The other day, I had a wife email me and tell me that she wasn’t sure that her marriage was “going to make it” after her husband’s affair. The husband was very remorseful and swore to do anything that he could to “make it up to” the wife and save the marriage. This offer included marriage counseling. The wife was torn about this. She had to admit that she still loved her husband and she didn’t want to break up her family, but she was so angry and hurt that she couldn’t fathom ever feeling any differently. She asked me if marriage counseling could, in my opinion, turn things around or if it would just be a waste of time and money. I’ll share my experiences with counseling after my husband’s affair and tell you whether I think it helped in the following article.
My Experience With Marital Counseling After My Husband’s Affair: I know that it’s probably not politically correct to say this, but I honestly think that our marriage counselor made the situation worse. However, I think that this was partially due to the fact that we went with the counselor that was all wrong for me. Our counselor was female and while I thought this would be a good thing as I was hoping she could help me make husband to see how deeply he had hurt me. I thought that since she was a woman, she would share my perspective, but this was not the case.
It felt to me that at every turn, this woman gave my husband the benefit of the doubt even though he was the guilty party. Granted, there were issues in our marriage that needed addressing. But, she constantly dwelled on them so that I always left her office feeling much worse. We would argue at her office and then we would argue in the car on the way home.
We went on this way for a long time but as the sessions got progressively worse, I ended up refusing to go any longer. It was only then that we searched for a new counselor. We finally settled on a man and this worked out much better for me – much to my surprise. It’s so important that you find the counselor that you are both comfortable with. If one or both of you are sitting there with your fists clenched and your toes curled, then you are just wasting your money.
The counselor should not “side” with anyone. They should be impartial and focused on healing you both. They should help facilitate the communication and the negotiations and I personally feel that they should always try to end the session on a somewhat positive note. You don’t want for them to allow one spouse to drop a bombshell and then to say “whoops we are out of time” as the old counselor did.
Why Do I Need A Marriage Counselor Anyway? Can’t I Work On My Marriage After The Affair Myself?: Theoretically, you could. But few people have the objectivity to take a step back and see the situation as it really is. This is because you are simply too close to it. You aren’t able to see all of the issues and the nuances at hand. With that said, some people are really quite uncomfortable “airing their dirty laundry” in front of a third party, so to speak. And often when there is this kind of resistance, they will just shut down and not participate anyway.
Here is what a good counselor can really do for you. (And, this is what you will need to be able to do on your own if you chose not to use one.) He or she can help the both of you to understand what may have been some contributing factors to the affair. He or she should then not only help you to identity them but to work through them. They also should help arm the both of you with better ways of interacting, communicating, and restoring the trust and intimacy. Because they are an outsider, they can often see some vulnerabilities and tendencies which may have never occurred to you, but may be holding you back quite a bit. In short, they are there to point out what you are missing and to smooth the way toward fixing it.
I know that sometimes people are just going to be resistant to marital counseling no matter how much sense it makes. Should you chose not to use one, then you will need to be very conscious of working through all the major issues on your own. Choosing not to see a counselor doesn’t mean that these issues still aren’t there. And, if you do not work through them, they will just lie in wait and never allow you the peace and trust that you deserve. So, you should take baby steps toward restoring the trust and toward identifying and then fixing the vulnerabilities in your marriage. You should also work toward creating something new, better and different, which leads me to my next point.
The Most Important Thing That You (Or A Counselor) Can Do For Your Marriage: I believe that the most important thing that you need to do to heal a marriage after an affair is to see this time as an opportunity to create what you have always wanted and deserved. So there were some things that weren’t working in your marriage? Well, now is the time to change them. Accept nothing less than you deserve.
The most effective way to move past or to get over an affair and save your marriage is to create a new, better, and closer marriage than what there was before. This is the only way to ensure that you aren’t constantly looking back or reliving the past. When you have a marriage which is better than it has ever been, then you don’t really want to live in the past because you are too busy enjoying your new present.
You don’t always need a counselor to do this, but it’s an important step that you absolutely should not skip. If you just remain miserable and doubtful in your marriage, then what is the point in doing all of the work to save it? Honestly, although our second counselor did help us greatly, I think most of the transformation was made by us – through a lot of hard work, commitment, honesty, patience, and a willingness to place our marriage above all else while we were healing it.
I know that the idea of working through the issues (whether you are using a marital counselor or not) can be frustrating, but it can be so worth it. Although I never would’ve believed this two years ago, my marriage is stronger than ever after my husband’s affair. It took a lot of work, and I had to play the game to win, but it was worth it. Because of all the work I did on myself, my self esteem is at an all time high. I know longer worry my husband will cheat again. You can read my very personal story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com/