Marriage Counselling 7

After the Friday night discovery, I booked a marriage counselling session for the soonest our MC (marriage counsellor) was available. I messaged her later, asking if there was a closer session available, citing a crisis in our marriage. She squeezed us in yesterday.

MC asked, “So, how have things been, Jack? What’s been happening?”

I told her about how I found a therapist of my own and what her plans are for me: lowering my anxiety, trauma reversal, and increasing my physical well-being. I avoided mentioning what happened between Carol and I because I believed Carol was the one who should be explaining that part.

“So you reached out to me out of nowhere and said you two having a crisis. What is the crisis?” She turned to Carol for the answer.

“I… came clean about everything,” she responded. She then described all the details I have already mentioned.

“I have to admit, I’m a little shocked. I thought you were going to say it went back to January, not all the way to 2014. So, it seems you two are still married,” MC said.

“The new information doesn’t change the fact that it was an abusive relationship, which was one of the reasons why I believe I can eventually forgive. It now makes more sense, compared to what I saw from my perspective,” I said.

MC had us go through the questionnaire where we rate our marriage in various areas.

In our first session, I scored my commitment to the marriage a 9, while Carol put hers at a 7. This time, I put my commitment at a 7 (still wanting it to work but I’m not so enthusiastic), while Carol put hers at a 10. Overall, our numbers looked good to MC.

“Well, these numbers are very high, considering what happened a week ago,” she said. “A lot of my couples in crisis are at 2’s and 3’s.”

I told her about the calm conversation we had about it on Monday where Carol explained everything from the beginning as best as she could.

“Carol, in our personal session, you said how you were mourning the loss of a friendship. How do you feel about his friendship now?”

“It was not really a friendship. He was manipulative and cruel,” Carol replied.

“I never understood why she called him a friend. She was constantly upset or mad or crying to me about him. Literally in tears, with me trying to console her,” I said.

“Friends don’t make you cry all the time,” MC said. She handed us a sheet of behaviours in an abusive relationship and asked Carol which applied to Rick. Most of them did. It was actually insightful as Carol spoke of more abusive and manipulative tactics used by him that she hadn’t mentioned before. Intimidation, for instance. MC then handed us a sheet that described the behaviours in a healthy relationship. None of those applied to Rick.

Not wanting to be seen as a saint, I admitted to MC that I’ve exhibited behaviours toward Carol that were described on the abusive sheet.

“It’s normal that you’ve been angry, Jack. I would be worried if you weren’t,” MC replied.

Once again, I’m told my behaviour is okay considering the extreme circumstances but still, it doesn’t sit well with me and it’s not the person I want to be.

Carol stared at the list of abusive behaviours while we continued to talk. Suddenly, she lashed out, “This is just an excuse! I did this! I could’ve stopped it but I didn’t!”

“I’m not saying that you are not responsible for your actions. You are and I’m glad you are facing that. This is to help us all understand the nature of the relationship so something like this doesn’t happen again. Carol, you are a nice person. You care about people and you try to help them. But that can be taken advantage of. Chances are you’re going to deal with an abusive personality in your life again. It may be a woman next time,” MC said.

MC then inquired about Carol not providing full disclosure.

“Rick told me to say that it only happened twice. As you know, I still believed we were friends at that point and that he was looking out for me. After that, I felt there was no point in telling Jack anything else. We were separated and I thought there was no chance that he’d ever take me back anyway, so why break his heart more? Then things changed and we were trying again. Now, I would not only be hurting him more by telling him everything, I was going to lose him again.”

“Jack, does Carol’s reasoning make sense to you?” MC asked.

“It was wrong of her, but yeah, I understand the thought process behind it.”

MC talked about improving our communication, during which I mentioned my daily anger again. I said that I’m trying to be more honest and sharing about my anger but I don’t feel it’s helpful to come home from work every day to tell Carol how angry I’ve been at her.

“Every day, I’m terrified that you’re going to come home and say, ‘This isn’t worth it anymore. Get out.'” Carol said.

MC asked what she can do for us at this point. I asked about trust. After all, it’s completely broken here.

“In your assessment of your marriage, your numbers are very good. You have good communication, you take time to be affectionate, you have good teamwork, even your sex life is doing really well. You can’t have any of that without trust. There is already trust and you two are doing all the right things in your relationship to heal and move forward. In fact, you are my poster couple for a strong relationship. You should be counselling my other couples. You two are amazing.”

I was surprised and quite flattered. But still, “I feel like I’ve had so much thrown at me that I’m just waiting, expecting another trauma to shake things up.”

“From what you’ve been through in life, I’m not surprised that you’re always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Do you believe that Carol has provided full disclosure?”

“I think so but I’m very on guard at the moment, so it’s hard to tell for sure,” I said.

“Carol, have you disclosed everything?”

“Yes,” she replied.

“I want you to think really hard about it and if there’s anything else to disclose, you need to tell him. You don’t have to sit and figure that out right this moment but think about it and get it out over the next few days. Jack is not going to tolerate another discovery period later on. All out in the open now, okay?”

“Okay,” Carol said.

Afterward, Carol and I talked in the car for a bit.

“That went much better than I was expecting,” I said.

