Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why you (and he!) need therapy to heal from infidelity

We often hear on this site from women whose husbands don't "believe" in therapy, or women who resist it , or have had bad experiences with therapists. I remain convinced that avoiding therapy simply makes healing from infidelity even more difficult than it already is. A good therapist will coach you toward healing, while acknowledging just how devastating infidelity is. 
Contributing BWC blogger Steam had the benefit of a good – nay great! – therapist. She offers up what she learned here:

by Steam

Sometimes I wonder: Am I really this far along in my recovery from the largest trauma of my life? Is it really possible? I see so many of us who are stuck and although I know we are not supposed to judge our recovery against others, sometimes I can’t help but use our collective as a barometer. 

If my story has one thing that is a little different, it might be that, if my husband had not  agreed to go to therapy, that was a deal-breaker right there. But he said yes.

Once upon a time, and maybe where you live, as recently as yesterday, therapy was frowned upon.
You were mentally unstable if you had to seek therapy.
Although that's not always the case, in fact it rarely is, if you are just finding out you have been betrayed, here is the truth:
You really ARE mentally unstable.
For damn good reason. You have been rocked to the core. You know how you feel – you feel crazy.
But right now, for you, crazy is the new normal.
And don't you dare feel ashamed about this. 

I knew, even on D-day, that I wanted to be with my husband and, in my mind, that pointed to my own insanity. I must be nuts to want to stay and yet I wanted to…and had no idea how to do it.

This is where therapy became a must, not just for me, not just for my husband, but as our therapist pointed out on our first visit, for the third entity – “the relationship”.

Our therapist – let's call her Mary – knew exactly why we were there and her first question was “do you want to stay together?”. We both answered yes. If you are unsure if you want to stay, I still believe therapy is a good place to learn why you’re not sure…and perhaps become sure, one way or the other.

Mary's style is very active. I didn't just watch someone nod her head and ask me “how does that make you feel?” 
No, we had to get off our butts and do things, such as…

Learning to communicate 
That is an art form and neither of us had the tools. We never would have made it without them. Everything had to come out: ”Fine” was not a real answer to “how are you?” and “nothing” was not an answer to “what are you thinking?” If you did not feel like talking, you could set a time in the not-so-distant future,  say, 30 minutes, to get it together and communicate. We could not just shove our concerns aside until they were convenient.

We had to go on a date once a week and only one person planned it. No squabbling during planning. One partner just planned it, told the other what to wear and to get in the car (which explains why I went hiking in heels once – men sometimes miss the God in the details, and I will never ever judge another woman by her footwear on the trails. She may be on the same path as me, literally and figuratively).
We had been living in the same house, quietly and often too independently, for so many years that bringing fun back was a game-changer.
No matter how awful the week was, we had something fun to look forward to, and no matter what, we had to go. The change of scenery was always good. It only failed one time, our very first time when I fell into a heap of tears looking at other happy couples. They looked so young and untarnished, I knew I would never be like that again and it killed me. But the next weekend, we adjusted and did it again. Practice makes headway. 

But above all else, Mary urged me to feel and explore this state we call crazy and she called it PTSD (hallelujah, it has a name! Facing it was the only way to go through it. I was up, I was down, I was crying, I was re-living, I needed HELP and not just once a week. I needed help from the person who betrayed me. Gasp! She asked if my husband was willing to not just listen, but actively support me through my bout with PTSD. It could not have been easy for him, but yes, he was.
She taught both of us that “crazy” was totally normal, at least for now, and we both had to deal with it.
This newfound me with my need for passwords and complete transparency, who needed to know every moment of every day where my husband was and who just texted, felt bossy and controlling, wanting passwords and to “talk” at any hour of the day. 
I was hurt, I was shattered, I was NORMAL.

I have always known and said to anyone that my husband is the kindest man I have ever known. He has never said an unkind word to me in our 15 years together. Never put me down, never noticed if my weight creeped up, or if he did, was brilliant enough not to mention it. But what I put him through for at least six months was not pretty, or easy or fun.

Without Mary and my husband’s urging, I never could have set rules and demands. That was so not my style. I needed permission to feel every feeling, to learn the difference between feeling them and acting on them, and my husband learned a lot too!

Run, don’t walk to a good therapist!
If your husband tells you (or you feel the need) to “put it behind us”, “leave the past in the past”, “never speak about it again because it makes him (or you) feel bad” then you need some tools,  either to stay or to go, and to find out why you want to or not, and the best place I know is inside the office of someone trained to help.

How does that make you feel? You don’t know? Make an appointment. 


  1. I don't see how anybody could get over this without a therapist it is devastating on so many levels. I read this to my husband about communication which is still difficult at times. We are learning a new normal. It has not been easy but he saw the therapist once a week for 12 months, I'm still seeing a therapist once a week. We have couples therapy every other week. That is how screwed up we were and how the affair just amps everything up. I'm still learning how to not get amped up.

