The Magic Marital Formula: If They’re Selling, We’re Buying
After an affair has been disclosed or discovered, the immediate intent is generally to keep the relationship together at all costs. It’s understandable as a knee-jerk reaction – faithful spouses and cheaters alike often cling to the familiarity and security that the relationship represents.
When you’re shell shocked, devastated, and confused, desperately trying to find an approach that will successfully hold your family together, you are vulnerable to the myriad solutions that will pop up on your initial internet searches.
You may be tempted towards the ‘expertise’ of self-proclaimed affair recovery specialists, reasoning that if they are selling the program then it probably works. The ones which claim to hold the secret that will allow you to unilaterally improve and/or save your marriage are often the most tempting, especially if the cheater refuses to recommit to the marriage. Unfortunately, most of the paid or free-to-fee programs want to sell you books, counseling, or coaching and may as well be called:
If you steer away from the paid programs you will probably land on a reconciliation apologist site that will cheerlead your commitment to reconciliation, and that will also encourage you to follow the traditional advice for saving your marriage.
The Secret Recipe: the quest
So why don’t those who start those programs or join pro-reconciliation boards, immediately end their search for the Secret Recipe and work the program to successful recovery? Why? Well, because the approach doesn’t work, is why.
People soon discover that loving a cheater through an affair, standing, or being a Magical Reconciliation Pixie doesn’t work the way they wish it would, and start widening their Google searches, desperate to find a method that delivers a marital Happy Ever After.
By the time Pixies find IHG, many have already been indoctrinated into the language of meeting needs, affair fog, MLC, and transparency. They often hold a belief that they are both right and courageous in their fight to save their marriage, and have an expectation about the nature and tone of the support they want in order to achieve that. When we don’t provide that particular brand of help, it can result in hurt and baffled confusion.
These are examples of the types of questions we routinely encounter:
- “How do I make her see that she needs to change?”
- “What can I do to cope while I wait for him to come out of the fog, and how can I stop the affair so we can reconcile?”
- “We’re in therapy – what else does my cheater need to do to repair what she did?”
- “He’s nice to me, apologizes, and always answers his phone when I call – that’s change, right?”
- “How can I make him be more open about his affair?”
- “What else can I do to show her I am sorry so she won’t leave me over my affair?”
- “My cheater is sincere, so WHAT exactly should I be looking for to prove it?”
- “How do I resist my desire to have another affair?”
- “How can I get her to change without her telling me I am controlling or manipulating her?”
- “He’s manipulating our therapist. How can I get the therapist to force my cheater to take responsibility?”
- “My cheater has started to tell me the truth, though not all of it – how can I reward their progress?”
- “Why are you avoiding telling me what else my cheater needs to do to be ‘getting it right’?”
The Magical Reconciliation Pixie to the Rescue?
These questions boil down to requests for a step-by-step reconciliation guide for the Magical Reconciliation Pixie to follow. Pixies scour the forums trying to find The Magic Reconciliation Recipe … and yet the magic recipe remains mysteriously elusive, even on the pro-reconciliation boards where reconciliation success is so often claimed and encouraged. Perhaps it’s a closely guarded secret that someone will try to sell you for a few measly dollars? How much is your marriage worth, after all? Oh wait, we’ve covered that already.
So, if we know so much about it, why don’t we devise and publish the Magic Reconciliation Recipe as a guide for Pixies to follow? The answer isn’t very complicated and it’s this: Authentic change and repair is internally motivated not externally directed.
Making the perfect Happy Ever After Stew is often little more than one party manipulating the other into remaining in dysfunction. While the Magical Reconciliation Pixie might decorate such a recipe with sparkles and rainbows, it’s actually a recipe for a Divorce Avoidance Plan – and the Divorce Avoidance Goblin has a clear understanding of the ingredients that really go into that rancid goop.
The Magic Recipe: endurance
We understand that you want to save your marriage, but our focus is to help you towards healthier relationships and towards your own growth and well-being. Please stop asking us to help keep you in dysfunction by giving you a step-by-step guide to:
- endure abuse and dysfunction
- re-frame it for yourself as something more palatable
- manipulate your spouse into coming to heel and to fall in line with what you deem to be ‘best’ for them
We refuse to be complicit in the continued harm, mistreatment, or manipulation of you or your spouse, and THAT is the sole basis for any reluctance at IHG to spell out a prescriptive list for a successful reconciliation.
