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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
First time post, and a very long one at that, but I have a lot to get off my chest.
There is a specific point to this, but the background is important.
Thank you for reading, and go easy on me - and on her.

Background: My wife and I have been together 13 years, are in our mid-40s, two kids, both in high-pressured jobs, and pretty much have it all. We are extremely compatible on almost every level, highly educated and generally very rational human beings. She is a beautiful, strong, intelligent and highly successful woman, but does suffer from mental health issues, including depression and low self esteem (stemming from her upbringing). My personality can be described as friendly, open and giving on the outside, but actually very hard to access on the inside - she is one of very few people who has ever managed to cross my deepest barriers if that makes sense. We love each other wholeheartedly, and our long-term commitment to each other has never been in any doubt (including throughout our current predicament).
Despite all this, we do have a number of long-term issues. Sex has, for a long time, been a major issue. After the initial "spike", our sex life rapidly deteriorated for several reasons. We were never super compatible in the bedroom (on the pure nitty gritty physical side of things), there was an early conflict with a family member which led to some lingering resentment (this got resolved eventually), and the combination of having two kids and full-time jobs pretty much finished things off for a long time. She is a total sapiophile who needs mental stimulation to get aroused, and unfortunately it is often difficult for me to give her that when she needs it. To her, this feels like a real rejection of her sexuality and needs, and she has become convinced that I do not fancy her or want to be intimate with her. This isn't at all true, but it makes complete sense that she feels that way, and I am entirely to blame for that. On the flipside, I am a very tactile person who thrives on small physical interactions (as expressions of love, affection and desire) - while she has a very strong dislike of being touched, unless it is as a prelude to sex. As a result, we are both starved of the affirmation we need and crave from each other. We have discussed this openly and honestly many times, as we do with pretty much everything, but never mustered the time and energy to do enough about it. I am probably more to blame than she is in this regard, although neither side has made sufficient effort, and we both acknowledge that.
Finally, I am much more of the nurturing type than she is, which means I do about 80-90% of taking care of the kids. I also do the majority of the house work, although this varies. She is by no means lazy, in fact quite the opposite, and is extremely capable of tackling grand projects (both at work and around the house) - but not the day-to-day grind. Her depression is a major factor in this (still, despite her receiving active support for it). I don't mind this dynamic, in fact it fits my personality quite well, but oftentimes the sheer inequality of it does create resentment on my part. I tend to express this as coldness or sometimes passive-aggressiveness, rather than tackling things head on with her. Again, something I am working on. Naturally, such occasional coldness reinforces the feeling for her that I don't fancy her, or in fact love her all that much.

Disclaimer: despite the issues laid out, we do talk and discuss things openly and honestly, and we are both in it for the long haul. We know the grass will never stay greener on the other side, even if it can seem that way on occasion.

Fairly recent history: Around 4 years ago my wife had what can best be described as an emotional affair with her boss. This was something that grew organically through their day-to-day interactions, and was very much initiated by him (as it turned out, the affable exterior hid a manipulative narcissist). He fitted her type: slightly older male, highly intelligent, nurturing and supportive (at least on the surface of things), and in a position of power. They obviously spent a lot of time together at work, did a number of business trips abroad together and so on. On a few occasions he pushed for things to get physical, but she never crossed that line, despite our non-existent sex life at that point. I do not doubt her in that, knowing fully well that she could have without me ever finding out. She confessed to me at some point to having a "crush" on him, told me about the times he tried to go for more, and was honest about having some feelings for him. This was painful to find out, and I resented her for seeking attention elsewhere. I felt I was giving her my all, but of course I was withholding the affirmation she actually needed. I acknowledge this in retrospect, but it was harder for me to see it at the time. This should have also been a wake-up call for both of us, but we never managed to resolve our issues properly, and sort of let the situation play out. I trusted her reassurances that this would work its way through her system (which it did) and that things would never get physical (which I still believe didn't). In the end, the process was sped up through an incident at her work, where he dropped her like a stone, but it set a precedent for more recent events.

More recent events: In early April we went through another super busy spell, were a bit cranky with each other, and had several arguments. Our lack of intimacy came up again, and once more my response was pretty lacklustre (partly due to some resentment I was feeling towards her at the time for not pulling her weight around the house and kids). She had had a few drinks, and was on her laptop while we were watching a move (this is pretty standard). I noticed her typing a message, but didn't think too much of it because we message for work at odd times a lot anyway. Then she declared she was going to bed early, would sleep in the guest bedroom, and needed some privacy. I was a little taken aback and asked why, and she effectively said she needed space to masturbate since I wasn't going to step up to the plate. What worried me about that interaction was not so much the thing itself, but the message that was sent right before it happened.
A day or so later, I did what I had never done in the 13 years before: I went and looked at her email. She is a bit of a luddite and very careless with her devices (read: no passcode on phone, leaves deleted emails in the Trash folder, etc.). As it turns out, her email was to a colleague: "Fancy that coffee?". This was accompanied by a search history from that same evening of photos of him (public). Now this colleague is an early-50s male who she works with occasionally. Again he fits her interest profile: intelligent, position of power, etc. What I knew at the time was that he had gone through a nasty divorce around a year prior, she'd given him some emotional support, and he had hinted at interest in her. There was an open invitation for coffee and a getting to know each other better outside the sphere of work. She had never responded to it (and in fact had mentioned it to me in passing, dismissing it as sweet but a little inappropriate) - until that point. Now, clearly, she had a) taken him up on his invitation, and b) had a sexual fantasy about him.
I felt bad for snooping, and thought about this for several days, but ultimately confronted her about it. She was angry with me for going through her stuff and distrusting her, and initially tried to dismiss the intent and extent of the contact. After I explained how it made me feel, she relented and said sorry, and promised she'd kick the conversation into the long grass - which she did.