  2. The timing of this piece could not have been better. I am almost a year to D Day and I still feel so sad (and crazy). My husband and I did go to therapy for a few weeks, but she was not a good fit. We tried another therapist and he was even worse. That is all my husband needed to prove that therapy is a waste of time. I just spent a weekend away with my girlfriends (none of them know my situation). I used to be a confident woman and now I feel like I am lacking in all categories. I feel unattractive, overweight and completely undesirable. The other ladies seemed to have it all together. Better at cooking, cleaning, they could ski (I am afraid to ski) etc.. I hate feeling like this and I was thinking today is the day to find another therapist. I just don't know how to find a good one. My husband will go with me (not happily), but even if he does not go I need to go. Any advice on finding a good therapist? Thanks!!

    1. I think you sometimes just have to try a few out. It helps, I think, if they focus on infidelity (some include that in their bios). A good therapist, I think, will make you feel safe and comfortable and supported. Trust your instincts. Don't be afraid to call out comments or attitudes that are hurtful or seem to reveal a lack of understanding re. affairs. And don't be afraid to try another if the first one, or two, don't work out. A great therapist is worth the hunt!
      As for how you're feeling re. your friends: Betrayal triggers our deepest insecurities: That we're not "enough". Please know that, through this journey, you can come to a place where you truly understand that you are enough and always have been. Life isn't about having the best dinner, thinnest waist or skiing mogul fields. (Incidentally, those women -- ie. Elizabeth Hurley, Sandra Bullock, Eva Longoria et al -- get cheated on too.). Life is about being present for those we love, supporting them, sharing in their joy and their disappointments.
      Take this time to focus on you -- to heal from this. That might include a fitness regimen if you've been ignoring your own health. It might include taking classes in something that interests you, or taking up a hobby you've been curious about. This is YOUR time to figure out what you want out of your life...and put things in place to make it happen.

  3. In my opinion a good therapist will tell you exactly how it is. No mincing of words just hard cold facts which is what I needed to hear. Our counsellor told us 'our marriage was a joke' and to be fair to him he wasn't far wrong. Prior to d day we had no communication, and valued each other very little. It was good to hear someone tell us the truth who wasn't a friend or relative. Personally I found it helped me for out therapist to be blunt but I can see that sone people would be put of especially when your in that vulnerable and sensitive mode. I also think that whatever you give to the session you will get out. You both have to be honest and vocal in therapy otherwise it can be like pulling teeth. Wishing you well ladies x x

  4. Lynn, good for you, I know, the getting amped up--and what a great way to put it, can take over if not faced head on. It can RUN your lfe! The first few days were the worst and weeks that followed were not much better for me (and i guess for most) and months that sort of stuff really ebbed and flowed, and then I would feel ok but the amping up would hit out of nowhere.
    And that was WITH a therapist!!
    I cannot fathom going though this without professional HELP.

    I have always been swallow pain and put up a strong front until I explode. I never wanted to disturb the calm, rustle the feathers, etc.
    So again, learning that everthing I felt was normal was such relief, learning that it was OK to talk, even when on the outside we were doing well, but on the inside, I wasn't. Might have been a full day, an hour or five minutes that was spinning.-it was ok to talk, it was necessary. I knew I was spinning when I was getting ready to or activly searching the internet and his computer or hours and hours--
    The one thing my therapist was actually surprised to hear was that I did not think ever, that "i was not enough" somehow I knew this was NOT on me, but that it was my husband alone who made this CHOICE. I dont know where I got it, but I got it and I really wish every betrayed person understood this. This was HIS choice and although I too needed to adjust my sails, I was not the one who made us veer WILDLY off course.

    And Anon--I was lucky to have a friend who is a shrink , and i asked him for a referal. Didnt need to tell him why, didnt even tell him it was for me--I just asked for the best couples counsler he knew. You can also ask your medical dr OR if you have Yelp in your area, you can even try that. Maybe a friend has gone through therapy and you can see a change in them--ask who they saw, they dont need to know why. Years ago when looking for an invidual therapist, I went though a list on my insurance company's website and by phone, interviewed four therapists, to see who I resonated with the most. It costs nothing and you probably WILL get a good feeling on who is a hit and who is a miss.
    and ONE more thing. When you are THIS down, EVERYONE looks like they have it together. I have always been afraid to ski too, if that makes you feel better. I remember being single and sad at the dog park when I was very broken hearted after a failed relationship and it was the only place I could get myself to go. I would see a handful of single women who looked SO SO happy to be their alone with their dogs and having a ball. I brought the same thing up to my therapist at the time--they all have it TOGETHER and I dont---they look so HAPPY being single--- and he told me, "you know, they are probaby in the exact same boat as you, they are just better and more practiced at putting on their game face". So true. No one knows the path you are walking and we dont know others, others may have been dealing with horrible things for years and years and are just better at "getting out there" than we are. We are still learning to crawl again.

    1. Yep. Completely agree Steam. Nobody has it "all" together, "all" the time. Life is peaks and valleys.

  5. While I know that Steam is trying to help others and this information is, as always, very useful for many, therapy isn't the only way to survive this. I know I'm new to the wreckage of this situation but ultimately hard work and communication are the most important aspects of marriage recovery.

    My husband and I chose not to see a therapist mainly because one two hour session per week would blow our budget out of the water. I can't even fathom what the cost would be for each of us to have sessions weekly let alone three times per week! It is absolutely impossible at our financial level while sending two children to college. Absolutely impossible.

