Does Confession Ease The Soul?

I am here for the first time. Last night was a very very difficult night, and one of the reasons I lived through it was because I felt that finding some way to confess my problem would help me find the resources inside and from above to "do the right thing". I already know what the right thing is. And I think that we all know, if we have grown up in a half-way decent family, what the "right thing" is. We waver because of the pain we expct  and it is tough many times.
So, my story. I am a 55 year old male, I have been married for about 25 years.
I have committed adultery, and my wife found out. She didn't know who, but I told her. the other woman is a close friend. That was about 5 years ago. Now I want to see that woman again, because my marriage has not changed much, there is no intimate relationship because my wife can't get over certain issues in the way she was brought up, Not abuse but other things. She just seems content with our marriage condition and her close friendship with our grown and nearly grown daughters. I feel that am the "third wheel". You might see this simply that I should get a divorce. But the other woman is also in a loveless marriage, she cannot leave it financially. I cannot leave this one for financial reasons. I think one thing that I suddenly realized was that I was REALLy the source of much of the problem. I am unhappy because I want more attention than my wife can give. The other woman doesn't want to go through what happened with us again, of course. But I want more attention!!!!!!!!!

I have tried, and am still trying to find the answer through religion. I think the religion has helped me forgive myself for the first time. THIS time I feel that I am dealing with the very life of my soul. Well this is stating it pretty strongly. There is almost nothing I believe we can't be forgiven for. In this case I see that I just want my needs fulfilled at the expense of someone else. and that is selfish. IT is wrong. So, I am still left feeling miserable these days. I think I have the power to pull this other woman towards me... That would be wrong. And I am looking at the rest of my life and it doesn't look good. We are supposed to be happy in society by obeying certain basic rules. I tried to obey those rules, and did so either accidentally or on purpose until now.  I am looking for something to distract my mind, so I am studying a foreign language. Sounds funny, but I am committed to this goal for the near future. That helps. Just confessing this story helps. I think I shouldn't try to think about the long term future, and just like AA the alcoholic anon. program, deal with it one day at a time.

By the way, I have read 5 of the stories and I see how often alcohol is used to relieve you or the other person of the consciousness of responsibility. This is understandable, but you see this painful voice inside of us is hurting, that hurt is a good thing. If you had no moral consciouness at all you would be on the road to being a psychopath. I think, from our point of view we are not asking for much, only a little cupful of happiness. And this seems denied to us. I am not sure what to say . I know what is wrong and what is right. I want to find out a way to live with the denial of some pleasure, or is it a denial of something more basic?? I really can't see my own life so clearly on this matter.
KomaGawa KomaGawa
11 Responses Aug 8, 2010

Hi again. sorry,but there are no English speaking people near here who are family counselors. We would have to go into Tokyo and burn the good part of a day doing that. I don't see that happening anytime soon. I am going the prayer and meditation route, and staying away at our other apartment. Absence makes the heart fonder, as Shakespeare used to say. By the way i take the lowest level of the Japanese national exam on 12/6. Finally I have an appointment for breakfast with the other woman in early December but the angel on my right has things well in hand I think. wishing you all the best.

Ella29<br />
I am basically in tune with what you are saying. I have never had very much, but I have never been this poor before. I could go on, but I really hate this laptop keyboard compared to the older IBM thinkpad I was using a few weeks ago. I wonder if there is a way to adjust the sensitivity of the key stroke on XP? Well, anyway, I didn't mention one more thing, I am living in Japan. My wife is Japanese. She moved with the kids and later I followed her. Yes, I could move back to the US but I don't have any means of support. It is still all about finances. I was supporting my wife, and now I would say it it s about 65- 35 her way now. I have lost alot of my income, for various reasons so I am still using the time to study Japanese. This effort really began 2 years ago. and it still continues, In fact I am facing the trap that if I stop for any reason now it will waste all the previous effort. I tell you, speaking as a psychology/poli sci major my wife is sincere and has reasons fr the way she reacts...some is cultural, some is past history with me and some is from her upbringing. I basically believe that religion can overcome everything. but it hasn't done that yet. For those whom I didn't answer directly about divorce, the bottom line is that I believe God sent my wife to me and if I were to divorce it would have MAJOR spiritual consequences. Sorry If I am repeating myself. BUT I know the GUILT would be major major major, and I am not prepared to deal with that. The Big D word does come out of my mouth in our "discussions", and this is because she holds most of the cards, this is her world here. I am stilll being paid back for what I did to her when we lived in the states. I sort of knew this would be a likely scenario, but it didn't come into full effect until my financial situation went into decline here. We even live in an apt. owned by her parents. Got to gol.

