(Norfolk, Nebraska, USA)
Six months after my husband and I got married, he confesses all to me. He has slept with prostitutes and been lying to me about it for years. This is my 3rd marriage.
First husband was verbally and physically abusive, 2nd husband was verbally abusive and cheated. My mother was verbally and emotionally abusive. I went to counseling for two years so that I wouldn't choose the same type of man. When I met my current husband I was very upfront and verbal that I did not want a man that lied or cheated on me. I did not want a man that needed to change, I just wanted to meet a man that was honest and had integrity and was who he was. Someone that fit with who I was. I really thought he was a fit.
I am angry because he waited until 6 months after marrying me to confess all. I am angry because he was so good at lying to me and I was so naive as to believe him. I am angry that he cheated because he was dragging his past into our relationship and now I am the one who is emotionally paying for his choices. I am angry because his choices have me in a place I never wanted to be again. I have to choose to stay and work it out with a liar and cheat or get another divorce. Neither choice is one that I want.
He started cheating on me with prostitutes a month after starting our relationship.(This is the choice he always made when retaliating on his ex-wife for her cheating. He also cheated on her before they got married as well as after.) I asked him many times during our relationship if he had ever cheated and he always promised that he had not ever cheated on me.
I attributed my doubt to all the issues from my past and even had the counselor back that up. I needed to work on trust and not drag my past into the relationship. So I gave him the benefit of the doubt because there was no hard evidence that he had cheated. Nothing the ex-wife could bring up, nothing his family knew about, nothing in his behavior. So we got married. Other than this issue of my doubts we got along great. Very compatible, enjoyed each other's company, had the same goals in finances, life, socially, career wise. Two peas in a pod.
My trust issues kept coming up, even after the marriage, so I decided to get more counseling to address and work on that intensely. Before I started counseling, I let my husband know that I didn't know if I could get past this inability to fully trust him. I had something wrong with me and didn't know if it could be fixed and if it couldn't then I would not stay married to him. It would not be beneficial to either one of us. This is when he confesses all. According to him he cheated on a business trip one month into the relationship, with two prostitutes. He keeps assuring me that he has not slept with anyone else since (sounds familiar).
Then I find out that he did other things to keep the door open to the possibility of cheating again. We started marriage counseling to work on our problems and to see if we can salvage this, and he was diagnosed as a sex addict.
I am angry that he waited until after the marriage to tell me everything. He was fully aware that I wanted a man that did not lie to me from the very beginning of the relationship. That openness and honesty was so VERY important to me. I let him know that I did not believe that I had the capacity nor the desire to deal with a man that had cheated on me. Been there and done that, was not looking for that again. His waiting until after the marriage has made me feel duped and betrayed into this marriage. I would not have married him if I had known.
While this is my third marriage I do NOT take marriage lightly. You do not throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble. My husband understands this very well about me and I feel angry because I feel that he waited until after the marriage knowing that I wouldn't just walk away. (I certainly understand that I have every right to walk away). I am angry at myself for the choices that I made that landed me here. I am angry that I will not allow myself to just throw in the towel and walk away. I am angry that part of me doesn't want to walk away. I am angry that I deserve better and I am still here. I am just angry. My anger is as large as my hurt and my hurt comes from YEARS of abuse and taking it.
My husband is trying to make amends. He's going to marriage counseling with me, he is in a sex addict program. He has taken responsibility for his actions and for the trauma he has caused me. And he is probably carrying some of the load of trauma caused from my past. He is trying, but I am so angry and stuck here that no matter what he does right now it will never be enough. I want to make him hurt like I hurt, I want to retaliate to make him know what it feels like. I justify this by saying that I should do this as a way of fighting back and not allowing someone to do this to me again and get away with it.
I want to get past this and I have been to different counselors and to church and I just don't know how to let go. I am afraid of letting go. That I will be settling for less than I deserve, that I am just setting myself up to allow myself to be treated with disrespect and abused, again. I want the anger to be healthy. I am so tired of this negative. Even with the abuse of my past I have not experienced this much anger. I don't know what to do from here.
Response from Dr. DeFoore
Hello Tammy, and thanks for telling your story here. It is clear that you have been on a long and painful journey, and you have ended up with more anger than you've ever experienced. And I think you know that you have good reason for your anger--the point is, as you say, to make it healthy so it doesn't make your situation worse.
You say you're afraid to let go of your anger, and that makes sense. Anger is your protective emotion, and you feel so hurt by everything that the need for protection seems paramount. You're not stuck with the toxic anger, however. You can protect yourself better with healthy anger than with toxic anger--as a matter of fact, the toxic anger will hurt you as much as the abuse from your past.
Another factor, Tammy, is that you are angry with yourself for your choices, as anybody would be in your circumstances. This is actually a good thing, because it means you're taking responsibility for your part of the issues in your marriages.
I'm going to recommend that you use some exercises to try to get to know yourself at a deeper level than ever before. You have the answers and the solutions within you, and I'll help you access them.
First, use the journaling processes described on this page to do a thorough and complete review of your past trauma, particularly emphasizing childhood trauma, as that has the most profound and lasting influence.
Then use these imagery processes for emotional healing to help with the healing of the past trauma.
I can tell you're a bright woman, Tammy. Keep using these techniques repeatedly, and add to them any other approaches that you think might be helpful to you. Don't give up. Whether you stay married or not, you want to be healthy and make healthy choices.
You can do this. You've got what it takes.
Believe in yourself.
My very best to you,