Stall Tactics

Lately I’ve spoken with many betrayed spouses who are in what feels like a constant state of flux. One minute they think they are headed to pay the retainer for a divorce attorney. The next minute their spouse is saying they want to come home, why can’t we work this out, and let’s put the divorce on hold. The next minute, when the betrayed tries to take some concrete steps towards recovery, the unfaithful spouse resorts to a stall tactic of “Well I need more time” or “Let’s just see how things go over the next few weeks, THEN we’ll see if we need help.”

Stall tactics are what they truly are. What are they stalling for you might ask? They are stalling the betrayed from being in charge, or causing them to have to take any action or put an end to the fun they are feeling. They, the unfaithful, would rather sit and not have to take action and simply try and calm the betrayed down, rather than have to see a counselor, take a course, come to an EMS Weekend, do the First Steps Bootcamp program, talk to someone from an ‘infidelity-specific’ organization, or take any action at all. It’s human nature, we don’t want to have to do anything outside of our comfort zone, or in this case an unfaithful’s ‘control zone’ where they get to make all the decisions. “I just need more time” is the clarion call of the unfaithful, appearing to be sincere yet really just wanting to keep the pressure off them from having to end their affair, get help, or show much responsibility at all.

It’s an everyday occurrence we see here at Affair Recovery.

But why does this happen? Why does it feel like a tug of war? Why does the unfaithful toy with the emotions of the betrayed?

These are all excellent questions, but we have to understand the mindset of the unfaithful.

Who’s in Charge?  

Whenever the unfaithful is in charge of what recovery looks like, something is wrong. The unfaithful is usually not in their right mind, has deceived themselves into either one or many long term affairs and has justified their infidelity time and time again both to themselves and their spouse. Do we really want that person in charge of what help we receive and deciding what direction we take in recovery? The unfaithful is also usually not sure what they want to do. They may say they want to save their marriage, but internally they may not be 100% sure they want to save the marriage and if they can stall the process for as long as they can, it provides time their go-between space: an opportunity to spend time with their spouse, as well as their affair partner, and then one day make a decision on where they want to be. The problem is, time doesn’t heal all wounds and time alone won’t provide the framework to make an educated and safe decision on where they should be ultimately. They would rather live ‘in between’ than ever make any decision. Most unfaithful are content to keep the situation the way it is rather than lose either their spouse or their affair partner.

Why Are They Stalling?

The unfaithful would love to stall the process as they don’t know what they want. Rest assured, if they can stall, they will. They typically love their kids and are open to saving the marriage for the kids, but can’t let go of the affair partner.  Often, they feel if they can stall the betrayed from forcing them to make any decision at all, they feel more in control. It’s bullying quite honestly. They can also keep the affair going on and still experience the enthrallment and ‘high’ they receive from still being with their affair partner, but not losing their spouse, their kids or their family unit. They know where they ‘should be’ but aren’t willing to do whatever it takes to get there and prefer to simply remain stuck. Without consequences that hurt, they usually will not wake up from the dream world they are living in. What’s a dream to the unfaithful is a nightmare to the betrayed.

It’s like an addict that says “I’ll get help later…..”  They usually never do. Ninety-five percent of the time, what I have seen is that unless the betrayed draws a line in the sand and demands they get help, with impending consequences, they usually will not respond. (Sometimes they won’t even respond until the consequences actually begin to unfold, and in extreme cases the consequences won’t get through to the unfaithful and it’s unfortunately writing on the wall to the fact that the marriage is over).

Do You Want To Get Well?

It’s at this point that many betrayed have to ask themselves if they too want to get help or just remain in the situation, tolerating the indifference. It goes both ways: sometimes the betrayed would rather not put any pressure on the situation as they are afraid and don’t want to lose their spouse. What they have to ultimately ask themselves is “haven’t I already lost part of them and am I going to lose even more of them if I let this nightmare continue the way it is now?” Hoping they will ‘wake up’ on their own and ‘see the light’ on their own is quite honestly very enabling to the unfaithful and the entirety of the situation. It also completely underestimates the deception the unfaithful are entangled in, not realizing the underlying selfishness and self-absorption the unfaithful is swallowed up in.  

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