Detoxing from Expectations

My recent posts on the detox process have stirred many who have reached out privately.  Having said that, I think we’ll continue on this topic and see where it goes.  Though complicated, I hope there is some insight which comes from my own experiences and observations.  Someone asked me why I write. Besides Rick asking me to, I simply said, “To give voice to the hurt and pain I caused by my terrible decisions and hope that somehow God can use my mess to help heal others and make sense out of what they may be going through right now.”

It’s very common for a betrayed spouse, when walking through their spouse’s detoxing phase, to place expectations upon them.  I think it’s a critical mistake to put unreasonable expectations upon someone who is unhealthy, self-deceived, (self-deluded even) and completely walking in darkness.  To ask them to make decisions which would be loving and respectful when they have already acted in a completely unloving and disrespectful way for so long is unrealistic.  Quite frankly, many times their reasoning faculties are jaded, distorted and not firing properly at all (to put it mildly). 

They may agree to the expectations in some cases, but walking them out will many times be next to impossible, depending on how deep they are into the affair or compulsive behavior. 

Without the intervention of expert help and care to help open their eyes and bring them to clarity, some unfaithful spouses will simply run over you and your expectations and requirements.  It may be from an inability to make connections with what their choices are doing to you, or it may be due to their outright anger and hostility at you for not meeting their needs (which, though unfair, only adds fuel to their sordid justification of the affair).  But one thing I’ve seen too much of and experienced too much of in my own life is they will not act out of integrity and devotion for you when they are still caught up in the affair and have no plan on how to walk this thing out.  They have lived a significant amount of time in hiding, a double life, and now to expect them to act rationally and compassionately when they are caught up in this emotional entanglement is just unrealistic.

The pain associated with this is nothing short of tortuous I’m sure.  To know your partner is comparing you or refusing to take action which will show love and devotion, all the while knowing what they are doing is hurting you is almost sociopathic.  However, my submission to you is many times they genuinely have no clue how much they are hurting you or what their choices are doing to you. They have disconnected from their moral guidance system.  For more info and insight on that, please refer to Rick’s exceptional article on Justification and Blame found here:

The unfaithful have had to take several points of action to justify their affair to themselves.  To think they will snap out of it, or be able to connect with what they are doing to you mentally and emotionally is guaranteed disappointment. Just look at what they have had to do to disconnect from the pain they initially felt when they cheated or acted out the first time.

When we detox from expectations of our spouse, we create the opportunity for greater freedom.

It doesn’t mean we release them from responsibility, but we release them from our expectations of them acting rightly, righteously or compassionately.  When we take action and get qualified, expert care that, we can then place rational, reasonable expectations of what is proper behavior for your specific situation.

What are those you may say?  That’s where someone on Rick’s team, or Rick himself, or an EMS Weekend can help create safe and reasonable expectations that your spouse needs to act upon.  If they refuse to act upon them and refuse to take action in correspondence with what they have been taught and instructed, it’s at that point a betrayed spouse needs to begin to take specific action to enforce consequences and pull away.  If they do not pull away or bring into the situation some series of consequences or negative impact to their spouse’s unwillingness to abide by boundaries, your spouse has no reason to change. This behavior ultimately shows an unwillingness to heal and a refusal to cooperate by the unfaithful.

At that point, I believe a betrayed spouse must begin to pull away and pursue their own recovery.  Oddly enough, it’s usually at that point of pulling away which I’ve seen unfaithful spouses actually start to come around, sober up and begin to cooperate.

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This is my favorite out of

This is my favorite out of your detox articles. In the beginning I couldn't understand why immediately after discovery my husband was incapable of acting rationally and compassionatley. This makes perfect sense. I expected somebody who had been lying and hiding for years to be able to act properly overnight. It didn't happen. Then after professional help and many months of very hard work I see a completely different person. It still baffled me after that because I wondered where that man full of compassion, remorse and sorrow had been hiding. It definitely helps me understand that it takes time to walk out of the darkness of a life he was living and step back into being the person he once was many years ago. great article. Thank you.

Wow does this help!

This explains the distance between my husband and I. Until I gave him the ultimatum of EMSO or I was leaving, he did nothing about figuring out why he had the affair, or why he still had feelings for his AP even though there was no contact. This article also helped me realize why connecting is so hard for him. I did expect him to just come back to me and be the man he once was. I see now why that didn't happen. He is trying.

In Detox

I'm the unfaithful, and I'm very much struggling with my sins and behavior. I've caused so much pain I feel that I may never understand how much damage I've done. Even after discovery I continued to hide and lie and talk to my AP. I tried going to church, talking to God and surrendering to His will. I was only doing it half-way since I wasn't fully giving up my wicked ways. It wasn't until recently that I finally decided to give it all up and fully surrender to God and trust entirely in Him. However, up to this recent decision I have done nothing correct. I couldn't even properly end my relationship with my AP. I do know that I don't want to go back to my AP no matter what happens--even though my wife has showed me the petition for divorce. She's in so much pain, and I'm in so much shame I feel as though hope is lost. I feel I've come to this realization and turned to God too late. Please pray for our healing and God's will.


my friend, I'm so sorry for the pain. I can feel your hurt though the post. have you all gotten any help at all? what you've described is normal and understandable, but have you gotten any third party's help in the situation at all? that's more the tipping point, not whether or not you've done what you've done or your motives. it's about getting expert care to help you do what you know you need to do, but have no real idea how. without a plan or without help, it will most likely never happen. is your wife open to getting help before the divorce? i mean expert, triage unit like help before divorce?

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