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First time on this forum. I know that the marital problem I’m going to describe isn’t uncommon, but it has a couple of aspects that I haven’t heard addressed elsewhere. I’d like to hear some perspectives on the situation.

Wife and I have been together 21 years, married 19. Two girls, ages 15 and 10. A few weeks ago, she confessed to me that she had developed feelings for someone she knows through her work. She works at a hotel that caters to a lot of business travelers. They get a lot of regulars, and she gets to be friends with some of them, gets to know about their families, etc. Nothing unusual there. Wes (I have other unprintable names for him) has been coming in for about a year, and he’s been nothing other than a regular guest that she enjoys talking to, but she started developing feelings for him. She is sure (and I tend to agree) that the attraction is mutual. This man is also married, with two boys, but says that his marriage has been unhappy. He knows that we are going through a rocky time but doesn’t know the details.

I know that they haven’t been physical. He only comes in for a couple of days every few weeks, and during those times she hasn’t been out of my sight other than for work, so I know that any physical contact is extremely unlikely. He lives over 800 miles away. Their communication has been sometimes chatting in the lobby and mostly via text. The text conversations have often been flirty, with him complimenting her outfits (she is very beautiful IMHO) , both saying things like "I miss you”, "been thinking about you", etc. Inappropriate for married people to be doing, but not quite to the level of “sexting”. There were a couple of times that he made what I consider to be sexual innuendo, i.e. saying he needed a snuggle buddy and offering her a backrub when she mentioned wrenching a muscle at the gym. To her credit she recognized those and didn’t respond, steering the conversation back to more mundane things. Other conversations have been very mundane; if they had been with anyone else I wouldn’t have cared. Up until now, jealousy and insecurity with her has not been on my list of personal flaws.

I’ve been focused on this guy as an immediate threat, but I know that he didn’t cause our root problems, which have been going back to the beginning of our marriage. I’m fully aware that I helped drive the car towards the cliff. We have been talking a lot and identified some core issues. It’s these festering issues, combined with the fact that two people busy with life have let their marriage go on autopilot for a few years, that allowed the intimacy to die in our relationship. She was emotionally vulnerable, even more than she herself realized, and he just showed up at the right time.

Here’s what I find unusual about this and I haven’t heard it addressed anywhere else. She’s been anything but secretive. She has been extremely up front and honest about her feelings towards him and her feelings towards me. She shows me their text conversations, and we’ve had whole discussions trying to analyze what this guy really wants. Does he want a legitimate relationship, an affair, or does he just want a cute female friend to talk to? I know it’s entirely possible that she’s editing what she shows, me, but knowing her personality and knowing that she shows and tells me things that are pretty painful, makes me think that’s unlikely. It’s almost as if I’m married to a pathological truth-teller.

The good: We get along beautifully for the most part. She and I spend a lot of time together and enjoy each other’s company. We’re still affectionate. We’ve identified the core issues in our marriage that led us to where we are. In the course of talking, she has told me that a couple of the issues we had identified have not ended up being quite the stumbling blocks she originally thought. She called me up the other day and apologized for something she did to me early in our marriage that put a wedge between us. She acknowledges that we are closer now than we were a couple of months ago.

We made love the other night for the first time since she dropped the bomb. The sex didn’t fix our problems, but she admits that it demolished one of her original claims. When she first dropped the bomb and said that she was considering divorce, she said that she had lost her sexual attraction for me and wasn’t sure she could get it back. The other night proved her wrong at least on that count. Her terminology has changed somewhat too. She at point told me she was in love with the other guy. She’s backed off that, and now says that he has some strange hold over her that she doesn’t understand.

The bad: despite the fact that she has regained her sexual attraction for me, and recognizes that we are the closest we have been in years, she is still preoccupied with Wes. She says that she is confused and needs to figure him out. Her feelings for him are intense enough that she openly wonders if he’s the man she’s meant to be with, despite the fact that he’s married, and to be with him she would have to pack up her entire life and move 800 miles to a state she’s never even been to. She does say that she has definite boundaries; she refuses to be a mistress or a friend with benefits with a married man. She only wants a relationship with him if it’s open and legitimate, i.e. after she and he are both divorced from their current spouses. On the other hand, she says that it’s entirely possible that she doesn’t need to be with either one of us. She also holds out the possibility that she and I are meant to stay together. She freely admits that she’s pretty much a confused mess.

