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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1194
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I am so mixed up and miserable. Since separating from my husband

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I am so mixed up and miserable. Since separating from my husband of 20 years, I miss him terribly, despite me having a 2 year affair. I am still seeing my lover, which was difficult as per my question to you on 8.5.12. Things are better with him now and I see him once or twice a week. When I see my husband I just want him back, then I think how bad things were between us. At the weekend we had a kiss and cuddle and we both felt good. I cooled it off with my lover but missed him within two days too. Last night when my husband came to see me he was stand offish and said he didnt think he loved me. One of the reasons for our separation was that he has terrible moodswings and an inferiority complex. My lover is very good company and although 13 years older than me he is completely different, but there are other points I prefer about my husband, but he just made me stressed and couldnt cope with situations so I had to take over. I am terribly mixed up and feel so miserable. I feel I love both of them. I am completely in turmoil and getting very down about it, despite blaming myself for the affair.

Already Tried:
distancing myself from husband, distancing myself from lover, keeping busy as much as I can, talking with friends, having reflexology and reiki .

Dr. Norman Brown :

We're in chat mode now, which means I write something and perhaps ask you a few questions, and then you get to respond. So this stretches out for hours, sometimes a day or two. How long have you been married to your husband? Do you have children together? If you don't have children, whose choice was that? Does your husband take mood stabilizing medications? Does he have a consistent connection with a professional psychological therapist? Have you engaged in marriage counseling?

Dr. Norman Brown :

How frequently did you spend time with your lover? And is he also married? How old are you? And what are your goals in your own life? What would you do with your own life if you were now divorced? And would it take significant financial support from your husband for you to exist on your own? You'd be less wretched about missing your husband and your lover if you were able to do things of your own choosing to make your own life rewarding. Focusing on what makes you feel satisfied without that involving either one of your partners could help you feel less like a lost bird in the wilderness that doesn't know which way to go to find her nest again. Having children in the nest helps most women feel centered in their own home. But not having children weakens that nesting feeling, so you may find your "center" or "home-base" in a professional career or a passionate devotion to working, service, art or religious/spiritual activity (like prayer, evangelism, serving the homeless, etc.).

Dr. Norman Brown :

If being happily married is your main goal in life, then you have a very threatening challenge. Perhaps both you and your husband are wrestling with midlife issues: that is What am I here for? How am I going to fulfill those hopes & dreams that have made my life meaningful up to now? We may need to make major adjustments in our hopes and dreams at midlife. For you the meaning of your marriage is definitely questionable.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Does your husband know about your affair? If he does, and has learned of it recently, there's no wonder his moods are unstable. It sounds like you've wanted him to be your Rock of Gibraltar, and he's not good at that. But 20 years is a lot of history, almost half a lifetime for most marriages that last. Has he been unable to make you feel secure (emotionally) and be secure (financially) for many of these years? Is there a chance that your lover would marry you if he could?

Dr. Norman Brown :

I wouldn't put much stock in whether your husband or your lover says they love you or not. For as you've just learned, you can miss either man terribly whether you've believed you were loving him or not. Being In Love is an early stage of pairbond feeling, lasting 6m to 3yrs, and returning occasionally after than. Stable Loving is attachment, which provides a central secure base as a place you can return to in your mind and heart. Attachment doesn't feel high and wonderful except when you've missed your partner, parent or child for a while, but it does hurt when you can't find your way back to the home base that seems to have slipped away. You may have noticed that when you've felt hurt, abandoned, pressured, disrespected, put-down, etc. you don't feel loving toward the partner who's actions led you to feel that way. But 2 hrs later some other emotional moment may make you yearn for him and completely ignore all the hurt/awful moments that have then suddenly floated away. Noticeable Love moments are like the bright frothy curls on the top of an ocean wave, but the ebb and flow of the main swells themselves are the tides of love, yearning, desire and attachment underneath the highlights we notice most, and those swells will keep coming and going for long after we've left one partnership or another--They will subside after a big handful of years (for your 20yr marriage) have passed through you and out silently onto the sands of your time here.

Dr. Norman Brown :

So respond to my questions, and I can help you talk out your thoughts and feelings, and perhaps develop a strategy that can help you thru this crisis. Just don't expect to navigate thru this ocean storm without anybody getting hurt, including you. If you're not trying like mad to keep the hurting to an absolute minimum, then you won't have to feel like a gigantic failure when one two or three of you get upset. You need your guilt feelings for at least 2 reasons: 1. If you didn't feel guilty in the center of this unstable triangle, then you would have to be a psychopath, so life would turn out pretty awful for you and those closest to you way more often than most people like. 2. What you feel guilty About are normally the actions you have taken that hurt yourself and/or others, so guilt is tryng to remind you of what you don't want to do ever again, if you can help it. You know "No pain, no gain" That's all I have for now.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Since you've unintentionally created this crisis for yourself, perhaps with your husband's unintensional help, you've created an unusual opportunity to resolve several long standing problems at the same time. So if you go to work with intelligence and courage you might get a lot more good results than you're now expecting to be bad results.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Norman Brown, PhD, licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (Florida since 1988, Calif since 1976), first author of Love & Intimate Relationships: Journeys of the Heart (Bruner-Mazel, 2000).





