January 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm , by Lauren Piro
Did you read that headline and immediately say, “Whoa!” So did I. Let’s dive right in and find out what was really going on with this couple, Pam, 40, and Jack, 42. And be sure to read the full story for even more details.
Her turn: Pam’s adult life was a challenge from the start. After growing up with an alcoholic mother, Pam found out she was pregnant at 17. She decided to keep the baby, Zoe, and marry the father, but that quickly turned disastrous—he was abusive and Pam eventually left him. But then things started to look up—she got her GED and met Jack in class. She thought he was charming and fun, and after two years they were happily married. Jack even adopted Zoe, and a few years later twin boys Sam and Max were born. At about that time, Pam took motherhood on by storm and Jack threw himself deeper into his work. Over time this caused tension—Pam appreciates that Jack provides for the family but he never spends time with them or helps out with parenting. And now she’s discovered the kicker. After answering his cell phone one day, she heard the voice of another woman. She confronted Jack and it all came pouring out—he’s been having one-night stands when he travels for business. He says they mean nothing, but can she ever trust him again?
Jack’s turn: Jack, too, had a rough childhood and an alcoholic mother, so when he met Pam and fell in love, he was delighted. He and Zoe hit it off, he was finally doing well in school, and before he knew it, they were married, he was a new dad, and he’d earned himself a great (though intense) job. He doesn’t know how he came to start cheating on his wife—it’s just something that happened. After working long days on his many business trips, he’d meet up with colleagues, have a little too much wine and well, one thing would lead to another. He’s filled with regret, but he’s not totally giving Pam a pass. He thinks she treats him like an outsider when it comes to raising the kids and criticizes him all the time. He feels like he comes in last, and he’d prefers to retreat into his work than argue. Still, he hopes Pam can find a way to forgive him so they can try working harder on their marriage.
The counselor’s turn: Business travelers can be easily tempted to cheat, but it doesn’t just happen. There’s got to be some underlying circumstance that triggers it, which the counselor aimed at digging up. After asking the couple to look back on their marriage, something huge came out during their counseling session. Jack and Pam had another son, James, who died in a tragic accident at 22 months old. The couple was never the same again. They sought grief counseling separately, never spoke of James and drifted further apart, never regaining their enthusiasm for each other and their family. Getting this off their chests was a huge breakthrough, and the counselor was able to give them a plan to start healing together. She instructed them to take time for true 20-minute conversations so they’d start hearing each other more—Pam could no longer just talk over Jack. Eventually, Pam let go of her anger and worked on forgiving her husband. Jack got a new job that requires less travel, and is consciously taking real steps toward rebuilding their trust. Now, the couple is happily cleaning up their marriage together.
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