KristinG
Greetings AH Community! I am in some desperate need of encouragement and advice.  32 LBW (me) married to 31 WW (her).  We've been together for 8 years, married 4, no kids, amazing dogs.  

Backstory of our relationship is beautiful.  No fighting, similar hobbies, loving relationship, great sex, etc.  WW graduated from college a year and a half ago and had a hard time finding a career.  We have been really blessed and I have a great job that allowed her to go to school and supported us without a secondary income.  She took an entry level job with a factory in hopes to move up the ladder.  New job, new friends, all was good - or so I thought.  We hung out with work friends often and my gut started telling me that there was a little something more, or enough to make me uncomfortable, with one of the girls in our group.  I expressed this concern and unease to my wife and she instantly started to distance herself and spend more time alone with AP.  The more I tried to talk to her about my feelings, the more she pulled away.  She moved out and in with a guy friend of hers in another city (where the AP happens to live).  This all began 1 year ago (October 2018).

It has been a rollercoaster this past year with a lot of tears. She confessed to me in January that things were not initially physical with AP and that they never expected this to happen, but that they "fell in love".  Things turned into a PA which lasted about 4 months from Dec to March.  After March, she wanted to try and make things work with our marriage but never cut contact with OW.  She has tried several times but it usually lasts a few days to a couple of weeks until they are right back to talking and texting all day and night and spending 1-2 nights a week together (nothing physical or so she says).  

I have tried to set boundaries. (ie: I will not be a part of your life as long as she is in it because it hurts my emotional well being)  However, each time I completely cave because I still love her.  She quite clearly loves me and says that she hopes we "figure it out" but she also loves the AP and doesn't know how or if she wants to end things.  

To complicate things further, her AP got a melanoma skin cancer diagnosis this week.  The AP's father died of melanoma and she is understandably scared.

Currently, we see each other nearly every day.  WW moved back closer to home into a rental house of her own.  We speak often throughout the day and make most of our weekend plans together.  She is also still "friends" with her AP.  I have told her that we no longer have a relationship and that if she decides she wants to have a relationship with me she will need to ask.  I also told her that I will not wait forever and will eventually file for a divorce if she cannot figure out what she wants for her life.

Any advice or help is so appreciated.  I feel alone and unsure as to what steps to take for myself and my own sanity.  I read Tim's Affair Healing book and found chapters 3 and 4 about letting go very helpful. I have tried to somewhat detach and stop caring if she reaches out.  Some nights she wants to talk my ear off and other nights I don't hear a peep.  I have stopped initiating contact.  I am trying to get a life of my own and find things that make me happy.  

Anyways, sorry to rant for so long but let me know what ya'll think!
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triplehooks
Sorry you’re here KristinG. Welcome to the WORST club in the world.  A few random thoughts for you....

Assuming marriage to you ALSO meant monogamy then you have to ask yourself is what your wife did acceptable to you?  

I would consider her continued contact with her accomplice in destroying your sacred bond to be a sign of unambiguous disrespect, and would encourage you to interrogate yourself as to why you allow someone to disrespect you so and yet plan your weekends together, speak throughout the day and see each other nearly every day.  

By the sound of it your boundaries are not really boundaries.  Think about how to tighten them up and enforce them like ceasing contact with her.  You don’t have kids together which is HUGE.  There’s nothing that NEEDS discussion.  

She sounds like the typical self absorbed cheater who in retrospect didn’t really mean it when she took that sacred vow to be your one and only.  Her word therefore isn’t worth much and don’t trust a single word she says; she’s doing something called “impression management” by telling you she and AP are just friends and there’s nothing physical going on.  It’s typical cake eater behavior.  

