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Has anyone moved on after infidelity without counselling?

(31 Posts)
Notnastypasty Sun 03-Nov-13 21:13:02

My DH had an affair. Found out 3 months ago and we have talked it to death ever since. I needed to do this and know all the detail but have got to the stage where it's making me feel crap to keep going over it and getting upset. I think we have had finally had a breakthrough this week where we can both see what lead to this and to move forward.

We have counselling booked this week, first session and am thinking of postponing. Not sure I want to rake through it all again or if it will cause more confusion, etc.

I wouldn't rule it out in the future but thinking it may not be helpful right now? Has anyone successfully moved on after an affair without counselling?

Gossipyfishwife Sun 03-Nov-13 22:35:23

No.

I wanted counselling but he refused.

We eventually divorced. To be fair he didn't want to divorce. He wanted me to shut up and pretend he was the perfect husband.

Please go to the session. You have nothing to lose. It is extremely useful to have an outsider's help in sorting out what must still be a terribly upsetting event.

I also think it is still early days. I understand you are probably no longer reeling from the shock, but that is not to say that you should be ready to sweep it all under the carpet.

If you fear confusion and more hurt if you keep talking, then that is all the more reason to go to the session. I think all of that needs to be properly addressed and talked trough before you can truly move on. Best of luck, it is not an easy road. Your H in particular has a lot of emotional work to do all around.

MajesticWhine Sun 03-Nov-13 22:44:09

In answer to your post, no I haven't. We had counselling, and maybe it helped a bit. It can't do any harm, really. I can't really see how it would cause more confusion. It might be easier to let things lie, but really it is better to keep on talking. By the way a counsellor would not necessarily give an opinion on what went wrong, or blame anyone. Should just facilitate you two communicating with each other.

Yes. I don't know why counselling is held up as the gold standard on here. It's always recommended. It would have been the death knell for us. I couldn't imagine anything worse than adding some supposed expert into the mix, and frankly neither could my husband. It would have pi55ed us both right off.

I think if you are in a position where you can't be open, examine the issues, accept responsibility, and do all the other things a counsellor might recommend, without the push from a third party then you probably haven't got much hope long term. After all, moving on after an affair is a very long and slow business. It takes years, and you aren't going to have some counsellor sitting in your front room being wise every night to get your through it.

My advice, if you are both doing ok without, don't put yourself through it. It won't help. If you are struggling and have reached an impasse, well what's to lose as in those circumstances you aren't going to make it without something changing.

I will be shot down by 'the counselling is best' mob now, especially those who are counsellors wink

ohtobemeagain Mon 04-Nov-13 10:18:24

We're doing it without counselling. DH offered to go, either alone or together, if I felt it would help me, but I've always hated the idea of counselling.

Today is our 18th anniversary, 4 months ago I didn't think we'd make it. I still have bad days where I'm obsessed with it, but they're getting further apart.

I feel that we have talked and talked as much as we can. I now want to put it behind me, as every time we discuss something I get that horrid sicky feeling, I get upset and hurt again. I won't find out anymore than i already have. DH is doing everything I want him to and more. He appears to be genuinely remorseful, and you can see how upset he is that he has hurt me so badly.

So, for us, counselling wasn't the way to go, but I'm not knocking those who do find it useful.

Loopyloulu Mon 04-Nov-13 10:53:13

Worcestershire I'm not a counsellor but have a close friend who is having counselling post her DH affair. I have several friends who are counsellors.

I just wanted to pick up on a couple of points you made which may help the OP. First, I don't think it's right to call a counsellor an 'expert' - they don't give advice or guidance. If they do they are over stepping the mark. They are there to facilitate discussions which otherwise might not take place.

As for not being in your front room, some people have long term counselling. My friend has weekly sessions and has done for almost 2 years, so she can talk about what has happened at home each week. They also have couples counselling with a different counsellor.

