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Trauma Bonding

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landclark ( Member #70659) posted at 4:32 PM on Monday, September 6th, 2021

That is the crux of the issue IMHO. Posters that find JFO and share their stories of pain and are then told the ONLY answer – the CORRECT answer is divorce.

This is true even after the just found out phase. I think a lot of people believe the only path out of infidelity is divorce, and while sometimes it is (probably true in my case), sometimes people need help getting out infidelity without divorce and being constantly told to divorce otherwise you’re codependent, sacrificing your dignity, etc., is not at all helpful.

Me: BW Him: WH (GuiltAndShame) Dday 05/19/19 with TT through August
One child together, 3 stepchildren
Together 13.5 years, married 12.5 First EA was 4 months into marriage. Last ended 05/19/19.

posts: 1911   ·   registered: May. 29th, 2019
id 8687289
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ChamomileTea ( Member #53574) posted at 8:49 PM on Monday, September 6th, 2021

And nobody wants to see their bond based in or enhanced by trauma because it sounds unhealthy or weak or whatever.


Or because it's just not true. My decisions have NOT been based on "trauma bonding" because I have NOT been systematically abused over a prolonged period of time and I have never felt trapped or like I couldn't get away. I don't know WHY it's so important for people to believe there's some mysterious force keeping them bonded to their abuser or whatever, but unless you're female in Afghanistan, we've all got choices and IME, it's actually really helpful to take ownership of that choice. If you're with your WS because you feel like you're "trauma bonded" and don't have any choice, you're not taking responsibility for your choice to be there. And when you don't take responsibility for where you CHOOSE to plant your feet, you're likely to land in limbo. I have taken great comfort in ownership of my choice. Whenever I found myself immersed in self-pity over the betrayal, I could step back and remind myself that I was where I had elected to be... not trapped, not forced, not helpless. I've got teeth. I've got teeth because I have choices and I feel my strength when I own my choices.

posts: 4513   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016
id 8687314
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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 10:43 PM on Monday, September 6th, 2021

** Posting as a member **

I think there's some misreading of posts going on, and misreading does no one much good.

I'll start with:

I've suggested that a therapeutic separation might be a SOP recommendation in most cases, including my own, because of a trauma bond.

That's not how I read your posts, which include, for example:

I’m not sure what you mean by that, but do you really mean to argue that separation is appropriate in every case?

Yes.

You go on to say 'most cases' in a sentence below that, but it's buried. If 'in most cases' were not just an afterthought for you, I suspect your initial response would probably have been something like, 'Yes, in most cases.'

You've stated in a number of ways that every BS should separate. (And since you never qualified 'separation', it's reasonable to conclude you mean 'physical separation.') I believe you've implied that trauma bonding is a major motivation for R. You restated your 'always separate' advice even after I asserted that a separation would have harmed me and after CT wrote separation would not have been best for her and her H. Frankly, it looks like you ignore evidence that doesn't fit your model of the world.

*****

There is no way I can accept that there's a single action that will benefit all BSes. There is no way I can accept that separation specifically will benefit all BSes. In this thread, you can see at least 4 voices stating that separation is not necessarily best for all BSes.

I agree with NLP theory that the receiver of a communication decides what it means, but I also agree that people do more or less filtering in determining meaning. If you do not think those comments are substantive responses to the assertion, you're doing a lot of filtering, and you’re adding meaning that isn’t inherently in the communication you’ve received.

*****

Some readers have apparently read 'separation is not beneficial for all BSes' to mean 'all BSes should choose R'. THAT is an archetypical straw man – misunderstand a statement and argue against the misunderstanding. Look at my statements and CTs’, and Bigger’s, and virtually everyone else’s who has posted that R is possible in this and other threads, and you’ll see none of us think or post that ‘all BSes should R.’ It’s almost always qualified with something like:

‘All Ms can R – if the partners do the work’, or

‘You can R, if your WS is remorseful’, or

‘You can R, if you both do the work’.

A MUCH more accurate corollary for 'separation is not beneficial for all BSes' is 'separation is possibly beneficial for some BSes.' That's a theoretical corollary. Based on what I've read here, separation has definitely help some people. Not many, but some. (See below about testing the WS for one case in which separation can help.)

One responder has read the arguments against 'every BS should separate' as stemming from a belief that all BSes should R. That, too, is a very serious misreading of the posts. I’ve forgotten exactly to whom (was it to CT? Me?) that was directed, but it’s a serious misreading of both CT’s and my thoughts, and it’s a serious misreading of the thoughts of most people who post in response to D-always voices.

Most of us who think R is possible or even advisable think and state clearly that – here it is again – R succeeds only if the partners do the necessary work.

*****

There is a WORLD'S difference between, immediately after Dday, with "I am going to reconcile with my partner" vs "I really want to reconcile with my partner...."

This is really important. (The part I didn't quote is important, too, but this part is crucial, IMO.)

I tested my W's commitment to R every way I could think of. I also have recommended again and again that other BSes test their WSes. I gave my W innumerable opportunities to choose between doing her work and not doing it. Although I very much wanted to R, I chose R because she chose to do her work at every opportunity. Had she chosen differently, I think I would have, too - but, of course, we can't know that.

