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!