A Question From the Forum
My MLCer is constantly saying I can’t undo what’s been done. Any thoughts or suggests as to what my response should be? I don’t think the reply of people rebuild or start over works. I don’t think he sees it this way.
I have answered him but this was way earlier on in the beginning of this mess. I tried telling him that people get back together all the time. I also said people can rebuild, start fresh with each other. This last time he said it, I told him that I never asked him to undo or suggested that he can undo anything. I told him that he needed to let it go.

Responses From the Forum

  • My instinct would be to not answer, but maybe acknowledge it as the way he is feeling.
    I think if you answer, you will be telling him what to do, when he is the one who needs to move forward on his own volition.
  • It’s not a question. It requires no response.
    He is thinking about what he’s done and it sounds like it overwhelms him. Like it is too much for him to tackle. He needs to find his answers from within.
  • The other standard answer besides (or perhaps together with) I’m sorry you feel that way is you know that’s not true. That would be an RCR-type of answer, I think.
  • I would let your MLCer know that everyday given by GOD is the opportunity to undo what has been done. After all salvation from GOD is asking to be forgiven for what has been done so that the soul can enter the kingdom of heaven.
    So, I would look him in the eye and say, I am sorry you feel that way, but when I am on the journey of life and I take a wrong turn, I realize that it is easier to go back and start the trip over then it is to stay on the wrong road.
  • The key word here is can’t. I can’t turn the clock back. I can’t help falling in love. I can’t help myself. People say it all the time without thinking about the meaning. What the person means is won’t. I will not undo, I will not turn the clock back. I won’t help myself. I don’t want to.

So distilled down, those comments look like this:

  • It’s not a question, there’s no need to answer.
  • Validate: I’m sorry you feel that way.
  • Ericksonian Language: You know that’s not true
  • …God forgives and it’s easier to go back and start over…
  • Understand the Language: Can’t Vs. Won’t

It may not be in the form of a question and there is no need to answer, but it may be a great opportunity for a seed-planting Truth Dart. It is also not necessarily intended as a rhetorical comment the MLCer is muttering the themself—though that may be the case in some circumstances. They are trying to convince you of their position, so it may be a comment they use during either a conflict-argument or debate-argument. If that’s the case, they are expecting a response—even if they don’t want a response, they are engaging you which has an expectation of a retaliatory comment. That doesn’t mean you should or should not answer. Do what feels best for that specific encounter.

Validating is good, but I’m sorry you feel that way goes nowhere on its own and this time, if you’re responding, you need more.

Those last three are actually different ways of saying the same thing. It was a good guess that I might suggest you know that’s not true. But it is true. Can you unring a bell? You can stop the ring from continuing, but can you stop it from having happened? Can you undo a pregnancy? You can terminate it, but it still happened. Can you undo a marriage? You can get an annulment—which states it was never valid and yet any children are still legitimate—or you can get a dissolution (we call it divorce, but dissolution is the legal term), but it still happened; or was that big event with a white dress and tuxedos some play you were in? You MLCer is right. He cannot undo his actions. Time moves forward, we haven’t yet figured out how to reverse it.

I appreciate the can’t versus won’t argument, but technically the MLCer is correct in the use of can’t. Some MLCers mean they don’t want to fix it, and thus the point is valid. But often an MLCer believes that the situation cannot be repaired. Sometimes they wish with all their hearts that were not true, but they don’t believe their betrayed spouse will be able to move forward toward trust. Or they simply see no alternative with a probability of success. They may use can’t and understand the subtle distinction; since the probability is so low, can’t is practically true—from their perspective.

This is really the same as the not going back comment we often hear. That is true. Life is forward and I certainly did not want to go back—even if the life behind had been good. I don’t want to reverse my growth and changes. Back would have been back to ignorance and since it preceded MLC, it would have simply created a repetitive loop.

Agree with your MLCer.
That can have great shock-benefits. Telling them that people get back together all the time or that people can rebuild and start fresh amounts indirect beg-n-pleading or conflict, which is what an MLCer is likely expecting. You have been working against them, trying to convince them of your way and suddenly you do the opposite. They will stop and listen—though they may sense a trick and yes, there is a comma-but sort of twist. When you agree, you are suddenly coming together as a team, use that advantage. Package it with a validation, but the typical I’m sorry you feel that way gives an implication that you do not agree, so that’s not the one to use; this time the agreement will be the validation.

I can’t undo what’s been done.
You know what? You’re right; it can’t be undone. We can’t go back and change the past, our future success or failure is going to be about how we respond to the reality of what has happened, not in pretending nothing happened. Repair and healing are not about erasing; they are about understanding what happened, why it happened and how to respond to challenges in the future with better coping mechanisms so as to prevent the damage we are no experiencing. God is even now helping me to forgive, but that’s not about forgetting or undoing. Forgiving is about releasing the bad feelings and hurt and resentment and moving forward without that burden of pain weighing us down.

I’m saying a lot there and so I wanted to stop before I got too detailed. The basic kernel is your agreement, from there the script needs to be specific to your unique situation at that moment and it will likely not be a chunk, but pieces broken up by his responses in-between. I deliberately left out comments about working together to heal and repair the marriage itself and tried to leave it open to general repair. Some situations will benefit with specificity and some will be better off remaining general—a more subtle seed. With Sweetheart, I would have been specific about repairing our marriage because he was receptive to that sort of dialogue and even reassured by it.


Can an MLCers Actions be Undone?145 Comments

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