BTW, if my understanding of myself is accurate, I wasn't (particularly) trauma bonded, since I was NOT in any way 'unable to leave my WS'. If you think I’m blowing smoke, both my W and our MC thought there was a definite possibility that I was going to leave.

I guess I could have tested my W if we had separated - but it was easier to test her, and I had much more opportunity to test her, because we were together, not separated.

My point is this: staying together after d-day can be used to gather a lot of data that feeds into the BS's decision to D or R. In fact, staying together is the best way I can think of to find out if one's WS is or is not a good candidate for R. (This point, BTW, is yet another substantive response to the proposition that all BSes should separate, at least temporarily.

*****

For me, I'm concerned that other readers may make bad decisions for themselves based on any argument that divorce isn't a good outcome after infidelity.

I haven't seen this argument in this thread. Virtually none of us who think R is a great decision for some people would dream of arguing that D is not also a great decision for many.

*****

IOW, the following looks like another serious misreading:

It seems more like those who seek to deny the possibility that the act of infidelity can cause a trauma bond to form, are more focused on defending their own decision to not separate and immediately go into R.

Probably true.

I believe I stated that trauma bonding was probably part of my decision to R.

*****

Some BSes do not want to or can not use staying together as a way of testing their WSes, and separation may be the best way for those people to figure out what they want. We each have to find our own path to surviving and thriving, and finding that path may be the most important part of recovery. That's one of my points: what works for person A may not work for person B. There is no single response to being betrayed that will benefit every BS. It’s not that I object to separation per se; rather I object to a principle that separation is for everyone.

Let's remember, also, that some people separate to run away from their problems. If a person uses separation as a way to rug sweep, that person is doing themself a disservice.

By the same token, some people stay together in order to run away from their problems. That doesn’t work well, either – but it doesn’t justify proclaiming that all BSes should separate.

But both ways of rug sweeping (I guess that’s what ‘run away from problems’ is) support this: Different strokes for different folks. There is no OSFA (One-Size-Fits-All).

*****

…a guide taking someone to task for giving advice that they didn't follow ... is unbelievably inappropriate, whether posted "as a member" or not.

A couple of points:

First, a 'guide' guides members on how to use SI and does some things for the mods, like ping them when a 'mod, please' thread isn't attended to for some time. Guides are not survive-and-thrive gurus per se, though we certainly have heavy experience in that area.

Second, I stated that separation would have harmed me, and Thumos came back with his 'all BSes should separate' advice. He's articulate and persuasive. I know something of his story, but members who have been around less than 2 years may not, and I obviously think it's appropriate to let them know that Thumos does not follow his own apparently unambiguous advice.

It’s important to take all advice with several grains of salt. It especially important to use a lot of salt when the adviser isn’t following their own advice.

BTW, I thought long and hard about confronting this contradiction. Obviously, I decided it was a useful confrontation, but I could have been wrong.

*****

You could say that sisoon posts again and again that healing for the BS consists of processing feelings, figuring out what one wants, figuring out what's attainable, etc., so sisoon preaches OSFA.

My response is that each of us processes feelings in our own way. At the 'meta' level, maybe it's OSFA, but at the level of doing the work, each of us does our own work in our own way. Therefore, I respond, it's not one-size-fits-all.

OTOH, the people who are happiest after d-day do seem to be the people who figure out what they want and go for it, adjusting for each obstruction and making the best of it. They get to a point where thoughts of the A no longer bother them (much), which IMO means they've somehow dealt with their feelings about the A.

So even if what I propose is OSFA, it works. smile

*****

Sisoon mentioned a BS that waited 2 years to try to reconcile, and now(unwillingly) is moving to divorce.

Clarification: he was unwilling to D for a couple of years, despite the advice he got. A few years, after that, he was more than willing to D.

*****

The fact that you think that you were better off staying with your abuser doesn't mean we should be advising new BS to do it too.

Well, we could argue the nuances of that point, but it’s moot. In fact, I advise new members to look inside and to start with figuring out what they want and taking care of themselves. THAT – not R, not D – is my ‘agenda’ for other SIers.

I have regularly advised SIers who are undecided not to push for a decision but to gather info and let the decision grow organically. A quick decision that one keeps second guessing is not healing, IMO. I also have advised against separation, especially when an advice-seeker is uncertain whether to separate at all and uncertain about the goals of separating. But that's because I am against taking a 'ready - fire' approach. I much prefer 'ready - aim - fire'.

*****

I'm honestly stunned that the idea that the victim of an abuser leaving immediately to safety to get clarity is contentious here.

This is another straw man. First you note accurately that people need to get away from physical abuse as soon as possible, because physical abuse tends to escalate, and it’s an almost palpable threat to the victim’s physical health and, perhaps life. Then you conflate physical abuse with emotional abuse and argue a victim of emotional abuse has to get away from the abuser ASAP.

This ignores the fact that another response to emotional abuse, for example, is to develop the strength necessary to resist. In fact, if kids are involved, developing the strength to resist is a better approach, because if you co-parent, you will be exposed to your XWS regularly.

Even if kids aren’t involved, it’s a lot better, IMO, to learn to deal effectively with gaslighting, TT, minimizing, etc. than to have to avoid these phenomena. I consider most of sales and marketing to be abusive, so learning to deal with it effectively helps in intimate relationships and life in general.

