January 31, 2020
How to Manage Infidelity As A Couple
George’s wife cheated on him — twice. He still remembers the smell of the room they were in when she told him 13+ years ago. George joins us to share his story of how worked through the infidelity and continue to grow as a couple. He shares his struggles, lessons learned and the ways in which his community supported them through the process. Many years later, they’re together and thriving just as they did in the early years of their relationship.
Please see a rough transcript of this episode below.
Brandon: Welcome to the @SexWithDrJess Podcast. I’m your co-host Brandon Ware here with my lovely partner, Dr. Jess
Jess: Today we’re going to be talking about infidelity and moving forward after an affair.
In the past, we’ve talked about the fact that there are many ways in which you can hurt your partner. There are many means through which you can cause harm to a relationship. And that feeling hurt is a universal experience alongside the feelings of being let down, feeling alone and even feeling betrayed at times.
In a world that touts monogamy as the gold standard of relationships, however, we have placed sexual cheating at the top of the transgression hierarchy. Many view cheating as the worst possible thing you can do to your partner (perhaps with the exception of physical and emotional abuse).
But the reality is that cheating is common. Some research suggests that one quarter of us has cheated. I’d suggest that the number might be higher, because it’s difficult to even be honest with ourselves let alone to be honest with researchers.
But relationships survive and thrive despite cheating.
And whether or not someone has cheated isn’t necessarily an accurate measure of your relationship quality or fulfilment. You can be in a relationship in which no one has cheated and be miserable and you can be in a relationship in which you’ve both cheated in the past, worked through the causes and effects and be living in deep fulfilment.
We’ve talked about monogamy in the past and the challenges that it presents for many people — and strict or toxic monogamy, in particular, so we won’t get into that now. Instead, we’re going to delve into a real life story of how cheating can be overcome.
Joining us today to share his story of how he managed and worked through an affair in his relationship is George, who has been listening to the podcast and wrote in with his story.
George: I will start off with the good news first: We have been married for nearly 16 years now, we have 3 kids and a good home. She is a stay at home mom and I work full-time. We have a great home and a dog to boot. I need to pinch myself sometimes because we are so fortunate to have what we have, to be together with each other and our kids and to have fulfilling relationships with friends and family.
3 years in to our marriage my wife cheated on me with her boss. The emotion behind writing this even 13 years in the future is still very raw and palatable. I can remember the smells of the tavern we were at when she told me. She had 2 (that she told me of) separate encounters with him. One in their office in Chicago, another on a company trip to NYC. My heart rate is increasing in the telling now.
We were both working in lower paying, middle management jobs. We rented a crummy house in a nice community that was near where I worked and the train to the city where her office was located. We were in our late 20’s and we spent our evenings and weekends drinking with my friends, smoking cigarettes and giggling. In retrospect I was avoiding adulthood.
We had a lively sexual life, I thought, although she wasn’t in the mood as much as I am. Truthfully, she still isn’t as I am usually ready on a moment’s notice. She needs the set and setting just so. Conversely, an empty house without kids in it will do at this point! At any rate, I have always been attracted to her. Even now as we approach our mid-40’s she is a sexy women with a body I love to enjoy.
At any rate, I thought I was attentive to her. We went out on date nights, I held the door open for her, I celebrated the milestones, we visited her family a few states over, I helped with the household chores, cooking, cleaning, etc. I thought I was a good husband. I still do, in hind sight.
I wasn’t perfect and I was clueless about actually growing up. You know? Being a MAN, not just a 27-year-old boy with a job. There was much more to being her husband that involved not DOING anything other than listening. So, one night when we were drinking at “Quarter Beer Night” at a tavern in the western suburbs of Chicago she laid it on me that she had cheated.
I don’t think I regret the immediate feeling, emotion that I had: I wanted to hit her. Hard. I didn’t. She had thrown the first punch and I didn’t have anything to counter with other than my fists. Again, I am biting my lower lip as I write this.
I got the two of us in the car, I drove to Chicago and dropped her off at home and I left. I called my dad and he picked me up at a corner in the Chicago Loop and I stayed with my parents for a few days. This was between Christmas and NYE. I was devastated. I stayed in a spare bedroom with my parents while my sister and her husband were visiting for the holidays. I kept the lights off, I cried uncontrollably and I stayed in that room for 48 hours.