    We have access to a few marriage counselors through our insurance provider but they were booked out approximately two months at the time and quite honestly, after reading the profiles of those who were available to us, neither of us were too excited to share our story with them.

    Over the months, as I have read the various posts here, I have determined that infidelity is a wealthy man's game. I have often found myself wondering what it would be like if we had been in a more positive financial situation when this nightmare began. Would this have played out differently?

    For example,
    ~~I am certain that on dday I would have asked him to leave, to go somewhere else and leave me to my thoughts. But where would he have gone? To a hotel? A few nights or weeks of that would have seriously cut into our ability to pay our bills, etc. He couldn't go to her since he had dumped her long before. Instead, we were forced to be with each other, forced to jump right in, which led to a very open dialogue very early in this process.

    I also think about those of you out there who have options..... a summer home, guesthouse, or hotel to send him off to or to run away to. At times I'm extremely jealous. But then, I look at the two of us and how we are recovering from the worst event in our lives. And I see that maybe our recovery is moving a little faster because we haven't been able to run away or escape from each other. We've had no moderator, no mediator, and no guide. The last 5 .5 months have been filled with a neverending discussion about how and why this happened. When we need a break from the conversation, we agree to break from it and take it up later. We've logged HOURS/DAYS/MONTHS of this. We have never raised our voices, we have never been cruel. I'm proud of how we are handling our recovery. Without a therapist we have found ways to help each other ~~~ date nights, long walks with honest talks and confessions, planning for our future, telling each other what each of us has done RIGHT throughout our marriage and owning our mistakes. Also, recently, it occurred to me that my husband might find journaling to be helpful. He agrees, and so, we shall see. I guess my point is, if two people want to rebuild they will find a way. They will work together. If they can't or won't, its not meant to be. With limited options, we are forced to work through it ourselves, and we are succeeding. If we can do it, others can too.

    I know I ramble on. I just wanted to say that it's possible ~~~ there's more than one way to skin a cat. For what it's worth.

    1. Hi Random,
      You are right, ultimately hardwork and communication are the most important tool. But I think it is important to recognize that for most people personal and relationship barriers to good communication and understanding are hard to overcome without help. Especially when there is someone in the relationship who has been hiding a double life. It is not something most of us can deal with alone. There is often layer, upon layer of damage in the relationship that a skilled therapist can help unravel. Going it alone, while it is possible, is playing the odds. It is entirely misleading to say that "if two people want to rebuild, they will find a way." Good intentions aren't enough for the level of damage that is caused. My H wanted to do right, but had no clue, how he even got himself into the mess much less how to fix it. We are certainly not rich--we have a subsidized home in the most expensive city in America. Luckily, we are in a position to divert funds from other things--travel, outings, new stuff, and our kids are 10 years away from needing college tuition (not that we can afford that)--because going to therapy was cheaper than an inevitable divorce (and subsequent therapy for our kids). We also use therapists who charge a sliding scale. We also don't have other homes or places to go, because we can't afford the increase childcare costs and impossible logistics, if one parent is not home. But taking space, is also a valuable part of recovery. It offers time for feelings to settle, and people to think straight. It is not running away.
      I think it is important that people look deep inside as well as cast wide and far for resources that are available to them. It sounds like you found internal resources that are serving you well. If some are in the position to access therapy, it is the first and most important external resource I can think of. I think you and your H sound like people who are willing to persevere and are on the same page. He is willing to meet you, rather than hide in shame--a very common response from some. It also sounds like you are willing to see the positives in a challenging circumstance. You are lucky to have that. Those are important tools to healing as well.
      You are right, 5.5 months is early but you have some tools already that will help you with the bumpy ride that recovery is. However, your ride is unique and cannot necessarily be extrapolated to other relationships and other circumstances.


    2. Random,

      You're absolutely right that therapy can be a budget drainer but not many people are willing to DIY therapy through reading books or just plain talking. It would take lots of self- discipline but that's not to say it couldn't be done. Another idea to explore is through counseling at church. Even if people aren't especially religious they often can just go and talk to the minister, priest at a local house of worship. Usually ministers are trained to do premarital counseling, grief counseling, etc. Maybe not to the extent that a secular professional might but it could be helpful. Also even our local YMCA offers Marriage Encounter weekends at a very cheap price. Just wanted to throw it out incase you started to feel what you were doing wasn't working as well as you wanted. Through the yrs. we have struggled with healing even with the guidance of a great counselor. There was a lot of damage and my own family issues just seemed to follow us for yrs. Wishing you strength and peaceful thoughts as you walk through this life storm.

    3. MBS, thank you for your insight! You are so right, this rollercoaster ride is unique for each of us and we all have to take the route that works best for us.

      I believe that I might have a completely different attitude about therapy if my husband wasn't so open to finding the answers with me. Believe me, if I had to pull teeth to get the answers I want and need, I would be open to therapy, group intervention.......... or torture. :)

      For now, he seems to want to work on this as much as I do. We are communicating in a much different way. No topic seems to be off limits and the questioning, though often uncomfortable, goes both ways.

      Later down the road, I may need additional help and, thanks to all of you, I know there are multiple options.