You are stuck.  Because you still spend so much time with her.  Go no contact, and get all your ducks in order and divorce her.  With time away from her mindf@ckery you’ll get space from whatever buttons she pushes to oppress you emotionally.  Get therapy to figure out what those buttons are (your emotional weaknesses) and work to reverse them.  Strengthen yourself against that so you don’t allow people to walk all over you any more.  Don’t waste too much time trying to figure her out — she has a character flaw that causes her to lack empathy and to prefer herself over all others.  The only time worth spending on that to is to identify red flag behavior you previously missed that in retrospect is ALSO indicative of a mindset that lacks true reciprocity.  I guarantee you’ll see other signs of it if you look. But again don’t spend too much time on it, just enough to confirm that yep her character is deficient so you know you can move on.  At 31 she’s too old for that to be an easy fix.  Good news though is you are young enough to start over and — if you eventually WANT another marriage — have a fulfilling and reciprocal marriage to a VASTLY superior person.  

Consult an attorney don’t try to do it yourself or do mediation to save money.  It will cost you FAR more.  Get an attorney and have a thorough look at all the laws.   You may live in a place that considers adultery grounds for divorce and there’s alienation of affection law.  If AoA law exists you can even sue the AP for coming between you. As a more established breadwinner you should care about minimizing alimony/spousal support (does it make sense to you your cheater should destroy your world AND collect money from you every month AFTER the fact, for the privilege?).  If there is AoA law use it.  Don’t let that homewrecker get away with it without some clapback.  Unless your wife lied to her and told her she wasn’t married she stepped in where she didn’t belong and disrespected you.  AoA is one of very few shots you get at nailing her for that.  

Also, get tested for STDs, and don’t be intimate with her anymore (not that you are, just checking the box here), since she’s a liar you don’t know where she’s been and you don’t want her spreading crap to you.  

All very sad, but practical, things to think about.  

Sorry KristinG.  


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anthro
I think this is easy. The default position after someone has proven themselves deceitful and lacking integrity is always to cut contact and file for divorce. To shift from the default position you need good, big, reasons (eg children). It doesn't sound like you have any of those. 

I would cut contact. If you do, be prepared for an escalation of her behaviour, ie increasing levels of manipulation to regain control.

You will look back from a better place and recognise this as one of the best decisions you ever madw, imho. 
Formerly known as Anthropoidape... male bs, long affair, d-day Feb 2017.
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KristinG
Thanks TH and Anthro.  I am struggling with detachment.  I'm really trying to start that process and I don't want to deliver another "Just leave me alone and go do what you want.. I'll file for divorce" speech and not follow through.  It just makes me look and feel like a weak-minded person.  She has a good job now and a college degree so I don't believe she would qualify for alimony (which is great).  We have no children, no large assets, so I know a divorce should be fairly uncomplicated.  Anthro, you said the default position is to always cut contact and file.  I personally want to continue to see it through and honor my vows.  I know the marriage contract between us was severed the moment she betrayed me, but I know that if she could ever get through the fog she is down deep a good person.  This person she is acting like now is not the same woman I married.  TH we are NOT intimate. We made a decision to stop in July because she didn't want to be intimate with me if her heart wasn't in it - and I definitely don't want to be with anyone who feels that way.  
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triplehooks
Well, you can't trust what she tells you but even if you go on her representation it became physical Dec - Mar and you quit in July well then you have an overlap there...  Get checked.
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surviving
I agree with triplehooks, but I would add make the WS get checked.  That is more important and more embarrassing to them.  I know it was devasting for my WS.  
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KristinG
Agreed - I need to do both of these things just to be sure.
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Vanessa
The ONLY way to achieve detachment is to go NO CONTACT - it is truly the path to peace and light when dealing with someone as selfish as your WW.  It is super hard, no doubt. 
YOU deserve better than this - no matter how "good it was" it is forever tarnished - find someone who will reciprocate your love fully and honestly.
hugs on this horrid ride
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triplehooks
“...but I know that if she could ever get through the fog she is down deep a good person.”

KristinG, what insight is derived from inverting this statement and inquiring if reality is, in fact, the inversion?  That possibly the “good person” you thought she was was actually her surface persona and that “deep down” she actually is THIS person?  

It seems that without much water under your bridge (only 4 years into marriage) she faced some test (perhaps her slow to develop job search, or even the appearance of this tempting other person in her place of work), and this test not being some soul crusher (cancer, exogenous shock/trauma, an unmerited lawsuit/smear campaign, death of a loved one, etc — not that ANY of those would justify cheating) but merely a bit of headwind, and she BROKE?? It’s highly likely in such a case that the “good person” persona you saw was just a thin veneer that was easily pierced by a simple temptation.   Highly likely the “deep down” version you hold out hope of accessing someday doesn’t actually exist — it needs to be build from scratch, which is a LENGTHY process in full adulthood.  

