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Reconciliation :
What does true R look like for you

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 Luna10 (original poster member #60888) posted at 12:21 PM on Saturday, November 6th, 2021

Just briefly, because it was our wedding anniversary yesterday and we are celebrating it for the first time without feeling like fraud, I wanted to add for clarity that this thread is not meant to be condescending to anyone’s idea of R as perhaps suggested above.

For me R can take any form you wish hence the question "what does it look like for you". I don’t hold a magic wand, otherwise I would have used it. However R for me does mean working towards achieving a moment of peace with your decision at a point in time, whatever that decision looks like.

This thread emerged from another thread further down where I saw a lot of frustration and a very depressing portrayal of what R looks like, where I pointed out that BSes feeling that negative about it, years out, do so because their WSes put in no effort into it beyond a mere promise of not cheating again. Hence their BSes consider themselves reconciled even though they live in limbo and their trauma keeps returning to bite them.

So whilst R takes many shapes and forms, as long as we are at peace with that shape or form we can call it reconciliation, I think we need to be mindful of newcomers when we portray a R that looks like the WS promises not to do it again and we must suck it up but deep down we shall resent the hell out of our spouses. That’s not R by any means, not even by what the term actually is defined as.

We also cannot be disappointed BSes don’t demand enough from their WSes when we, old users, tell them that this is what R looks like, minimal work and a lifetime full of resentment.

I remember how overwhelmed I felt when I first joined in that shock and trauma reaction state wishing for it all to go away, to read that Reconciliation and recovery takes 2-5 years and to read threads initiated by users not at peace with their decision to stay, clearly, but selling that as what R looks like.

I need to go but I promise to get back and read each post in detail.

[This message edited by Luna10 at 1:49 PM, Saturday, November 6th]

BW - 38 at the time of the A
WH - 45 at the time of the A
Dday - 27/9/2017

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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 7:02 PM on Saturday, November 6th, 2021

For me... reconciliation is two healthy people TOGETHER making the choice about the next phase of their relationship.. Divorce, living together, living separate, dating, being fuck buddies, being a married couple... FOR ME...are all viable healthy choices if we have both done the work, are healthy and decide together.

Yes, amen. The truth about any relationship is that it's a two-way street. You hope you've chosen a person with whom to have children wisely, so that you will always be able to co-parent in a healthy way. But alas, we often don't get to see how unhealthy our partner is until the mask slips, and then we have a series of sub-optimal choices. But if the BS and WS are both seeking to be their best selves, then I have hope they'll land somewhere good. And that could be just two divorced people who co-parent well. As individuals, all we can do is our part. We can't force our partner to change or be healthy. And if we don't want to, we don't have to stay married.

I am very blessed that my husband is committed to being a better version of himself. I don't see how we could have stayed together otherwise. He often tells me that I am the most self-actualized person that he knows, and that he wishes he were more like me. But a lot of that comes naturally to me . . . my aversion to taking risks, my inability to lie. That's just how nature and nurture formed me. So I have to give my husband props for putting the most work into self-improvement, to seeing it through even though seeing things through is hard for his personality type. All this is to say that we have been able to have a much healthier relationship that I even knew was possible pre-affair.

At some point in the last few years I remember thinking that, yes, so many things were wonderful now, but it would never be worth the pain. I would never consciously make that choice. But today with more distance, I feel more philosophical about it. It's what happened. I can't change it. I can't play what if. I can only deal with the cards I've been dealt.

To circle back to Prissy4Life's comment, I just think the key to all of this is being a healthy person in relationship with another healthy person. It's hard to do that when healing from the trauma of the affair, for sure. But we're resilient.

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sisoon ( Guide #31240) posted at 7:44 PM on Saturday, November 6th, 2021

I'm writing to object to the 'R is a shit sandwich' metaphor.

