Recently married and my wife sent pictures of herself to another man
My wife and I married in November, it was a dream come true for both of us. She was offered a job 1,200 miles away where she grew up, so I packed up my stuff, sold my home, quit my job, and moved to be with her. I was taking a huge leap of faith in our future.
Unexpectedly she was required to work 3 hours away for 3 months, so her and a few other coworkers were required to stay on location. Our relationship suddenly felt strained due to the distance and her working 80 hour weeks. She insisted that I could not come down due to the number of people on location and the lack of time on her end.
Two weeks ago she came home for 4 days, it was the first real time I had with my wife during this time. Things were good, but she was stressed out from work. I had trouble sleeping that night and for some reason wondered "could she be cheating on me?" I insisted to myself that it was not possible, but to prove myself wrong I got up and checked through her e-mail. While dating we shared e-mail addresses and never had privacy issues with one person going through the others e-mail, but I hardly ever checked hers.
At first I felt reassured because it was all friendly...however my heart soon dropped from my chest. I found a sexy picture that she took of her breasts in a changing room. She sent it to a man she was working with. I searched for e-mails between the two and found heavy flirting. I also checked her phone records and found conversations between the two several times a day and at all hours of the night. While the e-mails never referenced any sexual contact between the two, on several occasions he asked her to dinner and asked if she would be staying alone on specific nights. In the e-mails I read she flirted with the idea, but never committed to either.
I felt my heart rip apart and I now know what it is like to be broken. I confronted my wife and she denied everything. I then showed her the photo and she broke down. She insisted that it was just flirtation and that she sent him the photo because he asked for it. She said she made a mistake and does not know why she did it. I forwarded all of the e-mails to myself, including e-mails from her boss that included discussions about me and the men they were working with. Her boss cheated on her husband with three men during this time and is clearly a negative person. In their e-mails they discussed their situations, however before I could read any further my wife hacked in and deleted everything from all computers...except the photo e-mail that I saved on my phone.
I tried to leave that night and when I did she said she could not live without me and took a full bottle of medication. I could not believe what she was doing and sought medical attention right away. So instead of leaving her, I took her to the emergency room where I sat by her bedside for the next 12 hours.
I agreed to go to a therapist and after two sessions understand the direction he is trying to take us. He says I must forgive her and I'm really trying...but I can't help but wonder what else happened that I don't know about. She insists that she never did anything with him and that she wasn't even attracted to him, but this just doesn't make any sense to me. Why would the e-mails, photos, and conversations exist if you were not attracted to him? I know she is the kind of person that keeps several serious secrets from her parents and now I can't help but think she is doing the same to me because she has no problem with not telling the truth if she thinks it hurt someone or not help a situation.
I feel stuck in this and can't move forward. She says she is depressed now all the time and I am trying to help her, but I too am sinking. Do you think I should question her in a specific way to find out more about this affair? How does someone really get through something like this? The therapist we are going to said "do not tell her parents anything about this", because we will hurt them and they will struggle in the future with our relationship...but I feel so alone in this. I have to carry my pain, take care of her, and somehow fix everything. The pressure is crushing and I don't know what to do. Please share your insight on this situation. As a professional, what do you recommend I do? How should I go about it? How can I heal?
A painful situation indeed. To answer your questions, first - I agree, there is no good reason to tell her parents; I don't see that it is your place to do so (at least at this point), and would simply be hurtful to them, and would not help you.
Your wife is going to have to really come clean with you and explain what drove her to this behavior. She may not know, or may be in too much pain and guilt to face her own behavior, let alone talk to you about it; so she may need time to come to this, but it is very necessary if you are to ever move on. This does not mean that she should share every little detail of her actions with you. That would not be helpful to you or to her. You don't need to have your head filled with graphic details of her encounters with another man; but she needs to understand her feelings, as well as yours... and you need to connect with her in a truly intimate and vulnerable way; affairs often happen in relationships in which one or both partners are avoiding intimacy (emotional closeness). When there are too many secrets, too many closed doors, and perhaps too much physical separation, affairs are likely to happen, as an easy, less emotionally threatening way to seek gratification. Affairs are rarely intimate in the true sense of the word. Sex alone is not intimacy. You can pretend to be anyone you want to be when you have sex with a stranger; It's being your authentic self, in and out of the bedroom that takes the most courage in a real relationship.
For you to heal, you need her honesty, and you also need to take your own time to focus on yourself and not on all of her drama. You can't be in the position of trying to save her or rescue her. Especially not while you're still struggling to heal your own emotional wounds inflicted by her betrayal. You need to be allowed to feel angry and any other emotions that have come up for you.
EFT/Meridian Tapping is one of the best ways to quickly resolve painful emotions and traumas (and this is definitely a trauma) so that you can gain a clear perspective and not be overwhelmed and clouded by emotions.
Couples therapy should also be an ongoing process, and could be a great help, though possibly painful at times. Relationships can recover from these kinds of experiences, but it takes a lot of work. You have to be true to your feelings.
I wish you the best,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist
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