How the hell did I get here?
I’m seated across from a very nice and motherly marriage counselor.
My wife is next to me. Tissue in hand. Dabbing at her eyes. I have somehow held back my tears. I don’t know why, but I just poured out my life story to the counselor. It really has no bearing at all on why we’re here… at least not directly… but it seemed right at the time. I was probably hoping for my wife or the counselor to break out into tears and sympathize with me. “We didn’t know you were so complex and interesting! You win dude of the year! Yaay! Let’s get this marriage back on track!” God, I was such an ass. I was in a state of shock and extreme anxiety. I had not slept for two days. My heart was thumping out of my chest. I had already lost 11 lbs. How is that even possible?!
I talked and talked… the counselor sat there with a concerned look on her face. She nodded and hummed sympathetically at all the right times. My wife was normally stoic and emotionless. She had a hard time with intimacy of any kind. Today she was sobbing quietly and wiping tears.. a state I had only seen before when somebody died or she was caught overspending for the 100th time.
I wrapped up my story with the line “… and now here we are with you… because I found evidence of infidelity”. You could see this took the counselor by surprise. “Oh… okay.” Not what she was expecting. My wife went immediately from sobbing damsel to angry bitch in the span of one nanosecond. She had enough of my histrionics.
“Okay, here’s the deal. We were on vacation and I stupidly left my Facebook page open and he saw messages between me and a guy… but it WAS JUST FLIRTING!!” *turning to me* “I know you don’t believe me, BUT IT’S TRUE!! WE NEVER DID ANYTHING!!”
Back to crying. Very convincing. It was a lie. One of many. She has been in an affair for three months with her personal trainer. I would later find evidence and she would admit the full extent of the affair.
The counselor was calm… “Okay then.” She went on to describe people drifting apart in marriages… boundaries… mid-life-crises… the usual boilerplate stuff. I sat and took mental notes. I am a man… a fixer. I was determined to come out of this with some nugget of information that would put things back the way they were.
I just wanted my damn life back.
Then the wife opened up about what’s wrong with me. Some of it was completely false. Reinventing history (a way to rationalize her behavior). Some of it was right on the money. Hearing all this come from her… it hurt. Who was this woman? “And I don’t like having sex with you. I never have. I just want it to hurry up and be over. I’m sorry, but it’s true!” Okay, that did it. I’m crying. She found the button to push.
The counselor has an interesting response to my tears. “You need to learn to be able to take all of her emotional vomiting and just let it roll off of you. You can’t be so hurt so easily.”
Easily?!?! Did she just hear what she said? I haven’t slept in two days because of this! This is my wife and mother of my three kids! What the fuck is going on here!? Has everyone gone mad?!
But I now get what she was saying. “Dude. She’s nuts. Big deal. Most of them are. Deal with it.” A future mantra of mine.
The issue of money came up. The wife admitted that she did have a spending problem, but me constantly picking on her about money and questioning every expense really pissed her off. She was an adult and didn’t need another dad. The counselor agreed. Wow. I was made to feel like a control freak. At one point I said something to the effect of “My wife just needs to…” and the counselor quickly cut me off, raising her voice. “No! She doesn’t NEED to do anything! That’s not for YOU to say!” It was two against one now. I was defeated again.
We wrapped up the session and drove our separate ways. She was now armed with new emotional ammo. I felt like crawling out of the office on all fours. She drove away to be with her new man. I went to pickup two kids at school and the other at daycare.
Part of her “crisis” involved her emotionally and physically disconnecting from the kids (a mental state she is still in). She wasn’t home when they woke up, and not there when they went to bed. She took them to practices and then dropped them off to “go do work stuff”. This was good enough for her.
I was told to let her move out and have her space. I did. She never came back. We only had the one counseling session. She filed for divorce immediately. This was the beginning of the new me. One day I will thank the counselor for giving me the much-needed wake up call. I needed to be torn down completely before I could build myself back up.