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Entering Couples Counseling Due to an Affair Your Partner Thinks Ended Months ago.... but didn't.
March 8, 2015
7:52 am
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plattworx
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March 8, 2015
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I am trying to be of help to my best friend who has continued to have an affair after admitting it to their partner of 10 years months ago and swore it stopped, it never has.

I’ll say upfront this is a gay male couple. Not married, big age difference (my friend is the younger one by nearly 20 years) and pretty much everything home, cars, furnishings, etc. is in the other half’s name as he is very successful in his career. The income disparity in the couple has to be 20 to 1.  The older half not only owns everything, he has been known to talk down to my friend over the years and remind him he “can’t get a better deal elsewhere.”  He is NOT a bad person. He has been generous and they share many common interests and enjoy each other’s company, but he does like to remind he is the breadwinner, especially when not pleased with my friend’s behavior be is cleaning the house, running errands, etc.

Now, I am not trying to turn the “non-cheater” into the villain, but I CAN see how my friend felt “less than” and why he sought out someone he felt equal to and could connect with.  Wrong or wrong.

(No, this is not me…. In fact, my friend turns to me for advice a few times a week on how to handle things and I am shaking my head at the current “plan”.)

My friend admitted the affair to his partner last fall, only three weeks after it started. There was a major falling out, but they do have many years of good memories and at that point families have “merged” and there are mutual friends, etc.  So, for whatever reason, my friend’s partner wanted to talk it out and move on.  They never really dealt with the problem. Just had massive fight, then moved forward. Yes, the other half is still very angry and will comment on the affair randomly then drop it.

Well, the connection my friend felt/feels to the one they have the affair with is very strong. In fact, it’s gone on for 6 months. His partner believes it ended when he was told.  Far from it.  At my urging, my friend started therapy months ago to work through his issues and ones he felt he had in the relationship. The dynamic of the relationship has not changed and while the therapist did recommend an immediate end to the affair a few times, it continued because of what he gets from it he can’t get at home. His therapist is aware, not pleased, but has now recommended they begin couples therapy.  Both have agreed.

Here is where I have concerns and my friend has welcomed my input.

There is a lot at stake on my friend’s side. Selfish or not, he would be homeless and nearly penniless if his partner cut him off and ended the relationship due to the financial structure in place.  SO, he intends to enter therapy NEVER REVEALING to this new therapist that he has remained in the affair.  He simply wants to go in, speak as if it is in the past, hope he and his partner can fix the problems that lead him to seek out comfort from another and THEN because their relationship improves he will be able to cut off contact with the third party because he will now be getting what he was missing inside the relationship.

The party he is having the affair with is aware. He is single, he knows if the relationship is repaired he will lose my friend but they have close bond and is willing to continue until the time comes it MUST end.

I say it is imperative that he, while in therapy, admit fully that the affair continues and why.  Yes, I realize revealing this could permanently derail any chance of repair. However, how can you enter couples therapy and discuss how you both feel and what issues lead you to stray when you’re still straying but are keeping it off the table?  How can therapy be successful if the couple’s therapist is not told the affair they are treating as “old news” is still going on? 

Feel free to say “mind your own business”, but my question really would apply to any relationship where a couple has decided to enter therapy. If I could call a therapist and say “Would you treat a couple if you knew one half was giving you a false version of events? Do you begin by insisting both sides spill the truth?” I would.

Is it is it not “standard practice” for a therapist to insist that ALL parties to be honest about what is currently occurring in the relationship or outside of it… even if one half will be blow away by the revelation?   I just don’t see how this relationship can be repaired if the therapy is based on a lie about the infidelity.  However, I also am pretty certain if my friend tells the truth… game over after the first session. Cry

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