Adultery

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

I know there have been many in my situation, but I have yet to find a submission that has presented a clear answer to help with my situation. In October 2009 my wife found out I was cheating with a co-worker. I did not feel comfortable telling her all of the details at first so I continued lying as I felt I was protecting her already fragile state. I have been a liar since I can remember and I don’t know how to stop. I realize I personally make the decision to lie every time I do it, but that doesn’t seem to get in the way when it comes down to making a decision whether or not to lie. We have severe financial problems and will more than likely lose our home. My wife has told me we won’t be married after she graduates from nursing school but we haven’t separated yet because we have 3 children together and she doesn’t have an income. I have been getting payday loans to subsidize my income and have paid a significant amount towards those loans to keep things as normal as possible for the kids. So goes the lying. I get loans my wife doesn’t know about to keep things normal and she always finds out I have been getting money somewhere and I end up telling her the truth. She says I am childish for always lying and adds what I’ve done to the list of reasons we are getting divorced. I told her tonight I fear for my life sometimes because she doesn’t seem to have control over herself when she is in a fit of rage over what I’ve done. She has made comments in the past that she would “stab me” and she would “get off” if she were to kill me (because I cheated). I know what I did to her was terrible and I feel like a terrible person every day. I live in a manic world to keep myself from going off the deep end. I have been told I can’t leave my house because I will be abandoning my children and the courts will not award any custody to me if I do. She, however, wants me to leave immediately. I told her about my fear and she got extremely angry, told me I was selfish and started crying because that statement meant I didn’t care about what I put her through. The fact is, I didn’t know how to help her. I let myself get in the way a lot since she found out and she wouldn’t let me provide comfort when she was in pain. I have never, nor will I ever inflict harm on her, but I fear her statement are true and the mental anguish I have caused is the reason she cut herself some this past year and almost overdosed on drugs. I am writing this because I want to stop lying. I am writing this because I want to know how to get out of the situation I am in without a huge legal mess. I love my kids; I love to be around them. If I had my choice I would never leave their sides. I can’t, however, feel like I am a good parent for allowing them to live in the environment I have created. My wife has not recovered to the point where she can get out of bed at a decent hour and function with them. For months after she found out she would sleep most of the day while they were left to fend for themselves. I didn’t know what to do because I feared I would lose my job and make things even worse. PLEASE HELP!! Or, help me to find a good counselor in my area that accepts my insurance. I can’t afford to pay the co-pays all the time so that has kept me from going. The last counselor I had fell asleep in the chair while I was talking.

A: I am glad that you are making an effort to reach out and seek some help. The find help tab at the top of the page will help you find a counselor in your area. See if you can negotiate a sliding scale fee where the co-pay can be reduced. You may also want to look into the offerings at your local hospital for an outpatient program that will accept your insurance. I mention this first because you will need to have therapy to go through the changes I am suggesting.

I can’t give you legal advice, but I can encourage you to seek several opinions. Your wife wants you to leave and you are looking to do the right thing—so the question becomes how to make that happen. Your wife may want to get the names of some lawyers from the local women’s center. Often lawyers connected with a women’s center are savvy when it comes to helping with legal issues surrounding separation and divorce. You need someone with a great deal of experience legally in this area and getting more than one opinion is important. Often psychological needs and legal issues clash, but you won’t be the first couple to be in this dilemma. Learn how others have found a legal way through. Otherwise the situation tends to get worse as couples marinate in their own negativity. Let’s not wait for something drastic to happen before making a change that sounds necessary.

People who continually lie to others are usually lying to themselves. It sounds like you need to start taking much greater responsibility for yourself, your situation, your children’s future and your own. Ask yourself what your truth is and begin with that.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jan 2011

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2011). Adultery. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/01/11/adultery/