This is a real tribute to my parents that I had never had to deal with difficulty until I was 27. I wasn’t soft. I was wholly unprepared for the deception my wife had perpetrated. She went out of her way to lie to me about where she was and what she was doing. That still stings. I remember wishing to be dead. Not to stop living. Rather, I wanted to be free from pain. It was real and it hurt as bad as any bone break or muscle tear.
I called a friend who was divorced and asked for his attorney’s name and number. I never called. I strolled out of the room and told my parents I wanted to go home. Not to my wife. I wanted to go back to the other parts of my life. I was MIA from work. I love (and always have loved) my job and I was eager to return to work because it was as good a break from the pain as I could get.
She was also devastated. Not because she had cheated. Because she saw the wounds she had inflicted on me. She could live with hurting herself, not me. This is only by looking at the past that I came to this conclusion. I told her that if we were to stay married I needed to understand how, not why, but how she had brought us to this place. She had been in counseling for a year or two and we saw her therapist that first weekend I was home. We shared our story honestly with her and she indicated this was not for her to take on. Instead she referred us to a therapist who was better equipped with handling what we had done, to each other.
This second therapist over the course of several months saved our marriage. I still check in with her once a year (or more/less depending) to let her know that she saved more than our marriage. She saved our lives together and has provided life for our 3 children. Counseling, if you’re willing to engage in it and WANT to salvage the relationship is very effective.
She helped me commit to being a better husband (and person, by extension) and she helped my wife understand how her life, to that point, had been marred by mistrust and abuse in key ways. I am NOT blaming my wife’s infidelity on things that happened in her past. She was old enough to make better choices if she valued our relationship. However, trauma from her life at important developmental stages made her question her worth her entire life. She didn’t value herself enough in the right ways. That type of worthlessness wove itself into her life in insidious ways to great effect in our marriage.
During the counseling process I was NOT okay. I would break out crying and excuse myself from engagements with friends, family and co-workers who had no idea what was happening. I got in the habit of telling my wife “I’m OK” if I was thinking bad thoughts and able to handle it. I would be a mess if I wasn’t OK and she would try and talk to me, to soothe me. After a couple of months the tidal waves turned to shifting tides and ultimately they turned in to a calm breeze that occasionally grew to a gusty wind. Today, that betrayal still stings when I ruminate on it. It hasn’t left me.
More than anything I am still angry. Not because she cheated. I am angry that she felt the need to unburden herself at my expense. It makes me mad, even now, that she couldn’t stop it without hurting me in the process. I felt, at the time, like the point was to do it to tell me to hurt me. Now I just feel hurt.
I have never forgiven my wife for this. I wanted to hate her. I never did. I hated the thing she did, not her. I have come to terms with both emotions. I can hate something someone did without hating the person. It also isn’t necessary to forgive someone for betraying you. I’m not sure betrayal is forgivable? I know that loving my wife and the life/lives we lead aren’t dependent on forgiveness. Perhaps they are dependent on understanding? I have learned much and, even this many years later continue to learn from it.
I have never shared this story in writing before and I share it with you because perhaps some of your listeners (if you indeed read this) might benefit from my experience. Thank you for helping your listeners and clients in all the ways you help them, which is more than just in the bedroom. I appreciate all you do for everyone you reach.
P.S. When I first returned home we had sex immediately. I don’t know why. I needed to take that back from the other man, perhaps? I needed to feel that. I’m glad I did although I can’t explain what made that one encounter so necessary.
Jess: I believe there is such value in hearing other people’s vulnerable stories, because vulnerability is a universal experience. Feeling alone, feeling betrayed, feeling embarrassed, feeling ashamed — these are all universal emotions, but they’re difficult to talk about. Shame, in particular, is one that intensifies in private and I’ve been dealing with feelings of shame around something someone said about me online earlier today. I’m struggling with how to work through those feelings and I certainly don’t have all the answers. So I really appreciate George’s willingness to share and hope that you’ll consider doing the same. If there is a feeling or an experience that is eating at you, I hope you’re able to share with a loved one, a trusted confidante, a therapist or counsellor.
And if you do want to share your story with other listeners, please reach out. We have a podcast form on the website, fill out one here.
If you’ve got questions or topic suggestions for the podcast, submit them here. As well, you can now record your messages for us! Please record your message/question in a quiet room and use your phone’s headphones with a built-in mic if possible.
This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health or other professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.
