marriage and family therapist
We went back to talk to a marriage and family therapist who was the same guy we talked to when I was still involved with my emotional affair.

A month or so ago Linda went back to talk to a marriage and family therapist.  It just so happened that it was the same guy we talked to way back when I was still involved with my emotional affair.  Linda wanted to go back on her own this time to talk through some lingering feelings she was having.

The session went well and the therapist thought that the next time Linda came in it would be a good idea to bring me along, to which I certainly agreed.  It turned out that this Monday I awoke to Linda informing me that our appointment was later in the day.

At first I thought that maybe I forgot about the appointment since I’m prone to forgetting things at times, but it turns out Linda was hesitant to tell me about it for fear I would get angry or something.  Since I had agreed to go in the first place, I’m not quite sure why she thought I would get angry, but what the heck, no big deal.  So off to the session we went.

The Trip to the Marriage and Family Therapist

This therapist has his office in the basement of his home, which is in a pretty nice area of older homes.  We parked in his driveway and walked around to the back and entered through a door that leads into a dark and dingy waiting area.  Since the inner door was open to his office, we walked in and had a seat on…a couch.  The smell of cigarette smoke permeated the office which is cluttered with books, folders and scores of his personal paintings and artwork.  I felt like we were being watched or monitored as there was no way for us to notify the therapist of our arrival – yet he walked in a few minutes later.

I remembered this place and I remembered him.  This was where we went for a single session about three years ago while I was in the middle of my emotional affair.  I remembered arguing like heck that we didn’t need to go in the first place and that he would just tell us stuff we already knew in the first place.  I was just stonewalling at the time since my affair was still going on.  I wasn’t going to take his – or anyone’s – advice back then, so why should I bother.

This time around things are totally different.  There is no affair going on.  Our marriage is good.  We are headed in the right direction and I think Linda heals more each day.

The session was good, though much of it was a rehash of what our marriage was like leading up to the affair.  We also talked about what we have been doing to change the destructive patterns that existed back then. 

For most of the 50-minute session, we talked about stuff we already knew about or have worked through on our own.  He also kept calling me “Jack” even after I corrected him, so I was questioning his sanity – or at least his hearing ability.  I was beginning to feel this was a huge waste of time.

I wanted to get the session back on track.  We were visiting this marriage and family therapist to help continue our healing after the affair.  The primary sticking points in that healing are Linda’s inability to be completely vulnerable to me and to let me in completely for fear of being hurt again, and her feeling at times that she doesn’t deserve to be loved.  So when given a chance to speak, I took the opportunity to redirect the session towards these issues.

Things started to get a little bit more interesting at that point.  The therapist stated when a person feels as Linda does, it typically stems from childhood experiences and the parent/child dynamic.  When told this, Linda’s eyes widened.  One thing that she has learned over the last few years is how her mother’s manipulative, controlling ways has affected her throughout her life.

Her mother is a dear soul and would do anything for anyone but she feels the need to make sure everyone is happy and tends to try to control things towards that end – whether appropriate or not.  Linda is constantly frustrated by things her mother says and does.  We’re both curious as to where the sessions will go with respect to their mother/daughter relationship.

Our session soon wrapped up and all-in-all I thought it went pretty good and we both are looking forward to our next session.  The therapist is a no bullshit kind of guy and tells it like it is, though (like most marriage and family therapists I know) he tends to talk in a psycho-speak language that is sometimes hard to comprehend.

He did finally get my name right and ended things by saying that he wants to see Linda alone in two weeks and the both of us again in a month.  Maybe then we will start to delve into my childhood.  I can’t wait!

 

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    20 replies to "Our Visit to a Marriage and Family Therapist"

    • E

      Kind of off the subject of therapy, but in regards to Linda’s feelings – I still feel those things sometimes too and it hurts. But I’ve often wondered if maybe it’s a good thing that I never again think that my marriage is invincible. Maybe the hurt and the memory of my husband’s affair will always serve as a reminder to me to make sure that he is a priority in my life and to make sure that my marriage is protected. Unlike when OW approached me when I first met her 4 years ago, and she made a comment to me that any woman would understand as a threat, even though of course it was masked as a very sweet compliment (c’mon ladies you know what I am talking about 😉 I looked at her, I sized her up (yes I admit it) and brushed her aside. I don’t ever want to be that way again and I don’t believe I ever will. So maybe some of those feelings are valuable. ?? Could this thought help Linda?

