Therapy Begins

So tomorrow is the first day of our couples therapy. He's willing to go. He didn't argue about it.

What do I want? What do I need? Where will it take me? How honest can I be?

I'm not ready to go yet, so I'm not ready to see my marriage crumble. I'm not ready for the financial, familial and even immigration implications.

Things I cannot say.y
  • I'm not sure I really love you anymore, not that way.
  • I had an affair.
  • I made a mistake marrying you.

Things I will say:
  • I want us to be happy. Most importantly I want me to be happy. However that might be.
  • I'm no longer willing to accept MY sex life the way it is.
  • I want us to be good, cooperative, loving parents to our son. However that might be.
  • I'm no longer willing to accept constant criticism and a partner who largely absents himself from family life.

Of course, I talk a good game. We'll see how I do tomorrow. I'm scared of where this will take me.
elkclan elkclan
41-45, F
24 Responses Aug 4, 2011

my family 2 sons ia why i tried to keep the family together ! being criticism hurts and should never be done in front of children ! i knew a long time ago my wife was like her mother . she always cut him down ! good luck with your meeting . hope they listen to both sides and can actually help . maybe just you being able to talk will do it ! :- )

I know I'm a little late replying to your post, but here goes... I have been there done that on most of the things you talk about. I've had an affair, I didn't get caught but it didn't feel right (even though the sex was great), we've started, stopped, started therapy. There is so much to say (and so much not to say - e.g. I had an affair and the sex was great). What I am saying is my honest truth about what I experience and feel, what I need and want. We haven't gotten to the sex part yet. Still more emotional fences to mend. Sexuality and sensuality are a part of who I am and I don't want to leave them on the shelf gathering dust. Time's a-wasting!

Baby steps, elkclan. The lack of sex is the result of lack of intimacy, nurturing and love in the relationship. 'Falling in love' is a process. So is falling out of love and separating. Good luck.

this is why we don't even try therapy! She will never be 100% honest, and I am sure there are somethings I would rather not talk about. I would love to see her perspective on our marriage. The true perspective. Not the BS she pulls on me. Someone mentioned the love, but not in-love phase! <br />
I always wondered why anyone in there right mind would say such crap. To me it means I can't stand being around you, but don't want to be divorced. Get past that phase? Can that be done? My wife said I could win her heart back, but I lost my soul trying! <br />
I think some peoples ideas of an ideal marriage are so different. This is where therapy will help, you can find out what the other is expecting vs what your giving! <br />
To save this marriage you both will have to change, and that is so freaking hard to do! Good Luck!

I think you can genuinely love someone who you were once in love with. They become like a crazy relative that you wouldn't want to live with but who you still care about and still occasionally wish to spend time with.

I can understand the fear you're feeling. The therapist is another unknown. But whatever happens - you can feel good that you tried all avenues. Best of luck.

I think it is very strange your husband highlights a news article about a woman leaving a "perfectly good husband" and then not being able to find a man. Then in therapy bringing up the fact you only had good sex two years before marriage. <br />
Both of these comments reveal your husband's idea that good sex is not important. Not in terms of a long term spouse at least. <br />
The news article in particular almost implied a warning you aren't capable of finding a quality lover. Does he think you are so unattractive to other men?

Not so strange. He's trying to scare me. He's trying to make me feel I'm not going to find anyone else out there. I am soooo glad I took a lover. I am so glad I dated some other guys, too. I know he's full of ****.

Finding love is harder. I know that. But if he thinks I can't get ******, he's crazy.

He said the physical was secondary, that he fell in love with my personality. He's just not that into sex. Doesn't find me that attractive and just wants me around for when he wants me around.

You do realize that if there were no good old days in sex, there will never be in the future? Your affair suplemented the need to feel as a sexual being. It just ended, so you are okay for now. Even if you achieve that warmth and companionship with your H, one day you will wake up in complete panic and and need to satisfy your sexual desires. You will again, feel as if you have been enclosed in a coffin. And as you said, you will get into another affair to supplement what is missing in your life ...How long do you plan living like that?

yep :-( There never will be a great future in bed. I get that.

I'm already feeling in a panic about my sexual desires. But I've set myself a 3 month moratorium on straying.

