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Reconciliation :
How do I deal with her Ambivalence? (She is the WS)

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 CactusSeason (original poster new member #80374) posted at 12:22 AM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

I am the BH, she is the WW. We are still really, REALLY early. It’s only 2 months from d-day (4-mo EA), so of course I’m still a wreck.

I feel no ambivalence. I want to work things out.

She is doing almost all the right things. IC, we’re in MC, she’s doing NC, has been completely open and honest about everything, basically from the moment of discovery.

She is also taking some actions I requested to avoid triggering me, she’s spending much more time on me/us, and reading the books I found.

She says she is committed to working on our marriage.

BUT, she says she is ambivalent. Basically is saying that we’re going back to dating while we’re in MC, and when we see how that goes, we’ll figure out what’s next.

This is killing me. My trust, security, and safety were trashed, and now I have no solid ground on which to gain my footing.

This early on, of course I should be ambivalent. But I’m not. I’m committed to working this out.

I just can’t tell if she really is committed or not, due to the ambivalence thing. The lack of commitment / integrity was the cause of the affair in the first place, so what does this all mean?

posts: 1   ·   registered: Jun. 14th, 2022
id 8740243
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 12:41 AM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

Welcome to SI.

There is a great chapter in "Not Just Friends" by Shirly Glass on how to deal with ambivalence from both partners.

It's been a while since I looked at that particular section of the book, but it's a highly recommended book for pretty much everyone.

Here's my two cents. If she isn't both feet in, willing to crawl over broken glass to obtain you, the faithful spouse, then any commitment you have to working on the marriage is nearly pointless.

You two are rowing a boat together. If she isn't rowing, you are going to go in circles. If you try to do the heavy lifting, you'll end up exhausted and not making significant progress. I did the heavy lifting for about a year before I became so worn down that I asked for a divorce in writing with a letter explaining why. It was only then that R was able to begin. That's why people here often say you have to be willing to lose the M to save it. If you don't consider D as a very real option, one that you can cope with and understand the cost of then it's hard to understand how much you should be willing to work on R.

I think you are jumping to a desired end state (Reconciliation) and are saying you will do what it takes to try to get there.

Some people here say that's the position of "reconciliation at any cost". When you go for R at any cost, you can be assured the cost to you will be extremely high.

You are supposed to be a team, and she needs to be leading the repair efforts.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 1976   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8740248
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ChamomileTea ( Guide #53574) posted at 12:47 AM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

It's not unusual for cheater's to still be under the influence of their wayward thought pattern this early on. So, just because she sounds hopelessly self-involved right now doesn't mean she might not pull her head out of her hindquarters later. That said, if she expects you to REWARD her infidelity by wooing her like an overeager, lovesick swain that's a bit much, don't you think?

Saving a marriage isn't the hard part. Creating a post-betrayal marriage that you can really live with is the difficulty. If you accept R on her terms, you'll be kissing her ass for the rest of your life and hoping it's enough to keep her from cheating again. She's got to change. She's got to remediate the defects in her character which allowed her to throw integrity to the wind and say 'yes' to cheating. Cheating is NOT about the marriage. It's not about "unmet needs" or anything that YOU have said or done. Cheating is about the cheater. It's about her integrity and it's about her boundaries. We protect what we value. If she really valued fidelity and honesty like she claimed to when you made your commitment to one another, she would have built meaningful boundaries around those core beliefs. THAT is what needs to change. It's got nothing to do with you. It's all about her.

My advice would be to continue IC. Do MC if you're willing to stand up to the therapist if s/he tries to pull the old "unmet needs" soft shoe on you. (More info on that in my profile. Just click the little person icon in the upper right hand corner of this post.) Never leave the MC meeting with an unresolved blame-shift. And don't reward your WS for cheating. IF she feels like she needs to "date", divorce her and let her date. You're her spouse. You're not interviewing for the position any more. She either wants to be with you or she doesn't, and if she doesn't, it's better that you know it now rather than invest ten, twenty, or thirty more years before finding out.

Infidelity sucks. There's no getting around it. The whole thing is a mess and all we can do is the best we can. There aren't any shortcuts, time machines, or magic cures. One thing to remember though is that you can't fix her. She's got to see the need for it and do it for herself. If she can't or won't, that might not be the answer you were hoping for, but it IS an answer.

