We’re both in therapy but our marriage is falling apart
My wife and I have been married for 13 years and have one 5-year old daughter. I found out a few weeks ago (before my daughters 5th birthday party) that my wife had been cheating for about a year. She has cheated with a co-worker long-term, as well as seeing multiple people through swingers sites.
My wife is depressed. She started the affair after she switched her medication from Prozac to Wellbutrin. Until the affair, we were the only person each other had dated or been with. I have read several books, “Five Love Languages”, “Divorce Busting”, and others to try to understand.
My wife has said she was unhappy with our sex life. She says she enjoyed the sex with others. She has not communicated what she wants in our sex life though. I have asked what she is looking for, and she says I should, “Read her body language better”
I have known my wife has been unhappy for a while. I have tried to “make space” for her to do her own activities and enjoy herself, but to no avail. I ask her what she wants, but she always says, “I don’t know”. I am a very attentive and loving husband, I do most of the household chores, I give backrubs and romantic baths, I watch our daughter and put her to bed. These things are not appreciated. I am not good at giving gifts, and I have spent too much time at work.
She still does not admit to wrongdoing with the affair. I am not upset about the sex, I am upset about the lying and hypocrisy. I have made many changes since finding out, but I do not feel she has made any. She is wondering if the grass is greener on the other side. We have had many conversations, but I have to initiate them. She and I are both going to counseling. What signs of progress should I be looking for? What can I do to help her through the depression? I am doing the “right things”?
Thanks for any help.
A: This must all be very, very hard. You are trying your best but feel that you aren’t getting much in the way of a response. It’s like holding your hand out for a handshake and the other person not responding. If you keep your hand out there, you start feeling foolish. If you don’t, it means that you’ve given up. Neither option feels very good.
I’m sure there is more to the story than you could put in a letter. On the basis of what you wrote, the only suggestion I can make is that you both consider taking a recess from your individual therapists for a few weeks and go to a couples therapist instead. If you are each in your own corner getting support from an individual therapist for your own point of view and dealing only with your own issues, it is very possible that you aren’t identifying and working on what matters most in the relationship. In couples therapy, the therapist gets to watch how the two of you interact. An individual therapist only gets to hear your report of your version of how you behave. However well intended you are, it may be that you aren’t seeing the ways that you and your wife miss each other when you are trying to communicate. Other options are for each of you to join the other in each other’s sessions or to ask the therapists if all 4 of you can meet together.
There are many legitimate ways to do clinical work and there may be good reasons why your individual therapists haven’t already suggested that you move into couples work. Please consider raising the issue at your next session to get the opinion of the person who knows you. I’m only going on a letter.
I wish you well.
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). We’re both in therapy but our marriage is falling apart. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/05/27/were-both-in-therapy-but-our-marriage-is-falling-apart/