Couple FightingBy:  Monica’s Husband

Marriage counseling is one of the first remedies most couples seek when serious problems arise in their marriage.  Monica and I gave marriage counseling a try when we were going through our problems to say it felt weird would be a tremendous understatement.

I grew up in a household headed by a single mother.  My mom worked multiple jobs until her health gave out on her.  I spent a lot of time by myself growing up which I think contributes to my being quiet.  I have never felt the need to be overly expressive.  I have always been able to get through my problems by staying calm and thinking them through.

Before my wife and I went to marriage counseling I had no opinion of counseling of any kind.  I never had any call to think about counseling.  I just couldn’t imagine a scenario where counseling would be of any interest to me.  That didn’t change when I found out about my wife’s affair.  Even as I was dealing with the rush of horrible emotions counseling never crossed my mind.

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Romantic FireHow do you put the romance back in your relationship?  That is a common question in a lot of marriages.  Its not unique to marriages where infidelity occurs. It’s easy to get totally comfortable with your spouse and begin to take him or her for granted. When that happens the romance slowly seeps from the relationship. If it goes unchecked, the romance will evaporate, and turn a once madly in love couple into roommates.  Imagine how fast that process can be sped along if one you ends up cheating.

I am a hopeless romantic. I can’t help it, I have been this way my whole life. My husband says I am overly romantic to the point of being naive sometimes, and romance is work for him so we balance each other out quite nicely. It wasn’t always that way though. With the exception of a couple of small breaks my husband and I have been together for nearly 22 years, and we are both 36. In some ways we grew up together. We entered adulthood together, and we have weathered a lot of storms together. I know your spouse is supposed to be your better half, but my husband is my other half. I couldn’t imagine going through life without him anymore than I could imagine going through life without one of my arms.

We’ve had very romantic periods in our relationship, and we’ve had times where we were pretty much just together. I didn’t realize it then, but we were in the middle of our lowest just together phase when I cheated.

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Need CounselingOne of the first things that comes up in most people’s mind when they run into marriage problems is to go to marriage counseling.  Monica and her husband tried it.  My cousin Amie and her husband are currently in marriage counseling, and my husband wants us to go to marriage counseling.  It seems like everyone I know has either tried, or thought about trying couples counseling at one time, or another. I can’t think of anything on this planet I would rather not do than go to marriage counseling. As dumb as this sentence may sound, I am committed to working on my marriage, I just don’t want marriage counseling to be a part of it.

In addition to my own personal reasons, every person, and/or, couple I know who has gone through marriage counseling has had negative things to say about it.  I decided to ask Monica’s husband’s about his views on marriage counseling.  I thought he would be a good choice because I know he generally doesn’t sugar coat anything.  He also isn’t my biggest fan. It isn’t so much that he doesn’t like me, it’s more that he doesn’t care one way or the other. He treats me, and always has, like I am his wife’s cousin. Nothing more, nothing less, so I figured he would be straight with me.

His reply was about what I expected it to be, “I could see how counseling might benefit some couples, but I hated every minute of it. Your cousins actions nearly ended us. I had no interest in sitting and listening to some other person tell me I had some level of responsibility in my wife cheating on me. I resent it now even thinking about it.”

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Surviving the Affair…So Far

Hanging on by a ThreadI haven’t posted on this blog much in the last couple of months because I haven’t had much to say about my marriage. It seems my stock answer to just about every marriage related question is, “I love my husband.” When I am asked why I want to work on my marriage, that is the answer I come up with. When I am asked if we can work past the hurt, that is the answer I come up with. Its not an answer I give without any thought either. Its my honest answer to just about every marriage related question I am faced with.

I began skimming through the Surviving the Affair program close to two months ago, but honestly I haven’t done much with it. The information I have gone over so far is really good, and it makes a lot of sense. I can understand why my cousin, Monica, talks so highly of it. Right now, I don’t have a clue as to how to apply the information to my life. My marriage isn’t the only relationship in my life in shambles. My cousins and I aren’t as close as we used to be because of how I damaged my relationship with Monica. I have a couple of other friends that I associate with, but the people closest to me are family members.

When we decided to try and work on our marriage, my husband and I agreed we would spend more time together, and more time talking. We have stuck to that commitment, but the results have been a mixed bag at best. There are times where we are together, and talking like we did we we first got together. There are other times where the time we spend together is really quiet and awkward. It makes those times together feel like we are just going through the motions.

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Marriage CounselingUnfortunately, I know a number of married women who have experienced infidelity in their marriages. Some of the women I know cheated on their husbands, some of their husbands cheated on them, and in a couple of instances the cheating was a two way street.  When we speak about fixing the problems in our respective marriages the first suggestion that comes up is always, marriage counseling.

I was the one who cheated in my marriage, and before my husband would think about working on our marriage I knew he had to see me taking steps on my own.  I started going to individual counseling a couple of days after I came clean with my husband. Cheating on my husband was something I said I would never do, and I truly believed that. The night it happened was like any other night. I wasn’t angry with my husband. I wasn’t looking to hurt my husband in any way. It sounds stupid I know, but it really did just happen. And I wanted to try and understand my behavior.

