I was in your exact spot about a year ago, dealing w a long term spouse having feelings for someone else, which she acquired through an illegitimate relationship with a neighbor, family friend, father of our daughter’s best friend. He was married too.
We were considered a “success” by our entire social network, a model family etc., and we “had everything”. A large extended family that was loving and gathered frequently, four smart, healthy, happy kids, a religious community with which we were actively engaged. She was a SAHM and I was an entrepreneur. She was a WONDERFUL mom, and I was a very involved dad. Inside our marriage, like ANY other marriage, we had plenty to improve, and there were episodes along our 20+ year journey that caused plenty of friction. And for sure with four kids (ten year age spread between them all) we carried a HEAVY load and in the more recent years life became a long list of chores and constant coming and going to chase/support our kids activities and there was not enough effort going into “us”. But I never ONCE entertained a third party, and I couldn’t believe it was even possible that she would.
But she did.
The day AFTER d-day, the day after I didn’t sleep a wink all night and remembered “hey wait a minute the phone records should tell me something (and they did. She spent TWO HOURS talking to him AFTER telling me about their bullsh!t deception, AFTER I told her she had to end it and she said she was “trying to”). That morning after I told her she could not even be in contact with him if she were going to continue living in this house, that I would not tolerate being disrespected, having our marriage disrespected, or our children disrespected this way and her still live here.
Although I was clear about my feelings about that, I had absolutely zero way to enforce it and sure enough she just went right along maintaining contact, just in ways I couldn’t observe.
Meanwhile I was on the floor.
The first three months after d-day I was, just like you, doing heavy lifting and holding the vigil for our marriage. I prayed and prayed, and wept a lot, barely slept, worked my ASS off working out and tried to stay strong for the sake of the kids (but it was impossible to hide my grief). I wanted to appear the most awesome version of myself while waiting for my sweet bride to turn toward me. But I also stopped entertaining this bullsh!t idea that her betrayal had ANYTHING to do with me, an idea she was wedded to. I expected her to do some ACTUAL repair work, do the things necessary for a cheater to regain their position. Instead she was “confused” and “working on herself” and “not wanting to be shackled” and “concerned she was being tracked” blah blah blah. She shopped for a therapist that would be ideal for her (not push back on her narrative too much) and anytime we saw any kind of affair recovery specialist she shut down and refused to continue. She couldn’t handle any accountability for what she had done.
She became a world class blameshifter, rationalizer, and justifier, and seemed to have been “validation shopping” by telling her story to many of our close friends. Instead of hiding what she had done she went the route of trying to gain as much sympathy as possible for the horrible choice she was “forced to make”, “out of desperation” for “emotional intimacy” she was being “deprived of” by her “emotionally unavailable husband” who was “too into his work”. HIS work. She was a stay at home mom, mind you. HIS work? I digress....
So that narrative being played back to me by our friends was a royal mindf*ck. It suggested I “deserved” that. But it was an externalizations she was making and she wasn’t owning her own feelings nor did she find a healthy way to deal with them instead of boning that idiot down the street.
D-day was April 2018. I found out in December 2018 they had maintained some form of contact at least monthly since April. F*ckers...
As for the mindf*ck, it’s a strategy. It creates the kind of confusion and bewilderment that makes a BS freeze, not take any action, and usually engage in pick me dancing. Part of that dance is the constant rumination about the relationship, the longing for what was, which leads to expectations of our spouse. The myth of “the fog” gives these cheaters cover to “ask for space” which RARELY is time to think. It’s almost always cover for continued bad behavior under the guise of something constructive. This seems the pattern anyway after reading thousands of threads on a variety of boards. Cheaters mentioning “space” “to think” of any kind usually means “space” to “keep talking to/texting/meeting/having sex with this other person”.
They abuse your bewilderment to feed their own selfishness.
Its hard to understand for us BSs. Most of us are just hard wired for loyalty and commitment.
We expect cheaters to do what we would if we if we screwed up this badly: own our bad choices, be sorry, reassure our spouses of our commitment, do ANYTHING we can to repair, work TIRELESSLY to regain trust, etc.
While a small number of cheaters may be normal people like us who just screw up and are remorseful, it is clear that MANY are disordered people that have been very good at hiding their disorders but the cheating provides a glimpse of who they REALLY are. I personally believe this is the vast majority. They are so entitled to just take a giant dump all over their vows because of their fragile feelings. It’s such crap.
The only thing that seems to provide a BS any relief is to bring about natural consequences by some kind of pulling back (separation, divorce) where the cheater experiences the losses they are forcing on their families with their sick behavior. So, loss of a comfortable environment in which to cheat and violate all their promises (no more pick me dancing), loss of the home they used to live in (kick them out), loss of respect of their children (kids ask why mommy/daddy doesn’t live here anymore — don’t lie/cover up for the cheater, tell them mommy/daddy got a girlfriend/boyfriend and that’s not acceptable for a married person to do), loss of job if they are screwing a co-worker/client (make a robust plan to get on your own feet financially), loss of respect of their social network/family (don’t hide what’s happening from them either).
