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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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my husband is having an emotional affair with his co-worker

Resolved Question:

my husband is having an emotional affair with his co-worker who supposedly was a family friend as well. he says he loves her but wants to spend his life with me, make babies with me.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 2 years ago.

Dr. Levang :

Hello,

Dr. Levang :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. Levang :

I can understand how hurt and upsetting this is for you. It certainly is hard to understand how your husband wants to maintain his relationship with this "friend"..yet stay married and have children with you.

Dr. Levang :

Even though he believes he has feelings for her,that does not mean that he has to act on those feelings! He can hold those feelings in check or work to let go of her. In order to preserve your marriage something has to change.

Dr. Levang :

I see you are in chat.

Dr. Levang :

I will wait for you to respond.

Customer:

yes i am available

Customer:

he has also shared a lot of personal details with her

Customer:

and they both think that their relationship is healthy because its only feeelings

Customer:

no physical intimacy, no lust involved

Customer:

at present, they fail to see that they have broken my trust

Customer:

my husband has confessed it to me that he loves her and even the other woman has but her husband has no clue about it

Dr. Levang :

What kind of love is he talking about?

Dr. Levang :

Is he talking about infatuation? friendship love?

Customer:

friendship love

Dr. Levang :

It is unrealistic for him to say that he loves her and then expect you to accept this as fine and dandy.

Dr. Levang :

What does that mean to you?

Dr. Levang :

Friendship love is ... what...

Customer:

hard to believe that its only friendship

Dr. Levang :

And...if everything is so wonderful about this friendship love...then why doesn't her husband know?!

Dr. Levang :

Are they expecting you to be happy about this?

Customer:

because my husband does not talk to her in my presence

Dr. Levang :

I think you need to bring her husband in to this situation.

Customer:

he deletes her number from the dialled call, missed call or received call list

Dr. Levang :

So..he is talking to her "in secret"...

Customer:

after i saw some text messages in my husband's mobile expressing his love to her and also his loneliness, i asked him what is this all about?

Dr. Levang :

If there is nothing to "hide" and this is a healthy relationship...then their behavior does not add up.

Dr. Levang :

What did he say?

Customer:

then he said that he loves her

Customer:

but you are my wife n will always remain. there is no 2nd thought about it.

Dr. Levang :

And..how do you feel about his statements?

Dr. Levang :

Does this make sense to you? Is this an arrangement that you are okay with?

Customer:

i dont want this marriage to end. i have given 14 years to our relationship, including before and after marriage

Dr. Levang :

I am sorry that this is happening to you. I can only imagine how painful and confusing this is.

Dr. Levang :

Your husband's behavior is very difficult to understand.

Customer:

i want him back

Dr. Levang :

Would your husband be willing to go to couple's therapy with you?

Dr. Levang :

That may be the best way to sort this out.

Customer:

but dont know what to do

Customer:

i am not sure if he will

Dr. Levang :

Do you think he would be upset if you talked to the husband?

Customer:

i guess so

Dr. Levang :

Going to couple's therapy will provide you with support to ask some of the tough questions and to uncover what your husband is thinking and feeling. I don't know if you can get any clear answers from him on why he thinks it is okay to love this other woman.

Customer:

in between i even tried to tell the other woman that she should stop communicating with my husband.

Dr. Levang :

One reason to bring in the other husband is so that you have an ally...someone who will help you to discover what is going on between these two people.

Customer:

she is breaking mine as well as her husband's trust

Dr. Levang :

Exactly! There are four people's lives at stake here...and he deserves to know what is going on.

Customer:

then she put the entire blame on my husband saying that she has stopped calling him but he does.

Customer:

that my husband is the real culprit

Dr. Levang :

If your husband does not want to go to therapy, then I encourage you to go. You need help understanding what has happened and how to save your marriage.

Dr. Levang :

That's absurd. It takes two people to have an affair.

Dr. Levang :

She is just as much to "blame" as he is.

