The Gap - Part Two

Continuing our discussion on the gap between where we start recovery and where we want to end up, many have commented the last couple days about the gap they are in. Some have said it’s stretching them and even more have said it’s ripping them apart and some would even say it’s “serving its purpose.”

It’s one of those things which isn't fun, but very necessary. Well, it’s only necessary if you want to heal and if you want a more enriched life and marriage. It is possible to not have much of a gap at all, but after what I've been through, and helping the amount of others I've been fortunate enough to help, I’m convinced there has to be some amount of ‘gap’ in order to provide space for the process to work.

Here are a few more lessons Samantha and I learned in the Gap:

1. Don’t make any major decisions while you’re in the middle of the gap. Your spouse may be wrestling with some serious issues, and it takes time to work through them. Breakthrough and change can come very quickly when things click mentally for a spouse. We don’t know when that will be. Maybe deciding beforehand on how long you’re going to give the process will help you decide if you’re willing to stay in the marriage past a 6 month period? Each situation is remarkably different and challenging, but just because your mate is not making ALL of the changes they need to make within a few months, doesn’t mean they won’t make those changes long term.

2. With respect to the above #1, keep in mind the gap will in fact, reveal your spouse’s heart condition. If they grow impatient with your ability to handle reminders or triggers, I’m quite sure you’ll see their impatient heart begin to show itself. Alternatively, if you are growing frustrated with your unfaithful spouse’s inability to change everything about themselves, you may see your own controlling tendencies starting to show. Perhaps their inability to respond as quickly as you’d like them to, is revealing your own pride? Keep in mind, I totally understand there are proper timelines and expectations which need to be addressed, and that’s where experienced help comes in to help ascertain where you should be in relation to what you’ve been through.

3. The gap can provide a framework to begin to see change. The intensity of your marriage is completely turned up, as well as the volume during this gap. Both of you are on edge and for the most part, wanting to see change in your spouse and are aware of what seems like every little issue. But, the gap presents a chance to communicate far more openly than ever before. Certainly more open than during the double life you or your spouse was living. If there was one issue that was actually more enjoyable as we got progressively healthier, it was the ability for Samantha and me to be able to talk far more openly and objectively without being shamed or condemned. Without help, we were a nightmare and fought constantly and could never hear each other, much less understand each other. But, once we understood each other’s communication style and communicative boundaries, we were able to gain incredible speed communicating about each other’s needs and desires. If this is done right, it can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences of the whole ordeal of restoration. I speak from experience friends, and there are times now when I long for such openness between us. It becomes harder and harder to maintain, the further away you get from disclosure if you don’t maintain it and practice it.

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The pain of the gap

It has been 4 1/2 months from D day and only 6 weeks from the last time my unfaithful spouse has been with his AP. I believe he is struggling with the loss of his AP and although he claims that he desperately wants to be “where we were” he has made very little effort to seek help. He had acknowledged an “internal struggle”.

For the last 4 1/2 months I have shared my pain, my thoughts, and my anger with him while I tried to lead him to help. I have sent him links to several of your posts; hope for healing; I even bought a book for him to read about what he can do to help us recover. But I now understand that I can not control his recovery.

I am in Harboring Hope, I started seeing a counselor for my anxiety and depression that is a result of this trauma, I have spent hundreds of hours on this site and others researching affairs, and the recovery process, I have read several books etc.

We both want to “fix this” but I feel I am the only one taking action. I understand from all of your posts that expert help is needed and although my husband has agreed that we can’t do this alone he has failed to act on seeking help. His lack of progress had increased my heartache and prolonged my incredible pain and anxiety.

So my question is, since it seems that our efforts are extremely disproportionate during this gap stage... what is a reasonable period to wait for action on his part? His desire for reconciliation is not equal to his efforts and I worry that I am just prolonging the inevitable if he shows no progress. I do not want to give up - we have been married for 16 years and have children- I am waiting for him and working on me.

(We are separated at this time due to his military obligations. I believe this separation, which began 2 months ago has added to our inability to heal).

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-D, Texas