My husband, James, and I had been married for 20 years when I found out about his extramarital affair with his former secretary. I overheard his friends joking about it while they were fixing a car in the garage. Then, I heard my husband shushing them because I might be nearby.
Well, I was, and it hurt me even more that he planned on keeping it a secret from me forever. It made me question the affection and love that James showered me during the two decades we shared.
When I confronted my husband, he tried to deny it at first. When I refused to talk to him for hours, James finally admitted to his mistake and told me that it was just one time during the early years of our marriage. He said, “I got drunk then, babe. I did not know what to do; she was coming on to me. I was weak back then. I am really sorry.”
James’ alibi only angered me further, though. I questioned every word that came out of his mouth. For one, why would he go drinking alone with his secretary when he was already married, and he knew that she liked him? Guys would only drink with the opposite sex alone when they had other motives most of the time. Also, was he sorry that he hid the affair from me for many years? Or was he sorry now because he got caught in his lies?
I thanked God that I learned about it when our two children were already in college. They were both technically adults, making it easier for me to decide to leave my husband that night and move to the house that I bought for myself before getting married.
Did my husband try to woo me back? Of course. He sent flowers and knocked on my door every day. I never answered him, though; the explanation he gave me was enough.
I asked my best friend, a divorce lawyer, to officially end my marriage. I told her about what James did and how I felt that was unforgivable. She whipped up the documents immediately and sent them to my husband because I did not want to see him again. Our kids were also aware of our situation at that point. Although they were obviously unhappy about it, they supported my decision because they knew that their father messed up.
A Hitch In The Divorce Proceedings
My friend/lawyer already warned me that my husband might not agree with the divorce at once. She was right – he contested it and filed a counter-affidavit. He practically said that it was silly to throw away a 20-year marriage over one mistake that happened decades ago.
The nerve of that guy to downplay the issue! But since he filed his own papers, I had no choice but to see him during the first divorce hearing.
The hearing was emotionally exhausting because I had to listen to James recall what happened back then, especially during his affair. It became even more exhausting when the judge ordered us to get divorce counseling before deciding how we would move forward.
Was that really necessary?
- What do divorce counselors do?
Divorce counselors typically help married couples on the verge of splitting decide if they genuinely want to part ways for good. They also help the husband and wife realize what causes their issues and possibly resolve them to save their marriage. If it’s unsalvageable, divorce counselors step in to ensure that the two can separate peacefully and prepare them mentally and emotionally for the divorce.
- Do therapists recommend divorce?
No, therapists are not supposed to recommend divorce to anyone, no matter how much they think the couple should do that. The reason is that doing so is a violation of the ethical and moral codes that they have promised to uphold. Instead, therapists may try to help them understand their problems and come up with the best solution.
- What are the signs that you should get a divorce?
- Lack of Happiness: The first sign is a mutual feeling of unhappiness whenever you think of coming home to your spouse or sharing a meal with them.
- Negative Interactions: If you can only notice the awful things that your partner does – and vice versa – it’s possible that you need to separate soon.
- Avoidance: Avoiding the person you are supposed to cherish for the rest of your life is not a sign of a healthy relationship.
- Lack of Sex: Physical intimacy is as important as emotional intimacy. Without sex in your relationship for no valid reason at all, it may mean that your love for each other has become platonic.
- Priority/Value Modification: If you or your spouse wants to focus on your career or partying all of a sudden and does not wish to meet you halfway, it may create an irreparable rift between you.
- Familial Suggestions: Often, your family members may see what you refuse to see regarding your marriage and suggest divorce.
- What is the meaning of marriage counseling?
Marriage counseling refers to a type of counseling that has been designed for couples who cannot resolve their marital problems in their town. The marriage counselor practically acts as a mediator between the two until they reach an agreement.
- How do you know when your marriage is over?
You will know that your marriage is over when your spouse does something, and you cannot forgive them. Forgiveness is vital to keep the relationship going. If you stay together without forgiving each other, your life will be miserable.
- What questions are asked in marriage counseling?
- What are your biggest marital issues? – You and your partner can lay out every problem that you think your marriage has. Some of what the other person will say may not sit well with you, but that’s their opinion, so you should not immediately call them out.
- When did the issues manifest? – This question aims to see your awareness of the problem. After all, some individuals are oblivious and do not know how to answer it. If you know when the issues manifested, you can figure out a solution for it more quickly.
