While I'm waiting to emotionally process this mess, I volunteer to this journal that I feel marriage counseling made things a whole lot worse for me.
If you just found out about your spouse's affair, I suggest doing individual counseling (IC) for a while before considering marriage counseling (MC). My experience with MC did offer some help, but in the process did a lot of harm.
IC is about you. The client is you. Decisions are made for what is best for you.
In MC, the client is the marriage relationship. The treatment is based on whatever the therapist feels is right for the marriage. In my situation, the therapist felt it was best not to first address the adultery, but to deal with my wife's lingering issues. She (the therapist, also a woman) said that it would be in my best interest to "yield to win."
So imagine being in session, me sitting there while Wife talks about the things that bother her, things I've done and said, describing, crying. The therapist looks at us, slowly shaking her head back and forth, every few sentences stopping to say to me "How do you feel about that? How does it feel to know I hurt my wife? What words come to mind? Shame? Look at her and tell her."
This is like 4 weeks after D-Day and I'm still trying to come to terms with another guy between my wife's legs. With that huge burden, and then having to come up with an ability to empathize with my injured wife. I feel like I was re-traumatized and it made getting over the adultery a lot more difficult.
I have since learned from another therapist that our MC should have given more treatment to the most recent injury. I also did learn some things about myself that launched into some IC of my own, my own improvements and healing.
But what made me quit / fire this MC was just how one-sided it was. Even Wife recognized it and agreed with me. MC was much more critical of me and the words I used than Wife. One time when I was describing a situation, she double-checked with wife "Do you agree that's how it happened?" However, when it was Wife's turn, MC never double-checked with me, she just took it face value what Wife said.
MC made sure to punctuate that Wife does not have to answer any of my questions. I can ask, but she has the right to not answer. Now you would think that MC would, in the spirit of healing, encourage Wife to answer as much as she could. But that isn't how it went. I feel this empowered Wife to rugsweep.
But what really hurt is I never got a turn in session. I never got a turn to talk about the adultery, what it meant to me, the pain I feel, the loss I suffer. Wife was never asked to describe her feelings about it, was never asked to "look at me and tell me." I never got a turn, I don't know why and never will. I cancelled all future appointments with that MC and never went back.
So unfortunately I don't recommend MC for anyone new to infidelity. You might get lucky with a therapist who gets it, or you might end up like me, and find yourself worse for the wear.
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