Easter holiday: For Easter we went away on a holiday/family visit for 10 days. Frustratingly, she received a work assignment a few days prior, which meant she would have to do some work while we were away. We discussed it and agreed that she should take the assignment, as long as she would minimize its impact. As it turned out, she spent 5 full days working on it, while I was left to look after the kids on my own. I was annoyed with her about this, and we left with a fair degree of coldness. I went home with the kids, she stayed over for another week for a number of business meetings. After she came back (last weekend), the feeling of distance was still there, but off and on - some moments were close, some were distant. The evening she came back she was probing for sex, and we actually spent the Bank Holiday morning in bed (and did it twice, sorry for the detail). We talked some more about our intimacy problem, and how we would try and work on it. The rest of the day was a happy one, but what I didn't realise was that something else was going on in the background.

This past week: Tuesday was pretty uneventful, but on Wednesday morning she was extremely "off". She spent most of the morning downstairs with her laptop, wouldn't come up to the home office to start her work, spent time wandering around the garden gazing into space. I noticed of course, offered to help, talk about it, and so on. She was her normal self with me and said it had all been too much work-wise and she was feeling a bit burnt out, stressed, etc. I did not question this to begin with (it would be entirely understandable if she felt like that), but as the day went on something did not feel right. So in the evening, as she was making dinner, I checked her laptop again - and found she had been using a Gmail address. Now, she has never had Gmail, or any private social media, so this was highly suspect to me. The worry kept me up for most of the night, and in the end, I checked into that Gmail address to find out what was going on. As it turned out, she had reached out again to the colleague mentioned above on the final night of her business trip - "Fancy a chat?". He was a bit slow to respond, and they exchanged a few innocuous messages on Sunday and Monday, but on Tuesday the tone changed. First, she asked him to switch to his private email. Then, she asked him about his intentions when he asked her for coffee that time. Then the chat rapidly went downhill from there. I have been able to check in on their conversation since (she is unaware of this), but she knows I have looked at her computer - she thinks she's covered her tracks, but she's terrible at that and the signs are all over the place. Here are some excerpts (anonymised) from the chat:

Tuesday evening
HER: When you asked me out for coffee, did you ask me out for coffee, or for coffee?
HIM: At the time and knowing your circumstances it was for a coffee with no hidden agenda. Under different circumstances I would ask you out for 'a coffee'.
HER: By the way if circumstances were different I would have come for coffee and the biscuits.... seriously bad I know....
HIM: I think the coffee and biscuits would have been amazing.
HER: I am in awe of smart people, and you are pretty much at the pinnacle of the sexiest smarts.
HIM: You definitely win the series smart [...] award....hope you don't mind me saying.
HER: I know what you mean about sharing stuff. I always feel like that when I travel. It's probably why I emailed you late at night after I'd had wine.....
HIM: Hope you're not regretting the wine induced email.

Wednesday morning
HER: I spent last night thinking about the "Hope you're not regretting the wine induced email." I know you didn't mean it as a question, but I feel like I need to address this. I have never cheated on my husband before this email conversation (which I do regard as a form of cheating, albeit not as bad as others). Do I regret it? At this moment I feel numb about it, [...] but I do have my reasons. You have always been so kind to me, you are super impressive, and I spent lockdown wondering if you were into me. I am conflicted but, in this moment, I don't regret it. I spent last night thinking about you, what I'd like you to do to me, and I am fighting the urge to tell you in detail about it. I need a cold shower.
HER: Your breakup must have been awful for you, and whatever else I owe you a hug....I'll just try and keep my tongue in my mouth.
HIM: Thank you so much for being so open with me … its amazing! I must admit that I had quite a sleepless night too! I must admit that there was a serious ‘wow’ factor when I first met you – cards on the table – I am most definitely ‘into you’. I would love you to tell me what you would like me to do to you (although I have quite a few ideas myself)! [...] Off to a cold shower too (although a hot shower shared is much more fun)!!!

At this point, I confronted her about my suspicions, without revealing that I already knew every single detail. I know this is manipulative of me, but I had to see whether she would confess and tell me everything. It took several days, and a good number of very emotional chats, to get most of it out of her. Initially she didn't want to talk about it, said this was just something small that would pass without any consequence, and so on. But the chat with him continued, even though the innuendo got dialled down.

Thursday
HIM: Not sure if I should confess my age. I’m actually 52. What about you? Still can't quite believe that you may have feelings for me.
HER: I am 44, although you make me feel about 18...I have made you a noncorporeal mixtape [followed by a list of songs about crushes, desires, and ones I know she considers "songs for intimacy"]. The thought of how well you can keep a beat does things to me physically - sorry I shouldn't be provocative.
HIM: The trouble with drummers is that they speed up when the adrenaline kicks in...please be provocative...

On Friday I was very confrontational, having read what they exchanged and knowing my earlier intervention had not made any difference. I accused her of initiating, and continuing, an emotional affair. She was super defensive about it, but eventually acknowledged it, although she still maintains that things didn't turn sexual in tone. She has been contrite since - saying she's sorry, will do whatever she can to make me feel safe. This was her last message to him.

Friday
HER: Hiya, I am not ghosting you, but I need some time ok. Keep safe.
HIM: Of course. Fully understand. Keep safe too.

We have since talked more about this, and things feel somewhat better. There is certainly an intention on both sides to fix things, and I know she is genuinely sorry about what she has done. However, things are still very raw for me. I still worry constantly, because I know she is still leaving out certain details and left the chat very open-ended. I do not feel I can 100% trust her at this moment. She has a business trip coming up Monday-Wednesday. I guess I will be following her "secret" Gmail to see how this ends, or continues (which would honestly break my heart and cause very long-lasting damage).

