My husband had an affair with his therapist.

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

My husband of 5 years (living together 9) began growing distant this past summer and in August, I returned home one night to find that he had taken his things and moved out. That night I found a suggestive email between him and his therapist (he noted that he had to shower alone and she replied in pretty graphic detail exactly what she would do to him in the shower, noting that there would be “many many more showers in their future” ) I forwarded the email to both of them with a short Hello, I’m X’s wife and thanks for this email. It has clarified a lot” Heard nothing back from her- from him an emotional email about how I had embarrassed him, the next am another email about how she never wants to see him again, etc. he said they didn’t sleep together, that it was just flirty and that she didn’t know he was married.

Sporadic contact between me and my husband –then on November he started texting, saying he missed me, was visiting his family and they said they saying he should come home, etc. He came by crying on Thanksgiving am asking if we could celebrate together, if he could come back home, etc. He moved back in and then without warning, he moved out at the end of December, blaming the dogs and how they made the house dirty. We have had dogs for the 4 years we’ve lived in the house together.

Since the first time he moved out, he stopped paying any bills including the mortgage. The second time he moved out he took the car we use jointly too- leaving me with no transportation. We went to one therapy session where the counselor suggested we get rid of the dogs as a start to test the waters. I had to think about it b/c I still felt so hurt from being abandoned twice- what if I got rid of them and he moved out again? Just felt like we hadn’t addressed the underlying issues.. But saw promise.

During this time my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer so I shifted my focus to my family and put the decision on moving towards separation/divorce, etc. on hold. I started getting my own life back. In March my dad passed away, then around my birthday, I came home one night to find girl scout cookies on the doorstep with a happy b-day sticky note attached. Again, my hopes increased and I wanted to save my marriage. Later that week we had dinner and it turns out his main concern was to ask for money from the tax refund. I hadn’t responded to his email about it. Previously. He was angry when I mentioned we should work on our marriage and that the money is part of the whole process. Angry threatening emails about how he is owed half the money, I finally got an attorney, changed the locks and I was ready to just end the limbo/rollercoaster. Finally this past week I looked up the therapist and someone had already reported her.. the state counseling board put her on probation and it acknowledged that she stopped counseling with “client A” in July- and less than a month later started a “romantic relationship” with “Client A” and that the relationship ended in October 2009.  

So basically I feel that I had no hope going into this.. they had been meeting and starting relations while he went to therapy (he explained it was for work (law enforcement) stress.) for the year. As soon as it ended, they started an affair. Someone ended it in October and he came crying back to me.

I am heartbroken because I think if I had learned early on about the relationship, we could have dealt with that, the dogs, and any other issues and been able to save our marriage. Now so much has happened and he still refuses to meet or discuss any issues- just keeps blaming it on the dogs.. saying I chose the dogs over marriage so it’s my fault.

Trust has been broken on so many levels and so much has occurred that I am guessing my marriage is not worth saving. Breaks my heart because I still love him – or the person he was. I miss my best friend. But I just feel like I wasn’t given a chance to try and fix things.

Suggestions?

A: “Love is not enough. It must be the foundation, the cornerstone – but not the complete structure. It is much too pliable, too yielding.”
-Bette Davis

First let me say that I am very sorry your husband’s therapist was so damaging to both you and your husband.  I am glad she was reported and that her actions have come to the attention of the governing body.  When incidents like this happen it casts a dark cloud over the delicate process of therapy.  To learn more about the therapist as a person there is a very interesting site with research and information about the rule and boundary violations of therapists.

But the real issue now is the question of you you would say you love him. What you said was your husband:

  • Left you without warning.
  • Did not think about his financial responsibilities.
  • Made an excuse about the dogs as if he had no responsibility for bringing the issue to you sooner.
  • Tried to manipulate you (with cookies) rather than deal with the financial matters of the mortgage.
  • Stole the jointly owned car.
  • Systematically concerns himself with his own needs, neglecting both responsibility and sensitivity toward you.
  • Abandoned you a second time.
  • Uses anger to intimidate you and blames you for the problems in the marriage and hasn’t taken responsibility for his obligations.

As you say, he has broken trust with you at many levels. So the real question is: Why do you think what you have for him is love?  It seems like you have an attachment to him, perhaps out of familiarity or habit, but if it is love, as the quote says, it is not enough.  You have been betrayed and abandoned and, other than a box of cookies, your husband doesn’t sound like the kind of person that has much to offer.  In fact, he sounds like a person only interested in himself.

All that having been said he was also betrayed by an unhealthy therapist who clearly did the wrong thing – so he needs to find a true, stable process of support to correct this in his own life, but this is his struggle to manage, not yours.

It is time to heal and start carving out a life of your own. You said it exactly, you love who he was, or, most likely, you loved his potential.

Learn everything you can about why you have the feelings you have for him, why you continue to love him in the face of his behavior and attitude, and and what strengths you have and need to nurture. You can find a therapist under the “find help” tab on the top of this page.

You and your dogs deserve a place where there is peace, safety, and comfort.  It does not sound like you husband is either capable or willing to manage helping with these goals.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 May 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). My husband had an affair with his therapist.. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/05/15/my-husband-had-an-affair-with-his-therapist/