Counseling for Infidelity: Coaching Bill Through
Mary’s Caribbean Fling
This is the story of a couple who needed counseling for infidelity after the woman started an affair with a man she met.
I want to thank Bill and Mary (fictitious names) for sharing their story. Of course many of the details in the story are altered or omitted. But, I do hope you get a sense of their struggle and how they managed to heal the wounds and are now in the process of creating a deeper, richer relationship through counseling for infidelity.
Let’s begin with what Bill says:
I am retired military and in the last 10 years have had to undergo a series of operations due to wounds incurred in Vietnam. Mary was very supportive, helpful, and caring. Last Feb. she was afforded the opportunity to go to the Caribbean with a girlfriend.
She met a man in a cocktail lounge and began an affair with him. The rest of the winter and spring they corresponded by email. Her email program is not protected and I suspected something was going on due to a strange phone call I got from “someone” at her job. I still didn’t know what, but when someone anon. calls about your wife, it’s a safe bet it’s not to say hello!
The emails became intimate, and she agreed to meet this man. They both drove 300 miles. I found a map in her purse. She had used her mother’s illness, and an aunt’s illness as an excuse to be gone for a few days. She always takes our dog with her on things like this. This time when I told her that I may do something while she’s gone, and she would have to take the dog as normal, she became angry…. almost belligerent.
She told so many lies. When I confronted her with print outs of her emails, one said, “I had a great time and would do it again in a heartbeat” she continued to deny it. She never really came out and said, “Yes, I’m having an affair.” It was an understood thing that she was busted. We haven’t gone to counseling for infidelity or even talked about it after that.
She became very loving, caring, and told me repeatedly she didn’t know why she did it. She still says that. There must be some reason. This man is wealthy, younger than I, and athletic. I might mention that 23 years ago, she was the total aggressor in the beginning of our relationship. She was very persistent. She no longer is having contact with this man, and he actually had the gall to email me and tell me how I should forgive her, and what a nice person she was.
She is. All our friends think so. She is caring for strangers, animals etc. This would seem to be out of character for her.
Sex between us was a problem after the surgeries. I had a Dr. at the pain clinic tell me to get my testosterone checked, as traumatic injuries can reduce the levels. Sure enough, the blood test found I was VERY low. I am taking injections now, and our sex is like we are teenagers.
She still, however, refuses to discuss this affair, and does NOT want me discussing it with anyone. It’s very hard to not have anyone to talk to, and lack of communication is an enemy to us all. This man has wealth, and is powerful in his circles. Any help or counseling for infidelity?
Here’s my e-mail response to Bill’s request for help.
First, I want to thank you for taking the time and having the courage to tell your story and asking for counseling for infidelity. And…no, your story in reality is not that strange. Sad, confusing and hurtful, yes. But strange? No.
I will try to respond to your questions and musings, reading “between the lines” and taking some educated guesses and give you some direction as best as I can.
A common question: “Why did this happen? Why did she do this?” Affairs are complicated and the reasons for affairs are many. I’ve narrowed the reasons down to seven, but will focus on one that I believe fits your situation.
She doesn’t know why she did what she did and that is probably very close to the truth. Your wife sounds like a caring, loving, sensitive person who spends much of her energy caring for others and being concerned for their welfare. The downside: she neglects herself. One day she awakes and says, “Hmmmmmm I’ve been giving and giving, but… WHAT ABOUT ME!!!” This is not tantrum of a self-absorbed person, but more the cry of one who has lost, or never fully found her “self.”
I’ve had numerous people, like your wife, sit in my office during counseling for infidelity and break into tears when I ask them, “But, Mary, who are YOU?”
The choice of having an affair to explore or answer that question is actually not very bright! There are many other ways to address that question that result in less pain and agony, but many times when we are in the midst of our “crap” we don’t always make the right choices. Or, we jump on that which is most “convenient.” Or, we have a hard time saying “no” to that which seems most appealing at the moment. Can you see that in yourself? I know I see it in myself. This is not to excuse her behavior, but as this is counseling for infidelity, it is only to help you stand back and understand it.
I also hear you very concerned about your own “adequacy.” Is that correct? After all, here’s the other guy who has more money, more power and is a veritable young stud (at least that is what you think!). So…are you adequate? Desirable? These are very common questions that are typically but POWERFULLY triggered when our partner has an affair.
What I want for you to do after counseling for infidelity, Bill, is to believe that you are more than adequate and desirable, not because you have money, power, a lot of hair, or physical or sexual prowess, but because you are YOU. I would think Mary wants that of you as well.
So…begin to focus on you. Who are YOU? What do you value? How do you get your personal needs met? Stop putting up with things. Learn to communicate powerfully. Develop yourself. I have numerous tested tools that can help you do that. A “developed” person is very attractive, regardless of the age, hairline or bank account.
