What do You do When Your Spouse is Ambivalent?

Samuel tackles in today's video one of the most difficult scenarios in infidelity recovery: ambivalence.

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Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! As the betrayed, it's easy to second-guess the decision to let go. It feels unloving. This video helped me step back behind the line id drawn, a counter-intuitive but necessary stance.

Thank you!!!


Thanks for this blog, it came at a perfect time for me to listen as the betrayed spouse. However, one comment I have since I work in the mental health field. I noticed you mentioned an "addictive personality". We know that doesn't exist, as our personality resides in our pre frontal cortex, which brain scans have shown is "off" when someone is in the midst of their disease of addiction (operating out of their mid brain). If you meant some of us are predisposed to addiction, due to a malfunctioning pleasure center in our brain, then I get what you're saying. Sorry if it sounds like I'm splitting hairs, but I hear professionals all the time make this mistake and not even realize it. Thanks again for your blogs as they are extremely helpful!!!

appreciate the comment Paul.....

truth is, i don't know how many professionals like yourself watch these so i try to make sure they are as palatable as possible. however, as truthful and as accurate as possible. yes, i definitely was referring to being predisposed and the like, was more of an expression to stay relatable to those who are in crisis, but totally get what you're saying. sorry for any confusion. thanks for your comment.

Emotional affair for 4 years

Hi Samuel, my husband's been having an emotional affair with the same woman on and off for four years now. He also has a predisposition to become addicted to pretty much everything that he enjoys. And I know that he's addicted to her and the way she makes him feel special. He also says that I am not touchy-feely enough for him and we don't have sex enough. And I tried being more touchy-feely for a couple weeks and having sex more. And I thought he was happy and then the next week will the conditions were that he cut the cord with the woman and he let me read his messages and look at his calls on his phone and not delete things. And he's been deleting every single evidence that he spoken to her and going out with her all the time. He says that I didn't try to be touchy-feely and have sex more often which was a lie. But does this work with an emotional affair is this EMS weekend and on online course specifically for physical affairs? Because he doesn't believe he's having an emotional affair but everything that he's doing matches up and qualifies with everything that I've ever read on emotional affairs and it makes me feel like I'm being cheated on even though necessary not necessarily there's been any physical affair, but the way he makes me feel worthless and says he has more in common with her and he enjoys time with her more and he spends no time with me or our son. Thank you

How does pre disposed people get help?

Thanks for the clarification, always thought my husband had an addictive personality, didn't know there was a science behind it. How can I get him help? Or what's out there to assist with correcting this?

a few things...

shondi, for starters, for the unfaithful spouse the hope for healing course is exceptional.  it's 16 weeks, and very thorough and focuses on his own recovery and healing:  https://www.affairrecovery.com/product/hope-for-healing  i would also look at the ems weekend which would be a great help for HIM but also for you and your own recovery:  https://www.affairrecovery.com/product/ems-weekend  those will help immensely.  

Thanks Samuel

Hi Samuel. Thanks for all your insight. I find it helps to get into the head of the betrayer. I have asked you questions before and you kindly responded, thanks again. My husband is definitely ambivalent about our marriage. I have acted like a loser in this past year, trying to get him to understand my pain, etc. You probably can imagine :). We are in our 50's and we have no children together but have been together for 30 years (married for 27). It took this past 14 months since d-day for me to process everything by getting my own self help and doing research on the subject. He is living at home and puts all the blame on me about why our marriage isn't working but he is clearly ambivalent and won't admit that he hasn't been trying. He began a 12 step for sex addiction and intimacy anorexia and quit because the counselor challenged him because he wasn't doing his couple's exercises. I am finally accept that he obviously doesn't know how he feels about me and our marriage. I also know I deserve better and won't settle anymore.

Do you have any advice on how I can treat him? Do I continue to cook meals for both of us, and treat him like a husband? We sleep in separate rooms and there is almost zero physical touch between us. If I don't pursue him for a hug, it's probably not going to happen. I don't want to behave badly and treat him with respect, but I definitely don't desire him because of the way he treats me. He swears that he hasn't been involved with anyone or porn in the past 2 years. I don't want to sabotage things if there is a small chance he will come around but I don't want him to continue to disrespect me and don't want him thinking I'm so desperate that I will chase after him and try to hang onto this dysfunctional marriage. I want and deserve way better!