My ask: Sorry that was a hell of a lot to get off my chest. I don't know if I should have shared all that detail, but I had to tell someone. You've probably seen/read this all a million times before. I don't feel much anger or resentment - and I don't even really blame her for what happened. I acknowledge my own role in the build up to all this, and my responsibility in resolving the situation and building an even stronger foundation for our marriage.
I did want to end with a specific ask (I don't need solutions, or marriage advice - the root causes are well known to both of us and we are determined to fix those): Would you judge her intention was to keep things within the boundaries of an "emotional affair" (chat, fantasy) as she has claimed? Or would you say that the intention was there from the start to cross over into more intimate interactions (sexting, photos, etc.), or even end up with a full-on physical affair? I have no doubt he would go for it, despite her claims that he's the nicest guy and not a home-wrecker, but I have been unable discern her ultimate intensions. Maybe she didn't have a clear idea where this would lead to, I just don't know. She maintains that this was only ever about relatively harmless attention seeking - but I am doubtful given the speed and intensity with which the chat developed, and the readiness with which they admitted desires to one another. I am also worried about his mention of feelings - desires and lust are one thing, but feelings are a completely different level. She never actually mentioned feelings towards him (only an interest and sexual attraction), but it can get very messy if she fans that flame in a colleague.

Thank you for listening/reading, and please let me know what you think.
 

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First time post, and a very long one at that, but I have a lot to get off my chest.
There is a specific point to this, but the background is important.
Thank you for reading, and go easy on me - and on her.

Background: My wife and I have been together 13 years, are in our mid-40s, two kids, both in high-pressured jobs, and pretty much have it all. We are extremely compatible on almost every level, highly educated and generally very rational human beings. She is a beautiful, strong, intelligent and highly successful woman, but does suffer from mental health issues, including depression and low self esteem (stemming from her upbringing). My personality can be described as friendly, open and giving on the outside, but actually very hard to access on the inside - she is one of very few people who has ever managed to cross my deepest barriers if that makes sense. We love each other wholeheartedly, and our long-term commitment to each other has never been in any doubt (including throughout our current predicament).
Despite all this, we do have a number of long-term issues. Sex has, for a long time, been a major issue. After the initial "spike", our sex life rapidly deteriorated for several reasons. We were never super compatible in the bedroom (on the pure nitty gritty physical side of things), there was an early conflict with a family member which led to some lingering resentment (this got resolved eventually), and the combination of having two kids and full-time jobs pretty much finished things off for a long time. She is a total sapiophile who needs mental stimulation to get aroused, and unfortunately it is often difficult for me to give her that when she needs it. To her, this feels like a real rejection of her sexuality and needs, and she has become convinced that I do not fancy her or want to be intimate with her. This isn't at all true, but it makes complete sense that she feels that way, and I am entirely to blame for that. On the flipside, I am a very tactile person who thrives on small physical interactions (as expressions of love, affection and desire) - while she has a very strong dislike of being touched, unless it is as a prelude to sex. As a result, we are both starved of the affirmation we need and crave from each other. We have discussed this openly and honestly many times, as we do with pretty much everything, but never mustered the time and energy to do enough about it. I am probably more to blame than she is in this regard, although neither side has made sufficient effort, and we both acknowledge that.
Finally, I am much more of the nurturing type than she is, which means I do about 80-90% of taking care of the kids. I also do the majority of the house work, although this varies. She is by no means lazy, in fact quite the opposite, and is extremely capable of tackling grand projects (both at work and around the house) - but not the day-to-day grind. Her depression is a major factor in this (still, despite her receiving active support for it). I don't mind this dynamic, in fact it fits my personality quite well, but oftentimes the sheer inequality of it does create resentment on my part. I tend to express this as coldness or sometimes passive-aggressiveness, rather than tackling things head on with her. Again, something I am working on. Naturally, such occasional coldness reinforces the feeling for her that I don't fancy her, or in fact love her all that much.

Disclaimer: despite the issues laid out, we do talk and discuss things openly and honestly, and we are both in it for the long haul. We know the grass will never stay greener on the other side, even if it can seem that way on occasion.

Fairly recent history: Around 4 years ago my wife had what can best be described as an emotional affair with her boss. This was something that grew organically through their day-to-day interactions, and was very much initiated by him (as it turned out, the affable exterior hid a manipulative narcissist). He fitted her type: slightly older male, highly intelligent, nurturing and supportive (at least on the surface of things), and in a position of power. They obviously spent a lot of time together at work, did a number of business trips abroad together and so on. On a few occasions he pushed for things to get physical, but she never crossed that line, despite our non-existent sex life at that point. I do not doubt her in that, knowing fully well that she could have without me ever finding out. She confessed to me at some point to having a "crush" on him, told me about the times he tried to go for more, and was honest about having some feelings for him. This was painful to find out, and I resented her for seeking attention elsewhere. I felt I was giving her my all, but of course I was withholding the affirmation she actually needed. I acknowledge this in retrospect, but it was harder for me to see it at the time. This should have also been a wake-up call for both of us, but we never managed to resolve our issues properly, and sort of let the situation play out. I trusted her reassurances that this would work its way through her system (which it did) and that things would never get physical (which I still believe didn't). In the end, the process was sped up through an incident at her work, where he dropped her like a stone, but it set a precedent for more recent events.

