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We are doing couples counseling

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Emptyshelldad posted 9/16/2020 08:47 AM

She has been doing individual counseling but I don't think that the infidelity has really been discussed hardly at all. I'm pretty sure the last 1.5 years have been all focused on her childhood molestation (from ages 2 -16) and the counseling is all through the va (she is an army vet) and so the couples counselor can see the notes from her individual sessions and at one time he mentioned the "affair" and I was irritated and said afaaairssssss. Plural there were many, and he said "oh I'm sorry I thought there was only one".

So clearly when she tells her counselor about the affairs she claims..... it was brushed off as a one time non serious deal. And I'm not really sure I want to deal with this through this counselor. He seems to be coming at it from the standpoint of what was missing from the relationship that caused her to stray...... and I'm not ok with the particular premise being an automatic assumption. Am I way outta line here guys?

DIFM posted 9/16/2020 08:58 AM

He seems to be coming at it from the standpoint of what was missing from the relationship that caused her to stray......

Not only are you not out of line, you are meticuoulsy and laser focused on point. Nothing in your M caused her A. Whatever issues that existed in your M prior to the A certainly need to be addressed, but not as a means to get to the heart of her A's and the trauma that it caused to you and the M.

She has to be brought into ownership of 100% of what she did and why, before you can talk about M problems and the frustrations that those problems may cause to either or both of you.

The A is the house afire, the fire is number one. The issues that need fixing in the house are not even relevant until the fire is put out, or at least contained.

[This message edited by DIFM at 8:59 AM, September 16th, 2020 (Wednesday)]

nekonamida posted 9/16/2020 09:34 AM

^^^ Agreed.

But more importantly, what do you want to do about this? If you tell her to get a new IC, will she lie to that one too? Does she genuinely believe you are partially at fault for the A and if so, what's to stop her from doing it again the next time your marriage is lacking or you can't focus all of your attention on her?

ES, this is a big deal. You just found out that for 1.5 years, she wasn't doing the work AND she may believe some things that are incompatible with R. Don't think for one second that this is something you can just sweep under the rug and hope it improves. Changes need to happen. She needs to answer as to why she was not honest with her IC and what she plans to do differently going forward. You need to reassess whether she's capable of being a good candidate for R or if you're risking a new DDay by staying.

totallydumb posted 9/16/2020 09:39 AM

The therapist who is already blaming the marriage?

I really don't think marriage counselling at this point is a good idea, especially with this therapist.

It also sounds as if for whatever reason your WW is not focused in therapy on the affairssss as you put it.

A conversation with your wife about not addressing the elephant in the room may be in order?

It might be a good idea for her to look into finding a different therapist who will "hold her feet to the fire".

The1stWife posted 9/16/2020 09:57 AM

Find. Another. Counselor.

Bigger posted 9/16/2020 10:35 AM

He seems to be coming at it from the standpoint of what was missing from the relationship that caused her to stray......

Do you THINK or do you KNOW?

Next session ask him straight out:
Do you think things I did or did not do were the cause of my wife’s decision to have affairs?
Do you think things in the marriage or missing in the marriage were the cause of my wife’s decision to have affairs?

Thumos posted 9/16/2020 10:46 AM

Reason #95,659 for why it is so often said: Never do couples/marital counseling after infidelity. Or at least for not a looong time after.

Marital/couples counselors are generally clueless about infidelity. They like to rug sweep and encourage blameshifting.

I would recommend you look in the "find a local counselor" section of the SI sidebar for a very specific IC speciality: betrayal trauma specialist.

Find an IC who specializes in that and see if you can each attend partners in a practice who can work in tandem with each other. Later, after a lot of work, these IC's can then help think about and guide potential couples counseling.

Idiotmcstupid posted 9/16/2020 11:03 AM

I actually believe marriage counseling can be actively harmful to R after infidelity.
All it did for my situation was help my STBXW come up with excuses for her behavior.
She wasn't creative enough to come up with her own.
I do not recommend continuing.

Tigersrule77 posted 9/16/2020 11:13 AM

You are NOT way out of line. I would agree with Bigger, ask the counselor for clarification. You already KNOW you are not responsible for her A. If the counselor makes any kind of excuse, you will then know you need a new counselor. If the counselor tries to rugsweep, same result. You cannot heal the M by ignoring the infidelity and pretending it didn't happen.

Thumos posted 9/16/2020 11:27 AM

I actually believe marriage counseling can be actively harmful to R after infidelity.
All it did for my situation was help my STBXW come up with excuses for her behavior.
She wasn't creative enough to come up with her own.
I do not recommend continuing.