      This blog and all of its contributers are a godsend.

    4. Pilots Wife and Steam, thank you for your comments. I wrote a much lengthier reply to both of you earlier but it is not here. That happens a lot when I try to post with my cell phone. Your words, support and and suggestions mean a lot to me!

    5. RT,
      I think that's great how well you and your husband are doing. And I'm sure there is a certain pride that you're both rebuilding without benefit of outside help. Sort of the way DIYers feel about a huge reno.
      I know there are many, many women on this site who don't have access to disposable income and I think that can make it harder because options seem narrower. I wish all women had the space/time/money to carve the path that's right for them but life doesn't work that way. I appreciate the options that you suggested, Pilot's Wife. Priests/ministers/etc. have a LOT more experience dealing with this stuff than we might give them credit for. Not a whole lot will surprise they can be a great source of wisdom and compassion. The key is having an outlet for those times when you come up against a wall and don't seem to be getting where you want to go. A therapist can be like a guide with the light to lead you out of the woods.

    6. Thank you, Elle. The DIY reference is funny because that absolutely describes our entire marriage ~~~ remodels, additions, taxes, even when we had our first home built..... Lol. When we briefly discussed divorce we both agreed I would prepare the paperwork since I work in that field. We are definitely DIY'ers, for better or worse.

      thank you for being here for all of us.

    7. I wanted to weigh in on this as well. I am in the same boat as Random Thoughts, possibly even more dire. I found myself dealing with this whole issue of infidelity whilst trying to start my own brick and mortar business (which has failed miserably in many parts due to this complete and utter traumatic fallout in my life right). My husband had quit his job to help me with the business but instead found more than enough free time on his hands to start having an affair with a married w/kids old college flame. (I'm still a little bitter and tender over all of it.....). After the initial shock of finding out, I fell apart and then tried for a few months to do a "stepford wife" thing. I just thought I wasn't enough, so I upped that game. After about 3 months of that, I took a free fall emotional drop and told my sister the whole thing. She turned around and told my parents who instantly called me up and offered their help. I went to two counseling sessions that were paid for by my parents - alone, because my husband wouldn't go. I didn't feel like the counselor was really helping me much and without my husband there, it really felt pointless. He needed to be there! He needed to hear and feel and come to a true understanding of what he did and how we could work on it together. After the two sessions, my parents couldn't do much more because it was draining a hole in their budget too and so I was unable to continue and I had to go about it with several DIY books and such. It's been terribly, terribly hard. Wow. It's been almost a year now though and I am beginning to finally, feel a little better about the whole thing. My husband and I are working hard together to try and work things out. He's been more understanding and helpful, but I can honestly say, I think that therapy would have helped so much. If only we had the money! You can get through without the therapy but truly, if at all possible, do it with a counselor!

  6. Thanks, Steam. My H and I went into therapy right away, and she was not a good fit- how I always ended up feeling like I was the one who needed to control my anxiety was beyond me. We stopped seeing her and have been therapist-less for several months now. But my counselor and I talked about starting to find a new one again, and just today i told my H I wanted to make an appointment with a new person. Silence. Gee- I wonder if we need help communicating? Or if he doesn't want to talk about the past? (Yes, BTW) ;) Your post is helping me frame the discussion that's coming tonight. Just in the nick of time, as usual on this site. We've tried handling a lot on our own, and have made some progress, but really need a coach to help us. We each have our own counselors and are working on our individual issues, but we need someone to help us work on OUR issues. I know that he thinks that as long as we don't talk about "it" we're making progress, but that's not true...we're avoiding talking about it and it makes me very uneasy. Insurance helps, but it's still an additional cost I wish we didn't have every 2 weeks. However, since neither of us is able to start discussions easily, or is comfortable having some of these sensitive discussions, I know it's money well-spent. I sure hope this new person will be a good fit for us.

    1. C,
      I hope the new person worked out, but if not, please keep looking. Just be sure your husband isn't finding excuses for why the person is "wrong". So many of these guys are masters at avoiding...which is so often what got them into trouble in the first place.

    2. Our first appointment is next week. We talked about this yesterday and I told him I didn't want to feel like I was dragging him to this- that I hoped he found value in it. But he continues to say, "Whatever you want." And to be honest, I cut off the last counselor because she really didn't get what was going on. Her line was "It's obvious you two love each other very much. Keep working on your communication." The sessions were always about how I needed to control my anxiety, never about what happened or why. So they weren't very helpful. I just hope he realizes that not talking about it is worse than working through it and getting a lot of stuff out in the open. I don't know how a marriage can heal unless the wound is debrided, medicated and bandaged. If the new one doesn't work out, I'll find someone else. I know it can take a few tries.

    3. C,
      It's crucial for our spouses to be able to validate our pain in order to rebuild a marriage. Otherwise you can still heal...but the marriage itself won't necessarily. Here's something I wrote awhile back for husbands. Perhaps your husband will give it a read, if you think it might get through to him:

    4. How ironic that the date on that old post is one week before D-Day. I saved that post and read it many times early on, but I don't think I ever shared it with my H. Thanks for reminding me of it.