More recent events: In early April we went through another super busy spell, were a bit cranky with each other, and had several arguments. Our lack of intimacy came up again, and once more my response was pretty lacklustre (partly due to some resentment I was feeling towards her at the time for not pulling her weight around the house and kids). She had had a few drinks, and was on her laptop while we were watching a move (this is pretty standard). I noticed her typing a message, but didn't think too much of it because we message for work at odd times a lot anyway. Then she declared she was going to bed early, would sleep in the guest bedroom, and needed some privacy. I was a little taken aback and asked why, and she effectively said she needed space to masturbate since I wasn't going to step up to the plate. What worried me about that interaction was not so much the thing itself, but the message that was sent right before it happened.
A day or so later, I did what I had never done in the 13 years before: I went and looked at her email. She is a bit of a luddite and very careless with her devices (read: no passcode on phone, leaves deleted emails in the Trash folder, etc.). As it turns out, her email was to a colleague: "Fancy that coffee?". This was accompanied by a search history from that same evening of photos of him (public). Now this colleague is an early-50s male who she works with occasionally. Again he fits her interest profile: intelligent, position of power, etc. What I knew at the time was that he had gone through a nasty divorce around a year prior, she'd given him some emotional support, and he had hinted at interest in her. There was an open invitation for coffee and a getting to know each other better outside the sphere of work. She had never responded to it (and in fact had mentioned it to me in passing, dismissing it as sweet but a little inappropriate) - until that point. Now, clearly, she had a) taken him up on his invitation, and b) had a sexual fantasy about him.
I felt bad for snooping, and thought about this for several days, but ultimately confronted her about it. She was angry with me for going through her stuff and distrusting her, and initially tried to dismiss the intent and extent of the contact. After I explained how it made me feel, she relented and said sorry, and promised she'd kick the conversation into the long grass - which she did.

Easter holiday: For Easter we went away on a holiday/family visit for 10 days. Frustratingly, she received a work assignment a few days prior, which meant she would have to do some work while we were away. We discussed it and agreed that she should take the assignment, as long as she would minimize its impact. As it turned out, she spent 5 full days working on it, while I was left to look after the kids on my own. I was annoyed with her about this, and we left with a fair degree of coldness. I went home with the kids, she stayed over for another week for a number of business meetings. After she came back (last weekend), the feeling of distance was still there, but off and on - some moments were close, some were distant. The evening she came back she was probing for sex, and we actually spent the Bank Holiday morning in bed (and did it twice, sorry for the detail). We talked some more about our intimacy problem, and how we would try and work on it. The rest of the day was a happy one, but what I didn't realise was that something else was going on in the background.

This past week: Tuesday was pretty uneventful, but on Wednesday morning she was extremely "off". She spent most of the morning downstairs with her laptop, wouldn't come up to the home office to start her work, spent time wandering around the garden gazing into space. I noticed of course, offered to help, talk about it, and so on. She was her normal self with me and said it had all been too much work-wise and she was feeling a bit burnt out, stressed, etc. I did not question this to begin with (it would be entirely understandable if she felt like that), but as the day went on something did not feel right. So in the evening, as she was making dinner, I checked her laptop again - and found she had been using a Gmail address. Now, she has never had Gmail, or any private social media, so this was highly suspect to me. The worry kept me up for most of the night, and in the end, I checked into that Gmail address to find out what was going on. As it turned out, she had reached out again to the colleague mentioned above on the final night of her business trip - "Fancy a chat?". He was a bit slow to respond, and they exchanged a few innocuous messages on Sunday and Monday, but on Tuesday the tone changed. First, she asked him to switch to his private email. Then, she asked him about his intentions when he asked her for coffee that time. Then the chat rapidly went downhill from there. I have been able to check in on their conversation since (she is unaware of this), but she knows I have looked at her computer - she thinks she's covered her tracks, but she's terrible at that and the signs are all over the place. Here are some excerpts (anonymised) from the chat:

Tuesday evening
HER: When you asked me out for coffee, did you ask me out for coffee, or for coffee?
HIM: At the time and knowing your circumstances it was for a coffee with no hidden agenda. Under different circumstances I would ask you out for 'a coffee'.
HER: By the way if circumstances were different I would have come for coffee and the biscuits.... seriously bad I know....
HIM: I think the coffee and biscuits would have been amazing.
HER: I am in awe of smart people, and you are pretty much at the pinnacle of the sexiest smarts.
HIM: You definitely win the series smart [...] award....hope you don't mind me saying.
HER: I know what you mean about sharing stuff. I always feel like that when I travel. It's probably why I emailed you late at night after I'd had wine.....
HIM: Hope you're not regretting the wine induced email.

Wednesday morning
HER: I spent last night thinking about the "Hope you're not regretting the wine induced email." I know you didn't mean it as a question, but I feel like I need to address this. I have never cheated on my husband before this email conversation (which I do regard as a form of cheating, albeit not as bad as others). Do I regret it? At this moment I feel numb about it, [...] but I do have my reasons. You have always been so kind to me, you are super impressive, and I spent lockdown wondering if you were into me. I am conflicted but, in this moment, I don't regret it. I spent last night thinking about you, what I'd like you to do to me, and I am fighting the urge to tell you in detail about it. I need a cold shower.
HIM: Thank you so much for being so open with me … its amazing! I must admit that I had quite a sleepless night too! I must admit that there was a serious ‘wow’ factor when I first met you – cards on the table – I am most definitely ‘into you’. I would love you to tell me what you would like me to do to you (although I have quite a few ideas myself)! [...] Off to a cold shower too (although a hot shower shared is much more fun)!!!

At this point, I confronted her about my suspicions, without revealing that I already knew every single detail. I know this is manipulative of me, but I had to see whether she would confess and tell me everything. It took several days, and a good number of very emotional chats, to get most of it out of her. Initially she didn't want to talk about it, said this was just something small that would pass without any consequence, and so on. But the chat with him continued, even though the innuendo got dialled down.

Thursday
HIM: Not sure if I should confess my age. I’m actually 52. What about you?
HER: I am 44, although you make me feel about 18...I have made you a noncorporeal mixtape [followed by a list of songs about crushes, desires, and ones I know she considers "songs for intimacy"]. The thought of how well you can keep a beat does things to me physically - sorry I shouldn't be provocative.
HIM: The trouble with drummers is that they speed up when the adrenaline kicks in...please be provocative...

On Friday I was very confrontational, having read what they exchanged and knowing my earlier intervention had not made any difference. I accused her of initiating, and continuing, an emotional affair. She was super defensive about it, but eventually acknowledged it, although she still maintains that things didn't turn sexual in tone. She has been contrite since - saying she's sorry, will do whatever she can to make me feel safe. This was her last message to him.