Imagine a world of perfect transparency but still with social introductions.  Imagine introducing her at a future party with full disclosure to some new acquaintance: “allow me to introduce <insert name>...Yes, after 8 years total, four years married and no visible stressors like babies (decades of sleeplessness) or deaths in the family she succumbed to a cliche office place seduction and was having a game of flats with basically a stranger within a couple months of her new job...”

It’s quite common on the betrayed side of this to believe the cheater is somehow behaving out of character when in reality they are just behaving out of social convention.  But the behavior is actually a reflection of their character.  Character is what shows when one is tested, not when things are perfect.  It’s almost definitional I’d reckon.   







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KristinG
"Character is what shows when one is tested".  True words.  I know I'm deflecting and making excuses for her.  I definitely have some work to do of my own in protecting and enabling people that don't need or deserve my protection or grace.  Currently trying to get some guts and move forward for myself.  She can either do the work and grow herself or walk away and it will have no effect on my personal happiness or well being.  But all of that is much easier said than done.  Thanks so much for all the support and input guys.. it is definitely helping me to get through some dark days.
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jasmine

Kirstin, you don’t actually need to go through the legal process of divorce just yet. Making such a life-altering decision in the first 12 months after you learned of the infidelity isn’t the best time. You can only make this decision from a place of clarity and stability. From what you say, there’s a lot of uncertainties about how it’s all going to pan out. Will her relationship with the OW depend on the outcome of her medical treatment or her long term prognosis? And if so, where does that leave you in the context of your partnership? Are you her Plan B? You could, in your own mind and without having to tell her or anyone else, set a deadline for your next stage in your decision making, depending on what happens between now and then. 


TBH, you’re still young and you have the time to create a new life for yourself. Take it from those of us who have stayed loyal and stuck it out, and have tried our best to forgive and rebuild our marriages. Once trust is broken it is extremely difficult to trust again. It’s impossible to capture the innocence that once existed. The feeling of “specialness” is gone. Forever. You doubt everything. You feel that your judgement is impaired and that you can’t rely on your own thoughts and feelings. You see triggers right and left, even stupid things and stuff that you barely paid attention to in the past become triggering. I’m sure you have some experience of this since your own d day but believe me, it won’t all be gone in six weeks or six months. This experience changes you. It changes the relationship. There is no going back to the delusion you were living under the day before d day. So think about this. In 10 years time, in 15 years time, you might find yourself thinking “if I had had a crystal ball and could see the future, would I have chosen this relationship?” I have thought this very thing and I admit I have said to myself that had I known I would not have chosen any of it. 

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KristinG
Thanks Jasmine - I am trying to accept that what we previously had is gone and whatever will be in the future has to be new.  I am making "be the lighthouse" my mantra. Keeping the road nice and smooth so if she ever decides to drive home I'm prepared. I've been working on just validating a lot and not trying (as much) to fix everything. I have stopped checking the phone bill this week to see if they are still in contact which is a HUGE step for me. It's just too painful to see the hundreds of texts and phone calls every day. I don't initiate contact but will respond upbeat and happy whenever she reaches out which is quite often. I know I've said this before, but I'm terrified she is trying to "friend-zone" me so that she can have her cake and not lose what we have as well.

She called me last night after getting home from going out with some friends. She was a bit drunk and said "baby, please come over I don't feel so good". (We still use pet names and say ILY but I don't initiate those anymore). I picked up some Gatorade and taco bell cause I figured she needed some hydration and food haha! I stayed the night and she held me all night. We aren't intimate but we still spend a couple nights a week together.

This afternoon she sent me a quote from a meme she saw on Instagram.

"I am closer to you now than I was before. The distance between us has not disrupted how deeply I feel for you. I guess I am at a point where having you physically close to me is not my greatest desire but to watch you smile and grow is. I know that we can make each other smile without saying a word but you have your own path to follow and I am sure someday, our paths will meet and we will be together chasing our dream."

