Monthly Archives: February 2014

Why some couples just can’t seem to reconcile–Part 3

leakyBucketHave you ever known a couple who decided to reconcile after one of them had an affair?  They even went to amarriage 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 final in our series examining why some couples have so much difficulty reconciling. (If you want to catch up, here is Part 1 and Part 2.)  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 (we will be going over the Love Kindlers over the next week). 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 love in 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!! Last week, we looked at the first four extinguisher: Emotional Neglect, Spiritual Neglect, Physical Neglect, and Financial Neglect–and today we address the final three Love Extinguishers: Family Neglect, Social Neglect, and Security Neglect.

1.  Emotional Neglect

2.  Spiritual Neglect

3.  Physical Neglect

4.  Financial Neglect

5.  Family Neglect

  • Refusing to Leave and Cleave–Are you still a ‘Mama’s Boy” or do you still run to your Mommy every time you two disagree? Do you drag your In-Laws into your marital business?
  • Not Making Time for Personal Adult Time–Do you go to the gym, PTA, board meetings, church activities, and out with friends…but make no adult time for your spouse?
  • Not Making Time for Each Child-Child Rearing–Do you have so many activities so that you are neglecting spending time with the children? Do you just let your spouse do that stuff with the kids and shirk that parental responsibility?
  • Inequitable Distribution of Household Chores–Do you expect your spouse to do all the household chores (like vacuuming, laundry, dishes and mowing) and never notice or thank them, while you sit and watch TV or relax?  Do you do ever give your spouse a “break” from their chores and do for them what you expect them to do for you?
  • Getting Too Comfortable: Giving Up–Have you gotten lax and don’t put any effort into the family, the marriage, yourself or life? Are you a slug that just sits there and won’t interact?

6.  Social Neglect

  • Irritating Habits (Discourteous)–Do you chew your food with your mouth open? Leave stuff all over the counters? Make piles all over the house? Interrupt?  Do what your spouse has asked you a thousand times to stop doing?
  • Independent Behavior–Do you ignore your spouse’s thoughts and interests, and just do what YOU want to do? Do your have your own set of friends and do your own activities that EXCLUDE your spouse?
  • Not Sharing Activities or Free Time Together–Do you sit at home like a lump and ignore your spouse? Do you ignore your spouse’s need to occasionally see another living being? Do you refuse have any couple friends or do anything with your spouse that you both enjoy?
  • The Silent Treatment or Not Listening Actively–Do you give your spouse the cold shoulder for DAYS ON END? Do they try to talk to you and you ignore them? Do you let them talk but they can tell you are just planning what you are going to say and not really listening at all?

7.  Security Neglect

  • Angry Explosions–Do you ramp up a disagreement until there is yelling and an explosion? Do you try to ‘hurt them back’ or punish your spouse for hurting you? Do you rage at your spouse?
  • Attack Dog (Verbal/Emotional Abuse)–Do you “go for the jugular” in a particularly cruel way? Do you use words to just lay them to waste? Do you emotionally DESTROY your spouse just for disagreeing with you?
  • Passive Warmonger (Passive-Aggressive)–Do you always say you”forgot” to do the the things you agreed to do? Do you say nasty things about your spouse and then say “It was just a joke! You have no sense of humor!”?
  • Physical Abuse–Physical abuse isn’t always “hitting.” Have you ever THREATENED a pet? Punched the wall right near your spouse’s head? Grabbed them? Pushed them? Kept them awake all night arguing? Thrown something at them? Attacked them with a knife or knitting needles or scissors? Stood in the way so they couldn’t leave?
  • Not Being a Safe Haven—Can your spouse be their True Self with you and know that they are safe and loved and accepted? When they come to you for support or comfort during a time of vulnerability do you add to the hurt?

To learn more about ending the Love Extinguishers so your marriage can recover, have your spouse take the Love Extinguishers Questionnaire about you–and likewise you take the Love Extinguishers Questionnaire about them.  Share your results, knowing that you are going to hear some hard truths.  If your spouse is honest with you, even if it hurts to hear it, thank them for their honesty and let them know you will think about what they said.  And remember, this questionnaire is not meant to tear your spouse apart or nit pick, but rather to truthfully let them know the actions they are taking that are consistently killing your love for them.

