This is an amazing account of the playbook Rejoice created to save her marriage singlehandedly! Her patience, determination and stick-to-it-iveness is more than commendable! You go, Rejoice! Congratulations on all of your hard work!
The long version. I wrote this out in case anyone needs some hope and step by step ideas today.
First, Divorce Busting WORKS. At the beginning of 2023, I lost a dear friend to covid and on the same day, my husband told me he wanted a divorce. It eventually came out that he was seeing someone else, a "friend" we were helping to leave her controlling partner. I was absolutely devastated. I couldn't eat or sleep. I could not imagine losing our family unit. Miraculously, my sister in law handed me her copy of the Divorce Busting book within a few days of the devastating news. I read and reread it and took notes and immediately applied it. I messed up several times but I dusted myself off and continued forward. To make a long story short, my H and I are not getting a divorce, he cut the OW out of his life completely, and we have been happier than ever for the last 4 months despite some terrible life circumstances. I will put the story below, and then some fine details that might help some of you.
I read DB immediately and came to several conclusions. 1. My marriage was not over and my family would not be torn apart. 2. My H still loved me, but was very, very hurt by all the ways the years had taken a toll on our marriage. 3. He was looking for an out to the pain, and had given up hope. 4. I had a much better chance of showing him that there was hope, and that I, we, could change, if he stayed in the home. Forced exposure, basically. I knew I was signing up for absolute torment as I needed to be very calm while he saw another woman, but my family was worth it.
So step one, I asked him to remain in the home for the time being. I told him I would not bother him at all, but thought it would be easier on the kids if we transitioned to him moving out slowly rather than all at once. He agreed.
Step two, I apologized to him for the ways that I knew I had contributed to making him want to leave. On one hand it really grated on me that he was the betrayer, yet I was apologizing, but I knew I had done things to hurt him as well and it was good and right to apologize. That opened up several more conversations about how he felt and I was able to apologize to him for other things as well.
Step three was my second 180 besides being so amiable and apologetic, and besides the protection of God, I credit this step with starting the journey back to my marriage. This one is NOT FOR EVERYONE, but I took it straight out of the DB book. I asked him if we could be "friends with benefits." I stressed that it was only until I had found someone else, (that bit clearly made him jealous) but that there was no reason we couldn't help each other out. Michelle stated in the book that one tactic could be to seduce your partner when they come home, no matter where you think they've been. She also made a great post on this forum about couples whose physical relationship saved their marriage. It in part saved mine for sure. She stressed in her post and I stress to you now, if is NOT a 180 for you, if it feels wrong, or if your relationship is clearly not improving after you've been intimate for a while, it's time to do another 180. PLEASE understand this is not for everyone and if it comes off in ANY way as if you are desperately clinging, it will never work. I knew several very important things about my husband: A, he was hurt above all that I had been rejecting him sexually just because I was too busy. B, sex and even non-sexual touch are at the very top of his list in the ways that he feels love. (Michelle describes a certain type of man as "highly sexed" and it applies to my H to the letter.) C, I felt he was telling the truth when he told me that he was not in a physical relationship with OW. I know exactly how he acts when he has not been sexually active, and it was very clear he was not. (Later I found proof in a love note from OW in which she thanked him for "not needing" a physical relationship (gag.) So, I knew I was not in danger of STDs. So our R was a good candidate for this 180. Yours may not be. Proceed with caution. It is important to note that I asked him for "benefits" when he was in a space where he felt more comfortable with me. 1. I hadn't blown up at him for the ghastly thing he was doing, 2. I was clear that I would give him his divorce with no issues, 3. I had apologized, 4. And then I had spent several days just being happy to see him, with no judgement, when he got home from work or presumably from her house. He agreed. And each time, things seemed to get slightly more intimate and loving.
Step four, (and mind you I'm reeling through all of this. Sobbing and praying on my knees most of the day, only to clean myself up and behave like someone that he would want to come home to by 4:30 p.m.) I made myself get a life. It helps that I already had one, honestly. I just took the initiative and spent more time with various groups of friends. I found things to occupy two to three nights per week, and I let him believe whatever he believed, but they were usually just worship services. The services uplifted me a lot and my silence about where I was going made him very jealous. GAL was the last piece that saved my marriage. The curiosity and jealousy as he saw me getting dressed, doing my hair and putting make up on to leave the house were plain as day. He tried very hard to act like he did not care but I know him.
