Can your marriage survive the truth of who you are?
Basically that is asking if you will have to sacrifice your Self, the core being of who you are, in order to remain married to your spouse. This is the question the MLCer’s are also asking and in MLC they believe the answer is no. The question is not about your roles and duties, but about who you are in your stillness when you take off the personal mask and are simply you.

Answering that question requires self-reflection, and as you know, MLCers typically avoid such scary stuff as reflecting on themselves, choosing instead to project onto others—you in particular. Though self-reflection catches up in Liminality.

Both MLCers and LBSs may resist their journey before they embrace it. But what are your personal; thoughts regarding an MLCer with the typical story of leaving their spouse for an alienator who progresses through the MLC tunnel—through Liminality—and still answers that question with no, I cannot remain in my marriage and be true to my Self?

Those of you who are active or even lurkers at the forum may be familiar with Stayed’s story. She and her MLCer are reconciled and she has posted a letter her husband wrote to an LBS at another site. Stayed’s Husband’s Letter. Helpful isn’t it? It’s what you want to hear—since he returned home to his marriage, it is the sort of credibility you are seeking. He may not always say things you like, but since he returned to his marriage, he did what was right. He returned and did the work to heal and repair.

But what of those who do not return and yet exit the tunnel having finally embraced their journey—having ventured to the underworld and returned with their own elixir of life? What of those who return to the world and not to their marriage, and who are joyous in their new life? Do you look down on them? Do you interpret their attitude as one of lacking insight or remorse and excusing their MLC infidelities—since they are now rejoicing in a new life? They may even progress to guiding others through midlife or similar journeys, what do you think of that? Basically, where is your judgment?

For most of my target audience, you are or have experienced infidelity as a betrayed spouse and yet you are Standing for your marriage. That means you want to be married to someone who has committed adultery—a known cheater. You may not know how, but you are willing to forgive that person and yet I see many Standers casting judgment on those who have cheated outside of the circle of Standers. It’s okay for us to Stand for our spouses within our community, but that person out there—maybe whose former spouse was not a Stander—that person lacks credibility. They didn’t return to their marriage, they didn’t do the repair work and therefore they have not grown into their after MLC Self. They are inauthentic and deluding themselves.

Maybe you aren’t one of those Judgers. Maybe you understand and accept—at least for others situations and maybe your own—that not all marriages will survive, but a person can still come through an MLC and be joyous and authentic and an upstanding member of society. But what do you think when a former MLCer (in a reconciled marriage or not) talks about the positive experiences of their journey that came from the Escape & Avoid portion—the learning experiences from Replay and their affair? Maybe their experience with the alienator brought them into their own sensuality and love of their body and now they are more open and loving of their physical Self. Maybe they learned a great new sex technique. Is that technique something like scientific experiments on captives—not to be used because of the way it was learned? They can’t unring the I cheated bell, but should they still pretend that stuff was all bad or never happened?

 

I wish there had not been a Holocaust, but there was, and from that Viktor Frankl wrote about Man’s Search for Meaning and a young girl who did not survive that terrible event gave us hope in humanity even amidst the terrible atrocities.

…I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.
-Ann Frank: Saturday, 15 July, 1944, pg. 237

Do you give them credibility because they were the victims rather than the perpetrators?

 

Tomorrow I will continue this topic by explaining what has brought me to this line of thoughts.

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Comments

Can Your Marriage Survive Your Truth?17 Comments

  1. First let me say I don't know how I would have functioned over the last couple of years had I not discovered this site. I believe having an understanding of who I am "in my stillness" is a very interesting question, associated for me with how strong I believe I can be at my core after having had it shaken for 3 1/2 years. I stood by my 30 year marriage with my 64 year old husband because I wanted to make it work, but because of all that's happened, I find myself weary and not outwardly excited about his trying to return. He's been here physically but not emotionally. i don't want to sabotage this, it's just so hard to put myself out there right now when he wants everything to be O.K. instantly. I am going to keep trying but of course it's not easy. A 31/2 year affair feels more like a marriage he had while he was in our marriage. I know God will give me the strength to push forward, as I feel in my stillness I want to do. He's started therapy on his own for anxiety, and more, and although his psychologist is pro-family and marriage, says the tests don't show any problems with our marriage, only problems with him. I WILL try and stay true to feeling what's going on at my core in my stillness. Thank you for posting this question. Wish me luck for whatever the outcome is. Be well.

