TWO YEARS ON YOU TUBE:
Last week was the two-year anniversary of putting my 60-plus videos on my You Tube Channel.
Jack and I agreed that we wanted to see what would happen without publicizing them. Today, there have been 36,750 views and I have 401 subscribers.
COUPLES COUNSELING INTENSIVE:
When I can save a relationship, like I did yesterday in a three-hour intensive at my private practice office, I wish I could help dozens of couples like those two dear people who love each other under all of the anger, hurts and conflicts.
So, when my husband, Jack, offered to help me broadcast online, it was an opportunity to do more than just my couples counseling or marriage counseling sessions. Now, like this morning, I sometimes receive a sincere and detailed email reaching out for my help.
EMAIL ASKING FOR MY HELP:
So, with this husband’s permission, I share his hope that I can offer more…that I can help him resolve his internal struggles and heal his hurts. He knows it stands in the way of rebuilding his bond with his wife.
Here’s what he wrote:
Hello I’m fairly new to your YouTube page but was intrigued after listening to your trust building video.
I have been married going on seven years and there has been infidelity in the marriage on my wife’s part. She just came clean to me this winter that she was unfaithful three times since our marriage.
I have been devastated and we are attempting to work on our marriage and currently involved in marriage counseling. She is putting forth a strong effort to regain my trust but it is hard for me to accept her gestures simply because of the infidelity. It is hard primarily because I was thinking we were just having simple problems, but yet, they where really serious problems from intimacy,communication, and arguments.
The marriage counseling is truly helping but I feel I need more criteria and exercises to help get rid of the anger and hurt from these events. I lash out at times to only see that I am pushing her away more and more.
We have two young children and we both want to give them a happy home with both parents. I’m just coming to you for more criteria or worksheets I can do in my own time to help me progress better on my part.
I thought I might add that we have an age difference that may play a part in these problems of the past.
She is totally apologetic and doing things in a reasonable manner but it seems that my hurt and anger gets in the way at times when we talk. There are many triggers that remind me of the infidelity. Please help.
My first goal is to help understand the cause of infidelity. My assumption is that the injury wasn’t consciously delivered. Most people aren’t trying to be mean nor trying to deliver harm by betraying their spouse. Seldom do people consciously decide to have an affair, to cheat or sleep around on their spouse or mate. When we can determine a cause that is unintentional, it isn’t such a personal violation.
IT’S USUALLY 50/50: The root cause of an affair is usually a reflection of something missing in the relationship or marriage. And, as most of us in my profession say, a marriage is fifty-fifty. In the case of this husband, he has given me a couple of logical clues:
1. ADOLESCENT INCOMPETENCIES: They got together when they were young adolescents (18 and 22) and have been trying to create a good family when they aren’t even yet adults. The First Adulthood begins between 28 and 30 years old. Those years between 13 and 28 are supposed to be lived for the development of IDENTITY…NOT for INTIMACY. These two were children.
2. HOW CAN ADOLESCENTS SUCCEED AT PARENTING WHEN THEY DON’T YET HAVE IDENTITY? Two children were born to two adolescents. It’s an all-too-familiar tragedy. When we haven’t grown up and try to live like a grownup, we can’t succeed…it’s impossible to know what your brain hasn’t yet developed.
3. ADOLESCENCE IS FOR EXPLORATION: Research now has the ability to closely scan how an adolescent brain develops. (Just check out the works of one of my heroes, Dr. Arlene Montgomery.) We know which skills and abilities develop in the brain and during which years of life. Just because we get out of high school doesn’t mean that we can know ourselves fully nor think with the dimensions of, among other things, the Executive Function. As teens, we are naturally driven to learn, adventure, experience. We want to try everything and explore ourselves and the world. And of course, sex is one of those fascinating worlds of finding self and finding connection. It isn’t intimacy, it’s curiosity.
Here is my first example:
One of Four Reasons Behind Cheating and Affairs
1.Lack of Maturity
NEEDINESS: Adolescents, in the throes of Puppy Love, enjoy only the illusion of intimacy. These types are looking for relief. They dated and married too young in their adolescence and, so, experience their unfulfilled teenage longing for fun and adventure. They are usually insensitive to their spouse’s or partner’s own plight or they have become a ‘love addict’ and haven’t been able to be emotionally individuated nor intimate. They are looking for the fun of a lost adolescence and, using the typical 14-year-old self-stimulation, they get by with “sex/drugs/rock n’ roll/virtual reality.” They have affairs to run away from responsibility too burdensome for their age and to get some relief from a job, a spouse and parenthood by seeking immature novelty and arousal.
Teenagers who fail to develop thinking skills through stunted growth lack perspective. Immature people will cheat even if they have empathy about the hurt they inflict. Planning for the future with decision-making ability, standards, beliefs and/or problem-solving knowledge come with developing identity in adolescence.
MATURITY OBVIATES BETRAYAL: The empowerment of self-mastery connects us with a sense of purpose. We are able to make choices for reaching goals and aren’t sidetracked by emotional neediness or committing to a marriage before we have the confidence of identity and the internal and external resources to offer a new spouse. This kind of maturity and relationship choice obviates betraying a beloved.
The Young Head-of-Household and The Young Hard-working Wife: Jason and Caitlin came to see me in agony. They had been through enough adversity for any couple in their 40s. But these two had started dating in high school, got married at 20 and now were still in their 20s and had three children. They did it all without help from their families because nobody supported their relationship so young. But they did it together and behaved like adults the whole time through jobs, college, parenting and running a household. They were tired in every way and they weren’t even thirty. They had never taken a vacation and worked most weekends. Caitlin had been seduced into a brief fling years before which they handled. But, now, Jason would go to a bar on his way home from work and would stay out all night sometimes. Although he tried to cover it up, Caitlin found out about the affair. She felt betrayed and violated. Jason honestly loved her and felt deeply ashamed but couldn’t stop his impulses to get away from her, their home and their children. After working with me and understanding the losses they had incurred by skipping adolescence, they began to appreciate how hard it had been on both of them and, most of all, on their marriage. They started balancing their lifestyle by planning time for fun together and for time off so Jason didn’t need to look for illicit pleasures. Their deep romantic friendship returned and grew as they forgave each other and themselves, re-established commitment, trust and open communication.
I recently encountered them after some years. They are fun-loving, energetic and bonded and they have happy and thriving children.
The man who wrote this request called me to give me permission to use his story. With our telephone conversation, I gave him a few more resources. One of my favorites is smartmarriages.com. His little family really needs some fun…some really outrageous fun! I’m looking forward to hearing what they plan through their Marriage Meetings and with ideas from the ParentFurther.com website from the Search Institute. One brainstorming example I offered – save money to rent a houseboat with another family for summer fun.
His reply: I have received it. (Family Meeting Instructions) Thank you for the kind words of encouragement. I am looking forward to a great outcome… you are awesome I appreciate everything, I will keep you updated on our progress…