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Re-writing Marriage History For Divorce.......

  • flowerofscotland
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02 Sep 12 #353326 by flowerofscotland
Topic started by flowerofscotland
I was going through some documents this morning and remember saving this a while back, something another member of Wiki originally posted (sorry I forgot who). I saved it as I found it to be very true, especially in my own case and in some way it brought a little peace of mind that I was not alone, going through this nightmare. I thought it may help some of the newbies, who are just trying to come to terms with it all, allowing them to process what is really going on. It applies to both the men and women who have found themselves having been abandoned. It hope it may help some of you.....


Re-writing Marriage History for Divorce!!

It may seem that most divorces are similar in nature. Actually, there are different types of divorces, each of them with their own unique psychological characteristics and emotional intensity.

The Mutual Agreement pattern of divorce occurs when both mates are unhappy and conclude that they will be happier being apart. This couple often settles their affairs amicably and quickly, and may stay friends.

The Unilateral pattern of divorce entails one person deciding to leave to the dismay of the other. There are greater emotional implications in this type of split, where the person who chooses to leave has had time to consider, reflect, weigh the options and emotionally detach, while the “left mate” is caught unprepared, treated unfairly, surprised and abandoned. Requests for more time, counseling or opportunity to change the situation are denied. The process of this divorce is harder and more emotional due to the imbalance of power.

The emotional intensity is even greater in a Compounded divorce pattern, where there is involvement of a third party. In this situation, the partner not only feels abandoned, he or she feels replaced. The pain here is about having lost a primary position in the mate’s life to another individual. There are added painful emotions about immorality, betrayal, and failure. Within each of these divorce patterns there are additional subsets. The following subsets are associated with the Compounded divorce pattern.
In the Compounded pattern, a spouse meets another person who is adoring and makes them feel very valued and desired. At first, they lavish in the attention and feel invigorated. With time, the spouse begins to COMPARE his/her feelings about the new admirer to those he/she has for their spouse. If they decide to break up their family and start a new life (or they are asked to explain their affair), the adulterous spouse is likely to go through the following psychological stages:

1. DEMONIZING THE MATE: The offending spouse is a decent person who is aware that their conduct is frowned upon both morally and socially. They begin to feel great guilt, yet, continue the relationship with the other person. In order to reconcile the conflict between their view of themselves as a moral being and their unacceptable conduct, the offending spouse resorts to demonizing their mate as a justification for the affair. They ascribe to their mate many negative and unforgivable traits and behaviours. Suddenly, their mate is an inept person, companion, lover, parent, and they may even be labelled “evil” or “crazy.”

2. REWRITING HISTORY: Not only is the partner found to be irrevocably faulted, the offending spouse claims that he/she has been so for the duration of the marriage. The offending spouse re-creates a view of historical suffering and pain he/she has endured. They may say, “I have been unhappy in the marriage for 20 years” or, “She made every day of our married life a miserable day.” It is clear that this is a re-created story because of the exaggerated nature of the comment, its intensity and the lack of balance. The offending spouse assumes no personal responsibility for their role in the so-called “long-term suffering.” They seek approval and support from others for having been a victim, which in their mind fully justifies their affair and subsequent abandonment of their family.

3. PUNISHING THE MATE: The offending spouse retells his/her newly developed view of suffering often enough that he/she begins to believe that his/her mate DESERVES to be punished. The offended spouse becomes the “offender” and thus needs to be dealt with harshly. The punishment is dished out through financial withholding, or worse, through fighting over the children. The offending spouse believes that their mate is not entitled to receive any future benefits from him/her, sometimes not even those allowed by the law. In many cases, the offending spouse may even attempt to deprive the spouse of equal, fair or appropriate access to the children or to child support. Needless to say, this divorce will be very bitter, lengthy, costly and detrimental to the children.

4. SEEKING APPROVAL: Despite all of the offending spouses vengeance, he/she still wants the affirmation and approval of family, friends, and curiously enough, even his mate. He/She wants the mate to ACCEPT that he/she was primarily responsible for the break-up of the family and realize that he/she had no other choice but to act as he/she did. Sadly, this view may be imparted upon the children, who are traumatized enough by the divorce. The deep-seated guilt that the offending spouse experiences continues to plague him/her.

5. RESTORING BALANCE: The offending spouse expects their left mate to accept their new life and even be happy for them. They want their left mate to take the full blame for their need to escape the so-called intolerable marriage. Therefore, the left mate should also accept the “new reality” and make peace with the OW or OM. Since the left mate does not share the offending spouse’s reconstructed view of their history, he/she is often unwilling to embrace the offending spouse’s new life. With time, some couples learn to act civilly toward each other, often for the sake of their children.

In summary, in the Compounded style of divorce, which involves a third party, the following happens:

*A spouse becomes involved with a third party and is subsequently beleaguered by guilt.

*To justify his or her socially and morally unacceptable conduct, he/she first demonizes the mate, rewrites the history of their union in negative terms and then depicts himself as a victim and the mate as a persecutor.

*This partner then moves to punishing the spouse for the alleged unforgivable acts. He/She then seeks approval from others and even his partner for being “forced” to exit the marriage.

*The divorcing couple eventually try to restore balance, whereby a normalized or civil relationship is created. This may or may not be fully achieved.

If you have been a participant in this divorce pattern, or know someone who has been, you are fully aware of the emotional turmoil involved.

