Overcoming Constant Affairs and Serious Character Repair

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Dear Dr. Gunzburg

I have been married for three years to a now-veteran. Our marriage struggled severely because of hubby's constant affairs with girls and deployment to Afghanistan. Now that he is back, we are working on our marriage.

He just took off one day, by choice, to eventually go for Iraq for one year deployment because of his parent's pressure for money (the money situation is not tight...we are doing okay based on economy and I make decent money also). I begged him and in the end told him that I will divorce him if he goes to Iraq since I don't trust him yet and our marriage is still shaky for him to just leave his wife out of the blue.

Thank God, yesterday he changed his mind and went to his parents for one week in New Mexico, then [he is] coming back home to Nevada. And [he is] also acting [like] he is mad at me to force him to not go to Iraq and blames me for ruining his chance for making great money and saying that now he wants to live by his parents or have them move in with us...which I can't do (lot of bad history there too).

I keep telling him that we don't need all that money and I want to work on us and be together...but his decision of not going to Iraq because of me is now being used against me since he thinks that I should do whatever his parents and he wants [me to do] because I didn't let him make big bucks in Iraq.

What do I do to tell him how it was important for him to work on [his] marriage instead? How do I handle this situation? I told him today that I will make sure his parents get $1000 every month so they will [stay] happy ([his] parents are not poor, just open-handed in spending money; it is never enough for them ever since I can remember).

I am relieved that he is not going, and [that he is] staying in Nevada for now and wish I didn't have to force him to come home...somehow I am even more stressed now since he is making me feel guilty whenever I [talk] with him on [the] phone.

-Veteran's Wife in Nevada

Dear Veteran's Wife,

"Constant affairs" means he has established himself as dishonest with repeatedly cheating and lying. If you are ever going to have a really good marriage, he has to repair his character for the long run.

This repair has to be because HE wants to be a better man, not because he wants to please you. Changing character is difficult work because there are so many temptations and other reasons.

You say you are working on your marriage. I hope that means you are attending marriage counseling with a marriage-friendly therapist who is ALSO skilled at character repair. From your description, I don't think he has the maturity to authentically develop his character. Also, he is talented at making everything your fault, probably to justify his misbehaviors.

My best wishes to you during this painful time,

If you want to work with me, I offer marriage counseling in Maryland, to couples from all over the world. I am intentionally out-of-network for all insurance plans. My fees are based on $260 per hour, with a 45 minute session costing $195. I also have self-help programs available.

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