  7. Random Thoughts, I totally understand your point and I should preface every post that what i offer is based almost soley on my own experience.
    Your communication skills with each other was exactly what we lacked. .
    Our downfall was we had stopped communicating, or maybe never really ever had, we had fun, we had great comfort with each other and a good history, never fought.

    We never fought!!!- I wore that like a badge of honor. But looking back, I think we never fought because we did not know how to. We just both shut down and dropped whatever it was that made us uncomfortable. So much had been swept under the rug, including us. Would have taken a crane to get the weight of all that off of us, and we didnt have that crane.

    So for us, the therapy got us TO the place it seems that you are starting from and therapy might help others who cant find anyway to get out of the hole, the fog, the insanity that follows D-Day.

    1. Ditto for us. I could have written that. That's why I continue to hold out hope that we find someone to help us. Thanks for your posts- they are so helpful-

  8. What a great post! Thank you. In nine days I will be 3yrs post D Day and still sometimes feel the wound is as fresh as the day I found out. Immediately upon finding out I demanded counseling. I feel like Goldie Locks and the three bears. My husband does not believe in couseling but agreed to go (it's probably because he just wants me to forget about it. HA! Really?) Our first attempt at a counselor we saw him once a week for two months but quickly realized that he was used to the couple who squabbled over who's turn it was to do the dishes. Then our second counselor who was a female snapped at a rediculous excuse my husband made for his actions. In my mind in was thinking "yes!" But to my shock my husband left pissed at me because he said i did not have his back. Really! I was shocked myself by his view on this. Did he have my back when he had ann emotional and sexual affair for over a year? Taking the OW on dates, vacations and motorcycle rides when that was my only complaint about our relations ship? Then our third counselor was more of a hippy type so we knew right away it wasn't going to work. So for the last year I had decided I was going to try it my husbands way. Just put it behind us. Again, HA! Really??? What was I thinking. Every time I pass a hotel, wondering did they stay there? A Hummer vehicle, the colors pink, bright blue, yellow, green and purple, our anniversary (I found out two days after our 11th anniversary). All these trigger points that I was trying to pretend they weren't there. But when he asked me what was wrong and I would tell him it was me who has brought this on myself. I am acting like a teenager. If only I was better or did this not that he would have never been tempted by another women, etc etc etc. All the while deep down inside I knew I couldn't do this with out help. So last week I put my foot down and say we go to therapy or its over. I found a great therapist and even contacted him to see if he could come down on his price and he did :) so this week is our first and I know if it doesn't work with this one then I will keep trying. Our relationship is worth it. Don't give up to all you strong ladies. Even if you go just for yourself than you are worth it. Another great book to read is an old one but it helped me a lot is "Love must be tough" by James Dobson. Good luck ladies

    1. Yay you! You're in a good time frame to begin the work of rebuilding a strong marriage. The initial sting and confusion and devastation has passed...and you know what you want and what you don't. Good luck!

  9. I am going to see my husband's therapist with him tomorrow. We have been separated since April. We tried couples counseling but he just kept lying and expecting me to get over the betrayal. Even now he wants me to "just trust". My hurt makes him uncomfortable and defensive so I know I can't stay married and expect to heal. I am doing fine living on my own but we have children so it is hard to walk away.

    Even though he says he wants to save our marriage he has reconnected with his mistress and several other women during our separation. Each time saying he thought our marriage was over and he needed the affirmation he gets from other women. I'm not sure why I'm even going tomorrow - or why I haven't yet filed for divorce. I don't know what questions to ask or what words to use to describe the boundaries I need to set.

    1. Stay with us.... there are so many women on this blog who can help you keep your sanity through this! Positive thoughts for tomorrow!

    2. InnerPeace,
      Keep your focus on you and your children. You say that you're "doing fine" and I'm not surprised. You might just find that life is a whole lot easier and more pleasant without dealing with a spouse whose got one foot out of the marriage.
      His actions contradict his declared desire to "save our marriage". If he truly wants to do that, then he would have absolutely no contact with anyone who could be a threat to that. If he's so insecure that he needs "affirmation" the second he thinks his marriage is over, then he's got some SERIOUS issues that are far outside of anything you can ever do.
      In the meantime, I hope you'll consider seeing a therapist yourself to come to understand just how important boundaries in all relationships are (including with kids) so that you can begin to set healthy ones...and model healthy boundaries for your kids.
      Hang in there...and keep us posted.

  10. Please let us know what happens.

  11. Steam,

    Bravo!! Great post. He loathes anything to do with psychiatry/psychology.

    I am going to second therapist in 10 days. First one was not a good fit for me. He made appointment to go solo but he did not go (imagine that!).

    Again -- GREAT post and THANKS!!

    This is Terry Telephone -- I don't yet know how to get my name in.

  12. Inner peace first off,NO contact . What in the hell is your husband doing? And he wants you to trust? On what basis? Do bring those things up, it's impossible to just trust someone who has proven he is untrustworthy . Now I believe people can change, but first we have to recognize what, and more importantly WHY. Your husband doesn't seem to grasp the concept. Also I am personally not a big fan of one therapist seeing one spouse and then a couple. There are things that your therapist cannot repeat from his private sessions with your husband, And I really hope he urges your husband to come totally clean and does not let things slide past you. Keep us updated.