How to Manage Infidelity As A Couple
00:00:05 – 00:05:04
You’re listening to the sacs with Dr Jess podcast sacks and relationship advice you can use tonight Welcome to the sex with Dr Chest. PODCAST I’m your co host Brandon. We’re here with my lovely other. Half Dr Jess Hey. Hey how’s it going. I’m great how are you feeling good. You know today. Today we are going to be talking about infidelity and moving forward after cheating or an affair and I don’t even if I love the language of infidelity cheating. I would agree with you but tell me why you don’t like it. I don’t know it feels how like it is the ultimate relationship transgression and I guess. It’s accurate listen markets. We’re getting into semantics. How you interpret language but cheating eating just feels like such a dirty word and let me be clear? It’s not that it’s something that socially acceptable. It’s not something that I’m suggesting people should do but I don’t know there’s so much stigma it’s dripping and shame and stigma and I do think it makes it difficult for people to move forward from cheating if you you have cheated on a partner and you’re trying to just live as a decent human being and be a better version of yourself or if you have been cheated on I think the stigma in which it is draped makes it challenging for people to move forward you know in the past. We’ve talked about the fact that there are so many ways in which you can hurt your partner. There are so so many means through which you can cause harm to a relationship and we’ve talked about that feeling. Hurt is a universal experience alongside feelings of off of being let down feeling alone and even feeling betrayed at times and a gas because we live in this world that tells monogamy as the gold standard of relationships chips. We’ve place sexual cheating at the top of what I always call the transgression higher key right. Many people view cheating as the worst possible thing thing you can do to your partner. Perhaps with the exception of of being abusive. And we’ve made it into this almost insurmountable beast I that can’t be conquered and that I I think it makes it difficult to move through. I would agree with you. I think I would have a very hard time getting over it. I think I’m invested pretty heavily into this relationship that I think that I would still very much want to proceed. But there’d be a lot I’d have to digest the idea that maybe somebody’s lied to you. Somebody has betrayed you. Somebody has done something Probably not with the express intent to hurt you but like drastically drastically but they have. That’s a hard thing to say to your partner in a monogamous relationship. That if you cheated on me I’d still work on this because I remember Thinking that many many years ago and probably saying to you and there is this fear that by acknowledging that by showing that vulnerability that. I’m almost giving you permission. But the flip side to me is that if you love me and you don’t want to hurt me just because I’d be willing to work through something doesn’t mean you’d want to take the bull by the horns and say like let’s just go do this. I mean I would like you punch me in the face. I don’t want you to write. I’m not giving you permission to suck me in the nose or just not right now. She’s not right now. I’m not so I think right now. Yeah I guess I guess that’s a that’s a fair analogy and when we think about cheating it’s very common so some research if we look at aggregates of research findings the suggestion is that about one. Quarter twenty four percent of us has cheated and I would suggest is that the number in reality is is likely higher because it’s difficult to even be honest with ourselves let alone be honest with with researchers but the reality is relationship survive and thrive despite cheating. And whether or not someone has cheated isn’t necessarily an accurate measure of your relationship relationship quality or fulfillment you can be in a relationship in which no one has ever cheated and be miserable and you can be in a relationship in which you’ve both cheated in the past. Maybe you’ve worked through the causes. And Effects. And now be living with deep fulfillment so we’ve talked about monogamy in the past and the challenges that it presents for many people people and especially strict or toxic monogamy in particular. So we’RE NOT GONNA get into that now instead we’re going to delve into a real life story eh of how you can move on and move through cheating joining us today to share his story of how he worked through an affair affair in his marriage is our listener George. So you’ve been listening to the podcast you wrote in with your story. I really think it can help people. I think that you know. Oh that it is often worth pushing through the difficult times.