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)Married 38 years; in R with fWH for 7

No one can make you into a liar but you.

posts: 5672   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8740250
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src9043 ( member #75367) posted at 2:24 AM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

So, she cheats on you, tells you she wishes to work on the marriage but feels ambivalent, and wants you to now "date" her. That doesn't sound good. What is she ambivalent about? What does she mean by "dating" her? Sounds like she is comparing you to the AP.

To be blunt, she is the one who should be trying to woo you back. You should be the one who is ambivalent about whether to continue with her. This is ass-backward.

She is a cheater. She has now cheated on you. She is likely to cheat on you again. It's not a guarantee that she will, but it is quite likely that somewhere in the next ten, twenty, thirty, or even forty years she will do it again unless there is a major transformation on her part. You won't be able to trust her for quite some time, if ever. You need to lead with your brain, not your heart at this juncture for the sake of your well-being and future. I speak from experience.

BTW, what makes you think it was only an EA and not a PA? How did they cross paths? Was this strictly an online EA or have they met to the best of your knowledge?

posts: 641   ·   registered: Sep. 7th, 2020
id 8740264
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 3:45 AM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

I was in your shoes. For 6 months I was "auditioning" to keep my time as "wife" after 25 years of marriage.

Looking back I should have said the hell with that.

My H was on the fence. He kept asking for a D for 6 long hard months. Then dday2 occurred and he yet again demands a D. Hours later he’s changing his mind yet again. He does not want a D.

I then learned of the six months of false R and I’d had enough. I had no other option but to D him.

Here’s the interesting thing - the moment I decided to D him and I did the hard 180, suddenly I’m the love of his life and he’s no longer ambivalent.

If I had to do it over again, the second I got the ILYBNILWY Speech (I love you but not in love with you) I would be walking out the door.

You need to knock that ambivalence out of the picture. If she’s ambivalent then IMO she’s not all in in the marriage and she’s still thinking the OM/AP is an option. She’s in the affair fog.

Google that term — it will explain a lot.

So sorry for you. You should not be trying to win your role as her H.

PS just added - in fact the cheating wife should be trying to earn back HER role as your wife.

[This message edited by The1stWife at 11:48 AM, Wednesday, June 15th]

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12171   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8740274
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jb3199 ( member #27673) posted at 11:23 AM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

This really does start with you, and how you value yourself.

Try looking at this from the other direction, or better yet, if a very good friend of yours was telling you this same story about his marriage--his wife had an emotional affair; he wants to reconcile, but she is ambivalent. What would you advise him? Would you tell him to value himself, and that he deserves better than to not be appreciated by his own wife? If so, wouldn't this same advice apply to you?

Unless you are in an arranged marriage, you already did your courting when the two of you started dating. You each proved to each other that you were compatible, attracted to, and wanted to commit to each other. While marriage is meant to be a constant work in progress throughout, it is supposed to be a team effort. But most of all, we foresake all others. Now, you are being asked to prove your worth again. You are not desired by your partner. I'm not saying that this won't change, but I am saying that this should not have to happen. Your personal value system should be kicking in and saying, "Hey, what is going on here? I AM WORTHY. And it is beyond reasonable that I am treated as anything but."

Continue to ask yourself if you should keep having to audition for your own marriage.


If you don't consider D as a very real option, one that you can cope with and understand the cost of then it's hard to understand how much you should be willing to work on R.

I think you are jumping to a desired end state (Reconciliation) and are saying you will do what it takes to try to get there.

Some people here say that's the position of "reconciliation at any cost". When you go for R at any cost, you can be assured the cost to you will be extremely high.

This is REALLY important. Again, it comes to valuing yourself. There is a fantastic saying that states never to treat someone as as a priority who only treats you as an option. By you pushing hard on the reconciliation route instead of entertaining both options(at least until she shows full commitment), you are devaluing yourself, and overpaying for a (currently) flawed marriage.

BH-50s
WW-50s
2 boys
Married almost 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: 4034   ·   registered: Feb. 21st, 2010   ·   location: northeast
id 8740293
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 12:04 PM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

I went through the "dating" cycle.

Let me describe it for you.

Your self-esteem is at Rock bottom. Why?

You are being compared to the AP.

Am I prettier or better looking? Am I as much fun? Do I kiss my Spouse better? Am I funny enough? Am I entertaining? Do I cook better than the AP? Is the sex better? Are my clothes good enough?

I think you get the gist here.

I was up against someone single, 20 years younger and living a very carefree lifestyle. She had no mortgage or kids or anything like that to worry about.

