Unprepared and feeling inadequate in raising children, marital woes was breaking Jason and Joy’s (*not couple’s real name) marriage apart. They have sought professional marriage counselling and are working to mend the cracks in their marriage. 

By Jason*

When Cracks Started Appearing

We were happily married and blessed with a child. However, as the child grew older, I started to feel insecure, unprepared and inadequate in raising the child. I regularly lost my temper and would flare up and get really angry with our child. It also did not help when my wife was expecting our second child soon after. I felt rejected by my child, neglected by my wife, and was feeling lonely. I started escaping into pornography and reconnected with an old female friend whom I knew from 10 years ago and ended up in an affair in my third year of marriage.

I wanted to end the affair time and again, but found myself going back to it whenever I was feeling down and needed comforting. A year after the affair started, wife found out about my affair. She accidentally saw a message from the other woman  on my phone which was on the kitchen table. My world came crashing down. I suddenly realised what a fool I had been, and I had betrayed and hurt not just my wife, but my children too. My wife was devastated and furious when she confronted me to the affair.

A Second Chance

Eventually, my wife calmed down.  Considering the well-being of the children as well as the covenant made in the sanctity of our faith, she gave me an ultimatum that I had to stop the affair completely and that we had to seek professional counselling to save our marriage. I was grateful for this second and final chance to save the marriage and to give our children a complete family. I readily agreed.  

We started going for counselling and came across the Torn Asunder (TA) programme by REACH Counselling Centre. This programme provides a structured approach to help us address issues and specific factors that led to the infidelity. It also helps to map out a recovery process for us, with the aim of rebuilding trust and intimacy in the marriage. We went through hourly sessions with a TA-certified counsellor on a weekly basis.

Through the programme, we discovered that parental influence had a big part in our marriage. My wife’s father had an affair, and this led to her mistrust in both love and man.  As a result, she unconsciously demanded me to prove my love for her. My family was filled with male chauvinism, with my mother playing more of a submissive role to my father; therefore I unconsciously demanded submission from my wife. Even though my wife and I tried our best to love each other in the marriage, we did not realise that the family-of-origin practices and cultures, especially our parents’ marriages, had influenced our behaviours in marriage, and predisposed our marriage to infidelity.

Another topic which we felt useful was the understanding of our “martial dance”. We discovered that our martial style was a conflict-avoiding one, causing a breakdown in communication. This resulted in a problematic “martial dance” that perpetuated the unhappiness in the marriage. My wife needed to feel secure in the marriage, and this led to her demanding certain actions to be carried out by me, which I would unwillingly agree to, so as to avoid the conflict. When I failed to carry out those actions and tasks, my wife would then confront me and I would argue back defensively, which would end up again with more “promises” demanded. And if I flare back with temper during the confrontational arguments, my wife will feel more insecure in the marriage. All these resulted in a negative “marital dance” spiral cycle which led to the infidelity, and also me escaping into pornography which seemed harmless at first but was actually very damaging to our marriage.

The Journey of Recovery

As part of the recovery process, we had to each prepare a forgiveness letter that address the factors that each of us contributed to the breakdown of the marriage. I, as the infidel, also had to prepare an affair forgiveness letter. These letters allowed us to admit our shortcomings on record and provide accountability when we reviewed the letters later in our marriage. These letters also helped us to seek forgiveness, especially me for the affair, and we had to state whether forgiveness had been given or needed more time to work on the forgiveness process.

It has been seven months since the affair was discovered. Although my wife has not yet fully forgiven me for the infidelity, the TA programme has given her the confidence that our marriage could still work. Through the sessions, my wife and I were able to understand each other better and also the factors that led to the “cracks in the marriage.” Through the programme, I was also able to understand myself better, like discovering the underlying reason behind my anger and quick temper issues. I realized that my temper reflected my need of acceptance, which was also one of the major factors leading to the infidelity. With these understandings, we seek to bring a closure to the “old” marriage and stop the negative “martial dance” cycle, and start a “new” marriage with a new positive “marital dance” that builds the marriage relationship. Also, with the understandings and inner awareness obtained through the counselling sessions, I was able to better control my temper and grow closer to our kids.

With the help of my faith and the sessions in the TA programme, we are currently working on rebuilding trust, intimacy and reconnecting emotionally with each other. It will be a long time before full forgiveness can be obtained, and it is a long journey towards complete reconciliation. However,  we are hopeful that our marriage can work out, and that the torn wounds can be mended if we apply the concepts learnt in the programme. 

Republished with permission by REACH Counselling Centre.

REACH Counselling Centre (RC) is a community touchpoint of REACH Community Services Society, a multi-service charity organisation. RC provides individual, couple and family counselling and aims to build a niche in marriage and infidelity counselling. It offers the Torn Asunder Affair Recovery Programme as well as marriage preparation and marriage enrichment programmes to support couples in their marriage. 

For more information or to book an appointment, reach them at online at
www.reach.org.sg,  call them at 68010730 or email to RC@reach.org.sg.