Dr. Levang :

What do you think about getting therapy for yourself...so you can gain the strength and support you need to battle this situation?

Customer:

thereafter she started saying that there always was a gap between you two and some 3rd person would have easily walked in.

Customer:

and this was like news to me

Dr. Levang :

Please do not accept these statements she is making...she is only trying to justify her actions and to hurt you.

Dr. Levang :

She is not credible or believable.

Customer:

but i am quite shattered right now

Dr. Levang :

of course you are..who wouldn't be...

Customer:

i love my husband a lot

Dr. Levang :

This is not what you imagined would happen in your marriage. It has had to be shocking.

Dr. Levang :

I am sorry that you are suffering in this way.

Dr. Levang :

I can hear that you love your husband and want your marriage back.

Customer:

never ever thought of such a thing happening to me

Dr. Levang :

That is why I am suggesting couple's counseling. But...if you do not believe he will agree to that...then please consider going for yourself. You are hurting right now and need someone to make sense out of what has occurred.

Dr. Levang :

Yes...what is happening is so unreal...I can only imagine what it feels like to be in your shoes...

Customer:

actually i have already started going for the counselling

Customer:

and my therapist wants to see both of us

Dr. Levang :

Excellent.

Dr. Levang :

Yes...I can understand that your therapist would want to see both of you...that would be the best scenario.

Dr. Levang :

However, if he is unwilling...I urge you to continue on your own.

Dr. Levang :

Have you asked him to go? Does he know you are seeing a therapist?

Customer:

but how will i get rid of this other woman?

Customer:

she still works for him

Dr. Levang :

One way to get her out of the picture is to talk to her husband.

Dr. Levang :

Have you ever met him?

Customer:

yes he knows i have started seeing a therapist

Dr. Levang :

It is possible that he will ask her to quit her job so that the affair can end.

Customer:

yes. we all four used to hang out together

Dr. Levang :

Did he have any opinion about you getting help? I would wonder if he felt threatened by that.

Dr. Levang :

Okay..so you are well acquainted with her husband and vice versa. What do you think her husband will do when he is told of the affair?

Dr. Levang :

Does your therapist think you should tell her husband?

Customer:

i have no idea how her husband will react.......

Customer:

yes my therapist also feels that the husband should be informed

Dr. Levang :

Okay. What is stopping you from picking up the phone and telling him?

Customer:

just wondering about the repercussions?

Customer:

it should not happen that in the process of saving my marriage, this act worsens it further

Dr. Levang :

What reprecussions? Your husband getting angry at you for involving her husband?

Customer:

yes

Dr. Levang :

I can understand that worry and I respect your need to be careful about this. But...your life has been turned upside down by this affair. She has been so bold as to tell you that she loves your husband and is not going to stop being involved with him. In addition, she has accused you of being in a flawed marriage and defending her "right" to walk into the gap in your marriage. What she is saying is hurtful, disrespectful and down right mean.

Dr. Levang :

Her husband deserves to know what his wife is doing and her attempts to destroy your marital vows.

Customer:

m too confused at the moment

Dr. Levang :

If your husband wants you to help the two of them keep their affair a secret then you are participating in this situation.

Dr. Levang :

Yes...I can understand that you feel confused because you are hurt and in pain.

Dr. Levang :

I don't mean to push you into something you are unwilling or ill prepared to do. I am just supporting your desire to repair your marriage. A marriage cannot be 3 people. You already know that.

Customer:

yes i do

Dr. Levang :

I understand that this is tremendously sad and painful for you. You are doing the right thing by going to therapy so that you can sort this out and make decisions that are in your best interest.

Dr. Levang :

Neither your husband or this woman seem to understand how hurtful this is for you and, it seems, that they are wanting you to just go along with their love affair. I don't think that is what you want...but I also hear that you need time to heal and gain strength before you can do more than you already are.

Dr. Levang :

Is that correct?