The left mate experiences a HELLISH NIGHTMARE. They are likely to go through the following stages, which are often reported in the form of sequential questions:

*The demonizing process produces feelings of pure shock.
“How can my partner betray me in the worst possible way? Not only did he have an affair, but he compounded the betrayal by accusing me of causing it.”

“Not only did he blame me for the failure of the marriage, but he also resorted to DEFAMING my character. How could he believe that I am such an evil being after having loved me for years?”

“How could he be so callous and insensitive toward the children by depicting their mother in the worst possible light to justify his own immoral conduct?”

*The rewriting of history is a major violation of the mate’s reality.

“How could he have been miserable for 10 years without my awareness? Or worse, how could all of the joy I recall be a figment of my imagination?”

“If things were truly that offensive to him, why did he not complain, and not request change or seek help FOR HIMSELF?”

*Being punished for creating a partner’s misery is a mind-boggling state.

“He started an affair, lied, deceived, violated trust and his commitment, started fights to escape from home and ultimately decided to leave our family, and I need to be punished?”

“Not only do I lose my whole life structure, but I am also seen as a greedy enemy? Please, somebody help me understand how my whole reality became so skewed.”

“To make things even more bewildering, he expects me to admit my wrongdoings, take full responsibility for the marriage failure and give him empathy for “his suffering”?”

“I am also left with the task of preserving his dignity in the children’s eyes while helping them with their anger, confusion, and pain. But, as long as the children are in pain, I am accused of turning them against him!”

“If all of this isn’t enough emotional torture, he now thinks I should accept this other woman and rejoice in his well-deserved happiness. It is my task to help the children embrace her and welcome her into the fold.”

“Since when did I select her entry into our lives? Does she deserve kudos for participating in the break-up of our marriage? How did I get assigned the job of welcoming a woman whose only interest was not that of our family unit, but of her own needs?”

The people who have gone through this trauma describe it as “crazy-making.” Such severe distortion of their reality causes left mates to doubt their sanity. Recovery from this profound trauma is slow.
What can a left partner do under these circumstances?

*Realize that all of these five phases serve the leaving partner and have little to do with you.

*Understand that this is your partner’s tragic way of dealing with their guilt. Their perceptions are the reconstructed ones.

*Your partner’s lack of any culpability is a clear sign of misdirected adaptation.
*Talk with people who can affirm your view of the marital history, interactions, and your worthy personality.

*Reassure yourself that you are sane and that the reality you are being fed is created for your partner’s self-exoneration.

*Surround yourself with people who love and affirm you.

*Remember that every parent earns his or her separate relationship with the children. Your youngsters will eventually process these events appropriately


Take care for now FoS x

  • Stumpylad70
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02 Sep 12 #353330 by Stumpylad70
Reply from Stumpylad70
Thank you FoS. There is much in your article that rings true of my stbx and my reactions to what has happened. In many ways she has rewritten the last year to suit her purposes. I know she was unhappy but it seemed to be hrr work that was a major cause. I tried to support her through it despite having big priblems at work myself. Then it all seemed to be turned on me. Then Andy became a fixture in our marriage that was tearing it apart. Perhaps that is me rewriting history? I dont know.
All I do know is that she said he made her laugh. He gave her constant attention and I felt unwelcome in my home and marriage. At least that is how it seemed to me. That made my own depressed and stressed stste much worse.
The last time I spoke to her she sounded... well not very happy. Maybe the shine is wearing off. I doubt she is reflecting on what she has done. After all its all my fault. Isnt it? I am in no way blameless but I am not a monster, nor was I ever a bad man. I just wasnt the man she wanted.
One of the things that struck me was watching Doctir Who. There ws a line in it. "I didnt kick you out. I gave you up". That is what I am doing. I am letting her go because its what she wants. I am doing it because I still love her as much as when we met. I am divorcing her as the last act of love I can do for her, even if she cant see that.

Sorry about the typos. Still no pc and writing this on my mobile phone

  • Fiona
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02 Sep 12 #353369 by Fiona
Reply from Fiona
I sometimes wonder about the source of some of these articles, bias and the rewriting of psychology.

My understanding is that either or both parties to divorce are capable of rewriting history whether or not they are the initiator. In fact research from Johnson and Campbell, who I think first coined the phrase, indicate that the "rewriting of marital history" can be a response to the trauma of having been left suddenly and unexpectedly.

“Our clinical experience leads us to conclude that the actual experience of separation for some couples was the crucible in which these negative views of each other are brewed and crystallized. Couples who experience particularly traumatic separations are prime candidates for generating negative images. Perceived experiences of being suddenly and unexpectedly left; abandoned after secret plotting and planning; left after a secret love affair with another person; left after uncharacteristic, explosive violence--all are separation modes that are typically traumatic and involve inordinate degrees of humiliation, anger, defeat, guilt, and fear, thus setting the stage for what is to come. A radical reconstruction of the identity of the ex-spouse can occur at the time of a traumatic separation. The desperate reactions and counter-reactions to the crisis are likely to crystallize new negative views of each other which subsequently become autonomous of these origins.

These negative images are frequently enhanced and supported by the helping professionals (therapists as well as attorneys) as they try to offer support to their distraught client, only to get inducted into the conflict.” - Impasses of Divorce (1988)

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