00:05:05 – 00:10:18
But let’s start at the beginning. Tell us about how you first met your wife. We met a college. I think think like a lot of married couples. Do they meet in the places. Where they’re they they tend to congregate right a church school things like that and we met at school we hit off? We went out on our first date in started dating. We were having fun together as dating and I knew within a couple of weeks that we we’re going to get married. That was sort of the trajectory of my life was on in. You know I had two loving parents with the family. KINDA WANNA emulate that and that’s what I saw for us. That was the way our life was going to go and so in the early marriage. What was the relationship like? We didn’t have much Um both out of college in You know we didn’t have a lot of money or anything like that. We we we made the most of having fun in the ways that we could Early on in our marriage and you know it wasn’t perfect but it wasn’t bad. Necessarily in retrospect I I. I know that I was delaying the onset of adulthood every opportunity that I could but the real cruelty of life is you have to live it forward and learn it in reverse and I know that now but I didn’t understand that then so it was It was it was going to be fun. That was a young married couple. Oh having fun. That was the best we can do. And when you say you are delaying adulthood what does that mean you know. I didn’t give give much thought to responsibility. I didn’t give much didn’t take very good care of myself Drank more than I should. Have you know I mighty smoke cigarettes and It didn’t think there was any future you know lived for the day adulthood. I think you know being responsible. Human being the involves recognizing that the future will be here sooner rather than later in you should prepare for it and be responsible in accounting for what is going to happen in your your life and you know for me that meant you know watching Football Games on Sundays in drinking beer. That was about all I did besides go to work and you said the three years in cheer marriage everything changed did My wife had a good job and she was probably a attracted to the person that she cheated on me with because he was as a man he was an adult responsible. Human being again. I see that now. I only came to that conclusion probably when I wrote to that email that was thinking through as I was writing it. Maybe that was the case but Yeah she told me that she had cheated on me in. She also also outlined how she had lied and use deception to accommodate. Doing so in that was I was devastating to me. It really was everything that I thought I knew about the world evaporated in those moments that you think you know the way life is in. Then you’d turnaround in. It’s all different in. Its doesn’t resemble anything. It was before. How did you find out that she had been enchanting on you? She told me she. We were again the delaying adulthood. I was drinking with a bunch of buddies and she had joined me. She went outside for smoke. She didn’t come back after a while and I went outside to see if she was okay and she told me she’s I have something to tell you in she outlined who she was with in win in My immediate response not proud of this But my immediate thought lot was anger in my. I really did hit her. It’s embarrassing it’s no. I can’t help it. That’s what I felt but I did I. I didn’t hit her but that’s what I wanted to do. And she had taken something for me and the only thing I can come back with with anger violence. That was my immediate reaction but I drove her home. I left the House called might’ve my dad and he came and picked me up. I mean here I am near thirty years old and I’m calling my father to pick me up from something. An adult would have been able to handle on his own or at least understand on his own and it was really. It was a really tough time. See said you called Your Dad. What came after that? I stayed in a spare bedroom in my parents house for forty eight hours with the lights off. I didn’t eat. I didn’t come out and talk none of it. I just stayed there in a cave. Feeling sorry for myself in in really questioning in everything every choice that I’d made up to that point and wondering how it all you know how this happened this way like I said my I thought my life one thing and then it was completely upended in just a few moments and that is a profound thing to have happened.
00:10:18 – 00:15:14
Somebody and when you say you were angry were you angry at your wife. You angry at yourself. Was it a combination of the two. Yes absolutely I was was angry at my wife for. I think the obvious reasons was angry at myself for maybe allowing that to happen to accommodate something like that to to be the type of person that was not worth staying faithful to if that makes sense and do you know what she was going through at the time. Well in those forty eight hours. No we didn’t speak. I know that she stayed home in dim go out. It wasn’t like she was partying and she wasn’t with this other man that I’m aware of at least she never indicated that she was after. I’d asked her I. I believe that she was hurting or at least upset that she’d caused or helped. Cause this type of pain in my life. I believe that but I don’t know that I wasn’t there. I honestly I abandoned her and in that time and I don’t think I would have been very a useful to her anyway and what came next after that forty eight hours. I remember having sort of a moment of clarity. I walked out of the room to shower and change clothes. I told my dad is time to go home at night. Can’t run away from this forever. And he took me home and it was a cold rainy post Christmas pre New Year’s time and I went home and I saw my wife. She was there George. You say that your family was aware of what was happening Were they supportive of you like what did what did they say anything to you. It was. Just unconditional come stay. Stay do whatever you need to do go. Nothing was really said or exchanged they they. They knew because I told him the reason. You can’t show Chopin Parents House in disheveled saying you need to stay here. You can’t ask why told them what was happening was very honest with them. Always been honest with my parents about everything everything in my life even even now at my age a my forties now but they showed unconditional support for for myself. I believe for for my wife note. They were not aware of what our life was like together. Other that either of US would have been unhappy with you know. They can’t live our lives so they gave us our freedom to be ourselves and I don’t think they ever judged her they may just need a little bit. Yeah but I don’t think they ever judged her you know. Even today they love my wife very much. They loved my wife them. They love her now even with the things that have happened between us but they were incredibly supportive in. They didn’t ever try and live my life for me. I think a lot of people when they find out that their partner is cheated. especially if you’re in a long term relationship like a marriage they internalize it and they keep it all to themselves. Because because they’re worried about the stigma and the shame. Are you glad that you went straight to your parents who love and support you. Yes yeah absolutely really and I shared the story with my best friend as well and They they understood. It’s a difficult thing. They couldn’t live my life for me but they could certainly be there to hear me cry. They could be there to listen to me. Talk about the things I was feeling and and I gather this just from speaking with me today. I have a hard time shutting up. You know so. It’s good to know that I had those relationships in my life as a backdrop. No Man is an island. No family is an island. We all have. We need a support group around us at friends. Family neighbors numbers community. It’s it’s it’s makes a human and I was very lucky to have that in a in what has been to this point. been the most difficult time in my life. So tell us how you worked through this difficult time. My wife had been in counseling For for sometime sometime maybe a couple of years at that point She has dealt with trauma in her life. I prefer not to get into But it was. It was serious enough for her to have issues that she needed to resolve in her adult life and Immediately as soon as you know the the the next non holiday day rolled around we sought out her counselor.