  13. I understand where Random Thoughts is coming from; the cost of counseling is one of the main reasons why we/I stopped. What a huge drain on our budget (no insurance coverage for this) and I had to put other essential things ahead of therapy. We'd been to 2 different counselors, both of whom said they were experienced in marriage, affairs, sex addiction yet I found both really failed to make a difference for us. My husband is also very smooth at going in and failing to deal with things honestly; he is obviously skilled at lying and manipulating and I would get soooo angry, that they then wanted to focus on me!!! How's that for you, and then to pay for it on top of it, then have cheating husband look like the "good one". I found neither counselor really understood us. I have come to the conclusion after 15 months past DDay that we can live together harmoniously, have altered sex at times, sometimes talk (tho he would prefer not to) and the cheating will always be an issue between us, like a non-operable tumor. I say altered sex because I have never felt the same about sex since I found out he was using escorts and lying for 8 yrs. I think sometimes there is nothing anyone (counselors inc.) can say or do to alleviate some of what happens after cheating and betrayal. It's always going to have happened, there will always be residual pain, hurt, insecurity and potential edge between the couple. We certainly have learned however to live together and have a pleasant enough life. I was seeing a counselor on my own for several months to deal with my feelings and sex and it was basically like sitting around talking for an hour and after paying told to go out and buy another book, etc. I can do that on my own. She had no huge insights, no advice, no magic to fix me or us.
    The money could do more good say on a nice vacation for the 2 of us to enjoy and continue our healing.

    1. J.,
      Of course, it's up to each one of us to live the life that feels right for us. But I can't help but think you've resigned yourself to a half-marriage. I suspect it wasn't the counsellor who was the problem but a husband who's a smooth talker and unwilling to make himself vulnerable enough to allow a therapist to help. Nobody can help someone who doesn't really think he has a problem.
      And I'm sorry your individual counselling didn't help much either. While my therapist occasionally recommended a book (more often, it was me telling her about a great book I'd discovered), she mostly called me out on unhealthy behaviours and guided me toward taking responsibility for myself and letting go of everything else. She helped me so how my husband's betrayal had triggered a lot of residual pain from long ago...and to heal those old wounds in order to better heal from the betrayal. It took a long time but I'm so grateful for where I am now.

  14. I hear what you ladies are saying, money shouldn't be the decider between getting therapy or not. Fortunately in the uk we can access free counselling which should be available to everyone worldwide. We didn't need many sessions we too seemed to work it out for ourselves although the first few sessions of therapy were vital in my opinion. I liked it even more because the therapist seemed to be on my side lol and made my husband feel like crap. Quite right too at the time he deserved it now 15 months on I don't need to punish him. He has shown me in more wYs than one he can be a great partner. I'm so pleased we got through the wreckage. Thank you all for posting xxx

  15. I agree with random. My husband and I also have been doing well without therapy. The cost was a huge obstacle. Also he says he didn't want to go because now that we are over a year past d day he says there was nothing wrong with his marriage; it was all him. I read a ton of books as well as everything on this site which did for me what individual counseling would have done-- validated my feelings, taught me how to communicate, what questions to ask regarding the affairs, what to do to heal, etc. we are now in a much better place. Although in the beginning after d day # 1 he initially blamed my lack of desire for sex, my resentment for years of his lifestyle, my paying attention to the kids first (although he didn't phrase it that way) and kind of ignoring him/placing our relationship on the back burner (which was true), his job/long hours, after a few months I think he saw his strategy backfired. My hair fell out, I was drinking too much,I cried every day & I was always angry and yelling at the kids. He kept telling me to stop being angry at the kids & I would tell him it was there fault; if they weren't here this wouldn't have happened-- we would have had time for each other, I wouldn't have neglected u, our relationship would have been more of a priority.

    Then came d day # 2 & my whole outlook changed. That's when I actually started to believe what I read in every book-- that it wasn't my fault. This affair 10 years ago predates our children & marital problems. That's when he admitted to me (although he knew it all along; he just didn't want to say it out loud) that the affairs had nothing to do with me. The first one was kind of an early midlife crisis. She was throwing herself at him and he was only in his late 30s but he saw her as his last chance to have a new sexual experience (we had been together for 10 years at this point though just recently married for a couple of years). The second affair was self medication-- all those things about our marriage & his job were true and he sees now after having gone thru it that a new sexual partner did not make him feel better about his life; she only complicated matters.

    We recently had a conversation where my husband correctly said although he does a great job at accounting for his whereabouts and gives me access to his cell there's really no way for me to know he's not cheating again & he's absolutely right. He says he just doesn't want that anymore. It was in some ways exciting to have such a secret and think he wouldn't get caught but now that he has been burned he doesn't want to do it ever again.

    Amazing how someone so intelligent with so much insight could have fucked up so much in the first place , not once, but twice, and not with two one night stands but with 2 affairs, 1 of which lasting prob 1-2 years and re other almost a year. I guess it goes to show u everyone makes mistakes.

    All of that without therapy. So it can be done but required a ton of reading on my part and a ton of insight on his.


