Hello all. I need some perspective and I hope someone here can provide that.
In June of this year I caught my wife cheating on me with another man. We have been married for 11 years and have two young children. Adultery has never been an issue in our relationship, and for most of our marriage things were pretty good – not great, but good. I am by no means an ideal husband, I drank too much and I was consumed with my job, (ironically my wife says that one of the reasons she is attracted to me is my work ethic). I also didn’t participate too much in helping my wife with the kids and the routine chores around the house. I want an absent father & husband. I spent time with my family and I consider myself to be a good father. I just didn’t help her with the ‘boring’ part of family life, like changing diapers and such. To sum it up… I was selfish. At the same time, my wife has never been the most affectionate woman, (I am the romantic one) and the physical side of our marriage, while never absent has always been lacking. I also want to add some context, I was taking an antidepressant since prior to being married to her. The only reason I mention it is because 5 months prior to catching her, my doctor and I agreed I could stop taking it so I weaned myself off of it. It was a rough few months but I never realized how ‘zombified’ it made me. My emotions and feelings were really subdued during our marriage – and that’s unfortunate, I wish I had never taken the medication to begin with. You will see how this is relevant if you decide to read on. That’s the background. Here is my abridged story:
Before I caught her:
A month or so prior to catching her, (from here on out the day I caught her will be known as that 'Bad Day’) I started having realizations about my marriage and our life together. As I said, I was getting off a medication that really suppressed my feelings and now I had all these emotions jumping around; I mean I would get teary eyed watching Herbie the Love Bug with my kids!! Anyhow, I realized how my marriage had really turned into a roommate situation. I wanted to fix that. So what’s the typical male’s solution to fixing a marital problem? Buy her something! I distinctly remember that I was sitting on my recliner with my laptop trolling the internet for something nice I could get my wife. I was really trying hard to find something that would say, “I’m sorry for not being a good partner all the time. I know that now and want to change”. I looked and looked and found nothing… then I looked at our dining room table and saw the pile of clothes sitting there. At first I got a little annoyed at my wife. I thought, ‘why can’t she put this sh*t away!’ That’s when it hit me… I have arms, legs, I can fold clothes… this is what I should be doing! This is what a partner does! This is what she means by help! Why didn’t I understand that before… duh!
The above may sound stupid and obvious I admit; but it’s the truth. Once I realized that my wife needed my help – not a gift – the understanding of how awful I had been really hit me. It affected me so much that I damn near cried the rest of the day. 11 years I’ve been here with her and I’ve never even offered to help her with that kind of stuff! A small point for my ego; I’m not the kind of guy who cries at the drop of a hat. I’m an amateur kickboxer and I work with my hands, I even skip taking a shower sometimes, (maybe that’s my problem, hmmmm). It might even be that getting off meds made me more emotional than normal, but whatever, it was an eye opening and necessary realization! That night, I sat down with my wife and told her I was sorry. I told her I wanted to fix ‘us’ and that my head was now on straight. She seemed to respond with some optimism; though it wasn’t the jumping for joy I had wished for and I’m sure she was skeptical. It was during this conversation also that she made an ominous comment. She said… “I still love you babe, but I’m just not in love with you” Ouch! I wasn’t really sure how to interpret that at the time. She saw the hurt in my face and followed up with some reasoning about marriages losing that ‘new’ feeling after a while and that’s what she meant… little did I know, there was already someone in her life.
After that night I spent every day thinking of how I could be a better partner. Dishes, laundry, kids homework, kids karate, etc but that comment stuck in my head. I remember thinking that things were worse than I thought between my wife and I and that made me truly sad, but I also remember believing that my wife would never leave or cheat so I have time to fix this… I was soooo wrong.
First let me be clear. I am not a jealous man nor am I a controlling spouse. I have always respected my wife’s privacy. I have never tried to control my wife’s behavior nor have I ever done the ‘trust but verify’ thing with her. I just trusted her. With all that said and for reasons I still can’t explain, the day before that Bad Day, I had a sick feeling. Don’t know the origin but it was strong enough that when my wife got in the shower that morning I activated the built in tracking software on her iPhone, (find my iPhone is on all iPhones). I didn’t really know what I would find out. Maybe she was going out with her friends after work instead of working late? I don’t know and I felt so guilty for doing it… but I just knew something was not right and I needed to know what that was. The next day… the Bad Day, during lunch I checked on her. She was at a local restaurant near her work. Nothing unusual but it really ate at me. I was 30 miles away at work but I just had to go and see if something nefarious was going on… so I did. It was weird. I almost turned the car around 20 times. I kept thinking I was going to make a fool of myself or how I had so many more important things to be doing rather than playing Inspector Clouseau. But I persisted… sometimes I wish I hadn’t. When I got there, I parked far off and watched. I saw her exit the restaurant with another man. At first I wasn’t really alarmed. I wasn’t sure whether it was a coworker or what. I didn’t confront her immediately because I didn’t want to embarrass her or myself if it was benign. After they parted, she called me. I asked her what she did for lunch and I got the lie, “nothing, I stayed in the office”. Now I knew. I remember the complete and utter shock and disappointment and sadness that hit. I remember envisioning divorce court and custody battles and the upcoming fights and arguments and sadness. I’m not religious at all but I distinctly remember feeling anger and rage at God most of all. I felt I was being punished somehow; I finally get off medication and realized how messed up my marriage is and I want to be a better husband; I get filled up with hope and optimism about my marriage and then this happens? If at that moment Jesus decided to reveal himself to me I think I would have done a roundhouse kick to the side of his head!