00:15:14 – 00:20:01
We told her what had happened in. She was unable to help us. That wasn’t what she was not not qualified capable willing. I don’t know to take on a that type of marriage counseling. That relationship counseling that we needed so she referred firdous to another practitioner in person in a few months over the course of the last fifteen years. Here’s has helped. Save our marriage in in our lives in certain ways we counseling. It was very difficult. I won’t lie. It is not an easy thing to do. Forget looking outwardly. At the things it may be someone has done to you what my wife had quote done to me but looking inwardly the at the things that I was doing the to facilitate that to be the not the type of partner that would allow accommodate that like I said before you know. You don’t want to be somebody WHO’s not worth being faithful to. I’m in some ways. I think I get that. Now again. Through the prism of history. What did you learn about yourself through therapy? I learned about myself through therapy. It’s a great question I learned that even while I was in therapy but getting older and wiser opening up to the things that I I learned in the past I realized you know I was avoiding the responsibility of being a an adult. I was just delayed onset adulthood. I think men in this country. Maybe I don’t know could be the same way in candidates across the world. I don’t know they don’t really grow up until something forces them to grow up. A lot of people join the military in to help them grow up. A lot of people have kids helps them grow up. Some people have the Maryland. Fidelity highlights their there’s shortcomings as a partner and that forces them to make different choices about what their future will look like in counseling. You know to help me with that. They helped us learn how to communicate. Better our our council was great. She taught us a you. Know a mirrored style of communication mutation where we say something she would reflect it back at me and I would. I like that back at her and I don’t know what that was called. I can’t remember but it was incredibly effective and if there’s something that we learned that if something’s bothering us if there’s something needs to happen something needs to be done we have to talk about it. We can’t avoided Resent one another and that can happen in. I think relationships people stop communicating or don’t communicate indicate effectively in. Its much like any other skill. You can learn to communicate if you want to and that was I mean we absolutely learn how to do that through counseling and learning to to to speak to one another about everything not just the things that make us make us feel comfortable but just communicating period about everything. Counseling is a space for your meant to feel safe. But that doesn’t always mean you feel comfortable and you said that it was hard. Where some of these sessions really emotionally heart wrenching? Can you tell us a little bit about the process Yeah so it was about an hour. You’re in the office in you. Know the council would start off with. How are you feeling today? How are you feeling right? Now she wouldn’t worry about what’s happened in the last week. She wouldn’t worry about what was going to happen in the next week until we saw her again. But what’s happening right now. What are you feeling and we would feel that we would say the things that we were feeling and and I would tell her you know feeling okay today? We talked about these things X Y and Z.. Between last session in this session today I feel good in. I’m ready to ready to open up further about h-how feel hurt in how I may have heard her written in things like that in my memory of specific is lacking. I can only remember the feelings news of being there. I can still recall the office furniture. It’s so crazy to say that now. What are counter said to us is lost to you? Know in olden enfeebled at this point but I just remember those feelings of we can talk here and we can talk about up things when we leave here.
