When You or Your Spouse is Ambivalent

It seems like not a day goes by I don’t talk to a spouse who is dealing with a spouse who is ambivalent or undecided about where they want to be. I wish it was limited to just the unfaithful, but it happens to both spouses alike, unfaithful and betrayed. You just aren’t sure what you want to do or where you want to be.

The unfaithful become ambivalent about where they want to be. Should they pursue the illicit life of the affair with what seems to make them happy and fulfilled or should they return home to see if there is a future and a hope with their spouse?

The betrayed wonder if they can ever trust their spouse again and is it really worth it in the end? Should they be willing to expose their heart and vulnerabilities all over again, only to be raked over the coals one more time?

Both concerns are not only understandable but present a vast amount of fear, confusion and daily uncertainty. Push a spouse to do one thing and they will usually do another. Press them to make a decision and they will turtle up, hide, and utilize their ability to be ambivalent as a power mechanism to refuse to let you push them into making a decision.  To watch the game the ambivalent play sometimes is gut wrenching. I don’t believe it’s always a game, but more times than not it’s an attempt at control over the situation, their spouse, and the expectations placed upon them.

  1. If an unfaithful is ambivalent, I highly recommend not chasing them. Chasing after them to stay often times means you’ll need to continually chase them to remain with you. Whether it be physical intimacy, subservient behavior, or controlling tendencies, chasing them only fuels the fire of control they want and are probably exhibiting in the relationship anyway. If they do not want to be with you, or only want to be with you on their terms, it’s a sign of extreme dysfunction and desire for ultimate control. Alternatively, not being kind or accommodating to them will not do the job of creating a safe place for them to return to. In order to work on the marriage honestly and create the opportunity for vulnerability, a tough as nails approach will ultimately chase them away which is probably what no one wants in the first place.
  2. I’m not sure what betrayed spouse wouldn’t be ambivalent when it comes to this sort of strategy.  What I find helpful for many betrayed spouses who struggle with what they ultimately want to do, is take the pressure off to make a decision too early. There are usually too many uncertainties to make a decision anyway. Is the affair over? Are they still in contact with the affair partner? Is the unfaithful willing to do what it takes to heal and become trustworthy again? All of these are examples of just a few plaguing questions the betrayed face each and every day. More times than not, a decision may be to cautiously forge ahead, watching to see how the unfaithful carries themselves and their recovery. It’s not as simple as a “If you do this, I’ll stay” declaration as no one is perfect and very few recoveries are void of uncertainty and stupidity early on in communication. Often times it means giving the process 90 to 120 days to see how committed the unfaithful spouse is.

The quality of your restoration and potential restoration is directly related to the quality of care you receive. It’s not for the faint of heart or inexperienced. If you can’t trust the mechanism you are utilizing to find restoration and recovery, it’s time for something or someone new to help eliminate the ambivalence over time.

As always, if I can aid you in your recovery at all, please feel free to reach out. Also, if you’d like, please feel free to share what helped you in your own ambivalence. I’d love to hear your experience. 

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ambivalent

thank you for your insights, as the betrayed spouse I am finding great difficulties staying in the marriage. I understand it is for the best but after the grief of losing our child I have learnt that I really do not want to live with this grief of infidelity that my husband has imposed on us. He has shown great remorse and I am happy for him that he will finally "grow up"! However I feel he has brought both of us to the crossroads, and I really do not want to walk with him any longer. This saddens me, but I feel I will be a lot more peaceful without him.

for Scharfy49

Thank you for posting. I’m terribly sorry for your loss and the pain you must be feeling. Having said that, I’m not sure if you have done much research into this particular variable, but the divorce rate for parents who lose children is staggering. The struggle to save a marriage that has been affected by both the loss of a child as well as infidelity has to seem impossible. I think you have every right to want to walk alone or with someone else, but my question is why? Have you received any professional help or insight? Do you think you’ve received enough help to be able to make that decision? Reality is, for couples who lose children, divorce seems like the way to go yet they want to grieve and usually have grieve alone which makes things even harder. Who wants to grieve with an adulterer I get, but still think there is credence to the fact that the marriage can be restored to a place of honor and safety if given the chance. I would never judge you for divorcing, but I wonder if you’ve gotten the right help for YOU yet? After all, having to experience the loss of a child as well as infidelity, demands expert care for you. You deserve it my friend. You need that kind of help to be able to heal and find new life. I can’t even imagine that pain and I can’t fathom the journey you are on. I do know many who have felt what you have, and often times they choose divorce, but they don’t have to. I pray you find comfort whatever road you choose.

What can you do to help the

What can you do to help the unfaithful spouse not be ambivalent?

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