I think the majority of us fall into the first camp — we tried to reconcile. At least for awhile, until it proved false or we just couldn’t hack it anymore. Those who got left might have tried their own form of “standing” for their marriage, doing the pick me dance from afar. And those who just left the building avoiding all the mindfuckery? We salute you.
And of course there are unicorns — the rare people who actually make a go of reconciliation. Some of us believe in unicorns, some of us do not. I want to believe in unicorns, because I want to believe people are capable of authentic change. I just think it’s very rare. My arguments for that are all over this blog.
But today, I’m talking about reconciliation — what you tried and what you bought.
I’m asking for a couple reasons. First, as I was pitching my book, I had to explain to people that there are ZERO infidelity resources out there that aren’t about reconciliation. There’s “Just Friends,” “When Good People Cheat,” “After the Affair,” etc. And every single one of them is cheater-focused and assumes the chump wants (or should have) a relationship with the cheater. No one, that I’m aware of just says don’t waste your life on someone who isn’t one bit sorry — LEAVE. Or weights the post-affair discovery decision-making in favor of chumps and leaving, and puts the onus on cheaters to get their shit together. (You do that self-improvement stuff on your own time. I’ve got a life.)
People looked really shocked and surprised when I said that — I have this position all to myself. Alone. Fortunately for them, they’ve never been chumped, so they never did the 3 a.m. Amazon searches.
The second reason I’m asking is to open the floor up about your experiences. If you’ve been watching the book’s number one Amazon rating in divorce, you’ll notice the troll attack. It’s best to ignore trolls, but I expect as we come out of the chump closet and start really discussing infidelity — that it hurts people, especially kids, the costs are devastating, it’s narcissistic, and silly, and tragically wasteful — there will be more resistance to this point of view. Shut UP! Accept the narrative that you grew apart or you are are shitty, sexless spouse who drove them to it.
Or accept the narrative that you Must Forgive and love all the cheaters’ hurt away (even if they continue to cheat on you — it’s a fog, just wait, it might clear…). You know, the hopium POV.
This blog is criticized for being derisive about reconciliation. I’m not derisive about reconciliation. I think people don’t just reconcile out of fear and misplaced hope, I think they do it with incredible bravery too. They overestimate their powers, IMO. But I think chumps sincerely believe their goodness and their humility will be recognized and rewarded. They suck it up. They try harder. They love in the face of incredible pain.
It must seem churlish to some people that I don’t seem to respect that. I do respect fortitude, but I think that sort of loyalty is misdirected and you should love yourself more than the person who is hurting you and has betrayed you.
I reserve my derision for the Reconciliation Industrial Complex who makes a buck off people’s pain and peddles false hope — this idea that you can single-handedly save marriages, and that is possible, because really, you’re the problem. (Fix you, this thing fixes itself. Nice them back into the marriage because you “meaned” them into the affair in the first place.)
Those people? Yeah, they suck. I don’t mind saying so.
So tell me — what do you think of the infidelity literature and resources out there? What did you try? Did it help? Did it keep you stuck?
Should we organize a virtual chump bonfire and toss in every book in the “When Splendid People Cheat” canon?
Speaking for myself, I had four (yes four — I wear the chump crown) D-Days. I don’t regret the first attempt at reconciliation. I regret the subsequent three. I needed to try and get kicked in the teeth a few times to really understand who he was. I suspect other folks did similar. I’m not that person any more, I think people who are sorry act sorry, and you shouldn’t waste one second wondering where real remorse is. Those hard lessons are why this blog exists.
Thoughts on time spent in reconciliation?
I’m leaving this post up until Tuesday.