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"Doing The work"

IsThisANightmare posted 8/13/2020 14:13 PM

I keep seeing People talk about "doing the work" and how hard it is but nobody REALLY outlines what that entails. Break it down for me- what is the work necessary for true reconciliation. We started Marriage Counseling, have done the full disclosure and are about 3 weeks out from D-Day. What comes next?

AnnieMae posted 8/13/2020 14:17 PM

for me it was seeing my FWH changing his ways. I laid out a set of rules I expected of him in order for me to stay and fix us. Seeing the conscious effort of change is what for me was "doing the work"

This0is0Fine posted 8/13/2020 15:01 PM

Your WS should be out there, looking for information and ways to rebuild trust in your relationship and implement that information into their daily behavior. They need to be able to absorb the negative consequences that will continue for a long time with patience and grace. You will likely have to continue to forgive missteps by your WS when they do something that triggers you like if you find them talking about the importance of honesty and integrity. You will have to work to communicate that what they said hurts you (without becoming angry and accusatory) because of their previous actions instead of building up secret resentment.

You need to make an effort to build up positive interactions where they promise something and do it, and you recognize them for it. You need to voice your appreciation that they are trying, but still let them know if you need more.

They may become fatigued and impatient with your triggers or demands. You may become fatigued and impatient with their inability to truly come to terms with the damage they are 100% responsible for.

That's the "work".

You can do your half, but you can't make your WS to theirs.

Ladybugmaam posted 8/13/2020 15:29 PM

Three weeks out.....was all about damage control for us. And we failed and succeeded. As the BS, I didn't see it as work at the time. It was more like survival.
I'm nearly 18 months out and in a pretty good place much of the time. It's hinged on us both being willing to go all in. It took me a long time to SEE the work my fwh was doing and believe it. It also has taken me working on a myriad of my own issues. Identifying and asking for what I need. But, that came way later.
Hang in there.
If this happens in 50% of marriages....happy or no.....there are LOTS of people who have been through this. I still find myself fantasizing about stopping grandmothers in the street to ask them HOW????

hikingout posted 8/13/2020 15:43 PM

I think much of the first year is recovery for both spouses.

Your WS should go to iC for a period of time before you even try and go to MC. Your WS should be figuring out how and why they have done what they have done. From that will come a list of things they need to work on to be a safe partner for you. They also need to be very supportive of you, answer anything and everything as many times as you need.

For you - I would focus on your needs exclusively right now. 3 weeks out your spouse is far from stable or reliable. Now is not the time to make any major decisions, unless the WS does not comply with basic requirements - such as no contact with AP, going to IC, being transparent with their devices and whereabouts.

I am sorry that you find yourself here. You may want to consider posting in Just Found Out, I think you will get a lot better support in that forum because people spend a lot of time there helping new BS's.

ct528 posted 8/13/2020 18:42 PM

Well, here’s an example. Recently I got upset with WH because I felt like every moment of my free time was spent listening to podcasts, reading books, reading SI, looking for advice on how to deal with this trauma and save our marriage. Then during his free time he would be taking a nap or watching tv. Like, I get that it is exhausting to be thinking about the infidelity all the time, but it is not up to me to figure out how to fix this on my own. I told him how I was feeling about it and he has been making more of an effort.

IntoTheFray posted 8/13/2020 19:38 PM

I think a great deal of 'the work' is about personal growth first and foremost. It's about learning that the only thing you can control in life is yourself. At this stage I would suggest turning your focus inward. Focus on healing your own heart. Examine your own thoughts and feelings, thought patterns, the effect of previous traumas, disappointments and perhaps FOO issues that shaped your patterns of behaviour. This is not to be a better spouse or this or that; this is about being a better YOU for YOURSELF. Your WS should be doing the same independent of your process and then you can focus on repairing the marriage - if that is still what you want. You are still so very early in this. Take one day at a time and make yourself the priority.

CaptainRogers posted 8/13/2020 21:03 PM

"The Work" is what everyone has said and more. It is doing things that rebuild affection. It is about proving oneself trustworthy. It is about making the changes to become a safe partner.

"The Work" is exhausting at best. If it isn't exhausting (physically, mentally & emotionally), then "The Work" isn't likely being done.

onlytime posted 8/13/2020 22:09 PM

A few years back my H and I read the book When the Past Is Present: Healing the Emotional Wounds That Sabotage Our Relationships by David Richo, PhD. As we read through the second chapter we realized that the author had so perfectly laid out the necessary requirements and steps involved in healing and transforming our lives.

When we talk about "The Work"...this excerpt from the book, IMHO, is it, and it's for WS and BS alike, because whether we R or D, we all have healing work to do...