    • Broken2

      E,,,no doubt we have to keep our marriages as one of the many priorities in our lives however but I think it essential to not have to worry that if life is somehow not perfect that our spouse will cheat. I still worry about that now that life is back to somewhat “normal”. What if I cant make him a priority? THat sort of thing.

      • E

        B2, good point and I understand. So can we be secure, but not take that security for granted? That’s my hope I guess.

    • onmyway

      Doug, it’s good to know you and Linda are working together, and alone, on your individual issues and those as a couple. My husband and I have been seeing our counselor (the same one we saw a few years ago together, prior to his A) and without his input I don’t think we would be where we are today. The first go around with him went no where since my husband was unwilling to admit or even disclose his issues from childhood and how they affected his relationships as an adult, and not just with us but with relationships in general. I was also very defensive of any of his complaints about me as I was in self protection mode myself. After our D Day 8 months ago he went back, willingly, and was finally able to talk and start working on how he became the man he is today. It has not been easy on him. I also have learned how my upbringing affected the way I acted in our marriage and how my own relationship patterns need to change. That has been difficult for me, too. We have to work on the marriage on one level and the affair recovery on a different one. I feel one cannot happen without the other. But without some serious dissecting on both our parts as to how and WHY we have related to one another all these years, and subsequently making the changes needed for a healthy marriage through communication and mutual respect, healing from his cheating cannot occur.

    • onmyway

      Okay, Doug, round 2, lol! I have two observations to make and I hope I am not out of line in making them.

      One, your description of your therapists office environment and how it doesn’t sound welcoming. If Linda is anything like me I tend to apologize for things that are not within my control. I always had a great fear and anxiety that my husband (and other people) might not like a restaurant or a friend’s husband,etc so I go out of my way to make disclaimers before hand. For some reason I feel as if I am responsible for his and other peoples feelings. Why? Because if they have a negative experience somehow I feel that as a rejection of ME . (That is something I am working on right now.) I can’t help but wonder if Linda’s trepidation about reminding you of the appointment was in part couple due a fear that you might shut down due to the office environment coupled with your prior experience there. By not reminding you of the appointment maybe she felt it might not trigger any negative memories you associated with the office/counselor before. Obviously the office itself left a lasting impression on you since you described in such detail! Maybe Linda still has fears of not pleasing you? Even after all the 2 of you have been through and your obvious commitment to healing your marriage and helping others a piece might still be missing. Which is my second observation is about.

      My second observation is about your delving into your childhood and all that entails. Have you not done this as of yet? My following comments are based on that assumption so forgive me if I am incorrect. Since very few people are fortunate enough to have come from a childhood where we did not learn any behaviors that might need tweaking I think there is room for all of us to grow. Even ones we thought of as positive, such as being the best wife/hostess/mother, can obviously be problematic. So I guess what I am asking is it possible that since you may not have delved into the real nitty gritty of yourself that Linda feels that there is something you have yet to adress ? Maybe it is intangible as of yet and nothing she or you can put their finger on. From what I have read , Linda has done a lot of self reflection with the aid of a professional. I know you have, too, but has yours been as deep? If not then maybe some of the lingering insecurities Linda has are secondary to questioning if you have truly adressed every aspect of yourself and what led you to have your affair. If you haven’t then there might be an underlying fear that it will happen again.

      I know I am basing my thoughts on my own experiences and they may not apply to you and Linda at all. All I know is that seeing my husband be willing to go through this process of self exploration himself has meant more to me than any apologies or explanations for the affair could ever mean. He is laying the groundwork for an open and honest relationship from here on out by exposing his vulnerabilities and insecurities, most of which he was not even aware of prior to his affair. If he had not been willing to do this I would not ever feel safe and secure in our marriage. Of course I am not there completely yet! But I feel much safer knowing that he is trying.

      • Doug

        OMW, Thanks for your comments. I’m also happy to hear that your husband is doing the work required to better your relationship. To address your questions…and BTW…don’t feel as though you are out of line! Though your comment about the possible reason for Linda’s trepidation in telling me about the appointment could be valid to a small extent, I think it was more because I hadn’t expressed much need or desire to see a therapist in the past and she was concerned about ruffling my feathers and making me do something I didn’t want to do. That being said, Linda has indeed expressed her fears at times of not pleasing me. I tell her she doesn’t need to be perfect and that I’m very happy, but she feels she needs to be. I think that this is a hurdle that many betrayed spouses have before them and can be very difficult to overcome.

