180_turn_aroundA Coach’s Advice (from an MLC-Standing expert)
Do a 180 and instead of insisting divorce is not the answer while your MLCer insists it is the only solution, agree with them.

Why? What will this do?
This will diffuse the situation and you will no longer be resisting. When you are fighting against each other, your MLCer sees you as the obstacle in their path to whatever it is they think they want and don’t yet have: freedom, happiness, a different partner…

I do not directly disagree with the coach’s advice. He is trying to make a point about being resistant or an adversary versus validating and being an advocate. But remember: validation is not agreement, it’s about feelings.

  • Do not do this if it goes against your principles/values/belief system regarding marriage and divorce.
    This is something bigger than your specific marriage and what you feel is best for your situation.
  • Do not agree to something if you are bluffing and unwilling to follow-through.
    What does agreeing mean in this situation?
    To me it means that you are agreeing that a divorce is best—rather than acknowledging it is going to happen whether you think it’s best or not. You are also agreeing to take a more active role in the process. That doesn’t have to mean you will help your MLCer with their part, but you will be proactive rather than passively doing only what is legally required or what you must to protect yourself and your children.
  • This is not good advice if Bomb Drop was recent: 12 months or less, maybe 18 months or less. If you are a newbie, work on detachment and giving your MLCer space as a possible 180.
  • Do not do this if there is no divorce in process. Your MLCer may be threatening to initiate the process; let them. Many will not, so be patient and wait for them to do it—though find a good lawyer to represent you so that you are prepared.
  • Do this if it is what you want or are willing to accept even though you choose to Stand.
    Maybe you need the divorce for protection—you want to protect yourself. Maybe you recognize it as inevitable and just another piece of the MLC journey and your relationship, but not the end.
  • Do this if you decide to stop Standing.

Alternatives
Peacing

Divorce may be inevitable. The papers have been filed, the dates set, the assets divided and in a few days it will be done, but the MLC is nowhere near through. It’s going to happen, but you fall into the first two on the list. Is there an alternative?

Yes. Divorce is going to happen, whether you like it or agree to it. Instead of focusing your 180 on agreeing with divorce, focus in on your resistance. I do not believe in fighting for marriage because fighting yields fighting; what you resist persists. Peace for your marriage instead. Stop the argument. Stop the discussion. Legally you have a responsibility to take certain active steps in the process of divorce. You are responding, not initiating. Your MLCer may Monster and continue to interpret your actions or inactions as resistant. They get to choose how they view the world; let it go.

Treat it as business. In the beginning I told Chuck that it was not personal, but I simply had a different opinion about what was best in our situation and divorce was not only not best, it was worst and would lead to more damage. But I let him know that I realized he had a different opinion and that I was not doing this to change his mind, I was doing it because to uphold my principle of acting in the way I thought was least detrimental. This diffused Monster just a bit, no, not totally! But I was consistent in my reasons; I simply had to be true to my values. By making it about my values, it was no longer something I was doing personally against him.

I told him that any divorce discussion would go through our lawyers and refused to discuss it further and attempted to gently turn a conversation to another topic if he brought it up. If Monster roared and became insistent, I hung up or left the room. This was during the first months after Bomb Drop when I’m sorry you that feel that way is a staple in the Stander’s response tool box.

But those were the easy days. As most of you know Chuck stopped the divorce less than 3 months after filing.

How did this help—since I was still saying I would not divorce him or help him divorce me?
It helped because I did not fight over it and I did not make attempts to convince him about my side of the issue. Part of agreeing to disagree is agreeing to give up trying to convince the other person. I removed the argument because it was a no-win situation. Did I ever convince him? No. He later came to a position against divorce on his own. Of course it was influenced by my Stand, but he owns it.

Emotional Divorce

My bigger challenge came three years later and I was not facing divorce, rather I had to switch roles and he had to fear losing me. My mentor finally advised me to set up a consequence or rule when he came home that if he continued to see the alienator I would file for divorce and that I should also have a suitcase for him packed and ready at the front door—where he could see it as a reminder. She was a supporter of my Stand, but was trying to come up with something to scare him; those were not good tactics.

Threatening to file wouldn’t work for me because I fall into the first two bullets on that list above; I built my Stand and Chuck’s reassurance on a foundation of principles. I had not simply been saying I didn’t think divorce was right in our situation; I was saying divorce was wrong, against my values, against my belief system…I made it a moral stance.

The suitcase would have sent the message that being with me was not permanent and was conditional. Well, technically it is conditional, but that sort of reminder would have felt as though he was at risk every moment of being tossed out of his home and would have thus been in opposition to building his feeling of safety and security in our home.

