(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
I can't get past my anger at my husband for being unfaithful.
(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: I want to welcome Maria to the show. Maria, you're having some difficulty with anger? Tell me what's going on.
Maria: My anger I think is a result of an affair that my husband had three years ago. I have not been able to move on with it. I think also because during the dating part of the relationship, prior to being married, there were a couple of occasions where I did kind of catch him in some sneaky little moves, with other women and so forth, and I think I moved that anger into the marriage currently. I guess as a result - well, I don't want to say it was all me - but he ended up having an affair and I cannot move on in the relationship at all. I have tried and tried. I've taken anger management classes and any little thing, it could be that you didn't wash the dish and I just throw the dish across the wall.
Dr. Kenner: So something is going way deep inside of you. You're laughing, but it's very painful for you, privately. So there's something that probably didn't just begin with your husband. Although he had an affair for how long? Was it a one-night stand?
Maria: A three month affair.
Dr. Kenner: A three month affair three years ago?
Maria: Three years ago, yes.
Dr. Kenner: Three month affair. That's a long time to be betrayed. So, one of the questions I have for you is, do you want to stay with him?
Maria: My situation is a lot more complicated than it seems. I am pregnant now and we have a little boy. This was an unplanned pregnancy and my last pregnancy. Right now, I'm due to have this baby in a couple of weeks. I'm just trying to focus on that, but because I'm trying to deal with the issues of the marriage, it's making everything more complicated. It's just turning everything upside down for me.
Dr. Kenner: I understand that what you're saying is a lot of people will say, "I would love to walk away from my husband or my wife, but these financial times, one of us lost our job and we want to retire or we want the house together, we would both lose the house or we'd lose our friends or the in-laws or whatever." There are so many other considerations. Figuring out what to do when a marriage is broken is really, really hard thinking. One of the books that I would recommend reading, and I'll give you some tips too, is a book called After the Affair.
Maria: You wrote it?
Dr. Kenner: No, no, I wish I did! It's a cognitive therapist, a very good therapist. It's the same woman who wrote the book Forgiveness. Dr. Janis Abrams Spring. It's how to rebuild, the subtitle is - I'm paraphrasing it now - how to rebuild trust when a partner has been unfaithful. One of the contexts is to see what happened that led to the affair, and you've said that you did think he was sneaky in advance, so you were kind of vigilant? You were looking out for that? Is that possible?
Maria: I mean, I'm trying to make this as brief as possible, but it's a lot of series of events. When we were dating, there were a few times when I did catch him on some sneaky moves with women, so I was always, yes, very watchful. As a result of my watching is how I found out about this other woman three years ago. Of course he denies everything.
Dr. Kenner: He currently denies it?
Maria: He still denies it, yes.
Dr. Kenner: And you have hard evidence?
Maria: I spoke to her.
Dr. Kenner: And she said what?
Maria: I said, "I'm just calling because I saw my husband's cell phone bill and your number is very frequent on there and I just want to know what your relationship is with my husband." She said, very bluntly, "I've been eff-ing your husband for the past three months." And it just shattered me at that point. I said, "Well, that's nice to hear. I guess that's all I need to know." She wanted to go on and on about detail and I said I didn't need detail. I confronted him with it and he just swore that nothing happened.
Dr. Kenner: When he swore that nothing happened, did it look like he was lying?
Maria: Absolutely. I think he's a pathological liar, because he lies about everything. I have caught him in so many different lies.
Dr. Kenner: Listen, I want to tell you what anger is, because you're treating it, it sounds, as if it's a problem that you're having, that you're needing to get over the anger. And I think it's the reverse. I think that the anger is a huge signal from your subconscious saying that things are grossly unfair. That you have married a person whose character you don't admire. You may like some other things about him, but the essential in any relationship, the essentials are honesty and communication. They've got to be able to talk. And he's not validating your own, the facts that you found out. He's not validating what you've discovered. So he is destroying his own character. He is not going to end up being a good partner and I question how he'll be as a father if he has self-contempt for himself.
Maria: On top of all of that, I am currently due to complications of the pregnancy, so I'm the head of house here economically and I'm doing everything on my own. He got fired from his job and -
Dr. Kenner: I would love you to have the justice. I can think of no better justice, number one, than reading the book After the Affair to see if you even want to stay with him. I know you're pregnant. I know that's a huge complication. But that doesn't bind you for life to somebody who has hurt you, who has profoundly hurt you. The feeling that we get when we feel an injustice is anger. Anger is your injustice detector.
Maria: I have asked him for a trial separation.
Dr. Kenner: You may want to go that route, but I would read that book first.
Maria: He will not leave though.
Dr. Kenner: But you have an option. The second point, you need a strategy on how to do it. I know we're wrapping up right now and have less than a minute left, so we may need to touch base when we get off the air. But another thing you can do is read the books that really I felt rescued me. They're novels. They're Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. All of the three books I mentioned you can get at my website, DrKenner.com. Because they're novels, but they will give you a tremendous sense of justice and help you gain perspective on moral issues involved. Your anger sounds justified. It sounds grounded. I don't know all the details, but from what you told me, it did. Listen, Maria, I want to thank you so much for calling. I want you to give yourself a big hug because I think you're going through a heck of a difficult time in your life and hopefully things will get better. Stay on the line and I'll talk with you during the break. I'm Dr. Ellen Kenner, on The Rational Basis of Happiness.
Male 1: If you weren't so damn stubborn, you'd apologize to Roz and everybody would be happy.
Male 2: As usual, you're overlooking a key psychological component in this whole issue.
Male 1: You'd have to admit you were wrong.
Male 2: Exactly.
Female: I don't see what's so hard about telling Roz you were wrong.
Male 2: You don't understand. It's not the same as Dad being wrong or you being wrong. I have a degree from Harvard.
Dr. Kenner: That's from Fraiser and that is Fraiser, trying to get out of making an apology. Have you done that? Have you been afraid to say I'm sorry, and do you know how to say I'm sorry? Do you give what Dr. Janice Abrams Spring wrote a book on forgiveness called The Two Second Apology. I'm sorry. End of story. Or do you give the sanitized apology - "I'm sorry for whatever I did wrong." End of story. People want understanding with an apology. They don't want excuses. They don't want, "I'm sorry, but you did something wrong too." They don't want to be told that you're sorry for, let's say, can you ever forgive me? You don't want somebody groveling. You really want them to sit and listen to you, to understand your pain, to be honest with you and to see if they did misstep or they did do something wrong to own up to it. Not to deny it, not to try and whitewash it.