I meant I don't want to be

I meant I don't want to be disrespectful towards him but I want him to know I am not sure I want to be with him anymore either. Thank you if you have any further sound advice.

it's not easy at all....that's for sure....

cloleo15 thanks so much for your comment. that's a tough spot and i'm sorry you're in it. to me, in my opinion, after what you've said here, i'd pull way back. i'd let him cook his own meals. i'd let him fend for himself. i mean, why should you be his 'servant' if he's not pursuing you and not doing anything of the like? fact is, if he's in separate bedrooms and he's doing his own thing and not even hugging you, to me, you both are roommates and stuck. it sounds like you need to get unstuck and one of the best ways to do that is to change the dynamic. this article will explain more about changing it: https://www.affairrecovery.com/newsletter/founder/healing-infidelity-alone he's used to the dance: you pursue him, you do this, you do that, he does his thing and it just happens. if you're truly stuck and committed to getting healthy, then i would pull back and change the dynamic. if he says something that his meals aren't ready or aren't prepared, i'd simply say 'well honey, i'm not sure i want to keep living this way. i don't think i can. i think you need to start to feel what life is going to be like for you on your own, and i think i need to get an idea for what life will be like eating alone.' then i'd simply eat by yourself and start to change the 'dance' you both have been locked in. then, if he starts to change directions a bit and pursues you, let him and allow him to pursue you and keep at it. don't immediately change and go back to chasing him and cooking for him, as at that point, he'll know you don't mean business and probably only in a 'mood' if you know what i mean. i'd start to change things like this and see how he responds. if he does not pursue you and does not show signs of turning towards you, pretty safe assumption that things are unfortunately pretty far gone and not sure how much hope there is. it's not over, but it's discouraging for sure. hope that all makes sense. thank you for watching and for your kind words.

Thank you!!

Thank you for your advice! I am sooo sick of being stuck. I wanted to hear it from a man's perspective, and I will follow your advice. I have nothing to lose and am NOT willing to do this crazy dance anymore! Will see what happens as time goes on and update on how it goes. Thanks again! God bless!

Ambivalent betrayed

I'm curious about the other side of this. Ambivalence from the betrayed. This is my second/third go around. My husband was unfaithful about 3 years ago and then again this past November, I discovered more new infidelities. I knew something was up much sooner, about a year ago at this time but he convinced me I was not seeing the patterns I was seeing and that the women I saw following him on social media were just randomly doing so, that they were strangers. For about six months, I believed this. When I discovered his new affairs, I was beyond crushed and we seperated for a few months. We started im discernment counseling (my idea) and made a joint decision to attempt to rework our marriage amd try to save it. We are still in counseling but I find more and more that, as the dust settles and the shock and desperation wears off, I am becoming more and more ambivalent. I truly question, not if I still am in love with him, but more so if I can ever move past this most recent string of affairs and if he can change. I'm now the uncommunicative and disconnected one in the relationship. I don't know if this is a phase, part of the healing process, or if this is reality sinking in, the time after the frantic grasp at reconnection where the ideals are gone and one must face the harshness of things. The first time I could chalk his betrayal and my subsequent pain up to something he never considered happening. But to do the same thing a second time, to have seen the suffering and ripple effect his actions and choices caused and go and do it again but swear that this time he sees, that this time he gets it. I've been trying to let my walls down, to let him into my heart and to build anew what was but I think that a second time around, it's clearly harder. I worry that the first time it was almost easier because it was the first time, a fluke. I predicated my healing on the bedrock of, "this will never happen again" and counted that place as ground zero. I'm finding it impossible to do that this time around. What can you say for the ambivalent betrayed, is this a common problem in recovery that should be worked on to overcome or could this be the signs of dissolution after the chaos and trauma wears off?

great question....observation

hi jess, thank you for the q. it's actually a healthy place to be: ambivalent as a betrayed spouse. the fact is, you just don't know. there's no guarantees in this thing...to be ambivalent is exactly what samantha was like early on. she was of the mindset of 'we will see how he responds to rick and doing recovery work and if he shows signs of safety and wanting to do hard work in recovery then that will encourage me to keep going. but if he won't do the work and won't make the changes and if he won't do what's necessary, i don't want to keep trying and wont. relapse is always a tough one. sometimes, and again SOMETIMES a relapse is a great bridge as it actually brings home the idea of the truth that the unf cannot do it on their own and they have to do hard recovery work if they want to keep their marriage strong and their own recovery in tact. their pride often times causes relapse as they think they are stronger than they are. but, if he isn't doing hard recovery work and making significant changes, why wouldn't you be cautious and ambivalent right? that's just to be expected. it's completely understandable that you would be scared and uncertain and ambivalent. i would be too. you don't have to 'know' right now what you want to do. sometimes there's too much pressure to decide now, when the truth is, maybe it's good to not decide just yet. i hope this helps.

This was the best vlog yet!

I wish I had seen this sooner. My wife has relapsed, with multiple people now, and is ambivalent, unrepentant, and blaming me.

This time, I am not pursuing her.

