Dear Dr. Buckingham,
My wife and I have been married going on ten years. Two years ago I allowed myself to engage in an affair with someone that works on my former job. Sad to say I did this act while my wife was pregnant with our third child. The affair lasted 10 months and it ended. To put it out there I thought I was being slick thinking no one would find out, especially my wife. 4 months after my affair ended my wife comes to me after attending her gyn appt with the news that she contracted chlamydia. Scared, I denied the whole thing (my first mistake) then when I finally worked up the nerve to tell her how she contracted it, I didn’t tell her the whole truth (my second mistake).
To be honest I did not want to see my wife hurt and I tried to spare her feelings by not telling her everything, which I should have done. But now she is on a huge emotional roller coaster and I feel as if I’m being pushed out. It makes me want to leave but I really don’t. We tried therapy but she does not want to attend anymore. I feel that she is holding on to this as a crutch over me. How Can I Work Through my Wife’s Continuous Emotional Circle and Save My Marriage?
Please help, J
Your wife will never get over what you did to her. Before you panic, please allow me to explain. Getting over the lying and betrayal is impossible, but forgiveness is not. It is difficult to “get over” things because we have a recall/memory switch in our heads that switches on whenever we are reminded of past trauma. This is what causes us to relive past experiences over and over again. Your wife will continue to have ups and downs until she deals with her trauma/distress. Given this, the best way to work through your wife’s continuous emotional circle and save your marriage is to get professional help. I understand that you said that your wife refused to return to therapy, but it is extremely important that the both of you receive some kind of intervention.
In order to experience harmony in your marriage again, both you and your wife will need spiritual and psychological counseling. Psychological counseling can help your wife cope better with her trauma, the feeling of betrayal and help you gain some insight into the emotions and thoughts that led to your adulterous behavior and lying. Spiritual counseling is critical and warranted because it can help with addressing and healing deep-seated and soulful pain. Forgetting might be difficult, but forgiving can occur with spiritual healing.
Unfortunately, I do not believe that you will be able to work through your wife’s continuous circle and save your marriage without professional help. A troubled mind and a troubled soul is a bad recipe for marriage. Until your wife receives help, you will continue to be prosecuted over and over for your offense.
As you move forward in your marriage, I recommend that you seek professional help even if your wife refuses. By attending therapy you can learn how to be more empathic toward your wife. She needs you to be patient, passionate and pleasant. If you learn to manage your distress and frustration more effectively, you might be able to generate positive energy in your marriage.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to [email protected]
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.