Having said this, counselling won't work for everyone.If you feel confused OP or unsure of what you want then it may help you. If one person is unable to open up to the other partner, it may help to have someone to prompt the discussion.

Maybe try one session and see how you feel?

Loopyloulu you are impossibly sweet not to realise that by 'supposed expert' I was being horribly sarcastic and implying they are anything but expert. As you have friends who are counsellors I will remove my size 5s from my gob and duck gracefully out of the arena grin

Notnastypasty Mon 04-Nov-13 18:34:25

Thanks so much for all your views, it really is helpful.

Ohtobeme and worsester - it's good to know that others are moving on without it, that is what I'm hoping for!
Think we will cancel for now but rethink in the future if we need to.

Loopyloulu Mon 04-Nov-13 18:52:36

I realised you were being sarcastic which is why I wrote that post. It was still criticising them for being 'non experts' who can't help people.

JaceyBee Mon 04-Nov-13 19:11:58

The client is the expert on the client worcestshire, not us. I jibe counselling is not for everyone but there is no need to be sarcastic about my profession, we do a lot of good believe it or not! wink

JaceyBee Mon 04-Nov-13 19:13:18

Jibe?! Think that was supposed to say 'get'. blush

Notnastypasty Tue 05-Nov-13 07:58:13

Worsester and ohtobeme - did you find you were able to find the reasons for his affair and feel secure in that he won't repeat the same mistakes?
I suppose that's the real reason we've thought about counselling - he doesn't seem to know why or how he did it when it goes against everything he stands for.
For those who have had counselling did it address these issues?

loupyloulu Tue 05-Nov-13 08:46:13

He will talk about whatever he wants to. No counsellor will make him talk about something but will allow him space to discuss his feelings. The agenda is under your control- not theirs. The counsellor doesn't come long with a 'tick list' of what they want you to talk about. It's entirely up to you but the questions you raise here and pretty fundamental to understanding what happened so it would seem reasonable for it to be raised by your DH.

I've had counselling a few times though not for this situation.

EllieInTheRoom Tue 05-Nov-13 08:55:10

My mum and dad did if that helps. It was 20 years ago mind after my dad was a prize shit for a year.

They are nearing retirement now and honestly couldn't be happier. Neither of them "believe" in counselling. Oh Ok then folks.

My mum Has spoken of it to me and my sisters in recent years, when we have been going through our own marriage problems. It's clear she is still very hurt by it. But then she would be even if she had had counselling I guess.

MissScatterbrain Tue 05-Nov-13 09:01:28

People have affairs because of their own issues, coping mechanisms and character flaws

Individual counselling can be useful for the cheater if they want to understand what was in them that led to them justifying their behaviour.

Couples counselling is useful if there are weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the marriage that need addressing with the help of an impartial third party.

I would recommend reading Shirley Glass's Not Just Friends and Julia McDonald's How to help your Spouse Heal.

ohtobemeagain Tue 05-Nov-13 11:22:10

OP, yes we did work it out to some degree, although part of it was just because he could sad We were going through a bad patch, she flattered him, she leant on him, played the damsel to his Knight in shining armour. I, on the other hand, appear fiercely independent and don't need a knight.

He said he was unhappy, I pointed out that I was also very unhappy but chose to deal with it by running the house, caring for our sick child, running my own business and HIS, looking after HIS parents (they live with us).

He appeared to get it. He has changed hugely. I also second the Shirley Glass book, it helped me hugely and, to some degree, DH. We still have bad patches, and No, it doesn't make me confident he won't do it again, but then counselling won't either.

What has helped most with ensuring he won't do it again is transparency. I know all his passwords, I can look at his phone at anytime. He rings me when he leaves work, from his work phone. It sounds very controlling but these are things HE put in place , not me. I told him that HE was responsible for making me feel safe, he was responsible for rebuilding the trust. Trust has to be earnt, and he was starting from a negative point of view.

We know that this cannot go on for too long without it becoming damaging, but it is up to me how long, not him.

Not in answer to your questions, yes, and as far as anyone can be.