I just read your update<br />
<br />
I had the same **** - different words but the same<br />
Your husband said he has no lust - my wife said she 'Just does not want to'<br />
She said - I am just not affectionate or tactile... that's me<br />
<br />
The question I had to face, and the one you will is - can you live with this? Because this is as good as it gets between the sheets I'm afraid.<br />
<br />
What the therapist also said to me, is that there is nothing wrong with having desire and being needed that way - it is human to do so and I am human. As there is nothing wrong to NOT want to...<br />
<br />
We all look for reasons, sometimes - that's just the cards you were dealt - and now the house of cards may come down, but then, that may not actually be a bad thing.<br />
<br />
You need some 1-1 with the therapist I reckon.

You said ... last night I asked him if he was nervous about the session and he said "Why I should I be, I haven't done anything."<br />
<br />
Like many refusers he sees nothing wrong. It is not him, it is you (he thinks - therefore it is valid). He has always been like this - to him, nothing has changed, he is right, his view is good and true and taking all functional and ethical and philosophical arguments aside as these can be worked out in time, his attitude, and going deeper his internal make up and desire is to him... fine and dandy! <br />
To him regards sex and passion and intimacy - it’s not him it’s you<br />
To you, one who defines the marriage by affection and touch, sex being the bond and a statement of love - it is him<br />
<br />
It sucks... and I feel this cannot be resolved - all the other crap regards work and kids and home and time management etc can be sorted, it's just process. You can take away the passive aggressive crap or whatever you’re dynamic involves, but you will never make a low desire/low touch spouse increase their desire and mean it, they may go through the motions to keep you happy, but you know in your heart when you are together - it's just pity / keep happy / zombie sex.<br />
<br />
Well - it was for me (when we tried)<br />
<br />

in the session I said it felt like keep happy/shut up sex and and he didn't deny. :-( What can I say?

Update! Well in an hour there's little chance to reveal all. H seems to want to stay married because that's what you do. He revealed he feels 'very little lust'. No joke. <br />
<br />
In terms of the affair, it wasn't revealed exactly. My H talked about MY sex life before we were married and said "the last time you had great sex was TWO YEARS before we were married" - implying it wouldn't be that easy for me to find a sexual partner, but also revealing that he knows we've never had great sex. <br />
<br />
I just sorta nodded and said "Regardless, I want to have great sex again. I'm not prepared to let another decade of my life go by without it." But the therapist looked me straight in the eye and I'm pretty sure he clocked me. Fine. That's not a complete surprise. He must have seen it all already.<br />
<br />
I'm a little bit concerned that he seemed to be playing into gender stereotypes of levels of desire and motivations for sex. He said it was a cliche but one with some truth "Women need to feel connected to have sex and men need to have sex to feel connected." I told him that I needed the connected sex to feel connected.

Excellent for saying what you wanted. My attempt was similar: "I want lots of sex with a willing partner. I'm never again going to apologise for wanting sex with my lover". Nice and non-specific about who that lover was going to be!

I think you're getting some great feedback here, really excellent advice. I have an awkward question you could consider (but you needn't answer). Trade places. Let's say your spouse had an affair. Would it matter? Would you want to know? Would you want him to tell you, or would you want to find out from someone else? Would it end your marriage, or would you forgive?

My husband did have an emotional affair. And I forgave. (Wish I hadn't now!!! Although I did honestly forgive that.)

And no I wouldn't want to know, I don't think, especially if it was short lived. Although given we've never had great sex, I would be a bit miffed. :-)

I can see your dilemma here elkclan.<br />
<br />
You are presuppossing that this question will be directly asked - and I suspect it won't be. You mention this therapy as "couples" counselling. Such sessions usually concentrate on the dynamic between the couple, not things outside of it.<br />
<br />
Is another of your concerns that if your spouse became aware of the affair, that he would call it quits ?? and that at this stage, YOU want to be in charge of 'who' (if anyone) calls it quits ??<br />
<br />
See, I think that your spouse is likely to 'attend' this counselling, but does not mean he is going to 'engage'. But at a level, I can sympathise with him, because it IS going to be a bit of a sham, as a critical bit of information is not going to be known to him. And such information, if known, would likely play a big part in his choice.<br />
<br />
Anyway, I hope you get some value out of the session. Sometimes you pick up on stuff completely un-related to why you went in the first place.<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

yes, I can see that from his perspective it would feel like a vital piece of information. From my perspective it feels like it's a symptom and that more harm than good would come from talking about it.

No, actually I don't think he would call it quits if he found out about the affair. I can't be sure about that, of course. But life would become even more unbearable for me. Thus forcing me out sooner than I would like. But maybe that's his passive agressive way of initiating a divorce. He's certainly not big on initiating ANYTHING.