You appear to be staying with your wife for financial reasons. Money does not and never should trump love. You probably have never lived in poverty, but it really isn't bad when the children have left home. It doesn't feel bad at all, it is just another adventure. Look at homes in other neighborhoods, even look into renting a room, if you need to. Sometimes, you can rent a room for free if you are willing to mow the lawn, etc. My husband and I were looking at homes today to buy our son as an investment and we found a great one for $254/month mortgage in an east coast (expensive) city. That's less than rent! I was raised in poverty (back when ex-husbands were not forced to pay child support) and have found that I had a much easier time living frugally in college and marriage when my husband started his own business...which was worth all the sacrifice... than my peers who were raised in more affluent homes. Also, I've got to add that since I am an artist and most of my friends are artists, writers, etc., we all seem to have perfected the art of frugal living. So what if you lose half of what you own? It's just material things. You will be free to be yourself. The only thing stopping you is courage. Also, I might add that when a friend of mine kept trying to get his wife to counseling and she would give up after one or two sessions, because all of her problems meant hard work and facing them, he went to a lawyer and told her he had given up. Suddenly, she snapped out of her self-absorbed behavior and went to counseling. Last I heard, he feels like he has "the girl I fell in love with" back. So, maybe when your wife realizes you are serious about your unhappiness with the marriage, she will try to change. Yes, people can change. My husband certainly has. He is much more open and caring, far less self-absorbed, and much more self-aware, and much happier since he got caught up in a humiliating, traumatic affair.

I have meant to add this for a while. Who was the first woman we knew in our life? She was also our first teacher. That woman and her personality has alot to do, from my thinking about this, with who we choose as a mate. I don't mean we look for a mother to marry, but some of our mother's personal characteristics carry forward. I think we subconsciously notice them, and look for them in others. In addition if we are male our father's characteristics, that we are exposed to day in and day out in our early years, assuming that he is there enough to form an impact, we absorb, as either positive or negative models. <br />
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things do get modified from one generation to the next. We stand on our parents' shoulders while reaching upward towards the light, and also we are indebted to our parents, despite their mistakes for their efforts. I don't believe we can fully repay our parents for their efforts, as is the case with every generation. The one thing we can do to benefit our parents now and when they abandon the physical garments and go to the next world:<br />
We can pray for them, pray for the forgiveness of their sins, pray for the gifts to be given them we couldn't give, and pray that their afflictions are eased. If we can do this, look towards others and ask that someone else receive God's blessings, without any obligation. I think this can help us deal with our present relations with our spouse. Why? because asking God to help someone else increases our capacity. If we have a greater capacity, we can absorb a little more of our spouse's imperfections, without retaliating.<br />
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IMHO we have to get beyond a "one-for-one" relationship. One right will be matched by one gift, and one insult will be matched by one insult. Pay back one for one. We have to find a way to deepen our selves so that we can forgive, and then if necessary forgive again. And if we can't we should say so, and look for a way to recover or add to our capacity for the next time. In turn, I think our spouse's need to know this idea that we have in our hearts. Get their reactions. Maybe they won't buy into it yet, maybe they need more time..We shouldn't be dependent on their approval or disapproval if it is the right thing to do. The problem I see is that many people, including our daughters don't have a good spiritual sense of direction. They depend too much on what others are thinking., doing, saying. I was the same way. I had no one to tell me what to try to do. And how to go about doing it. Now after all these years and all these mistakes I think I know where I am going and I just pray for the patience to get there.

I appreciate your lengthy comments. There is much I would like to discuss, particulary the counselor experience. You mentioned this in your first comment. I was a double major Psychology and Political Science in my undergrad. I took the Psych to try to figure myself out, I had to take group counseling, and mental health training, and Yung and Freudian analysis training on the psych side of things. So the topic has come up between me and my wife. Listen I have to cut this short today my mother in law is coming here and I have to get alot of stuff cleaned up, and I'm hungry, I used up my Internet time budget commenting on the biracial woman's story here.....Umm probably you could see the connection of my comments there to her about her situation and what is happening here with me. You will easily see what I am trying to do in my situation.

