This is a continuation, responding to common misconceptions of Standing; at this point it is the final post in this series. I give my official definition of a Stander in Part I.
- 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.
Part IV (This Post)
- 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.
Standers are Standing for something that is dead.
I encourage Standing for what can be—with the understanding and acceptance that can is not the same as will. Accepting the present reality does not mean a person has to give up on the idea of a new and better relationship in the future. It is not uncommon for a new Stander to want to old marriage back. But often as they grow and change, they want create a new marriage that is about the new person they are becoming rather than returning to something which they realize may have been dysfunctional or to something which worked for who they used to be, but needs to be different to accommodate how they are different. Standers love who they become and they do not want to regress to their former Self—even if they feel they were a well-adjusted person. Now they are a different well-adjusted person.
Standing creates pressure and it is counterproductive because it isn’t attractive to the leaving spouse.
Well sure it creatures pressure if the Stander hounds and guilts their spouse about it. Standing is a private matter. Some Standers never mention it, some let their spouse know at the beginning of their Stand and do not bring it up again, some give occasional reminders. It’s actually none of anyone’s business—including the spouse for whom they are Standing. That is because it is about a belief in marriage—whether in general or their specific marriage. Accepting that their spouse has a different belief about their marriage is also part of Standing. It is not anyone’s job to control or change someone else. How much a Stander communicates their Stand depends on the unique dynamics of their situation. The best communication is through actions rather than direct statements about Standing. Live the Unconditionals, detach, set boundaries and adjust your actions as your situation progresses.
There are some leaving spouses who will still feel pressure—even if the Standing spouse is not applying pressure. MLCers are often overwhelmed by their own guilt and they will project this onto their left behind spouse, sometimes blaming Standing. That sounds like a double bind—damned either way! But Standing is not a marriage saving plan or program. You are not responsible for how your spouse chooses to react, or what they feel or believe about your Stand. Accept and do what you feel is best and right for your situation. You may do everything well and your MLCer may still project and interpret your actions or inactions as Doormatish, weak, angry, controlling, desperate… Their interpretation is not within our control!
As for whether it is or is not attractive to the leaving spouse, well that depends on the leaving spouse and how the Stander handles the situation. Standing is unattractive to many who hold so many misconceptions and a leaving spouse may hold those same misconceptions; that does not mean they are accurate. If a Stander beg-n-pleads, pursues and doesn’t detach, of course they are not being an attractive force, but not because they are a Stander.
To a Stander, the only acceptable outcome is reconciliation.
Reconciliation is the desired outcome, that does not mean Standers will pine away and die of the outcome is different and many Standers change their mind after a while. Though Standing is permanent (or until reconciliation) for some—usually Covenant Keepers—it is not meant to be a permanent condition of life.
Standers bail out their MLCers (Ex. support them financially while they cheat).
Sometimes boundaries can be blurry. Married couples may share bank accounts, bills, credit cards… If you have left the home—because your spouse kicked you out or you left on your own in the midst of your spouse’s infidelity—and you continue to pay or help pay the house payment, are you financially supporting the infidelity? You name is in the mortgage, so technically you are legally obligated to see that it is paid. How about paying other shard bills or keeping money in your bank account even though your spouse has access?
Those may seem blurry, but finances can often be separated—though it may not be easy. Change bank accounts and credit cards to protect yourself. But sometimes the courts step in and the legal system may not be a friend of your marriage; suddenly you are legally required to pay support to your spouse—money which makes it easier for them to continue their affair. This can be a double bind.
Standing is not about enabling. It is not about rescuing your spouse so that they do not learn for themselves and solve their own problems. It’s not about keeping them dependent on you by doing everything for them and giving them whatever they want.
Do what you are required within the law—and especially see that your children are taken care of. But also do not bail your spouse out of their financial troubles—do what you must to protect your own finances and your children, but financial support stops there. They can pay their own rent and buy their own food and gas and pay-off their credit card—just make sure that you are not on that account and you may need some form of legal separation so that you cannot be held responsible.
This is a challenge—and I don’t simply mean because the legal system may not be supportive of your Stand. We want to help and so when your MLCer comes to you with a sob story and perhaps words of regret, you want to help. I get it and I am not saying that you should turn them down in all circumstances.
If your MLCer calls you to come and help them because they are stranded on a dark highway at midnight with a flat tire, go help them. A dark road at night can be dangerous. If it’s the middle of the day, they can find someone else. If they call you because they have been arrested for driving while drunk, tell them you are sorry they put themselves in such a position and do not bail them out. Basically, be a true friend. That is, someone who is there in a time of true need and who is honest and enables self-reliance rather than co-dependence.
Standers lie (to outsiders) about the affair or keep it secret.
This is related to the issue of exposure. Should you or should you not expose an affair and to what extent. Personally I am an advocate of Targeted Exposure, but I have talked about it very little because it’s often a non-issue because so many MLCers tell the world and there is no need for you to do any exposing. I am not an advocate of exposure as a method for shaming and humiliating as a tactic to end an affair. I think we need support and though having online friends is helpful, cyber-hugs are not enough for most of us. Targeted Exposure may also include telling those people who you feel can and will have influence over your MLCer toward ending an affair—while remaining loving to them. This is most often the MLCer’s family—your in-laws, but they are not friends of the marriage in all marriages; exposure is only meant to be used when it may be useful towards either helping to influence ending an affair and/or to offer the left behind spouse support in their time of need. It is not mean to be a tool to end the affair immediately—though telling in-laws may have such an additional or eventual benefit. And as many of you know, if the situation is a midlife crisis, the MLCer’s family may have little to no influence–or it will still take a few years for it to have noticeable progress.
What I do not advocate is lying about an affair or separation (living arrangements, regardless of legalities)— especially not if directly asked. But please don’t go tell everyone and please don’t make it a regular topic of conversation with those who know. Sometimes you will tell because you are bawling and your distress is obvious and when a friend asks, you break like a flood and everything spills out. Sometimes you will be more deliberate, calling a friend and specifically saying you need to talk and that you are having a hard time.
Your marriage is not the world’s business, but your friends are worried about you and those who are especially close may feel hurt that you did not come to them because they would have been able to hug you through some of your pain and a few may even have personal experience and can offer you guidance and insight based on being betrayed or being the betrayer.
Now if a Stander has a moral code against letting any personal acquaintance know, then that is their choice; that does not make it a general code of Standers.