“I still don’t like having excuses. Even if you say he’s 99% responsible and I’m only 1% responsible for the affair, I’m still responsible. I did wrong. I failed you. I failed us. I failed our whole families.”

“Carol, I know. But the circumstances must be examined and understood. I know you didn’t go looking for an affair. That this wouldn’t have happened without a predatory boss in your life. Yes, you did wrong but there’s a difference between your situation and going out and finding a hookup at a bar. Context matters. Circumstances matter.”

It matters to look at the situation as a whole. If someone cheats, you could just put them in a box and label it ‘cheater’. It would be a lot easier that way: get hurt, put person in box, don’t think about it cause person in box is bad. The hard way is thinking, examining, trying to understand, and using all that knowledge to make hard decisions that you know you are accountable for.

I choose the latter. Always.

9 thoughts on “Marriage Counselling 7

  1. Jack, very friendly and supportive suggestion. If you are going to stay and work it out, please don’t do so because he was 99% wrong and she was 1% wrong. Stay because you want to forgive her and want to have a future with her. I’m really sorry to say this (especially because I don’t know either of you) but her story comes across as extremely manipulative. I think sometimes we try to believe what makes us feel better and this is what makes you feel better. I want what makes you feel better to be the truth but as an objective observer, I don’t think it’s true. She told the counselor she was mourning the loss of a friend. She told you she is responsible. Believe her.

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    1. How is her story manipulative? From her perspective, she believed he was a genuine good friend. She had to be shown by me, two counsellors and a handful of friends and co-workers that she was being controlled and abused ever since she started working with him. Now, she is finally beginning to accept that he is a predatory male who lied to her and used her and now I’m starting to get comments that this story is her manipulating or playing an angle. That is extraordinarily frustrating considering the work it has taken to get her to see him for what he is. She was mourning the loss of a friendship that wasn’t real.

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  2. I’ve seen a few people comment about Carol, with their opinions of how she is weaving the tangled web to shine the spotlight on Rick’s bad behavior rather than her own.

    Honestly, that was my first thought, as well. I don’t think she’s manipulating you – but at first (and this thought being from the last post) I was like “Hold on just a second – how is this 99% Rick’s fault and only 1% hers. When you step outside of your marriage, you hold just as much fault as the other person.” That was my FIRST thought. So, I can see why other people are pulling the same conclusion.

    Stepping back and really trying to see this situation from her perspective, I get it. Been there, done that. It’s classic shit where the “friend” slowly starts to weave a misconstrued picture of a marriage that you didn’t even know was in trouble. Suddenly, it is. Then everything spirals out of control and you’re in way too deep. I still feel like the blame lie 50% on both parties, because it takes two to tango, and at the end of the day her decision, however swayed and manipulated it was, by Rick, was her own choice to make.

    I really hope that you two can come through this. You both seem solid and committed to one another. She is going to beat herself up about this for a long time – and she probably should. We all know how wrong it was. I would imagine that she, more than anyone else, knows just how wrong it was.

    I don’t know if you’ve mentioned in your post or not – but did Rick’s wife leave him? Or is he just skipping along free as a bird, destroying lives?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Again, Rick’s bad behaviour had to be shown to her before she started to get it. His terrible to treatment of her has been an observable fact on my end. After I caught them, she even denied that he caused harm to her pregnancy, something she (and most women, I imagine) would never forgive someone for, let alone start fucking him. Trust me, the abusive Rick story is no angle she’s trying to spin.

      The 99% comment was her frustration at the counsellor and I for talking again about Rick’s abusive behaviour and power over her. She often finds any explanations or explorations of the abuse to be attempts at excusing her behaviour. They aren’t, but she keeps seeing them that way. So what she was saying was that even if it was determined that she was only 1% responsible for the affair, it’s just as bad as being 100% responsible and she must suffer for it. Basically, it’s going to be a hell of a long time before she ever considers forgiving herself.

      Rick is free as a bird in that respect. He spent 0 minutes in the dog house for his actions. He’s done it before and he’ll do it again. He also has a permanent high salary position regardless of how little work he does or how many rules (or laws) he breaks. That is, until his parents lose their business due to poor management and/or lawsuits.

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  3. Sometimes I think we get caught up in the problem and not the solution. Imo fault isn’t even the issue. Who cares who is 1% or 100% at fault? How does fault matter?

    And the question of is she, or don’t she, manipulate? What makes her manipulate? Because she is crying? Because she is asking for understand and help? Because she is pleading for understanding or time or forgiveness? Contrary to the lazy narratives about men and women that cheat, we fucking hurt too. And if we show feelings we are being manipulate. If we go cold we must not care. If we fight we are covering up. If we deny things we must be lying. We we say yeah but we are deflecting.

    The behavior is judged subjectively and with conflicting yardsticks. Ffs.

    What a bunch of bullshit. The pain of the men and women betrayed isn’t better or more than the pain of the people that betrayed. Betrayal is always rooted in loss and pain. Always.

    Now I’m going to get on my 5 hour flight angry for both of you…and for me.

    What matters is responsibility. Is she taking responsibility? Is she doing the work? Is she showing up? Is she doing what needs done to carry her load?

    And are you?

    And that is what matters. Rick was part of the problem. He will always be part of the problem but the solution has nothing to do with the problem.

    Hang in there. One way or another, you got this.

    Liked by 1 person

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