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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Brief history: My wife of 16 years frequently goes out to California to visit her sisters and help with her aging father. At least that is what I am told, and I believe it 99% of the time. There are some possible signals though that the she is either having a fling / affair with old boyfriends out there, or is planning on leaving. I realize that going out for a week or two at a time is no big deal and frankly I like it that she does this. She does suffer from depression though and refuses to take medication. We have been to couples counseling over the years, but no action or work is actually ever done.

In the past I have noticed long phone calls with her ex-boyfriends. I asked her about it and she said they were just talking. Nothing else. Fine, I thought. TO BE CLEAR she has had two 50 minute calls to one ex in the past year, and two 2 minute calls to the other ex in a period of a year. The pattern is that she calls one, and then the other. For all I know she is probably calling them to ask them if she thinks I am having an affair or to get the POV on something. I am still suspicious. When I called her out on this same behavior a few years ago, in a couples counseling session, she did stop doing it for ~10 months. If it was more frequent then I would be more concerned. My earlier statement that I think it is "fine" is not correct, if I take the low frequency and her telling me that they stay in contact as old friends, and that both are married, then I did not get too worked up about it.

She just left to go to California to talk to her father about moving into assisted living. She has two sisters that live out there. They also suffer from depression, very poor health, and are unemployed. The father pays their way. They are in their mid-50's.

Before my wife left on this trip a new cell phone arrived, unannounced. She said her father got it for her since her old phone was not working well. It is an old iPhone. However, this seemed weird to me, since we have our phones together under one family plan. I asked her to work with me to replace her current phone and also find a better plan. That did not happen, and she briefly stated that she had another idea / solution.

I also noticed, that just before she left she was not wearing her wedding ring! This was a first. I frequently do not wear mine since I do water sports, or if I am doing construction work I take it off. I have been doing both of those the past month, and not wearing my ring. So, ..., on the one hand who am I to complain..?

She has also started working out a lot more, and using dental whitening strips, and just got a haircut right before leaving.

I am suspicious. I hate doing this (again), however I checked her (old) phone records and sure enough she was calling her old boyfriends again. One of them for multiple hour long calls. I am pretty sure she took the new cell phone with her. If she setup a new account, not with my name on it with her, I cannot see who she is calling.

Our marriage has been very stagnant lately. I would not be surprised if she left the marriage already. I have thought about it too. However, I would want to work on things a bit more, and surely have a discussion about it. I think she has been wanting to leave for a long time (years) and finally decided to do it. If so, that is probably best for her. Although we really did not discuss issues or try...

I feel like I should take some deep breaths, hope for the best, and see how this trip unfolds. She is supposed to be back in 10 days. I did notice she was also packing up some photos of our pets, and asked me for a print of our three dogs (we just lost one of them and it was sad -- we do not have kids).

Should I ask her now, while she is out there, if there anything I should know about, since I notice she left her wedding ring and the new phone is gone and we never switched it out with her existing one??

I know these are tell-tale signs of an affair (or problem), new hidden phone (I discovered it), and wedding ring removed.

Should I find out more before speaking up? I realize there are all kinds of ways to "spy", and I can do that, although deep inside of me I just feel like asking her now -- and yet realize she is already being dishonest, so what should I expect from a direct question to her?
 

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She is in communication with former lovers.

She has obtained a burner phone.

She no longer wears her wedding ring.

This is looking bad.

You need to investigate because the chances are if you ask her outright she may lie and use the gaslighting technique to try and make you think you are imagining things.
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I would go with your gut feeling: just ask her. Tell her what you found out, and have noticed.

And, honestly, tell her you are letting her go. Because that, imo, would be the wisest thing to do at this point. And then move on, yourself.
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I would go with your gut feeling: just ask her. Tell her what you found out, and have noticed.

And, honestly, tell her you are letting her go. Because that, imo, would be the wisest thing to do at this point. And then move on, yourself.
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JLD, I can see where you are coming from.

But if the answer she gives is "I am not having an affair" this could be because she is either not having an affair or she is lying.

What would his next step be?

Divorce her with no evidence?

Let it go?

Or investigate further and then make an informed decision based on what he finds out?
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Our marriage has been very stagnant lately. I would not be surprised if she left the marriage already. I have thought about it too. However, I would want to work on things a bit more, and surely have a discussion about it. I think she has been wanting to leave for a long time (years) and finally decided to do it. If so, that is probably best for her. Although we really did not discuss issues or try...
It sounds like your relationship has been long over but neither of you had felt the need to formally divorce.

The activities you view as suspicious for an affair could just be her finally making the move to divorce.

You may want to give it another go but she may feel differently. She may be thinking why bother putting more effort into a marriage that years of marriage counseling couldn't help.

All this to say that she may be involved in an exit affair but it's moot at this point. Both of you have been considering moving, so just do it.

Eta: Have you posted on TAM before? Your background sounds familiar.

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Discussion Starter #6
As much as I would like to move out this feeling of limbo and ask her now what is going on, naively thinking I might be able to stop things before they get worst (i.e. control something that is out of my control...), I think I need to get some more evidence. It sucks to be a spy and big brother though...
 

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Judging by your tone, it sounds like neither one of you I really into this marriage. I get trying to give it the old college try but why bother? It's pretty clear something is going on. Don't put yourself through all that trying to gather more evidence.

Her elderly father bought her a new phone? Come on man - the guy needs assisted living but can order a new phone for someone because he finds her current cellular plan unsatisfactory? Not plausible.