In the three years since Bomb Drop I had been consistent in my Stand and Chuck was finally reassured that I was there for him. Too reassured. The cake-eating got pretty bad; he once said he was going to change his mind every day so that at night he could live at home and he would leave me for the alienator in the morning and change his mind at night and dump her. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but just shake your head and laugh at the absurdity; I did. I also knew it was finally time to do something different—180. He now needed to fear losing me. But how could I do that without tearing down the foundation of my Stand—without going against my principles?

This was different than the situation 3 years before when there had been a divorce in process. Now there was no divorce. But I had to make it seem more like I was willing to divorce even though it was against everything I had stood for over the past 3 years. This scared me because I felt I was trapped by my own values.

What I did was set up a difference between emotional divorce and marriage. I told him that we could not have a relationship while he was not being an appropriate husband and that the only relationship I was willing to have with him was a marital relationship—no friendship without the marriage. I said I would not divorce him through the law, but not being divorced did not mean we would have a relationship.

 

Doing a 180—doing the opposite—is about changing the dynamics of the situation when things seem to be at a stalemate. But whatever you do, it needs to fit in with who you are; do not ever sacrifice your values, because you will lose every time.

Standing is not meant to be a conflict of you against your MLCer—even though your MLCer will see it that way. And often it will start as conflict, so one of the first 180s is to change that dynamic toward more passive or peaceful resistance. Step aside and let your MLCer do whatever it is they will do. You can’t legally stop them from divorcing you, so release it—detach, let-go-surrender. This is not your fight, but you can make it your peace.


Comments

Should you Agree to Divorce as a 180 Tactic?9 Comments

  1. I met my wife when we were both 21 yrs old. I'm 53 now. We've been together since we met. We always said that we were each others person. She left me almost six months ago. She was talking divorce as she went out the door. Every contact, which was infrequent always ended with her drawing up the papers. It seemed the longer she was away, the more adamant she became about the divorce. During an e-mail session she said that the divorce was all she could think about. Up until then I had stalled. When she told me this, I believed that she couldn't focus on what was really bothering her if I didn't give her the divorce. I saw her once since she left. It was the day we signed the papers. I told her I really didn't want the divorce but I would do it for her. We've been divorced for almost one month now. I still haven't heard from her. I felt I had to give her the divorce because she was fighting so hard for it.. I figured as long as she is fighting for the divorce. She wouldn't be moving forward in her crisis. A midlife crisis takes time. I'll let you know how it turns out.

  2. This sounds like good advice. My husband and the OW began fighting around Christmas. he actually broke up with her somewhat but was having a hard time letting. I actually thought he had come to his senses boy was i wrong. a couple of weeks later he told me he thought he could start reconnecting and fit right in and he didnt feel like he could fit in so he is gone again. He “needed space(his words) I am not to call or ask if he can stop bye for dinner nothing. About a week after he left i realized he must be coming out of the fog just a little when he called me and asked ME where did the money go. I said you were the one in a 4year affair staying in hotels in Philadelphia, jersey and Delaware. I have been right here depressed waiting for you and you ask me that??. So now he is wants me to start back to putting my check in our joint account which i am not going to do. HE asked for a list of all the bills from the house as well as my bills. I actually think he is crazy. There is no contact on his part at all. I do feel that he is getting himself together in order to move on and finally stop giving me access to his account. He makes triple my salary. I am scared to death. When he mentions bills now he reference the house bills as my bills not his because he isn’t living here so he shouldn’t have to b responsible for the house bills. I think this is a good idea for me since i am growing tired of all of this. I just want my husband back not the monster that i have now. My husband is gone. I feel that more than i ever have so what do i have to lose. Will let you know how things turn out.

    • hi terry,
      while we focus on our partners monster we miss something crucial which is our own. Ours might not be aggressive or violent but might be subtle and nagging or condemning or not accepting. This is the perfect time to become who you have always wanted to become. Reminding him of his affair will not help him feel closer to you but will make him think he was right to leave you. In addition he may be thinking "maybe i should give it another go with my wife?" and then you hit him with that and he says "what was i thinking?"
      Men love strong independent women. thats how his affair partner appeared….although she is not. Become the woman he cannot have not the one who fears losing him.
      cheers

  3. I didn't want a divorce but my H asked for one about 10 months after the bomb drop and 4 months after moving out. He said I had grounds & he didn't (true in the UK), I had already seen a lawyer ( he didn't know) to find out what my position was & knew if we divorced I would suffer financially as I was the principal earner, but I took the view suggested above that if I fought him on this, this would give him another cause for complaint & allow the alienator to claim I was trying to keep them apart. So I got the papers drawn up and we met and I told him that I didn't want to submit them but I would if he wanted me to. He said it was a big decision and he wasn't sure, I said OK let me know when you are. He never did and about two years later we reconciled.
    The intervening two years were far from plain sailing but for me it was the right course of action and I would have followed through if he had asked me to.

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