Why, well we were miserable, both of us, and neither of us could see any way out. It was an escape.

Will it ever happen again, well perhaps, who knows, the difference is I really don't think it will because DH and I after many years together, and much upset are finally happy. Genuinely happy. Everything about our relationship has changed, and everything about us as people has changed.

I have found myself, my self confidence, my self esteem, and I finally like myself. I've relaxed, let go and started to enjoy life, and stopped striving to be perfect. I am who I was before I married when life was easy.

DH has started to talk, about anything and everything, the big and the small. He shares the ups and downs of his day at work, he admits when things are getting on top of him, he no longer sulks, he is no longer selfish or self absorbed and really does put his family above everything. I love him for that, and I appreciate him in a way I never did before.

How did we get where we are, well we separated and I filed for divorce. I honestly think that is what made the difference for us. The whole situation became very real to DH. It was no longer something he could sweep under the carpet, or even control. It made him think and it made him talk.

In some ways his affair was the best thing that could have happened to our marriage as without it neither of us would ever have opened up properly. Once we were no longer together and the pressure cooker atmosphere was gone we were able to do just that, and become really good friends.

What I'm saying is you have to reach a place where you know you can be happy on your own before you know you can be happy together. If you don't there is a risk you will stay for the wrong reasons, and whatever it was that lead to his infidelity will reoccur. Getting past an affair is hard. Very very hard. 17 months on I still have black days. I don't think these will ever go. What keeps me here is the knowledge that although he makes me happy I don't need him to make me happy. I stay because I want to, not because I am scared to leave.

JoinYourPlayfellows Tue 05-Nov-13 13:47:31

"he doesn't seem to know why or how he did it when it goes against everything he stands for."

confused

If he STILL thinks that having an affair "goes against everything he stands for" when he is basically a poster boy for marital infidelity, then he does need counselling.

That level of self-delusion means he is almost certainly going to do it again.

Yes DH and I recovered from affair, without counselling.

We had been married 8 years when he had an affair with a work colleague.

That was 4 years ago now.

We had one assessment session with relate, before embarking on counselling, but we both hated it, it was like pulling teeth. I was exhausted and couldn't do it.

Notnastypasty Tue 05-Nov-13 19:39:20

Worsester and ohtobeme - thanks again for sharing your experiences, it really does help. I know you're right - I need to feel good about myself and build my self esteem, pretty hard given the circumstances!
There are a lot of changes to be made in our relationship, mostly on my part if I'm honest as he did put up with a lot of shit from me, he finds it hard to talk about things and tell me if he's unhappy so obviously thought the way to happiness would be to have a bloody affair!

He is trying very hard and doing all he can, I suppose the sad thing for me is that he detached himself when the affair was going on and I think it's taking time to regain his feelings for me - he says he loves me and I believe him but I suppose it takes time to fall back 'in love' again? He hasn't said this, it's just a feeling I get. Do you think having to have patience in getting these feelings back is normal?

Not are you sure it is you who needs to change? It is often the case that the one who has an affair is the one who is giving less to the relationship in the first place. Just an idle thought to chew over.

I get the feeling from your posts that you are feeling a little lost and your DH isn't telling you everything. In those circumstances perhaps it would help for you to talk to someone to help you put everything into perspective. Please don't settle with a man who isn't 'in love' with you. If he's isn't emotionally invested in you, and desperate to keep you, you will never be able to trust him and he may never be entirely trustworthy.

Your DH is lucky to still have you. He needs to appreciate that. You are not the fall back option and you are not to blame.

MissScatterbrain Wed 06-Nov-13 09:58:16

I agree that its usually the cheater who has been giving less to the relationship.

As for your behaviour, can you think to when things were good and perhaps put together a timeline for the affair to see if it was in reaction to him withdrawing and changing (e.g becoming selfish/lazy/distant/critical) as a result of meeting OW.