Long calls with old boyfriends that she doesn't even deny or try to hide? Shows how much she gives a damm about you - zero. Oh well now she can hide it- her old man ordered her a new phone.

She's practically admitting she is done with you. Pick up what she's putting down. Divorce her.
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JLD, I can see where you are coming from.

But if the answer she gives is "I am not having an affair" this could be because she is either not having an affair or she is lying.

What would his next step be?

Divorce her with no evidence?

Let it go?

Or investigate further and then make an informed decision based on what he finds out?
If I were in his position, Matt, I would do what I recommended in my post: tell her what he has already found out, what he has observed in her lately, and that he is letting her go.

If she protests and wants to work on things, then maybe, together, with complete mutually agreed transparency and professional counseling, they might be able to rebuild.

I have to say, though, OP, if I were doing the kind of **** your wife is, my husband would likely have a much more aggressive response. He certainly would not just let me go. He would fight for the marriage. He would show up in CA and be in my face with what he had discovered and he would be confronting those men. No way would he let our marriage go down without a fight. He loves me way too much for that.

And he would be looking hard at himself, OP, for how he may have unintentionally contributed to my seeking something like that out. Food for thought.

This is all just my opinion. You, of course, must do what you think best.
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JLD, I can see where you are coming from.

But if the answer she gives is "I am not having an affair" this could be because she is either not having an affair or she is lying.

What would his next step be?

Divorce her with no evidence?

Let it go?

Or investigate further and then make an informed decision based on what he finds out?
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Reminds of when my (future) husband would insist, with raised voice that "she is JUST a friend."

Without evidence/ detail, there is really nothing more to say or do than accept / reject (divorce in the OP's case).
 

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OK OP, here are my thoughts:

Showing up in CA and getting in her face and confronting these "ex-boyfriends" is all very well but doing this without more evidence is stupid (especially at 50+ years old) - you would be expected to be more prepared.

So yes, snoop, spy, stalk - do whatever it takes to uncover more info and do not dilly dally - do this quickly - time is not on your side. Put a VAR in her car or anywhere else you can catch her talking to people.

Do go to CA and plant VARs there too - also check out the landscape and what is actually going down there.

Do all this without tipping your hand - complete coolness all the way.

Then when you find something - and you will find something (not sure what yet), then decide what you want to do - fight for her, or just let her go etc.

The new phone, the past track record of constantly looking up old boyfriends, the secretive behaviour, the new grooming and clothes etc (and it sounds like lack of intimacy towards you) all are very bad signs! Some of her behaviour in the past has been downright disrespectful too.


Go, go, go!!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I can not go out to California due to other commitments at home. She will be home in 6 days and I will gather more evidence and decide whether to finally call it quits or go back to counseling (does not seem like a good investment at this point). Confused big time right now and also embarrassed this was not dealt with earlier.
 

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I can not go out to California due to other commitments at home. She will be home in 6 days and I will gather more evidence and decide whether to finally call it quits or go back to counseling (does not seem like a good investment at this point). Confused big time right now and also embarrassed this was not dealt with earlier.
Don't be embarrassed. Nobody ever expects this type of treatment from a spouse.

I agree not to bother with counseling- and judging from her track record, neither does she.

Is she financially reliant on you? If you were to divorce would you need to provide spousal support? The home was yours before you married, but I assume she has a 50-50 claim to it now? Maybe a permanent separation would be more beneficial financially than a divorce.
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She was financially reliant on me for 12 or so years of our marriage. I owned the house before the marriage though. I lost my job three years ago and have a very small pension and am slowly starting a new business with minimal cash flow now. When I spoke with an attorney 2 years ago they said that the house would remain mine, however I would have to pay spousal support and that may require selling the house to do so. The past 3 years she has been making 2x my pension, but only 1/3 of what my salary was for the majority of our marriage. Fear of finances is the main reason I have not divorced her, yet. I do not like living this way though, life is too short.
 

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A hundred % you need to go 007. You should not feel guilty for doing so. You're fighting for your marriage. You have more than enough to warrant a strong suspicion. If you do it right, it won't be long before you get your evidence.

While you're doing this, I recommend you start to work on yourself. You see all the changes she's making? Middle aged women do that when they're on the prowl or more likely, getting hot for a new love interest. You need to hit the gym, work on your look (clothes, hair, hygiene, ETC) This is not a time to continue stagnating.

Also, you need to get involved in new interest or hobbies;especially ones that get you to connected with other men. Marriage softens men, turns us into yes men. We think we're making our wife happier by agreeing to everything she wants but all that's happening is she is growing to detest you. No matter they're age, a woman wants a strong man. You've lost touch with your inner warrior. You need to find him because war is already upon you.
 

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She was financially reliant on me for 12 or so years of our marriage. I owned the house before the marriage though. I lost my job three years ago and have a very small pension and am slowly starting a new business with minimal cash flow now. When I spoke with an attorney 2 years ago they said that the house would remain mine, however I would have to pay spousal support and that may require selling the house to do so. The past 3 years she has been making 2x my pension, but only 1/3 of what my salary was for the majority of our marriage. Fear of finances is the main reason I have not divorced her, yet. I do not like living this way though, life is too short.
Get another consultation with another lawyer. If she has had twice your income for the last 3 years the odds are she'll be paying you alimony, not the other way around.

But I note that you said twice your pension, not twice your income. What's the ration between her income and your income?
 
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