Tag Archives: marriage therapy

Preparing for Full Disclosure (and a Wonderful Weekend)

30 Sep

Tuesday I am supposed to get a full disclosure from my husband at his therapist’s office.  He has been preparing for about 3 weeks.  He is going way back – from his first acting out through today.  I am nervous because I don’t know everything that is going to come out.  Our MC is back from his medical leave, so I am glad to have his support.  I have seen him for IC and I know if I need extra support he can offer it.  I have a knot in my stomach just thinking about it, though.

In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on all the positive things happening to relieve some anxiety.  Today was incredibly nice.  We slept in, had a “roll in the hay,” then my husband went out to pick up coffee and came back with flowers for me.  We went to a winery tour, tasting and picnic in the afternoon.  On the way up we talked and laughed.  We touched, kissed, and were close emotionally all day.  The weather was as perfect as it has ever been, we purchased several bottles of delicious wine from 2 wineries, and dinner was amazing.  It was a fantastic day.

For now, that’s what I’m focused on…  Our present progress and where our future will take us.  I’m hoping that the full disclosure can create closure on the past and help me feel more trust in my husband.  This entire process has been hard for him, too, I’m sure, although he hasn’t complained once.

I know I promised to give some details and pictures from our anniversary, and I will do it soon.  I just want to bask in the glow of my wonderful day for now.  Hope the rest of your weekend is great!

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The Hard Way

20 Jun

I had to travel about an hour away today for a meeting.  On the drive up and back I couldn’t stop thinking.  That’s not really unusual for me because I’m a thinker, but there was something out of the ordinary.  Usually after I write a blog post it eases my mind.  The racing thoughts abate, and I’m able to put that topic behind me for a while.  Today I was still thinking about some of the questions that I answered yesterday about reconciliation.

I got a lot of really great comments after my post.  One of the things that has stayed with me is the common perception that staying to work on the marriage is “weak” or letting the wayward spouse “off easy.”  Those two things couldn’t be farther from the truth, so it blows my mind how they have seemingly become the collective cultural idea.  Usually stereotypes have some grain of truth to them, which is why they are so enduring.  This I don’t understand.  Maybe some people out there just give their spouse a pass and move on like nothing happened, but I don’t know anyone like that!  All of the men and women who I talk to on message boards and blogs are going through the same difficult journey that I’m on.  Sure, we’re all in different places, but I don’t think a single one would say this is easy – for us or our spouses.

I was also thinking about my blog in general and wondering where all the music went.  When I started this I was posting more music and using songs to express my ideas.  I still believe music is very powerful, so where did it go on my blog?  I have a pretty cool radio in my car, and I have a flash drive loaded with basically all of my music that I let play continuously instead of listening to the radio (all of the stations around me pretty much suck).  While I was driving and thinking my music was playing away.  I rolled through a few songs from various artists, then it hit the Keith Urban section.

A picture I took from one of concerts I attended. I was right up next to the catwalk he had, and actually reached up and touched him once!

I paused in my musings to remember how much I used to love his music (and still do).  He is just the consummate musician.  I have been to several of his concerts, and I really couldn’t get enough of him live.  He and his band are amazing.  At their concerts they have a big jam session on stage.  They improvise, riff, extend songs, do fun and interesting transitions, and have this rare music-driven performance that is mesmerizing.  Keith Urban himself plays the guitar, bass, drums, piano, and a few other things (I think he played the trumpet during one song).  The first time I saw him in person I’m sure my mouth was open in amazement the entire time.

Another thing about Keith Urban that you may or may not know – he is an addict.  Today as his music was filling my car I understood the deep emotions behind some of his songs for the very first time.  I heard his words from a completely different perspective.  I was amazed at how much more I liked the songs (which I didn’t even think was possible), and how they really connected with me.  One in particular started playing, and I cranked it up as loud as I could stand it.  Then I put it on repeat.  I listened all the way through at least 3 times barely breathing, then repeated it a few more times while singing along.  It was perfect for where I am right now.  It paired perfectly with my post yesterday.  It was right in line with all of the things I have been thinking all day long.  Just listen:


Combining Grey’s Anatomy and Keith Urban?  Rock on!

Here are the lyrics for the chorus:

But I do love you.
You keep me believin’ that you love me too.
And I know it’s true,
This love drives us crazy but nobody’s walkin’ away.
So, I guess we’ll have to do it the hard way.”