I have been married for 19 years, and with my husband for 21 years. We have three children ages 18, 15 and 13, all in full time education. They live with me at home. My eldest has caused many arguements in the home over many years. He can be disrespectful, very argumentative and distorts the truth. We have had constant battles and still do. Its caused me near breakdowns, one of which I am trying to address currently.

My husband does not take any medication. I persuaded him to have councelling last year when we first separated and after two sessions he felt better and signed himself off. We separated last autumn for 3 months and after many mood swings he came back for xmas and stayed. He was better for a while. I wasnt really ready for him to come back but because I was worried about him I felt he was better here than at his sisters. It was good for a while then the arguements and our fustrations got worse and we parted again. We have not had marriage counselling but have considered it.


My lover and I saw one another once or twice a week at his house. We never went out together much for fear of being seen. I am 48 years old and still young at heart and my lover is 61 years old. I just want to be content like I used to be. My husband and I were very very much in love and very close with a lot in common. I would need some financial support from my husband but I work from home and can bring in enough income to pay the bills.

This weekend I have decided to take my mind off things by decorating, which I enjoy and find theraputic and I am investing in a Kindle so I can do some reading to take my mind off things. I agree that If I do things of my own choosing I will make my life rewarding so thank you for that.


My husband does not know of my affair but he has suspicions. I feel very bad about it towards him. It is out of my character. He has been unable to make me feel secure emotionally and that was the main reason I leaned to someone else. Financially I was not secure either but I am more so now. I dont know if my lover would marry me if he could and I do have reservations about him in some ways too. He is a completely different character. He has been married before and had two failed relationships since. I felt that emotionally he has been my rock. I feel that now I am feeling low I miss my husband most.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Would your husband be willing to see a psychiatrist and try some medication? It sounds like mild antidepressant or mild bipolar depression meds might make it easier for him to keep his emotional balance and restore his self-esteem. wellbutrin is the mildest level of bipolar medication and also good for restoring body image and managing attention deficit disorder (which is not a disorder, but a different way of brain operation, in which the newness of everything is what attracts the mind the most, so people are very quick learners but also likely to move on to learn something new before other people). I am not licensed nor competent to prescribe any medicines, so he should see a psychiatrist for the best treatment he can get.

Dr. Norman Brown :

If you don't want to just let your marriage keep sliding downhill until it ends up in a ditch, you need to seek out couples therapy AND get your husband to manage his moods. AND you need to cut off your affair to give you marriage therapy a chance to work. For as long as you can remember those secret golden hours where your warm, supportive romancer focuses all of his charm onto you, you won't be able give all you can to rekindling the feelings between the two of you. It will undoubtly be hard to break up and StaY out of Contact, because of that fantastic secret love that waits like Paradise behind your everyday stresses.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Since emotional instability is at the core of your marital problems (join the largest club in the marital world), the best therapy would be what is called Emotionally Centered Couples Therapy, which you can look up online and probably find a few practitioners near you. Or talk to one far away in GB and ask for a referral closer to you. This approach works with existing frustrating emotional encounter patterns over 10-20 sessions to unearth the core emotions underneath and thus transform the toxic interactions into the foundations of secure attachment.

Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for this help. I discovered on Saturday that my husband had started a relationship since we separated. He was vunerable and taken by compliments and felt good. We had a wonderful relationship 3 years ago and prior.

We have talked and talked over the weekend and strongly still love one another. to cut a very long story, we have moved on, our other relationships have ended and we are going to get marriage counselling as soon as possible. We have bonded back to where we were and very serious about ensuring the relationships stays good and as solid as it used to be.

I thank you so much for the above help as I was completely in dispair. my husband having his relationship helped me to help him have a better understanding of why and I have supported him through this. He says he feels he knows I had someone, but doesnt want confirmation, just to move on. My other relationship has ended and I feel very relieved.

If the JA computer system just erased half an hour of further explanation and guidance I've offered, because I scheduled a followup first, I'm very disappointed, and too much in need of other tasks to redo it. Perhaps I will a week from now. I was celebrating the power of confessing his guilt has had to soothe your own guilt and thus to uncover the Love that had been buried under so many negative relating cycles.


[These cycles are considered the alien enemy of marriages, not either of the partners and NOT any of the problems and irreconcilable differences that every couple has. And these cycles get slowed down, accepted, understood, and thus remodeled in Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy.]