I didn’t know how my husband felt about counseling because it had never come up in a topic of conversation. He was justifiably furious with me when I started counseling so I didn’t even tell him I started, I just went. Individual counseling didn’t last long for me because I couldn’t get comfortable with a therapist. I tried three, and was most comfortable with the 3rd one. She still made me uncomfortable though, because it seemed like she was looking to get me to blame my husband for all my problems, and that’s something I will never be willing to do.

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Disagreeing CoupleCommunicating with my husband after my affair was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I never had any intention of cheating on my husband. I truly love my husband, and still get emotional when I think about how close I came to him not being a part of my life. I never wanted to do anything to hurt him, but I didn’t realize how bad of place I was in. To make it clear, I didn’t get caught cheating on my husband. I felt so horrible about it, I told him the day after if happened.

I didn’t know what type of reaction I would get, and to be honest I would have rather him yell, scream, and maybe even punch me instead of how he looked at me. The look in his eyes was one of hurt, and disgust. He quickly told me just how disgusted he was, got our son ready, and the two of them left without him saying another word. I didn’t know if they were coming back, or how I could even ask him if he was coming back. It felt like my whole world just walked out the door, and my stupid actions was what drove them away.

There are a couple of things I know about my husband no matter is going on his life. First, the only thing that can keep my husband from working is our son’s health problems. Secondly, the only thing more important than work to my husband is his family. I really believe that no matter what my husband goes through it will never cloud the sense of responsibility he feels to do what’s right by our son. He could have ended up despising me personally, but he would have been able to put that aside to co-parent our son.

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By: Monica’s Husband

CommunicationI wasn’t able to start communicating with my wife for a long time after I found out about her affair. I don’t know if you have ever been cheated on, and then found out about it while you were still in a relationship with that person, but let me tell you firsthand it sucks. If you happen to have a child with that person then, and you are a responsible parent it sucks even more. When my wife told me about her affair I experienced such a tidal wave of emotions that I still can’t describe them all. The last thing I wanted to do was be anywhere near the person who caused such a mess in my life.

I left the house with my son immediately after I found out, but I only stayed gone for the better part of two days. The reason is our son has autism, and his routine is really important for him. I didn’t want my wife’s irresponsible behavior to affect my son anymore than absolutely necessary. When I went home my wife and I didn’t communicate about anything that didn’t pertain to our son for quite a while. I was so disgusted I wouldn’t have been anywhere near her if we didn’t have child together, so I absolutely didn’t have anything to say to her.

I get asked a lot how Monica and I made it through our problems. My answer is always the same, Monica’s lead is what got us through. If she had done things any differently I don’t know if we would still be married today. Monica was really humble, and did a ton of work on herself before we ever did any work on our marriage. Monica never pushed a time table on me for us to fix our problems. She gave me enough space to work through things on my terms instead of hers.

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By:  Monica’s Husband

Rebuilding Our MarriageMonica’s cousin Amie and I were talking the other day when she asked me how we began to rebuild our marriage after my wife’s affair from my point of view. Amie is always looking to examine everything to its most basic level, and she really caught me off guard with that question.

After Monica confessed to her affair she was always looking to work on something. She was working on herself, her relationship with her mother, her relationship with our son, and just about anything else a person could think of. At that time I didn’t want to have anything to do with Monica, so I wasn’t trying to hear any of it.

I don’t necessarily know if I can pinpoint exactly how, or when we began to rebuild our marriage from my point of view. I was really hurt, and disgusted with Monica. I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to rebuild our marriage. I think Monica handled the situation in about the best way possible.

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Looking for AnswersI know the title of this post will come across harsh, but when I sit and reflect on why I got married that is the honest answer I come up with.  My name is Alicia and Monica is my cousin and best friend.  (Even though we aren’t as tight as we used to be, which is mostly my fault, more on that later.)

Monica and I grew up together. We were more like sisters than cousins, but I have come to realize we have very different views on relationships. Monica has documented her side of our problems pretty extensively, and I honestly can’t say she is lying about anything. What I will say is I hate like hell I ever came in between Monica and her husband. Monica’s husband is one of the few good ones I have met in this life. I really hate that I had any part in bringing drama to their home.

I do feel the need to point out however, I didn’t make Monica cheat. I said some really terrible things at what I later found out was at the worst time possible. Had I known how insecure Monica was feeling at the time I would have handled things differently. I understand I wasn’t a good friend to Monica, but I resent like hell the notion that I was responsible for her cheating.

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Off TrackWhen I was a little girl my mother and I used to have conversations about marriage, and how to make a relationship work. The underlying theme of every one of those conversations came back to communication. “Amie, I truly believe love can survive anything expect not communicating. You have to be able to tell each other what you are feeling, and help each other through what your father and I like to call the crazy times.” My mom calls a time when a person is feeling down to a point it skews his or her vision of the world a “crazy time.”

Maybe it is because it was drilled into my head during my formidable years, but I agree with her. I love my husband more than anything in this world. I thought our marriage was perfect up until his infidelity came to light. When I found out my husband had an affair I was floored. There were a million things running through my head, but the thing that came to mind immediately is something that still crosses my mind from time-to-time when I am feeling down.

“How Didn’t I See It?”

How did I not see the man I married was capable of cheating? How did I not see he was that unhappy? How did I not see the level of attention he needed? Did I take my marriage for granted, or did I marry an asshole? I am a problem solver by nature. When things blow up, I don’t spend a lot of time over analyzing I would rather jump into the fire and get to work, but I couldn’t do that this time. I was too affected by what had happened.

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