Our First Couple Therapy After the Affair
My, now ex-wife and I started couple therapy two days after I confronted her about the affair. I was staying at a small hotel near my office for two nights and we had our first appointment on the second day. Aside from the dark clouds looming over me, it was a beautiful Spring day when we walked into our therapist’s stuffy office. It was not the place, nor situation, I wanted to be in that day. It also happened to be our youngest son’s first birthday. I still can’t believe neither of us wanted to celebrate that night (we had a party a few days before) and I didn’t even see him. I sometimes I forget how devastated I was and what that depressive feeling felt like.
This was the first time either of us stepped foot into a therapist’s office. We should have done it sooner. We also started our own personal therapy with separate therapists within a few days and I can’t recommend it enough. Like any new habit, you might not see the the value immediately, but over time, it will make you a better, more satisfied person.
My Main Request: Be Forthcoming and Honest.
I asked her to tell me everything that had ever happened, with Donald or anyone else. I told her that we can get past anything, but she has to be forthcoming and honest. I should not have to search and dig for the truth like I had to do on Easter.
If you are the one that cheated on your spouse. This is the key to getting past the affair. If you aren’t honest, and pretend you are, the chance of you both healing are almost zero, in my opinion.
She said it was only Donald. And, as far as physical stuff, it was just that night.
Maybe I started an emotional affair with Donald a few months back and didn’t realize it until thinking about it this week.
She had discussed our marriage, my depression, a night where I didn’t want to have sex despite the fact that she was walking around naked (because I was feeling depressed that night), and other similar topics. He was always a voice that listened to her. And he had similar issues in his marriage. And of course, he said that I was crazy for not having sex that night.
Why She Cheated
She went on to say that she feels like she lost her identity since becoming a mom and that her whole life is about the kids. For that night, on Good Friday, she felt like she was getting attention from this guy without kids around and it felt good. Our therapist said maybe it felt like she had a fantasy date, and she immediately agreed.
She said I had lost my spark. That my exuberance for life and happiness had diminished over the past couple years. My depression was drawing a wedge between us.
Now, as you can imagine, I was already not a fan of Donald. I remember telling my wife, in our kitchen, sometime around this first appointment, that he knew what he was doing. That a married man, doesn’t just think it would be fun to go do returns at Old Navy with a married woman unless he has other intentions. Without wanting to hear any more, she told me she disagreed and insisted on defending him.
Looking back now, I realize that this moment was a key moment in our breakup for me. It was the moment where I looked at my wife and saw her side with, and defend, another man against the act that had the potential to ruin our marriage. And it was like I was no longer looking at my partner and best friend. It felt as if somebody else was pulling the strings.
Here’s the other problem I didn’t realize we both suffered from, until much later. She didn’t listen. She just quickly told me I was wrong for feeling that way. She was defending Donald, an outsider who was trying to break up our marriage. Instead of hearing me out, she was quick to defend him and deflect my feelings. I did the same to her over the years. There were 1,000 of these paper-cuts, that ultimately helped bleed the marriage dry. Because neither of us felt heard. She just found somebody else to listen to, and validate her.
In therapy that day, and other days after, she insisted that it had nothing to do with Donald. That he was just somebody who was willing to listen. And the kiss was weird. That she could easily replace him with one of her girlfriends who could listen. I was curious about he kiss. What led up to it? How long did it last? What was running through her head? What happened after? How did it stop? She answered as if she didn’t know those answers. Of course, I found out later that she did. They just weren’t answers that lined up with her story at the time.
She spent much of the session also talking about my depression and how she didn’t see my spark or confidence anymore. I never admitted to being depressed, nor was I diagnosed. But she was right (I’ll write a lot more about this soon). We discussed other defects of mine, but the affair was pretty quickly swept under the rug as meaningless and something that she didn’t expect.
Butterflies in the Parking Lot
She seemed apologetic and we talked for a little bit in the parking lot after our appointment. For the first time in two days, I felt like I could see past the deceptive woman that cheated on me and I was looking at my bride again.
I leaned in to kiss her and felt the same butterflies and nervousness that I felt the first time I kissed her. She also felt the same, and it felt like that moment washed us clean of what had happened. We couldn’t stand being away suddenly and I asked if she wanted to come back to my hotel room. We both raced there, out of excitement and jumped on the bed. She started going down on me and that’s where things felt…weird.
I couldn’t perform. Something was telling me this was wrong. That there was something I didn’t know. I think it’s because I felt like the affair was quickly brushed aside for the other issues in our marriage. And that I still didn’t get all the answers I wanted.
Had she actually done this to somebody else without me knowing? She looked at me worried and disappointed and we just laid there next to each other before she got up to go pick the kids up and go home, where her mom was waiting for them.
I felt conflicted. On one hand, I felt like I was winning my game of tug-of-war with Donald to get her back. On the other hand, I wasn’t satisfied with the lack of information. Maybe I was playing tug-of-war and he was playing chess.