I conceded some weeks ago that WSes are abusive and therefore are doing terrible things. But I also asked, 'What next?' Once one decides one's WS is an abuser, where does that get you, except to keep focusing on what a POS your WS is?

No one has answered.

So if you can't get past the fact that As are abusive, I urge you to ask yourself, 'What am I doing with this knowledge? Is that enough? What else I can do besides being angry that my WS abused me?'

[This message edited by sisoon at 10:58 PM, Monday, September 6th]

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.

posts: 25978   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8687325
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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 11:05 PM on Monday, September 6th, 2021

True, but it’s not the ONLY answer.
It’s A right answer rather than THE right answer.

To be completely clear, when I say that, I mean that divorce is never the wrong answer. It is always a right answer. If a BS discovers infidelity of any sort and divorces, it was always justified. As I've said, sometimes R is also a right answer.

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

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8687327
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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 11:35 PM on Monday, September 6th, 2021

This is another straw man. First you note accurately that people need to get away from physical abuse as soon as possible, because physical abuse tends to escalate, and it’s an almost palpable threat to the victim’s physical health and, perhaps life. Then you conflate physical abuse with emotional abuse and argue a victim of emotional abuse has to get away from the abuser ASAP.

This ignores the fact that another response to emotional abuse, for example, is to develop the strength necessary to resist. In fact, if kids are involved, developing the strength to resist is a better approach, because if you co-parent, you will be exposed to your XWS regularly.Even if kids aren’t involved, it’s a lot better, IMO, to learn to deal effectively with gaslighting, TT, minimizing, etc. than to have to avoid these phenomena. I consider most of sales and marketing to be abusive, so learning to deal with it effectively helps in intimate relationships and life in general.

But sisoon, isn't it always better to get away from gaslighting, TT, minimizing, etc? When has it ever been a good idea to stick around and subject yourself to that? Learning how to deal with emotional abuse heavily involves removing oneself from those who use it. A marriage isn't surely meant to be a lesson in how to deal with abuse. And to be subjected to it when you're least able to deal with even sleeping and eating? That's awful, and that's when we generally get exposed to the worst of it. That's why the separation idea sounds so healthy to me. Get away from that and regain your sanity if possible sounds like pretty stellar advice to me.

I conceded some weeks ago that WSes are abusive and therefore are doing terrible things. But I also asked, 'What next?' Once one decides one's WS is an abuser, where does that get you, except to keep focusing on what a POS your WS is?

No one has answered.

Well accepting that is step 1 on not taking blame for the infidelity. When you accept that the mindgames that the WS is spewing are all abusive and false and not about you, you see them more clearly. You see that they're trying to screw with your head. That's pretty important, that realization that you're currently dealing with a POS. I absolutely believe those of you who are in R with people who went from POS to good and honest human being and that's great. But, they most certainly did not start out that way at DDay. When one realizes that one is living with a POS, maybe taking a break from that POS until they remove their heads from their backsides is pretty good advice. You don't need to be right there for them to come back down to earth. They aren't worth being with at that point and the emotional abuse from them isn't ever helpful when healing yourself. It might even speed that return to sanity up a bit if the consequences involve losing access to you and being left to sit alone with themselves and think about how all that just happened.

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

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8687334
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Dude67 ( Member #75700) posted at 1:01 AM on Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Playing a bit of devils advocate, what DD says makes sense to me. Don’t necessarily separate if you desire R, but only if you’re not being gaslighted, outright lied to, and TT after the BS has made all efforts to convince the WS to do otherwise.

If all of the above is still occurring, despite best efforts otherwise, isn’t it recommended to do the 180? To me, the 180 can be utilized during an IHS or a physical separation, depending on circumstances, which includes children at home, finances, a safe place to go, etc.

But to not separate, whether through IHS or by leaving, while continuing to be lied to, gaslighted, minimized, blame shifted, TT, i.e treated cruelly, seems to me to be playing to the WS upper hand and hurting the well being of the BS.

I guess the alternative to separation is the hard 180? Is that measurably different than some sort of separation?

Evan dash

posts: 96   ·   registered: Oct. 21st, 2020
id 8687345
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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 2:10 AM on Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

isn't it always better to get away from gaslighting, TT, minimizing, etc? When has it ever been a good idea to stick around and subject yourself to that? Learning how to deal with emotional abuse heavily involves removing oneself from those who use it.

Gas-TT-minimizing may be almost universal, but it's not absolutely universal. My W did it during her A, but she stopped on d-day. Some WSes do that.

Similarly, I think it's important to recognize the bullshit, but it's impossible to get away from it. We get gas, TT, minimizing and blameshifting all the time from colleagues, managers, and subordinates at work, when shopping, from politicians, from people who are on the way to becoming politicians as well as from WSes.

But the bottom line for me isn't that separation should be removed as a recovery tool. On the contrary, I agree it's an important, even an essential, tool for some people.

It's the idea that all BSes should separate (and the sub-textual idea that trauma bonding is the primary motivations of R) that I object to.

A marriage isn't surely meant to be a lesson in how to deal with abuse.