If you're satisfied with my help please click Accept so I'll get paid. But don't hesitate to ask more questions. [


I advised you to interviewat least 3 marriage therapists over the phone before choosing one. Ask if they have EFCT training, and if not, how they work with your emotions. If they say something like "Oh I help you work out your Real Problems and emotions will take care of themselves" or "the ways I work are too complicated to explain," or "I don't respond to questions like that, just come see me and you'll find out if I can help you" then keep on calling and interviewing until you get some straight answers. If a receptionist says "You'll just have to book a session, and I'm sure you'll be satisfied" keep telephoning and requesting an interview with the therapist him- or herself. Every therapist tries to project warmth over the phone, because without emotional safety you can't get anywhere. But how they value and work with your emotions does matter, esp when so much that has gone on in your recent lives is emotional. Every couple has irreconcilable differences, once the partners each discover their real goals and habits in life, so it's HOW you handle them that matters, not that they have to be resolved.


If a therapist says they do "Cognitive Behavioral Therapy" and that is proven to be effective, it means that they're going to try to change how you think and what you do. Their training assumes that feelings are always caused by thinking, so they'll change without much attention."CBT" has positive outcomes research evidence because they have more grad schools teaching it and more professors writing research articles than any other type of therapy, NOT because it's more successful in the long term. Science doesn't happen without money and infrastructure. EFCT has "only" been around for 20 years, with less than 100 professors teaching it worldwide and way less than that writing research articles. CBT began 60 years ago and is taught in virtually every grad school everywhere.


I'm SO disappointed that what I wrote about Empathizing with what your partner has felt because of your actions and feeling & expressing Remorse for those actions has been lost. But I have written about it elsewhere, so perhaps I'll find that and send it along.

Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
How's it going inside of you and in your marriage now? Do you plan to move back together right away, or to go slowly on that? Is there a chance that you or your husband will try out antidepressant or mood-stabilizing meds? I'm not qualified to judge the need for that, esp not at a distance, so I'm not advising one way or the other. In USA that decision is made by a MD or Psychiatrist.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Since trying to get back together over two weekends I found that my husband was still cheating on me with a woman he met four weeks before hand. There was a lot of intense texting, he says they kissed and cuddled and didnt sleep together. He works with her and I then gave him an ultimatum. He then quit his job. We were due to go on holiday the next day. As though this werent a big enough mess, he then confessed to having an obsession or whatever with a woman he used to see via business once a week. Now he tells me that it did go on for two and a half years and that he took a long time to get overr her! I remember when this happened and at the time I thought I was ill as I kept crying with fustrations and felt unloved. I was a few months after this that I started my affair. I didnt know about this lady until months later after my affair started. I came back from holiday early as I felt very homesick and wanted to be back with friends as I am really not coping well. I now want to end the relationship with my husband. He has kept the current love affair open with the other woman, for when he gets back of holiday (in her mind), so far. As for the man I had the affair with, I told him I was sorting my marriage out! He has seen how bad I am and has known me as a professional person in my career as well as a lover and he feels very annoyed with my husband. The guy I had the affair with has had a conversation with me but he is clearly annoyed and I do feel very let down as we had a calm loving relationship and I trusted him and he was there for me. Goodness knows where you will start or end with this one... sorry, incidentally I am seeing a counsellor tomorrow for therapy.

Your story of physical suffering as unconscious reactions to the erotic betrayal way back years ago is a testament to the sensitivity of a true love bond, and a triumph of the heart, despite the wounding it has caused you. It takes a lot of courage to return to the containment of erotic energy that existed in the beginning of marriage once there has been much needed comfort and new forms of nourishment from an outside love affair. It sounds like your husband lost his courage first, and he's not willing to face what it would take to restore your exclusive union.

I'm glad you're going to see a therapist, because someone up close and current with you and your daily issues will help you much more than I ever could at such a distance. I know that you can go thru this for as long as it takes and become more from it, or be devastated for a long time, and it's your courage and perseverance that makes the difference. Divorces typically take 2 to 4 years for everything to settle out, and the children will have a lot of suffering too. I don't wish that on anybody, but I do hope you will both commit yourselves to caring for your children in a cooperative way and even manage to be friends (as well as you can) to ensure their inner security. I also with you a deeply inspirational therapist, a woman or man whose goodness and guiding wisdom you can internalize and take with you for the rest of your life. For this is one of the unforeseen benefits of really good therapy that is far more lasting than the crisis that brings you to it. [The majority of therapists are not experienced, trained or dedicated enough to become such a beneficial mentoring figure in your heart, but if you don't put up with half-hearted caring, keep seeking such a person and listen to good referrals, you will get it.]

Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I am having CBT with a counsellor which I found very beneficial today. I ended the relationship with my husband last night and felt enormous relief as I feel as though I have had the year from hell. I wierdly felt loss of interest for my ex lover (as a lover). I now want the strength to start a new life. I know my husband will be okay to support me financially. Emotionally the children preferred to be in the house without my husband around. They have preferred it with just myself as the tension disappeared and I wasnt stressed, and there were no arguements. I felt that nothing was ever good enough. Despite loving both men, I feel relief now but I know it will be difficult for me when they find new women in their lives. I have to concentrate on myself from now on.