Several years ago, Michelle Wiener Davis, the author of Divorce Busting, introduced a concept to the world of infidelity that is designed to help you and your partner move forward in the healing of your relationship. She suggested that any new betrayed partner implement these behaviors immediately. They aren’t designed to make you look good or your partner bad. They are, however, a means of protection for the betrayed. They also empower the betrayed to face their new world with dignity and bravery. A betrayed spouse who uses these steps will appear stronger to the wayward partner, and that is exactly what you want to portray.
This list is titled “The 180” and it won’t take you long to figure out why. What you are actually doing is a complete 180 degree rotation in your actions and attitude. You no longer are a weeping sack of sorrow. Suddenly, you appear strong, happy, independent, and quite capable of making it on your own.
I remember when I first heard about the concept of the 180. I actually thought it was a really stupid idea. I was so codependent and wrapped up in him that it felt like the completely wrong thing to do. I thought I would be pushing him away, putting on a façade when I was asking for more honesty and openness, and making myself seem cold-hearted. Now I understand that the 180 is not about that. It’s about protecting yourself. It’s about finding yourself. It’s about enjoying who you are without the other person. It’s about not getting sucked into unnecessary drama. These are all healthy steps no matter if you ultimately stay together or go your own ways.
So here, it is without further ado:
1. Don’t pursue reason, chase, beg, plead or implore.
2. No frequent phone calls.
3. Don’t point out “good points” in marriage.
4. Don’t follow her/him around the house.
5. Don’t encourage or initiate discussion about the future.
6. Don’t ask for help from the family members of your wayward partner.
7. Don’t ask for reassurances.
8. Don’t buy or give gifts.
9. Don’t schedule dates together.
10. Don’t keep saying, “I Love You!” Because if you really think about it, he/she is, at this particular moment, not very loveable.
11. Do more than act as if you are moving on with your life; begin moving on with your life!
12. Be cheerful, strong, outgoing and independent.
13. Don’t sit around waiting on your spouse – get busy, do things, go out with friends, enjoy old hobbies, find new ones! But stay busy!
14. When home with your spouse, (if you usually start the conversation) be scarce or short on words. Don’t push any issue, no matter how much you want to!
15. If you’re in the habit of asking your spouse his/her whereabouts, ASK NOTHING. Seem totally uninterested.
16. Your partner needs to believe that you have awakened to the fact that “they (the wayward partner)” are serious concerning their assertions as to the future (or lack there of) of your marriage. Thus, you are you are moving on with your life…without them!
17. Don’t be nasty, angry or even cold – Just pull yourself back. Don’t always be so available…for anything! Your spouse will notice. More important, he/she will notice that you’re missing.
18. No matter what you are feeling TODAY, only show your spouse happiness and contentment. Make yourself be someone they would want to be around, not a moody, needy, pathetic individual but a self-assured individual secure in the knowledge that they have value.
19. All questions about the marriage should be put on hold, until your spouse wants to talk about it (which may not be for quite a while). Initiate no such conversation!
20. Do not allow yourself to lose your temper. No yelling, screaming or name calling EVER. No show of temper! Be cool, act cool; be in control of the only thing you can control. YOURSELF!
21. Don’t be overly enthusiastic.
22. Do not argue when they tell you how they feel (it only makes their feelings stronger). In fact, refuse to argue at all!
23. Be patient and learn to not only listen carefully to what your spouse is really saying to you. Hear what it is that they are saying! Listen and then listen some more!
24. Learn to back off, keep your mouth shut and walk away when you want to speak out, no matter what the provocation. No one ever got themselves into trouble by just not saying anything.
25. Take care of you. Exercise, sleep, laugh & focus on all the other parts of your life that are not in turmoil.
26. Be strong, confident and learn to speak softly.
27. Know that if you can do this 180, your smallest CONSISTENT action will be noticed far more than any words you can say or write.
28. Do not be openly desperate or needy even when you are hurting more than ever and are feeling totally desperate and needy.
29. Do not focus on yourself when communicating with your spouse. It’s not always about you! More to the point, at present they just don’t care.
30. Do not believe any of what you hear them say and less than 50% of what you see. Your spouse will speak in absolute negatives and do so in the most strident tones imaginable. Try to remember that they are also hurting and afraid. Try to remember that they know what they are doing is wrong and so they will say anything they can to justify their behavior.
31. Do not give up no matter how dark it is or how bad you feel. It “ain’t over till it’s over!”
32. Do not backslide from your hard-earned changes. Remain consistent! It is the consistency of action and attitude that delivers the message.
33. When expressing your dissatisfaction with the actions of the wayward party, never be judgmental, critical or express moral outrage. Always explain that your dissatisfaction is due to the pain that the acts being committed are causing you as a person. This is the kind of behavior that will cause you to be a much more attractive and mysterious individual. Further it SHOWS that you are NOT afraid to move on with your life. Still more important, it will burst their positive little bubble; the one in which they believe that they can always come back to you in case things don’t work out with the affair partner.