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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5417
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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My husband of 4 yrs had an online affair that lasted several

Resolved Question:

My husband of 4 yrs had an online affair that lasted several months. It involved communication via cell phone (chats, games etc) and secret email accounts. He never met her but sexually explicit conversations and pictures were shared. He said he needed to test that other women could find him as attractive as I do, but the problem is he's needed to do these kinds of "tests" before. He's asking for forgiveness but I don't think I can forgive, at least not until he understands his constant need for validation from other women (he has many female friends on Facebook, plays mobile games with women he's never met, etc etc). I don't know what to do.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Z :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry that your husband has been exhibiting this type of behavior, I can imagine how this hurts you

Dr. Z :

I would like to ask a few questions to get some more information, so that I can better help you.

Dr. Z :

Does your husband have a history of any self-esteem or low self-confidence issues?

Dr. Z :

That you know of, did he have any of these emotional affairs while you two were dating before you were married?

Dr. Z :

In addition, does he seek validation in other areas of his life as well (e.g. work)?

Customer:

I didn't think he had any self-esteem or low self-esteem issues. The first time I heard that term in relation to him was when he "explained" that he needed to test that other women could find him attractive.

Customer:

Workwise: he always goes above and beyond.

Customer:

As far as emotional affairs before we were married - yes but that was a long time ago. At which time we discussed what betrayal (emotional and otherwise) was to me and what the boundaries were. We talked about his actions and my perception of those actions, how he would feel if it were me engaging in such behavoir.

Customer:

At this point, I don't know that I can rebuild the trust that was so hard to rebuild back then. He knows cheating is a particularly difficult thing for me (a lot of cheating in my family and in a past relationship) the boundaries were clear. But it's as if he always needs to be validated by other women, yet he says he's happy with me, and doesn't need anyone else. His actions and his words are in total disagreement. I don't know what to do.

Dr. Z :

It definitely sounds like he has low self-esteem issues, which can be considered a mild depression. This is evident by his constant validation seeking and his over-achieving at work because he is trying to prove to others that he is a good worker. I think he does mean what he says when he is happy with you and that he enjoys his relationship with you, but he may feel like you "have to love" him because you are married and he wants to see if he is desirable to others. Basically his self-confidence is tied to how others view him

Dr. Z :

In order to rebuild the trust in the relationship he will have to address this and seek treatment for it, typically therapy would be the best option. The good news is that the prognosis for this type of low self-esteem is usually good with the right therapy.

Dr. Z :

Would you be willing to go to couples therapy with him to help build the relationship and help him understand why he exhibits this type of behavior and how it hurts you?

Customer:

yes

Dr. Z :

I think couples therapy would be the best option to help him address his self-esteem issues and his constant need for validation in areas of his life. He will need therapy to help him achieve his self-validation from within and not from how others view him.

Dr. Z :

I can recommend some good books and a couple good therapy techniques to help him with this. I can also recommend a couples therapist in your area as well

Customer:

yes, please. I'd love the recommendations on the books, techniques and also good couples therapists in our area (zip 91331). Thank you.

Dr. Z :

The best type of therapy to help him, would be something called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT has a premise that your symptoms are caused by negative thoughts, so if we change your thought process to be more positive and objective as well, then his symptoms will lessen.

Customer:

sounds like something that could benefit me as well.

Dr. Z :

So this link may help you, it contains a technique I use with patients called a thought record. It will help him keep track of any negative thoughts he has. He puts the negative thought on paper, the emotion accompanying, the evidence to support it, and the evidence against it. Then I want him to come up with an alternative thought for the situation (more objective and plausible). This will help him change his way of thinking to be able to think more positive and not automatically go to a negative type of thinking.

Dr. Z :

Also individuals with low self-esteem have a poor coping mechanism, so this worksheet will help him develop a better coping strategy to manage his symptoms better.

Customer:

yes, i think he needs that. he's getting depressed over this (as am I) and it hurts us both even more, without it being productive

Customer:

thank you. he's definitely willing to go through therapy. we've talked about it

Dr. Z :

I also think this worksheet would be great as well because it is used to replace negative self-critical thoughts with more positive self-beliefs, so this will raise his self-confidence

Dr. Z :

So this book would be good for both of you as a couple

Dr. Z :

And this book would be good to help with his low self-confidence/minor depression

Dr. Z :

Give me a few minutes to compile a good list of therapists in your area for you

Customer:

thank you!

Dr. Z :

Okay I think these therapists will be good for you and your husband because they specialize in the use of CBT and in relationship issues, so they should provide couples therapy

Customer:

Thank you!

Dr. Z :

Anytime, is there anything else I can assist you with?

Customer:

I think i'm off to a good start thank you. I'll discuss this with him tonight.

Customer:

Will I be able to find you here for another consultation later if I need to?


 

Dr. Z :

Well I am happy to help, and I wish you and your husband the best of luck with everything. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime.


 

Customer:

thank you.

Dr. Z :

Yes you definitely can, all you have to do is put "For DoctorZ only" before you type in a question and it will go straight to me

Customer:

Great. thank you!

Dr. Z :

You are most welcome :)

Customer:

Have a good afternoon/evening or whatever time of day it is where ever you're at. :)

Dr. Z :

Thank you have a great afternoon/night as well

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5417
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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