Dear Chump Lady,
My wife recently disclosed that she’d had a five-month affair with her former boss which ended two years ago. During the course of it she lent him $200k against my advice, money she’s now taking legal action to recover.
We’re in marriage counseling but she tends not to speak, do the “homework,” or discuss her feelings in between sessions. Last night she blew up, said she felt abused when I spoke in therapy, and was tired of not knowing what I felt before we went. “When do you tell me what you feel?” I asked. “It’s not about me!! You’re the one who’s depressed!” was her answer.
I told her that if she had nothing to say, didn’t think it was about her, and felt abused, she should probably just not go. The following morning we had a counselling appointment. “Do you want me to go?” she asked. “Or do you just want to go by yourself?” I suggested she go by herself so she could discuss her feelings about the counseling with the marriage counselor (MC) without worrying my reaction. She declined, so I decided to go by myself.
The MC, when we talked about it, seemed to think she was showing willingness, as did my individual counselor. I think it was a pretty obvious ploy to weasel out of it and that my initial reaction was correct. Am I right? Should I just concentrate on myself? And why can’t psychologists see through shit like this?
Looking forward to your insight,
Well, I can’t speak for all psychologists, particularly because I’m not a psychologist — I’m a chump — but my take on it is that your wife is full of shit. If I were you, I’d dump the marriage counselor. It’s a farce. She’s not doing the homework. She’s not taking the initiative (a remorseful cheater would jump at the chance to do MC with you, or go alone). And she’s not discussing her feelings between sessions. Which I read as a big rug sweep — Let’s Just Get Over This Already, Shall We?
That’s what her actions say. I don’t know what is wrong with your shrinks. They either see her potential, or the potential of more billable hours. Why they can’t call her on her shit, I don’t know. I suspect that puts an end to things quite quickly and leads you to draw conclusions, which then results in fewer billable hours.
That shouldn’t be the concern of your own shrink though. Why does your individual counselor see “willingness”? Did he take a hit on the hopium crack pipe too? Was he specific about what exactly he found hopeful about her behavior? (She wore her lucky pink sweater? She wasn’t dragged there in chains?) I’d be shopping for a new shrink. One with a reality-based methodology.
Here’s a big red flag to me, ANR — “When I spoke in therapy, [she] was tired of not knowing what I felt before we went.” Yeah. Wanna know why? Because she needs to prepare her script. And she can’t do that, if you don’t give her a nice look into your head. If she’s going to manipulate you, and snow the therapist, she needs something to work with. And you’re not cooperating. Too risky, so best you go yourself. That’s how I read that.
It’s also an artful mindfuck to make it seem like she’s all about you and your feelings. “I just want to know what you’re feeling!” Oh, but hang on — she already knows. You’re “depressed.” Really, I think she’s just taking your temperature about if you’re going to dump her. Best not to be transparent about that. Let’s make it about you and your inability to express yourself properly.
If you haven’t already, read the interview here with Dr. Simon, and check out his book “In Sheep’s Clothing” (for sale in the Amazon box to the right). Cheaters — especially the ones with such flaming, colossal entitlement as to lend their affair partner $200K (we’ll get to that in a minute) — have integrity issues. (“Character disordered” in Simon’s parlance.) The usual rules don’t apply. She’s trying to game the system and play you. Simon goes off on a whole tangent (you can read at his books, or website) about how traditional therapy models don’t take character disorder into account. They’re going to work from the assumption that your wife wants “insight” into her behavior. They’re NOT going to work from the assumption that she’s a fucked up piece of work who wants to manipulate you.
Guess which camp I think she’s in?
In any case, if she wanted insight, she’d avail herself of therapy. She’s not doing that. She’s putting the burden on YOU. “Do you want me to go?” That is your cue to do a little soft shoe of the “pick me” dance. “Oh yes, please oh please oh please oh please go to marriage counseling with me! Oh, I really want to save this!” And when you don’t do that — she sulks. She refuses to go. You didn’t dance pretty.
She isn’t going to do the marriage counseling unless she feels at an advantage doing the marriage counseling. Some cheaters go just as the price of admission to keep cake alive. Okay, I’ll pretend at some insight here. Some, I’d hazard a guess, are sincere at their attempts to figure out what the hell is wrong with them. (You know how you can tell? Those are the ones that go to therapy and make their own appointments.) But your wife isn’t doing those things. She’s just having a pity party of one. She’ll sit this one out, thanks.
ANR — dude, that isn’t even the bare minimum to save this marriage. I’m sure she feels mortified that she was swindled by her fuckbuddy, but she needs to be on board and she isn’t. Oh, and the affair ended two years ago? No. For you, my friend, it did not end. It gets played out every day as you try to extract $200,000 from the OM. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?! Is she independently wealthy? Does she have a trust fund and can she just afford to siphon $200,000 out of it to invest in her fuckbuddy? Or ANR — is this money a joint marital asset? Because if it is… I don’t know, call me a uncaring capitalist… but that might bother me even more than the cheating. Is $200,000 chump change to you? I would divorce her just on the unbridled audacity of that “loan.”
Talk to a lawyer. I’d want to know what portion of that I could ask for back in the divorce. A 5-month affair is bad enough, to risk your financial well-being for the man she fucked? OMG. The disrespect! I’m gobsmacked. I’m without anything pithy or snarky or rude to say. I’m just… jaw. on. floor.
The other day we had a letter from Nadine whose husband spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on strippers — and OMG that was atrocious, but I could almost wrap my mind around it. Strippers. Hey, if you’re a horny goat, there’s some bang for your buck (forgive the pun). But just to hand that kind of cash over in a lump sum and ask for an IOU? UNREAL. It’s staggering!
Perhaps it was invested in oil wells or railroads or iamadouchebag.com IT startups. It’s still crazy! The fact that this woman won’t have a conversation with a shrink is the least of your problems, ANR. Your problem is that she’s an entitled princess. She endangers your finances with a stunt like that, and she feels ABUSED in therapy? Oh my goodness, are all the little people going to point and laugh at her idiocy? Must we talk to her in hushed tones? Tiptoe around her tender feelings?
Quit looking to her and the Reconciliation Industrial Complex to fix this. Start making your escape plan. Talk to a lawyer and a forensic accountant.