By Eddie Capparucci, Ph.D., LPC, CSAS, CPCS
He is not doing enough,” exclaimed Susan speaking about her husband Artie who betrayed her with his numerous affairs and pornography use.
Her statement left me a little puzzled since I thought Artie had been doing well in his recovery. And from what I could see, Artie certainly had been doing everything that was asked of him. So, I asked Susan, “What do you need that he is not doing?”
“I don’t know,” she answered. “But he is not doing enough.”
Then it hit me. “Are you saying he is not doing enough in his recovery or he is not doing enough to help your recovery,” I asked her.”
“It’s always about him,” she said as tears formed in her eyes. “What about me? When does he start to focus on how much I am hurting?”
Susan felt Artie was rushing her recovery and wanted her to “get over it” so they could return to their normal life. What Artie did not understand is they could not return to their former relationship. In Susan’s eyes that relationship didn’t work. And she was right. There was no going back. The only road to travel – if they were to remain together – was forward.
But Susan’s words left me on a quest to determine if other women dealing with betrayal were experiencing similar feelings. And I soon discovered the answer was yes. Over a period of four month I asked numerous women if their husbands were doing enough to help them heal and all of them said no.
A woman who has been betrayed wants to know her husband understands the depth of her suffering. More importantly she wants to believe he will be supportive as she heals and not try to rush her through the process.
A man must realize not only is his wife’s trust destroyed but so is her self-worth has taken a beating. She believes you desire something more than she can offer. She wonders what is wrong with her that you sought stimulation elsewhere.
So the question you must answer is ‘do you truly want to help her heal’ or do you want to continue to wish her pain away? Because if you want to brush this under the carpet you are in for a long and painful relationship. But if you sincerely want what’s best for her and desire to help her recover from the emotional pain I have a solution for you.
Walk into the Fire.
What does that mean you ask?
Walking into the Fire is when you proactively approach your wife during a time when things seem calm and ask a question similar to this: “I am checking on you and was wondering if you would like to share something that may have troubled you today about the pain I caused you”.
Now you’re thinking to yourself that sounds dangerous. And you’re right. Going to her and asking her to share her pain with you will most likely leave a significant burn. But it’s the long-term payoff that you’re seeking.
“I took your advice,” said Fred during one of our counseling sessions. “She seemed to be having a good day so I took a chance and ask her what negatives thoughts she was experiencing.
“It started out OK but turned into an inferno pretty quickly,” he continued. “It made me very nervous and I was concerned she would not calm down. However, a couple hours later she came to me saying thank you for being considerate enough to care about what she was feeling. It worked.”
Fred’s wife was appreciative because he demonstrated he was willing to stay with her as she struggled through her pain. This told her he wasn’t trying to pull her along in her recovery and was going to allow her the time she needed to grieve and heal.
It is important to understand when a woman is grieving the betrayal she suffered she is healing. Men need to be patient, understanding, calm and stay present during grieving periods. The guys who learn to do this well are the ones who see their wives recover faster and their marriages restored.
Be smart, start Walking into the Fire.