One piece of advice the Reconciliation Industrial Complex likes to give after D-Day is telling chumps it is their responsibility to make the marriage “a good place to be” after an affair. That way your cake-eating spouse will see what they’re missing. Often this advice is combined with the contradictory advice to be all 180 and WTFever.
Are you home from work? Well, I’ll be busy with soccer practice. Can’t chat. Everything is running smoothly here! Dinner’s cooked! And notice the freshly fluffed pillows and scented candle. Gotta run. Bye!
Try this with a buoyant nonchalance, chumps.
Because that’s exactly what home life is like after D-Day, right? Somebody out there in unicorn land is awaking refreshed and ready for a trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond after D-Day. Me? I had sleepless nights, dry heaves, and calls to domestic abuse hotlines. I flunked nonchalance. I was more hung up on HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME.
In fairness, I’d only been married 6 months. I assumed the marriage was a good place to be because he’d just put a ring on it. If I sucked so epically, why marry me? But perhaps I was mistaken. I should’ve improved my game. Maybe it wasn’t enough to move to another state, finance his career move, and buy a fixer upper house in a no-fault divorce state, have a robust sex life, cook his dinners, entertain his family, and do his laundry.
I wasn’t a smorgasbord of pussy. My bad.
Because that’s why affairs happen according to Dr. Harley of Marriage Builders. Emotional needs are not met. (Like the passive voice? I think that’s intentional.) Let’s puzzle this out. Who doesn’t meet those needs? (Put it in the active voice.) Chumps!
He had an emotional need for me to be 573 different orifices, and I was just one person. I failed.
According to Harley, infidelity happens when someone (let’s not name names) doesn’t put enough deposits in the “love bank.” If you don’t meet those needs, they will stray. Everyone is capable of infidelity, says Harley. Has nothing to do with character.
I shouldn’t be trusted by my wife, and I shouldn’t trust her. The fact is that we are all wired for infidelity, and under certain conditions, we’ll all do it. The way to protect your marriage from something that has been common to man (and women) for thousands of years is to recognize the threat, and do something to prevent it from happening.
What can I do to prevent it from happening? Tell me!
Did you catch that? The way to not have affairs — a secret second life — is TO NOT HAVE SECRET SECOND LIVES!
Curiously, Dr. Harley doesn’t say anything about you fucking other people after D-Day, when your love bank balance sheet looks as fiscally grim as the subprime mortgage crisis. No, chumps, when your love bank is overdrawn, you need to find the strength to make the marriage a nice place to be.
And you have to stop bringing the affair up. Because that’s a real bummer, okay?
My advice to her husband is to never mention her affair again. It’s a good example of one of the enemies of good conversation, dwelling on past mistakes. Whenever you keep bringing up your spouses past mistakes, you not only make your conversations incredibly unpleasant, but it cannot possibly lead to a resolution of a conflict you may be discussing. And as soon as his resentment doesn’t pay him any dividends — no longer helps him get his way — he will find that it hardly ever occurs to him.
This advice contradicts his other advice — the Policy of Radical Honesty — you know, where you’re supposed to share everything that’s on your mind with each other and act like you care. How he makes coffee, how you loathe your co-workers, your hopes and dreams about your golf game. Everything is on the table, but just don’t discuss the affair. That “mistake.” Be radically honest! Just not your feelings about your spouse fucking someone else. Stuff those feelings down and choke on them, then go buy some nice throw pillows for your New Improved Marriage.
How can a spouse ever trust an unfaithful partner again? My answer is that the spouse should never have been trusted in the first place… Basing a marriage on the Policy of Radical Honesty and the Policy of Joint Agreement goes a long way toward preventing an affair… With these measures in place, we end up trusting our spouses because an affair becomes almost impossible to achieve.
I’m confused. To agree to a policy of joint agreement on things and be radically honest… uh… doesn’t that presuppose TRUST? But to “end up trusting” again, we have to… trust. This is circular logic. Kind of like the way to not have secret lives is to stop having secret lives.
Clearly, I lack the sophistication of someone with a PhD in family therapy, who has saved thousands of marriages. The point is chumps — this is all your fault. Okay? Go fluff some pillows.