The difference between Reconciliation and Rug Sweeping

Let’s define a few things:

GASLIGHTING— Gaslighting is a form of mental abuse where false information is presented as true in such a way as to make the “victim” doubt their own observation, their own memory or their own perception. A perfect example of this would be if your spouse were missing all of January 1st, came stumbling home January 2nd, and you have a recording your spouse on January 2nd talking in their own car to another person saying they had sex, and they try to tell you “No you’re mistaken. I said that on January 3rd and remember WE had sex that night before, so I was talking about that!” You KNOW what you have, but they are trying to spin the false information to make you doubt your own self.

RUGSWEEPING— Rugsweeping is a form of denial. Either the Loyal Spouse or the Disloyal Spouse can do this, and basically it is named after the idea of sweeping dirt under the rug, so that it’s not really clean at all…just hidden! Same here. The issues in the marriage are not addressed. There is no real repentance by the Disloyal Spouse … or the Loyal Spouse just pretends that “now that the Disloyal is back everything can go back to normal.” It’s fake.

RECONCILIATION— Reconciliation is when two things occur: 1) the Disloyal Spouse is truly repentant and does a complete about-face regarding the affair, taking complete personal responsibility, and 2) the Loyal Spouse truly acknowledges the issues and forgives the Disloyal, working on making the marriage a place that is mutually intimate and loving. If both things don’t occur, then reconciliation can not occur. (Now… they could continue to live together and co-parent but it would not be a “marriage” relationship–it would be like roommates. )

It is entirely possible in reconciliation that the Loyal Spouse may want to know every single detail about the affair, the other person, each sexual contact, etc. But it is equally possible that the Loyal Spouse may consider it enough to know that their spouse was unfaithful and have reason to believe that is no longer the case–some sort of provable evidence–and be willing to move on from there and rebuild trust. Each Loyal Spouse is different. But overall the following concepts remain the same:

  1. Gaslighting tries to present false info as true–this does not lead to recovery.
  2. Rugsweeping denies that there was a problem and pretends everything is okay–this also does not lead to recovery.
  3. Reconciliation acknowledges the problems, each party looks at their own self, each party does their own work AND does the work to build the marriage, but the level of details may vary–this DOES lead to recovery.


Thanks to “lordmayhem” on the Talk About Marriage: Coping With Infidelity forum.

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