This topic comes up occasionally. This past week there was a link to my site posted at another forum where they were having a debate about Standing—and trust me they were not advocates! I was then directed to another thread at a different forum that was not specifically about Standing, but had that as a small part of the debate. So I made a list of the common misconceptions and have or will be addressing them in the next few posts.
A person who seeks to remain married while his or her spouse is seeking to escape the marriage; legal actions may or may not have been initiated or finalized. Some are Standers by action, while others are strict Standers in philosophy, believing divorce is an immoral action. Standing usually provides an option of conditional return to a functional marriage for the spouse who is leaving, but some Standers simply Stand by refusing to seek or recognize legal divorce and refusing other relationships as an honor to their vows.
Standing is simple in its basic concept; you want to be married and thus you live as though married even in the absence of your spouse. You don’t have to do anything but live. Stand by being married. While you’re doing that, focus on your Self, focus on healing; two broken people can’t make a marriage work.
Living as though you are married does not mean that you stalk your MLCer or bring them lunch and fix things for him and call them all the time. It’s personal. For me I lived as though I was married (he was not home, though we remained legally married) by not seeking other romantic relationships. It doesn’t mean you force a relationship with your MLCer. ARGH No way!
Part I (This Post)
- Standing is a method for saving a marriage.
- Standing is still or waiting.
- Standers are fundamentalist Christians.
- Standing is weak—Standers are doormats.
- Standers go against the Stockdale Paradox.
- Standing is about Acting As If your spouse will return.
- Standers are not accepting the reality of their situation; they are in denial.
- Saving the marriage is the primary objective or focus.
- Standing is a form of control or manipulation.
- Standers are Standing for something that is dead.
- Standing creates pressure and it is counterproductive because it isn’t attractive to the leaving spouse.
- The only acceptable outcome is reconciliation.
- Standers bail out their MLCers (Ex. support them financially while they cheat)
- Standers lie (to outsiders) about the affair or keep it secret.
For all of these misconceptions about Standing, you will find Standers who are doing them. Though the Bible warns against passing judgment on others, Christians judge. A Stander’s Actions may not be Standing Actions and there is a process toward recovery and we all stumble even as we make progress.
Standing is a method for saving a marriage.
I wanted to start with this because it is a common misconception of Standers as well as those who are not Standing.
Standing is not a plan. Standing is not a marriage saving tactic in itself—Standing Actions are the tactics and those vary with individual situations. Standing is more of a belief about marriage—or your marriage—or about what you want. If you don’t want a divorce (or want to reconcile your marriage though you are divorced) and you are choosing not to seek other romantic relationships, you are Standing—according to how I define it.
A Stander is someone who wants to remain married either in legal name only if they have a religious belief against divorce, or more commonly someone who wants to remain married (or remarry if there has been a legal divorce) and reconcile the relationship—returning to a relationship of marital intimacy. The label itself does not have actions, though there are actions that go with it in order to achieve the goals of a Stander.
To say that Standing is a plan or method for saving marriage is like saying salvation requires good works and has nothing to do with Grace. Being a Stander implies actions—just like being a Christian may imply or enable certain actions. But those are actions are natural byproducts of the being, not part of how to meet the requirements to be allowed to use the label. I do good works as a natural byproduct of my faith, not because it is a requirement of my faith.
Some MLCers need reassurance and a more involved Stander—and eventually a more involved Stander may lead to cake-eating at which time stricter contact limitations or boundaries may become necessary. But there are others who need to opposite approach. Leave them alone and let them fall. They may even need to feel abandoned because that is what may motivate them to pull themselves out of the pit they have dug. How do you know which type you have? Clinging Boomerangs need reassurance, but couldn’t it be true of some that they would fare better if their spouse just dropped the rope and let them fall?
This is why I don’t have a specific plan with steps. Do what works. And doing what works in one situation is not the same as in another.
Standing is still or waiting.
I did not sit around waiting. Standing isn’t still, being is. What I mean by that is that it’s important to find a place of peace and calm or stillness within—such as through prayer and meditation. It’s also about consistency and Accepting the process or reality of the situation—that doesn’t mean something is accept-able or that we are allowing; my reality was that Sweetheart was choosing to cheat and leave. That does not mean he had no consequences for cheating. I kicked him out on two occasions—on one I told him he needed to leave and he did and on another I packed his bags for him and surprised him when he got home from work.
I went No Contact or limited contact—I got better at it through time. I also did not let him just waltz back home a bunch of times, I told him he couldn’t come home more often than I let him come home and when he did I tried a variety of things—counseling, a transition home… Yeah, I caved sometimes and made plenty of mistakes, but I practiced and set boundaries. When something didn’t work, I did something else.
We say that Standing isn’t still because it’s not about doing nothing—making no changes—and expecting things to improve. It’s not about blaming. Mirror-Work is a major part of Standing. While Sweetheart was gone, my job was to live my life and work on me—that is still my job. I got a life and continued the life I had. I started practicing meditation and took metaphysical classes at a local bookstore. I joined a few groups there as well. I read a lot. To many that is not GAL, but it is for me. I read relationship books, books about midlife, aging, depression; I read books about forgiveness, meditation, hypnosis, creative visualization, tarot, palmistry, feng shui… Reading feed my soul and I was reading in new areas and loving it. I repainted the interior of our house, feng shuied the house, painted furniture—yes I painted it purple—and designed and made prayer dolls using precious stones.
My Mirror-Work was about me the individual, not me as Sweetheart’s wife. That doesn’t mean it did not help me in that role as well, but the purpose and focus was not directed at my role as wife, that was for reconnection and reconciliation.
I regularly practiced meditation and self-hypnosis and journaled and continued to see my counseling mentor—the psychic I have mentioned in other posts. I talked to Lingy—she became my new best friend after we met in a support group online. We talked for hours a day sometimes. Occasionally we met up—I stayed overnight at her house a few times and sometimes I even took her to the doctor. As an extrovert, she balanced me and kept me socially active.
Life was exciting, challenging, joyful, painful… Yes, all those things; what it was not, was boring. I did not sit by the phone pining away for Sweetheart. A person can have a belief and goal for their marriage and have a fulfilling life during the gap period when that goal is not yet realized.
Standers are fundamentalist Christians.
I borowed the term Stander from some of those fundamentalist Christian sites, but I am not myself fundamentalist; I am Lutheran. Though I borrowed the term, I have tried to transform it in order to not limit it to a specific religious group and belief system. So sure, some Standers are fundamentalist Christians, some are atheists, some are Jewish, some are Buddhist… There is no requirement of religious faith to call one’s Self a Stander.
Did I pray Sweetheart home? Well, sure prayer was one of my tools, but it led me to other tools like boundaries and Mirror-Work and detachment. My faith was an important part of my Stand, but it’s mine, not anyone else’s. I don’t marital (or spiritual) salvation is only for those who belief Jesus Christ is the only son of God and so I don’t want to alienate those who do not share my religious beliefs.