I never saw R as a shit sandwich. I saw R as my best - most likely to be successful - path back to a joyful and satisfying life. There was nothing good about my W's A; THAT was a shit sandwich, but R was something I thought would be good.

The primary corollary may be that a person who sees R as something that will cause vomiting may find D the better course of action. I'm all for R - unless one or both partners do not want R or don't want R enough to do their work.

IOW & IMO, it's probably best to separate d-day and the A(s) from our outcome. Lots of shit gets dumped on the BS because of being betrayed. Too many of us get more shit dumped on us because the WS gaslights, minimizes, blameshifts and TTs after the A comes out, or because the WS treats us nastily during and before the A(s), etc. But that shit, and whatever is wrapped around it, comes from the WS's behavior.

What we choose to do about the WS's behavior comes from ourselves, and we owe it to ourselves to maximize the quality of our life.

*****

On IC and therapy, I think it is more successful if it's contractual. The client figures out what they want to change about themself and how they'll know they've succeeded. The therapist agrees to help. The content of the therapy changes as appropriate, depending on how well the client progresses, and therapy stops when the goal is reached (unless the client wants help achieving new goals).

Being betrayed usually damages one sense of self. It also triggers all sorts of self-attacking messages that accumulate in one's head as one grows up and lives life. IMO, a BS's healing requires hearing one's self-talk and changing it. Hearing the self-attacking messages is very difficult. Changing them is even more difficult. So I think post-d-day IC pretty much has to include work to change - improve - one's sense of self.

It takes a skilled therapist to guide a person through the process, and it takes a motivated client.

It's true the WS's actions damaged the BS's sense of self, but the WS can't do much to repair the damage, because it's the BS's self-talk in response to the WS's actions that keeps the BS in pain.

As Oldwounds posted, you have to choose to heal. If you don't make that choice, therapy won't help. You get to choose, and if your choice is 'no' or 'not now', you are within your rights. This work is a lot easier said than done, and it takes courage and hope to get ready to do it. It takes a healty sense of entitlement, too - one has to feel entitled to make their internal life better. One has to believe they are entitled to treat themselves well, despite being very imperfect.

Eric Berne wrote and said that people usually choose the 2nd best therapist they find, because they're afraid the best one will force them to do the work. So if you choose to hide from yourself, you've got a lot of company. But I encourage everyone to look inside. I know it can be very scary, but if you stick to it, you'll be glad you did it.

*****

In my early years after d-day, I drafted at least 3 long-ish posts about the difficulty of R. I don't know if posted any of them. I just looked for and found the 3rd one, which I wrote 8 months after d-day. What I wrote came as a complete surprise; I had forgotten ever being in the place I was when I wrote that. Part of the brain likes to forget pain, I guess.

I think recovering from being betrayed and R are so difficult because they force us to question so much of one's life experience, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. R involves questions that don't/can't get answered for years, even decades. There are so many 'huh?' and 'WTF?' moments - they overload one's mind, I think. Events come so fast that they can't be captured, much less integrated. And all the data comes in while we're in excruciating emotional pain.

But that's the hand we are dealt.

*****

What is 'true R'? For me it's raising and resolving issues. A BS has to reveal what they like, want, don't like, don't want to the person who hurt them. That tells the WS how to keep adding pain to the BS's burden - just keep doing what the BS doesn't want or like and keep not doing what the BS does want and like.

To get vulnerable, the BS has to know themself way beyond likes/dislikes/wants/don't wants. The BS needs to identify fears about themself, fears of inadequacy, fears of rejection, fears of being abandoned, etc., and the BS needs to surface the fears and doubts and figure out how to live with or dump them.

My experience has been that A-related issues get fewer as time goes on, and normal day-to-day issues replace them. In a real sense, I think R morphs into M - it's just that the issues change. The A recedes in importance ... work gets more complex, kids' needs change, we age. So the issues change as our life changes. The need to resolve issues sticks around, alas. smile

*****

Happy anniversary, Luna. I remember with some happiness the first post-d-day anniversary that I actually wanted to celebrate. I don't remember what we did, but I remember that wanting to celebrate felt good.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

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prissy4lyfe ( member #46938) posted at 12:42 AM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

I object to that objection

What should be said is YOUR R didn't feel like a shit sandwich.

