Battle to Save the Union: An Inside Look at Marriage Counseling

A marathon counseling session reveals the problems of one couple.

March 5, 2009 — -- After spending a dozen years together, Kathryn and Heath find themselves on a therapist's couch — for them the last stop on the road to divorce court. Here's part two of an intimate look inside a marriage in trouble.

Click here to read the first part of this story, which aired Wednesday.

As the two sat down with therapist Terry Real, their conflicts closed in on Heath's infidelity and their different approaches to child rearing. The pair has an 11-year-old son, and Kathryn also has two teenagers from a previous marriage.

Click here to take inventory of your relationship.

Though the couple didn't ask to have their last names withheld, ABC News has not released them to protect the pair's privacy.

Heath said his tense relationship with stepdaughter Coco, who is almost 18, is a sore point in the marriage. He cited what he claimed was her out-of-control behavior as part of the reason he moved out three weeks earlier.

Halfway through the marathon counseling session, as Real suggested that Katharyn should acknowledge that Coco "has issues," Heath seemed to have trouble staying in the room.

Real recognized something else was going on but wasn't sure what it was.

"It's like you're like a kid in a high chair and I'm trying to feed you some Gerber baby food, and I get the baby food out and you take the spoon out of my hand," Real told Heath.

"I'm naturally a defensive person," Heath responded. "I know exactly why I act the way I act."

Then a dramatic revelation seemed to partly explain why Heath felt the need to flee his current drama.

"I was physically, emotionally, sexually abused," Heath revealed. Real believes the trauma of Heath's early life has made it difficult for him to fully engage in a relationship.

A Feeling of Resentment

Real discovered that part of Kathryn and Heath's problems come from the fact they "aren't the greatest negotiators."

"The shadow side of being helpful to everybody is being resentful," he counseled.

But as Kathryn denied harboring any resentment, Real had a different take.

"I think it comes out of your pores," he said, before turning to Heath and saying, "Her complaint about you is you take a passive position and then bitch about it after the fact."

And Kathryn's resentment went deeper when Heath glossed over his past extramarital affairs.

"I know what I did was wrong," Heath said. "We have other issues. I like porn. I don't think that's a big deal. That's somehow a slap in her face."

But for Kathryn it's about more than the porn. She found sexually explicit e-mails sent to Heath from other women.

"It did not remotely go through my head that I was doing something that I wasn't supposed to be doing," Heath said.

"There's something not right about it," Real said. "And you don't want to pass on to your kid that this is how men behave."

A Final Decision

After the emotionally draining session with Real, Kathryn and Heath decided on a road map for the future, beginning with their current living arrangement -- with Heath having moved out.

"Your having a second place cannot be giving you license to be slippery around your flirting," Real warned Heath. "There's no such thing as innocent flirting for you.

"You're a married man. I want you to get back to being a married man," he said.

Real also told Kathryn his largest worry for her was the relationship between her daughter, Coco, and Heath.

"He needs a break," Real told Kathryn. "Here's why: It has to do with how much trauma you've had."

"You so clearly love each other," Real continued. "And even when you lose heart it's what your children require."

Click here to visit Terry Real's Web site.