The whole song just really fits, but I’ve already said that.  I think my main point here is that we shouldn’t consider people who want to save their marriages “weak.”  We should be looking up to them in admiration.  Just take a hard look at the state of marriage in this country.  It seems like divorce is as common as the cold!  Love, committment, pushing through the messy stuff, and learning to change and grow is so special!  It’s definitely harder than walking away.  But it’s also more rewarding.  So, bravo everyone for sticking it out and putting your all into things!

In closing, I will leave you with this picture of Keith Urban’s cute behind.  🙂

Being a Fixer

5 Jun

I am a fixer.  When I see a problem I want to correct it.  If there is something to do, I attack it.  I am also an overachiever and a perfectionist.  I want to be the best.  I won’t accept less than what I know I am capable of.  I strive to stand out from the pack.  While these things have led to accomplishments and good outcomes in my life (full college scholarship, 4.0 GPA while maintaining a full-time job, owning a home at 19), they are not healthy traits overall.  They can lead to missed opportunities (because if I can’t guarantee success I will most likely not try at all).  They can lead to controlling behavior (if you want something done right, just do it yourself).  They can lead to frustration, stress, low self-esteem, and a host of other things.

My husband’s sex addiction is the biggest personal test of those traits that I have ever experienced because I can’t fix it.  Not being able to control that aspect of our life makes me feel helpless, useless, and deficient in some uncorrectable way.  I have to address my “fixer” urge and perfectionism head-on almost every day.  Nothing I can do will change or correct my husband’s sex addiction – now, in the future, or in the past.  It is his journey.

I am slowly accepting the fact that there are aspects of our marriage recovery that are not in my hands.  It is terrifying because the outcome doesn’t solely rely on me.  I have to put away the notion that we can have a “perfect” marriage.  I also have to challenge the idea that perfection is possible in any other aspect of my life.  That is my ongoing battle.  It is one of the major contributions I can make to our marriage.  Accepting that means I am also accepting that my husband’s sex addiction and his hurtful actions existed outside of me.   He isn’t perfect, either.  What he did wasn’t about me, I can’t control it, I couldn’t have loved him out of it, and his behavior wasn’t my fault.

That resolve is put to the test every day, though.  I often hear people parroting that an affair is just a “symptom” and the real “cause” is a bad marriage.  They point the finger back at the betrayed spouse and say that there is something more or better that we should have been doing.  They say that we failed in the marriage first by not fulfilling every need our partner had.  These people are fond of saying that affairs are wrong, but that they wouldn’t have made the wrong choice if this or that thing was better to begin with. It plays right into my “fixer” complex.

I’m not going to go into the merits of that argument as they apply to standard affairs without a sexual addiction component.  I really can’t address that because that’s not what I am dealing with.  I do understand that there are always things ANYONE in a marriage can do more of or better.  No one is perfect, and that includes me.  That admission is a hard one for me to make.  As much as I would like to do everything right all of the time, I don’t.  Even if I did and had been all along, though, the issues that I am dealing with in my marriage would still be there. Because my husband’s “cause” is deeper than our marriage. 

There are other “causes” of affairs than just “my marriage sucked” or any variation thereof (I wasn’t getting enough sex, she didn’t love or cherish me enough, etc.).  There are some people who are dealing with a pattern of sexual acting out that is a lifetime behavior not caused by the person they are with.  Sometimes affair behavior has nothing to do with their primary relationship at all – and confessed sex addicts will be the first to tell you that – at least my husband would.

Does that mean there is something fundamentally wrong with me that I picked him to marry? Quite possibly. That is part of my journey to healing.  I need to figure out why I was attracted to someone who was emotionally unavailable.  I can say that sex addicts are masters of covering up their emotions, compartmentalizing, rationalizing and denying.  But that doesn’t change the fact that I inadvertently accepted that behavior by allowing him to offer me thin explanations, bad lies, and surface emotions.  I let him give me less than I deserved, and I tricked myself into thinking I was getting everything I needed.

I know that this will sound awful, but sometimes I wish that I was just dealing with a garden variety affair. I know that they are painful and difficult to get through. But at least there is a clear path, and it is more of a partnership to find your way out.  This?  I’m not sure what it is.  Any books I read call me codependent if I try to help my husband through it.  So I have to just sit back and let him do the work.  Sure, I have things that I’m working on as well.  But none of those things will matter if he doesn’t unravel his “cause” and break his underlying patterns.

I WISH that I could do something to fix this.  I WISH that our cause really was as simple as some fundamental thing being missing from our relationship.  It just isn’t.  His sex addiction was not caused by me.  It was there before me.  The primary cause of my husband’s cheating had nothing to do with me.  It has to do with his addiction.