        As far as my childhood goes…yes I’ve examined my childhood, though not at a very deep level, and I’m sure that Linda feels that some of my many imperfections stem from childhood issues. Unlike Linda though, my past relationship with my parents has never been as close (or controlled) as hers has been with her parents. There’s been no tragedy or abuse or anything like that – we’re just different people with different tastes and philosophies on things. I love them and we get along fine and always have, but let’s just say I’m not always thrilled to hang out with them. I’m not sure that any of that is relevant to what you were asking me, but I guess it’s safe to say that I can always analyze that aspect of my life in greater depth though I don’t know if what I find will be all that relevant to my having an affair. Certainly a shrink would know better than I. 😉

        Also, let’s face the facts here too…I have indeed looked within (read: http://www.emotionalaffair.org/real-reasons-the-emotional-affair-happened/ ) but Linda is much more deep-thinking than I will ever be!

    • livingonafence

      Doug, I have to say, I reread the post you linked to, and my opinion hasn’t changed. You list a lot of ‘how’ it happened – you were selfish, no boundries, etc. There is no WHY in that article.
      WHY did you like the affair? WHY was it so important to you? WHY was it more important than Linda?

      And now:

      WHY did you change your mind? WHY are you sure that you are where you want to be? WHY do you think you won’t do this again?

      We all know how affairs happen – and lets face it, they can happen to anyone. The issue is WHY did it happen with you?

      • Doug

        LOAF, I see your point. But I also believe selfishness, insensitivity, being too weak to adhere to boundaries in the first place and to end the affair immediately shows flaws in my character and are “whys.” And I can relate to what chiffchaff’s husband said. You get to the point when the ego is stroked enough and it feels good enough that you don’t put much thought into what you’re doing – and you don’t pay much attention to the potential consequences. I know that sounds callous and immature (among other things), and it is, but that is the reality.

    • chiffchaff

      LOAF – these are the same questions I ask my H from time to time. his answer is always ‘I don’t know’. I think (I’m not speaking for Doug here btw) that once you give in to selfishness there is no more thought. “This is what I want, this is what I will have”. No more thought. If the thought of the consequences of having what you want was gone through like an adult should then it probably wouldn’t happen. That’s what I think sometimes. I find it incomprehensible personally. My H described his thought processes at the time as being ‘I am going to do what I want for a change’ – which sounds like a child.

    • Paula

      Doug, this is a very interesting post. My ex and I saw a couple of counsellors over the past few years. I first went to someone on my own – I asked him to come with me, but he refused, as “we didn’t need it!” I got nothing but mumbo-jumbo, and never went back, besides, I had no idea there was an affair going on, just that something was off. More than a year later, AFTER Dday, I went to another therapist, and we both went to him, he was a Christian man, an ex-farmer, who had re-trained, and as we were farming, I knew his wife, vaguely, I thought he would be a “safe” person for my partner to feel less threatened, and more easily able to open up to, well, he didn’t turn up for two of our appointments!! My ex was LIVID – I was suicidal at this point, and living from one appointment to the next. We should have reported him, but we just drifted off vowing never to return, the second time it happened. My partner got me some different help, in the form of a female psychologist, and he accompanied me to the first visit, to ensure she realised how bad I was, and she worked with me for several months on my own. Later, after some time on our own again, we saw another marriage counsellor, who was very nice, and pointed me to Peggy Vaughan’s work, but I don’t think she really understood (she was happily married, but well-trained, and very sympathetic) so we only did a couple of sessions with her. Later, I was seeing a psychologist, and he eventually directed me/us to a pair of couples counsellors (a married couple) a fair drive away from us, as “the best in our country” at this stuff. We went to the male partner of this couple fortnightly, for three hour sessions at a time(!!) for about 5 months, and he started to delve into the childhood stuff. He told us he never wanted to be the type of psychologist who blamed everything on our childhoods, but the longer he practised, the more he realised that we are all the result of this, and we can’t really avoid it. Most childhoods are “normal” but as he said, what’s normal? Normal is what we all have, as it is normal TO US. Both of us had happy childhoods, mine more so than my ex’s. I am the eldest with only brothers, and he is the youngest, with only sisters, and his mother must have suffered from depression a lot while they were growing up, although it was never labelled as such, Mum had just gone “floppy” and taken to her bed! He was left to his own devices a lot, kind of abandoned, and he solved this problem by fishing, hunting, building stuff, that kind of thing, whereas I was the problem solving eldest child, often responsible for being the extra staff in my parents’ farming business, doing all the relief milking, etc. His experiences meant he would easily slip off into quiet solve-it-yourself moments, and I would talk about stuff. This is where our communication broke down when the going got tough, I was desperately trying to sort it all out, and work out by ESP what was “wrong” and he was busy trying to hide that there was a problem, see, everything’s fine! Despite my aversion to therapy, I think this was one of the single biggest breakthroughs for me, the realisation that I couldn’t DO anything to avoid this, that his reticence to share his problems with me was how he was raised, and it took this awful tragedy for him to realise it. Sad part is, it took us a LONG time to find this counsellor, and my ex had made so many hurtful mistakes along the way by then that I lost faith that I could ever trust again, and my tank just ran out, I gave and gave and gave, and eventually I gave it all away, and there was nothing left to run on. The childhood “stuff” is WAAY more influential on us than any of us realise, and it runs us more than we know, even from “good” backgrounds with a lot of love and comunication, we still learn some stuff that is not helpful to us in our adult relationships.