I agree with Maryjessica that if you and your wife haven't tried the marriage therapy route, then give it a try, assuming your wife will consent. My wife and I tried that twice during our 25 years and at my request. I chose a female counselor on the first occasion so my wife would not feel threatened by a male or claim that the counselor was "just taking my side." The second occasion involved a male counselor; however, the result was the same in both instances. My wife refused to attend any further sessions after her one-on-one session with both counselors, maintaining that both had given her a hard time blaming her for our problems. No way this could have been the case and I did not know either professional prior to our initial visit. Listen, I know my wife to have self-esteem issues that developed as a result of her childhood and probably genetics and in the end, I'm afraid there isn't much we can do to overcome those influences. Same for me, I am who I am and if I'm in my marriage, I need a mutual desire for intimacy. This I believe is the case for any couple entering a marriage. What blows my mind is that those with the nature of those we've married, someone who has no desire or ability to interact in a relationship with those motivations, still get married. What were they thinking?!!! Better question is what were WE thinking. My wife was this way when we dated; however, I thought she was just unhappy and my loving her through our marriage would make her blossom as a wife and person.... not the case. 25 years later we're still the same two people with the same two different personalities.<br />
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I say all this KomaGowa to suggest you consider divorcing your wife and moving on. You seem like a good guy and you're certainly "deep." Something I doubt your wife appreciates. Point being and nothing against you or your wife, but it would seem time to move on! I stayed because we had two kids, now almost out of college, and I felt convicted that they needed both parents in the home. There wasn't any physical or mental abuse (although the emotional and physical indifference of my wife those many years sometime felt like I was getting beat a rod!), so I stayed.<br />
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It seems as in my situation and probably many others, we find themselves, after many years of marriage, still vastly different and those of us who have the most "need" for the interaction with the spouse, are the "odd man/woman out." I think we have to accept the fact that we both have entirely different needs. It's that simple. I certainly don't agree with the statement, "opposites attract." Maybe they do at first, but after a while, they will be repelling one another. Again, nothing personal, but the two just need something entirely different than what the other can give. After so many years and the children are finally on their own, it's time for mom and dad to move on! If I don't finish this sentence, it's because God struck me with lightening... but, God will forgive the divorce. Without a deep Biblical discussion on divorce, the bottom line is and most non-Christians will not understand this, most all divorces are sinful. And if you remarry, the Bible reflects that we will be committing adultery. Yet, if you stay and end up in another affair and there is a good chance you might, you're committing adultery as well. And you will suffer much more stigma and condemnation than if you get the divorce. <br />
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Too, I'm betting you have feelings of being what I refer to as a "spiritual quadriplegic," meaning you're marital circumstances prevent you from functioning as Christian because of the issues and guilt created by your LONG TERM loveless marriage... right? I have come to the conclusion that divorce is not as bad an option as I always thought, especially after being in a one-sided marriage as long as I have. God will forgive your divorce. Your daughters are grown and sounds like they are mom's girls anyway. Try to express your love and care for them and pursue a relationship with them, but move on with your life. I don't think your wife cares except for her own selfish reasons. <br />
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In the end dude, you're the one with all the information and understanding and you will need to decide what is right and wrong. Wish there was a better method to discuss these things and really, I don't trust the world wide web because this is evena little too "open" for me and I'm trying to be discrete as it is; however, this seems the best we've got and we need all the help we can get... so, I wish you the best. And too, I'll say a prayer for you.

Many years ago, I was selling bibles and Ebony Success 1 volume biographies in Texarkana Arkansas, in early August, door to door, the cold sell routine. My roommate was a tall black dude always wearing sunglasses, a large afro, and a prosthesis for his left arm, ending in a hook. We made a great combination, I had John Lennon glasses and hair down to my shoulders. It was really hot. We lived in a rooming house, the owner and manager was dried up little man who drove a truck and trailer from Chicago to Kansas City to Houston for a 100 years, and was one of the founding members of AA in Texarkana. What an incredible man. I was not having the success selling books that I dreamed of and after coming back to the rooming house I joined him about 3 times in stepping out to the air-conditioned meeting hall of the AA chapter. There were about 20 members, and I was tremendously impressed with the strength of character these men displayed, in fighting a lonely battle, it seemed to me I was facing the same kinds of hardships trying to sell Bibles and dictionaries to the people who in many cases were the causes of these men in AA to look to drugs for a way to cope. We shared a common affliction, the hardness of the outside world.