00:20:01 – 00:25:02
We can talk about things you know anytime. As long as we’re being honest with each other and We learned that in counseling. I learned that my wife’s history of trauma was more severe than I had been led to understand that it had issues in her developmental past that influenced some of her behavior in her self worth She has she had embody the issues She had trauma in her past. That I was I wasn’t I was aware of the severity of the depth of it was unknown. I’m to me in in how that would affect her behavior. Moving forward seeing she always. I think a lot of women have problems with body issues. You know she didn’t feel attractive in. That kept US distant physically. Something that was has been a problem in and out of our relationship ever since we got married before marriage. It wasn’t an issue after marriage it became an issue but Yeah I was. Hearing her recount. Stories of past trauma was extremely difficult. Because this is the woman I love and you WANNA protector. And I can’t protect her from the things that happened in the past and I couldn’t protect her from what was going to happen to her in the future. I could only be there for her. I’m not sure that I was in important. Ways is that counseling helped me recognize. How did you move forward from those bursts early on where you felt betrayed like when you were just really angry about what had happened even though you were trying to move forward like what strategies did you employ to overcome? Come those feelings I would. I would talk to her. I would tell her that. I’m just not okay right now it could be something as cooking dinner You’d hear a song long. Come on the radio or she would wear an article of clothing that I recognized or something. You know anything could trigger me and I couldn’t isolated and and I would feel overwhelmed with anger and hurt and betrayal and I would look at her and tell her that. This is what I’m feeling that’s happening right now in. I’m not okay in sometimes I would be overwhelmed with those feelings would be okay. I can handle it. That was a few that that was some time later on in I would find myself crying. Uncontrollably just overwhelmed with emotion and Sometimes I can handle it sometimes. I couldn’t if I was at work and I was struggling. I would call her and tell her that was struggling in she would just talk me. Listen and you know she would apologize. I’m sorry that this has happened hume. Sorry that we’re going through this. I’m sure she apologized. I’m sorry that I did this to you. Although I don’t recall specifically that ever being said I’m sure she did you know again. We’re going back. Many years at this point went in then it would come and go a little less frequently just like I think a lot of pain. You know the the loss of a loved one or something at that initially. It’s so overwhelming. And then those waves crash on the shore a little bit less in a little bit less than every note against the occasional storm and now when I think of I do get angry but it doesn’t it doesn’t cause a ripple in the water so to speak when you talk about getting angry. Do you find that that anger also leads to acknowledging other emotions like sadness or betrayal alert loneliness or letdown. Or did you find that therapy helped you to kind of uncover those other feelings that are probably beneath the anger. Maybe the Most likely Betrayal was the anger and betrayal. Were almost inseparable. I believe for a long time. I don’t know if I could have distinguished them but sadness you know hurt you know being lied to is. That’s a rough go that is that’s the takes takes a Lotta time for that to heal to a certain point. I don’t know that it has I remember. We were trying to quit smoking after this all happened in we were out you know couple months later anyway with friends. There’s something my wife indicate. She was going to go have a cigarette in as well. I don’t think that’s okay. I was looking for a way to trust her again. Here she was. She couldn’t keep up this one promise of not smoking even for a couple of months and I remember that just bringing it all back. Betrayal and anger came back immediately and then it was sadness. I thought sadness again so there.
00:25:02 – 00:30:04
Those things were all layered together and I’m sure counseling. Help me work through how to tease them out. How to separate one from the other? Is this making you sad. Is this making you angry. And I’m sure the answer to that is yes but it only comes through the prison of time you have to live through it which is a really challenging thing to do but if a word for our our counselor for teaching me how to talk about those things out understand what. I was feeling that it was justified in That it’s okay to to to love someone that you’re angry with you guys have been married. I don’t know how long you’ve been married. I assume you get angry with one another periodically all the time right I and tons. It happens a month. I’m very angry. And that’s just me sure so it’s okay not being taught that it’s okay to be angry not this was pre social media boom. I guess we don’t have to live in instagram. PINTEREST lifestyle where everybody believes us to be perfect. You know it’s okay to get angry upset and mad especially with what we we’re going through. We could be mad with each other. Could be angry with we could be upset. We could feel betrayed. We could feel isolated. Feel down sometimes. I think we need need to be taught that I was again. I had a fairly idyllic childhood. My parents Brian Remember on one hand. The number of times really had an argument in all the years was that lived with them. And that’s a testament to them because as having a family of my own. Now I WANNA blow my stack every every fifteen minutes for your kids just aren’t as well behaved as you were right. No my kids are so much better than me. It’s not not even worth discussing so but the counseling teaches us that how to to work through those emotions into talk through those motions. You’ve gotTA communicate it you’ve got to communicate with each other and so. How does the process of forgiving your partner come into play? That’s a great question. I have no idea I haven’t and been able to do that and I’m not sure that I ever will I heard recently. I think a lot of podcasts. But her another podcast. That may be helpful If you are cheated on if you are betrayed that way maybe withhold that forgiveness because that gives the person who cheated