Ask A Therapist

Are you or someone you know struggling with an issue in your relationship?  Let me try to help.  Type in your question or concern in the comment box, and I’ll give you the best answer I can.

Published on March 11, 2009 at 12:34 pm  Comments (9)  

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  1. I have been together with my fiancee for three years and we have talked of getting married. We were both married when we ment each other and our sons were best friends. We when to boy scout camp together and started talking. Ny marriage was already pretty much done because she was having internet affairs and calling them on the phone. Her husband was verabally abusive and she found out that he was using drugs after they had been married a few years. When we got back from camp I told my ex-wife that our relationship was done and I moved out. It took her a little longer but her ex-husband physically abused their daughter and he was arrested and she moved him out. He was not found guilty do to not enough evidence. So we had a great relationship up to a year ago when her friend created a facebook account for her so her friend could send her pictures. I had a very difficult time with this because of what my ex did to me when we were married. Since then i have been distrustfull and very apprehensive of everything. She has given me no reason to believe she was cheating or doing anything wrong.
    She has been married 4 times. Her first husband wanted to have a different type of relationship and they experimented with an open relationship, i guess. Her second Husband was on the rebound from her first husband who she said was the love of her life, until she meant me she says. Her third husband was an alcoholic so that didn’t last and I have told you about her fourth husband. Her first husband was adopted and he had some other problems with that after they had broken up. They had an on again, off again relationship. She found out she was pregent and went to his adopted grandparents to find out where he was so she could tell him and they told him he was dead and that he had killed himself. This was 25 years ago. Five weeks ago he called her out of the blue. Needless to say she was astonded. She told me that he called and we discused it. The next day she went to work and e-mailed him photos of herself and one of us as a family. I ask her when I called her that day if she had heard from him again and she said no. I found that she had emailed him the pictures and said something to her. I told her i was hurt and not sure why she did that. She says that she is confused and needs to talk with him and get closure. That was five weeks ago. We live in california and he lives in hawaii. He is married and has two kids. I had checked her phone a week after this happened and they were talking just about everyday. I said something to her and she now deletes his calls although I know he they still talk. More then i probably know. She will not tell me when he calls or they talk. She has said she ask him why he called after 25 years and he told her that he had a feeling that she was pregnant when he left and wanted to know. I am not sure I believe this or not. We have had nothing but problems since then and it seems to get worse everyday. We are going to counsoling now (we have been one time)and she says she will for the next session. I am not sure what to do about this. I want to tell her we can work are problems out, and I think we can (most of them have to do with my jealousy from the facebook thing and distrustfullness from my previous marriage. But she has to stop her emtional affair with him in order for us to make this work. How do i tell her this and what should I do?

    • It is definitely a good thing that you are going to counseling right now. Most likely, it will be important for you to continue to go for a solid amount of time. No matter how much we wish it not to be so, no one can get a divorce without coming away with baggage. As you are experiencing, this continues to impact us in future relationships until we learn how to effectively resolve it. For your wife to have been married four times, it is a very strong indicator that she too has enormous baggage.

      It is definitely true that for a successful relationship to be built, absolute commitment and fidelity must be practiced. Any relationship beyond a casual friendship with a member of the opposit sex that is not your spouse is extremely dangerous.

      Having said that, in trying to work things out with your wife, it is very important that you keep your focus on what you need to do to help her to feel your love the most. The more you focus on your own hurts and demands, the more you will harder for her to turn completely towards you. Your wife should of course do the same, but it is important that you give her faith and patience. It generally takes women longer to break free from emotional affairs than it does men, but keep in mind that just because she may still have feelings for him does not mean that she is not making progress in turning more towards you and away from him.

      This is obviously a far more complex issue than can thoroughly be addressed in this setting, particularly given the difficult histories you both have. Please continue with counseling, but also keep in mind that finding the right fit in therapists is very important. If, after the first two to three sessions, you don’t feel like it’s the best fit, don’t be afraid to make a change. Also, don’t make your judgement off of whether they agree with you or not, but whether they have a positive impact on your relationship when you are following their counsel.

      Best of luck to you!


  2. Can an emotional affair heal if the wayward spouse denies it? My husband of 15 years and I entered marital therapy to discuss an ongoing lack of intimacy, secretive behavior, dishonesty, and walking out/ leaving me during arguments. The therapist suggested a lie detector test after I found out he contacted 2 previous girlfriends over the Internet and took them to lunch. He failed the test on the question if he has had an emotional affair in the last three years. He angrily claimed the test was wrong (there is a 10% error rate) and asked me to never bring it up again. I have no solid proof but my gut instinct is he is emotionally involved with someone. I’ve given him many chances to tell me the truth and I explained calmly it is so we can work thru our issues and heal but he adamantly continues to deny.