I ASSURE YOU mine did. It was fucking hard, hurtful to go thru that process. To reexamine myself in the wake of a betrayal. FOR ME it was a shit sandwich that I didn't ask for.

Doesn't mean it was an endless shit Sandwich. Nor did I eat it every day. And THANKFULLY it's no longer on the menu. But I had to eat a lot of it to get here.

Reconciliation is portrayed as "fixing the marriage". And it shouldn't be. If posters considered mending the marriage...GREAT. DIVORCE...GREAT. But there are so many options in-between and those are rarely discussed.

Marriage
Divorce
Slowly dying cuz the WS/BS never did the work

Those seems to be only options discussed...and isn't that a shit sandwich? When your R doesn't fit in the box and the place where people who "understand" consistently tell you that it should?

posts: 2017   ·   registered: Feb. 24th, 2015   ·   location: Virginia
id 8697309
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zebra25 ( member #29431) posted at 12:48 AM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Well said prissy!!!

"Don't let anyone who hasn't been in your shoes tell you how to tie your laces."

D-day April 2010

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id 8697310
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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 2:28 AM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Are we defining R as a process or as a goal?

WW/BW 50s (Me)
BH/WH 50s (TimeSpiral)

posts: 2136   ·   registered: Dec. 27th, 2018
id 8697316
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CaptainRogers ( member #57127) posted at 2:04 AM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Are we defining R as a process or as a goal?

I think that R is just R. What I mean by that is that we don't need to re-define anything. By definition, reconciliation is either the restoration of friendly relations or it is the action of making one view or belief compatible with another.

Either way, a BS has to either restore "friendly relations" with the WS or they have to make one view/belief (the WS is a safe partner & worthy of a pursued relationship) compatible with another (the WS sought out someone else for what they should have been seeking within themselves and in the marriage).

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3048   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
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WalkinOnEggshelz ( Administrator #29447) posted at 2:16 AM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

I think the whole point of the thread is that Reconciliation itself can look different for people, much like the definition of forgiveness is very individualistic.

What worked for my husband and I may not work for the next couple that comes along.

I think we spend a lot of time discussing what Reconciliation isn’t. It is nice to see a thread with opinions regarding what R can be.

Me: WS late 40’s
Him: BH (HoldingTogether)
D Day: 7/24/2010
If you keep asking people to give you the benefit of the doubt, they will eventually start to doubt your benefit.

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BraveSirRobin ( member #69242) posted at 2:46 AM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

I ask because for me, the key component of R is vulnerability. Early on, vulnerability is incredibly painful and difficult. Over time, as trust is rebuilt, it becomes more intimate and natural. I wouldn't expect early R to look like R that is more securely established.

For my BH and I, our goal is to always be honest and vulnerable with each other. It's a steep challenge for each of us for varying reasons. But I think we're getting there, and it's more genuine and authentic than anything we've experienced in a long, long time -- probably since we were teenagers just falling in love.

WW/BW 50s (Me)
BH/WH 50s (TimeSpiral)

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ISurvivedSoFar ( member #56915) posted at 10:06 AM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

I suppose the answer to reconciliation as a goal or process points to how you know you are reconciled.

For me, I no longer am on the fence. I don't think every day that I will leave and D - I don't question my decision. Likewise I no longer have the feeling that I am never going to open up to him, or seek to get revenge on my WS. All of that indecision and waffling is gone. But, I, we, are not complacent. We don't sweep the betrayal under the rug. My WS understands the profound damage he caused - not because I have to remind him of it - but because of the change in us. He has accepted this as I have accepted the betrayal is part of our history that necessarily changed the dynamics of our relationship.

