James and Deborah came to The Marriage Recovery Center like most others, broken and wounded. They had many issues to work through in their marriage.
As is often the case, however, one broken part of a marriage ripples out to other parts. James had been unfaithful twice in their twenty-five marriage, most recently three months ago. While their three children didn’t know about the first affair, which occurred when they were much younger, this last one created a rupture that further that further impacted his wife and now grown children.
“Jimmy won’t talk to his father,” Deborah began, sadly recounting the impact of the affair her husband had several months earlier.
“We split up for a couple of weeks while I tried to make sense out of his affair. The kids figured out something was wrong and know some of what happened. We’ve been careful not to drag them into this, but they’re adults. They want to know what is happening with their parents. Our son, Jimmy is furious.”
“We’ve begun to pick up the pieces,” she continued, “but our grown children know what has happened and won’t so quickly forgive their father.”
James grimaced at her words, appearing angry and sullen.
“What do you think about what she is saying, James?” I asked.
“Not much,” he said, stroking his graying beard. “I guess I’ve brought this on myself. Not much I can do about it now. Each of our kids have reacted differently.”
“So,” I began, “what efforts have you both made to heal the pain your children are feeling?”
“Not much,” Deborah said slowly. “They are just so angry at their father and mad at me for staying with him. They love their father but believe what he did was unthinkable.”
“Yes,” I said. “They are going through their own grief process, and anger is one of the predictable stages of their grief. They’ve lost something too.”
“When will they forgive me and move on?” James said impatiently.
“Good question, James,” I said. “We know something about grief and there are predictable stages. However, as you know, everyone is different and a lot depends on how you folks handle this. It will be critical that you talk to each of your children, sharing appropriate information but not more. Let’s talk about grief and what we know about it.”
With that I shared with them some of the predictable stages of grief we have learned from grief experts such as Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
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