Agreed. We did MC the first year after DDay and I think it hurt us. It created a circumstance that allowed her to blameshift in a subtle way, rugsweep, pressure to rugsweep, and say some of the most awful damaging things that just dug the hole deeper.

I think MC's should be required to take an oath that bars them from treating couples after infidelity as part of the professional licensing standards. Sort of like the Hippocratic oath but to just keep them from screwing up things more than they already are.

src9043 posted 9/16/2020 11:39 AM

Our marriage counselor told me to get over my ex-wife's affair two weeks after I found out. Blamed me as much as her for the affair. I foolishly listened to her advice and ended up staying in the marriage-from-hell another six years. Any counselor who tries to rug sweep should be dropped immediately. R was extremely difficult. I felt liberated when the ex-wife had her exit affair. As horrible as it may seem, do not let children be the reason to stay in hell. Good co-parenting can do wonders. It worked great in my situation.

TheLostOne2020 posted 9/16/2020 11:41 AM

Emptyshelldad

She has been doing individual counseling but I don't think that the infidelity has really been discussed hardly at all. I'm pretty sure the last 1.5 years have been all focused on her childhood molestation (from ages 2 -16) and the counseling is all through the va (she is an army vet) and so the couples counselor can see the notes from her individual sessions and at one time he mentioned the "affair" and I was irritated and said afaaairssssss. Plural there were many, and he said "oh I'm sorry I thought there was only one".

First, I'm a fan of therapists and counseling when the parties are actively engaged and want to change. My STBXW did not, in reality, want to change, and as a consequence I wasted several thousand dollars in Marriage Counseling. On the plus side, that was the final nail in the coffin for me, after that I was all about divorce.

Second, individual counseling that doesn't touch on such a grievous moral lapse doesn't sound like good counseling.

So clearly when she tells her counselor about the affairs she claims..... it was brushed off as a one time non serious deal. And I'm not really sure I want to deal with this through this counselor. He seems to be coming at it from the standpoint of what was missing from the relationship that caused her to stray...... and I'm not ok with the particular premise being an automatic assumption. Am I way outta line here guys?

Well, if she hasn't made the multiple affairs a big deal then I would say that she doesn't value the marriage all that much. They keep happening. She's continually traumatizing you and is seemingly okay with the counselor brushing them off as no big deal.

Missing needs is not a reason for an affair. I do not have tons of money, that doesn't rationally justify me in robbing a bank.

She is an autonomous agent, she strays because she chooses to. No other reason. She does not value you or the marriage enough to stop traumatizing you.

faithfulman posted 9/16/2020 11:56 AM

Nobody (around here) likes marriage counselors!

But I think what is missing from this discussion is that your wife's individual therapist sucks too!

And by the way it appears to me that the majority of "Individual Counselors" offer "couples counseling" and marriage counseling as well.

So this bright line between the two types of counselors does not appear to reflect reality in my view.

***

Back to your wife's counselor, @Emptyshelldad, this is yet another example of a shitty counselor who seems more focused on "delving underneath" without enforcing the accountability of unearthing the actual truth, which is your wife didn't "have an affair" (minimizing), but that she had multiple affairs and so engaged in multiples of the betrayal she is admitting to. And don't be surprised if she is minimizing what she has admitted to as well.

What is always missing in the context of the "go to individual counseling" recommendations, is that if the cheater is a liar who is simply trying to "get out of trouble" by seeing an individual counselor, then they are going to go to their session and lie to the counselor too.

Their actual goal is to "find reasons" to placate YOU - not actually do the hard work of self-introspection, which requires stating and facing the raw unadulterated truth to heal their awful behaviors regardless of whether they can remain married.

And when the cheater is lying to the counselor, who very often does not dig deep, call them out on obvious lies and minimizations, plus validates their bullshit with "you cheated because X, Y, and Z, happened in your life, and you didn't understand why, but now we know that, and so it wasn't really you, and now you are a safe partner who your spouse should take back. Oh and plus, your partner wasn't perfect so sometimes people mess around when their needs aren't perfectly met."

This happens with individual counselors all the time. ALL THE TIME! Just read around and you'll see the stories over and over again. And I have seen it with my own eyes, over a significant range of therapists.

The simple truth is they need repeat clients to pay their bills and so that is "who they serve". They are not go-to foundations of moral uprightness and accountability. Not by a long shot.