Yeah, I'm open minded as to what may come of this. And anyway, this first session is just an prelim assessment, first visit thing.

Play it like a Poker game at this point, if you have an exit agenda.

There's another reason I don't want to confess the affair. I still care enough about my former affair partner not to want to expose him to discovery. And if my husband finds out about the affair, he may hound me or dig thru stuff I may not have been careful enough about.

As baz and mvcmvc say: total honesty up front by both parties. Those things you list as "cannot say" MUST be said.

why? what good would it do? It would distract from what I think are the real issues. I used the affair as a distraction myself.

It would make my life extremely uncomfortable and it would hurt my husband deeply. I just can't see any point.

You need mutual honesty in these situations and it feels to me like you don't want to be the only one owning up to the lack of feelings and love while he sits there and plays the victim and the counsellor thinks you're a total biatch. Its tough to say that you lost the love somewhere along the line and you're just not feeling it anymore - as you know its largely due to their actions/inaction in the past but it seems to come out like you're just blaming them. <br />
<br />
I feel for you as you go into your session tomorrow, I hope you say what you feel comfortable sharing at the start and make sure that your husband is opening up also and participating before you put all your cards on the table. Its is not a one way process, don't be afraid of the silence, wait for him to fill it. Good luck!

only he can open up if he wants to, but yes, why should the therapist be the only one who takes advantage of the silence?

To express yourself truthfully and honestly, I agree are essential to any understanding of the issues. But exactly how you paint that picture, can and will set the tone for his, and the Therapists reactions.<br />
<br />
Do balance your comments, the bad with the good. Be prepared that he will have his complaints, and likely will have his mental list all worked out in advance, and just lay them out there defensively with no positives at all. Just remind yourself that he has positive things to say about you, and likely will just forget them. The Therapist should try to pull positives out of him, but may not. Do keep your cool and not get rattled, or let him get rattled if at all possible. If it turns into a ******* match, there will be no benefit. <br />
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Tell him about your affair? There is some distention in the above comments about that. I agree with Enna, that it can only cause damage that does not have to occur. In a joint session. One on one, I think you should tell all to the Therapist. <br />
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What you will have to decide for yourself, in the course of your sessions, is what your ob<x>jective actually is. Making this all better, is quite unlikely. Making it tolerable, while you get your ducks in a row, and proceed with your exit plan, is a much more reasonable goal. Proceeding in an amicable fashion is vastly preferable to the alternative.

If you are going to adopt a policy of "selective" honesty then you'd probably be better to save your money and not even bother going.<br />
<br />
If you want to get the optimum result out of this process, then ALL cards have to be on the table.<br />
<br />
Really, with "selective" disclosure, you are trying to mandate (or manipulate) YOUR desired outcome from the process. That won't work.<br />
<br />
So when the therapy fails to deliver your preferred outcome, don't start bleating that "the therapist was a dud". The therapist will have had one hand tied behind their back.<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

Be prepared for the counselor to ask if there's been any infidelity by either partner.

I sorta know that, but I am not "prepared" so that is a good tip. I will think this morning what I want to say. I think it's important that my husband/ therapist knows this has been in my head, but not how far it's gone.

Enna said - If he criticises you, really "hear" him. Don't jump to your defence <br />
<br />
For me, I came to realise that even though my wife is not quite right in her head regards intimacy and sex etc, plus her various OCD's blah blah... her view is valid. It is her view about me, my actions and inactions. She is entitled to them, it is her right as a human and a woman in the free world. To her, what she is is good and true. I needed to get past the stage of disagreeing with her view to accepting it exists, is right for her, but not me. This allowed me to move on in my head. <br />
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Good luck

yes - for sure. There are clearly lessons from how he sees me that will help us get on better.

Though last night I asked him if he was nervous about the session and he said "Why I should I be, I haven't done anything." And then he proceeded to tell me a story he read in the Daily Mail about a woman who left her husband "for no reason" and couldn't find a new man.

LOL...seriously said that did he?