To sum this piece up, 1. Immediately go no pressure. Detach from your emotions and make your changes RIGHT AWAY and STICK TO IT. I was bitter and critical before, I got back to who I really am inside and showed that woman to him every single day. He noticed my changes immediately. ACT AS IF you have had an awakening and you're going to be happy--because you have and you are! 2. Decide whether or not intimacy is for you 3. Get a life
Note: Detachment is NOT withdrawal!! I FINALLY understood this concept after reading an excellent post from a wise DBer. It is simply not taking things personally. We can meet anger or indifference with love when we are detached from the actions of another. It's controlling how we respond. Think of it as if your spouse is just a friend--you care about them, but their actions do not have to affect you or your emotions at all. You MUST be able to show them your real, happy, self that they fell in love with if you want them to remember how much they love you. ... As time went on, my H made many comments about how he noticed I had changed but he was afraid the changes were not permanent. I told him that it's fine, my changes were not for him. I said he woke me up to how bitter I was and I just didn't want to be that person anymore.
He continued to visit OW. I ignored it as much as I could.
He also had several more rather loud moments of letting me know all the ways I had hurt him over the years. I responded apologetically, telling him I was sorry I had been bitter all of those years and that I hoped he could forgive me someday.
When it seemed he was getting too comfortable, making demands of me as if I had to uphold our marriage while he did not, I wrote him a note. Again, this is not for everyone and it must never come off as desperate. In the note, I thanked him for our new friendship. I told him that I appreciate it that we can move forward as good, communicative co-parents. I said I wanted to assure him of a few things. I said that as I begin dating, I will be sure to honor him as my friend and my children's father in two ways: I would not introduce any new interest to the kids until we became very serious, because that's not fair to the kids. I would also not tell my new interest anything that would cause disrespect for H, and I would promote a good relationship between all involved at all times. He got the clear message that I would absolutely be moving on. And of course, none of it was a lie. If necessary I absolutely would have moved on, I would have eventually tried dating and I would have made the best of it as promised in my note. But I didn't let on how much I didn't want that to have to happen.
I also redoubled my time outside of the home and did plenty of things that had him questioning what I was up to. In fact, when he took the kids to see his family without me for a week, I made an appointment and got a tattoo I had designed after the passing of my beloved grandmother last year. And then I hung out with my tattoo guy for a while (strictly platonic, just two artists chatting, but my H was insanely jealous.) When he heard about it, he got very angry. Then he called the next day saying he'd thought a lot about it and he wanted to work things out with me, but he needed more time to know that my changes were actually real.
I gave him his time, although it was torture. I continued to be his friend, maintain the home and be a good mother. By June he had told OW that he didn't want a relationship with her. By mid-June he had cut her off and blocked her on all platforms. We had some excellent talks about our relationship, rebuilding trust and going to therapy. It's now November, and despite the sudden passing of my father in July, and the sudden passing of another of my best friends in September, our marriage is better than ever. I'm not sure that we were this happy even in the beginning. 2023 has been the worst year of my life. But I have my family intact and I can thank God and divorce busting for that.
Things that helped with my emotional state: •Prayer and trusting in God to change hearts •Praising God even in the pain •How to Save Your Marriage Alone by Ed Wheat, M.D. •Reading success stories on this site •Read Divorce Busting/Divorce Remedy all the way through, took notes, read again. •Staying busy and having a life. Distraction is key. •I wrote out every verse on marriage that I could find to remind myself that God is on my side, the side of healthy marriages. •I searched online for prayers to read aloud for the return of an unfaithful spouse, when I was at my lowest points and couldn't find words to pray on my own. •Read several books on healthy marriages that put things into perspective. •Winning your Husband Back by Gary Smalley
I prepared answers to give him: •When he brought up my changes, I predetermined to respond gently that my changes were not for him. •When he brought up the past or reasons he was upset with me, I predetermined to respond that I can see why he is hurt and ask him to tell me more about it. If appropriate, I predetermined to tell him he was right and that I am sorry, and ask him what would help him feel better. •When he told me something like "I saw her today" I predetermined to tell him that I appreciate him being so open and honest with me. •When I didn't know where he'd been, I predetermined to be happy to see him and if possible, be intimate with him, as suggested in DB.
I started a notebook just for the situation. It helped immensely. I'll list here some of the things that I put in it, because they give finer detail about how I handled the situation.
I wrote a "daily list for survival" and did it. •Pray •Exercise •Shower •Get dressed •Look nice for when he gets home •Read the Bible (Psalms in particular) •Journal •Tidy the house •Do the laundry •Start dinner •Be completely unbothered •In every way, be someone he feels safe and happy about coming home to.
