Thanks Keep - from the sounds of it, we are pretty similar. I was 38 when i found out about my wife's affair, and also contemplated the same things you mentioned above. I like to think of myself as a "catch"...I am relatively fit, do pretty well financially, and can make friends pretty easily. The main reason I stayed was not for my wife initially, it was for my son. My relationship with my son is what kept me here, and she knows that. After D-Day I operated on the 6-month plan (after reading your posts), and it works. I made my wife no promises, only that I will trust my gut over her everyday of the week...and that is a promise I will never break. The six month thing worked for the first year or so, then it started to set in that this is where I wanted to be. My wife was doing/saying all the right things.
Speaking of my son - after my meltdown yesterday I went to my office and read a father's day card that he gave me in 2018. He was only 13 at the time when he wrote this: "Dad, I know there have been some rough times lately. During those times I know it has been hard for you, but I wanted to tell you how proud I am of you for staying! You are the glue, support and backbone of this family and you are the one keeping us together. I am lucky to have a father who cares as much for his family as you do. Happy Father's Day!"
My son will never know the impact that this card had on me. I keep it tucked away in my desk and pull it out to read when I am having a tough day. My son has no idea what his mother did, nor will he ever find out. All he knows is that Mom & Dad had a pretty bad argument and we were working on our marriage.
Like you you the ONLY reason I didn’t divorce her immediately was my kids. She was/is well aware of that. I’m glad my road map helped you through this mess. Like you, my children don’t know what my wife did. They know she didn’t treat me well, and “something” was the straw that broke the camel’s back. When I left on d-day, I did my best to seem ok, even though I was the farthest thing from it. I told them I had to leave for a business trip, which was very common. But normally they know in advance. All of my daughters hugged me tightly and kissed me goodbye as they usually did. It was fairly late, around 10pm. The only person that contacted me that night was my wife, which I ignored. The next day I actually went into one of our facilities that I managed. The leader of this site could instantly tell something was very wrong with me. We were friends as well. He told me to get out of there and take care of myself and that he would cover whatever was needed. I called my Mom, and she drove 4 hours to meet me at my hotel. Very rough day. Late that night, after my Mom had retired to her room, my 2 older daughters each started texting independently. It was well past their bedtimes, and they had separate rooms. So I knew they were independently checking on me. They were primarily worried about me, and secondarily worried that I was going to divorce their mom and that they would be forced to live with her. I made them no promises, and never let on what she had done. I was/am very close to my girls. They can read me like a book. They didn’t ask what had happened, so a part of me thought they might know or had figured it out. The next day I planned to go to a family cabin we have on a lake, alone. It was a 6 hour drive. On my way there, my girls continued to text me. They were getting more and more worried. So instead of taking the time I needed alone, I went back home. 100% for them. When I walked in my wife seemed relieved. My daughters weren’t home from school yet. I looked at her and said “I’m not her for you”, and walked right past her. I went up to our bedroom, and she followed crying. I said “I don’t care where you sleep, but it won’t be in here.” She said she understood and asked if she could sleep on the couch in our room only to not upset the kids, since they would know something was wrong. I screamed at her “THEY ARE WELL AWARE SOMETHING IS WRONG!” She asked again, I said she could sleep on the couch in our room.
Reading the text from the card from your son literally brought a tear to my eye. That’s is what it’s all about. Everybody says they would do “ANYTHING” for their kids, I always did too. I never thought in a million years I would have to go through this heII for them, but I did. I had to put my money where my mouth was. So I did. I would never stay forever for my kids, but I gave my wife a second chance that she didn’t deserve for them, not her. I have told her that, word for word. Think of how proud he would be of you if REALLY knew the pain and suffering you have endured!
I have a card like that from my oldest daughter. She is not mine biologically, and I hate the word “stepchild”. She is every bit as much my child as the others that carry my DNA. She was diagnosed with depression and bi-polar when she was 15yo. About a year before my wife’s affair. She was self harming and suicidal. I never left her side, I never judged. We had to put her in a mental hospital for a few weeks to get her stabilized and on proper medication. She has had a rough go of things over the years since. She is out on her own, working, etc. There have been times since then that I have had to show “tough love”. Which was harder for me than she will ever know. But she has gotten straightened out and is doing well now. Since have me a birthday card this year that she wrote both of the inside pages full telling me how much she loved and appreciated me, and all that I have done for her. She told me how she knew and all has known in her heart that I loved her as my own, and that she feels so sorry for friends of hers that have the stereotypical relationship with their step parent. She told me how thankful she is to have me in her life. That card was the best gift I have ever received in my entire life. I will cherish it always. Like you, I read it often, especially when I’m having a particularly difficult day.
At about a year and a half out from d-day, for Christmas (in addition to normal gifts) I wrote each of my children a letter. I wanted them each to know how much I loved them. How proud I was of each of them. What they meant to me. I told my wife that I was doing it, and offered to let her read them first. She declined and said that is between you and them. On Christmas morning after all the regular gifts had been opened and the excitement had died down I told they each had one more gift, and I handed them the letters. I told them all that they didn’t have to read them then. They were welcome to wait until later. My youngest opened it instantly and was crying as soon as she read the first sentence. She read the letter to herself, crying the whole time, then came and gave me the biggest hug ever, and told me how much she loved me. The other thanked me, but said they preferred to read it alone since seeing their little sisters react. That night they each texted me with appreciation, and told me how much they loved me and how thankful they were to have me. I really wanted to touch their soul, and I did. During this time I was still very depressed, I “think” I hid it well with everyone except my wife, but even she didn’t know how bad it was. About a week after Christmas my wife said she wanted to talk to me. She wanted to ask me something. The kids were all gone, and she sat me down on the couch and said “I need to know something. Were those letters you wrote to the kids, were those goodbye letters?” I said “I have no plan, but if I lose the battle one night, I want them to know how I felt. I wanted them to have something they could read over and over again, in case I’m not here anymore.” Of course as I’m saying this my wife has tears streaming down her face. She says “Can you keep your guns at your friend’s house for a while?” My answer was no, if I lose the battle one night, gun or no gun it will be over. Those kids are the sole reason I am on this side of the grass today.
You’re on the right path. It’s slow and painful. Full of pot holes and detours, but just keep moving forward. Don’t look at this as a set back, because it’s not. lol at this as just another step on the road, because that is what it is. You head and heart are pointing the right direction, you have clear boundaries, your wife is doing the right things. It does get better, I don’t think it ever goes away, but it does get better. I haven’t had thoughts of divorce in a long time. It never goes away, but just like everything else in the rear view mirror, it does get smaller.....