Friday
HER: Hiya, I am not ghosting you, but I need some time ok. Keep safe.
HIM: Of course. Fully understand. Keep safe too.

We have since talked more about this, and things feel somewhat better. There is certainly an intention on both sides to fix things, and I know she is genuinely sorry about what she has done. However, things are still very raw for me. I still worry constantly, because I know she is still leaving out certain details and left the chat very open-ended. I do not feel I can 100% trust her at this moment. She has a business trip coming up Monday-Wednesday. I guess I will be following her "secret" Gmail to see how this ends, or continues (which would honestly break my heart and cause very long-lasting damage).

My ask: Sorry that was a hell of a lot to get off my chest. I don't know if I should have shared all that detail, but I had to tell someone. You've probably seen/read this all a million times before. I don't feel much anger or resentment - and I don't even really blame her for what happened. I did want to end with a specific ask (I don't need solutions, or marriage advice - the root causes are well known to both of us and we are determined to fix those): Do you think the intention here was to keep things within the boundaries of an "emotional affair" (chat, fantasy), is it going to cross over into more (sexting, photos, etc.) or will it even turn physical? I have no doubt he would, but I cannot discern her ultimate intensions. She maintains that it is the first option - but I am just not sure given the speed and intensity at which the chat developed.

Thank you for listening/reading, and please let me know what you think.
@MaroonedDoc Welcome to TAM. What a difficult story to read. Difficult in the sense of cringing at many points during the reading of it.

Very simply, you significantly slowed sexual interactions with your wife, which she is very unhappy about. She cheated on you, and later tried to cheat on you. Now she is cheating again, and clearly wants to get in the sack with this guy.

So. You ask what are her intentions…is she playing in the “safe” space of an emotional affair or is she trying to take this further.

Dude. Your wife’s sexual energy is at a peak in her life. You aren’t there to take care of her. This OM is banging the **** out of her in her fantasy life. And they can be together whenever they want. WTH do you think is going to happen? Of course she’s going to get physical. Emotional affairs are strong, addictive, and if there’s opportunity to consummate, it will happen.

In fact, I would not be so sure about the first go round 4 years ago. You’re seeing evidence right now that she minimizes and avoids details that would incriminate her. Do you think she just started doing that now? Of course she banged her boss.

You let this go on by not dealing with the infidelity and marriage issues from the beginning. She knows she can ‘play’ with no consequences, and you seem to be ok with that. Now it will go further and could turn into a long term physical affair.

If you want to wait until she does the deed and try to figure out how to react, go ahead. I would not be so patient. I would blow it all up right now and she would not be going on any trips where this guy was, or D would be waiting for her return. No contact with this OM ever again, or D. She has already committed adultery, numerous times. Why are you ok with that?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You need to blow this open and call her out on what you know. As, for her and him on a "business" trip? That would be a hard no. If they continue to work together, this is going to develop into a full blown physical affair.
Thanks for the reply. I have (although I am playing some cards close to my chest) and she has responded appropriately. The business trip will not be the both of them, otherwise I would have indeed insisted she cancels it (or sleeps with a Zoom link on all night - which was actually one of her suggestions).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
@MaroonedDoc Welcome to TAM. What a difficult story to read. Difficult in the sense of bringing at many points during the reading of it.

Very simply, you significantly slowed sexual interactions with your wife, which she is very unhappy about. She cheated on you, and later tried to cheat on you. Now she is cheating again, and clearly wants to get in the sack with this guy.

So. You ask what are her intentions…is she playing in the “safe” space of an emotional affair or is she trying to take this further.

Dude. Your wife’s sexual energy is at a peak in her life. You aren’t there to take care of her. This OM is banging the **** out of her in her fantasy life. And they can be together whenever they want. WTH do you think is going to happen? Of course she’s going to get physical. Emotional affairs are strong, addictive, and if there’s opportunity to consummate, it will happen.

In fact, I would not be so sure about the first go round 4 years ago. You’re seeing evidence right now that she minimizes and avoids details that would incriminate her. Do you think she just started doing that now? Of course she banged her boss.

You let this go on by not dealing with the infidelity and marriage issues from the beginning. She knows she can ‘play’ with no consequences, and you seem to be ok with that. Now it will go further and could turn into a long term physical affair.

If you want to wait until she does the deed and try to figure out how to react, go ahead. I would not be so patient. I would blow it all up right now and she would not be going on any trips where this guy was, or D would be waiting for her return. No contact with this OM ever again, or D. She has already committed adultery, numerous times. Why are you ok with that?
Thanks for the reply. I know it can be hard to judge a situation purely by reading a biased account on here, and it is tricky to convey our connection and depth or our relationship. As I said, I had no reason to distrust her for 13 years, and in many ways I still don't. She's a terrible liar and whenever I press her I know whether she is telling the truth or deflecting/playing things down. I know she didn't go there with her old boss (and that's not me being naïve) - but the combination of factors in this case puts her intentions in a much different light.

And yes, I did already acknowledge my own failings in this, and they are being addressed (partly as a result of this coming out).
 

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Thanks for the reply. I know it can be hard to judge a situation purely by reading a biased account on here, and it is tricky to convey our connection and depth or our relationship. As I said, I had no reason to distrust her for 13 years, and in many ways I still don't. She's a terrible liar and whenever I press her I know whether she is telling the truth or deflecting/playing things down. I know she didn't go there with her old boss (and that's not me being naïve) - but the combination of factors in this case puts her intentions in a much different light.

And yes, I did already acknowledge my own failings in this, and they are being addressed (partly as a result of this coming out).
Fair enough but none of that matters a bit with respect to this upcoming trip.

It seems really clear to me what her thinking is with leaving that door open for him. Whether she did it before or not may speak to her character and your relationship but means diddly once she gets on this trip, in a hotel bar, with this OM who she clearly wants and has pursued.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Fair enough but none of that matters a bit with respect to this upcoming trip.