She insists that she needs to meet with him face-to-face to clear the air and help her sort out her feelings. He’s coming back into town in December and they plan to meet for drinks. I’ve agreed to this. I know conventional wisdom says that people in emotional entanglements should cut off all contact. Knowing her personality, for me to demand that would make her dig in and intensify her feelings for him. I made the judgment call to agree to give her space to communicate with him, subject to a few rules. She never initiates the conversation, and when they do text she lets me read them afterwards. He does not know that I’m aware of their relationship, although he will find that out when they meet. I’m not too worried about her cheating on me during their meeting; I suppose if she does cheat on me that evening then I’ll be pretty clear about what needs to happen next. Even if he confesses his love for her and promises to leave his wife, she’s going to demand a 6-month cooling off period to give her a chance to work on our relationship and see if he puts his money where his mouth is. She knows better than to make a life decision based on the promises of a married man.

I’ve been applying a modified 180 with her. I wasn’t sure that the whole thing was appropriate in this case because all things considered we’re getting along so well. I stopped the begging, pleading and reasoning with her since those don’t work. I’ve concentrated on improving myself, physically and emotionally. I concentrate on being a strong, positive, cheerful masculine presence in the house. I lost some weight during the shock and panic phase of this whole thing and I took advantage of it by hitting the gym again. I’m now seeing my abs for the first time in twenty years. I’ve gotten involved in a new church (that started before the bomb drop) and been working on my side business. I’m looking for a new job (career dissatisfaction was one of the things that caused my moodiness and irritability and caused her to pull away). I made it clear to her that while I am 100% committed to saving our marriage as long as she’s willing to try, that I do not “need” her. If she decides after all is said and done to walk away, I’ll take the new life she hands me and run with it. I am planning to take a long weekend next month to go off to Texas without her, just to get some time away, think, and reconnect with old friends. She’s completely on board with that. She has noticed and commented on my improvements in the last couple of months.

Thoughts? What does this whole situation sound like? Any suggestions on how I can handle this whole mess? Is the 180 appropriate or should I try something else? I’m Mr Patience and I’m ready for the long haul, but feedback is appreciated.
 

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You talk a good game. But your behavior?

Weak....in every respect.

Your wife is playing you like a fiddle. Why have you so little respect for yourself that you would allow this to go on? Do you not understand that the reason she plays you against this other man is for her own ego boost? She's getting off having two men compete for her. What are you getting out of this fvckrd up deal? Heartache. Humiliation. Pain.

Refuse to be a member of her harem. Show her you respect yourself. Tell her you have changed your mind and you are initiating divorce proceedings as soon as possible. Cut your own path. Don't follow hers.
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She insists that she needs to meet with him face-to-face to clear the air and help her sort out her feelings. He’s coming back into town in December and they plan to meet for drinks. I’ve agreed to this.

You're letting your wife go on dates? What kind of marriage is that?

Of course, it's an open marriage! It's not cheating anymore; you've agreed that she can pursue other relationships.
 

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Hire a PI to find his wife's contact information. Best money you'll ever spend. Call her and tell her what her husband is doing. THEN tell your wife that you did it.

And then tell her that you will be attending this 'dinner' with her and her 'friend.' And if she's not ok with that, you'll accept her decision to divorce.

She WANTS you to be strong, please believe this. Even if she doesn't know that, herself.
 

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She insists that she needs to meet with him face-to-face to clear the air and help her sort out her feelings. He’s coming back into town in December and they plan to meet for drinks. I’ve agreed to this.

You're letting your wife go on dates? What kind of marriage is that?

Of course, it's an open marriage! It's not cheating anymore; you've agreed that she can pursue other relationships.
Agree. You're letting her play the victim role to the hilt, actually reinforcing it.

She's your wife, not some client you're counseling.

If she's this lovestruck, works at a hotel and see him there, I would not believe they hadn't gotten physical. She's just too dramatic about the whole deal, too suspicious.

Also, she's probably actually resents you for not demanding she end things, and coming after her more forcefully. Have to get one of the females to add thoughts on that.

If something seems logical to you, its probably the opposite of what she really wants you to do.:scratchhead:
 

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Are you kidding me? She confesses feelings for another man and you help her to analyze his feelings and intentions? Why don't you help him analyze your fury? You're letting her go on a date with him? Friend, you've just made yourself her bff and girlfriend. You've just completely taken yourself out of the role as her husband. Maybe she's attracted to him because he has a pulse.
 

