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Gut feelings - E

I'd like to hear from others who have struggled with trying to find that gut/intuitive feeling and have felt like they still didn't know the best decision when faced with staying or leaving a significant relationship (one where strong personality conflicts/differences and strong love coexist)-- I'm also interested in hearing from others who have tried couples therapy (or currently are in it) -- am wondering how long you've tried the therapy -- have you seen positive changes happen and, if so, how long did it take for real change to manifest?

I've been given a lot of advice to pray about this and would be really interested to hear from others who have felt or been in the same situation and what road you've chosen. Thanks!

From: Bernd

I find gut feelings are a lot like a wise, good friend - who talks in Greek! I know he’s got something important to tell me (and he often tugs vigorously at my shirt), but I also found that - although I THOUGHT I understood what he was saying at times, it’s only when I really take the time to listen, that I’m able to take healthy advantage of his wisdom and insight.

My gut feelings never let me down. My jumping to conclusions based on what I THOUGHT they were trying to tell me got me into plenty of swamps though. When Lynda was having her affair, I wanted quick answers - and I wanted those answers to make logical sense. What I’ve found over the past few years is that the directions my gut feelings often lead me seemed absolutely insane or crazy at the time, but in hindsight have made perfect sense.

“Knowing” is not the same as “doing”, and I think this was one of the hardest things for me to learn - or unlearn. It seemed that I couldn’t break the connection between finally admitting she was still having her affair, to feeling that, if I admitted that truth to myself, I’d have to DO something about it - such as leave. It was a breath of sunshine when it dawned on me one day that, in listening to my gut, I didn’t have to DO anything with what it was telling me. In fact, just accepting what it was telling me usually let it take me to the next step - of giving me guidance that felt solid, and caring.

Confusion and doubt are healthy. They are the pebbles on the path of serenity. Allowing myself to feel confused, and be okay with it, also helped me tremendously in listening and understanding how my inner voice was trying to help me.

Regarding therapy - my wife and I are still in therapy, because we want to be. When all hell broke loose in our marriage, I dragged her to couples therapy for a while, but she resisted - and rightly so - because my focus was trying to fix “the relationship”. That meant, of course, that SHE would need to change too, and she resisted that attempt at control. When it finally dawned on me that I needed to heal for ME, and not to fix “our marriage”, things began to improve in ways they never had been able to before. Lynda’s in therapy now because SHE wants to, because healing and feeling more alive is important to HER. My own therapy has helped me understand how important it is to me and to her to give her the complete freedom to make those kinds of choices.

It’s taken us 5 years to get to this place in our relationship, but if I had to do it all over again, I’d hang in there for 20 years, or whatever it took. It’s been very worth it. There’s no human being on this earth that deserves to be rejected from love because their choices (even the “bad” ones) aren’t what their partner likes. That doesn’t mean we have to stay close to them all the time, if it means being abused. But they deserve to be treated with love and kindness, something we can only truly give them if we’re giving the same kind of love and kindness to ourselves. THAT’S the hardest part, giving the genuine stuff to ourselves. But we can only give to others what we have inside ourselves. That’s what I’ve discovered, and it works as universally as gravity, in my opinion.

That’s my 2 bits:)

From: chatwme

I've been with my husband for more than 13 years. He cheated on me twice (brief affairs) way before we were married. He cheated again almost 5 months ago. I HAD A GUT FEELING EVERYTIME. My advice is always listen to your gut feeling because most of the time it's correct. If you're gut feeling is he's doing something wrong, then chances are, he is. If you're thinking about making a decision based on your gut feeling then I would listen to it but confirm your suspicions just to make sure. Anyway, I wish you luck and if you have anymore questions, I'd be happy to give you my opinion.