It seems really clear to me what her thinking is with leaving that door open for him. Whether she did it before or not may speak to her character and your relationship but means diddly once she gets on this trip, in a hotel bar, with this OM who she clearly wants and has pursued.
Thankfully he will not be on the same trip, but point very much taken.

People will find a way to cheat if they really want to, and it would be pointless pretending I could take away that opportunity. I travel a lot for work as well, you can always nip out of work and get a room for an hour or two, or at a pinch there's the office desk. The only way to prevent that is from having a strong enough relationship (which, by and large, we do) and ensure there is nothing serious lacking (which admittedly I neglected in the past). Divorce would be the ultimate sanction, but is not on the cards from either side.

The reason for my "wait and see" comment is that she will be alone in a hotel room for 2 nights with plenty of time to decide if she wants to go ahead with it (now that it is out in the open), or if she backs down. Her thinking she is unobserved in this will ensure that whatever she decides is genuine. I guess time will tell.

P.S. she has not checked into her Gmail account since that final message
 

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First time post, and a very long one at that, but I have a lot to get off my chest.
There is a specific point to this, but the background is important.
Thank you for reading, and go easy on me - and on her.

Background: My wife and I have been together 13 years, are in our mid-40s, two kids, both in high-pressured jobs, and pretty much have it all. We are extremely compatible on almost every level, highly educated and generally very rational human beings. She is a beautiful, strong, intelligent and highly successful woman, but does suffer from mental health issues, including depression and low self esteem (stemming from her upbringing). My personality can be described as friendly, open and giving on the outside, but actually very hard to access on the inside - she is one of very few people who has ever managed to cross my deepest barriers if that makes sense. We love each other wholeheartedly, and our long-term commitment to each other has never been in any doubt (including throughout our current predicament).
Despite all this, we do have a number of long-term issues. Sex has, for a long time, been a major issue. After the initial "spike", our sex life rapidly deteriorated for several reasons. We were never super compatible in the bedroom (on the pure nitty gritty physical side of things), there was an early conflict with a family member which led to some lingering resentment (this got resolved eventually), and the combination of having two kids and full-time jobs pretty much finished things off for a long time. She is a total sapiophile who needs mental stimulation to get aroused, and unfortunately it is often difficult for me to give her that when she needs it. To her, this feels like a real rejection of her sexuality and needs, and she has become convinced that I do not fancy her or want to be intimate with her. This isn't at all true, but it makes complete sense that she feels that way, and I am entirely to blame for that. On the flipside, I am a very tactile person who thrives on small physical interactions (as expressions of love, affection and desire) - while she has a very strong dislike of being touched, unless it is as a prelude to sex. As a result, we are both starved of the affirmation we need and crave from each other. We have discussed this openly and honestly many times, as we do with pretty much everything, but never mustered the time and energy to do enough about it. I am probably more to blame than she is in this regard, although neither side has made sufficient effort, and we both acknowledge that.
Finally, I am much more of the nurturing type than she is, which means I do about 80-90% of taking care of the kids. I also do the majority of the house work, although this varies. She is by no means lazy, in fact quite the opposite, and is extremely capable of tackling grand projects (both at work and around the house) - but not the day-to-day grind. Her depression is a major factor in this (still, despite her receiving active support for it). I don't mind this dynamic, in fact it fits my personality quite well, but oftentimes the sheer inequality of it does create resentment on my part. I tend to express this as coldness or sometimes passive-aggressiveness, rather than tackling things head on with her. Again, something I am working on. Naturally, such occasional coldness reinforces the feeling for her that I don't fancy her, or in fact love her all that much.

Disclaimer: despite the issues laid out, we do talk and discuss things openly and honestly, and we are both in it for the long haul. We know the grass will never stay greener on the other side, even if it can seem that way on occasion.

Fairly recent history: Around 4 years ago my wife had what can best be described as an emotional affair with her boss. This was something that grew organically through their day-to-day interactions, and was very much initiated by him (as it turned out, the affable exterior hid a manipulative narcissist). He fitted her type: slightly older male, highly intelligent, nurturing and supportive (at least on the surface of things), and in a position of power. They obviously spent a lot of time together at work, did a number of business trips abroad together and so on. On a few occasions he pushed for things to get physical, but she never crossed that line, despite our non-existent sex life at that point. I do not doubt her in that, knowing fully well that she could have without me ever finding out. She confessed to me at some point to having a "crush" on him, told me about the times he tried to go for more, and was honest about having some feelings for him. This was painful to find out, and I resented her for seeking attention elsewhere. I felt I was giving her my all, but of course I was withholding the affirmation she actually needed. I acknowledge this in retrospect, but it was harder for me to see it at the time. This should have also been a wake-up call for both of us, but we never managed to resolve our issues properly, and sort of let the situation play out. I trusted her reassurances that this would work its way through her system (which it did) and that things would never get physical (which I still believe didn't). In the end, the process was sped up through an incident at her work, where he dropped her like a stone, but it set a precedent for more recent events.

More recent events: In early April we went through another super busy spell, were a bit cranky with each other, and had several arguments. Our lack of intimacy came up again, and once more my response was pretty lacklustre (partly due to some resentment I was feeling towards her at the time for not pulling her weight around the house and kids). She had had a few drinks, and was on her laptop while we were watching a move (this is pretty standard). I noticed her typing a message, but didn't think too much of it because we message for work at odd times a lot anyway. Then she declared she was going to bed early, would sleep in the guest bedroom, and needed some privacy. I was a little taken aback and asked why, and she effectively said she needed space to masturbate since I wasn't going to step up to the plate. What worried me about that interaction was not so much the thing itself, but the message that was sent right before it happened.
A day or so later, I did what I had never done in the 13 years before: I went and looked at her email. She is a bit of a luddite and very careless with her devices (read: no passcode on phone, leaves deleted emails in the Trash folder, etc.). As it turns out, her email was to a colleague: "Fancy that coffee?". This was accompanied by a search history from that same evening of photos of him (public). Now this colleague is an early-50s male who she works with occasionally. Again he fits her interest profile: intelligent, position of power, etc. What I knew at the time was that he had gone through a nasty divorce around a year prior, she'd given him some emotional support, and he had hinted at interest in her. There was an open invitation for coffee and a getting to know each other better outside the sphere of work. She had never responded to it (and in fact had mentioned it to me in passing, dismissing it as sweet but a little inappropriate) - until that point. Now, clearly, she had a) taken him up on his invitation, and b) had a sexual fantasy about him.
I felt bad for snooping, and thought about this for several days, but ultimately confronted her about it. She was angry with me for going through her stuff and distrusting her, and initially tried to dismiss the intent and extent of the contact. After I explained how it made me feel, she relented and said sorry, and promised she'd kick the conversation into the long grass - which she did.

