Over the years, I’ve heard from a number of betrayed partners that their spouse won’t share anything about his therapy, despite being asked how their session went or what he/she is working on.
To be fair, there are some very good reasons for a person not to share everything they talk about in therapy, or discuss a specific topic they’re currently working on.
Here are a few reasons an unfaithful spouse may not share what he/she is talking about in therapy with you:
- He is working an issue that he’s confused about, and wants to get more clarity before sharing with you. These can include how to share a piece of important information with you, confusion around sexual orientation, or general clarity about his feelings regarding a past or current relationship, including with you.
- He is working on deep, intense work (for example, past trauma or family of origin) and isn’t yet ready to process with anyone.
- He is preparing a formal therapeutic disclosure document and the couple has been asked not to discuss past infidelity or sexual acting out temporarily while the disclosure is being prepared.
Even if your spouse doesn’t want to talk about his therapy for good reason—or even on the recommendation of his therapist—there are helpful and relational ways to communicate with you about it.
For example, your spouse could say, “I’m working through some issues I’m not yet clear about. As soon as I get more clarity I will share what I’ve been working on with you.” (Provided this is true for the spouse.)
Another option for maintaining privacy while being relational would be to tell their partner the general subject or topic they’re working on, without sharing all the details.
While it’s perfectly human to not want to share information about a therapy session from time to time, when an unfaithful spouse repeatedly replies to questions from his partner about how his therapy is going with responses like:
- My therapy is between me and my therapist.
- Why do you always have to know everything about my therapy?
- Why do you ask me every time I come home from therapy what I talked about?
- Or consistently says, “I don’t want to talk about it.“
He is stone-walling, which often creates doubt and worry in his partner.
Another consequence of close-ended or defensive responses like those above is that the unfaithful spouse misses the opportunity to be transparent and to build connection and trust through learning how to share private information—or information that creates feelings of vulnerability—with boundaries. In addition, stone-walling and defensive responses delay the couples’ healing and restoration of their relationship.
If your unfaithful spouse consistently doesn’t share about his/her therapy and you are concerned that you are not getting information that you need or deserve, you can ask to attend a therapy session with him so that you can hear from the therapist directly her/his impressions about how your spouse’s therapy is progressing.
Of course, your spouse may say no to your request. If he does, and the issue is very important to you, you can brainstorm other options with your therapist or support circle, or use a 5-Step Boundary Solution Clarifier to walk you through the issue and help you determine how to get your needs met, or how to respond.
In general, there is no reason for a person in therapy to consistently withhold from their partner what they are talking about or working on. Even if someone wants to limit what they share, they can say that the session was helpful (or not), or share the general topic discussed. Or, they can simply say that the session was particularly difficult and they want to process what happened with a friend, mentor or sponsor before talking about it.
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2018)
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