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Newest Member: Crushedafter46years

Reconciliation :
What makes for good marriage counselling?

Topic is Sleeping.
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 hurtpartner73 (original poster new member #80985) posted at 10:48 PM on Friday, September 23rd, 2022

Hi there! I just joined a few days ago, and it has been extremely helpful. I added a short version of my story on my profile, and a longer version on my first post (https://survivinginfidelity.com/topics/658319/everything-eventually-comes-out/).

DDAY was in April, 2022, though the affair(s) were more than a decade ago. It's more complicated because our marriage was already dysfunctional before DDAY, largely due to WW's bipolar disorder, and possibly borderline disorder. Also due to myself enabling her behavior. I lost myself.

DDAY was a wake up call. I'm trying to build a better me. WW and I are trying to build a better marriage, with many obstacles. I'm not sure if it will work out - if it does, it has to a healthy marriage, with a healthy family dynamic.

To that end - we've been going to MC. I'm not sure about the therapist. I believe she's likely a good one-on-one therapist. I had expected some structure to the therapy. The conversations aren't bad, but I don't feel like she's guiding us regarding infidelity.

Is there anything I should look for in a good MC therapist? I'm wondering if I should be looking for someone new. And, if I do, what I should be looking for.

Thanks to all. I am very happy I found this site.

[This message edited by hurtpartner73 at 11:29 PM, Friday, September 23rd]

Me: BH, 49; Her: WW, 47, bipolar/borderline DDAY 4/23/2022 - EA 2005-2009ish? PA? Not sure. TT M 17 years, Trying to R - it's bumpy

posts: 43   ·   registered: Sep. 20th, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8756828
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CaptainRogers ( member #57127) posted at 11:16 PM on Friday, September 23rd, 2022

My wife and I spent a few years with what I would classify as crappy MCs before we ended up with the excellent one we have now. I'll try to make it short & sweet as to the differences.

Crappy MC:
*wants you to share blame for the A
*does not hold the WS accountable
*can be manipulated by WS
*hasn't enough experience (life or professional) to understand the devastation of an A
*expects the BS to be able to "get over it"
*spends most sessions talking about one side of the "issues"
*uses the 1 method they know in counseling sessions (only has a hammer in the toolbox, so everything looks like a nail)


Good MC:
*will not allow blame for the A to be placed at the feet of the BS
*holds the WS accountable throughout the duration of therapy sessions (even months & years later)
*sees through the WSs attempts at manipulation and calls it out
*has experience in handling relationships that have gone through As
*understands that a BSs healing isn't linear and allows for "settled" issues to be brought back up
*allows both BS and WS to speak on issues bothering them
*shares your beliefs (religious/philosophical/etc.) and allows that background to work as part of the counseling sessions (has a full toolbox at their disposal)

There are a multitude of other checkpoints that I could throw out there as Well, but this is a pretty solid start.

BS: 42 on D-day
WW: 43 on D-day
Together since '89; still working on what tomorrow will bring.
D-Day v1.0: Jan '17; EA
D-day v2.0: Mar '18; no, it was physical

posts: 3294   ·   registered: Jan. 27th, 2017   ·   location: The Rockies
id 8756832
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 12:01 AM on Saturday, September 24th, 2022

I have a hard time answering this question without getting a little "callback" joke to me walking out of my first MC's office.

Ask them if duty exists. Simple enough question, and very key in both infidelity and reconciliation. A question my first MC refused to answer after I explained that duty dictated why I did something.

Ask number two, "What can a person do to earn back trust?"

The MC needs to be the type that *will* actually hold the WS's feet to the fire and state plainly the having the affair is wrong, damaging, has killed all trust, and that recompense and rebuilding is necessary on the part of the WS.

The MC absolutely cannot be a "leave the socks around" therapist that treats an affair the same way as they treat a disagreement about one spouse leaving socks around the house wherever they happen to take them off. The actual conflict resolution or coping that you will get out of this type of MC is far too flexible. Emotional abuse is basically impossible for this type of MC to tell from a legitimate emotional desire.

Here's how this MC might sound

SOCKS VERSION:

MC: "How does it feel when you see your partners socks lying around the house?"

Clean Spouse: "I feel like they don't respect the effort it takes to keep the house clean."

MC: "Dirty spouse, see how that makes CS feel?"

DS: "Well it's just a pair of socks, I'm so tired at the end of the day. To me it's not a big deal. I'm just trying to relax in my own home and I get a huge sense of relief to just take my shoes and socks off when I get home and plop down. I mean to pick them up but I forget sometimes is all."

MC: "CS, see, DS doesn't see this action as disrespectful, they are just trying to relax, do you think you could just pick up the socks and give a friendly reminder when you do instead of letting this get you really mad?"

AFFAIR VERSION:

MC: "How does the affair make you feel?"

BS: "Unsafe, hurt, and betrayed. Like my whole life has been taken away from me."

MC: "See WS, BS is hurt, doesn't that make you want to stop the affair?"