      • Doug

        Paula, great comment. I certainly believe that we all are influenced greatly by our parents and think your last sentence pretty much sums it up very nicely. Parental influence on our characters and personality makeup is just part of it though as there are also social, environmental and individual etc. properties that make up a person as a whole. So while I do indeed agree with you, sometimes I think (from what I hear) that a lot of these psychologists put too much emphasis or blame on the parents. I could be way off base as there could be some actual research that proves otherwise, but that’s just how I see it. Thanks again!

        • Paula

          Doug, I tend to agree with you, but as this therapist pointed out, the way we learn from our parents/family or origin is what we take into life, and use to deal with the environmental aspects of who we become. Neither he, nor I are “blaming” our parents, mine did a pretty great job really, but rather using this as an explanation for how we deal with things later in life. The “stuff” (my word) that we carry with us, in my case, I’m not good enough (NOT my parents fault, just what I took from always being the responsible and academically successful child, if things didn’t work out the way I’d planned) seems to run a lot of who I am. Of course, an affair reinforces those stupid voices in my head, lol! This therapist pointed out that neither of our parents did a bad job, and he was not pointing the finger at them, and neither should we, rather use the information to see who we are now, and why we react the way we do. My ex found this quite hard, as he kept thinking this was about him “blaming” his parents/siblings/birth order/gender, that kind of thing, and it is NOT what it is about. He eventually did come to terms with that. I guess, in simple terms, it’s just about owning and understanding what drives us, so we can turn the bus around when we need to! This therapist was very much about not blaming others. He and his wife practice with the theories of the Passionate Marriage, or Crucible Approach of David Schnarch, and had attended many of his workshops in the States, so it was interesting. Personally, I think many men struggle to disect themselves to this level (I do too!) because they don’t like to think that there are any reasons for their actions and reactions that are not in their immediate control. Thanks for responding, Doug 🙂

    • onmyway

      Doug, thank you for responding and confirming I wasn’t out of line! Sometimes it is hard to know how much is okay to say or ask. I can relate to Linda’s with not wanting to ruffle any feathers! I know my hang up about ‘rocking the boat’ has always stemmed from a lack of self confidence. Recovering from an affair made it even worse. Having a spouse, like mine who is trying hard and obviously you with Linda, who is willing to be supportive during the healing process is so important. For that I am grateful. I know your stories have helped my husband understand himself better and that he is not alone in this.

      Maybe I should have made my observation about my opinion of the importance of both spouses to look very deeply into themselves a more general statement and not directed at you. You have obviously done a lot of that . Just because you have not been through extensive private counseling does not mean you haven’t given it your all.