The heart of any psychological work is addressing, processing, resolving, and integrating the issue at hand. These words form the acronym APRI, which in Italian means “you open.”

We address the problem when we call it by name. We admit to ourselves what is really going on and our part in it, that is, we own our behavior and feelings.

In addition, we are willing to look at our wounds and how we may have wounded others. We see our issue in a friendly way rather than critically. Thereby we coax it to reveal more about itself. This means staring into an experience rather than attempting to fix it quickly, rushing past it, glossing over it, or minimizing its impact.

We put our cards on the table. We let the truth come out and remain open to feelings in ourselves and others.

To process is to express the feelings associated with the experience we are working on. We do this non-aggressively, not losing control. We take responsibility for our own emotions without blaming others. We may then see the hookup of our experience with something in our past, and our feelings do double duty as we feel for both the past and the present.

Processing also includes looking at what we have been getting out of our predicament or feelings. For instance, we might feel angry in a relationship and be using that anger for its secondary gain to us, that of avoiding intimacy.

Such feeling and consciousness lead to resolving, which includes taking action. A resolution happens as a healing shift, a grace that comes into play. We do not make it happen; it simply results, because addressing and processing lead to dissolving of the problem. In this alchemical process, our expression of feelings leads to the evaporation of them and of all the unfinished business behind them.

We break the old cycle and find new ways of behaving and new ways of seeing life and relationships.

Resolving a problem in a relationship entails making agreements and keeping them.

To integrate our experience means reshaping our lives in accord with what we have gained and learned from addressing, processing, and resolving.

We implement what we have worked on. This is consistency between what we have worked on and how we live our lives. We now live and relate differently than before. Our choices were based on unconscious issues; now these issues have come to light. A light shining on our world makes it look new, and we are free to live in accord with our true deepest needs, values, and wishes. To use an analogy, our kitchen experience is automatically different when we use a sink rather than a pump, or a dishwasher rather than a sink. Everything changes when an upgrade occurs.

We can restate this in brief this way:

Addressing leads to a release of energy in the form of feelings. Processing these feelings leads to a shift so that they finally evaporate. Processing also leads us to resolve things by making agreements to bring about changes. This resolution leads to letting conflicts become matter-of-fact rather than ego-invested.Then we redesign our lives to match our newfound changes. This is integrating.

We notice that each of the four steps is a pause. To address is to pause to contemplate the fact, impact, meaning, and inner workings of an experience. To process is to pause long enough to feel all that goes with the experience and to explore its connection to past patterns. We resolve for the future to pause between a stimulus and our usual immediate reaction. This pause is freedom. We pause several times in every day that follows so that we can integrate what we have learned.

The preceding fourfold plan may not be a truly skillful means if it is rushed to the scene of our wounding so that we can “get over it” quickly.

Some events teach us so much when we allow them to work themselves out in their own time and way. Some experiences have to be lived with for a while before they can resolve themselves. Time is required between problem and solution, question and answer, issue and resolution.

We grow from resting in the ambiguity of that between-space. We gain an opportunity to feel our feelings all the way.

Timing is an essential ingredient of transformation: A persimmon, when it first appears on the tree, is astringent. With time to ripen, it becomes sweet.

sisoon posted 8/14/2020 14:11 PM

Hmm...I can accept that, onlytime. Thanks.

I would like to clarify this:

We do this non-aggressively, not losing control.
I hope I'm not redefining 'non-aggressively.' My take is that processing emotions is emotional without attacking others. That may mean tears, sobbing with one's whole body, showing anger with the loudest voice a person has coupled with body language to match, etc., etc., etc., always remembering that we have our feelings, our feelings don't have us.

IOW, people can express extreme rage without actually attacking another person, emotionally, verbally or physically.

The1stWife posted 8/15/2020 03:17 AM

I would like to add that I expected my H to figure out how to repair the damage on his own. I refused to help him.

So he had to address his issues AND make amends AND stop lying and be willing to be completely honest all at once.

Otherwise we were not going to survive or reconcile. Not for one minute.

HardKnocks posted 8/15/2020 14:28 PM

IC, and lots of it, especially for the WS.

Fof9303 posted 8/16/2020 06:29 AM

@IsthisaNightmare

Sorry you are in this mess right now and in the beginning stages of your recovery. Of course there is work-- reading, counseling, consoling, praying. Honestly, it just takes time. Simple as that. If he is helping you to feel better and doing counseling, then it just takes time. Time for your heart to heal, time to be away from the trauma, time for new starts and adventures. Blessings to you.

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