on you both those those things get to cheat on you and have that a fair and then they get the forgiveness. What does that leave me with I haven’t forgiven her for that. Because certainly telling me was very hurtful. You know I don’t know if she did it to specifically hurt me but she she could have done this without without ever doing it again and without ever telling me and I think I would have been fine with that bay other side to that is. I’m not sure I ever would have made the changes that I made in my life and we made in our relationship without the knowing but as far as forgiveness goes. I’m not sure that I have and I. I certainly haven’t forgotten haven’t forgiven but I also don’t know that I have to I’m not sure that that’s a requisite for living a happy life together but it doesn’t sound sound to me like you’re holding that forgiveness over her head you’re you may not you said that you may not have given it to her but at the same time it doesn’t sound like you’re dangling it overselling. I’m not forgiving you. It’s just something that you’ve accepted something that you have to. I came to realize this on my own and this is this is a conclusion. I drew in the absence of counseling to the subject. Is that if you want your relationship to continue and if you want your relationship shipped to be a loving caring intimate relationship to hold the things that you’ve done in the past marital infidelity or some type of other transgression. You can’t hold over the other person’s head if they have tried to make amends for that behavior or whatever that is so hey to pat myself on the back or whatever but I don’t think I ever through that back. Interface may have had liquor it up when I shouldn’t have I don’t know but I don’t feel like Mike That I ever hung. The carrot dangled the carrot of forgiveness in front of her. And I never you know. Held her hostage stitched to infidelity. I don’t believe I did. She say something completely different. But I’m pretty I feel good about not saying about saying that. So yeah don’t dangle it that don’t tease somebody with that. That’s a really cruel thing to do. Now you decided to work through this and stay together and not everybody. Nobody does they find out about about cheating and they throw their hands up and leave.
00:30:04 – 00:35:08
Tell me so many years later. You’ve been together almost twenty years now. Where are you now in the relationship chap what is your relationship like? It’s actually a not that different from our earlier of our marriage We have fun together. We we raise our family together. We train participate in our kids. Lives together. We make dedicated time. I am for each other We’re we’re busy. We have three kids so that takes up the bulk of our time but We read together We take walks together to as much together as we can and we always make sure that we get a date night here and there in we participate in the lives. Observe our our our friends family in our community. It’s it’s very rewarding. We’re in we’re in the middle of the golden years the salad years on salad salad years like A. Is it like cobb salad years or is it like just a regular salad you know eat mostly meat so like a Taco Salad would be best for May. I don’t know but it’s a good spot in our lives and we have good kids and good friends and good neighbors in our relationship now is is is strong. You know It’s it’s the same. She left about fifteen minutes ago so you could ask her yourself. But it’s it’s not perfect in. We still see our counselor once a year every two years. Check in. Make sure we’re not doing anything stupid Driving each other crazy and we give each other in space and we give each other enough time together. I think I certainly hope not living through that again. You Know I. I’m I’m GonNa continue a happy life with my wife and I have to deal with counseling every week. That’s enough well I think for some people. Go to counseling just to check in but you are going through something very difficult when you went to counseling and I think listeners are probably wondering what made you decide to stay because I think some people do decide to throw in the towel whether it’s because they can’t get over the hurt they don’t WanNa work through it or simply the stigma of staying with someone who has cheated. I never cared about the stigma of staying with with my wife Because I didn’t care I live my life in in such a way that I give too much thought what other people think So that was never that never factored into my decision. What really made it clear to me was that she wanted to continue our relationship in? I wanted to continue our relationship in. We both decided it was worth doing the work to make that happen. There was a moment though early on in this process within a couple of weeks where she disappeared appeared. From when we’re out in a function we went to a Something Fun to do in the city shortly after it happened that we had committed to long before and she disappeared. She was sitting on a park bench smoking a cigarette and asked her what was wrong. She says I don’t know if I love you or not in I left I. I just went home lecture there on the Park Bench and I just couldn’t didn’t handle that feeling. Like why am I going putting myself through this. If she doesn’t know she loves me or not she got home and we talked a little bit more in. What when it what came out of it was how could she do something like that to me if she loved me in that isolated it for me? There’s like the we’ve got to decide if you love me enough to keep working at this. And she said she did that. Was it the. The choice was clear the outcome it already even lake. We just had to do the legwork that point so That that was that we wanted to make it work. We wanted to stay together. We didn’t want to go our separate Roy. We didn’t want to throw in the towel. We decided very quickly. And I think your instincts serve serve. You here decided very quickly that There wasn’t anything worth giving up on. I think you’re you’re fortunate to have not felt the pressure of social stigma sigma and I hope that more people can learn from your experience if there’s something that you want other people to know because you decided to share your story you know not for Gloria but to help other people. What would incite? Would you leave other people with. I would suggest that Going through infidelity marital or otherwise in a relationship infidelity is not strictly a marriage thing.
