I guess the runners amongst us will know what 26.2 means. It’s a marathon. “Marathoning” is something that is inevitable in the early days post affair discovery. Marathoning refers to conversations, and fights, that go on for hours and hours and hours.
Marathoning Post Affair Discovery
After the affair is discovered there are going to be a lot of things going around your mind, this continues sadly in to a lot of your life until you are ready to engage in recovery and the pain starts to fade. It makes it difficult to try and have thoughts which are not connected to other thoughts. You’ll start a conversation about one thing and then *ping* your mind will connect it to something else, or a penny will drop about an inconsistency or you will find a rabbit hole which you will fall right down in to wonderland though. It’s exhausting. I can think of an example off the top of my head.
My husband indicated that he did a task for the OW which he didn’t really think about and now looks back and thinks he was gullible and just did whatever she wanted —-> I talk about how this really hurts me and how I have lost a lot of respect for him because of his lack of critical thinking skills about many things ——> what about *this example*? What about *this example* oh and of course there was *this example* too ———> defensive reaction ——–> picks apart that defence and slams it down again ———> disclosure may happen or the betrayed will hammer home until something comes out ——–> pain and shame ——–> rabbit hole based on that disclosure.
My husband once described it as psychological warfare which was cruel and unnecessary, not least because he said that to the woman that was his partner in making this mess and destroying my life, but it’s not so far removed when it goes on for 12 hours at a time but then having been cheated on for 6 months with constant minimising, gas lighting and various other emotional abuses my sympathy for this was low. Probably still is if I’m honest about it.
Marathoning leads to conversations & fights which go on for hours at a time, sometimes days. Rarely are these helpful or productive conversations. The betrayed will get stuck on asking question after question feeling pain after pain, piling pain on pain, feeling distraught but desperate to make sense of it all. The unfaithful will feel under attack, become defensive, maybe lie, stonewall or say things they don’t mean just to make it stop. Mostly it makes sure the message is hammered home that it’s not safe to disclose.
Marathoning isn’t safe behaviour for anyone.
One thing that really hit me is Marathoning just leads to pain. We had got pretty damn good at not doing it. We had a time out protocol in place (I’ll talk about this more in a minute), and we used it, not always perfectly but it got used, but then the last few weeks we have marathoned 4 times. 10-12 hours a time. Well in to the early hours of the night. Falling asleep from exhaustion. Waking up and continuing. The last one over 2 days.
We are not perfect in this recovery. Not by any way close. We’ve shown it in abundance in this past two weeks. I am honest though about documenting that. I talked about the trigger for all this in my recent post theres always more.
Sometimes we do things we shouldn’t do. We know that doughnut will do nothing for us but we need the hit. Sometimes pain is like that too. Pain shopping I call it. In the early days I got so used to being in a fight or flight situation that I actually looked for more things, I looked her up, I looked up their interactions, I read and reread messages about his affair between him and I and between her and him. I shopped for that pain and the rush that went with it because I needed to feel that. Gradually I realised I had to cut myself off and weaned myself away from looking and the inevitable blow up that would come from that rush of adrenaline from seeing her name. Her name will be there, she works with my husband, she’s a manager, she communicates across the whole department. Sometimes looking helped me see things that we both needed me to see and he needed to address, it’s been part of our healing him finding the appropriate boundaries with her. I plan to write about how we cope with him still working with her soon.
Affair Recovery on youtube did this ace video as part of a series of videos on Are you safe enough for your marriage? It talks about why marathoning isn’t safe. It really is a useful 11 minutes and I recommend you watch it together. Try and be open and realise that both of you have acted in ways you have because you love one another and you are hurting. It’s not about laying blame anymore it’s about learning.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBMiqe5WwgI&w=560&h=315]
How to Stop Marathoning
There needs to be an agreement between you discussed when you are both calm, both engaged and both in a loving space.
The betrayed needs to acknowledge and promise that no immediate decisions will be made based upon the information which is disclosed. They will consider and allow themselves to calm down and process for at least 48 hours. This allows both parties time to think about what has been said, reflect and decide where your boundaries really are without rage and pain clouding your judgement
There can be no deal breakers. Would you tell anyone anything you knew would end something you love? No makes no sense does it. Both parties have to be safe. Whilst the betrayed has not asked for any of this, they have chosen to stay and try and recover, with that comes a responsibility. A responsibility to do the work. A marriage is a partnership and for you both to heal, you from the betrayal, and them from what put them in that place, you both have to be safe. This has been HARD for me. So Hard. I’m sarcastic by nature and quick to lash out with words. I’ve had to bite that harsh tongue a lot and I’ve not always been successful but our conversations are much more productive when I do.
The unfaithful needs to understand the importance of disclosure – we have an great playlist of videos here which will help with that understanding. Disclosure is vital. Non disclosure, trickle truthing, and hiding things (which ALWAYS and INEVITABLY come out) causes pain. It reopens wounds which start to heal repeatedly and keeps them open which makes them risk terminal infection. You don’t want that if you’re dedicated to build your marriage again.
Have a time out protocol (more below) which you both adhere to and respect
Understand and know that marathoning is not healthy for either party. Fundamental really, know you’re hurting yourself.
Time Out Protocol
Time out protocols don’t have to be complex. We keep ours in a shared notebook on Evernote (one of the great apps we use post-affair to help us I wrote about them here) and it’s very simple and straightforward. I’ll just paste it below for you. You can build your own version and your own agreement together. You both have to agree and be invested in this as a tool to help your recovery.
Agree a verbal and non-verbal timeout signal. Our stop word is “timeout”.The person who initiates the time out leaves the room.Both parties agree to disengage immediately after a timeout is called.The conversation ends when the timeout is called.When calling a timeout, the following things need to be communicated:
- You agree to follow the timeout protocol.
- You agree to begin again in 30 minutes.What to do during the 30 minutes:
- Try to find something else to focus on.
- Don’t think about what you’re going to say when you come back together.
- Don’t obsess about how angry you feel at the other person during this time.Upon returning to the discussion:
Tell them one thing that makes sense to you given their perspective.Present solutions to the problem and listen without interrupting.
Focus on what aspects of each other’s solution will work (rather than focusing on what won’t work).
Choose parts of both solutions that will make both parties satisfied.
Use ‘I’ statements. Be flexible and look to compromise. Listen to see if you can understand how your mate is feeling and communicate your understanding.
Don’t focus on ‘all or none’ solutions.
Don’t be rigid in only being open to your solution. Listen to your partners ideas.
Don’t criticize the other person for their idea.