A guarantee does not exist for reconciliation and right now, more situations end in divorce than in reconciliation. There are still reconciliation stories and the forum is filled with success stories because reconciliation and being successful are not mutually exclusive. For your hope, my husband Chuck came home and we have since adopted 3 children and are foster parents to an infant as well. Reconciliation is not impossible, but even if you Stand perfectly, your MLCer may not choose to reconcile with you—that will not be your fault! I am not trying to destroy your hope in saying that; what I am trying to do is give you a dose of reality as it is now. Go into this with your eyes wide open.
In the beginning, Stand as a Grace Period to let yourself heal before making a decision. After a Grace Period, make your own choice about what to do, Stand for your marriage and choose your terms for a possible reconciliation knowing and accepting reality or choose to stop Standing; the choice is yours!
Are there things you can do to improve your chances of reconciling? What might or might not improve the odds toward reconciliation?
There are some who have this idea that if you just stay the course your MLCer will eventually come out of MLC and return.
Reconciliation is not a stage of MLC; it’s not the main thing that happens when an MLCer wakes up and realizes what they have done.
Consider the reconciliations you know about, how much time was there from Bomb Drop to Reconciliation? Most reconciliations happen in the early years. That is not to say that they do not happen later, but the odds go down with time.
Your MLCer is not more likely to return home simply because you wait and wait and wait for years and years—or even if you don’t spend that time waiting. Though patience is important, waiting is not a method that will get you to your Big Goal. Victims and stuck people wait. Life will pass you by while you wait. Standing is not still; Being is still; Standing is active and about living. Unfortunately, people do Stand by waiting rather than by continuing to live a full and joyous life—and yes, I do understand and accept that recovery to an active and joyous life takes time, but it is not supposed to take forever.
Healing and Personal Empowerment
Marriages do not reconcile—at least not to successful stability—with a betrayed spouse who has not healed and become stronger. Marriage is not about two people completing each other! A secure marriage is built on two complete individuals coming together to share each other’s lives; being whole is the job of the individual. Each person will heal on their own timeline and recovery is unique to each individual, but some people use that as their excuse for remaining stuck and failing or refusing to heal. Pull yourself together, stand up and take responsibility for your recovery. The faster you become strong, the faster you become an attractive force.
I want to be sensitive to your individual path to healing. This is a place in need of a Tough-Tender balance because too Tender may lead to coddling and enabling an LBS to remain in the early stages where you become stuck. Too Tough and I could alienate an LBS who may then refuse further guidance or I could push them too fast for their present abilities which can damage self-esteem.
Do the odds for reconciliation increase with an LBS who detaches and heals faster? MLC has a timeline of its own, but will an LBS who detaches and heals quickly, accepting their own Mirror-Work, inspire an MLCer to do the same? Don’t get me wrong, healing is important for you; the benefits toward reconciliation are secondary, but maybe that is what will motivate some of you to detach and heal. If what I said above is true and the odds of marital reconciliation go down with time, it would seem prudent to take your personal healing and health seriously now.
Please understand, healing will not guarantee reconciliation.
Identify the problem. This can take a while. In the moments, days, weeks and maybe even months after Bomb Drop you may have searched for a purpose or reason. What has happened to my loving partner? Did we have problems that were this serious in our marriage? What is going on? Why is he/she doing this feeling this way? Who is that madman in my husband’s/wife’s body? These are the questions you ask over and over as you try to understand and make sense of this shock. They grip you and send you off on tangents as you find something that fits pieces, without quite fitting everything.
Is he a narcissist?
Is this an exit affair?
Is she right, did we have a bad marriage?
Now that you have identified the problem—midlife crisis— you finally have something to learn about that may help your situation move forward by educating yourself just enough to answer your basic questions: what’s happening, what does it mean, why is this happening, what can I do…?
Then stop! Or redirect more energy toward your personal education or learning and your own Mirror-Work rather than midlife crisis, because focusing on the latter could keep you attached to the situation and your MLCer and prevent you from progressing forward in a healthy and positive manner.
So which is it, does education improve the odds of reconciliation, have no effect or decrease the odds?
It depends on where you focus your learning. Education can be helpful because it can lead to understanding which can enable empathy. An MLCer typically does some terrible things that will hurt you deeply. Understanding the psychology behind this can help you to continue to apply the Unconditionals. Education is also beneficial in that having some answers allows you to stop obsessing over not knowing and redirect focus back onto yourself. But it can work against reconciliation if you fail to focus more of your energy toward your Self and instead keep your energy focused on midlife crisis and your MLCer.
