November 3, 2011 at 4:29 pm , by Lauren Piro
A marriage is a marathon, not a sprint down the aisle followed by decades spent smoothly on autopilot. It needs tending, respect, and more than a few “state-of-the-union” chats. Otherwise, tiny, navigable speed bumps can grow into brick walls that smack your relationship down quicker than you realize. Kate, 39, and Alberto, 40, have reached one of these barriers in their marriage, and they turned to a counselor to help scale it. Read the full story here, or in our November issue, on newsstands now!
Kate’s turn: Kate’s job requires her to spend four days a week on the road, leaving Alberto alone with the kids—and his new friend, Nina, another mother from their children’s school. At first, Kate was glad her husband and kids had found someone to hang out with while she traveled, but the first time she met Nina, she sensed something was off. And when Nina visited their house, her familiarity with her way around their home (and Alberto) seemed like a big red flag. Sure enough, two weeks later, Kate came across a note from Nina to Alberto that was not so innocent. Kate’s convinced they’re having an affair, but Alberto staunchly denies it. Sure, he may have flirted with the idea, but he claims nothing happened. They tried seeing a marriage therapist to help them talk about everything, but when Kate felt like Alberto still wasn’t telling the whole truth, she quit going. She’s ready to work on their marriage, but can’t pretend they’re communicating while he’s lying to her.
Alberto’s turn: The whole story? He is, in fact, lying. Privately, Alberto revealed everything to the therapist: he did have sex with Nina, and on more than one occasion. Alberto feels lonely and overwhelmed taking care of two kids and working 60-hour weeks. Kate doesn’t call much when she’s away and seems tied to work when she’s home. When he met Nina, he wasn’t looking for a relationship but was glad to have a companion whose kids were friends with his kids. As they saw each other more, it became clear Nina wanted to pursue a romantic relationship, and Alberto didn’t stop it. And once they’d slept together, what was the harm in doing it again? He felt guilty, but justified it since Kate was absent, and Nina made him feel wanted. When Kate found the note from Nina, he panicked. It was never his intention to break up his family, and he’s afraid Kate will leave if he owns up to his mistake.
The counselor’s turn: Kate is a strong, practical woman, and the counselor quickly recognized that she wasn’t asking for Alberto to come clean so she’d have an excuse to end their relationship—she truly wanted to work on their marriage with honesty. But her life would go on with or without Alberto; she didn’t feel unworthy and wasn’t afraid of the truth. The counselor helped Alberto see this and recognize what falling back into his relationship with Nina would mean for his family. Alberto finally did own up to his mistake, Kate was relieved, and they were able to really look at how to fix things. Alberto told Kate that he felt lonely and unappreciated, and not knowing how to express his feelings is what led to the affair. Kate, in turn, recognized that she had been neglecting her husband. She decided to cut back at work, call him more from the road, and make sure they had both deep conversations and quick chats about the little parts of their days. They’re working hard on their relationship, and things are looking strong—their marriage won’t be defined by the affair or their mistakes.
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