Pursue and Withdraw Patterns

     In a relationship there is a “Pursuer and Withdrawer” pattern that often occurs. Sometimes the pursuer is a man and sometimes it is a woman. When a relationship has a problem, one person will pursue and the other person will withdraw. The pursuer will feel like something is wrong, so he/she will push to make the other person do something. When this occurs, the withdrawer will feel uneasy and he/she will pull away. It is like a balance scale. When one side tips down, the other goes up. When one goes down, the other tips up.

     The balance scale will show up in every area in a marriage. For example, if one person does more dishes that means the other person is doing less. If one person walks the dog less that means the other person is walking the dog more. The scale must always be balanced. If it is unbalanced, a problem will occur.

Keeping a Ledger

     Here is the truth, the scale is NEVER balanced! You will always be doing more than your spouse in some areas. Your spouse will always be doing more than you in other areas. If you’re keeping an accounting ledger of how you are doing more, you will always be miserable. If you’re keeping an accounting ledger of what she is doing more, you’re going to be a lot more satisfied.  

Positive Ledgers Work Best

    It is a good idea to keep an actual journal or a written account of the positives that your spouse is doing. The purpose of the journal is the train the mind to look for the positives. If we regularly journal about the positives that our spouse is doing, the mind will start looking for the positives because the mind knows that it will be writing about them later that night. Whatever our focus is on, our mind will look for those things. 

Chores and Tasks

     If you try to push your spouse to do more, the scale will tip and she will do less. She may do more in the moment you are pushing because you’re creating undesirable feelings inside of her by pushing and she wants to get rid of those feelings. However, this is not a sustainable tactic. Once the pushing ceases, the undesirable feeling that was motivating her will subside, and she will stop doing what you’re pushing her to do. Furthermore, because the undesirable feeling came when you were being pushy, she will likely start distancing himself from you. 

Rewards Create Sustainable Positive Emotions

    People gravitate toward what feels good. It is a good idea to express thanks for her small efforts through compliments, gratitude, and thankfulness. Expressing this through positive gestures, words, and actions creates positive feelings of emotion between you and her. Without really paying attention to what they are doing, people will start doing more of what feels good. For example, if after every time the trash is taken out positive emotions are exchanged, taking the trash out will become a more pleasant experience. When it is a pleasant experience, it is more likely to occur again. When you are being pleasant, you are more likely to feel at peace. When you’re expressing gratitude, your spouse is more likely to move toward you emotionally as well.

Emotional Pursuit and Withdrawal

     When a partner starts distancing emotionally, the scale will tip and the pursuer will desire to connect more. As the pursuer tries to fix the marriage by connecting more, the withdrawer in a relationship will feel smothered and continue to withdraw. This happens when one person is pursuing emotionally and the other is withdrawing.   

Be the Best Version of You

 The key is for the pursuer to stand still and to be the best “self” that he can be.  The withdrawer picked him in the first place. Out of all the people in the world, she picked him.  He just needs to be the best “him” there is, once again. It’s a lot like fishing. You make a lure and put it in the water. You make the best lure you can. If the fish likes the lure, it will bite. If you get in the water and chase the fish, the fish will run away

This can be a slow and long process. Sometimes the guy doesn’t get the girl. Sometimes he does. Sometimes she leaves, discovers that there isn’t anything better out there than what she had at home, and comes back. Sometimes she doesn’t. That is the difficult part of being married. In reality you don’t have any control over what the other person does.

It can be a long process. The good thing that always comes out of it is that the guy walks away from the experience feeling good about the person he has become and feeling that he did the best he could. At the end, whether or not she leaves, the guy knows himself, is happy with who he is, and knows he is a good spouse/father.

My advice is to take an inventory of who you are, in all areas of your life. Look at areas of religion, finance, career, physical health, mental health, being a husband, and being a father. Decide what you are pleased about with yourself and what you want to change. Then, slowly and arduously work toward becoming the person you want to be. A lady knows the difference between real, deep, and long lasting change and a guy who is just being, “who they want them to be.”  Long lasting change looks and feels different.

Assess your Motivation

As for your relationships with your wife and your children, you never know how long you have with a person. There is death, sickness, growing up, and divorce that split people up. Enjoy every minute that you have with the person. Show your love through acts of kindness and service. Do the acts because you want to show love, verses doing an act because you want someone to act differently.


    Often the aftermath of an affair will result in a pursue/withdrawal pattern. The husband is afraid that the wife will have another affair. Because the first affair was emotionally painful, the husband will want to protect himself by insuring that she will not have another one. He will begin checking her phone, emails, and social accounts. He will start asking questions and checking her locations. This will make him feel more miserable. This pursuing pattern will result in her withdrawing more. 

    An alternative is to put the responsibility of staying faithful on the offending spouse. To do this, first remove things that promote the fear that she might leave you. Pay off your debts and become financially secure, so that you do not have the financial fear that she will leave you. Build an emotional support group that you can rely on to take away the emotional fear of being alone. Become physically, spiritually, and emotionally fit, so that you will have the energy to manage your affairs if she leaves you. Also, put a little money away in an account for lawyer and separation fees. 

There is power in choice

    Change how you see the equation. You are with each other because you want to be with each other. You enjoy each other. You love each other. Either one of you could walk away at any moment. Neither of you walk away because you enjoy each other’s presence. If she walks away and has another affair, it is your decision to leave the relationship at that point or to tolerate another indiscretion. You are not trapped. You are making a choice. She is also making the choice and there is nothing that you can do that will ever remove the ability for her to make that choice. All you can do is decide what to do with the information that you have available to you. 

     There are commitments that you and your spouse have made to each other. There are obligations that you have to your children. Only you can decide if an affair releases you from these obligations. Whatever you decide, the choice is not being made for you, you are in complete control of your life. Your spouses affair did not remove a decision, the ability to choose is and always will be yours. 

Common pushing that results in withdrawing

•    Pressuring the person to change their mind. 
•    Asking the person questions in an attempt to get them to change their mind. 
•    Exhibiting acts motivated toward  changing a person’s mind, demeanor, and attitude.
•    Lecturing
•    Cutting off from family and/or friends
•    Berating and belittling
•    Nagging or constantly reminding

Common positives that result in closeness

•    Doing acts of kindness, because you enjoy doing it, verses doing kind acts out of obligation. 
•    Being attentive because you really are interested, verses listening because you were told to do so. 
•    Spending time with the person because you love to be around them and enjoy watching them be happy, verses going on a date because you want them to treat you different.
•    Wanting your spouse to be happy because you enjoy making them happy, verses wanting your spouse to be happy because only then can you be happy.
•    Wanting to do kind things for your spouse, regardless of how she reciprocates, simply because being an amazing husband is what you enjoy being.