That breaks my heart, because my W has talked about ways she felt abused in our relationship (mainly in the early days), and I think most women would agree with her. To be clear, this does not come up in the context of the A, nor has she raised the issues in any sense of equivalence to her A. She has legitimate beefs. I haven't repeated the abuse, and she doesn't fear that I will, but I wish I could take some very hurtful actions back, and I can't.

You always hurt the one you love....

...the separation idea sounds so healthy to me.

I hope that means separation was right for you and not right for me. smile (I think you realize that is a joke - I believe what you write.)

*****

Dee, I know you see infidelity as abuse and WSes as abusers, but IMO, you've taken that realization as a catalyst for finding yourself and your (considerable) power. You've used your realization in your own best interests, IMO. You have answered my 'What next?' question for yourself, and you're the only one who needs the answer.

*****

Actually, my W was a POS during her A. She stopped on d-day - but I didn't accept that for years.

But I went through some tough years, and she provided all sorts of support. She pretty much hit rock bottom on d-day. She was a POS, but she had stayed with me for better or worse.

I do not in any way mean that everyone is morally required to stay with their WS, but I am totally satisfied that it was OK for me to give my W an opportunity to R because of all the support she had given me.

OTOH, if you're a BS who is giving your WS benefits of doubts, and your WS is not healing themself, I'll be right there with people pointing out the WS's failure and counseling the BS to strongly consider doing something different.

I think Dude67 understands, with the slight variation that had my W continued lying, I wouldn't have done the 180 - I'd have just dumped her. The 180 is for when the BS can't bring themself to dump the WS forthwith. smile

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.

posts: 25978   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8687349
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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 3:07 AM on Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Gas-TT-minimizing may be almost universal, but it's not absolutely universal. My W did it during her A, but she stopped on d-day. Some WSes do that.

I think that's amazing, that you didn't have to go through that. It's rare.

I hope that means separation was right for you and not right for me. smile (I think you realize that is a joke - I believe what you write.)

I mean it's a seriously healthy option for a BS who has a WS who is putting them through gaslighting, TT, playing the victim, etc. All that foolishness. It seems that the majority do behave that way. A traumatized BS just does not have time for all that and it's so damaging in a time when you least need any more damage.

Dee, I know you see infidelity as abuse and WSes as abusers, but IMO, you've taken that realization as a catalyst for finding yourself and your (considerable) power. You've used your realization in your own best interests, IMO. You have answered my 'What next?' question for yourself, and you're the only one who needs the answer.

Fair enough. I did value myself far more than I valued the marriage. I'm just selfish enough for this sort of situation, lol.

I'm genuinely happy that R was the right choice for you and that your W was a good candidate for it. I do believe you would have left had it been otherwise. I have good friends who are in R and I want nothing but the best for them. I also stand ready to back them and breathe fire at their WSs if they don't walk the line henceforth.

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

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8687353
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emergent8 ( Member #58189) posted at 7:24 PM on Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

I was one of the people that disagreed with parts of Thumos's original premise. To be clear:

- I believe that trauma bonding is sometimes be experienced by a BS in some infidelity-type relationships. It makes sense in Thumos' situation.

- I do not believe that trauma bonding is always or even usually found post-infidelity

- I do believe that trauma is experienced by all BS and that it can take many forms

- I do believe that separation is a useful tool post-D-day for some BS - particularly if there is significant ongoing lying/gaslighting. I will be the first to recommend it if I think it would be useful

- I do NOT believe that separation is necessary for all couples post D-Day or that it should be a standard practice recommendation for all new BS

I, like Sisoon, had a WS who got his act together pretty quick post D-Day. While there was some TT about a few things that came out about 3 months post D-Day, I'd say I got 90% of the truth on or in the immediate aftermath of D-Day. I acted decisively on D-Day in informing the OBS (whom I'd met previously) and we were able to compare stories before any colluding was able to take place. I had immediate access to phones and emails. When it became clear that OBS and I were comparing notes, both my WH and his AP started throwing each other under the bus fast. There was virtually no fog and my H was begging me not to leave. That said, I was pretty confident we would divorce. As I said, I do not believe trauma bonding was applicable to my situation. If you believe that I feel this way for cognitive dissonance-type reasons, that is fine, I disagree. I will say it again though- NOTHING about his A made me feel MORE bonded to him, and LESS likely for me to leave. Quite the opposite.

Despite my initial intention to divorce, my H and I ultimately were able to R. We did this because he proved to me over and over again that he was willing to do the work. I believe it was helpful for me to see this with my own eyes. Other than me kicking him out the night I learned of the TT 3 months in, we R'd so without any period of separation. I do not believe it was necessary for us and although I cannot say if it would have been harmful or not, I do think I would have struggled with not being able to pepper him with questions at all hours of every day in the months post D-day. I do think the 180 can be sufficient.

R is clearly not for everyone - for us it was.