This is related to and part of healing. You need to heal your broken heart from the effects of Bomb Drop and Monster. Mirror-Work goes deeper; it is a personal journey exploring you. Focus your energy on you. Your spouse is not and was not your everything and if you feel as though they were your reason for living, please speak with a mental health professional and make yourself a priority.
Mirror-Work honors you by giving you the time to be you and learn what that means—who are you? It takes many forms and has many facets. Healing and detachment are pieces of Mirror-Work, but so are meditating, journaling, dancing, singing, hiking… An important aspect of Mirror-Work is to discover the creator in you. Do this by exploring and playing with different activities. It might seem lavish to spend this time not only on yourself but also doing activities that may seem frivolous because they are fun and may not fit into what you consider functional.
Transitions are about change. Your spouse’s midlife crisis is a transition that has forced you into a transition as well. Mirror-Work is how you learn who you are becoming and who you want to become through this journey. No, it will not guarantee reconciliation, but it will empower you and enable all the Self positives like worth, confidence, esteem, control… and a person with high Self-levels has increased odds for reconciling.
We teach people how to treat us; the boundaries we set let people know what is acceptable to us and what is not. Without boundaries, you open yourself up to abuse—whether intentional or unintentional—because people will take advantage of you.
Boundaries are much more than rules for how to treat a person. They help us to separate who we are from others, giving us personal control over our identity. They enable us to establish limits in relationships, protecting our self-image and thus preserving our integrity. A person without boundaries looks externally to define their value in this world because without boundaries they are unable to tell where others end and they begin; such a person defines themselves as someone’s parent, husband, child, sibling, employee and their persona revolves around meeting that definition.
A person with boundaries is capable of saying no. There is nothing wrong with trying to please others until you do it at your own expense. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first–put your needs first, but Self-First is not only for emergencies. Self-Care is self-preservation and self-maintenance and keeps you energized for giving care to others without feeling exhausted and eventually resentment.
There are no guarantees that a person with strong and loving boundaries will reconcile their marriage, but someone without strong and loving boundaries is not yet a whole and healthy person and thus not able to do the work needed to build a healthy relationship with someone else. Get your relationship with you in alignment first. Having strong and loving boundaries improves the odds of reconciliation.
Agapé and Love Them Home
I love these. The problem is in the application or what you consider these to be. Loving them Home, in theory, is something that improves the odds of reconciliation Unfortunately some people’s idea is more about dismissing a person’s sins with excuses. The same confusion exists regarding forgiveness. Agapé and forgiveness are both unconditional, but that does not mean you should apply them in the absence of rules, boundaries, consequences or accountability. The problem is not with loving them home, it is with the idea that unconditional love means you should not hold your MLCer responsible due to the confused and unstable state of MLC (during which they may be easy prey for an alienator) or they are too fragile to handle the consequences that come with being held accountable. Stop making excuses for your spouse! Or stop making the excuses excusable.
Go back to what I said above: we treat people how to treat us. Failing or refusing to set or maintain boundaries enables a person to avoid Mirror-Work and denies them the opportunity to make amends and repair the damage they have caused. Instead, they may feel entitled and believe there is no damage.
Ironically it is not uncommon for those applying agapé in this manner to also be more judgmental; sometimes vacillating between seeming forgiveness without consequences and resentment, anger and judgment.
Loving them and Standing are not about preserving a home and waiting for them with open arms. Move forward and rebuild your life, becoming an attractive force that may interest and inspire your MLCer to do their own Mirror-Work to catch up. If they do not—someday—become motivated to catch-up, it is not because you failed. If they do become motivated to catch-up and yet are still not interested in reconciling, you still have not failed; they still get to choose.
Loving them home from a distance, where you do not deny them accountability for their actions and are not intruding, controlling or smothering can certainly improve the odds of reconciling.
Reconciliation is Not Guaranteed
You probably already knew that there was not a guarantee of reconciliation, but some of you may not have realized or accepted that the odds are at this time stacked against you. I’d love for us to change that, but let’s face it, that goal goes against society. Those who are the most susceptible to the idea of a guarantee tend to be those who base their Stand on a religious platform. Ask and ye shall receive is not an unlimited promise without conditions. I cannot tell you why God works as he does or how, but I can tell you that no amount of praying or hardship or perfect behavior will give you a guarantee of reconciliation on earth—Heaven is another matter and I have not been granted that level of knowledge or understanding.