      I did re -read the post you referenced and just the fact you were willing to start this board , I never doubted your commitment to growth. If I came across as being psycho-analytic , I apologize. I am certainly not a shrink! I was not trying to imply that you had any deep seated issues that needed to be adressed, just that we all have facets of our personalities and temperments that can be identified when we explore them. In identifying our different quirks, strengths and weaknesses we help each other along the way. I am sure you have done that but I know all spouses haven’t. I do not just mean the CS but the BS, too.

      • Doug

        OMW, There’s no need to apologize for anything and I didn’t feel that you were implying anything. The questions you have, whether directed to me or not, were good ones and could possibly help others and that’s a good thing. And yes, you are very correct when you say that it is important and necessary that each party needs to do some self-exploration. It’s a shame though that an affair has to be the impetus for that to happen. As Linda and I were walking into our therapy session, we were talking about how helpful it would be for couples to periodically go to counseling for like a marriage/relationship checkup just as you would go to your regular doctor for an annual checkup. A little preventative maintenance if you will. I’ve read several places before that in many cases (if not most) by the time the couple goes to see a therapist, it’s already too late.

    • onmyway

      Hi, Doug 🙂 The counselor we see also says he wishes all couples would do the same thing, have regular maintenance checks throughout their relationship , and not just in a time of crisis. Also prior to marriage. I know that we will continue to see our counselor for as long as we can. Hopefully not as often of course! But it has to be a priority from here on out.

    • Surviving

      Now I’m at a place where I could go back to the therapists I saw after DDay, it’s been almost two years. They tried but I was just living day to day and sometimes hour to hour, when the last therapist delved into my relationship with my mom I wasn’t ready but now I do see the connections. The therapist said I needed to set boundaries with her. I have since done that with her and my H.
      This site and the people I met helped me in my darkest of times, I guess because they either were living thru this nightmare or had been through it.
      My therapists at that time couldn’t understand how deep my hurt was or how to help.

    • CookieMomster

      I envy any of you whose CS is wiling to undergo counseling. My H and I had a bit of a breakthrough yesterday in that it was the first time, 136 days post D-Day and about 90 days since no contact, that he apologized. Even this small thing had a big effect on me. It was a hard won apology, with the day starting out with some very heated arguing because I couldn’t pretend I was “OK” any longer and asked him if he would please talk about the EA with me. He absolutely refuses to do so, even yet, and was extremely angry that I brought it up and deflected any hurt he may have caused me by once again bringing up his “reason” for having the EA (a very insensitive thing I had done about ten years ago…. telling him I wasn’t sure I loved him any longer, that I’ve described in other posts) and the conversation turned into a fight about that instead of the conversation I needed to have about the EA. I had to promise to never bring it up again in order to bring things back on course, and I meant it when I promised it, but less than 24 hours later I knew that it had nothing to do with healing my intense pain. I do not have access to counseling right now but will when we move back to our winter home in a few months and will most likely try at that time to find a good counselor. I know that he/she will want to talk to my H and that’s going to be like me going back on my promise. I feel a bit between a rock and a hard place. I don’t want to upset the apple cart but no matter how hard I try I just can’t stop hurting by just deciding to.

