Ambivalence am·biv·a·lence--the state of having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someoneAmbivalence can also be defined as ‘being of two minds.’ Or in a general sense, “I want to, but I don’t want to.”In recovery, ambivalence can be a very common denominator for the unfaithful. It’s not always there, but when it is it’s altogether excruciating for the betrayed. An unfaithful spouse may not want to talk about their deep-seated ambivalence, for fear of being hammered upon or ‘shamed’ if they were to disclose it. But it’s there. Deep in the inner resources of their heart and mind, it’s there, trying to eat away at their resolve and their hope.I certainly didn’t want to talk about my ambivalence with Samantha when my affair became public, but it was part of the process.Here’s a quote from one of Rick’s articles which may shed some light on ambivalence:“Since you don’t know what you want, you may find that your motivations to leave and to stay fluctuate each day. Typically, when someone doesn’t know whether to stay or go after an affair, it’s because they are ambivalent about the marriage itself. Half of you wants to stay and half of you wants to leave. Since both desires are so strong, they cancel each other out, and you don’t know what to do. You may discover that if your mate is pushing you to stay, then you want to leave and if they are pushing you to leave, then you want to stay. In that sense, you might tend to be reactive to your mate’s desires rather than actively pursuing your own future.”Since I’m writing to both an unfaithful and betrayed audience, in many ways ambivalence can be a cancer which eats away at both sides of the marriage. It’s been said the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference, or in this case ambivalence.I’m not a therapist or counselor, but someone who has been through it themselves and I can only speak from personal experience. Ambivalence from the unfaithful will ultimately torture your spouse. It gives them little hope of a future together, even seems to control them, never allowing them to be too happy that you’re possibly wanting to work on the marriage, or too sad that you are in fact leaving. It’s ultimately manipulation in its purest form as we get to have it our way and we’re calling the shots. I’ve seen it many times do its work and it’s tortuous to the other party.Rick goes on to say these words to the unfaithful:“To use your infidelity (or in this case, ambivalence) as an excuse to exit a marriage – especially since you were the one who was unfaithful – seems to display a lack of integrity. Your spouse at least deserves a chance to hear what you have been unhappy about, and a chance to work on the marriage. You should be totally open with your mate regarding what has happened so that your mate will be free to make their own decisions. Be careful not to try to control or manipulate them by the control of information.”When we’re ambivalent about saving our marriage, there’s always a reason. It may be complicated, and it may be very deep within our hearts, but it’s there. Sometimes it’s the fact that we are detoxing from our affair partner, and we’re wallowing in pity, guilt and self-absorption. Often times, we’re torn: wondering if we’ll be missing out on the life we so desperately want and dreamed about, if we stay with our spouse.While complicated, it’s not impossible, and there is both hope and help to heal.If you’re a betrayed spouse, I highly recommend an article Rick wrote called “How To Get Your Mate To Cooperate.”If you’re an unfaithful spouse, I’d like to invite you to consider that you are most likely torturing your spouse by remaining ambivalent. To continue to waver between two living, breathing people who deserve fidelity, is selfish, self-seeking, and dysfunctional. I was there. I know that hurts, but it’s the truth. Now is the time to take action, and at the very least, start the process of getting expert care to arrive at a decision. Now is the time to get the help you so desperately need to discover how you got here, and begin to take steps toward a decision in an agreed upon timeframe. To not give your spouse and yourself that chance is to act contrary to love. Whenever we are not walking in love, we fail miserably. Except this time, it’s not a failed business or a lost opportunity; it’s failing people we care about deeply.