3. WHY

MARRIAGE TIMELINE


With this exercise, use the Marriage Timeline Worksheet to create a graph of your marital lifeline will provide a visual depiction of your relationship that spans the length of your time together. Some couples draw pictures and fill each time period with notes. Others keep it simple and use key words to mark a memory of an event. Put some effort into it but prepare it in a way that feels right for you. In each time period indicate how you felt about your relationship by putting the event in the appropriate box, from very unhappy to very happy.

Feel free to modify the Marriage Timeline Worksheet to the length of your marriage. Each sheet has 10 time periods. If you have been married 4 decades, print 4 sheets and make each sheet a year. If you've been married 4 years, make each box a quarter and print two sheets. 

 

Each partner should draw his or her own graph separately and then later, come together to compare, learn, and discuss them. You will do so at home as well as in therapy.

 

EVENT EXAMPLES

Memories or events that you may consider for your marital timeline are:

 

  • Stages of children's life (pregnancy, toddler years, teen years, first/last child goes to college)

  • Job changes, promotions, demotions

  • Graduations

  • First apartment, first home, moving homes, remodels

  • Trips

  • Spiritual awakenings, conversion, falling away from faith

  • Holidays

  • Illness of a partner or loved one

  • Births and Deaths

  • Family crisis (child goes to rehab, bankruptcy, miscarriage)

  • Extended family issues (elderly parent moves in)

  • Gifts given or received

  • Changes in sex life

  • Mental health challenges (periods of depression, manic episode, suicide attempt)

  • Addictions

  • Financial events (inheritance, stock market crash)

  • Loss of friend due to move, conflict, death

  • Beginning and ending of affair(s)


FINDING THE STORY


Once you have both spent time to construct each of your timelines, you will review them together to focus on the arc of your relationship. Take a look at your marital journey to re-walk the path to the breach of trust.

 

You will most like see positive times that provide some encouragement that you can have these times again. You may realize how you faced adversity together and felt like a team.

 

You surely will also see dark times that are upsetting to you. Try to stay open, curious and in learning mode.

 

Also, leave space for the two of you to disagree on what happened and how you felt about the events. One person may have been thrilled about a promotion and a move while the other may have been miserable and lonely.

 

FINDING SERIOUS WOUNDS


This exercise often resurfaces deep wounds that have not been discussed and may have played a role in the affair. The couple should take note of the wounds and, with the help of your therapist, make a plan to find healing and resolution. Ignoring such wounds could put your affair recovery work at risk.