Wendy checked out of her relationship with Alan. Alan wasn’t meeting her emotional needs and hadn’t for years. Any attempt to change this consistently ended in disappointment. It wasn’t clear Wendy wanted to work on the marriage—she seemed so hopeless—but she was reluctant to hurt Alan, knowing he would be devastated.
Wendy and Alan came to a session together, but Wendy asked to meet me alone. She shared with me a sexual indiscretion with a guy at work, and somehow Alan discovered this. She felt ashamed; infidelity seemed so out of character for her. Alan joined our session and was overwhelmed with hurt. Wendy felt remorse but it spurred on a new-found effort to work on her marriage.
I was expecting Alan to express more anger, but he felt more regret for being inattentive to Wendy—setting up the conditions for her to do something he never expected. Wendy reached out and held Alan’s hand, looking at him with longing. Alan was in pain but dedicated to restoring his marriage.
I was struck by the irony—discovered betrayal being a powerful impetus for restoring this marriage.