***

In another thread I read yesterday, a woman reported that her husband's individual therapist spent all of their time having him convince himself that he "wasn't a bad person" despite his cheating in homosexual relationships (I am not making a judgement of his sexual needs) outside of his heterosexual marriage.

Basically, the therapist decided his/her job was for the husband to not feel so bad about himself despite his horrible, hurtful, and dangerous behavior. That is so common with therapists you would not believe it.

***

I guess what I am saying is no individual therapist is going to make your wife, honest, remorseful, and put in the work.

Changing counselors will not help her unless and until she really and truly wants to change herself.

[This message edited by faithfulman at 12:13 PM, September 16th (Wednesday)]

Thumos posted 9/16/2020 12:18 PM

What is always missing in the context of the "go to individual counseling" recommendations, is that if the cheater is a liar who is simply trying to "get out of trouble" by seeing an individual counselor, then they are going to go to their session and lie to the counselor too.

This is why I always recommend betrayal trauma specialists who, generally, have a methodology focused on getting at the truth, accountability and holding a wayward's feet to the fire. Many of them will administer polygraphs in their own offices.

sisoon posted 9/16/2020 13:22 PM

Therapy is useless unless the client wants to change. Does your W Want to change?

I recommend seeking a joint session so you can find out what the IC knows or at least tell your story.

Right now you don't know enough about the therapist or the sessions to know what is going on.

If your W won't allow a joint session, I'd be very concerned. For me, the ability to talk with my W's therapist was a requirement for R - no access meant D.

Basically, the therapist decided his/her job was for the husband to not feel so bad about himself despite his horrible, hurtful, and dangerous behavior.
I've yet to come across a WS who feels good about themself.

A person who attacks himself with self-talk will not be a good partner. A person who nurture himself won't seek external validation, which is the basis of many As (and plays a part, probably, in all As).

Some therapists misunderstand the concept, and they hurt their clients, but many therapist do help.

That is so common with therapists you would not believe it.
How many therapists have you studied? This is a vast over-generalization.

I guess what I am saying is no individual therapist is going to make your wife, honest, remorseful, and put in the work.
True. But consider this: how can an IC verify what the client says, especially if the client holds tight to a lie?

IOW, the IC pretty much has no choice but to believe the client. A good IC confronts a lot and asks questions that can reveal answers that show the client is deluding himself, but the IC has no way of verifying that the client is truthful.

A polygraph can't help, because the truth is nuanced, and the test is not. You can't even use a question like 'Are you telling the truth to the IC' because the vast majority of people don't tell the full truth.

What is always missing in the context of the "go to individual counseling" recommendations, is that if the cheater is a liar who is simply trying to "get out of trouble" by seeing an individual counselor, then they are going to go to their session and lie to the counselor too.
That's true. My W lied to her therapist for months. Then, on d-day, she started to tell the truth, as she saw it.

A lot of people change, some from 'good' to 'bad', some from 'bad' to 'good'....

[This message edited by sisoon at 1:25 PM, September 16th (Wednesday)]

DIFM posted 9/16/2020 13:24 PM

Nobody (around here) likes marriage counselors!

That's not how I read it from most BS's. I think the message is that MC is a waste and can be more harm than good if the WS has not first addressed their broken self in IC, over a long period, with evidence that shows a committed intent to get to their why and make the critically needed changes.

I think many BS's are in favor of fixing what is broken in the M, just not as a part of fixing the infidelity. And unfortunately many MC's try to bring pre infidelity marriage issues into the "reasons" discussion. That is where I think many BS's raise the MC red flag.

faithfulman posted 9/16/2020 14:03 PM

How many therapists have you studied? This is a vast over-generalization.

A shitload. How about you?

There appears to be a philosophy in the therapy industry which focuses so much on "how someone feels" and does whatever it can to "not judge", with the therapist never saying to their paying client: "You need to stop what you are doing right now and come clean on your behavior."

Which allows people who go around hurting other people while focusing on what they feel, without focusing on what they actually do.

Anyway, feel free to have your opinion, I have seen therapists advise cheaters in ways that encourage more hurt to the betrayed spouse over and over, and you can see it every day in this forum and others.

I let my warning stand, and it seems that our betrayed spouse has already seen what I am describing firsthand.

I have no plan to thread jack this discussion with further argument past this post, but if you want to present some actual empirical evidence to the contrary, as you always ask for from other people but never seem to provide yourself, feel free to do so.

***

I've yet to come across a WS who feels good about themself.