That means we are working not just to find the proper footing in our marriage.  We are also working to find a way to connect and get to the “real” person underneath the sex addict veneer.  I want to know my husband.  I want him to share with me.  He wants to share with me.  But his gut instinct, his default programming, is to lie, hide, and cover his true emotions with acting out behavior like porn, sex chatting, sexting, etc.  He isn’t acting out sexually anymore, but he is still lying and hiding things that he could and should be sharing with me.  He has to figure out why.  He has to get to the root of that programming, undo over 40 years of “faulty wiring,” be okay with being vulnerable, and learn to accept the love that I am offering him.

And I have to learn to let go.  I have to learn to let him figure things out.  I have to learn to keep offering love and support whether he accepts them or not.  I have to keep being vulnerable even when he isn’t.  I have to lead by example and put into my marriage what I hope to get out of it.  That is the only way that I can “fix” anything – by doing the things that are in my power and being aware of the things that aren’t.  What an easy concept that is in theory, but how incredibly difficult it is in practice.

Maybe now you understand me better.  Maybe you don’t.  I don’t know.  I just wanted to point out that not every affair has the same cause.  Maybe other perfectionists out there will be able to let go of a little bit of their guilt, feelings of responsibility, and shame regarding their husbands’ affairs.  There are more spouses of sex addicts out there than you might think.  This is written for them.  Hopefully you will be able to identify what things you can change and what things you can’t.  Maybe you will start to understand the areas where you have responsibility and the areas that are completely on your spouse.  Don’t accept more responsibility than is really yours because it will only lead you to try to change things that aren’t in your power.

Being Connected

29 May

This weekend was an extended, holiday weekend for both of us.  It was really nice to have that extra day to relax and connect.  We were able to have some fun together and experience a few new things.  It reminded me of how great it is to just hang out with my husband.

On Saturday morning we had our couple’s therapy appointment.  It was the first one after our big blow-out fight.  It was a little uncomfortable going through all of those details again and seeing all of the ways we went wrong.  We were able to turn it into a positive like I was hoping, though.  All in all by the end we both felt more understood.

The best part of Saturday happened after that, though.  We had tickets to see Bodies The Exhibition.  On our way there we stopped at Friendly’s to have lunch and some ice cream.  It was fun picking out our toppings and enjoying a carefree, junk-food type meal.  Once we got to where the exhibit was we looked around in the gift shop a bit before it was time to head on in.  Although we only spent about 15 minutes or so browsing around, we did open up some neat anatomy books.  It was really great to talk about something non- sex-addiction or relationship related.  We laughed at ourselves and our less-than-fantastic knowledge of where all of the organs are located.  Let’s just say neither one of us could be doctors.  It’s a good thing we have never, ever had the urge.

The actual exhibit itself was wonderful.  I had seen it once about 7 years ago or so.  This one had a lot of the same stuff, but some news things as well.  Plus, I could see that exhibit 100 more times before I could retain all of the information.  There were cases and cases of bones, plasticized organs, joints, and various body parts.  They also had full human skeletons arranged in different positions – like ice skating, playing baseball, dancing, etc. – with various degrees of muscles, skin, bones, and nerves showing.  They had an entire display on brains, memory, and nerve-endings.  It was amazing.

They also had a very interesting part of the exhibit showing the amount of food and average weekly cost for families around the world.  It was thought-provoking to see what the average family in various countries eats in one week.  The photos had the entire spread laid out across their kitchen or dining room with the cost in U.S. dollars.  We weren’t the worst of the bunch, surprisingly, but we were terrible gluttons compared to families in some African countries whose entire weekly meal consisted of a few bags of rice, corn, and some other dried substances totaling only $1.93 in cost.  Obviously, there were extremes on either side of the spectrum.  The most intriguing were countries whose weekly meals consisted mostly of fruits, vegetables, small amounts of meat, and no processed junk food.  It is cheaper and more nutritious to eat that way.  I just wish it was easier.  It definitely made me think about ways to change our diet to make it healthier.

We spent almost 2 hours in the exhibit looking at everything together.  We talked about some of the stuff, especially the several completely blackened and cancerous smoker’s lungs.  I am so incredibly glad that Mr. Mess stopped smoking 2 years ago.  I know it is not the only danger out there, but it certainly is at the very top of the list of destructive things that people do to themselves.  The whole experience is something that I highly recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to visit one of those exhibits.  It was a great way to lose ourselves in one another and learn new and stimulating things.  When else will you get such an opportunity to see real human anatomy inside and out, up close, in detail, with explanations and comprehensive descriptions?  Nowhere outside of medical school.

