Desperately seeking stability
September 22, 2012 7:30 AM Subscribe
How do I get a handle on what I've uncovered in therapy outside the therapist's office whilst my therapist is unavailable for a few weeks?
posted by six sided sock to human relations (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm currently in therapy after cheating on my wife of 10 years. I nearly had a one-night stand with a friend, and although I stopped before we'd got further than the clothes off stage, it's still infidelity and it still very nearly torpedoed my marriage.
We have been going to couples therapy and recently wrapped up things there after six weeks of seeing the therapist (she felt that we could achieve more outside her office than inside it).
As part of the therapy, our therapist recommended that I get individual therapy to help me deal with what I'd done, since it was massively out of character for me (this is the first time in 16 years of being with my wife that I've ever been unfaithful). I knew that things had been bad for a while before I cheated - I'd been trying to get us into couples therapy for over a year before this but she'd always refused because she doesn't think therapy is effective. My wife has also stated that she thinks personal therapy might help her, but that she's not going to go to a therapist until I've resolved my issues, because she doesn't see the point (she thinks there's a strong chance I'll walk out on her, and thinks therapy before that is a waste of money).
I've been seeing my therapist for four weeks now, and it's clear that we have a good working relationship. However, some of the things I've uncovered in therapy are worrying me, and I'm struggling to deal with them. My therapist is now away for a few weeks for personal reasons (a family emergency in another country, FWIW), and I'm confused as to how to deal with the stuff that came up most recently, including:
- About 8 years ago, my wife and I went through a rough patch. Although I'd remembered that, what I'd forgotten was that during that time she took to pushing or hitting me. She once grabbed my face after a fight over parking the car and left finger-shaped bruises. I found this when I went back through old online journal entries, and had completely forgotten it until then.
- My therapist observed that I've basically been a caretaker to my wife for the last 10 years or so: On a practical level I do all the cooking, most of the cleaning, make her lunch for work, make sure she gets up on time and so on. On an emotional level, I've spent the last 10 years apologising for everything in arguments, even if I didn't think it was my fault, because it was the only way to solve the argument.
- My therapist said that it sounded like my wife was exhibiting controlling behaviours, such as:
- Stonewalling me during fights
- Threatening to leave and then not leaving
- Walking out of the house late at night in winter (we live in the countryside) and leaving her phone, keys and coat. If I didn't try to follow her, she would accuse me of not caring about her, and would repeatedly assert that I wanted her to be raped or murdered.
These are all pretty nasty things to be remembering, and I can't reconcile them with the woman I know and love. She hasn't exhibited most of these behaviours for several years (though some, such as threatening to leave and stonewalling she still does reasonably regularly), so it feels a little unfair to judge her on any of it. Should I just be judging her on the way she behaves from here on in?
I'm also struggling to deal with the level of hatred and anger coming from my wife about the woman with whom I cheated. Although I have cut off contact with her, and I'm not going to contact her again under any circumstances, I'm finding it hard to handle my wife continually calling her a whore, or a slut, or saying that she hopes she gets cancer and dies alone. I know that my wife is entitled to feel these things, and I don't really have any reason to complain - after all I caused those feelings - but as I'm the only one to whom she's saying them, hearing them daily is starting to wear on me. Walking away just causes a larger row.
To make it absolutely clear: I do love my wife, and though I'm finding things hard at the moment and occasionally wondering whether it's time to call an end to things, I don't want to give up without fighting damn hard first. I'm fighting a low-level depression (without meds, though that may change if things get worse) and have had a couple of episodes of intrusive suicidal thoughts during arguments with my wife (my counsellor and I agree that this is more my brain offering me an escape route, albeit an extreme one, rather than an actual desire to end it all).
Can anyone suggest coping strategies to deal with everything that's going on to avoid it overloading me over the next few weeks?