When a relationship goes through the severe damage of infidelity, it can cause the offended spouse intense pain and heartache. While every person handles the betrayal differently, it can cause some to go into a “saving mode” where they will do anything and everything to try to save the marriage. This can lead into hypervigilance and pleading, which will only cause further harm.
Michele Wiener Davis, author of Divorce Busting, introduced a concept called “The 180,” designed to help spouses move forward from the betrayal. For some, this may seem cold, insensitive, or that they are “pretending.” The idea is to work at these, so these habits become natural. They are designed to help strengthen you, whether the marriage reconciles or dissolves.
The 180 will help empower the betrayed to face their new world with dignity and bravery
*Just one final note on the 180 to the betrayed. While this sounds like the list is telling you to “just be happy,” this is not at all what it is suggesting. It is suggesting, that with your spouse, you learn to stop trying to “win their love” or convince them to stay. You become strong and stand on your own two feet, which can be hard to do after a betrayal.
This list is titled “The 180″ because in essence, the betrayed is going to do a 180 from what they were doing before.
- Don’t pursue reason, chase, beg, plead or implore.
- No frequent phone calls.
- Don’t point out “good points” in marriage.
- Don’t follow her/him around the house.
- Don’t encourage or initiate discussion about the future.
- Don’t ask for help from the family members of your wayward partner.
- Don’t ask for reassurances.
- Don’t buy or give gifts.
- Don’t schedule dates together.
- Don’t keep saying, “I Love You!” Because if you really think about it, he/she is, at this particular moment, not very loveable.
- Do more than act as if you are moving on with your life; begin moving on with your life!
- Be cheerful, strong, outgoing and independent.
- Don’t sit around waiting on your spouse – get busy, do things, go out with friends, enjoy old hobbies, find new ones! But stay busy!
- When home with your spouse, (if you usually start the conversation) be scarce or short on words. Don’t push any issue, no matter how much you want to!
- Your partner needs to believe that you have awakened to the fact that “they (the wayward partner)” are serious concerning their assertions as to the future (or lack thereof) of your marriage. Thus, you are moving on with your life…without them!
- Don’t be nasty, angry or even cold – Just pull yourself back. Don’t always be so available…for anything! Your spouse will notice. More important, he/she will notice that you’re missing.
- No matter what you are feeling TODAY, only show your spouse happiness and contentment. Make yourself be someone they would want to be around, not a moody, needy, pathetic individual but a self-assured individual secure in the knowledge that YOU HAVE VALUE
- All questions about the marriage should be put on hold, until your spouse wants to talk about it (which may not be for quite a while). Initiate no such conversation!
- Do not allow yourself to lose your temper. No yelling, screaming or name calling EVER. No show of temper! Be cool, act cool; be in control of the only thing you can control. YOURSELF!
- Don’t be overly enthusiastic.
- Do not argue when they tell you how they feel (it only makes their feelings stronger). In fact, refuse to argue at all!
- Be patient and learn to not only listen carefully to what your spouse is really saying to you. Hear what it is that they are saying! Listen and then listen some more!
- Learn to back off, keep your mouth shut and walk away when you want to speak out, no matter what the provocation. No one ever got themselves into trouble by just not saying anything.
- Take care of you. Exercise, sleep, laugh & focus on all the other parts of your life that are not in turmoil.
- Be strong, confident and learn to speak softly.
- Know that if you can do this 180, your smallest CONSISTENT action will be noticed far more than any words you can say or write.
- Do not be openly desperate or needy even when you are hurting more than ever and are feeling totally desperate and needy.
- Do not focus on yourself when communicating with your spouse. It’s not always about you! More to the point, at present they just don’t care.
- Do not believe any of what you hear them say and less than 50% of what you see. Your spouse will speak in absolute negatives and do so in the most strident tones imaginable. Try to remember that they are also hurting and afraid. Try to remember that they know what they are doing is wrong and so they will say anything they can to justify their behavior.
- Do not give up no matter how dark it is or how bad you feel. It “ain’t over till it’s over!”
- Do not backslide from your hard-earned changes. Remain consistent! It is the consistency of action and attitude that delivers the message.
- When expressing your dissatisfaction with the actions of the wayward party, never be judgmental, critical or express moral outrage. Always explain that your dissatisfaction is due to the pain that the acts being committed are causing you as a person. Further it SHOWS that you are NOT afraid to move on with your life. Still more important, it will burst their positive little bubble; the one in which they believe that they can always come back to you in case things don’t work out with the affair partner.