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Tamara, Counselor & Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1073
Experience:  20+ yrs Private Practice; Cert. Master Therapist; National Board Certified; APA Board Certified
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I have a family crisis occurring that has been ongoing since

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I have a family crisis occurring that has been ongoing since Friday 7/16/10 and have been unable to get into see professional in a reasonable time frame. I discovered her 4th step in the AA program (a 'confession to God' on past wrongs) and realized she had had an affair about 6 years ago spanning a 2 year time frame. I immediately prepared to take the appropriate action I deemed fit for myself and my daughter. We have been married for 13 years. My wife's life story was quite horrific up until we met her 24, me at 30. It includes such things as both parent's infidelity and divorce at 10, her rape at 12, violent death of her father at 14, and a myriad of other events included throughout. I never noticed anything odd throughout our life together, except for her uncanny ability to remain extremely calm and level headed during big crisis situations. I thought it odd, but nothing else. We are both professionals with bachelor and greater educations, and her aptitude and IQ levels are quite high. While talking to her regarding this affair, the facts, person involved, etc. became really bizarre and out of what I consider would be the norm. As she told me these things that I was quite shocked with, she did not seem to realize the bizarre nature of events. I was expecting such motivators as low self esteem, fantasy, dissatisfaction in the marriage, etc. etc. NONE of this was there. It all seems twisted and surreal. I am not naive, and am perfectly capable of handling this in the customary fashion, however, I think this might be something that's not what it appears to be. Opinion? Where to seek help?
Also, is there a stigma of psychiatric treatment, ie. future medical insurance qualification, her sensitive job, etc.
Submitted: 7 years ago via HealthCare.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Tamara replied 7 years ago.
You have asked a lot of questions here, and I'm not exactly sure what you are trying to figure out. Could you please clarify what your question is. Are you trying to figure out whether your wife needs treatment? Whether you need help? Whether you should end your marriage? I'm just not clear. Please let me know and I will do my best to answer your question. Tamara
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I apologize for the information dump and confusion. I am trying to determine if my wife needs treatment, something that has quite possibly manifested itself in this as well as the alcohol. If it is simply what it appears to be, my course of action would be divorce. However, if she has deep seated psychological issues, I could no more leave her at this time than if she had a physical illness.
Expert:  Tamara replied 7 years ago.
That's OK. It sounds like you have been overwhelmed with a lot of information. Unfortunately, it would be very hard for me to make that assessment within the confines of this format. There are so many things that need to be taken into consideration in this type of situation that it makes it very hard to say it's one thing or another.

Given that, here's what I can tell you. Alcoholism is considered a primary illness - meaning that it needs to be treated before it is possible to deal with any other issues that might be present. Because alcoholism can cause so many dysfunctional behaviors and feelings, it is very hard to determine what problems might be present beyond that. So the first step is to take away the alcohol, and then see what other issues remain or surface. And even then, it's honestly very hard to tease apart what behaviors are attributable to what problem. Alcoholism can cause people to do things that they wouldn't ordinarily do, but that doesn't mean that they aren't/shouldn't suffer consequences for their behavior.

I have worked a great deal with alcoholics in recovery. So here is my advice to you. If you love your wife, and you are willing to give her the benefit of the doubt here, then I would suggest you do your best to stick with the relationship and see how she seems to do with her recovery. Here's the bot***** *****ne: people either want to recover and they will aggressively pursue whatever they need to do in order to acheive it (including doing an inventory and making amends, making whatever life changes are necessary, etc)., or they will play around with it and talk a good program, but not really make any behavioral changes, or any real progress. This is going to have to be your call, based on your knowledge of your wife and the situation. She doesn't necessarily need treatment beyond AA, but it may take time to know for sure. If she does, you can pursue that when the time comes.

I know this is confusing and doesn't really give you an answer, so I apologize. But your wife seems to be on the right track, so if you want to give her some time, there is nothing wrong with that. And if you want to leave, that's your choice also. But alcoholism CAN cause a lot of dysfunctional behavior, so AA may be all she needs to get this taken care of.

Best wishes, and please let me know if I can answer any further questions. Tamara
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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thank you. What's really odd about this whole situation is that it was her fourth step on making amends that brought this information to light. If I would not have discovered her worksheet, I most likely would have never been aware of this. She is agressively in AA and has been for 8 months. You have given me a path forward in a manner. God bless the internet. It has just been me and her for two weeks while trying to figure this out. I do believe there is more to the story, and I have made appointments next week for evaluations. The other party in this scenario is a overweight, balding man in his early 60's, and it would be quite funny if it wasn't my issue to laugh to keep from crying...... that's what I meant about 'odd' and 'bizarre' along with several other factors along this line as well as no viable standard reason for infidelity. This, and other dynamics has given me reason to believe it goes a little deeper. Sometimes Achem's Razor applies in certain situations, but I don't find it here. And yes, I love my wife VERY much. But right now I have put aside my role as husband (for obvious emotional constrictions on my part) and picked up my role as friend.