    1. Sam,
      I think that books written by people who actually understand this can essentially BE therapy. But it takes a lot of self-discipline and insight to be able to recognize yourself without someone kinda pointing the way. I'm glad, however, that you've found your way out of this. And I hope that you've been able to make it clear to your kids that NOTHING about this has ever been their fault. That they're loved and valued. No kid should bear responsibility for their parent's choices.

  16. My problem is that I have been unable to find a good therapist. I have been through several in fact. Two told me I was "fine" and just had to wait until my husband came around. Another always asked "what can I do for you?" YOU CAN HELP ME THROUGH THIS MESS!! But was never helpful. Another wanted to blame me for his affair. None have been able to be active and provide concrete help. I am sinking into depression and really need help Any suggestions to finding a good therapist? I'm losing hope...

    1. Ugh. That's horrible. How do these people get their licences? See if you can interview someone over the phone. What you need is someone who has some experience helping a partner heal from infidelity. You need someone who can acknowledge the possibility of PTSD from betrayal and who responds to you with compassion and insight. Be candid about your bad experiences and that you're feeling depressed. Don't give up. The right therapist is out there...and can change your life.

    2. Thank you Elle, I hope so. That is a good idea to try to interview some over the phone. I'll try that and try to hang in here...

    3. Good luck. Let us know how it works out. You will get there, Ashley. But it sure helps to have a good therapist to keep you on track. Please know you can also post here whenever you need advice or just want to share your thoughts. Our stories can help us heal not only ourselves but each other.

  17. I just read this article with very sensible recommendations for what makes therapy successful. I think it is very spot on and hope it helps people find the right therapist.

  18. Help me, help me, help me...We started back to marriage counseling today- therapist seems pretty good, but of course we had to bring her up to speed. So painful to do that after all this time. My husband mentioned two things in the session that surprised me- for the first time I heard him use the word emotional (as in emotional affair) when he was talking about the first woman he was involved with. And when I said, wait, that's new- I don't think you've ever said that before, he got all defensive and the alarms went off again. (The therapist intervened and explained to him that I was asking a clarifying question and that it's ok to ask those.) When will the alarms ever stop going off??? Then he mentioned hers was a 4-year on and off relationship- I thought it was only 2!!! If it's 4, then it's been 12 years, or he saw the first woman after he retired from the military. So all sorts of things are going through my head.
    He acted all upset and pulled the man thing- going silent- when we got home. I asked if he was upset about anything and he said no. Are you sure? no. You'd tell me if you were upset about something wouldn't you? silence. What is wrong with men??? Why don't they just open their f'ing mouths and TALK??? So it's been awkward all day- no wonder we need therapy! I tried to be nice- I was very gentle and asked him to please talk to me about what he was upset about when he was ready. And he said he would.
    But he hasn't. And it's the end of the day. And now I'm really falling down the rabbit hole again. And the worst part is, I found another set of letters to him from the second woman tonight after he left for a gig. From 2006. He said it was 2008 when it probably began. He said he never held her- the letter says he did...she says she loves him several times- he said she never said that. And she goes on and on about how great a problem-solver he is and what would she do without him? And how much she loves to be with him...and I just want to scream at him when he gets home.
    And the biggest cut is that this letter was inside a Valentine I gave him. What is wrong with men?? Why can't they just talk about the problems they're having? I would have listened. I'm a good listener. Instead the great problem-solver couldn't solve our problem-he had to go solve someone else's. What else is left to find? What else is here??? Why isn't it gone yet? It's almost a year!
    I don't know what to do with this shit. Part of me wants to leave it on the bed so he can find it and read it and know that I found it. I specialize in passive aggressive when I get like this. Part of me doesn't want to be here when he gets home. I want to run away so badly, and I know I can't. I never could run away from a problem- but he did. For 10 years? 12? How long? Our marriage has an asterisk next to it: 36* years. I've tried to handle this like an adult and I just feel like a teenager right now- I haven't cried this hard in a very long time.
    I know I'll have to decide how to handle this in the next hour. I hope I make a good choice. I feel so rocky. Until right now I never wanted a revenge affair, but I want him to feel what I feel. And I know it's wrong, but I want it. And I wouldn't do it, but I fantasize about it . Isn't this so stupid?
    At least I know I can come here and write and get some of my grief and anger out.
    If a woman has had to drag everything out of her husband, like I have- do some of you find that marriage counseling reveals more information? Should I expect more surprises? I thought I had a good understanding of the two I'm not so sure. I was thinking maybe I should call our therapist and just tell her that I don't think he's told me everything and tell her what happened. Is that ok to do? I am so confused again. Please- ANY advice. I hope I handle tonight well. Thanks for being here.

    1. C,
      I hope you're okay. None of us really handle this "well" so don't beat yourself up for having a tough time with it. It's all so crazy-making.
      But your letter speaks to the value of a "full disclosure" session with a therapist. The chance to get everything out to the very best of everyone's memory so that you don't go around wondering if there are any unexploded landmines. You want to move past this, knowing everything you need to know and therefore able to make choices about the rest of your life.
      Sounds, too, as if you two need some serious communication skills. Your situation is typical (problem solving guy, talkative woman) but it's not ideal for rebuilding a marriage.

