Have you ever known a couple who decided to reconcile after one of them had an affair? They even went to a marriage counselor and everything! Yet they just spun their wheels and never could really get ahead, and they ended up divorcing even though they really tried?
Or is that maybe where you find yourself today? Your spouse had an affair -OR- you were unfaithful, and the two of you made a choice–a decision–to reconcile, but it just isn’t working? Oh you are going to marriage counseling and the counselor told you to “try dating” but how in the world do you DATE someone who tore your heart out? How do you DATE someone who gave you the silent treatment when you desperately needed and wanted their attention? You’re trying…and I mean really trying, not that faking it stuff… and yet somehow you get no traction and your marriage just is not recovering. You worry if you will ever feel loved again and wonder if you’ll just end up divorcing even after all this effort.
There is an uncomplicated reason why some couples just can not seem to reconcile, but in order to understand the explanation, you need to understand our Basic Concepts here at Affaircare. Let me summarize:
To keep it simple, envision that the love in your marriage is like a campfire. There are actions that people do to stoke the fire of love and make it hotter–those are Love Kindlers. Much as adding fuel to a fire keeps it burning, makes it brighter and warmer, so concentrating on Kindlers, making them part of your daily interaction, builds the fire of your marriage. There are actions that people do that are like putting water on a fire–some are like dribbles out of a holey bucket, and some are like dumping a big bucket of water on the fire. Smothering a fire will eventually put it out. Actions that kill the fires of your love are Love Extinguishers.
When you go to marriage counseling, and you’re told to “try dating” …what the counselor is focusing on is the Love Kindlers. But what happens is that the husband tries to think of some nice “kindler” to do for his wife but picks the wrong love language, so she doesn’t notice or if she does notice…she’s underwhelmed. Well hey–it didn’t mean love to her in her language! So he gets upset that he put ALL THAT EFFORT into it, and got no benefit, no brownie points, no passion…and he starts finding fault with everything she does, and one step forward just became three steps back! Or the wife tries to win her husband with his favorite meal and a ticket to the ballgame (what guy wouldn’t love that?) but she works herself into a frenzy that he’s going to meet “her” at the game and ends up bringing up the affair and making several disrespectful judgments about why he’d rather go to a sporting event than be with her. One step forward…three steps back!
Love Kindlers are lovely. They are! They are what make us fall in love with each other, and we often call them “romance.” But we can not fall in love with each other if we are sabotaging the relationship with LOVE EXTINGUISHERS. So before you can get to the rather fun part of adding Love Kindlers, it is vital to first look at yourself (not your spouse, and I don’t care if they were the Disloyal or not), and be honest. Have you been doing these things? If you have, forget the Kindlers for now and practice stopping these Love Extinguishers!!
- Scorekeeper–Do you keep track of who “won” or who has done the chore more times? Does your marriage feel like a competition?
- Fault Finder–Do you make a practice of discovering your spouse’s faults and then pointing them out over and over? Criticize everything they do?
- Controlling–Do you manipulate every situation to your own benefit? Center their existence around you? Tell them where they can and can not go, for how long, and with whom?
- Bottomless Pit–No matter what they do to try to please you, do you always want more? Are you unable to express gratitude or pleasure?
- Will Not Forgive–Did they do something wrong a long time ago, and you are STILL holding it over their head ? Even if they do everything you tell them, you never let them off the hook?
- Lack of Personal Transparency–Do you hide your cell phone from your spouse and close the screen on your PC when your spouse walks into the room? Do you keep them at arm’s length and hide yourself and your life from them?
- Smoke and Mirrors–Do you give your spouse false information with the express intent of making them doubt themselves, their memory or their sanity?
- Disrespectful Judgments–Do you act like you are “straightening your spouse out”? Do your lecture them instead of discussing respectfully? Are they afraid to discuss their point of view with you?
To learn more about ending the Love Extinguishers so your marriage can recover, come back tomorrow for #3 Physical Neglect and #4 Financial Neglect! On Thursday we’ll cover #5 Family Neglect and #6 Social Neglect. And on Friday, we’ll conclude with #7 Security Neglect AND have a Love Extinguishers Quiz that your spouse can take about you!
6 thoughts on “Why some couples just can’t seem to reconcile–Part 1”
What if your spouse neglected & ignored you for years despite tidy pleas for help companionship & time together & help with raising the kids? I begged & begged. Then he had an affair and decided he had the right because I “didn’t care” & he didn’t “feel like I loved him anymore”. No thought of my pleas for 6-7 years, no thought of his marriage vows to me. No thought of the years his kids had been without him w
around. By god he deserved some sex & attention from this young woman who wanted him! This was a man in leadership in church & who had been in church with me for over 30 years. He had to know better.
He wants to reconcile but I have no faith in him knowing himself enough to see how destructive his decisions have been to me. How years if neglect have made me feel like he really doesn’t get it. This affair had absolutely sucked me dry of any patience, love, care & concern I have for him. I had nothing left to give him. We have kids & I don’t want them to grow up in a broken home but I am just out of steam regarding him.
The first thing that I think might be helpful in your mind would be to remember Matthew 19: 8-9 “Jesus replied, ‘Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.’ ” You can see here that this is the Son of God speaking–His direct words–and he says that divorce due to sexual immorality is moral. You are not the one who broke your home–your spouse did that when he forsook his vows–and the rightful cost of committing adultery and breaking vows is to lose your spouse and family. That is “what he deserves” for what he did.
Now even King David committed adultery. He truly repented, and God did forgive him, but he also paid the cost and lost the child conceived from the affair. Losing a child is a HIGH price! Thus if your spouse is truly repentant and he is ready and willing to change his heart and attitude toward God and you, that in no way means that now he gets to avoid the cost of his infidelity. It just means that he is forgiven! If you choose to be UNBELIEVABLY generous and give him time to show you and prove to you that he is not the same man and he has truly changed, then you are doing him a favor for which he should be forever grateful…but even that doesn’t mean that he gets to avoid the cost of his affair! One way or the other, in the end he is going to “pay the price” and not necessarily because you “punish” him, but rather because betrayal on this level has a natural cost.
I would personally recommend one of two things to you. If you are done, you do have the moral right to be done and divorce. That is up to you. However, if you have an inkling that his repentance is true and you believe he may be a different man in his heart, then I would recommend that rather than being bullied into reconciling, that you two stay apart but you open your heart just the smallest sliver of a crack and give him the chance to prove to you the new person he is. If he is truly changed, he will appreciate the chance and willingly spend the time being the new man he has become, helping you, offering companionship and spending time together. If he has NOT truly changed, he’ll push you to “get over it,” he’ll make demands instead of requests, he’ll blame you for his affair (if you hadn’t….), and he won’t want to spend the time to rebuild what he destroyed. If that is what you see, then you know he has not really repented and just wants you back under his control.