The goal of this post is to avoid misinterpreting their WAS's mixed messages resulting in actions that hurt ourselves, our WAS's, and our chances for the M.
If you're an LBS it's important that you don't assign too much meaning to signs of warmth or indecision from your WAS. One of the easiest mistakes to make is to assume other people feel and think similar to how we do. In our LBS minds it's easy to project how we feel or how we desperately want our WAS's to feel onto them. Maybe this is part of denial, we simply can't imagine things not working out so we are just waiting for the sign that shows us this is the part of the movie where everyone falls back into each others arms.
Hey, we're human, we're going to feel desperate at times and get our hopes up at times. That's fine. We just can't let it derail the road we need to walk.
WAS's are much farther gone that we think. On these forums we say the marriage is dead at BD. That maybe if you do your work and they do theirs a day might come when the two people you become reengage, but this relationship is dead.
This isn't about giving up hope. I'm 100% in favor of standing for a marriage. It's about not allowing ourselves to be strung along and fed crumbs so we end up enabling an impermissible situation.
I remember when, 90 days after BD, my XW started sending me emails that demonstrated some regret. I'd been warned and was trying very hard to be deliberate and cautious. Very hard. I waited hours before I'd respond. I'd check with the boards. I was TRYING to reign my emotions in. But when she used phrases like "She hated divorce" and "She liked the person I was becoming" and "She missed talking to me" and asking if I was seeing anyone or if I still thought about us together, I was SURE this was a big break through! She finally was seeing what I saw, that we can work this out!!!
She called me late in the night and said she was drinking a little and she missed me and our marriage and was so lonely she didn't think she could make it through. I, the white knight I was, drove over to see her because she sounded like she was in a dark place.
You all buckled up? When I got there, she freaked out because OM was sleeping upstairs in the marital bed passed out. She was depressed because he had just told her he wanted to break up with her. I'll spare you what was by FAR the worst part (for those who like pain you can dig up my old thread) but I had a chance the next day to open up her phone and I was blown away with what I saw. She had been with many different guys, and she had a different persona via text message exchange with each of them including new OMs she was lining up. She also had one with her friend talking about how "Great, now I have to push Zues away again because of yesterday..."
This isn't my thread, but I hope this example is better than a general warning. Conflicting feelings and some sadness does NOT equate to remorse and commitment to the marriage.
So, how is it that they can express genuine regret, pain, loneliness, and warmth without meaning 'let's get the band back together?' Simple. Those feelings are genuine, they just aren't commitment.
Pretend your WAS started using heroine habitually. Or started gambling away all of their money every paycheck. Do you think that they'd feel regret at times? Do you think they'd feel the pain of the consequences of their choices at times? Do you think that they'd miss their old life at times? Of course they would, but that's totally irrelevant. We know they do. The ONLY thing that matters is whether they have felt enough of those things to hit the rock bottom to where they'll actually commit 100% to changing their lives for the better. Even then it's lip service and only time will tell if their actions match their words.
So why do they do this to us? Simple. To avoid consequences.
Some is avoiding physical consequences. Maybe they want to control the speed of the breakup, like when you wade into cold water little by little. They aren't ready to be splashed yet, they're still working up to it- but they are going to do it on their time, in their way. They don't want you charging around now they have to deal with consequences like being cut off financially, or having family or mutual friends hear about their behavior, and it sure is easier to get you to agree to give them whatever they want whenever they want it when you are blinded by hope.
Some consequences they wish to avoid are emotional. So long as they string you along they aren't sacrificing their marriage for their love affair because they know they can get you back at any time, so they are just indulging themselves because they deserve to feel better. No, they don't want you back, but by knowing you are still there they don't have to deal with the sense of loss the same way they would if you moved on.
So how can they say they say they want to repair the marriage one day and then not follow through the next, you KNOW they were being genuine at the time. Hey, I'm not saying those emotions aren't real, just that they aren't the same as ongoing consistent behavior. There is something I call "Medicating with positive intent". Think of it this way. Say a friend is in an abusive relationship. Their partner just slapped them around. They call you crying and saying they can't take anymore. So what do they do? They talk to you for hours, making plans about where they will go, what they will do, and on and on. Guess what? Now they are feeling better. Empowered. Hopeful. They feel alright again...hmm...now they feel alright again, and guess what? Things aren't that bad. They do love so and so. They can get through it after all. I don't know about you but I've seen too many examples of people that truly convince themselves they are going to make a positive change because the good feelings that follow their well intended proclamation are all they really needed, no reason now to bother with all of that following through hard work stuff. It'll be ok. Right?