Ok, so to move forward 30 minutes to the confrontation. I went to her office and she met me outside, (I’m not the type to make a scene). She admitted the affair. She really didn’t try to lie. She was hysterical and upset but she didn’t lie. I don’t remember everything that was said that afternoon but I do remember begging her not to leave me, which still surprises me. I usually have more self-respect than that. When I asked her if she would stop seeing him, she said, “I don’t know” which felt like the knife twisting. I just took it for granted that once caught, the cheater stops! How dumb am I? When I asked her if she wanted to see where this relationship went she said, “maybe”. I was unbelievably distraught and heartbroken and even more than the affair, I was deeply affected by the fact she was possibly choosing him over me. At that moment I thought she was taking my family and leaving to live with ‘him’. I didn’t know if this thing had been going on for a few days or a few years. It was the lowest and most hopeless I have ever felt in my life. I still have some resentment toward her for saying those things… but I’ll go into that later.
I didn’t know it at the time, but almost the entirety of my wife’s affair was via email… and I happen to be an excellent computer hacker. In the days after the Bad Day I was able to gather every email and text message and phone record. I saw everything. It was painful but also relieving to know that everything she said happened was verified by the facts in her emails. For one, my wife said that she never had sex with this man. I was doubtful but that was proven to be true in her conversations as well as her GPS records in her phone, (I’m scary huh). Also, the conversations they had were ‘weird’. He did all the talking and courting, and my wife’s responses were almost childlike. A lot of short sentences and vague answers with little revealing about herself, except she did make it clear she was married with kids! Furthermore, she even bragged about my boxing and handyman skills to him, (I thought this was really weird). Anyhow, to sum up the details, there were about 140 emails, 80 text messages, 5 lunches together and he kissed her 4 times. That’s the extent of the affair. I am certain that is as far as it went as the facts bare that out. What troubled me so much then and still even to this day was that in the days after I caught her, she was very sad and depressed which made me think she felt there was much more with this man. I even asked her if she thought she loved him and she said, “I don’t think I do”… The vagueness of this statement hurt sooo much!
One more thing about this man; it’s not really that relevant but I’m going to put it out there. I have a close friend who owns a Private Detective Agency. As a favor to me, he put this guy under surveillance for a few days and what he found was profound. I don’t want to get into details but to sum it up, this guy likes to go after married women. I guess I can understand that to a point; a scorned married woman isn’t going to give you any grief and if you accidentally get her pregnant or give her an STD… well what’s she going to do? Tell her husband? Doubtful. Anyhow, I never revealed any of this to my wife because I don’t want her to feel like she was used. My need for revenge wasn’t as strong as my desire to protect her. This also was surprising to me. I would have thought rubbing it in her face that Mr. Ideal was really a predator would have been damn enjoyable.
Fast forward to today – 6 months later. We are in counseling and I must say that our marriage has never been better. I don’t drink any more, not because she demanded it but because I don’t desire it. Putting the pieces of our life back together was very hard for the first few months. I almost left after the initial shock wore off but I realized that I share some responsibility in getting us to this point so I owe it to my wife, myself and most importantly to my kids to make things work. Don’t get me wrong, my wife’s decision to go outside the marriage is all hers. She owns that sh*t and she has agreed with that statement. My culpability is from my lack of attention to her needs as a wife and mother. Today, I help her with the chores and I actually look forward to it. I must say that I honestly can’t believe she did all this on her own for so many years. I really left her high and dry as far as a partnership goes. I know that know. I own that sh*t!
One thing I’ve learned in all this: I will never take my marriage for granted ever again. You get as much from marriage as you give to it.
As far as whether she loved that other man or not, a week after that Bad Day, my wife came home and apologized with tears in her eyes. I won’t go into details of the 4 hour conversation we had that day, but I will say it was very soothing. She repaired a lot of damage that evening. In short, she expressed her want to make this marriage work and more importantly she wanted our marriage to work because she loved me, not just because it was the right thing to do for our kids. She also said that she now realized she never really cared about the other guy. She said that she realizes now that he was just entertainment; a distraction that took her mind off of her unhappiness.
That’s what I need help with. Maybe I shouldn’t care since things are much better with my wife and I. But I still replay that day with all her ugly words in my head. When she told me she might want to “see where things went” with this man; when she said she didn’t think she loved him; and how could she say all of that when I know she saw the hurt in my eyes. She dismisses those words now as meaningless drivel on an emotionally charged day; but above all, the one thing that really sticks in my head is the sadness and depression she had in the days after she cut the affair off. Can a woman use a man as a distraction? Probably, but would a woman jeopardize her entire family to do so? It actually was her therapist that put that concept in her head. He said that her frustration with her marriage, (me) could have manifested itself as alcohol, drugs, food, or whatever. It just happens to be that it was this man. Does that sound plausible? I guess it makes sense… but her lack of understanding of her own emotions still troubles me. I know I need to move on. I know that no matter what I’m staying with my wife and we will be okay, but I just want these thoughts to go away. I want to believe her when she says he was just ‘entertainment’ and not my replacement. I understand that some of this may be male ego, but it is what it is.
This is very long winded and I still didn’t cover even 10% of the goings on that happened, just the essentials. I was just hoping that some on this site might be able to chime in. I hope you will be thoughtful if you do so. I just put the most painful experience if my life on the web. Please be honest but kind.