Stop thinking about the past – the car analogy

I believe that leaving the past behind and moving forward is something we will all have to do in order to live a good and full life again.  But it cannot be done until the past has been properly dealt with.

I had to have my car serviced the other day.  There was a car out back that had been in a major accident with a big truck.  Poor car was just about unrecognizable.  It got me thinking about how my marriage is like that car and my husband drove it off a cliff.  This analogy still needs work but I thought I’d share it as I work through it.

A car that has been in a major accident doesn’t run anymore.  It has nothing left to keep it going.  It is smashed beyond recognition.  Many people would just get rid of it and move on to a new car.  But there are some people who love their cars and will do just about anything to repair it.  With tender loving care, any surviving pieces can be put together with a new main frame and new parts to create a new and even stronger car… hopefully a car that has an alarm system in place.  You can’t move in it or take it anywhere until it has been properly restored.

My marriage has been in a major wreck – destroyed beyond recognition.  Until we pick up the broken pieces and fit them into a new marriage, completely rebuilt with an alarm system, we will never be able to truly move forward.  While we are rebuilding, we have to replace the parts that don’t work and figure out how to fit them all together to give a semblance of the familiar but with only the highest quality new parts.

Working on our marriage means communicating and finding what works and what doesn’t and how to put it together into a new working product.  At the beginning, that means discussing what happened and how it was possible for one of us to get behind the wheel and head for destruction.  Later, it means figuring out how to rebuild.  And finally it means learning how to protect ourselves from future dangerous driving.

It takes both partners putting in major effort.  My husband still feels the work is mine.  He’s willing to make nice and drive more carefully and buy fancy accessories, but he’s not willing to help with the reconstruction of the vehicle itself and he won’t put in an alarm system.  He won’t go to driver’s ed classes to learn to be a safer and more trustworthy driver, either.  So our car remains a pile of rubble, but still he put some fancy new rims on it, and he expects us to be able to get in and drive off into the sunset.  Like I’m going to trust the car or his driving?  Sound like a disconnect?


35 thoughts on “Stop thinking about the past – the car analogy

  1. wallybear12 says:

    Perfect analogy. I’m still wondering why two years out I’m still struggling and your analogy makes perfect sense.
    I wish our marriage came with an owners manual on affairs.

    • Not Over It says:

      Oh yes, there could be a whole section on affairs under Troubleshooting, and affair-proofing under Preventive Care. LOL – thank you, Wallybear – I like it!

  2. survivamama says:

    yeah, love the metaphor. My husband seems to be reading the same repair manual as yours at times. MMM, actually, my husband has found the repair manual but he’s only on the first page. But I think that’s normal, it’s newer for us. And we’re both filling up the gas tank at least 🙂

  3. I wanted to completely transform the car into something else entirely. I want a new marriage. We cant go back to the way it was, we’ve been miserable for years. We are working on our new marriage, and so far it is turning out nicely.

  4. exercisegrace says:

    DJ, it is so funny that you used a car analogy today! I do online counseling from the same site as you but different person, and in his response today he used a similar analogy! I was explaining my frustration with both my husband and our marriage counselor and the online counselor said its as if my husband drove our car straight through our house, in one wall clear through and out the other wall. And then he and the MC are standing in the middle of it all trying to convince me its not as bad as it looks!!! Too funny! Or not, I guess

  5. Not Over It says:

    Ah, those Marriage Sherpa coaches really know what they’re doing! I love that image – your husband and MC standing in the middle of the wreckage telling you it’s not that bad! Hahahahaha… it is too funny! Everybody’s comments today have made my day.

    It’s good that we can laugh about it sometimes. My sherpa tells me that he would be very worried if I couldn’t.

  6. wallybear12 says:

    We’re going to keep our large comfortable car that all the kids and grandkids fit in…
    A two seater convertible did look good for a minute but he soon found out it was a lemon.
    What happened to that two seater? It crashed and burned up everything inside it.
    Now when he sees a convertible he looks away.

  7. beautifulmess7 says:

    I love the analogy!!! We are hoping to restore our car to better than it was to begin with.

  8. exercisegrace says:

    I think I might have just driven my car straight over the edge. We seem to be reaching critical mass here and i just don’t know what to do. To be fair, he IS trying. To some extent I push his efforts away and punish him. I am just stuck right not in the hurt, pain and anger. I can’t seem to push the affair far enough away from me, even for short bursts, to have an enjoyable day. I know he feels constantly reminded and constantly kicked. That is true to some extent. I should be able to enjoy my life without letting this crap dominant pretty much every waking moment. Can someone please please tell me how to get past this point? If I don’t we are going to end up apart, and I think that would be awful. We both want this to work, we are both willing to try, we both love each other but right now it all seems like too too much.