I wrote a list of reminders and reminded myself daily: •My battle is with my own pride, not with him. He's lost right now. •I can't change a single thought in anyone else's mind--all I can do is show him who I really am and leave it to God. •My words and actions need to create a good night together. No matter what nastiness he brings. One day at a time will win my family back together. •As a Christian, my job is to love unconditionally, radically even. Jesus looked at his tormenters as he died and asked God to forgive them. I can do no less if I am determined to live out my faith.
I read a lot about what most husbands desire in a marriage, there are a lot of good books about this. I put notes from these books in my notebook. I found the acronym BEST and reminded myself of it often: Blessing: be a blessing to him, speak well of him, stay silent if that's what is really needed in the situation. Give him approval, encouragement, support, affection, and a peaceful home life. Benefit him, appreciate him, and pray for him. Men are typically very reactionary and he will likely become a blessing to you as well when he sees your behavior. Edifying: respect, admire, defer to, adore. A man encounters many things daily that tear down his ego. He would love for you to build it back up in any way you can. He likely criticizes himself enough, try to never criticize him. In short treat him the way you would like to be treated. Sharing: time, interest, activities, ideas, and goals. Listen to him and share his troubles. Care about his interests and goals. Work with him. Touch: warm and non-sexual touch is very important. Give him a massage, cuddle, hold hands. Men do not get enough of this in general. These ideas might sound old fashioned or even patriarchal, but in our society we so often want excellent treatment from others without being willing to put such respect forth first. Why not give it a shot and see how your marriage improves?
I wrote a list about who I am, because I realized that in the last 14 years or so I had allowed life and bitterness to dull my shine. I titled it "Getting Back to the Real Me" It contains things like: I'm funny, upbeat, loving, and a good mom. I'm very clean and organized, a good listener, I think things through so I'm not quick to be reactionary. I volunteer. I paint. I dance and sing when I'm really happy. I play classic rock REALLY loud. Et cetera.
I wrote a list about who my husband is. I used a personality typing system called the Enneagram to learn more about his personality type and determine what he might need from me that I had not been providing. A big thing I learned through this is that for my husband's type, he most values strength, decisiveness, and straightforwardness.
Also in my notebook, I copied this list from somewhere on the divorce busting forum and rewrote it in order to try and commit it to memory as well as adding a few of my own comments: 1. Do not pursue, reason, chase, beg, plead or implore. 2. No frequent phone calls 3. Do not point out good points in marriage. 4. Do not follow him/her around the house. 5. Do not encourage talk about the future. 6. Do not ask for help or backup from family members. 7. Do not ask for reassurances. 8. Do not buy gifts. 9. Do not schedule dates together. 10. Do not spy on spouse 11. Do not say "I Love You". It only reminds your spouse that something is wrong and makes them feel pressured. 12. Act as if you are moving on with your life. Be HAPPY AND CONTENT. 13. Be cheerful, strong, outgoing and attractive. 14. Don't sit around waiting on your spouse- get busy, do things, go to church, go out with friends. 15. When home with your spouse, (if you usually start the conversation) be scarce or short on words. If you never had time to listen before, be curious about their day and listen carefully when they speak. 16. If you are in the habit of asking your spouse her whereabouts, ASK NOTHING. 17. You need to make your partner think that you have had an awakening and, as far as you are concerned, you are going to move on with your life, with or without your spouse. 18. Do not be nasty, angry or even cold- just pull back and wait to see if spouse notices and, more important, realize what he will be missing. 19. No matter what you are feeling TODAY, only show your spouse happiness and contentment. 20. Show him/her someone he/she would want to be around. 21. All questions about marriage should be put on hold, until your spouse wants to talk about it (which may be a while). 22. Never lose your cool. 23. Don't be overly enthusiastic. 24. Do not argue about how they feel (it only makes their feelings stronger). 25. Be patient 26. Listen carefully to what your spouse is really saying to you. 27. Learn to back off, shut up and possibly walk away. 28. Take care of yourself (exercise, sleep, laugh & focus on all the other parts of your life that are not my in turmoil). 29. Be strong and confident. 30. Know that if you can do 180, your smallest CONSISTENT actions will be noticed much more than any words you can say or write. 31. Do not be openly desperate or needy. Yes, you are hurting more than ever and are desperate and needy. But that is temporary and not the real you. 32. Do not focus on yourself when communicating with your spouse. 33. Do not believe any of what you hear and less than 50% of what you see. Your spouse will speak in absolute negatives because they are hurting and scared. Alternately, they are pushing at you to get a reaction that will help them justify their ugly choices. Do not take bait. 34. Do not give up no matter how dark it is or how bad you feel. 35. Do not backslide from your hard-earned changes. 36. NO CONVINCING! The more you try to tell someone their feelings, the less they believe you. 37. Determine what they are probably getting from another relationship and try to give that to them in a calm and detached way. Hint: it's usually acceptance just as they are, despite their flaws and mistakes. If you were picking at them, knock it off. A time will come when you can discuss your hurts with them. 38. Don't focus on the end result right now. Accomplish small goals. 39. This is about really changing your behavior, not fooling them into staying. 40. Assuming anything serves no purpose. 41. If they are fighting with you at all, they are conflicted and feeling guilty. Get away from the fight as if your life depends on it. You cannot argue your love back to you, they are trying to get a reaction to justify what they're doing. Walk away and let them sit in their guilt. 42. Don't spend too much time alone. Your brain will fixate on the pain. 43. Do and say the unexpected. Be fun.
