same phrases verbatim (so that we joke about a cheaters handbook), how often the same set of initial steps seems to work better than other steps if BS's take them, and so on. The more I read, the more universality I see, and the less uniqueness. It's made me feel that humans really aren't that unique. You may find this a pessimistic statement. I don't. Yes, we are individual souls, but we're not that original. That's why people see dopplegangers, because a certain genotype similar to ourselves has been repeated somewhere else on the planet. Often, a BH will come to JFO and immediately start telling everyone how exceptionally unique his situation is (for whatever reason, I find BW's seem to do this less). It typically isn't true, and usually that gets sussed out pretty quickly. That's just been my experience.

[This message edited by Thumos at 1:21 AM, Friday, September 17th]

"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: 4390   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8688883
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 Thumos (original poster member #69668) posted at 1:24 AM on Friday, September 17th, 2021


I don't judge people as being the sum of their worst actions either.

I mean, yes and no. I judge Timothy McVeigh pretty much by the sum of his worst choices and actions. Just saying. Yes, I'm using an extreme example, but I'm using it to make a point. We could also say that the author of "Amazing Grace" could not be judged by the sum of his worst actions (he was a slaver) because he repented and undertook the complete process of metanoia, and the song is an outgrowth of that.


That is not to say that you cannot have a great R and be extremely happy to have chosen to work that out. None of what I'm saying about infidelity being abuse, intent not mattering, or how I think a therapeutic separation can be healthy for a new BS makes that not so. As you say, people can change. Some people are better suited to try R than I am or my XWH was.

Could not have said it better, Devastated Dee. Have a good evening, y'all.

[This message edited by Thumos at 1:26 AM, Friday, September 17th]

"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: 4390   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8688884
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