His ambivalent is pretty common and this is because he is still attached to the OW. You will not like to hear this but the best way to end this ambivalent is a short sharp shock to burst the bubble - which is him knowing that he is in real danger of losing you and that means you asking him to give you space to consider your options.

MissScatterbrain Wed 06-Nov-13 09:59:24

As for your behaviour, can you think to when things were good and perhaps put together a timeline for the affair to see if your behaviour was in reaction to him withdrawing and changing (e.g becoming selfish/lazy/distant/critical) as a result of meeting OW.

Notnastypasty Thu 07-Nov-13 13:01:44

Worsester and missscatterbrain - I would say it's me that has to do the work. Although he obviously needs to be honest, transparent, attentive, regain trust etc (and he is doing those things) I have to admit that my behaviour made him unhappy at times.

This is no excuse for what he did, I know that and so does he. But even my parents (they're divorced) who are angry with him and supporting me have said that I need to change. I can honestly say he's never done one thing before this in 10 years that made me unhappy. Whereas when I look at how I behaved over the last few years I know it must have made him feel not so great. He's said he wouldn't ask me to change and that he has no right to but I want to change - even if it doesn't work out I don't want to be that person again.

As for feeling detached/unloved by him, I think this is me being over sensitive which is understandable given the circumstances. Family and friends that know have said you can tell how much he loves me and that he's being really attentive and loving.

I suppose what I'm getting at is couldn't it just be the case that he was flattered by the attention, took the opportunity as he was unhappy at home and made a big mistake? Do we really need counselling to look deep
Inside, at his childhood etc? Surely people make mistakes, act selfishly and then take a good look at their behaviour and want to change it? I know that's what I'm doing.

We just keep hitting a wall when talking about why he did it but it really boils down to the above. Not sure coubselling could provide any more insight really?

We've read the books, not sure what else we can do to move forward really?

Onefewernow Thu 07-Nov-13 13:27:33

He did NOT have an affair because of your behaviour.

He could have chosen lots of ways to deal with that. Sneaking around was the worst way, and he knew it.

Dahlen Thu 07-Nov-13 13:46:40

I don't think it is always necessary to have counselling. However, it IS pretty fundamental that you have some self-awareness, the ability to be honest, and a willingness to assume responsibility for your own actions.

If your H genuinely feels he doesn't know why he did what he did, then he is lacking self-awareness, is possibly being dishonest and if he wants to cancel counselling without having an alternative method in mind to deal with this he's abdicating responsibility (he's basically saying "I don't know why I did it and I'm not going to find out in order to prevent it happening again either").

You may have had problems in your marriage before his affair and some of those may be faults of your own. However, that is quite separate to his affair. Do not confuse the two issues. Affairs can happen in the most happy relationships, and likewise the worst relationships may be characterised by fidelity.

MissScatterbrain Thu 07-Nov-13 18:03:01

Never mind what your friends and family say - they don't know what really went on. Your feelings of having been unloved are valid - do not let others dismiss these. Its so easy to put on a front of being attentive and loving in front of an audience.

Thisisaghostlyeuphemism Thu 07-Nov-13 18:07:21

So he is saying he doesn't know why he did it but he can't be arsed to do the work to find out.

I wouldn't be happy with that.

melanie58 Thu 07-Nov-13 18:16:32

If you don't feel ready for counselling, or don't want it, then don't. I found it really helpful, but with hindsight I think I was really looking for someone to help me admit that I didn't want to work at the marriage and that it was ok to tell my DH that it was over. He, on the other hand, refused counselling and I think that was because although he professed to be keen on saving our marriage he was actually still in contact with the OW. So obviously counselling is not a universal panacea. You could just wait until you think it would be helpful to you, either alone or together.

PukingCat Thu 07-Nov-13 18:28:27

If you take responsibility for his affair you are pretty much letting him off the hook and giving him permission to do it again. It sounds like he like this plan, what with still denying that he knows why he's done it. Of course he knows. Its just better if you take responsibility and then you can't dump him can you.

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