Meanwhile my H has a career traveling all over the world - sometimes gone weeks at a time — and I am running the house, doing renovations, managing the kids, paying the bills, working for a psycho demanding boss — AND NOT COMPLAINING. Putting my H first.

And watching my H practically walking out the door for the OW with a few days notice. I’m losing my marriage after 25 years with no warning or second thought.

His ambivalence was obvious.

I was in the Reconciling mindset b/c I thought we had a good marriage.

Six months later I wised up and stopped playing HIS game.

I made a very strategic move that put me in control of my life and everything. I stripped him of his power. He no longer had any say. And it was done in 4 words.

I am Divorcing you.

Please don’t put yourself or allow yourself to be auditioning for your role as H. It almost did me in - the pressure to be judged was nerve wracking. My body shook - physically shook — all day for months. I lost weight. I couldn’t eat. I slept 45 minutes a night if I was lucky. I cried 24/7. You get the idea — it took a toll on me.

Until I wised up and decided no one was worth this kind of mental torture.

[This message edited by The1stWife at 12:06 PM, Wednesday, June 15th]

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12171   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8740296
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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 1:12 PM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

Tell her that you would never have dated her in the first place if you knew in advance that one day she would stab you in the back. So why on Earth would you “date” a cheater now?

Her choices are to either be your wife and uphold her end of "for better or for worse" or divorce.

You might think that putting this in such stark terms will drive her away. If that’s what happens, so be it. You just saved yourself years of agony.

But there’s also a very good chance that you could regain some semblance of the respect from her and that she will wake up when she realizes that you’re not going to pick-me dance and that she will actually lose you.

[This message edited by BluerThanBlue at 1:14 PM, Wednesday, June 15th]

BW, age 40
Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried to a great guy

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

posts: 793   ·   registered: Jul. 13th, 2020
id 8740302
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 5:05 PM on Wednesday, June 15th, 2022

My reco is to separate what you want from what you do.

I know I didn't want to end our M. I very much wanted to R. But I wanted to R only if we were going to build an M that was much less vulnerable to infidelity than our old M was. As CT said, building the new M is the tough part.

Work on yourself. Figure out what you want. Figure out your requirements. Lay them out for your W. If she signs on, great - R starts. If she doesn't, great - you know D is the better path.

Fuck dating. What you both need to do now is to figure out what you each want from M. Do you both want to give what the other wants? Do you both want to receive what the other is offering?

Common requirements for R:

1) No contact with ap
2) Honesty - no more lies, answers all questions
3) Transparency - WS keeps BS informed of essentially all activities, locations, and companions at all times
4) IC for WS with goal of changing from cheater to good partner
5) MC when BS wants it - but MC treats the M, and the M didn;t fail - the WS did
6) your own individual requirements.

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: 27317   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8740333
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OwningItNow ( member #52288) posted at 9:34 AM on Thursday, June 16th, 2022

This early on, of course I should be ambivalent. But I’m not. I’m committed to working this out.

I think you have too quickly glossed over the part of the problem that you have control over--this ^^^^!

If you KNOW that you should be ambivalent, then why aren't you? That is half the problem here, and that is the problem many people in this thread are pointing out. She SHOULD be committed, but she's not. You SHOULD be ambivalent, but you are not.

Seems obvious: she is not committed enough and you are overly committed to this marriage. So she has all the power. You can only control your half of the issue, so working with an IC to address your half is a good place to start:

"Why am I so committed to someone that is not committed to me?"

We are treated to the limit we will tolerate, so your WW is simply following your lead. You have given her no reason to work harder. You are committed, no matter what. This tells her that you will tolerate a whole lot of bad behavior, so that's what you're going to get.

Tolerating crap from people is not a sign of love, it's a sign of weakness. It's not a good look for any of us in any relationship.

me: BS/WSh: WS/BS

Reject the rejector. Do not reject yourself.

posts: 5565   ·   registered: Mar. 16th, 2016   ·   location: Midwest
id 8740421
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ISurvivedSoFar ( Guide #56915) posted at 12:07 PM on Thursday, June 16th, 2022

Know your value CactusSeason and be sure that you show it to your WS and to everyone else.

It's so hard when we find out and we're in so much shock as we see our world slipping away from us.

You have too much value to be with someone who is ambivalent after what she did to you. She may be in her WS fog but be that as it may, it shouldn't change your boundaries.