Customer:

she also has the audacity to tell me that if she confesses to her husband and the husband decides to leave her.......will my husband be able to live with this guilt

Dr. Levang :

Wow! So she is trying to guilt you and your husband. Does this tell you something about how she thinks?

Dr. Levang :

This is emotional blackmail.

Customer:

sometimes i feel she is playing with our emotions.

Dr. Levang :

I can see that!

Customer:

my husband helped her to get a job in his office when she needed the most.

Dr. Levang :

And how she returns the favor is to have an affair with him?!

Customer:

in fact i asked him to help her out

Dr. Levang :

And so how does that make you feel?

Customer:

i feel cheated.

Dr. Levang :

Yes...you were taken advantage of..and that is not a pleasant thought.

Customer:

right now my husband fails to see that he has hurt me.

Customer:

that what he did was wrong?

Customer:

that he cannot have two women in his life

Dr. Levang :

It is sad and regretable that he is not seeing this situation clearly.

Customer:

he thinks i am just feeling too insecured

Dr. Levang :

It is unrealistic to think that you - his wife - would want him to be in love with another woman while being married to you.

Dr. Levang :

This is not about insecurity. If you had wanted a marriage of 3 people that would have been understood from the beginning. Expecting you to open your arms and bring her into your marriage is nonsense.

Dr. Levang :

As I said earlier...if all of this is so right, healthy, good...why has this been a secret relationship? why is her husband not privy to what is happening?

Dr. Levang :

The secrecy alone tells you that they know this is not right...but they are trying to convince you that it is so that you don't go to her husband.

Dr. Levang :

That this is employer and employee is also problematic. There could possibly be some rules in the company that prohibit such behavior.

Customer:

i do feel that only a therapist will be able to throw some light to his actions

Dr. Levang :

Yes...I agree.

Customer:

to make him understand that this not posible

Dr. Levang :

I think a therapist can play this role..yes...but I also think her husband may also bring some pressure to bear on ending this relationship.

Dr. Levang :

For now, neither your husband or this woman are listening to you or respecting you.

Dr. Levang :

And, for now, you don't know who is manipulating who...

Customer:

yes.....you are right

Dr. Levang :

What she told you was hurtful and the version of the truth she wanted you to hear. He seems to think this is all about loving two women at once. Both versions are suspect.

Dr. Levang :

He sounds like he has lost his way and his moral compass is broken. I'm not sure what her goal is here.

Dr. Levang :

Does this make sense?

Dr. Levang :

You cannot stop your husband from believing he loves two women. But..you can set your own boundaries and make your own choices about what you will and will not tolerate in a marriage.

Dr. Levang :

You may not be at the point where you feel strong enough to do this...but with therapy you will come to a point of being quite clear as to how you want to live your life and with whom.

Customer:

how to bring him back?

Dr. Levang :

You getting therapy and gaining emotional strength is, in my mind, the first priority in getting him back. Second, is telling her husband about the affair and asking for his help in ending this secret love affair.

Dr. Levang :

Getting him into therapy would certainly be a goal to strive for.

Customer:

I have another fear that if I discuss this with her husband, she will smartly put entire blame on my husband

Dr. Levang :

He needs someone to open up his eyes...but I don't know if he is listening to your and if he is so infatuated by this relationship that he is blind to what is right and wrong.

Dr. Levang :

Even if she does put all the blame on your husband, that is not going to matter is it?

Dr. Levang :

I don't really see the problem...what you want is for the relationship to end...how that process is doesn't really matter for it is the outcome that you want.

Dr. Levang :

If your husband takes the heat for the affair...then he will have to live with the consequences of his behavior. That might be a strong motivator for waking up to the reality of what he is doing.

Customer:

yes......i want this relationship to end....their so called friendship.

Customer:

what should be my next step?

Dr. Levang :

So...keep your eye on the prize!

Customer:

should i discuss this with her husband before asking my hubby to see a therapist or the other way?

Dr. Levang :

Your next step ought to be to continue with therapy to strengthen your self-worth, to sort out what is happening with this affair and to heal the wounds this has caused. When you are ready, talk to her husband and reveal the affair to him. While in therapy, continue to tell your husband that you will not tolerate this affair.