The Magic Recipe: mainlining hopium
You have probably felt considerable hope and some relief from reading the testimonials of those who have faced infidelity and reconciled. Those stories are posted as encouragement that if you do the same Right Things, and the planets align and the moon turns green with orange polka dots, then reconciliation can happen for you, too.
One problem is that the Right Things on which pro-reconciliation boards base their success stories are the same Right Things that don’t work for so many others on the same boards (or other boards, for that matter). The failure rate is so high, in fact, that they have a term for it: False Reconciliation. One could reasonably conclude that these Right Things aren’t very ‘right’ at all.
What is also noticeable about the reconciliation apologist success stories is the number of ‘successes’ who then spend years populating the same boards, seeking support for continued dysfunction in their marriage. These reconciliations are punctuated by cheaters who haven’t changed, resurfacing and repetitive power struggles, issues of basic incompatibility, and a mounting sense of impending doom. In fact, you would not be alone in your observation if you have noticed that there is a strong pattern of failed reconciliations some years after the claim of success.
We consider it unethical, damaging, and egregious for those enduring a dysfunctional reconciliation to encourage other Pixies to follow the same steps that took them there. We are appalled that the same failed and damaging approach is being repeatedly mainlined into the arms of desperate and vulnerable Pixies – and we will not direct them along the same path to similar results.
The Magic Recipe: manipulation
Many of the articles here address the issues of power, control, and manipulation in affairs. Gaslighting, commonly understood and reviled within the infidelity community, is used by cheaters to maintain the secrecy of their affair through their manipulation of the faithful partner. There is often an extension of this same tactic by cheaters in reconciliation whereby they request a list of actions they can take that will mollify their spouse – this is often framed as, “How can I help my spouse heal?”
Pixies can use manipulation to get what they want too – an interesting strategy from a group who vilify gaslighting with such vehemence. However, that aside, Pixies regularly request ideas for how they can compete with the affair partner, how they can change themselves to bring their cheater back to them, and what tactics they can employ to pressurize or coerce the cheater into returning to the marital fold.
Asking us for practical steps by which you can maneuver someone into staying in a situation that is likely contrary to their own interests and wishes will be met with a challenge about the ethics of such manipulative intent. That can be an uncomfortable conversation, I know, but it’s a valuable one, however upsetting it may be.
The Magic Recipe: industrial strength help
I began this article by referencing the marital recovery business. It’s big business, too, rooted in the conventional -and profitable- approach to infidelity and marital repair. Google will happily direct you to infidelity experts and coaches who offer expensive services for a brief conversation with them. Marital retreats are booming and dedicated programs and facilities to treat the mythical sex addiction have popped up all over the place. Amazon does a roaring trade in self-help books, and of course the hopelessly under-qualified and untrained therapist community is poised to take your money in exchange for their services. What are they selling? Mostly, the same conventional approach and Right Things that fail consistently in the rest of the reconciliation apologist community.
The reconciliation services machine has created a perpetual, circular business model. By applying dubious general marital improvement strategies to the wholly different matter of marital infidelity, they are not only cultivating the problem but they are also presuming to sell you the solution. That solution, of course, perpetuates the same problems it claims to be resolving. By your participation in these paid services, you are likely funding someone to reinforce the same issues that led you and your cheater to their services in the first place. Are you still buying?
Let Them Eat Cake!
We do not position ourselves to push you towards any particular relationship outcome – we don’t have an agenda to shepherd you towards either divorce or reconciliation. We are invested solely in helping you navigate through an affair as realistically and safely as possible. We want to see you becoming healthier and gaining the clarity to make decisions that are in your own best interest – and that could happen within a relationship, or outside it.
Instead of pursuing your quest for the Magic Reconciliation Recipe, why not whip up a Pixie-bait free carrot cake instead? Why not turn your focus away from your cheater and your desire to reconcile, and instead feast on the delicious cake-y goodness of calm, rational determination to be neither defined nor reduced by an affair? Go ahead – gorge on the sweet, luscious frosting that is you forging your way to a healthy, fulfilling life that you love, regardless of your cheater’s shenanigans.
Yes, in the infidelity community being a ‘cake eater’ is A Very Bad Thing. I am not suggesting you be duplicitous or unethical with this particular cake, though. If you want to follow our recipe to get you through an affair, we would recommend that you use high quality, healthy ingredients: authenticity, honesty, clarity, critical thinking, self-worth, education, personal goals, reasoned choice, self-empowerment. And this is a cake that you get to eat, guilt and calorie free.
Any good cook knows that quality food depends on quality ingredients – the same is true for any reconciliation recipe. And we offer that advice, free of charge.