I made a list of his complaints about me. He volunteered a lot of good information on this topic, in his efforts to justify a divorce. You have to know your spouse and weed through what they're saying for the truth, they are going to be hurt (and exaggerating somewhat) because of the situation. I will write out my list here, I should probably be embarrassed by my failings, but I want anyone struggling to know exactly how open and honest they should be with themselves: I always expected him to change first I rejected him sexually just because I was too busy or feeling down about my looks. (Too busy to make time for the needs of the person I love most in this world? Yikes.) I was quick to blame him for problems instead of finding solutions Critical Disapproving! Judgmental Unsupportive Indirect and slow to communicate my needs (when I new full well that he just needed it spelled out for him clearly. He is not a mind reader.) Unforgiving/bitter Jumping to conclusions Too quick to vent feelings to friends instead of him. (This made him feel as if I thought he couldn't handle it where I to bring problems to him directly.) Controlling Less than helpful--as in, I'd ask him to do a project for the house but never volunteer to do it together (or if it's a task I physically couldn't do, at least spend the time with him and encouraging him.) Now I'm not lazy, I would be doing other work while he worked, but he needed to feel more prioritized. Not discussing decisions with him first When he brought up a problem, I did not always take accountability right away. I would argue instead of listen when he really needed me to listen. Complaining Trying to do things on my own instead of asking for his help. He wants to help, to feel valuable, needed and appreciated. Impatient when he made mistakes
On the opposite page, I made a list of how I can improve on these negative behaviors. Combined with this, I also googled what respectful behavior looks like. My brain was such a muddle, that I trusted a list from the Internet more than my own ideas. But I knew I'd allowed the years and the bitterness to make me disregard my husband in a lot of ways, and I needed to begin treating him with compassion and respect again, even if we were only moving forward as co-parents, because after all he is a fellow human being. The list turned out to be pretty solid. **** I encourage you to Google what respecting your husband or wife should look like for yourself. I only wrote down the things that I knew applied to my behavior, but the list I found was extensive and may contain things that you should look at it within your own behavior.**** And then I implemented that list as much as humanly possible, but NOT just because I wanted to keep my family intact. It's also because I needed for myself to be a better human being to all. If I can see my nasty behavior and continue in it, what kind of person am I? I knew I would die with deep regrets had I not changed, or rather, not changed BACK to who I really have been all along, a kind and loving person who got a little warped along the way by life. I'll give some examples, but essentially this list was just the reverse of the negative list: Stop what you're doing and look at him when he speaks so he feels like he's important to you. Smile at him. Encourage him Say yes to him when you can Avoid criticism especially in front of others Defend him if others speak ill of him. (Doesn't everyone want this?) Keep him company while he does things that he's interested in Make time, your other things can wait. Memories with the ones you love can't. Try to tell him things in a factual way, men's brains tend to appreciate that. Take care of his needs as much as you can. (Again, this may sound patriarchal, but it truly isn't. Giving a gift to your spouse in meeting their needs is so rewarding. For me, I actually enjoy being a professional artist part time and using the rest of my time to be a good homemaker. So it's easy for me to have a welcoming home and a good meal on the way when my husband comes home, cold and exhausted. It may be very difficult for you to do the same, but I bet there are other needs you can meet that would help your spouse feel like a million bucks.)
I also wrote a list of goals as suggested in divorce busting. Remember to keep your goals small and look for tiny improvements as you consistently show your changes through your actions. Mine started with tiny things like "he will initiate physical contact in a non-sexual way" And worked up to things like, "he will not feel the need to lock his phone" and "he will ask me on dates" and "he will apologize and make right what he's doing." As of the end of June, all 25 goals were met.
H 41 W 36 D16 S15--my stepchildren D11--biological M 6, T 13 Bomb/EA 1/19/23 Separated but living together
Last edited by Michele Weiner-Davis; 10/31/2302:41 AM.