She sent the picture with "I thought about you when I read this in a sense"

WTH does this mean?! I just validated and told her "I can see how you might feel that way"
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anthro
KristinG wrote:
She sent the picture with "I thought about you when I read this in a sense"

WTH does this mean?! I just validated and told her "I can see how you might feel that way"


I'm with you on "WTH does this mean?" but not with you on validation. I think that as a general rule in relationships, we do need to validate each other's feelings. But I think there are also times when your gut says, "oh spare me your bullsh!t", and your gut is what needs validating.

I guess your WS may want one day to look back on this period of her life and say to herself, "well, I did my best", and think that her feelings and behaviour were at least understandable. But I don't think she should get to do that. She's using you, and taking advantage of your commitment and your greater decency to take that validation, and support (and Gatorade! and food!) from you while treating you with only the most superficial semblance of decency. 
Formerly known as Anthropoidape... male bs, long affair, d-day Feb 2017.
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triplehooks
Her: "I am closer to you now than I was before.”

You: “No you’re not.  You live in another f@cking house.”  

Her: “The distance between us has not disrupted how deeply I feel for you.”

You: “It doesn’t matter, because it’s disrupted how deeply I feel for YOU.”

Her: “I guess I am at a point where having you physically close to me is not my greatest desire but to watch you smile and grow is.”

You: “Who gives a f@ck where you’re at or what you want?  What you want isn’t relevant to me. What “I” want is.  I wanted not to f@ck anyone else, and at least when you vowed not to (HELLOOOOO, that’s what MARRIAGE is!!!) I thought you meant it.  But you apparently didn’t mean it or know what you wanted.  And you still don’t know what you want.  So this is probably bull$hit too.  It sure sounds like a bunch of gobbledegook word salad.”

Her: “I know that we can make each other smile without saying a word but you have your own path to follow and I am sure someday, our paths will meet and we will be together chasing our dream."

You: “Our paths already crossed...remember those vows we said??  Yeah paths were kinda crossed already.  Not interested in random paths crossing then uncrossing and crossing again.  That’s unreliable.  Point of vows was reliability and that’s all shot to hell.  So f@ck YOU and your stupid memes!!!!”

You don’t HAVE to say that...but you sure could. 
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hurting
I’m sorry you’re here and suffering, Kristin. 

With the others on I sure as hell wouldn’t be validating the things she says though! My responses to finding out about my WS’s affair was far more in line with triplehook’s narrative above. My WS sent me some garbage he found online about how he wished he could just hold me and make up because it ‘wasn’t worth it’. I flat out RAGED and laughed in his face. LOL. He wanted me to kiss and make up after he cheated on me because breaking up wasn’t ‘worth it’? LMAO. What an idiot. 

He meant it as a gesture of ‘I want you in my life’ apparently. unfortunately the ridiculous simple-mindedness and completely inappropriate sentiment behind that particular quote and gif made me see him as a moron who had not even the slightest clue as to what he had done. 

Your wife is a cake eater. I know you’re trying to leave the path open for her, but perhaps the better approach is to give yourself time and space to figure out what you want. What is acceptable to you? Do you really want to have her back after what she has done and her indecision about wanting to come back? Do you want someone who will betray you, then keep hurting you to do as they wish, lacking in all aspects of basic human decency and integrity? Is your desire to have her back in your life because she hasn’t chosen you as she vowed to do? Or is it because you feel you can forgive her should she choose to waltz back in? 

I will admit that initially part of my feelings on wanting to ‘try’ were based on the fact that he had ‘chosen’ someone else. It made me feel a little (wretchedly) better that he was ‘choosing’ me again. It was a choice that shouldn’t have existed at all. But it felt like I then had the power to say ‘no, it’s over’. Maybe that was partly my ego. Maybe I was just too stunned from my world collapsing around me. I wanted him to choose us so I could reject him if I so chose. The reality is, I had that power all along. I didn’t need him to choose me or us in order to leave the relationship behind. 
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