    He was very loving and sexually intimate for a month while we pursued therapy but he was still acting suspiciously and constantly on his phone. Now he has moved out of the house but wants to return to marital counseling. He tells me I have to bring proof (!) if I question him on an affair. I love my husband but I do not see how we can heal this way. I am ready to divorce if need be.

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  5. Hello, I have been married to a wonderful woman for 8 years and have two sons who I adore.
    I became suspicious of my wife’s new friends and conduct in the summer, she changed greatly. She went out, lost weight, bought new clothes and then one day, I opened up the family laptop to find her facebook open and a not that she was holding back sex from me because, I was acting like a jerk because I didn’t want another child and if she could do things over again she would do them differently.. We went to counseling the our counselor agreed, that another child wound not be good for us..

    She promptly quit..

    Things got a bit better but, the behavior continued and on thanksgiving, I opened up the family laptop to find the website open with her account name logged in and pictures of naked men.

    I was devastated and also found out she had been having an emotional affair with my son’s soccer coach prior to that which included pictures and texts… We went to counseling…

    She quit but, things got much better… We were both happy…

    I found out that she opened up another email account under a false name and hacked it to find naked pictures of men..

    She swears to me that nothing physical has happened with anyone and that she will stick with therapy this time, make changes and that she is in love me… She is very regretful and I love her but, I just don’t trust her anymore.

    Do I stay and try to make it work again? I will lose everything if we divorce since she doesn’t work and I can’t take full custody of the boys due to my work contracts.

    I honestly don’t know what to do…

    • Hi Mike,

      It sounds like you and your wife have been having some incredibly difficult times. First of all, I want to applaud you for how hard you have been trying to save your marriage. It takes a lot of humility to seek out counseling, yet it can also be the difference between saving the marriage or divorcing.

      To answer your question as to whether you should stay or not, I will say this. There are only two situations I have seen where divorce is not more destructive than staying married, and that is where abuse is involved, or when one spouse is engaging in ongoing affairs and is unwilling to give them up, or work on the marriage. Otherwise, in almost every case, divorce will bring far more misery to your life and those of your children than the struggles of trying to overcome problems in your marriage. Don’t be deceived by the allure of the “freedom” of divorce. Whatever emotional pain you feel now does not go away with divorce, it carries over and even taints future relationships you may have. The only true way to cure this pain is working side by side with your wife to resolve it.

      It can be difficult to understand why spouses seek relationships outside of their marriages. Most often it is because they feel like there is something missing in their lives that is either falsely satisfied by extra-marital relationships, or the relationships provide a distraction from these issues. Some of theses things might be feeling alienated in their marriage, a desire for the excitement of a fresh relationship, damaged self-esteem that is fed by being desired, a need for an emotional relationship, unsatisfied sex drive, etc. A key to helping your wife to be fully committed to your relationship is understanding what it is that is driving her desire for something else. As difficult as it may be to admit to yourself, it is extremely important that you carefully consider what you might be doing or not doing that makes it difficult for her to feel close to you. This is no way means that it is your fault she has looked to other men. This is her wrong choice alone. However, it is important to take responsibility for the ways in which you may have hurt your wife and work like mad to fix them.

      I know this may not be what you want to hear, but I have seen many failed attempts to repair marriages in situations where affairs/near affairs are involved. When these types of situations arise, there is a tendency for all the focus being placed on the spouse who is engaging in the other relationships. The problem is, you cannot fix the person without fixing whatever hurts, losses, or desires they have that are driving their actions.

      I think it is clear that you love your wife, otherwise you would not have worked as hard as you have to keep things going. As hard as it may be to believe it, I think your wife also loves you, otherwise she would not be agreeing to work on the marriage with you. You absolutely have good reason to maintain hope for your marriage. Many times, these situations act as a springboard for launching your marriage ahead to new heights, but also greater depth of maturity. This is because this situation has caused you both to focus intently on your marriage and what it needs to be what you always hoped it would be.

      I wish you all the best!


      • I like this site….

  6. married for 17 yrs and wentonmy 1 week vaction and found out my husband wasobn adating sitereally going totown with many women. I was shocked and detryoed, we had noproblems, he said he had been curious as they werecomibng thru the filters, he got close toafew, and now instead of talking about itasigotone by mistake,, he tookoff and abandened me……. been 6 mnonths adnhe said he wassorry but he is still on them more and got abnother phone soI can see whohe is calling… Ilove himand wsant my marriage…. he is agood man,and bnow wont come home cccuz of the shame. my family and his family knows it….. what doI do toget himto comeback, i tried tellinghim Id forgivehim and etc. poured my heaert out, and now he cant say he loves me but wants tocomne over and have sex withg me anyway. I wont let him… We were very close adn meant tobe…. went tochurh and bibleclass. thanks please helpmesave my marriage……

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