Commenting here last night was similar to drinking a cup of coffee before bedtime. I went to my room and began my usual evening prayers. I don't find much discussion on this topic in my religion , the overlap of religion and psychology, and I must add sociology. During the time of prayer I notice this most acutely. Last night my mind was split between what I wanted, and how I wanted to comment . Do you think introspective people tend to be religious? Or the opposite, introspective people believe they are their own gods and are therefore irreligious? So in my religion there is a prescribed daily prayer, which I have been saying fairly regularly for more than 25 years. As long as I joined this faith, almost. at first I was accustomed to saying whatever was on my mind, and this recitation of a set of words bothered me; I couldn't help but split away from the ideas and concepts in the prayers as a barrier between me and God. However the more I began to see that the workings of basic psychology are part of the mechanics of prayer. Secondly I used to be quite passive about this obligation. In other words I did it, and checked this requirement off my list of obligatory acts which one must do as a member of a certain faith. At first when I began my affair I also tried to continue to pray! "How hypocritical!" you might say. However, I wondered at that time if there was some spiritual justification for what I was doing, as a way out of my suffering. Have you read about polygamy? No seriously, I am smiling somewhat now. But don't you think those pastors and ministers we hear about from time to time that have affairs, don't you think they feel trapped by their psychological-physical needs? There is a war going on with the physical body. It is this war which the humanists, agnostics, athiests, cannot accept. And believers, are traditionally taught to "harness" our physical desires. But here is the psychological rub, I don't think pastors that I have been associated with know how to teach this or in the infamous cases do it themselves. Their inspiration seems to be St Augustine. Some sort of supreme self-denial based on precisely the point that creates the war of the physical/spiritual condition of man, a cultivation of the power of the will. IMHO you can't teach someone to be virtuous, by telling them to "Be Virtuous!""

So, i typed a lengthy reply and forgot to log in and it all vanished after I did so. Again it is almost time for me to leave, but I wanted to reply .<br />
I am divided between 2 tendencies, a) the tendency to generalize and try to write as though my experience may be common out there in adultery-land, and b) to be particular to my situation. One hurting point is that I cannot tell you everything, it is impossible and probably not prudent. After all this is the real world :-) even here.<br />
So, first, primarily, I feel a very strong attraction to religion. And my wife, joined once and then had an unpleasant experience, and then later my fanaticism turned her off. She controled the kids , as they too their cues freom her. Yet having said that , I will say that my wife simultaneously has a sensitive religious feeling, or feeling about morality. So how did my affair go down, you might ask, Well I felt angry at her, I mentioned this before, blaming the victim. Well we were/are both victims. Of course the crisis caused us to communicate. And I was able to express alot of things to her. and this seemed to solve the initial daming up of our spiritual waters. Still, old habits of miscommunication die hard. or rather live. Yes, mountea, it was the children that was the final straw, and at the same time it was the children who really seemed successful in shutting me out. 2 daughters allied with their mom. So I am trying with a very strong determination to use religion to solve my problems....Writing this confession was a tipping point, a few days after I wrote here my story, I felt "in control" again. I have put my facination wit this other woman back it its place. It is I actually who initiated the contact, so I simply don't try to make any further contact. I don't feel any need to, now. My language study is proceeding, and I am absoltuely determined to finish this textbook I bought before I start teaching again.<br />
Final comment. "I firmly believe that God sent my wife to me." Maybe some day I will explain. So I also firmly believe that to initiate and carry through with a divorce will have repercussions ie. pay back in the next world. I know you find this bizzare, but I am only telling you what I believe. Not asking you to believe it. And my spiritual bank account was severely drained by the affair, A second time would really be a serious serious mistake in this world and the next. That is why I think coming here helped me get control over my runaway emotions of feeling lonely. Got to go.<br />
Maryjessica, next time.

Hello KomaGawa. I am sorry you are feeling so much pain. I admire your efforts to stay away from the other woman (learning another language seems like a good plan). It will get easier as time goes by. But I think you should also be in marriage therapy with your wife. You and she need to either strengthen your relationship, or perhaps through therapy, you will realize that you want a divorce and you will be able to end the marriage as lovingly as possible. You sound like someone who wants to be monogamous, so be monogamous. Please don't start another relationship while you are married. Best wishes.

After reflecting on this experience, I have thought about the way the Catholic church has harnessed the power to confess to someone else, and to receive forgiveness. There is a very powerful relationship happening. In my view we should not humble ourselves to anyone for forgiveness of our human weaknesses except God. So, one might ask, what have I done here, or what should one do towards a spouse. tis a very very difficult question because the power given to the one receiving the confession ... It should be someone that you can trust to highest level, next to God. So you might ask, given this opinion how did I confess to my wife, about this incident? And the answer to that is complex. First, I did not feel contrite when my wife found out. I told her the truth and who the woman was out of a feeling of defiance, not seeking forgiveness. And my heart was stone cold towards her then. It was only over time that I have felt I wronged her, because naturally it was an incident that occupied my mind and heart for a long time afterwards. She wanted to talk in detail and I couldn't without becoming angry. Yes, you might say I "blamed her for my actions". So, nothing new here :-) Yet, there is a seed of truth in this. Not the whole truth, but something valuable. but that is for another time.