WS: "I think that love is complicated and you can love multiple people. I don't see why my love for someone else hurts BS."

MC: "BS, see, they don't mean to hurt you. That relationship is important to WS. Can you see past your insecurity to let WS continue a relationship with AP, and just remind them that you make them the most important part of your relationship when they step out on you?"

Don't be surprised if some bullshit very close to this happens.

They really don't care who capitulates. They just try to make each person see the other person's view. They don't pass judgment and they don't arbitrate. They try to get you to agree no matter the cost to either individual. It's the M they are out to save.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2173   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8756838
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 hurtpartner73 (original poster new member #80985) posted at 5:17 PM on Saturday, September 24th, 2022

CaptainRogers and This0is0Fine, thank you so much for your detailed replies. CaptainRogers, I like what you mentioned about seeing through WSs attempts at manipulation and calls it out. I think my WW often diverts to topics she's more comfortable about, and the MC usually lets it go. The MC definitely caters to my WW, likely due to WW's mental health issues. She rarely holds WW accountable, and often gives her a lot more leeway than I'd hope.

The MC seems like she is experienced in general, she also works at a crisis center, but I'm thinking she is not as experienced with couples and infidelity.

This0is0Fine, the MC is definitely not as clear as you mentioned. She doesn't put a stake in the ground and say this something is wrong with WW behavior - or even my behavior. I think she's more the listen, and 'tell me more about that' type of therapist. MC may not be as extreme as the affair version of the 'leaves the socks around' scenario, but she doesn't arbitrate, which I would appreciate.

I like the idea of asking if duty exists, and 'What can a person do to earn back trust?'. I'll try to think of more questions to ask a new MC as well.

Me: BH, 49; Her: WW, 47, bipolar/borderline DDAY 4/23/2022 - EA 2005-2009ish? PA? Not sure. TT M 17 years, Trying to R - it's bumpy

posts: 43   ·   registered: Sep. 20th, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8756898
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BellaLee ( member #58324) posted at 3:18 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

Hi @hurtpartner73 so sorry you've had to go through the pain of betrayal but hoping for true R for your marriage and healing for both of you.
I agree with the breakdown given by @CaptainRogers, all very good points.
From my own experience a good MC will also help to find the root cause of why the infidelity occurred. This means delving deeper into the dynamics of your relationship.
The MC will guide the WS to take responsibility for their actions and not make any excuses.
The MC will advocate for accountability from the WS to the BS moving forward
The MC will provide guidance and tools that will encourage each person to want to be the best version of themselves in the marriage going forward.
Will focus on the importance of what needs to be done by the WS to rebuild the broken trust
A good MC will not take sides but will have the goal of bringing about true R for the couple.

These are just a few of what I found in my own MC at the time that was really helpful for my H and I.

Having a wise and experienced MC therapist is so important in your R and healing journey. I pray you find one that will help you both build a better healthy marriage with a healthy family dynamic. Wish you all the best!

posts: 233   ·   registered: Apr. 18th, 2017
id 8757510
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Ladybugmaam ( member #69881) posted at 4:36 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

Find a Gottman trained MC. We've had two. They were both amazing. Both were able to support us both. Called FWH on his bullshit when necessary. And, me on mine.

EA DD 11/2018
PA DD 2/25/19
One teen son
I am a phoenix.

posts: 300   ·   registered: Feb. 26th, 2019
id 8757522
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 7:09 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

I'll add: The MC deals with the A first, and for as long as the BS wants to deal with the A.

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 27878   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8757547
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 hurtpartner73 (original poster new member #80985) posted at 9:03 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

Thank you for all for sharing. BellaLee, I really appreciate your comments on a good MC. I think it helps expose doubts I have about my current MC. She doesn't seem to provide guidance or tools. She listens, and asks us to talk more about something. But I feel we need a facilitator, or arbitrator. And she doesn't seem interested in helping my WW be accountable.

In my last MC appointment it went off the rails a bit. We have another one tonight. I'm going to see if I can get it on track, but I'll need to start looking for someone else. I hate the idea of re-investing all the time and talk into a new MC, but I think ultimately it will pay off.

Thanks to everyone's feedback here I think I know what kind of questions to ask.

Ladybugmaan, I'm going to look for Gottman trained MC. I see there are some not too far away. I'm glad to hear it was helpful to you.

sisoon, This is an area that I struggle with. Our MC let's WW take up most of the session diverting to (what I think of as) lesser topics, when I see the affair as the huge blinking red light, must be dealt with urgently, topic. I know WW is uncomfortable, but she spent time and energy on the affair, I feel she owes me time and energy on the recovery, if we're to make it work. I like the idea of the MC dealing with the A first.

Thank you again for the tips. I'm sorry everyone here has had to go through something so rough, but I appreciate that you are sharing. I constantly feel like I'm flying blind, and this has been very helpful to me.

