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. 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. 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.