Wish I had been more ambivalent

I wish I had watched this and really let it sink in 20 months ago when I exposed my wife's 2-year emotional affair with our church youth pastor. The first few months, my head was in a fog and I was spinning in all directions. The first year-plus I was still in a rage, but pursuing my wife. My wife has yet to pursue me almost two years later. She is still very disconnected and I probably contributed to this by over-pursuing, which I admit I was guilty of. I was doing what I thought was best and Biblical in keeping our family intact, but there is no love being shown to our children. They don't see Mommy cuddling up next to me on the couch, holding my hand in public, hugging or kissing me EVER. She barely even talks to me unless it is about the bills, groceries or what to do about dinner. It is still a very disconnected marriage.

It doesn't help that she holds the cards in a lot of ways. For the past 13 years, she has been the breadwinner for the family since her career field in nursing pays twice as much as my career field does. And I have had four bouts of unemployment, including three in the past five years and am currently going through another layoff that occurred just prior to Thanksgiving. So it's not like I can walk out of our home and go anywhere because I don't have any money to do so.

We have been going to Christian counseling for two years now and it seems like we uncover new layers every time. All if it is mainly focused around her and her problems with me. We never address my issues with her because she is the one putting up the boundaries for safety even though she is the one who cheated and was unfaithful. Go figure.

If I had a decent-paying job (or any job at all at this point), I would probably move out. She has no desire, love, or respect for me and I feel it in her tone of voice and see it in her body language every day. Praying to God that something will change. I don't want to divorce, but it's not my call. If God wants something to happen, He will change hearts and make it happen. I am just so frustrated, discouraged and hopeless about my marriage, about my career and about my life.

Wow and thank you

Thank you thank you for covering this!!!!! Putting to words exactly what I am experiencing!! Feel such a relief it's part of the process, normal in something as crazy as this, and the advice. I have pulled back almost 5 months ago now. He's been pursing and wants to stay married, but only to have his cake and eat it too. Still have his affair partner on the side. So after much prayer and counsel filled for legal separation. Biggest lie of the enemy he always believed- that I would never file or leave. At this point something had to be done to stop the dysfunctional cycle and control he had. He's losing control and freaking out, blowing up. Says he will come and go from our house as he pleases. Encouraging that he wants to be home, but not that he's not open to change, and with so many distructive habits, constantly upsetting the kids stable environment.
Still can't believe I'm in this situation and don't take filing lightely, but had to change his game, to protect all of us.
Thanks so much I have so much more peace


Hi! I found this video to be very imformative, but let me ask this.... what if the tables are turned? What if the scenario is exactly the opposite? I betrayed my spouse. It happened only once and was not a relationship of any kind. I decided i wanted my marriage to work, so i cut all ties and focused on us. This was 4 years ago, i have read and done so many different things in order to save my marriage. At this point the tables are turned. I am chasing him and he is ambivalent. One min he wants to make us work and the next min he is raging and walking out the door. As the one who committed betrayal how should i respond to ambivalence? I made the worst mistake of my life and i am grasping at straws. He goes to counceling once in a while, i have been a few times, but i don't have ins. So i do what i can by reading online. I would love to know how to respond in order to get him on a track of healing. Thank you!

Addictive personality mentioned at 2:02

Thank you for this video. It is very helpful. At the 2:02 mark, you mention how the ambivalent situation is compounded when the betraying spouse has an "addictive personality". Do you have or can you point me to any more resources that can help with with that scenario?


Hi, Samuel. I discovered my husband’s emotional/physical affair 4 months ago. He has stopped contact for now with the AF (who was one of my closest friends), but it seems mostly motivated for her benefit, and if she reached out to him he would likely respond. He says neither has any interest in a continued secret affair as they’ve seen how devastating they can be, but he thinks that talking to her would help him get out of his ambivalence and he’s resentful about the “no contact” mandate as a result. He’s not been cruel to me and has tried to care for my needs since all this came to light but he also doesn’t know what he wants. He knows choosing me and our kids to follow God is the “right thing to do” but he also feels like changing is dying to parts of himself he doesn’t want to give up. He has talked about closing the door to his AP for over a month now but the logistics of this keep getting dragged out and he is dependent on others to help him make that call and to tell him how best to do it. He will still show me affection and we’ve been talking about our relationship and how we got here and what’s going on in each of us with genuine honesty and safety. But it doesn’t feel like a whole lot has changed in the past 4 months in terms of his ambivalence. He is talking to men from our church on occasion and has been doing individual therapy. Is this the kind of situation where I should be doing what you said and pulling back to match his ambivalence? It feels more natural and right for me to show him that I genuinely love him and am here fighting for our marriage, and to make sure he knows if he chooses to walk away he’s choosing to leave someone who loves him and is willing to make it work. And he’s not still engaging with his AP and hasn’t for a while. He’s still living here with us, trying to make connections with me, but struggling with his own internal ambivalence. I’m worried me pulling back would have the opposite affect and discourage him from seeing hope for our future if he were to fully commit. Or that it’s just manipulative and playing mind games and could backfire and have him thinking I actually don’t care about being with him and that may help make his decision for him to leave since he sees no future? I’m not sure what to do.

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