Well I have come across a bunch. Firsthand. Or at least they don't seem to feel particularly bad about their behavior.


True. But consider this: how can an IC verify what the client says, especially if the client holds tight to a lie?

Again, that is one of my main points. If she doesn't want to tell the truth, therapy is useless. The therapist cannot help a liar.

But, also many therapists reinforce obvious lies, bullshit and rationalizations. The same ones the cheaters try to sell to the betrayed spouse.

The usual, it was only one time, we wore a condom, we went to the hotel just to talk, etc.


Therapist: "Yes, I believe you, now let's get to your "whys". What was it about your marriage that made you seek out another person? Or did you cheat because your parents yelled at you when you got bad grades?"


IOW, the IC pretty much has no choice but to believe the client.

Definitely not true.

A good IC confronts a lot and asks questions that can reveal answers that show the client is deluding himself,

A therapist trying to convince someone who has made a way of life of lying to themselves and others by utilizing pointed questions in order for "delusions to dawn upon he or she" is an initiative with a very low success rate.

Such a strategy will take a length of time that I would not advise most people to wait for.

but the IC has no way of verifying that the client is truthful.

True in some case, but not in others. How about in this case, the therapist says, "Are you providing the whole picture? Maybe we should talk to your husband?"

You know what I call that? An "ex-therapist".


A polygraph can't help, because the truth is nuanced, and the test is not. You can't even use a question like 'Are you telling the truth to the IC' because the vast majority of people don't tell the full truth.


Disagree. A polygraph can't help? how about this question:

"Have you had more relationships with men outside of your marriage than what you have admitted to me?"

Cheating is usually not that nuanced. Isn't that what we are discussing?


A person who attacks himself with self-talk will not be a good partner. A person who nurture himself won't seek external validation, which is the basis of many As (and plays a part, probably, in all As).


Disagree. I have done many wrong things in my life, and my "negative self-talk" is what helped me decide who I want to be.

Negative internal talk can be a very good mechanism for recognizing when you do something wrong, like touching a hot stove: "I just went to a hotel and cheated on my wife, only a scumbag would do that, what the fuck is wrong with me? This has to end now!"

You know what really hurts? People who bullshit themselves that what they are doing is okay, or good, when it is obviously bad. Who tell themselves they are not hurting the people they are supposed to protect.

If you are engaged in an extramarital affair, you SHOULD BE having negative talks with yourself, not having some external party telling you how good you are while you hurt your family and risk their health.

Some therapists misunderstand the concept, and they hurt their clients, but many therapist do help.

Like I have said, therapy is a crapshoot as far as the therapist, but it doesn't matter at all if the person seeking therapy is not doing so with a clear heart and the intent to be honest.

And therapists need repeat business and are not higher quality people than everyone else who exists, so you add that all up and what it really comes down to is the person has to want to truly look inside themselves and change.

And that is pretty rare too, that's why they make movies about that kind of stuff.

[This message edited by faithfulman at 11:58 AM, September 17th (Thursday)]

HardKnocks posted 9/17/2020 10:39 AM

Although will, dedication, and genuine remorse are required to make real changes work (and stick), I would recommend against leaving a cheater to try to heal themselves.

Keep looking for a reputable individual therapist with wisdom and experience. They are out there. Interview as many as possible. It's worth the effort.

For more insight, reach out to the reformed wayward on the other forums. They have a lot to say; so much is good.

HardKnocks posted 9/17/2020 10:39 AM

Double post.

[This message edited by HardKnocks at 10:40 AM, September 17th (Thursday)]

Thumos posted 9/17/2020 15:45 PM

A polygraph can't help, because the truth is nuanced, and the test is not. You can't even use a question like 'Are you telling the truth to the IC' because the vast majority of people don't tell the full truth.

A polygraph can help, which is why most betrayal trauma specialists use them. It's not a panacea. It's a prerequisite for getting at the truth. It is a blunt instrument, no doubt, and your recommendations in the past for using interrogation techniques for spotting tells and tics is also useful. They are both useful. The polygraph in my opinion is most useful as a tool of psychic pressure, which is why most intelligence agencies, the US Senate, the FBI and many major corporations use them.

For instance, a polygraph in my case certainly helped. It told me in no uncertain terms that my WW simply didn't want to be transparent with me about the totality of her affair. Absent this transparency I was obviously barking up the wrong tree for reconciliation. It got me off high center, among a number of other things, for figuring out the right course of action.

[This message edited by Thumos at 3:47 PM, September 17th (Thursday)]

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