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Why some couples just can’t seem to reconcile–Part 2

leakybucHave 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.

1.  Emotional Neglect

2. Spiritual Neglect

3.  Physical 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?

4.  Financial Neglect

  • 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!

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Why some couples just can’t seem to reconcile–Part 1

leaking-bucket

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!!

1.  Emotional Neglect

  • 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?

2. Spiritual Neglect

  • 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!

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Shattered Heart for Valentine’s Day?

shattered-heart

 

Candlelit dinner…a bottle of champagne…slow dancing in front of a roaring fire…long-stemmed roses…a box of chocolates…a moonlit walk on the beach…rose petals strewn across the bed…sexy red lingerie…   Ah romance is in the air!  But for many of the people in the Affaircare community, this time of year can be anything BUT romantic.  Many are struggling with feelings of hurt and betrayal after discovering their spouse was cheating…or struggling with feelings or guilt and shame after being caught in an affair -OR- feelings of entitlement and stubborn pride refusing to give up their affair and deflecting guilt, blame-shifting and gaslighting their spouse!

If you find your heart shattered this Valentines Day, here are 10 thing you can do to ease your shattered heart and help Valentine’s Day pass less painfully.

1. Feel the Pain. Many times people are tempted to avoid how they actually feel, or deny to themselves that they feel pain and just suppress it.  Instead of pretending everything is okay and acting like if you ignore it, it will go away, actually allow yourself to feel what you feel.  Don’t ignore it.  Give yourself a private time and place to relax, be honest with yourself, and feel what you feel.

2. Avoid Your Ex or STBX.  If you and your spouse are currently separated or your spouse is still actively involved in their affair, the temptation can be to try to do something–anything–romantic to try to give it “one last try”…or you hope that by doing something loving for them, they will love you back.  Please-do not do this.  If your spouse is committing adultery and hardened their heart, right now they will not be available to give love back to you and your hopes will be crushed.  If you want to be cordial, that’s fine…but do not have the intention that you’ll do this great, romantic gesture and they will return it and make you feel better.

3. Love Your Friends.  There are many people surrounding you who love and care about you. Express your gratitude and love for your friends, your family, your neighbors, the folks in your support group, or the people at church.  These people are in your life, daily, and they demonstrate Love in its truest form–by acting in a loving way toward you.  So love THEM on Valentine’s Day. Have them over to dinner or go out to dinner together.

4. Think of Others.  There are many, MANY people who are not in stable, loving relationships on Valentine’s Day. Some are not even in homes and worry every day where they will sleep or eat. Some are in nursing homes, unloved and forgotten by their families.  Can you imagine how it would feel to be alone in a nursing home on Valentine’s Day?  Get over yourself already and go get a box of kids’ valentines and pass them out at a homeless shelter or a nursing home.  They’ll LOVE it!!

5. Claim the Day–Carpe Diem.  You know, you can choose to eternally have Valentine’s Day be the annual reminder of the love you don’t have in your marriage…or you can choose to eternally have Valentine’s Day be the day that you SHOW those in your life whom you love what a loving person YOU ARE. This is YOUR DAY–claim it. Make it what you want it to be. Make it “I Love Me Day” or pick one person at random who’s alone and love them. Or even better yet, make this the annual reminder of The One who showed you ultimate love by giving Himself for you–Love GOD today.

6. Do Something Active. If you sit around, alone, at home all day, by yourself…guess what?  You’ll be lonely and all you’ll do is think about how sad you are and you’ll get depressed! Choose to do something active today, like going to the gym, or try something active that you’ve always wanted to try like dance lessons or that yoga class.  The activity will release stress and create endorphins, so you’ll feel tired but happier.

