I was very impressed when reading an article lately about a former Playboy bunny, Kendra Wilkinson. She was talking about the lessons learned through a very difficult time in her marriage recently dealing with the infidelity of her husband, Hank Baskett. Through two years of couples counseling and their own tough conversations, they have landed upon truths about some of the central struggles and “learned to communicate with one another and forgive.” In my own work doing couples counseling in Orange County, I often find couples struggling with some of the same issues. So here are a few of the quotes from their interview to encourage you.
The former Playboy bunny says they worked it out with two years of intense couples counseling and learning to communicate with one another and forgive. Baskett also, at one point, gave his wife the freedom to be mentally “single.”
“You know, I believed I was single for a little bit of time there — I had divorced in my mind — and there came a point where I actually liked the feeling, and I accepted it,” Wilkinson shares. “So then when we started working things out, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I love him, but, like, I feel like I want to be single,’ so I didn’t know what I wanted. So Hank gave me the freedom to explore it, you know, mentally — not physically, but mentally — and he wanted to really let me know that this is what I want. And I ended up coming out of it that knowing that this is truly what I want.”
The 30-year-old “Kendra on Top” star says she was completely open about her flirtations with other men, including a “guy from the past” that contacted her. “I would say, ‘You know what, right now, there’s this guy from the past that’s texting me and I don’t know how to feel about it because I actually still kind of have feelings,'” she admits. “So we’re very open about those kinds of talks. Nothing ever happened physically, or nothing even crossed the line,” she stresses. “It was just, like, mental chaos.”
Baskett says…”I was like, ‘You can go on out — I and the kids will still be here — so you can make your decision. I’ll be here comfortable, but go play around if you want.’”
“I don’t say the word ‘cheat,'” Wilkinson commented at the time about her husband’s reported transgressions. “I can say he was not loyal to me. I don’t care about the act. I care about how he reacted to it and how I was told by the media what happened. That scared me.” He says shame prevented him from telling the truth about the incident to his family and friends. Despite admitting to kicking him out and threatening divorce, Wilkinson, 30, is now standing behind her husband.
Regardless of how you feel about their lifestyle choices, this couple has worked through a barrier that is often never approached in a marriage. With a lot of time and effort invested, they were each able to grow an identity for themselves as separate individuals. From that position of freedom, they could then choose what they really wanted instead of what they feared losing. Often, crisis situations cause couples to blindly cling to each other for fear of losing each other. This fear of being alone prevents them from digging deeper to understand the growth areas and needs underneath the problematic behaviors. Fearful clinging then leads to targeting the problematic behavior as THE issue, rather than a symptom of a deeper issue. Unfortunately, this just keeps a couple co-dependent upon one another where neither is sure they can stand on their own as an individual, so nobody gets around to exploring the real issues underneath the problematic behaviors.
With the help of a great therapist and some painful, volatile, scary and confusing moments, Hank and Kendra have carved out separate identities that have truly strengthened their ability to come together as equal partners who can say what they need. I commend them for their hard work. Even their willingness to share their story and process only confirm this growth and courage to be known beyond the “shiny veneer” many hides behind here in Orange County. They would have a lot to offer as couples counselors. But if Hank and Kendra aren’t available to help you with couples therapy, Orange County has a few other therapists, such as myself, who would probably also be able to help work through the difficult conversations and build up your relationship.