Bad husbands and wives
Joey advises readers to be honest about their marriages
My husband has been exchanging inappropriate texts with one of his co-workers. I discovered this after two years of struggle in our marriage. I thought we had come to terms with our issues and agreed to put the marriage first. I believed we were moving forward and finding true happiness until this devastating blow. I feel duped. We saw a marriage counselor who told us that he had provided all the therapy he could offer for our marriage. I continued to see this therapist while I worked on myself. My husband found his own therapist. My husband now says his affair was a huge mistake, and he ended it. He won’t discuss any intimate details because he thinks it will be painful for me. I don’t want to make rash decisions. Does it make sense to seek out a new counselor?
Yes, but first ask your current therapist why he gave up. If his skills are limited, be grateful for his honesty. If he believed that your husband was not ready or willing to change, you need to hear that assessment. For a therapist and a client to work together successfully, the therapist must work from his strengths, admit his limitations and offer referrals for clients who are not a good fit.
Your quest for a new therapist should begin with an investigation into the therapist’s professional training. There are different philosophies within psychology and those orientations determine how your therapist works with you. For marriage repair and nurturing, I prefer the methodologies designed by John and Julie Gottman, whose original research has invigorated marital counseling. For spiritual and emotional-intimacy issues in marriage, I recommend the work of David Richo, who draws deeply from Jungian psychology and world religions. If you cannot find a therapist grounded in these areas, take a course yourself from these transformational leaders. Ask your husband to join you. But be aware that couples therapy is useless unless your husband is willing to heal insecurities that compel his desire for attention from women. Yes, he may have said that his affair was a mistake and told you that he ended it, but many cheaters say that after the other woman or man refuses to continue the affair. So for your marriage to mend, your man must be receptive to change, ready to edit his adaptive behaviors that are no longer useful and to grow in trustworthiness. He must respect and embody the marriage vows as a way of life, not a one-time speech. Otherwise, you are better off being single.
I have had to separate my hot-tempered wife from her friends on more than one occasion. She’s come after me, too. The problem is that our daughter, 23, and son, 27, moved back into our house. My daughter was in an abusive relationship, left the guy and needed a safe place to stay. My son lost his job. My wife is in violent hysterics about everything. The kids are already down and can’t take it. I don’t even want to go home most nights.
Your wife’s failure to manage her anger is not a bad habit; it’s a symptom of her addiction to power. She needs help to stop bullying her friends, you and your children. Stop pretending that you can handle her anger. Your willingness to absorb her fits has normalized your wife’s unacceptable behavior. That’s why your daughter found it easy to become intimate with an abuser. If you want a healthy home life, stop being afraid of your wife. Insist that she attend anger-management classes or group therapy. And be forewarned: Your wife may be suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome or another condition. While in classes or counseling, she may get worse before making a true turnaround.