    • So he is phyiscally there now–is this as a return, or has he been at home throughout the crisis?
      His wanting things to be fine is normal. He doesn't understand your pain and the process you need and to acknowledge that brings up his feelings of guilt–and those feel bad. He wants things to stop being bad and it seems to him that the things you need for repair make things stay negative. Is his pyschologist also experienced in dealing with infidelity? And are you two in counseling together as well? Part of couples counseling can be an education into each other's process toward recovery. It can be easier to accept a person's process if there is an understanding–even intellectual if not emotional or experiential–as to why those specific processes are necessary.
      Good luck!

      • Hi, I appreciate your response. In response to your question, I don't know specifically whether his psychologist is experienced in dealing with infidelity. The Dr. stated he has a great person "I" could go to who has been successful in helping basically 'standers'. Although the Dr. mentioned that at some point he may see me and my spouse, I didn't get the feeling it would be for more than one appointment. My spouse never physically moved out, but emotionally was definitely gone. He now says that (during his affair) when he saw older couples walking hand in hand, that he always happily pictured he and I, but my that is so far from how he acted when he seemed to hold me responsible for his lost youth. He seems to be very fragile, and it doesn't help that his life-long best friend recently passed away after a long bout of depression. Through all of his fog, he stated he was not interested in trying to make our relationship work, and now he says he can't lose anything else, can't lose me, and doesn't want to separate. Your right on the money though when you observe that he feels that the things I need for repair make things stay negative. I WANT to be positive, and know our core is damaged right now, which may not be the right time to deal with the negative issues, and am willing to defer dealing with the issues temporarily….do you have any suggestions as to the best way to set a timeline or requirement to somehow/someday be able to deal with the negative issues?

        • "Do you have any suggestions as to the best way to set a timeline or requirement to somehow/someday be able to deal with the negative issues?"
          You know, that is an excellent question and I don't have an answer–not off the top of my head at least. I think it is something I need to think about–maybe I should start a topic on the forum to get some ideas.

  2. This is a very gentle way of looking at MLC involving a third party. I have been through this myself and tried to read everything that I can to understand it, until I have come to my fervent wishful prayer to grant me peace so I can understand this situation better,for which my Good and Merciful God delivered so timely!

    I cannot argue that MLC is indeed a crucial time when a person evaluates as to what else is there left to explore in one’s life, or simply do to define his purpose in life aside from having provided well and loved one’s partner and children, I think it is also the time when one battles the greatest test on his marriage ,that is to succumb or not to the temptation of the flesh! This for me is my understanding why there is so much of MLCers’s confusion and torments specially when there is a family that will be broken! So that is where my peace has brought me, understanding MLC as nothing but to go or not to the path of darkness…there is no mystery to it at all.

    By the way when I was researching about MLC on the internet, I noticed that evrytime I google the word , “midlife…”many psychology books, therapists,viagra type of drugs, vitamIns and other anti aging drugs suddenly pops on the side of the article,all offering the reader to try their sevices and products …there you go… so much fuss about MLC all in the name of profit!

  3. I like this article RCR. I love your message. There is not only ONE possibility. Restored marriages seem to be few and far between. The goal for everybody must be a restored LBS. A happy, healthy, ready to love again LBS. One that is TRULY thrilled to see their MLCer come out of their crisis, whether he/she returns to them/their marriage or not.

    The ultimate goal hopefully becomes, two healthy people, with or without each other!!!

    Great article and really NEEDED to be said!

    Hugs Stayed

  4. However positive the outcome for the MLCer – the end never justifies the means and we have to be weary of the fallacy of the normative power of facts. My judgment on the PROCESS of the MLC –including my wife’s affair – will never be positive; I understand and accept what is happening, why it is happening and I regret my wife has to go through this painful process. As for the RESULT – I will hopefully be able to embrace my wife’s emergence from MLC as a healthy woman with the potential for true happiness regardless of reconciliation; this obviously has my forgiveness (which I’m working on) as a precondition but not only – my wife’s repentance will be equally important, whether we will stay together or not.

  5. …and here's the rest:
    I’m still not sure if true repentance without reconciliation is possible – provided my role in the MLC is not such so as to make reconciliation impossible. Repentance is about what Frankl termed “responsibleness” – to find one’s way back to satisfying the “demand quality of life” , it’s about finding your way back to Integrity. Should my wife succeed in leaving the MLC behind her successfully and yet chose not to reconcile but live a life of integrity thereon – I hope I could then not just forgive her but feel happy for her while still regretting the means that led to this end.