From: Oregon

I'm struggling with this too...My gut feeling changes with the wind to a certain degree. So I try to find a balance between voicing these questions (I feel they really must be brought out in the open) but not sound like I doubt what I'm doing every second. The whole process of reconciling (whether that leads to staying or a healthy separating) strikes me rather like two gunslingers in the wild west, hands on their pistols--just ready to draw at one misstep. On the whole, I admit my gut feeling is to give up on my current relationship...my partner has been very slow to really put her heart into trying or counselling, and there is a desire (hers for me) issue going back a long while between us that remains and is now even larger because of her affair. (Quick bio: Together 8 years, lived together 4...I had an affair 4 years ago, she did recently) But it seems that ones gut feeling is the essentially a fight versus flight struggle. Very Primitive, and thus not always reliable. For me, for NOW, my gut feeling has a faint taste of cowardice...my own unwillingness to face up to damage I did to her and us. Yeah, it would be really easy to just wash my hands of all this thinking/talking/counselling/etc.) (and it is wearying) and put it out of my mind. But I suppose Id simply repeat it all in the next serious relationship (maybe even a not so serious relationship). I confess that I feel susceptible to cheating these days, I have a slight desire to hurt her, and to provide a back-up plan for myself, and to just feel uncomplicated love and desire for someone....it would be SO easy to fall into something that gave me that feeling of being in love and loved, without all the complicated crap. And in short, I guess that's why people cheat, to avoid the complicated crap of relating intimately with humans. I try to remember how bad that would be for me in the long run.

We've been in fairly intense counselling for 7 sessions now. When we first drifted apart, and the affair occurred, and I confronted her about it...in my heart (I was not saying this to her) I thought Id know what I wanted in four sessions....but mostly I was just so pained and felt so much time and effort already invested in the relationship that I was eager to minimize the length of the pain and cut my losses. But I've learned that you can't minimize what you feel, and you can't cut your losses. We are making progress, and I'm able to finally air feelings that I've had for years in our relationship...So, yes, things are improving as a result of counselling. For us, to a degree-though slowly. But for me, dramatic improvement..I want her to be a part of this, but even when she's not (she still vacillates) I am healing and learning.

Nowadays I don't really have a time-line- a vague one, maybe. But I trust myself to know if things aren't getting better, to notice my needs and judge them for fairness and then decide if they're getting met. But this is thinking, n not gut. My gut feeling seems pretty unreliable. I've always lead life by instinct or gut-feeling, but it was that instinct that got us in this mess...if we had been matter-of-fact and discussed our needs, if I had openly acknowledged my needs on a thinking basis and asked for them more I might not have had an affair. Or maybe I would have had to leave the relationship. I'll never know. If I had *thought* about my partners behavior and experience with me, I would have seen she was heading for an affair... One thing that might be helpful is to learn a bit about your personality type. Myers-Briggs is a common, widely available test for this. You can learn a great deal about how you process conflict and change from this test. For some highly analytical types, I suppose gut feeling might be their best indicator.

I've written to much, and rather wandering, too. But I hope it has some helpful info.

From: E

Thanks for sharing... without waxing too sentimental here, it really helps to know I am not the only sailor trying to navigate these rough seas alone.(even though it seems I am on the Atlantic and you may be on the Pacific) I really understand that image of the two gunslingers in the wild west -- staying in the relationship or healthy separating feels very hard at this point. I, too, on the whole feel like my gut says give up on the relationship but I've really wanted to try to see if things could change. My partner and I came together because of some strong similarities and common goals but day-to-day compatibility and personalities seems to be very challenging. He has also been slow to put his heart into counselling, but we have gone a few times and have benefited from it. It's hard to see concrete change though and I have this fear that things may never change to the point of the kind of growth I would like for us to experience -- It's kind of strange but I've felt in my heart for a long time what I've really wanted was to experience a very compassionate relationship one committed to growth and I keep doubting my feelings about whether or not this road (with this person)I am on with him is really the right path toward what my heart really desires

I think one of the ways I have dealt with the cowardice (the stuff that we blame ourselves for) is to try not to judge so harshly on being human. If you reach out to another while you are in a relationship it usually indicates there is something that either you need to find within yourself for fulfilment or some basic needs you aren't aren't being fulfilled in a relationship. It can be so easy to feel guilty or to place blame, but I think it's best to look at our transgressions a bit more lovingly, and place our pasts behind us as real stepping stones for growth. I really believe that these stepping stones are for helping us to better understand and learn who we are and who we are not.

