The first thing I did personally was to let go of the idea that “it” would “be like it used to be.” Sadly “the way it used to be” is dead and gone, and will never return. So for me the first thing was to mourn the loss of “what I thought I had.” Of course a lot of “what I thought I had” was a facade anyway, and not honestly there, so that a lot of it was actually letting go of the image I had created in my head and instead looking at what actually true!
The second thing I did was that up to the point of reconciliation there had been a lot done on both sides that was hurtful and built resentment: things my spouse did or didn’t do that I needed, things I did or didn’t do that my spouse needed, things we both said. So in a very general way, the way I viewed my DS and thought of my spouse inside my own head (so to speak) was negative. I felt negative things, I thought negative thoughts…and nothing personal but who’s attracted to someone whom you think of negatively who makes you feel negative emotions? Right? So the second thing I did was get to work changing negative feelings and thoughts to positive ones.
Now that may soun like a “well yeah…DUH!” statement, but part of changing negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones is being willing to let go of the negative stuff and actually release them–in the sense of “I’m not holding onto this anymore and I’m not going to bring it up in an argument anymore and I’m not going to hold it against you anymore.” So yep there was negative stuff and yep some of it had to be addressed, corrected and changed–but there was also some that I had to choose to either hold onto and remember -OR- choose to let go of and forgive. So I let it go.
THEN rather than looking back and remembering how they did this and they did that, I began to do my best to focus on today (and just today) and see what I could that was positive TODAY. So for example, in the past one of the things that had hurt me deeply was that I felt ignored–like if I stood next to my spouse naked, and set myself on fire…they would not have noticed. So I could choose to hold onto that and keep remembering it (after all it did happen), but we decided instead to address it, correct it, and then I began to look at it like this: “Is my spouse ignoring me today? What is my DS doing today to ‘pay attention’? When has my DS spent time with me? What have I done to be the kind of person it’s fun to spend time with?” And lo and behold, I observed that TODAY my Disloyal Spouse had looked into my eyes, gave me a good morning kiss, cuddled in bed before we had to wake up, made coffee the night before to I just had to turn it on, said ‘thank you’ when I made breakfast, gave me a hug goodbye….etc. See all those things? That’s partly my DS changing and making the effort…and partly me taking the time to notice and change the negatives to positives.
It’s also partly each one of you being willing to stop pointing the finger “at the other guy” and start looking at yourself. Not saying anyone is “to blame” here so it’s not that kind of thing, but the fact is that things were done on both sides that were hurtful. If both of you aren’t willing to look at yourself and say “Yeah I’m willing to make the effort to change *this* and *this* and *this* so I’m a better spouse and the kind of person who is attractive”….then you’re in trouble! But if you both ARE willing to do that, and look at yourself, then there’s hope. What is really, Really, REALLY typical is not that anyone did anything horrible before the affair, but that over the years both partners gradually invested less and less in the marriage and invested in other stuff like kids, work or school, or other friends. So to fix that… it’s not a “blame” situation, but rather just remembering, “Oh hey…yeah! When I was single, I was a person who didn’t nag and didn’t rage and I kind of let that creep in. I wouldn’t want to be with someone who nags me! I better get a handle on that.” See what I mean?
Okay finally, you’ve let go of “the way it was”–you’re going to build a whole, new marriage. You’re working on letting go of the negative and replacing it with positive–and you are working on YOU and letting them work on them. Now the last step is to stop trying to “work on your marriage” all the time and start having fun with your spouse! Here’s what I mean: remember that feeling of fun when you go to the football game with your buddies? Or the feeling of fun when you go to the mall and try on every silly hat in the place? Or the feeling of playing together and rolling on the floor tickling each other? When was the last time you were THAT GUY (or THAT GAL) with your spouse? The reason you like some of your friends is because they are fun, and if you never have fun with your spouse you won’t like them either. So find some stuff you both enjoy doing–and I mean you both smile and laugh and get to the end and say “Wow that was fun!” and do that together. Dear Hubby and I used to go camping (his health sort of stopped that), go to car shows, play WoW, read together, watch movies, write…we do all kinds of stuff together that is just plain having fun with a friend. After all, our spouses are supposed to be our best friends, right?
Do that with your spouse and you’ll quickly find that your feelings return because you are building a new romance, you are thinking of them positively, you are associating “good stuff” with them, and you are having fun together! You LIKE them!