    • But you have said that repentance is possible without reconciliation by implying that it would be possible if you, as the LBS, did something to prevent reconciliation–such as not Standing or by taking the scorned route. Sure, it may be easier with a forgiving and present spouse, but repentance is personal as well. We are not the saviours of our MLCers. We are there companion and partner and we can faciliate their healing, but we cannot heal for them. If they can come to repentance without us because we have made reconciliation not an option, then they can come to repentance without is in any circumstance.
      Whether they will or not is a different question. Are they more likely to come to repentance if there is reconciliation?

  6. Thanks, RCR – I might have been a bit unprecise, what I am still trying to figure out for myself is what if the LBS is willing to reconcile, hasn't done anything that would thwart the MLCer's potential to reconcile and yet the "healed" MLCer refuses to TRY and reconcile – wouldn't that refusal indicate they are not truly repenting? While I agree that to some degree the expression of repentance is personal the extent I believe is not.

    • I knew what you meant.
      No, it wouldn't. We have an agenda and that biases us to a specific outcome. But there are multiple paths to Truth, enlightenment…whatever you want to call it. The other bias we have is that we may be unaware of the things we may have done to thwart the reconciliation potential. Both sides are often unaware of the how their actions affect their spouse.

    • hg — To me, the whole MLC experience seems to result in the person becoming essentially a completely different person after going through the experience ("through the tunnel" or however you want to put it). In some cases, that new person may want to reconcile, others not. The idea is that being "true to themselves" they have that choice to make. They may not choose us.

      I am not saying I agree with this, it's just what I see play out. My WS is now embracing a completely different persona than the one that I married and lived with for 20 years. He's a different person and seems to want this for himself. He doesn't seem particularly joyous about it (at all)… maybe he's not through the tunnel. He has never for one second since bomb drop indicated any interest in reconciling with me. I am not on his radar. I don't think he actually remembers me (sounds odd, but the whole experience has been beyond odd). To be blunt, he appears to be a different person, one who is a stranger, he doesn't seem to know me or care about "meeting" me even though we were married 20 years and have two children.

      He can go on to have a happy life (I suppose). Does that validate his MLC? I guess it does to him. Not to me. I think it's a bit much to have that kind of perspective after going through an experience like this!

      • I am going to say the following even though I am going through the same thing…and it's not my intention to do anything but give hope with this posting…While he will likely not be the original guy (and it IS so weird to be present with someone you thought you knew so well, only to ask yourself, "Who are YOU?"), more of the him that you used to know may come back….it's happening that way here now; the only thing is that my spouse seems more manic about it…you know….way happy, followed by sulking and slumped shoulders, as if it pains him to be at home. Hopefully it WILL get better. I consider you a wonderful person for trying. Be well.

  7. owyw – I can buy the idea of the MLC as a catharsis but only if the result is a "better" person, not as an exercise in narcissism. All the pain has to be validated by something beyond "I did it my way". Yes, I want my wife of 15 years to become a different person, someone who can put the pain of a horrible childhood (parentification) behind her for her own sake; but replacing a Lost Childhood with a worse adulthood can't be the answer. And I agree with you – nothing excuses the process of MLC, there are a lot of explanations but no excuses; the outcome however hopefully will validate the pain

      • Guess metamorphosis would be a better word – and the hardest thing is to keep your palm stretched out for the butterfly to come back even though the caterpillar left some nasty scars

  8. My husband of 14 years started to act weird about 9 months ago and told me he wanted out 3 months ago. He officially moved out a month ago. To say that this is the most painful time in my life is an understatement. I cannot, and probably won't for awhile, believe the devastation this has caused.
    My husband is already casually dating people and this just adds salt to an already festering wound. the thought that he could "get over "us so quickly is nauseating.
    When I see him though, I see how depressed and alone he is. He looks sunk. I hear through the grapevine (his friends) that he hopes for a reconciliation in a year. How do you get past this?? I would think a reconciliation would be more probable if he were actually working on himself and his "inner struggle". He is not. He is f**king other people and, they too, may get hurt through all this.
    I wish I could say I saw this coming, that we had stopped being affectionate and having sex and there was no love left, we had drifted apart-I cannot say any of these things. I think about him telling me I was the love of his life (as he often said) a few days before all this happened.

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