Before there can be reconciliation, there are three things that need to happen for true growth and rebuilding to occur:
- No Contact,
- Transparent Honesty,
- Agreement to work on yourself and your marriage
I will write about those three topics in the Affaircare newsletter this coming weekend–Sunday October 14th! If you want to hear more, please feel free to subscribe right there on the right sidebar. But TODAY, the topic is how to rebuild after the affair has ended. How do you pick up the pieces and build a new marriage? What steps should we take to start making a marriage that is mature, healthy, loving and happy for both of us?
Step Six: Selfless, Selfish, and Self-aware mode
A marriage is a union of two distinct individuals. Both of these people have skills and talents. They are able to think, make decisions, like and dislike. Marriage does not merge these abilities into one another – even in the marriage, both individuals exist. It is important to keep this in mind in any situation where there is interaction between you and your spouse. What you think may not be exactly the same thing they are thinking. Many problems occur in marriage because of the assumption that ‘if I think something, my spouse does too’. Understanding the value of each individual in the marriage is vital to a healthy marriage.
There are three ways in which this interaction occurs. For convenience sake we use the terms ‘selfless’, ‘selfish‘ and ‘self-aware’. Because these are states of conscious interaction, we also call them modes.
In this mode, you devalue yourself to the point that you subjugate everything about yourself to your spouse. This is not the same as the biblical idea of submission, in which each spouse recognizes that their spouse is indeed better at, or more equipped to handle a particular situation – and supports their spouse in the solution to the situation. Instead, this is an act of fusing yourself with your spouse, so that your spouse is the only real entity in the marriage. This is a very common mode – people have been taught that altruism is a virtue, that emptying yourself of ‘you’ is a preferable choice to its opposite (merging your spouse into yourself). In reality neither option honors your commitment to your spouse. You are a valuable part of your marriage. Without your thoughts, skills and talents, your marriage suffers. It becomes a showcase for your spouse, placing undo, largely unwanted, and extremely stressful pressure on them. By removing your support from the marriage, by turning all responsibility and hence any blame that might happen onto your spouse’s shoulders, you may be saving yourself from temporary consequences of your own actions, but in the end the cost is almost always the marriage. A union of two distinct individuals cannot survive the disappearance of one of them! Once it becomes a fusion, one or both spouses become dissatisfied, and troubles start.
This mode is the result of you devaluing your spouse to the point where they are no longer seen as a real person, and instead viewed as an extension of yourself. A spouse in Selfish Mode fits nicely with a spouse who’s in Selfless Mode (above); yet this mode is damaging to the marriage. In this mode you place your needs, desires and wants as the primary reason for your marriage. Your spouse is in the marriage solely for the purpose of serving you. Many people are not aware that they are in this mode and merely think that their own way is the best. Thus, rather than realizing their spouse is also an equal adult and parent, and rather than acknowledging that their spouse’s way is different but just as effective, they only see the one way of doing things (their way) and try to “make” their spouse comply! This is a classic ‘controller’ situation. Unfortunately, being a controller (or abuser) does not distinguish gender; despite the number of shelters for abused women, there are men who are abused too. So unless and until you can value your spouse’s input; their skills and abilities, you will find yourself continually frustrated, angered and depressed that things do not go your way. Unless you are willing to meet ‘in the middle’ you are destroying your relationship.
This is the mode of a healthy marriage. You must be aware of your strong points, and be able to use them wisely, as well as your weak points – and be willing to work on improving yourself. You must be aware of your spouse’s strong points, and be able to use them wisely, as well as their weak points – and be willing to work on helping them improve (if they need your help.) This is a mode in which the value of both spouses is recognized, a marriage that is a true union of two distinct people, both of whom have value. The skills, abilities and thoughts of both spouses are recognized as necessary and are therefore respected by both spouses.
When you being to work on your marriage, keep in mind these three modes of communication. Understand which on you tend to use, and work (together) to develop a habit of using the ‘Self-aware’ mode. It will create a more respectful, and honest relationship between the two of you, as well as solve many of the issues that create resentment. If you find that you work mainly in selfless mode, you will need to work to establish boundaries about yourself, beyond which you will not step. You’ll need to learn to become more assertive, and actually practice speaking up for yourself. If, on the other hand you mainly work in Selfish Mode, you will need to work at understanding that your spouse is distinct individual from yourself. You’ll need to make respectful requests and understand that your spouse is free to disagree with you, or to offer alternate choices. Most importantly, you will need to practice Mutual United Understandings rather than make demands or ‘edicts from on high.’
This is post #13 in the CMBA 1/2 Marathon Blogging Challenge to post everyday for 13 days in October … AND is part of the Ultimate Blog Challenge!
We have a tradition here at Affaircare. We call it “Save Our Marriage Saturday”–and we’re sharing the love. Link-love that is! Every Saturday we hold a link-up party so you can share a post of your own and we can all help each other to save our marriages!
1. Please link to your actual “Save Our Marriage Saturday” post, not just the address to your blog or site home page.
2. Please leave me a comment–I would love to visit your site, return the favor, and follow you!
3. Please share the love with your fellow bloggers–Read and leave a comment on at least the two blogs above yours.
4. Please help me spread the word. Let’s create a community of Christian believers who want to bring glory to God by teaching our brothers and sisters about how to have a godly marriage, how to avoid the typical traps that lead to infidelity, and how to be a living testimony of forgiveness and reconciliation if one spouse is unfaithful.
5. Link back to this community, either by using the button below or a text link. You can find the button code here for you to insert in your post:
I LINK TO THESE GODLY LINK-UPS:
Beholding Glory’s Blog Hop List, No Ordinary Blog Hop: Family-Parenting-Marriage , The Alabaster Jar-Marital Oneness Mondays, Revive Your Marriage Mondays, Time-Warp Wife-Titus 2sdays, …to Love, Honor and Vacuum–Wifey Wednesdays, Unveiled Wife, Grace Alone/Women Taking a Stand–Thankful Thursdays, and Beholding Glory–Faith Filled Fridays.
- Back to Basics – Step 6 of 7 Steps To End An Affair -AND- Save Our Marriage Saturday (affaircare.com)
- Back to Basics – Love Extinguishers #7 Security Neglect -AND- Save Our Marriage Saturday (affaircare.com)
- Save Our Marriage Saturday 9/22 (affaircare.com)