So what's an LBS to do?
Well, the first step is to read this like ten times and really understand it. Because while our feelings will be all over the map, we have a responsibility. If we truly love our WAS's we need to allow them to experience the consequences of their choices. This is the best chance to save the M. And if that isn't possible, consider it the last gift you give to someone you pledged your life to, ending on a positive note after all of the hurt. That gift means that when they are engaging in unhealthy choices that are destroying their lives we don't make it easy for them to keep doing it.
I'm not here to script out verbal responses to temp checks and displays of emotion, but the underlying message you need to communicate are things like this: -Your not the shoulder to cry on anymore -Getting back together isn't that simple anymore -You are firm in your boundaries and won't accept [open marriage, loveless marriage, sexless marriage, uncommitted partner, disrespect, etc] -You've told her everything you have to tell her and have nothing left to say (no R talks, never ever ever ever).
From our LBS view it seems like we're destroying our only hope. But WAS wants to have the R talk!!! If I blow them off then they'll blame me for being the one that ended it.
Hogwash. If WAS is seriously remorseful and ready to do anything and everything to work on the marriage they will let you know. They won't play games. The 'well then, that's why we can't work' card is manipulative and proof there is no lasting remorse. Any R talk that doesn't start with them going first with a list of apologies and re-commitments is just proving to her that you are willing to compromise your boundaries and remain emotionally involved with a wayward spouse. I repeat, this is hurting yourself, your WAS, and your chances of preserving your family.
In conclusion, if you are seeing signs that your spouse wants to return, post all about it here. Get it out of your system. Overreact on these forums. Tell us how it's going to work out after all, that we were wrong, that YOU KNEW your WAS, you KNEW they would fall back into your arms, that you think you are in piecing, etc, etc, etc. But please, for all that is good and holy, stay detached from them outwardly and give them time to see if they actually recommit, show true remorse, and prove it to you with consistent behavior over time. Keeping DBing and may you make it to the other side, whatever lies ahead.
Me:38 XW:38 T:11 years M:8 years Kids: S14, D11, D7 BD/Move out day: 6/17/14, D final Dec 15
I can remember at least 10 moments last year when I thought my W was coming back or at least going to try again. Every single time though she pulled away and it was so cruel. How they do what they do to their once beloved spouse is beyond me, its heartless and malicious.
I was in a similar pattern up to a few weeks ago when I realized she was playing me and had an ongoing affair. My wife throwing me lil breadcrumbs and me following her around hoping that she would change her mind. I never had the OM in the marital bed though....wheeeww, I would have f**kin lost it!!
M-45 W-32 D-10 D-8 Together 11 years Married 6 years Separated 6/2017 ILYBINILWY 11/2016 (also nov 2011) EA 11/16 PA Same time?? NC, detachment started 12/11/17 D aug 2019
Great post Zues. I definitely agree with the points you are making. I am and have personally been in an fortunate situation that my WAS hasn't shown and isn't going to show any kind of crumbs. She made it clear and stood behind her words. I can't even begin to think how much hurt crumbs can cause, even after a full detachment. Sparking up the feelings and then having a short-lived false reconciliation might hurt more than the BD.
In my thirties, BDd 2017, divorced 2 young kids new relationship
I'm sorry you had to go through that...that was some tough stuff to deal with.
My H's idea of keeping me hooked is ever so more subtle. He doesn't do remorse or apologies. When I reached out to ask if he'd like to meet just before Christmas to talk he replied yes with a kiss. The day we were to meet he had dwindled it down to dropping gifts off at the house...he said he had no intention of meeting outside the house and didn't want to be alone with me. I've known this man 30 years and he refused to be alone with me. It was cruel, spiteful and I was crushed.
Since then I've received two texts with way more warmth than usual...which isn't saying much...literally, Merry Christmas and have a good week lol.
So thank you for reinforcing something that I need permanently stamped to my forehead.
Me 50 H 48 S 23 S 21 D 19 Together 31 years Married 25 years Separated April 2009 Reconciled 2010 Separated September 2017
I think that I will add that the most confusion comes at the beginning and the end of the crisis, so if the time has been short you are likely at the beginning of the crisis and what you describe is part of the script.
By the time you get to the end of the crisis you likely will feel much differently.