Drinking, cheating, anger and forgiveness?!
anonymous Asks ...
My wife has been clean and sober for 6 months and I am really proud of her. She was addicted to cocaine and was an alcoholic for years and she finally went to rehab a few months ago and has been clean ever since. I know the odds of relapse so I know that 6 months is an amazing accomplishment.
She told me last night that she had cheated on me a couple of times when was really out of control about a year ago. She says both were one night stands that meant nothing, just flings after too much drinking. Right not I don’t know what to do. Even though I can understand that she was not really in control of herself back then I am still very hurt. It is worse because I know one of the guys too.
She says she is very sorry and I believe her. She says that it was the drinking and I believe that too. But that doesn’t change the way I feel about it.
I feel like I am in a box and I don’t know what to do. I am so angry about what she did but I still love her. I feel like if I throw her out of the house or do anything dramatic I’ll just send her right back to drugs and drinking. I feel like I want to punish her but that would be way to hard. She is doing really well but she is still fragile. This is so frustrating and it makes me even madder, that she is using my own love for her as a way to protect herself, I feel.
I wish she had not told me but now that is out there I do not know how to deal with it. I have moved into our guest bedroom for now so I can keep an eye on her but do not have to look at her while I try to sleep. I don’t know how long I can keep this calm manner up for. I don’t know if I can ever really forgive her but I don’t want to see her die in a gutter either. How can I support her when I can’t even stand to look at her right now?
Loren Gelberg-Goff Says ...
Lots of issues here to address, so let's start first with the fact that you do love your wife. Love is important and from love we have or create respect and compassion. Compassion for your wife and all that she has dealt with in her addictions does NOT mean your needs and feelings don't count! It's time that the 2 of you sit down and talk about what your goals are for you marriage and relationship going forward. (hopefully you've done some of this while she was in rehab...)
Your wife has told you about the cheating and "blamed" her drinking... while I realize that people do really stupid things while under the influence, I think it is important that your wife address her feelings about your marriage, and what is and was happening between the two of you and what she was reacting to while intoxicated that prompted her to cheat... It's NOT our feelings that get us into trouble, but our actions... When in recovery one of the key pieces is learning to accept responsibility for one's actions. This is really challenging because her actions have caused a significant rift in your relationship.
Your anger is very understandable, and we now need to make it productive. It's not about "throwing her out" but more about communicating your needs and feelings... I STRONGLY" recommend marriage counseling, as well as individual therapy for both of you, since what I could give you in this answer is simply a starting place to see your situation from a different perspective... Actually living with a new reality and a new communication will take practice, perseverance and patience...for BOTH of you...
Since you still very much love your wife, and you believe that everything in the past year is a result of her addictions, then you need to do the work of Forgiveness... Forgiveness is about YOU, not your wife, and is imperative if you want to move forward in a healthier and more respectful direction in your marriage. I don't know where you're located, but in the NY metropolitan area, I offer workshops on forgiveness, (www.beingwellwithin.com) as does Jed Rosen (http://rosensaul.com/20101106_forgiveness_workshop.html)
You can also check out Colin Tipping, Radical forgiveness (http://www.radicalforgiveness.com/contentnew/downloads.html) and Dr. Walter Jacobson (http://walterjacobsonmd.com/blog/success-self-help-personal-development-happiness/)
As an additional resource for coming through the other side of cheating, you can check out Michelle Weiner Davis http://www.divorcebusting.com/
I am hoping that your wife's desire to remain clean and sober is strong, but it still requires her attention and work. While you can be respectful of her fragility right now, it is imperative that you focus on her strengths and fortitude, not her weaknesses and fears. It's also important that you focus on your needs and feelings, and what you need to change so that you will no longer be in an unhealthy relationship going forward. You both deserve healthy love, respect and compassion as you go forward and this cannot happen if you are focused solely on your anger or fear of what will happen to your wife if you let her know how you are feeling. This needs to be healed and you need and deserve really good counseling to help you through this, and YES, you can get through this and make your marriage stronger, more respectful, more honest and absolutely more loving and compassionate. I wish you the best going forward, and please contact me should you have further concerns or questions.