Back in early May I wrote What To Do When You’re Torn Between Wife And Girlfriend. The short version being a guy was torn between two women and I talked him though the options and which I though would work best.
I had a lot of negative comments about the original poster on that blog, because obviously he was cheating on his wife. I also had some negative comments directed at me for not reaming him out for cheating on his wife. So much so that I wrote a follow up post explaining why I seemingly played him soft.
Positive and Productive… the good bits…
Now the purpose of other people expressing moral outrage, is to get you to change your behavior by evoking shame or guilt. When this happens, typically you experience one of two reactions. (1) You fold up like a wet napkin and admit to your badness, or (2) you engage your Rationalization Hamster and deny you did anything wrong. If your reaction is (2), then you change nothing about your situation and never return to Ingrid Von Banhammer’s blog because obviously she’s a heartless bitch.
My assumption is that when you write to me about a problem, you’re already unhappy about the situation and motivated to change it. Thus I don’t need to jump up on a soapbox and try and shame you into changing your behavior… because you’re already motivated to change your behavior. All shaming you does is make you defensive and thus less likely to change what you’re doing. The question is simply what do you need to do to to solve your problem and be happy?
I get that if you’re used to arguments for sexual ethics based on a pre-existing moral position, my approach seems extremely counter-intuitive at best and sinfully depraved at worst. Just bear with me, with a little patience you might be surprised at how often I can explain that doing “the right thing” is the answer to the problems caused by doing “the wrong thing.” But if the comments drive the readers asking the questions away, they will likely continue doing “the wrong thing.” Or put another way… if MMSL was a credit counseling blog, it would be really unhelpful if some comments just said the reader was just fucking stupid with their money.
And we never heard back from the original poster again… until today…
Those who commented earlier on this post may be glad (or disappointed) to know that I ended my relationship with my girlfriend two months ago and have recommitted to my family. My wife and I are engaged in counselling. After two months, and still-unfinished grief on my part, we’re not yet back to “normal”, but we’re quietly convinced we’re on the right track and are determined to succeed. My wife has been a heroine throughout all of this: unstinting in her devotion to her (undeserving) husband of 20+ years and our children.
All in all, fabulous news and everything going as well as can be expected. Yes it’s hard and non-perfect but it’s on track and heading in the right direction. So glad to hear back that things are on the mend.
In terms of the grief, often people leaving an affair and returning to their spouse have no one to grieve the loss of the affair with. So the pain and longing never go away. So while this is very counter-intuitive, if your wife is able to tolerate it (and she may not be), if you can cry with her, it’s very effective. On one hand it releases all that pain you’re holding onto, it makes you feel accepted and forgiven, and your partner sees you letting go of the affair partner in real time. It’s just a very intense emotional experience.
Swing by the forum. There’s more support that way too…for both of you.
Jennifer: The whole grieving thing is painful but a positive step. You are giving up a relationship that you were very invested in. For your spouse it’s another twist of the knife to see how much you grieve for the affair partner relationship, but it’s also a step in the right direction if you can see it as such. He chose you, even though it wasn’t easy, and he’s working on getting back to a life centered on your marriage.