    • SuzieSuffers

      I haven’t posted on her for quite a while….my attempts to reconcile with my husband CS ended in our divorce today. He divorced me because of the following reasons: I did not forgive him on his time schedule. I did not trust him. I was too investigative and interrogative regarding his life, email or phone log. Because I was still talking about the affairs…or obsessed because he wouldn’t talk about them and I was angry he refused to go to counseling after THIS affair…which is 1 of MANY. He decided he could not live with this restrictions in his life. I’m so glad I am reading this blog again. Seeing that Linda can still get triggers or insecurities regarding what happened makes me feel less crazy. My cheater constantly told me I should just get over it and his mother (yes childhood impacts…his dad was a cheater, his mom was married 11 times by the time he was 17…she had an illicit affair resulting in a child…that she still will not admit was her affair partners…even though she married him after he divorced his wife and she’s a strict Seventh Day Adventist to the point my husband in his college years couldn’t break away from the apron strings and was going to become a SDA minister….but escaped her grip by being drafted for Vietnam…of which his smoking pot and drinking began!!!!!!!!!!! I was domed before I even starting dating him.!!!) My cheating husbands mom kept harping on me that I was pushing him away by punishing him regarding his sins and that I should just forgive him and act as if he had never done anything….Of course now I find I didn’t trust him because even during his attempted reconcilation of just words no actions, he was hiding things and not being forthcoming in his contacts with women….of course to the point he went to a party secretively upon an invitation from a woman that believed he had been separated from me for years and had completed our divorce….to going with me to Disneyland 6 days after telling me I was the love of his life!!! This might be more than an issue of cheating, it might be an addiction issue…since he finally became sober 5 years ago from drugs and alcohol…and I thought women….until he starting having more affairs sober than what I knew about drunk!! but maybe I just didn’t know….No matter what….it still hurts and I still think I’m the one that pushed him to the affairs by being critical or whatever else. That I couldn’t keep him wanting to heal our marriage because I didn’t get the healing fast enough or right enough. That I was not as kind and sweet and wonderful as these other women. I’ve read it’s respect and sexual intimacy that keeps a man wanting his partner….Hard to respect a man that continually creates chaos and pain….and sexual intimacy….drugs and alcohol keep you from having any intimacy….sex wasn’t the issue….being intimate is different than having sex and he never saw or seemed to want the intimacy…that requires honesty. Just doing a little venting today….but seeing that Linda is still not “over” it totally and still has some healing and you are still supportive Doug….gives me hope that I may be lovable enough for someone else to come along and care for me without hurting me….but it’s going to be a long road to heal from these 35 years. Thanks again for being the brave couple you are to help those of us that struggle…even if we are no longer married…I have alot of healing to do from the deep scars to my self esteem. THANKS

    • Gizfield

      Suzie suffers, I feel your pain, seriously. My first “true love” was what I consider to be a serial cheater. I met him right before my 15th birthday, which has been almost 40 years ago, and this guy was a cheating, pathological liar the entire time! It has been a couple of decades since I broke free of him, so maybe he has changed. His parents are wonderful people who have been together all this time so who knows what Caused him to be that way. I seldom think of him but if I do I just thank God we never got married or had a child. It is not you, it is them. They would cheat on Miss America, trust me.

    • TrustingGod

      Suzie Suffers,

      Please do not think anymore, for even one second, that your husband’s affairs were your fault. From everything you’ve said, your husband had a plethora of problems, and they are the cause of his weak character and terrible decision-making. A cheater that divorces you because you can’t get over his cheating when he’s done nothing to help you is doing you a favor…providing he doesn’t manage to leave you financially destitute. You don’t need that kind of disrespect and contempt in your life. There is no love for you there, only selfish taking of everything you gave. Being free of that is a blessing!

      That’s the way I see my divorce. I was finally able to file for divorce this week and it feels great. We’ve been living in separate houses and largely ignoring each other’s lives for over a year. He mostly comes to his 2-hour visitation of our sons once a week–if something more important doesn’t come up, or he’s not taking his vacation in Mexico. I am thrilled I will have things settled financially and not be subject to his threats of withdrawing support if I don’t comply with his wishes, or to his unilateral decisions about things that affect me negatively when I have tried to be considerate and fair.

      I know he has major issues, and am able to see him and our marriage for what it really was. Was I perfect? No. Did I disrespect him or criticize him too much? I am sure now that I did. Did he love me and put our family first, protecting us and appreciating us? No, he didn’t. I constantly fought with him about what he was doing to hurt our family and had to take responsibility for nearly everything and fix all the problems he caused. The only difference between our life then and now is that I have more peace in my house and don’t have to constantly ask myself what is wrong with our family that he can’t love it. I understand now that he never loved me in the first place. I was useful to him, but not loved or respected, and I had to get away from him before he completely destroyed me.

      If you truthfully examine your marriage, you can find plenty of reasons your husband gave you to cheat on him, or to leave him, straight from the cheater’s handbook of lame excuses and lies. But you didn’t, and if he didn’t force you into someone else’s arms, you didn’t force him into anyone else’s, either. The only problem you or I have to address is why we didn’t love ourselves enough to leave someone who devalued us, long before now.

      This site is great if your spouse actually loves you and realizes that they made a huge mistake and have a huge job to do if they want to save their marriage and help their spouse heal. But it’s not helpful if you are married to a narcissist or a sociopath or someone with addiction problems, because one spouse cannot heal or fix the other. No one can love their spouse to wholeness, or save their marriage alone. You can support someone as they seek help for themselves and their issues, but that’s all.

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