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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2536
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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I have been married for almost 38 years to a woman who up until

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I have been married for almost 38 years to a woman who up until 4 years ago could not care if she ever had sex. For the past 4 years (since she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder) I have caught her joining dating sites, placing and answering personal ads on craigslist, arranging to meet men she knows nothing about, and finally having an affair with a man half her age, she is 55. Each time she says it will never happen again, would I forgive her, and so on. And I do. And each time I tell her it has to stop. She swears it will. She is seeing a psychiatrist who only prescribes pills and then they have other negative side effects. She says she has NO impulse control, when this guy emails her, she cannot just delete it as she has promised me, she HAS to open it...and then its back to the motel. My question is this. Will this ever stop? Is it because of the bipolar that she does this, or is it just that her moral character has decayed to the point she is never going to stop?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Norman M. replied 4 years ago.
Hello and thanks for visiting JA.

I'm sorry to hear of the situation inwhich you find yourself.

It may be that ypour wife's illness is contributing to her behavior. However, it is clear that you are not prepared to let it continue.

First of all, for her to really change, she needs to be given reason to change. As things are at the present, she is getting away whith doing what she does, despite her protestaions that she wants to change. You need to make it very clear to her that you won't let this go on indefinitely, and what will happen if she continue. That should give her the incentive to make changes.

Then, you should assist her in practical ways to make these changes. I suggest that you purchase some site blocking software and put it on your computer so that she simply cannot access the sites that are causing problems. Try to get her to agree to a change of email address, and have that account password XXXXX so that she can only open it with you there - if she does not trust herself (as she claims) this will remove that burden from her. Fibally, medication alone is not always the complete answer toproblems such as hers.

I’m going to suggest that she would benefit greatly from a course of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. It is a form of therapy that addresses problems in a direct and targeted way and is brief compared with most other therapies.

CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also cause the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,

the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/treatments/cbt.aspx

Best regards,

NormanM

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your reply. Prior to this latest episode, I told her that if she did this again, that our marriage would have to end. I told her to think of all the heartache this would cause, to us, to our children, to our grandchildren. A divorce will destroy our lives as we know it. She said she completely agreed and understood this. This was in November of 2008. She seemed to be in control and upon questioning told me that she was being faithful to me. However, I found out that she repeated this behavior In May of 2009 after opening an email at work, (she could not resist!), and meeting this boy at a nearby hotel during lunch. My mother and father had moved in with us and both have died since the November 2009 incident when I warned her that this would not be tolerated again. I did not tell her I knew of the May 2009 incident until after my father died on Jan 2, 2010. At first she denied it, then when I presented evidence she said she had "forgotton about it" that she actually did not remember doing it. Now she has admitted herself to the psych unit at a nearby hospital and says she knows she has to find a way to stop this destructive behavior. She states that she does none of the dating sites, personal ads, etc....that she did indeed learn her lesson about that, and that when she is with me, she does not even think about being unfaithful, but when whe is at work, she becomes a different person that she thinks differently and cannot control her "impulse" to answer his emails. I am a spiritual man and when I took my vows to take her for better or worse, in sickness and in health, I never thought I would face such an issue. I cannot bring myself to believe that her bipolar condtion is a valid "excuse" to be unfaithful to me, to lie over and over again, and to have become a totally different person than she was for many years. If it is her medical/mental condition causing this, should I do more to try to help her, or should I just accept the fact that it is her willingness to seek this pleasure in spite of the consequences? I don't want to abandon a "sick:" person, but I think I may be doing her more harm, and myself, (this is a very stressful situation as I am sure you know), by giving her another opportunity to "change". Do you believe that with the proper therapy that you suggest, she will ever be able to be trustworthy again? I am really struggling with what is the best thing for me to do.

 

Thank you in advance for you reply.

Expert:  Norman M. replied 4 years ago.
Hi - thanks for getting back to me. I don't want to suggest that her condition is an exuse for her behavior - although it may be a contributing factor.

Perpas if you think of it in terms of 'loving the sinner, but not the sin' it may help. You could make it clear to her that you do love her, but you cannot and will not accept her infidelity, that just one more episode will be the end - without further discussion.

I think if she has the kind of therapy suggested, if you block her access to the offending sites on your home computer, and if she does two more things - writes to this person telling him never to contact her again and gives her employer written permission to block his email address from sending to her (all she needs to do is say he'is harrassing her) then at least there is a chance.

Is one more shoy worth it, for the sake of the family? Really, you don'thave much more to lose, except another disappointment.

My very best wishes,
NormanM
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2536
Experience: ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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