Dear Dr. Romance:
I have been married for 17 years and thought we had a great marriage. 10 years ago I got hurt and have had 6 back surgeries. At one point I would double up on meds and drink to ignore life. During this time my husband was an angel; until he discovered I was taking more meds and drinking. He was so repulsed that i was doing this to our family. He would talk to his friend (a girl) and began to have some feelings. He attempted to kiss her and she did not respond but the thought that he wanted someone else is destroying me. I really did not realize what I was doing to my family. Everything became strained when he threatened to leave. I cleaned up my act and an doing pretty good although our marriage is still in trouble. He doesn't know if he could love me like before. I did do a lot of awful things when I was od-ing. Why can't we get past this? We are seeing a marriage counselor but I don't think it's doing anything there is so much to say. I just want to love my husband but I'm having trouble trusting him and he is having trouble just being with me every time we talk it doesn't end well. I'm in tears and he's mad.
You say you're seeing a marriage counselor, but if you're not both talking about what went wrong, the counseling won't help much. With all the hurt and betrayal you both have experienced, you need to talk it out, and you need a professional counselor who can help you through this. I don't think your current counselor is getting you where you need to be. "Guidelines for Finding and Using Therapy Wisely" shows you how to find a stronger counselor. I hope you are going to individual counseling or a twelve-step program, too. You need a sponsor or counselor all your own to help you take full responsibility for your choices, and to understand how to apologize and also forgive your husband. This should not be a discussion about who's right or wrong, but an acceptance of responsibility and clear willingness to change. You have changed your drinking and drug behavior, but some of the attitudes need changing, too. "Apology and Forgiveness" will help you forgive both yourself and your husband. The Real Thirteenth Step: Discovering Confidence, Self-Reliance, and Independence Beyond the 12-Step Programs will help you understand the emotional issues underlying your drinking and drug use.
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., "Dr. Romance," is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Long Beach, Calif. since 1978 and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again and Lovestyles: How to Celebrate Your Differences. She publishes the Happiness Tips from Tina email newsletter, and the Dr. Romance Blog. She has written for and been interviewed in many national publications, and she has appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live and many other TV and radio shows.