- What’s the most annoying thing that your spouse does? – Again, this is an anger-triggering question for both parties, but you must be truthful about what qualities or antics you find annoying. This way, you get to understand the problem.
- What’s the most loveable thing that your spouse does? – Though you are upset with each other, try to remember what you loved the most about your partner.
- How can you improve your marriage? – The marriage counselor will not dictate how you can improve your marriage. Instead, the mental health professional will help you realize your problems’ roots and think of what you should do with your marriage.
- What to do before going to couples counseling?
From the start, agree about what you want to achieve by going to couples counseling. Do you want to save your relationship? Would you like to separate without hurting each other further? There is no wrong answer here, but you need to decide on that early.
You must also ensure that both parties are willing to do couples counseling. If one does it because the other forces or blackmails them, the counseling may not work.
Furthermore, you should not wait until you lose your respect and love for one another before you seek help. Most marital issues are resolvable, especially if you try to resolve them as soon as they appear.
- What happens at the first couples therapy session?
The first couples therapy session will always revolve around your relationship history. For instance, how did you meet? When did you start fighting? Is there a third party involved? What is the common cause of conflict in your marriage?
No matter your reason for doing couples therapy, you must be honest to your therapist and each other. Otherwise, you may end up wasting your time and money.
- How can I regain my marriage?
- Control Your Critical Side: One issue that people complain about is their partner’s ability to pinpoint their mistakes all the time. It may not always lead to divorce, but it undoubtedly makes the marriage dry and almost platonic. If you don’t want that, you need to focus on your spouse’s positive aspects and let your critical side take the backseat.
- Be Kind: Kindness is essential, regardless of how long you have been married to each other. It is sometimes missing in long-term couples since one may think that they are well past the niceties, but that should never be the case.
- Focus on What You Love About Them: Everyone has flaws – even your spouse –, and it may be impossible for them to fix those. If you want your marriage to survive, you need to look past their faults and think of what you love most about them.
- Create New Experiences Together: Relationships typically fall through the cracks when couples settle into a dull routine. To regain your marriage, you need to be spontaneous and try new activities together.
- Nurture and Support Each Other’s Interests: Being married does not entail that you should have the same interests in life. It is best to acknowledge what your partner loves to do as a person and support them no matter what.
- Talk: Often, a small problem intensifies when couples do not communicate with each other well. If you can learn to talk as much as possible, that will be beneficial for your relationship.
- Have Sex: Physical intimacy should never be gone in a marriage, no matter how many kids you already have or how many decades you have been together.
- Can a toxic marriage be saved?
Yes, a toxic marriage can be saved, but it cannot happen overnight or when only one-half of the relationship wants it. Both parties should make an effort to work through their marital and personal issues before thinking of saving their relationship.
- Can a relationship go back to normal after cheating?
Yes, a relationship can go back to normal after a cheating incident. Sometimes, it even acts as a wake-up call for the couple and makes them strive to improve their relationship. Despite that, the way back to a happy marriage may be rocky, depending on how grave the infidelity is.
- How do you trust someone again after they hurt you?
Trusting someone again after getting hurt starts with forgiveness. You cannot fully trust someone if you are still holding a grudge against them or recalling the awful things they did to you.
Similarly, the other person must work hard to earn your trust. If they continue in their disastrous path, you may never be able to trust them again.
- Is it better to divorce than stay in an unhappy marriage?
Some people prefer to stay in an unhappy marriage because of the kids, but a divorce will always be better than that. It is better because the kids will not see their parents fighting or barely talking or forcing themselves to act happy when they are around. That cannot be good for child development.
The divorce will also benefit the adults’ mental health since they no longer need to live under the same roof with someone they don’t love anymore. It will allow them to find a new love and find happiness.
- Do people regret divorce?
Yes, many people tend to regret divorce, even though it is for the best. That is especially true for individuals who cannot find new love afterward.
During divorce counseling, the counselor mostly guided us with the questions we were supposed to ask each other. The more my husband confessed about his infidelity, though, the more I realized that I could no longer be with him.
I’d say the counseling worked because my husband finally accepted that I did not want to be with his lying ass anymore. There was no custody battle involved afterward because the kids were already adults, making our divorce even more peaceful. Before parting ways, we agreed to get together during the kids’ milestones, such as their college graduations, birthdays, and even weddings in the future.
Neither James nor I remarried after that. I guess he did love me truly. I loved him, too, but some mistakes could not be forgiven, no matter how much you love each other.