I see from your responses you are about where I was three months out, confused by your spouse but hopeful for a turn of events that will restore normalcy, broken hearted as well. Wanting to be careful and thoughtful not to ruin the possibility that your husband might come back to your loving arms. I am SO sorry this is happening to you.
But understand that your husband isn’t demonstrating he gives a single sh!t about you or your kids. He is carefully deceiving you into to thinking that he MIGHT but when you have to read the tea leaves about whether it’s possible that he might...that’s a bullsh!t situation to live with. And it’s just not good enough. Don’t accept it. Call it what it is: unacceptable. TELL him it’s unacceptable. Be strong, lay down a gauntlet like a Thrive suggested. Give him ONE chance to respond the RIGHT way, and if he doesn’t, get active building your leverage to get what you deserve.
Collect information. Hire a PI. Get all the dirt you can on his homewrecker. Expose it to people she cares about, like her employer, her family, her friends. She doesn’t have ANY right to be engaging with your husband. Don’t be “respectful” of her privacy. She is not respecting the most private thing you have: your marriage, you owe her NOTHING. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice but it’s well established that truth is a complete defense to libel/defamation. Stick to the truth in your exposures if any. Blow their sh!t up. Hire an attorney. Get evidence of his adultery and keep it in your back pocket for divorce proceedings. If you’re in a fault state (are you in the US?) it will be leverage. Are you in a place that has “alienation of affection” laws? Sue his paramour. In North Carolina multi-million $ judgments against paramours have been awarded to BSs. In many states in the US adultery is a crime. Well it’s a misdemeanor but a crime nonetheless. Public fornication is also a crime. Lots of this action happens in minivans in parking lots.
Does his girlfriend have herpes? Gonorrhea? Crabs? HIV? She is “polluting” your husband. Does HE shave any STIs? If he spreads them she can sue him. That will impact YOUR money if you’re still married when that happens. Is she an alcoholic? Into substances? He may leave you and commit to her. Do you want that around your children? Does she have violent people in her life? Do you want THAT around your children?
These are things you dont don’t know right now, but they are VERY relevant to know. They have implications for all manner of things involving: his judgment, her safety as a possible person in your children’s lives, YOUR understanding of the REALITY of what he got into, and whether you can accept him after taking a deep dive into that reality. Most of us aren’t thinking about these things at 3 months. Even if we are informed about them in the form of advice, it’s very hard to ACT at this stage because the grief and sorrow can be so consuming. But patience seems to rarely pay in these situations. Certainly when we don’t apply boundaries and are also patient that’s usually a recipe for misery while the bad behavior continues. Try to pick yourself up and take action NOW.
Learning those things about my wife's boy friend changed how I saw the situation. I completely lost respect for her although I loved her with all my heart. She got involved w a guy w an eighth grade education, abusive to his own wife and kids (emotionally more than physically), drinking problems, bad financial skills, and has oral and genital herpes. HERPES!! She was a virgin when we married FFS. Our children all knew to some degree and the info is out there in the community. It’s really poisoned the well.
Also, in my case (but not in yours since his girlfriend isn’t married) I had to grapple with the fact that my wife conspired with her boyfriend in an enterprise that collapsed his marriage and family. He divorced. His wife’s standard of living is now reduced. His daughters bounce between two homes and are devastated at the loss of their family. My wife had a hand in that. She is a home wrecker. My wife who used to be sought after for parenting advice is now getting flipped off when driving through the neighborhood. It’s pretty sad. And certainly ALL these behaviors and facts would not be on my shopping list if I were out there in the market looking for a mate. They would be on my list of deal breakers.
These people are criminals. Your husband is a criminal. He is stealing from you. He is a home wrecker (his own). His paramour is a criminal. She is stealing from you. She is murdering your family. She is a home wrecker. Is it possible she doesn’t know he’s married? Doubtful. If she doesn’t that makes your husband the WORST kind of liar.
Little, do you have a way to live comfortably without him, or are your finances currently dependent on him? If you can stand on stand on your own feet and support your kids I’d recommend giving your husband ONE CHANCE to do the right thing and do it immediately. Give him an ultimatum. “Choose motherf*cker.” Then make it apparent to him that you will be building your new life. Kick him out, get a separation agreement in place, secure child and spousal support and be earning your living too. Start figuring out what weaknesses if any you have in your internal construct that makes you tolerate abuse. Detach. And gray rock his ass. With time and minimal communication you will see more clearly what was really happening here: he was abusing you. All the voices inside that were telling you to accept it anyway will start sounding crazier and you will silence them and heal.
I hope you get whatever ever you WANT and more importantly what you deserve. Don’t let this schmuck have your support another day if he isn’t immediately willing to cease contact with this home wrecker and do everything in his power to make amends to you and your kids.