    2. I'm better today. Last night was tough- he was frustrated, I think, that reminders of his behavior keep popping up. While he insists that what I read in the letters was not what I thought it was (he did not re-read the letters- I'm sure he doesn't want to confront himself), I thought it was pretty hard to argue that she was not in love with him at that point. It was too obvious. He also defended himself by saying that he cares for ALL his friends and when he sees them mistreated or abused (she was having issues at work), he's going to step in. (Then the question is why he didn't step in for me when I was in a similar position late in my career.) I sometimes think that he still is not quite being honest with himself- I felt that very strongly last night. He never shared these letters or another that surfaced early in discovery with me when he received them. He didn't seem to get that it was the act of hiding these things that was the problem. They were purposefully put in places where I wouldn't see them and then he forgot about them- a ticking time bomb. Defensiveness, deflecting (I was drawn into something...), and frustration. Then he said, I'm just exasperated. (Like I'm not?) It was a tough conversation. It ended ok, but it was very uncomfortable.
      In the end I told him that I thought we were lousy communicators. We never could talk to each other throughout our marriage and that's how we got into this mess. He couldn't talk to me about his needs and feelings, and I couldn't talk to him about mine even when I knew there was something terribly wrong. Don't rock the boat- that was out motto, I think. And that's why we need counseling. So, I agree, Elle- we need communication skills- and needed them from day one of our marriage. He told our therapist that he's coming to counseling so that I get better, but doesn't seem to realize it's for US to get better. There's plenty of blame to go around for the state of our marriage. I think we both feel like failures at our marriage at this point, but with help, I think we'll get better.
      As for full disclosure- I'd love it. The problem is I've learned that my husband has truly forgotten a lot of what went on and what happened. And I believe him. I do. He has told me everything I think he remembers- it's just that new stuff keeps turning up around the house, and then here we go again. I'm just so unsure of what to do when this stuff turns up. Even though I've asked him and he tells me he wants to be told and to see it, I almost feel like just disposing of it- after all, he doesn't remember it. He'd never miss it.
      What a mess this is.

    3. C,
      Yes, it's a mess but not one that can't be mopped up with two willing participants.
      His response is, sadly, typical. While I agree that they do forget a lot, that doesn't excuse any dismissal of how painful this is for you. He needs to disclose everything that you think is pertinent: timeline of relationship, frequency of "encounters", each partner's understanding of the relationship (ie. "love", "just sex" whatever), gifts exchanged, vacations taken, friends met, etc. At that point, you can be relatively sure that you have an accurate snapshot of their relationship so you're less likely to feel blindsided by any new discovery that makes it seem different than what you thought it was.
      The challenge is getting these guys to understand that this information, while it's painful to hear, is LESS painful than getting told half-truths and knowing that there's more to it than we're being told. The truth will set us free, as they saying goes, but first it will piss us off.
      So often -- and especially with guys who have lived a lifetime telling only half-truths, or minimizing things, or otherwise being less than honest and direct -- they literally need to learn new communication skills. They need to understand that the only way to a deeper, more satisfying relationship, is total honesty. Some have never experienced that...and it feels terrifying.

  19. C for all my husband remorse there were things he didn't tell me at first. About two weeks after d day I found adds on Craigslist. I found him on dating websites I found him on, for lack of a better term "sex guides". Where men review actions of prostitutes and "dime a dance" type places. So although he didn't hide these things he did omit the things he did that lead to nothing. Like they didn't count. Really frustrating.
    And there really was nothing that ever physically happened for a long long time. He REALLY wanted to cheat and it took him 10 months to find a suitable person to fuck.
    He sexted quite a bit (he called it "flirting"). And there were things that he totally forgot about which I found online.
    More than once I had to wake him up at three am (as opposed to killing him) to find out what the HELL !!!???
    Sometimes they do forget I found that possible to believe after all my sluthing started to run together and I could not remember what I knew. What I didn't and what I did. What I had or had not talked to him about.

    It is really hard for some men to talk but that's no excuse. It's really hard to be cheated on and yet here we are. Elle posted a posted a while back that maybe she can re link called somthing like 'just fucking talk about it". It's great.

    I remember reading it to by husband. He had never been a talker but I needed him to be a chatty Cathy for a long time. And I still remind him and he can talk a lot now. Which is a miracle. He's not always comfortable with it but he does it anyway because we NEED it to survive
    Talking isn't about beating him up although he might feel that way it is about us a clearer picture so that we don't have to fill in the blanks which we often fill in with situations much worse than what really happened. I am so sorry you are going through this pain. I remember it all too well

    1. Back by popular demand:

  20. "I knew, even on D-day, that I wanted to be with my husband and, in my mind, that pointed to my own insanity. I must be nuts to want to stay and yet I wanted to…and had no idea how to do it. "

    THIS. I felt like I must be crazy. Because when the words, "I did the worst thing I could have done to you. I cheated," came out of my husband's mouth, my very first thought was, "Can I save my family?" And I thought, who thinks that? I must be crazy or pathetic. But now I know I'm not those things. I'm a woman who loves a man who made some very bad choices, but he's willing to do whatever it takes to make it up to me.




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