Easter holiday: For Easter we went away on a holiday/family visit for 10 days. Frustratingly, she received a work assignment a few days prior, which meant she would have to do some work while we were away. We discussed it and agreed that she should take the assignment, as long as she would minimize its impact. As it turned out, she spent 5 full days working on it, while I was left to look after the kids on my own. I was annoyed with her about this, and we left with a fair degree of coldness. I went home with the kids, she stayed over for another week for a number of business meetings. After she came back (last weekend), the feeling of distance was still there, but off and on - some moments were close, some were distant. The evening she came back she was probing for sex, and we actually spent the Bank Holiday morning in bed (and did it twice, sorry for the detail). We talked some more about our intimacy problem, and how we would try and work on it. The rest of the day was a happy one, but what I didn't realise was that something else was going on in the background.

This past week: Tuesday was pretty uneventful, but on Wednesday morning she was extremely "off". She spent most of the morning downstairs with her laptop, wouldn't come up to the home office to start her work, spent time wandering around the garden gazing into space. I noticed of course, offered to help, talk about it, and so on. She was her normal self with me and said it had all been too much work-wise and she was feeling a bit burnt out, stressed, etc. I did not question this to begin with (it would be entirely understandable if she felt like that), but as the day went on something did not feel right. So in the evening, as she was making dinner, I checked her laptop again - and found she had been using a Gmail address. Now, she has never had Gmail, or any private social media, so this was highly suspect to me. The worry kept me up for most of the night, and in the end, I checked into that Gmail address to find out what was going on. As it turned out, she had reached out again to the colleague mentioned above on the final night of her business trip - "Fancy a chat?". He was a bit slow to respond, and they exchanged a few innocuous messages on Sunday and Monday, but on Tuesday the tone changed. First, she asked him to switch to his private email. Then, she asked him about his intentions when he asked her for coffee that time. Then the chat rapidly went downhill from there. I have been able to check in on their conversation since (she is unaware of this), but she knows I have looked at her computer - she thinks she's covered her tracks, but she's terrible at that and the signs are all over the place. Here are some excerpts (anonymised) from the chat:

Tuesday evening
HER: When you asked me out for coffee, did you ask me out for coffee, or for coffee?
HIM: At the time and knowing your circumstances it was for a coffee with no hidden agenda. Under different circumstances I would ask you out for 'a coffee'.
HER: By the way if circumstances were different I would have come for coffee and the biscuits.... seriously bad I know....
HIM: I think the coffee and biscuits would have been amazing.
HER: I am in awe of smart people, and you are pretty much at the pinnacle of the sexiest smarts.
HIM: You definitely win the series smart [...] award....hope you don't mind me saying.
HER: I know what you mean about sharing stuff. I always feel like that when I travel. It's probably why I emailed you late at night after I'd had wine.....
HIM: Hope you're not regretting the wine induced email.

Wednesday morning
HER: I spent last night thinking about the "Hope you're not regretting the wine induced email." I know you didn't mean it as a question, but I feel like I need to address this. I have never cheated on my husband before this email conversation (which I do regard as a form of cheating, albeit not as bad as others). Do I regret it? At this moment I feel numb about it, [...] but I do have my reasons. You have always been so kind to me, you are super impressive, and I spent lockdown wondering if you were into me. I am conflicted but, in this moment, I don't regret it. I spent last night thinking about you, what I'd like you to do to me, and I am fighting the urge to tell you in detail about it. I need a cold shower.
HER: Your breakup must have been awful for you, and whatever else I owe you a hug....I'll just try and keep my tongue in my mouth.
HIM: Thank you so much for being so open with me … its amazing! I must admit that I had quite a sleepless night too! I must admit that there was a serious ‘wow’ factor when I first met you – cards on the table – I am most definitely ‘into you’. I would love you to tell me what you would like me to do to you (although I have quite a few ideas myself)! [...] Off to a cold shower too (although a hot shower shared is much more fun)!!!

At this point, I confronted her about my suspicions, without revealing that I already knew every single detail. I know this is manipulative of me, but I had to see whether she would confess and tell me everything. It took several days, and a good number of very emotional chats, to get most of it out of her. Initially she didn't want to talk about it, said this was just something small that would pass without any consequence, and so on. But the chat with him continued, even though the innuendo got dialled down.

Thursday
HIM: Not sure if I should confess my age. I’m actually 52. What about you? Still can't quite believe that you may have feelings for me.
HER: I am 44, although you make me feel about 18...I have made you a noncorporeal mixtape [followed by a list of songs about crushes, desires, and ones I know she considers "songs for intimacy"]. The thought of how well you can keep a beat does things to me physically - sorry I shouldn't be provocative.
HIM: The trouble with drummers is that they speed up when the adrenaline kicks in...please be provocative...

On Friday I was very confrontational, having read what they exchanged and knowing my earlier intervention had not made any difference. I accused her of initiating, and continuing, an emotional affair. She was super defensive about it, but eventually acknowledged it, although she still maintains that things didn't turn sexual in tone. She has been contrite since - saying she's sorry, will do whatever she can to make me feel safe. This was her last message to him.