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I agree with everyone else. You are handling this all wrong. Glad you came to TAM for help. Now....before you make any other decisions say to yourself "What would a caveman do?" If a caveman wouldn't do it then you don't do it.
 

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As much as you don’t want to hear it you are getting played by her now. You question why she has been so “honest” with you. She is controlling all the info that you have seen and your only response really has been to change to what she wants.

What incentive does she have to change her behavior right now? She has two men chasing her giving her an ego boost, she knows you aren’t going anywhere because you are letting fantasyland continue. You cant compete with fantasyland man. He is perfect in her eyes and the longer she is in contact with him the more she will want him.

Fantasyland is such a controlled environment, they never have problems…the world is always great. She will just find more things wrong with you as this continues. She doesn’t want this to end, you must make her end it. Either she commits to trying to work on the marriage or not. It is that simple. You are fighting a losing battle the longer the OM is still in the picture.
She is encouraging to you to away for the long weekend, remember to check her phone logs, text message activity when you get home. She is viewing you being gone as an entire weekend of freedom to talk to him. She claims to be a confused mess, you are letting be a confused mess. How hard of a decision is this really?

Is she really silly enough to believe the OM is going to dump his wife and he is her “soulmate”? If she is willing to throw away her current life and family this easily let her go and file for divorce. You cant allow yourself to be plan B. You have.
 

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First time on this forum. I know that the marital problem I’m going to describe isn’t uncommon, but it has a couple of aspects that I haven’t heard addressed elsewhere. I’d like to hear some perspectives on the situation.
Well.... that didn't go well.

I'm not an embittered, betrayed spouse. I can kind of see where you're coming from (I think a lot like you do). You're thinking to yourself "I want her to freely chose me, if she doesn't I'm not interested". You want her to figure out for herself what she wants.....

The problem is, she doesn't know what she wants. You have to chose for her. She needs you to chose for her. I know that you'd like to think that she's got more free will than that, but..... she doesn't.

Tell her you changed your mind. She needs to send the OM a NC letter. He has to stay at another hotel next time. If she sees him or communicates with him again, you'll file for divorce.
I know this isn't the way you want to behave, but it's the only option. Time to man up. I know it's a pain in the ass sometimes, but it has to be done.
 

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Your wife is NOT having a mid life crises. She has found someone she likes better than you at this moment. I was in your shoes and it sucks. Just keep reading and you will get some good advise. I am sorry you are here in this. ^&^^$%#^%$#^% club
 

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She's telling you everything because (subconsciously or other) she wants to see if you'll really do something about it. Since you're letting her go out with this guy for drinks (?!) she has her answer.
 

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Maybe, just maybe, if you're real nice she'll let you be best man at her wedding.:scratchhead:

She has no respect for you or your girls. Soul mates are a myth, like unicorns. Soul mates are created, not found.
 

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Your wife's honest is a so-called shyte test. You are failing the test. Stop being her best female friend. If she is going on this date to discuss whether or not Wes has the gonads to divorce his wife for a woman he hasn't even had sex with, you have to make certain that she knows you are not into the cuckold fantasy scene.

Before she goes tell her that if she does go, you'll divorce her. A man with balls has a chance. If you agree to let her explore her attraction, your sex ranking will plummet. Instead of Wes, someone else will come along.
 

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I’ve been focused on this guy as an immediate threat, but I know that he didn’t cause our root problems, which have been going back to the beginning of our marriage. I’m fully aware that I helped drive the car towards the cliff. We have been talking a lot and identified some core issues.
Root problem? - She wants to explore another relationship while married to you. That's called cheating.

Core issue? - You are willingly facilitating her.

A very weak and beta reaction on your part. A reaction that decreases her attraction for you all the more. How would a strong and decisive husband handle this?

You tell her she can chose; him or a 100% commitment to the man she made wedding vows with. If she chooses the latter, she stops contact with him immediately, sends him a no contact letter, and quits her job to avoid that contact. Then you expose him to his wife - with her assistance.

If she refuses any of the above, you implement the 180, talk to an attorney and start the divorce process.

Wake up friend.
 

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You're permitting your wife to go on a date with another man?!!!!:mad: I wouldn't put up with that nonsense for a nanosecond. So she gets upset! So what? She's only looking for an excuse to leave you for him. You might as well give up now, brother. She's on her way out, not thinking how this will impact the lives of her family members. I'm sooo sorry for you.
 
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