[This message edited by emergent8 at 7:30 PM, Tuesday, September 7th]

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: 601   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8687437
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GrayShades ( Member #59967) posted at 8:44 PM on Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

I think Emergent8's take on this is quite common among those who have healthy Rs. They may be few and far between, especially on SI, but that trajectory was similar for me. I most definitely did not feel more strongly bonded or frantic to keep my WH or our marriage post-Dday. I just felt broken, and super angry on top of that. He did get it together quickly, and I was the one who needed to be convinced to try for R (convinced by myself, not just him though there was begging there as well). I never begged, and I never will. I also agree that for us, separation would have made things more likely to lead to D (and research bears this out). Perhaps D would have been easier on me, ultimately, but like I said above, I have no regrets on R even if this ends up not working out because I am more clear on a lot of things that I had not thought through prior to Dday. I do know that D would have been much harder on our son than R, so another reason I have no regrets. I would not, however, generalize my experience broadly to everyone else, and that's what I push back on when I see it here, especially in JFO. Edited for numerous typos.

[This message edited by GrayShades at 8:46 PM, Tuesday, September 7th]

Me: 50 on Dday
WH: Turned 48 the day before Dday
Dday: 05/16/17
One teenage son

posts: 234   ·   registered: Aug. 2nd, 2017   ·   location: CO
id 8687454
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Bigger ( Guide #8354) posted at 12:22 PM on Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Thumos

You have edited your original post significantly.
You tend to post statements as facts. In the original post you stated that most marriages affected by infidelity become trauma bonding relationships and (if I recall correctly) nearly ALL BS are affected.
I did some reading and research and found plenty of articles, research and documents indicating Trauma Bonding can be found in infidelity-relationships but frankly nothing that was as all-encompassing as your original statement. The only references that emphasized Trauma Bonding generally had an agenda such as selling a program or a book.

I actually agree that many relationships affected by infidelity develop in an unhealthy way. We can call that Trauma Bonding if we need to put a name to it. But we don’t have to hang long around sites like SI to see it’s prevalent in ALL relationships that don’t deal with the issues. Even those that claim to have ended the marriage right away.

Generally if you go to the Divorce forum you will see a couple of threads about how the ex-spouse is messing with the BS life. It can be as direct as ongoing contact, it can be as indirect as wondering how to attend an adult child’s wedding since the ex will be there, or issues about the ex-spouses’ present relationship status. If you read any forum – Reconcile included – you will find posters that are only married for the kids and will move out the minute Junior leaves for college (only to find a new reason once he does…). Or wont divorce for religious reasons. Or has established a warden-like routine to keep the spouse in line. Things we don’t associate with "marriage" per se.

I willingly admit we also see plenty of instances where people claim to be reconciling, but everything clearly indicates they aren’t. Be it rug-sweeping or accepting concessions to fidelity or blaming the OW/OM and making the WS a victim. We have PLENTY of that.

I have for a long time stated there are two good ways out of infidelity: Reconcile or divorce. I have warned against the third option and that is where you learn to live with infidelity – be it active or inactive. It’s where you don’t ask the questions and deal with the answers. It’s where one or both spouses accept a compromise that causes them pain – trauma. If we want to find a term for it then maybe Trauma Bonding would fit. Grouping all those that fall into this as "reconciling" or not doing the right thing because they aren’t divorced is IMHO faulty logic.

In your list of examples of negative consequences of Trauma Bonding you put:

I believe this accounts for the various phenomena we observe here: the intense hysterical bonding; the cycle of grief, dissociation, anger, depression, and POLF; the inability of a faithful partner to end the marriage right away in most cases.

Maybe it’s just wording - but since you are eloquent I doubt it – but the last line implies that leaving is the correct response in all cases. I don’t agree…
I think the correct response in ALL cases is to be willing to accept the marriage is over if the WS can’t meet some basic requirements. A logical consequence of the marriage being over is to end it. What those requirements and the time-frame to meet them - THAT tends to be based on the BS and what he/she is willing to accept.
The "right away" should probably be reworded in your next edit…

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

posts: 9858   ·   registered: Sep. 29th, 2005
id 8687547
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Underserving ( Member #72259) posted at 3:59 PM on Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Hindsight really is 20/20 isn’t it?

I agree some type of physical separation would have probably helped me in the beginning to find my bearings. However, it could have been told to me 100 times a day that’s what I should do, and I wouldn’t have done it. I was barely able to eat or drink water, the thought of packing my stuff up to stay somewhere else for a month would have been entirely too much for me. In 24 hours I went from thinking I had a wonderful marriage, to learning of my husband’s infidelity. Rational thinking was not on the table for me for a long time. I would have likely never come back to this site if I had been told by everyone I should leave him immediately. I was the victim. I was the broken one. I needed support from here, and not judgement. I think it’s perfectly fine to offer a newly betrayed spouse different opinions, and that could include suggesting a 30 day separation, but if they don’t want to, they should never be shamed for that. As someone else said, not here, not on SI. This is supposed to be a safe place, regardless of whether you agree with the betrayed’s choices or not.

It’s off putting that this has almost become a R vs D debate. I see enough shit about how stupid I am to R on social media, I don’t want to see it on here too.

I do believe there was some trauma bonding initially. I mean, I was traumatized, and clinging to the person who had caused it. We have never had sex more often than we did in those first few months post d-day. I would scream at him, curse him out, ask him questions about the A every single day, and then we’d have sex 2-3 times. I can’t argue and say there wasn’t any sort of trauma bonding taking place. I don’t know what else you could call that? Hysterical bonding, I suppose, which is essentially the same thing IMO. I’m definitely not in the same place I was nearly 2 years ago. I don’t think the initial trauma bond has continued to play a role in my decision to R. I don’t believe it has any hold over me anymore.