    • Not Over It says:

      OH EG – it’s too soon for that! Is he so convinced that you should be able to move forward already?

      I was thinking yesterday when you commented about your marriage counselor that he was probably not doing justice to your marriage. It’s hard to find a good counselor for dealing with infidelity. Rick Reynolds at is adamant about that. He says you need to find someone who specializes in that. A general psychologist or an LMFT will often use generalized methods that are supposed to work for a variety of issues. The thing is they don’t always work for infidelity.

      Focusing on what you where you want to go, controlling your thoughts and all that — sure, that all has to done, but it’s too soon to expect that from you. To your injured brain, that is ridiculous. That’s like telling a child, “That’s ok. You burned your hand on the stove yesterday, but go ahead and play there today. It’s not hot today.” It may very well not be hot today, but should you be telling your child that? Will your child immediately trust that it’s not hot? It will take proof and a period of testing it out before your child would trust that. Is it a good idea to do that? No way. We wouldn’t even consider telling a child that it’s ok at any time to play on the stove. Our brain understands infidelity at this same level. Your brain is doing its job of protecting you. It will take time to reprogram it to accept the relationship that caused such harm. Even if you know you love your husband, your brain will do its best to protect you from harm until it is convinced there is no more harm there. That takes a good long while.

      Look at Linda from EAJ. She is about three years out from her D-day, and she is again going to counseling. She has lingering issues. Her subconscious brain has not let go of the need for self-protection.

      All that said, you do need to get anger under control. Vent it out on things that won’t hurt your relationship. There is a time and place to show him your anger, but daily bashing is not going to help. I told you yesterday about how I vented with music. Right now, I vent with music by Adele. Her music has an anger and hurt in it that just lets me vent it all out. And then I am better. I don’t know if you can relate to her kind of music, but try it. Here’s a link to a YouTube video of her:

      Another thing would be to find a new activity that you can do together without the opportunity for blowouts. For my husband and me, that was exercise class. It is good to be something new because it will not have many triggers associated with it. I still had to hold back tears in class for a long time, but not anymore.

      I’m just throwing out thoughts that are popping into my head. Every relationship is different, but these are things that I have learned along the way that work for us.

      Praying for you, my dear EG –

      • I’m not sure that it is always the case that a therapist who specializes in working with infidelity is going to be the best. One case I saw where the couple saw an LCSW genralist, and the hurt party was DEEPLY wounded (people are different in how they react to this), were better while going to him even though the sessions were quite difficult and they both complained about them. When they decided it was too hard and quit, things began sliding downhill. (I was the individual therapist for the woman in this case which is how I made this observation).
        Of course, a specialist will have seen many different situations around the same problem. That kind of experience does teach the therapist. But, there is something to be said for the richness of experience that a therapist gains when treating a variety of problems, over time. I think that it is all about personal fit. You have to find the one who seems to be able to mesh with your marriage/partnership. It doesn’t mean that you will go out of each session feeling good. But it is about how you both feel in your heart of hearts about how the process is going.
        Also, re the comment about not feeling like the marriage counselor was giving enough credit to the strengths of the relationship—that would be a very good thing to bring up in a session!

      • Not Over It says:

        Hey Paula,

        I do see your point. I guess you have to just search to find a therapist that “fits.” I have personally been through a couple of duds. The first one said, “So he had an affair… so what? He’s here now.” And that was at the very beginning of my journey. I may be able to handle someone saying that now, but back then… no way. I felt completely invalidated and ridiculed.

        Now if I had been in your city and found you, that would have been wonderful.

        Thank you for your insights.

        Love & prayers,

    • nmwf1 says:

      hi EG, I can’t give any words of wisdom because after a year i am still in the same mode, my husband and I do have good days, but my roller coaster of emotions can change everything in an instant. I do not know how to control it. The trouble is I can’t control it at all. Basically I feel he wrecked our lives. I guess what I am trying to say is that, Honestly!!! 5 months? it might as well have been yesterday, this thing is not going away over night.He can just forget it. the way I see it is, an affair is the very worst thing you can do to a marriage, it takes its toll in every way, and if the cheater cannot take the heat when they are the one who caused it all. then so be it. ( to f***ing bad. ) I will not let up, till my heart lets up. You are not going to let up till your heart lets up. Stop feeling like it is all up to you to make it better. The more they want to move on the more they are in denial of your feelings. My heart will not let go of the pain yet and there is nothing I can do about it. And the same goes for you. Why sugar coat the reality of it. Infidelity cuts like a knife to your soul, and soul searching is all you can do to get through. My husband is like yours, he regrets it and is remorseful, SO WHAT! He should be. I was always faithful and made him my whole world. And that is the thanks i get. Resentful? Yes I am. I need the answer on how to get past that. We will have to work on this, this, this, SHIT together. I am probably no help. I really need a Tylenol……………………….I have got to get a better attitude tomorrow.