Dr. Levang :

Both things need to be done and they can be done at the same time.

Customer:

my therapist wants to see us both in the next meeting

Customer:

if my husband is willing to

Dr. Levang :

Good. Then tell him that.

Dr. Levang :

And tell him why it is important to you that he does come.

Dr. Levang :

I don't know if that will make any difference to him...but it may help you feel better knowing you are being honest and open about your needs.

Dr. Levang :

And..that is what you are wanting...an open and honest marriage.

Dr. Levang :

Does this seem like a reasonable plan to you?

Dr. Levang :

You continue in therapy. You ask him to join you in therapy.

Dr. Levang :

You talk to her husband.

Dr. Levang :

You hold firm on his need to end his emotional affair with her.

Customer:

will it be okay if i also let her husband know that he should act reasonably as we also need to save our marriages?

Customer:

i also have some evidences to prove that there is an affair

Dr. Levang :

Yes...that might be a good way to approach him. I think it would be good if you were to tell him that the reason you are approaching him is because he deserves to know what is happening, that you desire to save your marriage, and that also want that for him.

Dr. Levang :

Yes...I was going to ask you about that. He may want/need proof and that would be good. In fact, you could let the "evidence" do the talking and you might not to say very much.

Dr. Levang :

How does that sound?

Dr. Levang :

It may be easier for you to approach him than you originally thought. If you keep in mind that your goal is to get your husband back...then that motivation alone may help you overcome any hesitation you have.

Customer:

i think that should be fine.

Dr. Levang :

Great.

Dr. Levang :

Is there any last question you would like to ask me tonight? I think we have covered alot of ground and that you have a clearer plan.

Dr. Levang :

Perhaps I have also been able to validate that this is not a healthy or appropriate relationship and that it needs to end.

Customer:

i cant think of anything else right now. will have to work on how to execute the plan?

Dr. Levang :

Yes...execution is something to consider. For now, your first step is to ask your husband to come to therapy. If he agrees...then that part of the plan is taken care of. If he does not agree...that you can talk to your therapist about how to proceed.

Dr. Levang :

You can talk to her husband whenever you feel ready. You have the evidence to show him...and that, as I said, can do the talking.

Dr. Levang :

Once her husband knows...then you will see how that side of the equation unfolds.

Customer:

what further hurts me that in all this, i am loosing more n more time to get into the familyway.....

Dr. Levang :

Yes...I can understand how your plans for having a family are being put on hold. That you are losing these days and months is really sad.

Dr. Levang :

That is one of the reasons I have attempted to encourage you to move ahead with telling the husband and of continuing in therapy...the sooner this is resolved the sooner you can get on with your life plans.

Customer:

i desperately wanted to get into motherhood

Dr. Levang :

Yes...I can understand that desire and I can understand the pain of the delay. It surely is frustrating and hurtful.

Dr. Levang :

Still..you have a plan...a plan that can be executed...a plan that will bring you closer to resolving this terrible situation.

Customer:

a baby could have made him more responsible

Customer:

more committed

Dr. Levang :

Perhaps.

Dr. Levang :

Also...not having her as an employee could have made a difference. But...we don't know all the factors that went into their decision to become "loving friends"...All you know at this point is that you want this affair to end, you want your marriage back on track, and you want to become pregnant.

Dr. Levang :

I wish you good luck in your therapy. And...I believe in the plan you have outlined.

Customer:

thanks doc.

Dr. Levang :

If you would like to chat in the future, please ask for me by name.

Dr. Levang :

You are very welcome.

Dr. Levang :

I would appreciate if you would press Accept.

Customer:

sure will do. you know my case now...

Dr. Levang :

Yes I do. So anytime you want to check in to let me know how things are going...please feel free. I will be honored to continue to help you with this delicate situation.

Dr. Levang :

Take care1

Dr. Levang :

Stay strong!

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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