This was an interesting topic and thread.

BW (32)
Found out 3 years post end of A
D-day 12-9-19
Meh-ing through R

Infidelity brings out the cuss in me. I’m not as foul mouthed in real life. ;)

posts: 647   ·   registered: Dec. 9th, 2019
id 8687568
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DevastatedDee ( Member #59873) posted at 4:07 PM on Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

It’s off putting that this has almost become a R vs D debate. I see enough shit about how stupid I am to R on social media, I don’t want to see it on here too.

For my part, I definitely didn't intend it to be. Whether we ultimately R or D, we're all in about the same place post DDay. I worried about any suggestion that we shouldn't separate for our sanity because it put potential R in jeopardy, when the month or so post DDay should be about doing whatever possible to help the BS deal with the trauma, not worry about the WS or any potential R. WS and any possibility of R is secondary to helping a BS get their bearings and reduce further trauma.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 4:08 PM, Wednesday, September 8th]

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

posts: 4435   ·   registered: Jul. 27th, 2017
id 8687569
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jb3199 ( Member #27673) posted at 4:38 PM on Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

What those requirements and the time-frame to meet them - THAT tends to be based on the BS and what he/she is willing to accept.
The "right away" should probably be reworded in your next edit…

The timeframe is probably one of the more subjective issues, but I do think that it is a relevant point to discuss/explore.

Bigger often states that the two clear paths out of infidelity(at least 'healthily')are to reconcile or divorce. I agree with this. But what I do strongly believe in, and obviously this is my opinion, is that both options need to be in play if attempting to reconcile. If the real possibility of ending the marriage isn't even a factor, then reconciliation would be nothing but a crapshoot. The wayward party would dictate the 'reconciliation' process.

I know that it is each BS's individual choice to decide how long and what they are willing to tolerate. But isn't that what this site is about? Giving not only our personal experiences, but what be think would be best based on what we have....and have not learned?

he was unwilling to D for a couple of years, despite the advice he got. A few years, after that, he was more than willing to D.

I personally don't agree with this. I believe that he has started to accept that D is his only way out of infidelity, but is heading this route against his will. His WS showed, through his posts, to not be a good candidate for reconciliation. So what did we advise? To work towards divorce, now, because his WS showed no effort to reconcile. What should we have advised him? To stick it out, and hope for positive change? I believe that we have to deal with the person who is standing in front of us. If that person is not a good candidate for R, then we should work towards the other 'healthy' way out of infidelity. If they are showing, through actions, that they are changing their wayward behaviors, then I do believe the 'how long a BS is willing to wait' comes into play.

The person they were before should not be the driving factor to attempt reconciliation. The person that they are, right now, should be the driving factor, again, IMHO.

BH-50s
WW-50s
2 boys
Married 28yrs.(together over 30yrs.)

All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary Puckett
D-Day(s): Enough
Accepting that I can/may end this marriage 7/2/14

posts: 3816   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2010   ·   location: northeast
id 8687575
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jb3199 ( Member #27673) posted at 4:54 PM on Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

I needed support from here, and not judgement. I think it’s perfectly fine to offer a newly betrayed spouse different opinions

Agreed. It is easily possible to be supportive, give advice(whether they agree or not), and not be judgemental here. I don't think that we need to apply our advice with a powder puff, or with a sledgehammer. What is the saying---'read the room'? I don't think that it is too hard to see when a poster is unable or unwilling to accept certain advice. At that point, we should be using our common sense. We can stop replying to the thread; we can still give our advice in the best way that we believe it will be received. Or we can ram our opinion down their throat. I advise against this last suggestion.

If you want to help someone, then try to help.

BH-50s
WW-50s
2 boys
Married 28yrs.(together over 30yrs.)

All work and no play has just cost me my wife--Gary Puckett
D-Day(s): Enough
Accepting that I can/may end this marriage 7/2/14

posts: 3816   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2010   ·   location: northeast
id 8687576
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Bigger ( Guide #8354) posted at 6:00 PM on Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

In response to this;

Bigger often states that the two clear paths out of infidelity(at least 'healthily')are to reconcile or divorce. I agree with this. But what I do strongly believe in, and obviously this is my opinion, is that both options need to be in play if attempting to reconcile.

I refer back to my post:

I think the correct response in ALL cases is to be willing to accept the marriage is over if the WS can’t meet some basic requirements. A logical consequence of the marriage being over is to end it.

"If, therefore, any be unhappy, let him remember that he is unhappy by reason of himself alone." Epictetus

posts: 9858   ·   registered: Sep. 29th, 2005
id 8687581
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 Thumos (original poster Member #69668) posted at 5:59 PM on Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Hi all. Wow. I didn't anticipate this thread heading in the direction it did, especially the R vs. D debate. I know I can be a bit of an R skeptic, but I truly don't want folks to think I feel anyone is wrong to seek R. Not in the least. Like Devastated Dee, I do think if we can shift the larger gestalt thinking around infidelity to an abuse paradigm where the first concern is a betrayed spouse's safety, we would all be well-served. I think this approach would have helped me in the early days.