  9. wallybear12 says:

    How long has it been? You can’t rush the healing. Many times I thought should I just get rid of this car (h) because I’m not healing and also causing him pain.
    It does get easier with time there are many days where I don’t even think of it and then some days like this weeken it just won’t go away.

  10. […] exercisegracesays: August 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm  (Edit) […]

  11. Teresa says:

    DJ, I believe Linda at EAJ is almost FOUR years out!! Sucks for us, doesn’t it????? I just told my H tonight….I can’t remember much from 2011!!! It’s like the whole year is a blur…how sad is that? A whole year of our lives wasted…and now 7 months of 2012″ though better, still in recovery mode!!
    As for the car analogy, my car came equipped with a supersized DIPSTICK…and I married it!!!! LOL!!!!

  12. wallybear12 says:

    4 years for Linda? Hopefully it’s just maintance and small replacements and not complete engine overhaul.
    It is such a long journey…..
    Such a long winding twisting road I’ve traveled the safest route might have been to stay home but I would have missed some wonderful sites (sights) and I can see the destination.

    • Not Over It says:

      I missed a turn somewhere and ended up back at the bottom of the hill. Not sure if I am up to making the climb again. Might need a new cooling system or maybe a lube job…

      • nmwf1 says:

        Ya, well I missed the yield signs, looking in the rear view mirror they are plain as day. I was just arrogant enough to think they didn’t apply to me.

      • Not Over It says:

        Me, too. And now our self-esteem is in the trash heap. Fortunately, the new model we are building comes with upgrades in the computer system that we can add on when we are ready.

  13. nmwf1 says:

    Dj, You silly girl. I was just telling EG on the other blog how she made my day cause, what she said, made me laugh, I must be in a humorous mood tonight because I started laughing when I read that our self-esteem was in the trash heap. You girls are to funny. I needed a little humor, my moods were getting way to serious lately.

  14. nmwf1 says:

    By the way, we may have new computer systems installed but they glitch, . I want back the old car. The one that ran faithfully. At least until I investigated why the check engine light came on.

    • Not Over It says:

      LOL! That’s a good one – engine light – now you’ve made my day!

      I miss my old car, too. I took good care of it. I used that dipstick regularly and checked the oil, I got it lubed up and serviced all the time, kept it clean and shiny. But he ran it off a cliff. No accounting for that stupidity…

      • nmwf1 says:

        Well it sounds to me that none of us had cars at all, we all had RAM PICK-UP’S………lol now we have….. F O R D trucks… Fix Or Repair Daily…lol they all suck…..

  15. Not Over It says:

    Oh Heavens – too funny! That will help me as I clear my schedule to spend time with my daughter, whose car has also just fallen apart. I think I can see one of the rims rolling down the road… poor thing. Her mechanic (her marriage counselor) told her that her husband should have his license revoked.

  16. I have come across some new information that has me re-thinking part of how I viewed affair recovery. For a long time I have thought that confession was really for the perpetrator: Confess and feel relieved. Unload the burden. Reduce the tension caused by a secret. Guilt relief, etc. However, I recently learned that a new study has determined that unfaithful partners who confess are less likely to repeat that behavior in the future.
    Oftentimes the one who was cheated on wants to know all the details. Not always though, some only want to know certain things. Some are so immediately and devastatingly crushed that they can’t bear to hear about it at all. Everyone is different, of course. Each couple has to find their own, unique way—forward together or, out of the relationship.
    That said though, this is a little piece of interesting information for those of us struggling with this problem and for those of us trying to help them.

    • Not Over It says:

      This makes sense to me. My husband did not come to any major realizations or soul searching moments until he was confronted with my discovery of his affair. If he had gotten away with it, I don’t think he would have felt sorry, and I think he would have ended up in another affair. He’s just too damned cute and charming.

      Thank you again –

      Love & prayers,

  17. Dear DJ, I just read your response to my thoughts about selecting a therapist. What an astounding thing that 1st therapist said to you! I am so proud of you that you didn’t give up seeking counsel, at that point. It never ceases to amaze me—some of the crazy things I hear about other therapists. It’s like any profession—there are the talented, skilled, ethical ones and there are the quacks. The credentials are not enough. It’s the combination of knowledge and character in teachers, financial consultants, doctors, you name it,that creates the result. So glad you have the good people you do, around you now.
    Thank you for your sweet note.

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