MLC or not where is my/your self-respect?
I don’t see any self-respect in…
- Standing amidst cake-eating.
- Standing amidst divorce proceedings.
- Standing amidst infidelity.
- Standing amidst Monster-Abuse.
- Standing for someone who doesn’t want to be with me.
According to Google definitions, self-respect is pride and confidence in oneself; a feeling that one is behaving with honor and dignity.
Notice that the definition said that self-respect is a pride in oneself, not a pride in someone else, but so often when an LBS makes a comment about self-respect, it’s about how someone else is claiming that the LBS doesn’t have self-respect. When others accuse you of lacking self-respect they are often saying that they do not respect your actions; they are talking about themselves, not you. Your Code of Self-Respect is about how you feel about you, not how someone else feels about you; self-respect is personal and can be ranked.
Betrayals and Abuses
- Living at home and cheating
- Drug abuse and/or excessive drinking
- Abandoning someone—at any time or when they are clearly not in their right mind
- Living at home and flaunting/taunting you with cheating
- Not living at home and flaunting/taunting you with cheating
- Breaking vows of forever
- Not living at home and cheating
If I value all of these as something I do not want in order to have my self-respect and my spouse is in MLC, cheating and/or leaving me and possibly trying to divorce me, I am not going to be able to uphold all of them; it’s not possible. So which are most important to me? Do you think we would rank them the same? Do you think that how you rank them at the beginning of MLC would be the same as after a few or more years?
You have a choice; you get to choose which of those is more important to you. Every one of them is valid as your number 1 choice.
The other issue I find with self-respect that often it is someone else—or many someone’s—who are telling you that you need it or implying that you don’t have it due to your actions or inactions regarding your situation. What they are really saying is that they don’t respect what you are doing and that they think they would do something different if it was them—though many Standers thought that until…
For me not breaking my vows and not abandoning rank at the top of what I need to do to maintain my self-respect. Should I sacrifice my own self-respect in order to earn the respect of others? That is basically what people are suggesting people do—though that is not their intention, people just assume that we either do or should rank those things the same as they do.
Self is a key word in self-respect. It has nothing to do with what others think of you. It’s not about their approval of your beliefs, feelings or even actions.
Breaking Your Code of Self-Respect
So far I have discussed accepting things that you do not wish to be a part of your marriage, but often you are choosing one evil over another. I accepted Chuck’s affair—that didn’t mean I approved or allowed it, accepting it was an acceptance that his relationship with the alienator was not within my control. To some it may seem like semantics or no difference, but there is a great divide between accepting something and allowing it.
In the beginning of MLC Left Behind Spouses are vulnerable to breaking their Code of Self-Respect. Many are desperate and instead of being willing to do what it takes, they will instead do anything to save their marriage. MLCers want what they want and often do not care about the cost to you—or given typical cycling they care in some moments and not in others; they may tell you or promise you anything if you will agree to their terms.
Do not agree outright to anything offered by your MLCer!
Some of you have regretted the agreements you have made with your MLCer and others of you are shocked at the agreements made by your peers. The most egregious and common I see are about allowing infidelity in different forms:
You are not going to be sister-wives with the alienator! And yes, that is a common fantasy of male MLCers. Several LBSs have agreed to let or consider letting the alienator move into their marital home for a trial run.
I am not trying to speak against plural marriage and sister-wives, but if that is not part of your culture or faith, then it is not appropriate.
- An open relationship (swinging) is not a good idea, though I have seen LBSs (oddly I often read this with male LBSs more than female) agree to it.
Again, I am not trying to condemn this lifestyle for those who choose it. But if the suggestion is an ultimatum for remaining married rather than a joint agreement, it is coercion.
Tough & Tender
There is often a fine line between accepting and allowing. You may be against something and voice your objections, but your MLCer will pay no attention, knowingly and even intentionally crossing your stated boundaries. Be careful about the boundaries and consequences you set. Both boundaries and consequences should become stricter as MLC progresses—measure progress in years. In the beginning of MLC it is more important that you focus primarily on your growth and changes an in your interactions with your MLCer be flexible, soft and conciliatory instead of focusing on rule breaches. Notice I did not say to ignore breaches, only that they should not be your primary focus. MLCer’s moving away from you will feel validated in their felt need to get away if you become an enforcer and this will eat away at you as well as it may lead you to snooping which enables anxiety. It is when your MLCer is moving toward you that you need to become firmer. In the beginning as your MLCer cycles to and from you, you may teeter back-and-forth; keep the balance on the flexible, soft and conciliatory side. Later as Touch-N-Goes progress to Reconnections, balance on the tough and firm side.
What does each item in the list of betrayals and abuses cost you? Valuable things are not free. Self-respect accepts the risks that come with the value. I would rather be joyfully still-married with a marital past that was challenging than divorced with the same marital past. I would also rather have taken the risk of becoming joyfully still-married and yet ending up divorced. Standing puts you in the risk zone. You are going to compromise on some of your principles in order to uphold some of your other principles. It is up to each individual to determine the value within the risk. There is nothing wrong with ranking allowing infidelity first and that being where you stop Standing.
On the other side, what does it cost when you break your Code of Self-Respect? Sure, others will lose respect for you as well, but wasn’t that happening when you broke their code while maintaining your own because you compromised on some of your principles? Yes, but truly violating your own Code of Self Respect will change you; it weakens you and not just a position you may claim. It takes a mental and emotional toll and creates toxic shame within you. Often people will come to respect someone who upholds their own principles even when they disagree with you, but when you violate your own code, the loss of respect of others is more difficult to regain.