Under such an approach, an immediate recommended therapeutic separation would then probably be the default in most situations, with the proviso that therapists (betrayal trauma specialists if possible) would want to look at the distinctives of any particular situation and not force feed a therapeutic separation, but rather recommend that it be strongly considered and may well be the best course of action to get a betrayed spouse to a place of mental and physical safety. During the TS, a BS would probably be well-advised to at least sit down with at least one D attorney so they can understand the process. Nowadays, this consult costs about $500 -- so we should also take into account financial means of the BS (some may simply not be in a position for a therapeutic separation and D consult).

Then, ideally, a process to pull the focal length of the lens back from a TS (therapeutic separation) and see whether the WS can get it together to forestall a D. To me, this approach would put a BS in the driver's seat in a way that waiting around for a WS to "get it" and doing a series of handwringing sessions with a therapist while hoping against hope does not.

Having a therapist help process the trauma is important, but surely most of us would agree that processing the trauma is probably easier when/if the BS is in a physical place that allows them to clear their head and think their own thoughts alone without the re-triggering presence of a WS. A therapeutic separation after D-Day would also, in my view, help most BS's because it would put the onus directly where it belongs: on the WS to either shape up or ship out. If the choice is to ship out, then a BS can move on much more quickly. If the choice is to shape up, then the WS steps up lickety-split or risks a BS realizing that they rather like being on their own.

I firmly believe this would have been beneficial in my own case, and I'm not shy about pointing it out.

I think Bigger made some fair and strong points in one of his latter posts last Wednesday.

I'm playing catchup here, so apologize for the late reply. I'll have to post a more thorough and well-considered response later.

Today I'm coming off a week-long business trip and vacation by myself. It was a head-clearing experience I'll share more about later. It was in the Rockies, so there was the usual mix of outdoors activities, hiking, microbreweries, excellent food and so on. I took the time to exercise, sleep, hike, read and eat a lot of great food.

I sometimes felt "lonely" going to restaurants and on hikes in complete solitude. But this wasn't an overwhelming feeling. Occasionally, I missed my WW, but I can't say this was an overpowering feeling either. To be clear, I also did not have a feeling of anathema toward her. On the contrary, even after two D-Days, I have continued to enjoy my WW's company and have always treated her with kindness. Several times I found myself thinking about how this or that activity would be fun with her along. But I also thoroughly enjoyed myself on my own. I wouldn't say the feeling was one of indifference, but rather of some amount of nonchalance.

In fact, I also stayed in touch with her during this solo vacation, because she was quite emotional about my leaving for this extended holiday by myself (though it has been something I've discussed with her quite a bit since her failed polygraph). I, on the other hand, was not emotional about leaving. The only emotion I felt was excitement about a series of intellectually-stimulating in-person meetings followed by a series of fun activities I planned for myself.

I texted her a few times a day with a few pictures here and there, and also spoke to her on the phone a few times. I also face-timed with my kids. I can say the biggest experience I had was of enjoying myself being alone with my own thoughts, doing a bit of journaling and reading for pleasure at cafes, laying under a big tree in a big park, and elsewhere.

I plan on taking additional trips by myself this fall and in the spring. I've mapped out a few really fun possibilities within an 8-hour road trip of my front doorstep. I view this as important time alone and sort of a compressed version of a therapeutic separation. I wanted to see how things felt by myself away from the home where the infidelity happened, and I can say confidently that the experiment showed me that I feel generally better.

The ongoing pandemic forestalled my thinking around a longer separation last year, and I've calmed down considerably since my wife failed her polygraph days before Christmas 2019, the heart attack scare in early 2020, which was followed almost immediately the national lockdown.

I confess I'm a little puzzled by the reaction of some that I don't seem to take my own advice. I have two thoughts on this:

1) I have a fairly consistent pattern of pointing out the pitfalls and mistakes I made in early days after D-Day (like in the JFO forum where I've always been consistently clear about this) and urging them to avoid these same pitfalls and mistakes. As you all know if you've followed my story, I didn't arrive here on SI until three years after D-Day. Initially right around D-Day and immediately after I did some things right (like demanding a firm NC, transparency around whereabouts, exposing to her immediate family, and refusing to accept blameshifting). I did some things wrong, too, and I'm not shy about sharing that: failure to get a timeline, failure to get a polygraph, making the mistake of going into MC with my WW right away, and more.

2) After landing here on SI in late 2019 (nearly three years after D-Day) I took action within a week based on the advice I got here. It shook my off high-center and I demanded that my WW write down a timeline, go into IC with a betrayal trauma specialist and get a polygraph. I also as a symbolic act demanded an STD test. She did all of those things, although as anyone who has followed this story knows, she still proceeded to footdrag on the timeline and polygraph for four more months. In fact, she created a shitshow of drama around the polygraph itself, including with a visit to the ER for a panic attack in the weeks before the actual polygraph.

In retrospect, this means that I had D-Day 2 in the waning days of 2019 and early 2020 after my WW's failed polygraph. She failed the polygraph only days before Christmas. On Christmas Eve 2019, she offered to take another polygraph, then immediately rescinded that offer the same day. Then came the false heart attack scare and then the pandemic lockdowns began. Yet even in the midst of this, during a global pandemic, I met with an attorney, began researching the divorce process thoroughly, did all of the calculations on child support and how to essentially close things out with my WW financially. I also have developed my own personal budget and taken steps to line up things when I need to separate finances. I believe this is what is referred to as getting ducks in a row.