I agree with Enna 100%. My advice from the marriage counseling tranches:<br />
<br />
-Fire anyone who suggests you schedule a "date night"<br />
-Make sure your counselor acknowledges and tackles the lack of sex <br />
-Be as honest as you can (tactfully) about your lack of desire/attraction to him now, and dig into how to get beyond that stage. <br />
<br />
The infamous "I love you but I am not *in love* with you" feeling, according to my current counselor, is merely a natural stage in every marriage, and it takes determination to get to the other side of it. <br />
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Recognize that you are not trying to go back to what you were in the good ol' days. Your marriage, if you want to stay in it, is evolving into something you don't see yet, and few people bother explaining to us. <br />
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Whatever your marriage evolves into will not feel as good as what you have with an incredible lover. Resist the temptation to compare those apples and oranges. <br />
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I wish you the best!!

There was no good old days for us sex wise. So we may be at an impasse there. And yes, I'm not too concerned about the super elation of the early 'in love' phase having passed. That went a long time ago. What I'm talking about is the deep companionship and warmth love.

But yes, I need to talk about the sex first thing. But there are other big, big issues, too.

Be HONEST. In your therapy, you can only truly gain from it if you are honest. You do not want the marriage to end - say so. You don't have to lie.<br />
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I agree that you should not tell your husband about your affair - that is unnecessary and cruel. <br />
But I think you can honestly tell him that you are not sure at this time that you made the right decision to marry him . . . You can tell him that you WANT to believe it was the right decision, but that currently his behaviour leads you to doubt it.<br />
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If he criticises you, really "hear" him. Don't jump to your defence - try to recognise if there is any truth in what he says.<br />
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If you immediately get defensive, the two of you will just argue and that will be of little value.<br />
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If he says something negative about you that you completely disagree with, remain calm and simply state firmly:<br />
"I do not agree with that." Then let the therapist handle the discussion that follows.<br />
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Remember to tell the therapist the GOOD things about your husband and your marriage, as well as the BAD things. You need to present a balanced attitude and a realistic assessment, if the therapist is to really help you. Don't treat the session as an opportunity to "bad mouth" your husband, but do not avoid making comments about the things that are wrong either.<br />
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Don't be surprised if you find that your husband's view of your marriage and your's are VASTLY different! And understand that it is probable that you will NOT be able to save the marriage, but you may be able to continue with a polite and manageable situation (which is what you want) for a while yet . . . <br />
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Every best wish for success.

I do a lot of facilitation for work. I'm good at being the neutral observer. Even of my own life. I feel a bit disengaged from this, so doubt I'll get too defensive. But I also feel worried, so maybe I will. And frankly his view of our marriage is so alien to mine now, that I don't even get angry about it.

But like I say, I talk a good game.

I agree with Enna about being as honest as you can in the therapy. I too would not admit the affair. If you get a private session with the therapist though is consider admitting it.

I have to agree with Enna....I would want the brutal truth. As long as you state you want to stay married, but the ground rules need to change. If your both not totally honest (forget the affair) about your desires from the marriage your just going to continue to suffer.

Good luck Elk. Hope it helps you get on the road to happiness.


You know longer love your husband, not that way - and - It was a mistake marrying your husband.<br />
<br />
If this is really how you feel, I doubt marriage counseling is ever going to fix your marriage.

I'm not seeking to fix the marriage. But I'm not ready to end it for practical reasons. I worry that counselling will precipitate the end.I worry that I'll get sucked into the idea of fixing it. My husband wants to stay married.

I don't think they're based on my lies and dishonesty, but rather his position without knowing that there has been an affair. Which has now ended. I do intend to say, at some point, that I'm at risk of having an affair. Which I am. If I stay, I will cheat again.

I can understand the necessity of staying married for practical reasons. But then why go to counseling if you are not seeking to fix the marriage? Is this your husband's idea?

There's two issues. The sexlessness. And the fact that we used to get along, but now we don't.

I don't think the sexlessness can be fixed. But I think things will be better for everyone if we're not at loggerheads. I could be wrong about this. But I'd rather we had a mediated end. The counselling doesn't have to be about fixing the marriage (even the counsellor said that!) but it is about making us happier.

1 More Response

I would start with a very frank question: What good will come of us staying married? then proceed from there.

Good thing I am not the one asking the questions!

Like anything there's a balance, isn't there? There are some good reasons to say married. It's just that right now I feel the debits really outweigh the credits.

That is always the problem. Yes there are always reasons to stay in the marriage, but do they outweigh the reasons not to. It is not easy and many of us suffer from the same back and forth.
I hung up the phone on my wife an hour ago very angry, I said to myself I don't need this, it is not what I want. But then I think of the consequences and the prices to be paid for leaving the marriage and it becomes a muddeled mess.