I always said R is a process without a real ending. To me that meant if you aren't always working on the relationship then it will mean you are not in R because you are abandoning the constructs to make the partnership work. Now I may have a different perspective.

I think the healing that takes place over time gives way to allowing the infidelity to be part of the story of a partnership and the new way of relating starts to supersede the pain and trauma of the infraction. So does that mean we're in R or we've reconciled and we're onto the next phase of our relationship?

[This message edited by ISurvivedSoFar at 4:36 AM, November 7th (Sunday)]

DDay Nov '16
Me: BS, a.k.a. MommaDom, Him: WS
2 DD's: one adult, one teen,1 DS: adult
Surviving means we promise ourselves we will get to the point where we can receive love and give love again.

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 Luna10 (original poster member #60888) posted at 11:38 AM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

I know others have processed similarly complex and thorny issues, and feel they have reconciled. I continue to have a hard time seeing how to do it myself, to see my way clear. I've talked to therapists about this, and really there don't appear to be any good answers. It seems to me that, yes, of course a betrayed spouse must "work" with a WS to reconcile. But before that can even begin, the BS must heal. And then once healed to some degree, the WS has to be willing to step up FIRST to restore trust, offer authenticity and empathy, and own their choices without more lies. If a WS isn't offering this, reconciliation seems impossible.

Absolutely, this 100%. For me without this the process of R with your WS cannot start. You can heal of course, but I cannot see how you can build something bigger and better with your WS, more authentic, knowing the lying and deceit continues.

My WH didn’t own up to all the A details out of some sort of come to Jesus moment. Nope. He had a bunny boiler AP who threatened to call me and tell me everything and tortured him for about a week, calling me and hanging up in front of him. After about a week he broke down (truly, before the A he was one of the most balanced people I knew) and started vomiting everything over a period of 24 hours. It was so overwhelming that I had to ask for time out at points to catch some sanity.

So he didn’t do so willingly and I won’t be here standing to tell you he did everything right from day one. He didn’t. For 4 months post dday he thought he had a responsibility for his AP and couldn’t let her down therefore he had to be her friend and supporter as she had no one. (Single mother of two). Meanwhile I was truly broken as we all know we are post dday. During those 4 months he offered what a lot of BSes decide is enough to R: the truth (actually half truths, they only had sex twice and it was all over, it wasn’t good etc), transparency (all passwords and tracking on his phone) and HB. Oh and throwing money at me left right and centre.

But something felt off. He had this attitude of frustrated empathy. What I mean by that is that his actions didn’t match his words during that period. It was a lot of faked empathy (listening to me whilst I was crying every day) but in reality I was spending my time crying and having panic attacks in office toilets, alone, whilst he had lunches with his AP at work listening to HER heart break due to the affair ending (because in their fucked up minds it ended and I was the monster who didn’t allow them to be friends).

If you would talk to my WH today he would tell you that on dday 2 when he owned up to the whole truth and stopped covering his ass, more sex, unprotected, in our car (sold the next day), maintained contact, he felt a moment of peace coming over him. Peace that only comes with the truth. He felt the weight of what he was carrying lifting although he realised he just handed over to me at that point. He knew he most probably lost me (and he did, that person doesn’t exist anymore) and he knew he just lit the last match on our marriage.

But somehow that was all was needed for him to start being authentic. There is no way you can be authentic and work on leading an authentic life whilst still lying.

With his truth about the A came the truth about himself, about his former life and his FOO, moments that previously he didn’t process because it’s much easier to shove feelings down rather than face them and understand how they led you where you got, in his case almost losing his family which in a fucked up way, meant the most to him.

I’m sorry your wife isn’t willing to look inside and understand this. I fully understand your skepticism towards successful marriages post infidelity. I wish I could have that magic wand for you but I don’t, hence why I hope you find a way to life a fulfilling happy life despite this.

