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.
Today is the second in our series examining why some couples have so much difficulty reconciling. (If you want to catch up, here is Part 1.) There is an uncomplicated reason, 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!! Yesterday we looked at Emotional Neglect and Spiritual Neglect–and today we address two more common Love Extinguisher: Physical Neglect and Financial Neglect.
- No Tender Touches (Hugs, Kisses, Touches)–Do you touch your spouse in affectionate but non-sexual ways, like hugs, kisses, holding hands or cuddling? Do you touch them in ways that they like or as often as they’d like?
- Withholding Sexual Fulfillment–Within the marriage is the only MORAL place for a man and woman to express themselves sexually. Do you reject your spouse sexually? Do you have an excuse every day for not having sex? Or when you do “let them have sex,” do you lay there like a dead fish? Is the sexual activity in your marriage the way that they like it or as often as they’d like? How much does your spouse need sexual fulfillment?
- Abandoning Physical Attractiveness–Do you keep yourself physically attractive for your spouse? Do you still fix up your hair and keep it in an attractive haircut? Do you keep your body physically fit and/or curvy in a way that your spouse finds attractive, or did you let yourself go? Have you gotten lazy about your grooming and hygiene? Do you smell good or have your worn the same pair of sweats/jeans for a week now? Speaking of sweats, do you were clothing that is complimentary to your physique or baggy, holey clothing?
- Ongoing Unemployment (that is not part of a mutual agreement)–Were you employed when you and your spouse met? Were you contributing to the household financially, but once you got laid off now all you do is sleep until noon, play video games or watch Maury, and send out one resume a week?
- Unwilling/Unable to Live by a Budget–Have you and your spouse gone over the finances, agreed to a budget, and then your spouse found you went on a “secret” shopping spree anyway or bought a toy the two of you just could not afford?
- Hidden Debt–Have you taken out a credit card without telling your spouse and run it all the way up to the limit? Have you got hidden creditors that keep jumping out and surprising your spouse? Do you have debts for past poor financial decisions that you actively hide?
- Hidden Spending or Overspending–Have you bought a whole new wardrobe and then brought it into the house piece by piece so your spouse wouldn’t notice? Or bought a new “truck” even though the two of you were on the edge of bankruptcy?
- IRS or Legal Financial Trouble (Judgements, Liens)–This is pretty self-explanatory. Do you have debts to the IRS or the State Dept. of Revenue and now your spouse’s bank account or the joint account is garnished? Or do you have fines or liens that you have neglected to pay and now they are hounding our spouse about your legal problems?
To learn more about ending the Love Extinguishers so your marriage can recover, look over Part 1, and then come back tomorrow for #5 Family Neglect and #6 Social Neglect. On Friday, we’ll conclude with #7 Security Neglect AND have a Love Extinguishers Quiz that your spouse can take about you!