Me: BH, 49; Her: WW, 47, bipolar/borderline DDAY 4/23/2022 - EA 2005-2009ish? PA? Not sure. TT M 17 years, Trying to R - it's bumpy

posts: 43   ·   registered: Sep. 20th, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8757561
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 10:15 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

I could write a computer program in a few lines that would be just as good as some MC's.

#This program assists couples in communication

print("How would you characterize your marriage?")

while (client inserts money):

- print("How does that make you feel?")

- input()

- print("What do you think about that?")

- input()

print ("And that's our time. Really good progress today. You two are doing the work and that's what really matters.")

[This message edited by This0is0Fine at 11:09 PM, Thursday, September 29th]

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2173   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8757566
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 hurtpartner73 (original poster new member #80985) posted at 10:56 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

This0is0Fine, Thanks for the laugh! You're not wrong - I feel like my current MC may fit this. Maybe add a loop around the 'How does that make you feel?' & 'What do you think about that?' until the time is up. We tend to go through those two questions repeatedly until end of session.

Me: BH, 49; Her: WW, 47, bipolar/borderline DDAY 4/23/2022 - EA 2005-2009ish? PA? Not sure. TT M 17 years, Trying to R - it's bumpy

posts: 43   ·   registered: Sep. 20th, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8757571
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 11:10 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

The spaces didn't show up right, I put dashes in under the while loop.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2173   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8757573
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 hurtpartner73 (original poster new member #80985) posted at 11:13 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

Too funny! I'll be thinking about this in my session tonight!

Me: BH, 49; Her: WW, 47, bipolar/borderline DDAY 4/23/2022 - EA 2005-2009ish? PA? Not sure. TT M 17 years, Trying to R - it's bumpy

posts: 43   ·   registered: Sep. 20th, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8757574
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survrus ( member #67698) posted at 11:27 PM on Thursday, September 29th, 2022

HP,

I think there is a basic problem with MCs and even ICs, the more they keep you in conflict the more they get paid. In my experience with that class of people they tend to drag their feet and move at a glacial pace.

Please ask your MC if they have cheated in their own marriage.

posts: 1232   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2018   ·   location: USA
id 8757576
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sisoon ( Moderator #31240) posted at 4:55 PM on Friday, September 30th, 2022

hurtpartner73, I urge you to raise your issue with your MC. Remind them that the A is like a gunshot to your gut, and you have to attend to the emergency before doing anything else. If the MC doesn't deal with the A, consider stopping MC.

After all, MC treats the M, and your M didn't fail - your WS did.

*****

the more they keep you in conflict the more they get paid.

I haven't had that experience, and I know my W (a former IC) was happy when a client left because they had achieved their therapeutic goals.

One way to avoid being exploited is to have therapeutic goals when you start MC or IC. Then you can monitor your progress and keep control of your IC process. Monitoring progress can tell you if the IC is a help, a hindrance, or a non-entity, and you can fire the hindrance or non-entity.

Some ICs and MCs are less competent than others; some are downright incompetent....

fBH (me) - on d-day: 66, Married 43, together 45, same sex ap
DDay - 12/22/2010
Recover'd and R'ed
You don't have to like your boundaries. You just have to set and enforce them.

posts: 27878   ·   registered: Feb. 18th, 2011   ·   location: Illinois
id 8757758
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 hurtpartner73 (original poster new member #80985) posted at 12:57 AM on Saturday, October 1st, 2022

sisoon, Thanks for the advice. WW and I had an MC appointment last night. We lost almost the entire appointment to WW's diversions. I mentioned at the end that this isn't helping me, and that we need to create goals and a treatment plan (recommended by my IC - who seems decent). I mentioned that I know the A didn't happen in isolation, and that there are other dysfunctions in our marriage, but I'd like to deal with the A ASAP. I'm tired of TT, DDAY was April 23rd, 2022. I mentioned to my wife that it's like I'm on fire and she has a hose and a bucket but chooses to just use a spray bottle while she watches me suffer.

MC mentioned it would be better to focus on the marriage's dysfunctions before the A. That solidified the need for a new MC for me. I mentioned to WW that we need to find someone else, and she agreed.

I've started search for a Gottman trained MC (Thank you Ladybugmaam). Doing the research over the next couple days and then I'll start calling places on Monday. In the meantime we'll use the current MC to try to create goals, but only for another session or two at most.

Thanks for you advice again!

Me: BH, 49; Her: WW, 47, bipolar/borderline DDAY 4/23/2022 - EA 2005-2009ish? PA? Not sure. TT M 17 years, Trying to R - it's bumpy

posts: 43   ·   registered: Sep. 20th, 2022   ·   location: United States
id 8757839
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This0is0Fine ( member #72277) posted at 1:13 AM on Saturday, October 1st, 2022

If you want you can borrow the line I used with my 1st MC:

I do think we have learned some valuable lessons from you. One is that if you keep using the same methods you'll keep having the same problems. Since your methods aren't working, we will be getting a different MC.

Love is not a measure of capacity for pain you are willing to endure for your partner.

posts: 2173   ·   registered: Dec. 11th, 2019
id 8757840
Topic is Sleeping.
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