You mentioned how she pursued you in the beginning of the relationship. And now you are the pursuer? The flip-flopping of pursuing/distancing is very common, predictable actually in a relationship. Every so often we need to stand back and figure out who in the world we are and where we want to go. Sometimes this scares the socks off our partner. Sometimes it is very difficult to explain.
I am concerned about the apparent difficulty for the two of you to discuss the affair, or more accurately the aftermath. Counseling for infidelity could be very beneficial in situations like this. Not that you have to go overboard here (and maybe that scares her) or use the discussion as a means to exact revenge, elicit guilt or gain reassurance, but to use the experience to learn about yourselves individually and as a couple and to forge a different relationship, whatever form that may take.
What’s getting in the way here? What do YOU really want to say to her? How would you typically say it? How can you say it in a way that will get the response from her you want and a response that is best for the ultimate good of the relationship? I don’t want to blow my horn too much, but I usually help people “frame” their questions and statements that bring about the best result.
I hope this counseling for infidelity has been helpful. If you have any feedback on the helpfulness of this reply, don’t hesitate to respond.
I offer my best to you and Mary,
This is Bill’s Reply to Me:
Just to update you on the counseling for infidelity that you gave me.
I never felt threatened by a “younger man with hair.” I’m in excellent shape for 52, have all my hair, am 6’2″ and 230lbs. My wife and I lacked serious communication, and hadn’t had sex for 2 years due to a cluster of back operations I had to remove shrapnel that had moved in the spinal canal.
I finally went to the Dr. a month ago. He showed me a study. Combat wounded vets, wounded in the lower back and that have chronic pain have notoriously low testosterone levels. Sure enough, I did. It’s like depression. It sneaks up on you chemically until you just stop thinking about it. I’ve had two injections so far, and it’s working like a charm. The Doc told me that it usually takes about 3 or 4 to get the full benefits, and a continuation of the therapy.
Mary is very remorseful, and is by my side most of the time, now. We still haven’t tried counseling for infidelity but we’re trying to rebuild our marriage in our own way. We went on a 10-day trip to a place near our home and made love like a couple of kids. She really, really, made an effort to look her best, touch, and be gentle and sincere.
Personally, I think the man she had the tryst with is a predator that can spot someone in need, or that might be receptive. He is married with 3 children. I have no desire to ruin his life; he’ll do that on his own. About feeling inferior…. I really don’t. I’m not the one lying, and philandering to get what I want. I have the pleasure of loyalty and spirituality. I also have no doubt that he is no match for me physically, or now, even romantically. Sexually, I feel 21 again!
I have made it clear that if this sort of thing ever happens again, we are through. I don’t believe it will. It was out of character for her. She is overwhelmed at work right now. She is a loving, caring person who probably needed a lot more from me than she was getting for quite some time.
That’s not to say I’m blaming myself for all this bullshit. It was a very stupid move on her part. She had only known this man for 4 days in the Caribbean, and did not consummate an affair there. He emailed her everyday, sometimes as many as 3 times a day to meet him. I did point out, and ask the question, “what does a dangerous predator look like?” What I meant was, how could she be SO SURE he wouldn’t put his hands around her throat. Stranger things have happened.
I also pointed out that she was perfect for him. The big 3: HER FEELINGS, HER RECEPTIVENESS TO ATTENTION, AND SHE’S MARRIED. It is a perfect setup for someone with leanings toward cheating. She was so afraid after that little trip, that when I confronted her, she fainted. She is NOT afraid of me physically or mentally and has never had a reason to be.
We are working on it. We haven’t gone to counseling for infidelity but I told her our old marriage was dead, and we have rebuild, and she agreed. A daunting task to say the least. The emails I found and printed out, I burned in front her. When we arrived at our hotel, I had champagne and flowers waiting in the room. I had reservations waiting at a fine restaurant, and yes I was very, very devious. I even got the manager of the hotel casino to let her win a $500 jackpot on a nickel machine, and replaced the money. I could tell she was having one of the times of her life.
When we got home, we got really lucky!!! We both got sick. Throat tickle, then boooom! Both of us in bed, together, for 3 days. Sooo, you’re both sick, you can’t give to one another because we already did. :) So we just made the best of it.
The images I had are beginning to fade, even at this juncture. My feelings of inadequacy towards my wife’s needs are recognized, but fading as well. In short, this may have been the best thing to happen to our marriage in some ways.
In others, in the trust and loyalty dept’s, It will take more time. She keeps saying, “You’ll never know how much I love you.” I keep saying, “why not?” Just keep telling me, and I’ll keep telling you.
I asked Bill to list the defining or key moments that altered the course of their healing. He listed three:
1. I would not listen to any more of her lame stories.
2. We both cried together.
3. We got away from everybody and everything for a period of time to rediscover one another.
Bill’s Words of Advice: Don’t try to save a marriage if you don’t have unconditional love for the offender.