Now onto the work the BS needs to do: I believe R can have many facets and it is possible to R even alongside a WS who isn’t willing to do their work. Such as your situation. But that R isn’t with your WS. That R is with yourself. Is letting go of all hope that your WS will change, is accepting the A happened, that your WS isn’t who you thought they were and aren’t willing to work on building something better. Is Reconciling with the idea that life is not fair but for some reasons you still wish to remain married. Is building something better for yourself. Is letting go of any hope that your WS will become a better person, one that deserves you.

In the wake of dday 2 I believed that was it. I couldn’t continue life alongside such a man. But I couldn’t divorce there and then for several reasons (including kids and financials). So I started to work towards that. I was Reconciling with myself. The fact that WH got his head out of his ass led me to a different outcome but I am now an individual who has built a much better life for myself and WH is just a part of it.

[This message edited by Luna10 at 1:46 PM, Sunday, November 7th]

BW - 38 at the time of the A
WH - 45 at the time of the A
Dday - 27/9/2017

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 Luna10 (original poster member #60888) posted at 2:12 PM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

At some point in the last few years I remember thinking that, yes, so many things were wonderful now, but it would never be worth the pain. I would never consciously make that choice. But today with more distance, I feel more philosophical about it. It's what happened. I can't change it. I can't play what if. I can only deal with the cards I've been dealt.

This is exactly what I feel today. This last year has been a total healer for me in many respects. Thank you for voicing it so well!

BW - 38 at the time of the A
WH - 45 at the time of the A
Dday - 27/9/2017

posts: 1412   ·   registered: Oct. 2nd, 2017   ·   location: Europe
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 Luna10 (original poster member #60888) posted at 2:14 PM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

Happy anniversary, Luna. I remember with some happiness the first post-d-day anniversary that I actually wanted to celebrate. I don't remember what we did, but I remember that wanting to celebrate felt good.

Thank you, I never thought we’d get here. smile

[This message edited by Luna10 at 2:14 PM, Sunday, November 7th]

BW - 38 at the time of the A
WH - 45 at the time of the A
Dday - 27/9/2017

posts: 1412   ·   registered: Oct. 2nd, 2017   ·   location: Europe
id 8697356
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 Luna10 (original poster member #60888) posted at 2:35 PM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

For my BH and I, our goal is to always be honest and vulnerable with each other. It's a steep challenge for each of us for varying reasons. But I think we're getting there, and it's more genuine and authentic than anything we've experienced in a long, long time -- probably since we were teenagers just falling in love.

Yes. And from a BS perspective I can tell you that once my WH started being honest and vulnerable and dropped the defensive behaviour we started having such constructive conversations and I felt safe. Now when I highlight something I don’t like, instead of being the old him who will either defend himself or lash out, he actually listens and that is one of the most important things he could have done to make me feel valuable and safe with him. It still takes me by surprise sometimes, he used to have a passive aggressive response and I’m still expecting that from him. This is return taught me also to drop the defensive reaction and start listening.

BW - 38 at the time of the A
WH - 45 at the time of the A
Dday - 27/9/2017

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id 8697360
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swmnbc ( member #49344) posted at 7:06 PM on Sunday, November 7th, 2021

I don't think of reconciliation as a milestone that occurs after you've healed enough. I view it as status . . . we are working on being our best selves individually and together.

I think what makes R (defined as staying married and rebuilding intimacy with your WS) so hard is that there's this limbo built in. You can't be open to someone who is actively harming you, and you need to see enough evidence that they've stopped and won't do it again. You're trying to kickstart a virtuous cycle but you are dealing with trauma and, often, a WS who is still lacking the insight and character to treat you well. So if I would call anything a shit sandwich, it would be that . . . that you want a healthy, intimate relationship, but your partner has broken your trust, wounded you greatly, and still can't face what they've done. So you have to stick it out in unfair circumstances just to see if R could really happen.

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id 8697394
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