I am at a point where I wonder how long to invest in counselling, how long to wait to see if changes really happen. I've been trying to use the same thinking about a time-line, but it's been hard because I, too,have made most decisions based on gut/instinct.

From: Bernd

Hi Oregon, Based on my own experiences, I just wanted to mention a few things.

You're both still in the early stages of dealing with her affair, and I suspect that she's never really emotionally dealt with YOUR affair. So much is confused and hurting inside, and there's a been a lot of old childhood trapdoors of past hurt flung wide open. All the different thoughts and feelings that are swirling thru you are perfectly normal, in my opinion. Thoughts and feelings aren't actions. They can all give you lots of insight as time goes by, but right for now, I'd suggest writing often in a private journal, which will give you a healthy and constructive outlet, and help you with flashes of insight as you see your own words.

You have some solid insights in your posting. As much as I wanted to "hurry" things, one of the things I had to learn (and the affair aftermath was a damned good teacher, btw!) was patience, and being ok with just letting the "process" work. My inner guide knows that change and healing - for it to be solid - isn't something that can be rushed, or should be. A rose takes its own time to grow, and any attempts to try to force it to blossom early only damages it, and eventually destroys it. Remind yourself to let go of your need for some deadline. Imagine yourself on a trip where focusing on the destination robs you of all the magic the scenery and sights offer along the way.

Lastly, I was so used to using my brain to find solutions most of my life that I let it drown out my inner voice over and over again. My brain is only a small part of me, and there are some things it can do really well, and other things it's almost useless for. Figuring out another person and their motives is one of the things it just can't do, or predicting the future. Many of my past troubles have been directly because I tried to use it to figure out things it wasn't designed for. Like trying to pick up a spoon with my nose - don't work very good. The ironic thing is that there have been many times since I learned to "let go" of trying to figure some things out, when as soon as I accepted "what is" with genuine inner calm, the answers would come to me out of nowhere. Love how that works.

Anyway, I try to stay away from giving advice, so take what works, and leave the rest!

From: Caring

How do you confirm your gut feeling? I have had the gut feeling that my husband has been cheating on me and that is the source of alot of our arguments. He denies this emphatically and gets really defensive about it. His previous marriage ended because she cheated on him. Any advice would be appreciated.

From: Bernd

The hard way is by getting "evidence". Problem was, it never solved anything for me, because I just ended up going from the frying pan to the fire when I DID get solid evidence (confrontation, yelling, more anguish). Plus, the snooping consumed me, and made a wreck out of my life.

The thing I had to learn was to trust my own gut feelings, without "needing" evidence. Boy was that hard, but very worth it. It took many sessions at Al-anon, and therapy, and many hours of journal writing and quiet meditation before I was even able to begin doing so. But it brought my destiny back into my hands, and under the guidance of my soul - not under the whims of whether or not I'd find out the "truth" that day, or whether or not I was "smart enough" to figure out who was trying to snowball me.

Let go a little each day of needing the truth from your partner, and learn how to trust that inner voice inside. When the pool of water inside is calm enough, you'll be able to see a lot of things more clearly, and be solid with them no matter what anyone else tells you.

From: STEVE

Every time my SO was involved w/MY gut feeling, things have turned out right as I knew they would (from feeling them, of course). I can't say that that'll happened 100% of time, but right now, I"m really counting on my gut feeling about NOT loosing my angel. I know I could be setting myself up for the worst heart ache ever recorded in history...but that's a chance I'm willing to take. Oh well.hope this meant something to someone out there.


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