After that we headed home for some relaxation.  During one of our couple’s exercises in the book we do together every week the topic of favorite movies came up.  We have talked about movies and television a lot.  Our tastes are very similar, however, there are a few places where we definitely divert.  One reason is the age difference.  He was watching movies for years that were made before I was even born.  A few of them are favorites of his that I have never seen.  One example is Alien.  I admit that I have never seen any of the movies – not even the more recent ones.

So we decided to make this weekend a movie weekend.  We went out shopping, picked up a few of his favorites, and I raided my movie collection for favorites of mine that he hadn’t seen.  We made sure to get Alien and Aliens (the first and second movies).  We also bought Highlander.  I re-arranged all of my DVDs and Blu-rays after getting rid of my really old VHSs – since I don’t even have a VCR anymore.  We then picked out a few movies and watched away.

I have to admit that the Alien movie was really great, especially for something made so long ago.  He warned me that the special effects wouldn’t really be that great, but I didn’t see a problem with them at all.  I love horror movies that make you jump, and boy did this one!  I do consider myself a nerd, and even a little bit of a geek, especially after I met my husband (and yes, there is a difference).  I previously would have just flat-out refused to watch anything set in outer space…  I was not interested at all.  Since meeting Mr. Mess I have opened myself up quite a bit to different movie genres.  This is one movie that I’m glad I saw.  I think the whole thing was really well done.

I absolutely cannot say the same thing about Highlander.  I really don’t understand how him (or anyone for that matter) could find that movie good in any sense of the word.  It blows me away that he likes it and has watched it a lot.  Like over 10 times.  Are you kidding me?  It was awful.  Truly.  Excruciatingly so.  I get the whole sword-fighting appeal (but in a high-rise building in the 20th century?), and I know that he is into the whole fantasy genre (immortals, and the whole 9 yards).  But wow…  This movie had a plot that made absolutely no sense, horrible acting, worse “special effects,” no real premise that was interesting in the least, and to top it all off it was horribly predictable and treated the audience like they are morons (you do not have to spell out every single little thing).  And don’t get me started on the horrible 80s music and outfits…

Still, I watched it.  I do know that I complained more than I should have.  More than I told myself I would.  I had committed in my brain that I wouldn’t say anything negative at all.  That I would do my absolute best to understand the movie and why my husband liked it.  I failed miserably at that.  I even tried asking him what he liked about it, but he couldn’t really tell me.  Probably because I had already approached things in a damaging manner.  I will have to do better next time.  I just really wasn’t expecting anything that bad.

Mr. Mess watched Spanglish and The Terminal with me, mostly because it seemed too depressing to watch House of Sand and Fog or Schindler’s List (I realized that I tend to like things on the serious side).  I remember both of those as really good movies the first time I watched them, with just a touch of comedy in a realistic storyline.  It had been several years since I watched either one, and I have to say that I was a bit disappointed.  I still think the actors and stories were great, but I hadn’t remembered that BOTH of them deal with infidelity to some degree.  Talk about a bummer.  Spanglish was tough, especially when Tea Leoni’s character revealed her affair…  The whole thing was a little too real.  They were easier to watch than I thought they would be, though.  I think it’s because we are in such a better place.

We also had a Criminal Minds marathon – we went through a few discs of the second season and are almost into the third.  The best part was all the lying around eating yummy food, though.  We had dinner from my favorite Thai restaurant, takeout from Mexico (really their cheese dip is perhaps the best thing in the world), donuts, a hot fudge sundae from McDonald’s, and steaks on the grill with baked potatoes and lima beans.  That thing about healthy eating that I mentioned earlier?  That didn’t start this weekend.

We also did some (minimal) house work, and took all 3 of our dogs to the groomers.  Add in a new dog bed, some treats, and a few extras and that was a painful bill.  Having all of the dogs freshly washed, smelling good, and devoid of hair to shed everywhere was worth it, though.  We let them all in with us and had a puppy pile while we were watching Criminal Minds.  It had such a happy, normal feel to it.  I wish every day could be that relaxing.

I enjoyed our low-key holiday weekend, especially because I barely had to get dressed.  😉  It was really nice to just spend time together connecting and enjoying one another’s company.  We were able to find our great chemistry again and just laugh, lounge, and love each other.  I think it was my favorite Memorial Day weekend ever.  I look forward to more time like that in the future.

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