Let me start my story with two apologies. First, this is long. I wanted to include some important background to give you perspective. Second, this involves my WW’s 2 EMOTIONAL affairs. I know there are many more severe acts of betrayal on this site, but my wife’s emotional affairs (1 much more significant than the other) have crushed me and completely derailed our “fairy tale” marriage. So, I’m struggling and looking for support.
I was married previously and have 2 grown boys that recently graduated college. That marriage ended after my ex-wife had at least 2 affairs that I know of. She had no interest in reconciling. Instead she said she felt trapped, wanted to move out and date other men and she wanted me in the dating pool too. That was enough for me. I didn’t realize then that history would repeat itself.
I was so fortunate to land on my feet and meet the love of my life – my soul mate - and we got married 10 years ago this month. I can honestly say for the first 6 years or so our romance was truly magical. We were the envy of other couples. It was evident we were in love. We had fun every day. We had an exciting sex life. We had financial success. We seem to have it all. However, my wife wasn’t previously married and she had no kids. So, she started feeling unfulfilled and started getting a bit depressed since all of her friends had kids etc. We decided to give it a go despite my advanced age (late 40’s at the time). We ended up adopting a beautiful baby boy 4 years ago. I was 49 at the time and many people have said that me supporting this adoption in order to fulfill my wife’s happiness was a great and selfless act of love. I do think there’s something to that since I really was quite content with my life at the time. Having said that, he’s amazing and the joy of our life. But that’s also when things started going off the rails.
Also important to the story (I think) is that my wife is the victim of 2 divorces as a child. Her dad left when she was 1.5 years old and she was “tossed” back and forth through her early child hood. At 13, her mom divorced again, and it was crushing to her.
When we brought our son home, my wife struggled mightily with the adjustment. Up until then, she really on had to focus on herself. She was running a successful business, spending lots of social time out with friends etc. She tried to keep everything going the same as pre-baby such as working 60 hours a week, going out with her single girlfriends a couple time a week, our marriage, raising the new baby etc. The burden of raising the baby fell almost entirely on me. I started getting bitter about that. This wasn’t really my idea to begin with. My wife was not attaching to the baby and friction grew. She started having drinking issues including black outs and fits of rage towards me because I was “the good parent”. Still, these were fairly rare, and I took it as an adjustment period that would work itself out. Although things were less than perfect, I was still madly in love with her and didn’t feel any long-term risk. I thought this was a speed bump and we’d be back in fairy tale land before we knew it.
Our baby turned 1 in November and things seemed more or less ok. On Christmas, I bought my wife an iPad. I eventually got to setting it up for her around dinner time. I noticed she was off and distracted all day – disappearing to the bathroom for 30 minutes at a time etc. When I set up the iPad, her iMessages started appearing and I was devastated. She was texting back and forth with an employee saying that she loved him, and they were saying how much they missed each other and how they were meant to be with each other. Just typing this brings back the feeling of shock and despair. Despite some issues (in hindsight), I never saw this coming. I felt dead inside. I “knew” this could never happen. She never even looked at other men in the past. I could send her away for a weekend with single guys and not worry. Our love was too strong. We were soul mates. This was impossible. But it happened.
That night was horrible for both of us. She was in shock for days. I wrestled her phone away from her and regrettably – I spit on her. Please understand, I’m horrified that I did this in the moment of devastation. I’ve never come close to hitting her or hitting anyone in my life for that matter. I do not have an anger or violence issue whatsoever. I was disgusted that after all we had together – especially a brand-new baby – that she could stray like this. I still don’t believe it. I’ve said many times since that night in therapy and to my WW that I was at my best when she did her worst. I was making great money, being incredibly supportive to her interests and business, raising the baby etc. Yet I still wonder what I could have done differently.
Trying to keep this brief, the best way to describe what happened next toward reconciliation was “nothing”. She did contact her AP and break it off. But they still worked together and that would continue. I cried for days in private since my older kids were around. We had social events that I sucked it up and attended. My WW said she was sorry but then changed her password on her phone and disable iMessage on the iPad to protect her privacy. I didn’t have the strength to kick her out, force my way into her phone etc. I think because the A was emotional, part of me felt like if I keep the sex life going somewhat, that’s something I have then her AP didn’t have. Although we agree that it was heading toward a physical affair soon – probably within days when they returned to work after the holidays.
We went to therapy, but my WW kept saying “I don’t have time for you yet. I need to fix myself”. She joined AA to work on the drinking issue. She got a personal therapist etc. She’s been working very hard to understand why she did this but also working very hard to put blame on me for it too. She’s said dozens of times in couples therapy and in private “I’m not taking all the blame for this” and sarcastically “Oh, you’re perfect and you didn’t do anything to cause this right?”. I’ve thought over and over about this and even in couples therapy, we never came up with anything that I did wrong. To this day I honestly feel like I was as good as I could be. I think this thinking on the part of WW led to issue #2
DDay 2 (less significant for sure, but still hurtful):
About 2 years after DDay 1, said she wasn’t in love with me. We went back into therapy but made no progress and brushed it under the rug and kept moving. At the same time, my WW met someone in AA. I had always said AA was a dangerous place for her. She was getting all of her support outside the marriage through either AA, her therapist or her friends. I was no longer her confidant in any way. She’s very attractive and AA is full of broken men looking for vulnerable women. She disagreed but then a good looking divorced man asked to meet to talk “business”. He hit on her and my wife reciprocated and was infatuated. They chatted over text for a week or two and agreed to meet for coffee a second time. After this meeting when things heated up, my wife told him “She was in no position to take it further”. That’s great but I would prefer “I’m married to an awesome and supportive man” instead. Anyway, a year later (this past New Year’s Eve), I looked at her phone and saw her texting a girlfriend about how she saw this guy at AA and “OMG I miss him so much”. Again, devasted. We are still broken with no sign of reconciliation.
It feels like we’ve gone from a fairy tale romance to distant strangers overnight. But it’s actually been 3+ years of pain and struggle. Our 10th anniversary is next week and I decided something has to change in order for me to move forward. I cannot force her to love me, I cannot force her to take responsibility and I cannot force her to change and make me a priority.
After reading the posts on this site, I know I need to own the pain that I feel. I can’t expect her to fix that. But we are now in a catch 22. I’m carrying resentment and bitterness. I feel like I’ve been the best husband I could be. I’ve kept her behavior private. When I meet people that know my wife they almost always say “Wow you are so lucky. She’s amazing!”. No one ever says I’m amazing but if they knew the whole story I bet they would. Anyway, we are stuck. My behavior causes WW to be on “eggshells”. Her resistance to owning the damage she caused and her lack of love for me means we seemingly have no chance of getting the magic back. I sometimes think if I could just stop my resentment, she would start loving me like she used to. I also struggle with what have I done to have 2 marriages follow nearly identical downward spirals.
There are so many reasons to stay together, kids, family, interests, memories. I can definitely forgive and move forward but not without effort and love from WW. I’ve been through a divorce and I don’t believe that a divorce would lead me to more happiness than I have now. But the alternative is I just worry every day, have times of intense sadness, and just hope she stops hurting me.
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