7. Do Something Creative. Maybe you’re like me–honestly I hate exercising, so #6 above is not for me! But rather than use my mind for sorrow and grief, I would rather use my mind for something positive, helpful and innovative, so Valentine’s Day is a GREAT day to create something.  What is your skill?  Are you a writer? Submit a guest post to your favorite blog!  Are you a painter? Paint the sunset.  Whatever your talent, use it to produce something beautiful!  OR if you have always wanted to try that cross-stitch class at Michael’s…sign up.  Always wanted to be a better chef?  Try a new recipe! Go to Walmart and get that cool craft that you thought you were too adult to buy!

8. Be Anti-Valentine’s Day.  This is actually a little tonge-in-cheek fun. There are “Anti-Valentine’s Wakes” and Anti-Valentines cards and everything, so rather than being a romantic mush, join the resistance and make fun of the pink foo-foos. Roast Cupid and his silly arrows! Romance?  HA, who needs it! Refuse to give in to the drivel and FIGHT!  LOL

9. Ask Someone Out.  Okay I’m not advocating dating while married, but if you happen to be alone on Valentine’s Day, and you want to go out, why not ask someone and treat them?  Ask some of your same gender and the two of you go out to dinner, go shopping, and have some fun…or if you’re a guy, go to the steakhouse, go to the ballgame, and have some fun.

10. Buy Chocolate ON SALE! Well this is weak, but it is true and can appeal to your thrifty side.  Right around this holiday, there are boxes of chocolate, Hershey kisses, and all kinds of gourmet chocolates on sale! If you purchase wisely I bet you could buy a year’s worth. Soothe your sweet tooth and save money–there ya go!

 

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14 Days of Love After an Affair

14days3x2

This is a tough period for many married couples recovering after an affair. For some Loyal Spouses, this day is now tainted. For many, Valentines Day isn’t special anymore or it’s a day full of triggers and bad memories instead of love.  For some Disloyal Spouses, they don’t really quite feel “in love” yet, but they know that their spouse has expectations…probably expectations they can’t meet.

So I’ve put together 14 Days of Love for a couples who are reconciling after infidelity.

Day 1–LOVE OTHERS! Chances are you aren’t the only person feeling weird about Valentines Day. Reach out to those around you who would otherwise spend their day alone. This may mean getting your friends together for a dinner. Or, it may mean finding a way to volunteer.

Day 2–RELIVE YOUR WEDDING DAY! Renew your vows even if only to each other. Then relive the honeymoon!

Day 3–Learn to have FUN with each other again. Tonight, play a game together. Just relax and have fun.

Day 4–Start retraining your mind. When you think about the Other Person (whether you’re the Loyal or Disloyal) just STOP…and think of something positive about your spouse instead.

Day 5–Sex after an affair can be hard, but fill your mind with God’s perspective on sex. Read I Corinthians 7:1-9 and Song of Solomon and enjoy your spouse.

Day 6–To help retraining your mind, write a list of 100 Things you love about your spouse.

Day 7–Thank God It’s Friday! Your work week is over, so PUT YOUR WORK ASIDE and pay attention to your spouse.

Day 8–Date Night IN. Go to the local bookstore, pick a marriage book together, and read it to each other.

Day 9–Day of Rest, so take a break from the affair… give each other the day off.

Day 10–‘Playing’ to a man and ‘playing’ to a woman can be two very different things. Tonight spend time finding out what your spouse thinks is “playful” and then play together a little…their way.

Day 11–Do the Five Love Languages quiz and tell your spouse what your love language is. LISTEN when your spouse tells you their love language.

Day 12–Even though it may feel awkward, this one time you be the one to initiate some kind of physical intimacy. It doesn’t have to be sex, but if it goes there, that’s cool.

Day 13–The stress of having to have a perfect love on Valentines Day, the expectations, the fear of doing the wrong thing can be very frustrating. Let your spouse off the hook. This year, talk to each other ahead of time, reach an agreement on what you both want to do, and then…go one extra mile and give your spouse one additional kindness or little show of affection.

Day 14 (Valentines Day)–You two are just rebuilding so don’t expect too much yet. Your spouse may not be ready to be all “over the moon” romantic yet. But take time today to purposefully put effort into showing your spouse that you value them above all others.

Purple heart in the hands

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