So it's a bit puzzling to read people who seem confused that I haven't taken the same steps I recommend to others: think about a therapeutic separation, research how to best do it and then pull the trigger if she's still playing games in the days after D-Day, meet with a D attorney, expose to her immediate family members, get an STD test, get a written timeline, get a polygraph, etc. The only thing I didn't do was to invoke a therapeutic separation after D-Day. But of course, I didn't have the advantage of anyone recommending I do this, either.

For reasons I don't need to disclose here, it is to my benefit to square things away more financially before I can realistically consider divorce. Right now, that appears to be where I'm headed. As I write this, I'm just about exactly 1.6 years out from D-Day 2. I consider the clock reset on Christmas Eve 2019 (which ironically was almost precisely three years after D-Day 1) and now at this very juncture, I've taken an extended holiday by myself and plan on doing more and more.

We always say here it takes a BS about 2-5 years to heal. I've always taken to mean that it really takes a BS about 3 years or longer to gain psychic equilibrium before any meaningful work about reconciliation can occur.

If a WS during that time is resetting the clock simultaneous to the BS efforts to heal, I think we should consider the calendar null and void and reset for healing.

I was puzzled by a strange thread here on SI recently in which some BW's seem to be suggesting that BH's recalcitrance four years after D-Day is somehow indicative of his inability to "move on" -- given that the WW who started that thread confessed to no small amount of trickle truth, blameshifting, gaslighting and other mind games after D-Day and that she conducted these post-affair gambits after having had sex with an AP that was a friend of the BH, possibly in their home.

This was similar to my own circumstance, constantly re-triggered by my WW's AP's presence, a double betrayal, and having to live in the home where all of this happened. All with a WW who was doing a "Stepford wife" series of actions (something But For the Grace coined, and I think described rather accurately) yet refusing any real transparency about the conditions of the affair itself.

I think trauma bonding explains a lot, but not all, of this first three years of my own experience and perhaps also my feeling of being in limbo the past two years.

I think it probably explains a lot for a great many people here on SI. certainly we were all bonded to our partners before the trauma bonding happened. That's why we were faithful BS's in the first place.

[This message edited by Thumos at 6:23 PM, Tuesday, September 14th]

"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 (me): 50, WW: 49
Married: Feb. 1996
DDAY: Dec. 20

posts: 4214   ·   registered: Feb. 5th, 2019   ·   location: UNITED STATES
id 8688457
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crazyblindsided ( Member #35215) posted at 8:18 PM on Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

I too should have separated after D-Day. I didn't have the strength. I turned in on myself and my xWS just took advantage of that. But, if I would have separated I probably would have seen what I see today... no effort towards fixing the M or himself, continued lying and gaslighting, coming home late, hangs out religiously on Snapchat, blaming me and criticizing me constantly, tiptoeing around his moods, etc.

[This message edited by crazyblindsided at 8:19 PM, Tuesday, September 14th]

fBS/fWS (me):48 Mad-hattered after DD1
XWS:50 Serial Cheater, NPD tendencies
Together 24 years, Married 19
DD(18) DS(15)
DD1 (2008) COW, DD2 (2012) MOW, False R (2014) Same MOW. DD3 (2019) Webcam girl

posts: 8031   ·   registered: Apr. 2nd, 2012   ·   location: California
id 8688476
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Dude67 ( Member #75700) posted at 11:46 PM on Tuesday, September 14th, 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?

If she’s not aware, is your plan to simply present her with D with no forewarning? Not that you need to do so, just wondering what the overall strategy is.

Evan dash

posts: 96   ·   registered: Oct. 21st, 2020
id 8688516
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emergent8 ( Member #58189) posted at 7:10 PM on Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Thumos,

I am so happy to hear that you are taking time for yourself and finally have an opportunity to take some space and get some perspective. I'm also really pleased to hear that this involves self-care including exercise, journalling, and personal hobbies. I think it is wonderful that you are getting your financial ducks in a row. You have had an extremely rough past few years and I truly believe you will benefit from all of this. I also truly believe that had you come here in the aftermath of D-Day all of this, including separation, would have been recommended to you. Putting aside all the psychology jargon, in my view, what you are doing is the 180. You are taking care of yourself to make sure you are mentally and physically strong and are in the best possible position to move on with your life - with or without your WW.


Obviously the 180 will look slightly different for everyone given their different scenario or life situation. As you know, for many people a physical separation may not be practical for family, financial, legal, or health reasons. For many others, they are simply not ready to be apart from their spouse (certainly this is how I would have felt in the immediate aftermath of D-Day and I likely would have been scared off had anyone insisted otherwise). In those cases, we take our BS's as we find them and try to help them heal and move forward as best they can in light of their personal circumstances. One size does not and cannot fit all. That said, it is my experience that when a BS discloses that they are being physically or emotionally abused by the WS, they are uniformly recommended to physically remove themselves from that situation.

As an aside, can you explain what, from a practical perspective, the difference between a physical separation and a "therapeutic separation" might be? Perhaps I am missing something.

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: 601   ·   registered: Apr. 7th, 2017
id 8688629
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