00:35:08 – 00:40:22
Right there at every level where you have a committed relationship infidelities you know something people can be up against. I guess don’t worry about what the the stigma behind it is. Honestly until the until you said that I had never even considered it. That was what other people thought my parents and my friends that understood in new. Do I never once considered there. What was what their response or reaction would be Just if your if your instincts tell you that the relationship is worth saving. Ben Follow that instinct to its logical conclusion and because you know that logical conclusion could take you to counseling like it did for us or it could just take you to a place where you communicate until you resolve the issues. Is that underlying the infidelity or it could lead you to the conclusion that the relationship is not worth pursuing but follow that instinct We’re ever leads because no one can know that besides the participants in the relationship follow that follow me to say something’s go. Shade is follow. Your heart is that just saying that makes me nauseous but you know there may be full your instincts. Maybe the best way to say gave up and you have to put in the work because this journey to happy place when you wrote to me. You said that you’re you’re in such a good place in your relationship relationship now that you think you need to pinch yourself so but that’s work and effort to get. Yeah No. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that and I’m glad you brought it up again. It’s not a it is not a work free enterprise this. It doesn’t just happen. Nothing just happens. You have to to make it happen if if if you want you’ve got to work for it and if if it’s worth working for than it’s going to be difficult there’s nothing easy about it to Tim. Live your life in the inside. That bubble of counseling warrior. The things you’ve done wrong or could potentially do wrong or or have gotten right are laid bare. That’s a very vulnerable place to be and it’s a lot of work but if it’s worth doing go do it. Thank you thank you so much for sharing your story. I think folks are GonNA learn a lot from it and I think we should think the people in your life who didn’t create that type of stigma because yes I think there is so much pressure and when you share with a friend or share with a family member thinker so inclined to tell you what to do to give you advice ice to slam the other person to judge the other person and I think you found yourself in a fortunate situation whereas you said your family wasn’t judging so thanks for sharing in Georgia. We very much appreciate it. Thank you very much for having me. I believe there is so much value in hearing other people’s stories and vulnerable stories because vulnerability is this universal experience and feeling alone or feeling betrayed or feeling embarrassed barest or feeling ashamed. These are all universal emotions. But they’re they’re difficult to not only talk about in share but I feel they’re difficult to even admit to ourselves. That’s why we feel angry and sad before we feel some of these other vulnerable emotions. Shame in particular is one that it really intensifies in private and me. I’ve been dealing with feelings of shame around something this morning so something somebody said about me online that cut at me. That actually isn’t true but there are parts of it that Oh to stab in the right spot and an angry arena frustrated him. You know sperry solution driven trying to find like what should I do about this but really what I need to do is deal with that feeling of shame. I’m really working on how to work through these feelings. And I I don’t have all the answers so I I really appreciate Georgia’s willingness to share and and. I hope that you know everyone. Listening will consider doing the same. Not not necessarily shot podcast. But if there’s a feeling or an experience that is eating at you you I hope that you find a source of support a listening ear. Someone that you can share with a loved one trusted confidant therapist or counselor player. And if you do want to share your story here of course please reach out. We have a podcast form on the website. SEX WITH DR JESS DOT COM. I thought his story was really really interesting. I’m time it was raw to me. There was a lot of vulnerability there I applaud him. I mean he’s very introspective reflective. Very deeply on what. What happened? What he and they needed to move forward in the relationship that he valued the relationship enough to see the the the worth not only only then but also in the future and to let go? I really like his ability to not focus on what other people thought was was a really powerful message for me.
00:40:22 – 00:41:16
Yeah me too. That’s really brave. Because I am always concerned about what people around me are thinking too much. So and I’ve talked about that on the podcast before had a therapist. Come on and try to shrink me a little in fact I need it again. doctor Amy Hardwick. I’d love to have her again because she’s whip smart art And we have a lot in common. Not because she’s like that’s great she actually wrote The new sex Bible for women which is a companion book of the book that I wrote the New Sex Bible. So I think we’re overdue for that. So I- Brennan thank you thank you George. Thank you for listening wherever you’re at. I hope you have the opportunity to be vulnerable this we we can have the support you need to work through all the more difficult emotions. And you’re listening to the sex with Dr Jess podcast. Improve your sex life improve your life.