Friday
HER: Hiya, I am not ghosting you, but I need some time ok. Keep safe.
HIM: Of course. Fully understand. Keep safe too.

We have since talked more about this, and things feel somewhat better. There is certainly an intention on both sides to fix things, and I know she is genuinely sorry about what she has done. However, things are still very raw for me. I still worry constantly, because I know she is still leaving out certain details and left the chat very open-ended. I do not feel I can 100% trust her at this moment. She has a business trip coming up Monday-Wednesday. I guess I will be following her "secret" Gmail to see how this ends, or continues (which would honestly break my heart and cause very long-lasting damage).

My ask: Sorry that was a hell of a lot to get off my chest. I don't know if I should have shared all that detail, but I had to tell someone. You've probably seen/read this all a million times before. I don't feel much anger or resentment - and I don't even really blame her for what happened. I acknowledge my own role in the build up to all this, and my responsibility in resolving the situation and building an even stronger foundation for our marriage.
I did want to end with a specific ask (I don't need solutions, or marriage advice - the root causes are well known to both of us and we are determined to fix those): Would you judge her intention was to keep things within the boundaries of an "emotional affair" (chat, fantasy) as she has claimed? Or would you say that the intention was there from the start to cross over into more intimate interactions (sexting, photos, etc.), or even end up with a full-on physical affair? I have no doubt he would go for it, despite her claims that he's the nicest guy and not a home-wrecker, but I have been unable discern her ultimate intensions. Maybe she didn't have a clear idea where this would lead to, I just don't know. She maintains that this was only ever about relatively harmless attention seeking - but I am doubtful given the speed and intensity with which the chat developed, and the readiness with which they admitted desires to one another. I am also worried about his mention of feelings - desires and lust are one thing, but feelings are a completely different level. She never actually mentioned feelings towards him (only an interest and sexual attraction), but it can get very messy if she fans that flame in a colleague.

Thank you for listening/reading, and please let me know what you think.
oh boy! Quit playing games with her. Simply print out the emails throw them in her face. She quits her job NOW. Non-negotiable, Ultimatum.......you switch jobs or we divorce and he’s all yours, Next you confront the POSOM. Next step emails are provided to Human Resources where they work. Quit being so convoluted playing mind games.
 

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Neither of you are happy in this marriage.

You two have not been happy for a long time.

The future for you two, looks the same, no resolution.


You caught her cheating.
She had cheated at work before, this being the 2nd time.

You do not make her happy, she does not make you happy.

Why be that policeman?
Let her go.
Divorce.

I would write, divorce amicably, but that may not be possible on your part.
I get it.

If you divorce, It will make her happy and soon, and you will find another woman that is more compatible.

This is all it is, you two are not meant for each other.
It happens, accept it, and move on.

Life is so damn short, why waste it, tilting at windmills.

You have many good years ahead of you, make the best of them with a new love.



Are Dee-
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Neither of you are happy in this marriage.

You two have not been happy for a long time.

The future for you two, looks the same, no resolution.


You caught her cheating.
She had cheated at work before, this being the 2nd time.

You do not make her happy, she does not make you happy.

Why be that policeman?
Let her go.
Divorce.

I would write, divorce amicably, but that may not be possible on your part.
I get it.

If you divorce, It will make her happy and soon, and you will find another woman that is more compatible.

This is all it is, you two are not meant for each other.
It happens, accept it, and move on.

Life is so damn short, why waste it, tilting at windmills.

You have many good years ahead of you, make the best of them with a new love.



Are Dee-
Thanks for the reply. I respectfully disagree. Yes we are unhappy about one specific aspect of our relationship - but in every other way what we have blows every other relationship out of the water. We've both been in the game long enough to know that we've found the right one (soulmates, without trying to sounding corny). Getting a divorce would be a total kneejerk, and guarantee we both end up unhappy. Despite our history and what she has done, there is no doubt in my mind that things can be fixed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
oh boy! Quit playing games with her. Simply print out the emails throw them in her face. She quits her job NOW. Non-negotiable, Ultimatum.......you switch jobs or we divorce and he’s all yours, Next you confront the POSOM. Next step emails are provided to Human Resources where they work. Quit being so convoluted playing mind games.
That would be incredibly rash, counter-productive and instantly destroy something we have spent more than a decade building up. Not a chance, unless things spin much further out of control. She knows she is on notice and I need to see how she responds, genuinely, and without me being present.
 

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emotional relationships do not end when they are caught. she already stated that in the message.

The man will try to reach your wife.

your wife is aware that you are tracking her devices

Communication can continue at work or with a second phone.

When your wife gets back from her business trip, ask for a polygraph.

Does it accept?

You said you would try to mend your relationship.

Unnatural things don't last long. You cannot change yourself.
 

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You stated that you're not looking for advice, so I will just state what you already know. You are not taking care of your wife's needs and she will have no problems finding someone who will. This ball is in your court.
 

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oh boy! Quit playing games with her. Simply print out the emails throw them in her face. She quits her job NOW. Non-negotiable, Ultimatum.......you switch jobs or we divorce and he’s all yours, Next you confront the POSOM. Next step emails are provided to Human Resources where they work. Quit being so convoluted playing mind games.
Not sure this would help too much as after 2 inappropriate relationship s she may well just find more guys at another job. Her problem is her lack of boundaries.

Op your wife is playing with fire and you will all get burnt if she carries on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Just to be clear OP, she is already cheating.She even acknowledged it in her correspondence with the other man. Btw, a polite chat reminding him of what he stands to lose economically , might be a good idea.
I have considered this, and again this will depend on his reaction. If she cuts it off and he honours it, then I see no point pushing that. After all, he only reacted to her reaching out. Up to that point, it was just a dirty little fantasy in his mind (and frankly, I couldn't care less about that - my wife's hot and it's that's my win).
 
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