I recall early on (days after discovery) telling my WS an hour before my IC appointment that he had until I returned to decide whether he wanted his family or he wanted his AP. I came back and he was clear even though he gave me the pleasure of watching him crumble over the death of his relationship with his AP. But I digress... He chose the family and then the tough road began. I have no idea why or how I came up with that but all I knew was I wasn't going to be with someone who was unsure about me.

I think you need that clarity and you deserve it. "I am not open to this level of ambiguity. My fidelity isn't in question. I'm uncomfortable living with the question of your intentions. I am asking for you to make a decision about whether you want our marriage/family or not."

There are two parts of walking this recovery road after infidelity.

1. Being clear on your boundaries and thus your value. Don't be afraid to be honest and clear.
2. Getting comfortable with an unknown ending.

Item 2 may seem like it runs counter to item 1 but it doesn't. When we are able to get comfortable with an unknown ending then we are comfortable with ourselves and how we value ourselves. And it helps us strengthen our boundaries.

To this day, even though in R, I am fine if the M ends (it may not be what I want). I will be just fine and I have set myself up to live quite fine with myself. And I understand that there may be other life events that happen up to and including the inability to continue to work on the M after infidelity. Getting to that point was quite a process though. You are asking the right questions and you will be fine - mostly because YOU will make you fine.

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.

posts: 2815   ·   registered: Jan. 15th, 2017
id 8740427
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 12:22 PM on Thursday, June 16th, 2022

Excellent post ISurvivedSoFar,

I did the sane thing - it was the "her or me" conversation. My H chose me. I thought at that moment "ok we are moving forward".

But it quickly became apparent he lied.

A few weeks later I was "auditioning" for my role as his wife as he was miserable for his lost relationship with the OW.

At that moment I learned with respect to infidelity that words mean very little if the actions of the cheater don’t match up.

In this case the wife being sm is Kent and wanting to "date" is a bad sign. I was in that position with those sane exact words being used by my then cheating H.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12171   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8740430
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Buster123 ( member #65551) posted at 5:48 AM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

I just can’t tell if she really is committed or not, due to the ambivalence thing. The lack of commitment / integrity was the cause of the affair in the first place, so what does this all mean?

If she's not committed you're not in R and she's not even a good candidate for it by a very long shot. A successful R takes years with a fully remorseful and committed WW doing all the heavy lifting to restore destroyed M, you simply don't have that, if she doesn't commit your only logical option to get out of infidelity is to D. BTW how do you know this was "only" an EA and not a full blown PA ?

posts: 2604   ·   registered: Jul. 22nd, 2018
id 8740559
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morningglory ( member #80236) posted at 12:49 PM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

The one positive here is that she's being honest about the fact that your marriage is over. That marriage that was built on love and fidelity is over. She's unfaithful to you, and she is not in love with you. She has no commitment to you- that's what "we're just dating" means. She just verbally warned you that she has a wandering eye (which her cheating proved, anyway.)

Breaking up is hard to do, but it's better than being in a sham marriage where you are an "option" to the person you love and are devoted to. It won't get better from here if you continue with this.

You're in panic mode because she's shocked you with this. The way it happened is that she spent a lot of time before & during the affair, divorcing you in her mind, while you were still fully attached. That's why she's able to be so nonchalant while you're freaking out.

Read Cheating in a Nutshell by Tamara and Wayne Mitchell to get a better grasp of the situation you're in.

posts: 379   ·   registered: Apr. 15th, 2022
id 8740593
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Fof9303 ( member #70433) posted at 6:16 PM on Friday, June 17th, 2022

I am so sorry that this time is so confusing and hurtful. I am the betrayed spouse and I was the one who was unsure if I wanted to try to work it out. He was desperate to repair our marriage and jumped through hoops to do anything and everything. I get that feeling you are having. You are the betrayed spouse and she is being a little wishy washy on her feelings. That would of course sting and I can see how that really hurts on top of what has already hurt. I am not sure what this all means.... Is she still in the affair fog? Is she just scared? I don't know, but it is good that she continues to go to counseling. Get some new hobbies together.. make new memories... find some fun amidst the pain. I hope there are blessings coming your way soon. May you be blessed in the weeks ahead and always.

posts: 136   ·   registered: Apr. 27th, 2019
id 8740735
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The1stWife ( member #58832) posted at 12:21 PM on Monday, June 20th, 2022

Hey CactusSeason

How are things going? Hope things have improved for you.

Survived two affairs and brink of Divorce. Happily reconciled.

posts: 12171   ·   registered: May. 19th, 2017
id 8741031
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