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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My husband and I have been married 15 years, with two children.

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My husband and I have been married 15 years, with two children. Our marriage isn't perfect but it isn't awful. Recently I discovered the he has been calling and texting an old girlfriend daily for almost a year. They live several states apart, so nothing physical I think, but some of the communication was admittedly provocative. After a confrontation, he apologized and promised it would stop. However, I have trouble getting over this, some days I am consumed with anger. My husband thinks since he apologized and stopped, I should just move on. Am I wrong to hold on to this hurt?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 11 months ago.

Dr. Mark :

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.

Dr. Mark :

I can imagine how hurtful this was for you.

Dr. Mark :

The system says you're offline, so I'll wait for you to come into the chat and type a hello, okay?

Customer:

I am here

Customer:

hello

Dr. Mark :

It is hurtful and it's hard to get over.

Dr. Mark :

But I'm not sure you two have resolved the issue itself.

Dr. Mark :

It feels as though there might be an elephant in the room between the two of you

Dr. Mark :

and I'm wondering if that's why you aren't getting over it:

Customer:

correct, we have fought but not really talked. He refuses to go to marriage counseling.

Dr. Mark :

I wonder if the elephant in the room is WHY did he feel he needed to have this contact with her in the first place?

Dr. Mark :

And if this is why it's hard for you to let go?

Customer:

probably, obviously if he seeked her out, something was lacking in our relationship. Like I said our marriage isn't perfect, with the stress and time constraints of two full time jobs and two kids

Dr. Mark :

Good for you, you recognize that it isn't just a matter of something happened, let's correct it move on. That would be the procedure if you meant to buy one brand of shampoo but found when you got home you bought the wrong brand. So you go to the store and get the right brand. Case closed, over.

Dr. Mark :

But does he recognize that doing this is not just a case of making a mistake like buying the wrong shampoo? But that

Dr. Mark :

it is indicating something is wrong, that he was unhappy and unsatisfied, and that the two of you need to work on how to make things right and satisfying?

Customer:

I am not sure he is taking this matter seriously enough. I am not sure he understands the depth of my hurt. I am willing to work on our marriage, but how if he refuses to discuss the matter or go to counseling?

Dr. Mark :

Men are often, very often, wary of going to couples therapy.

Dr. Mark :

They feel like they will just be bashed and told how wrong they are.

Dr. Mark :

And everything will be put on them.

Dr. Mark :

So, what about starting out with work the two of you might do on your own and "hiding" the couples counseling agenda in your back pocket for a while,

Dr. Mark :

do you think he'd be willing to try that?

Customer:

Yes

Dr. Mark :

May I paste in for you what I wrote for couples I work with in your situation?

Customer:

yes

Dr. Mark :

Okay, give me a few minutes to locate it and then you can look it over.

Customer:

OK

Dr. Mark :

Okay, I'm back. You can always return to this chat and print it out at any time and share it with him. I think you two have a great future ahead because the problem came out into the open before it was too toxic, so to speak.

Dr. Mark :

Our premise is that your husband sought out this other woman because he needed companionship. But we also have to deal with the underlying issue of communication having slipped between you two. Communication is the muscular system of love. And love is the circulatory system. Let me repeat that because it's so important: it's not sex; it's not beauty or looking good; it's not being smart or clever. Communication between the two people is the love muscle; it's the muscular system of love. The desire to give to the other person, to make the other person happy is the heart of love, the circulatory system.


Your husband stopped trusting in being able to tell you he was bored and/or dissatisfied or felt some other dissatisfaction. Marriage does that. And then the communication becomes one way: everyone is talking basically to themselves, not each other.


So you both need to start recognizing and acknowledging that you're hurt inside, that he caused this hurt, and that he would not have liked to be treated the way you were treated, that he would not like to have been treated the way he treated you. And you seem well positioned to recognize that he was hurt inside and lonely in some deep way and that this needed to be addressed and still needs to be addressed. That is the hope for your marriage. Without that, you might keep feeling the resentment, anger and rage until you finally leave. You do forgive him and he needs to know that, but you need to feel as though the two of you are working on this together to make things better between you. And you want to feel like his heart is into it.


So let’s see if we can get him to be willing to put his "heart" back into this, to reactivate his and your giving circulatory system. I want you to print out my answer and take it and him to a Starbucks or other quiet place and discuss it and commit to the program to try to make your marriage a success. You're going to start with a book. You'll get 2 copies, one for each of you. Each night you're both going to read a few pages or a chapter and do the exercise there if there is one in those pages. Every other night, or at most, every third night sometimes, you will get together, either at home or at the Starbucks and talk about what you read. What you think of it, what it inspired in you. Make notes in the margins. And each one talk about the subject of the pages and what you think. That's your assignment and dates.


The book: It's by the foremost researcher into relationships in our day, John Gottman. He's famous for being interviewed on TV and being able to tell when a couple will get divorced within 5 minutes and having 90% accuracy. I've studied his therapy and use his therapy in my practice and that's why I'm concerned that you two do this. So the book is the Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. You can get it cheaply online or see if you can get it locally to save time.


Now, a secret: the magic is not in the book. The exercises and Gottman's insights will be very useful and important for the two of you. But the magic is in the act of working together on your marriage! The two of you paying attention every single day to your marriage and making effort every single day: that's the magic ingredient in great marriages that GROW in love as the years pile up. I want to make sure you both understand this. Because that's the key to our work here. Okay?


If this work gets you two to first base but not all the way, if it isn't a home run, then consider therapy: the two of you MUST work on how emotional connections are made and maintained. The two of you together need help in learning how to make your marriage more emotionally intimate and positive.


One type of therapy is called Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy. Why this type for you? Because it focuses on how there have been created emotional barriers and how to get through those barriers. Here is the web address for their therapist finder:

http://iceeft.com/findtherapist.php


 


On the website you'll also find excellent books by the founders, Sue Johnson and Leslie Greenberg.


 


There are not that many therapist who work in these therapies and so I recommended EFT couples therapy knowing that often it's a way to orient you on the type of work you want the therapist you do choose to focus on.


 


Here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (they show you a photo of the therapist!) look at the listing and see if they list couples therapy in their orientations. Interview the therapist and make sure he/she shares your values and you each feel confident in him or her.

http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/


 


Okay, I wish you the very best!


My goal is for you to feel like you've gotten Great Service from me and the site. If we need to continue the discussion for that to happen, then please feel free to reply and we'll continue working on this. If the answer has given you the help you need, please remember to give a rating of 5 (Great Service) or 4 (Informative and helpful), or even 3 (Got the job done) button. This will make sure that I am credited for the answer and you are not charged anything more than the deposit you already made by pressing any of these buttons. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue now or in the future, just put "For Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, XXXXX XXXXX


 

Dr. Mark :

Okay, here it is and all the very best to you.

Dr. Mark :

And before anything went too far.

Customer:

Thank you Dr. Mark

Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5133
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark
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Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice