Topics: Letter to a Husband


 

Sadly, this is a letter you never thought you would be reading.

Your wife has been to see a therapist, maybe about past traumas or losses, anxiety, depression, and perhaps sadness in her heart; she hopes for help, understanding, kindness, and guidance in finding a way through such sadness. All well and good. Of late though, she has seemed strange, uncommunicative, and distant, but you tell yourself perhaps that's to be expected when confronting such issues. You love her and want her to be all right.

One day she tells you the relationship with her therapist has become personal, she feels love for him, maybe it has led to sex, and all of a sudden, just like that, your world is not as it was.

For you, it may feel like your wife has been unfaithful, fallen for another man, fractured your marriage. You may feel hurt, confused, shocked, and angry. Where did this come from, how can it be dealt with? It takes no small effort to try to understand what has happened, for both of you, and that what was supposed to be therapy for her has become about the therapist and what he wants.

Your wife was going to what should have been a safe place to get help, and each time she went, she was given the emotional and psychological equivalent of a date rape drug that gradually took her over and rendered her helpless. With such a drug, she became unable to stop what happened.

Trying to untangle how this could happen takes time: She needs to do it in her own way. Not only was this effectively a rape of her body, it was also a rape of her very soul. As with all rape, the damage is excessive and long lasting. She may well be obsessed with him, with what he has done, and with how he has taken her over – literally body and soul – yet still she believes she feels love for him and may miss and pine for him.

Within this potpourri of emotions, she is also embarrassed, ashamed, feels used and betrayed, and is angry at herself – how could she have been so stupid? The confusion engendered by what happened to her and how she is left feeling overwhelms her; the guilt at what she has 'done' is crushing; her marriage has been attacked; the effect on her sense of self is lacerating.

It is extremely doubtful that any of us would have chosen to be used and abused in this way. If on the first day of treatment we were each handed a card that explained that what we were about to embark upon would twist our sense of reality, undermine our sense of self, render us helpless, isolate us from friends and family, cause us to live a lie, turn us into objects for the emotional and sexual satisfaction of our therapists, and that ultimately we would be dumped, we would run out the door and never look back.

Unfortunately, abusers don’t bother to issue such warnings—and so we are pulled into something that includes a process of twisting and manipulation so insidious that we have no ability to resist. And it comes with promises, i.e., this will make us better, the therapist is the only one who can make us whole, the therapist is the only one who truly understands and loves us, and, of course, that we can keep doing this forever so long as no one else knows.

Be patient with your wife—and be patient with yourself. Keep talking with each other. You are most assuredly entitled to feel angry at what this charlatan has done to you and your wife. The trick is finding ways not to take it out on yourself or on one another. Although she might feel overwhelmed by the therapist and his manipulations and not recognize it, she needs you now more than ever.

Remember, this is not your wife's doing, it's not her fault, not what she was seeking. Therapy abuse is wicked, destructive, obscene and totally the therapist's responsibility.

Michèle Mauger

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