Torn_Infantryman
I found out that my wife of 17 years cheated on me while I was working.  Here's the story.
We've had our share of ups and downs.  First six years of our marriage she was cheating on me everytime I went to the field.  Finally I had enough and after my second deployment I aske her to come back. She didn't want to. So I did what I thought I had to and filled for divorce.   

We never went through with the divorce and decided to work on things.  After I got out of the military things were tough.  I went from structure to chaos. Not knowing how to be a civilian. I found a job for minimum wage and we struggled.   So I became a truck driver.  I've been driving truck now for 8 years. I found out that she was on dating sites during this time. And I've made some mistakes by talking to my daughters mother about other things than just my daughter. No there isn't anything between her and I it was just asking if restaurants were open in her state.  

My WS blew up at this and treated it as if I cheated.  I begged for forgiveness. Told her it was an honest mistake. I went as far as finding a different company that wouldn't even bring me into her state.  This was a couple months ago.  

I found out the my wife cheated on me when she said she had a guy come over to "hang out".  I jokingly asked if she "f#%%÷# him"  and she didn't answer.   And my world crashed.  Keep in mind im 3000 miles away.

Well I've been on here since that day and been reading a lot.  Ive asked her if she was sorry.  And she says she was sorry for hurting me but not for the affair.  I ended up quitting my job to come home to try and work things out and every time I think we are getting somewhere we end up fighting. 

I told her I just want to know if she wants this to work or not and she says she needs time to think.  So I've made plans to move north and give her time.  But every time I'm ready to walk out the door she says I'm abandoning our kids.  

I dont know what to do. I cant leave because she uses our three kids as pawns. I cant stay because she says I need to give her some space.

I'm so lost in what to do.
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JORGE
First, have you ever considered the notion that you should be the one deciding and not her? Give it the considerable thought it deserves.

Second, some decisions aren't communicated in terms of yes or no.  In infidelity often both parties want the other to make the tough decisions due to fear, shame and blame. In infidelity, communication and decisions are mostly communicated in actions and non-actions, for both the wayward and betrayed. The wayward lies to the betrayed and the betrayed lies to him/her self knowing or highly suspecting they're being lied to. So, it's best to look at the actions and clarity will come to you immediately in some cases, as long as you don't lie to yourself.  

Normal, respectful and loving spouses speak the truth eventually, but after well over a decade of cheating, your wife speaks affluent  "cheating" language.  If you are committed to getting the words yes or no, this means you are unwilling to see the truth, which probably isn't a surprise to you. By the way, you may want to ask yourself why you would believe her words when she's lived a life defined by lies.  

Third, happy, sustainable and relationships are built minimally on three pillars; love, respect and trust, neither of which is to be mistaken as options, bonuses or nice-to-have's, but are critical necessities. It's no different than the pillars of belief that drives you to serve and protect our country.  In order to do a good job you must be resolute and unwavering in your belief, considering the massive sacrifices military men undertake, risking your life, and being away from family and loved ones.  Ask yourself these questions and see where you stand. You don't have to answer here on this forum, but you do have to answer to yourself, truthfully when you are alone and contemplating what's best for your future.  

Love 
Do you love Ms. Torn-Infantryman?  Considering she has cheated a minimum of 1/3 of your marriage and you still want to be married to her, one could say yes, although what's thought to be love to many is fear of change and co-dependency appearing as love. Think on that one.

Does Ms Torn_Infantryman love you?
  Only she can answer this.  I'm inclined to say no due to her serial cheating lifestyle, of which she places your emotional, physical and psychological health at great risk while fully knowing it. It's one thing for to kills the one you love because of haphazardly not emptying the gun of bullets when cleaning it versus pointing it at your chest while looking at and firing from 3 feet away. Hate to put it in such blunt terms, but she knows it hurts, kills and destroys you, but it doesn't change her actions. 

Respect 

Do you respect Ms. Torn-Infantryman?   
Just a guess, but I'd imagine this question is a hard one for you to answer. From reading however, It's safe to say her actions are disrespectful to your personal safety and overall well-being, so it's difficult to respect someone who has not earned your respect. At a time you served our country, she served herself at your expense. To me, this is disrespectful.

Does Ms Torn_Infantryman respect you? 
No

Trust

Do you trust Ms. Torn-Infantryman?
No

Does Ms Torn_Infantryman trust you? 
Yes .... She knows you will be a loyal and devoted husband for her despite her track record of not returning that same love, loyalty and devotion to you. 

Six questions........ Since all six are prerequisites (in my opinion), a score of 100% is needed for your marriage to have a chance. From my internet view, I can say confidently say, only one definitive "yes" can be made and perhaps two. I'd say two "no's" and two maybe's that lean "no". If your marriage was a 3-legged bar stool, it'd have one wobbly leg. one broken leg and the 3rd leg wouldn't even exists, so essentially the chair can't even sit upright, let alone be sat upon. 
 
Love, respect and trust is what enables marriages to weather the ferocious trials and tribulations life throws at them. I've been married for 28 years. In that span my wife and I have endured, bankruptcies (plural), foreclosure, tens of foreclosure notices, multiple employment terminations, prolonged separation (work related), sex dry spells (years), depression, recessions, and more.

The pillars above kept us intact. If just one was removed or even weak, we're done, just to give you a real life example. It sounds like we have had a horrible marriage, but this is not the case. We have had some horrible moments in time, but stood together, under the premise of love, respect and trust. Those three things never wavered and neither did our marriage.  EVER!!

We have battle scars to prove it, but my wife and I wear them as if they're prideful badges of honor. I'm not saying this to say, "hey look at me", but to say, marriage is a commitment that not everyone is full capable of living up to, and it's up to you to determine as such, which is why I asked you in my first sentence if you ever thought to make the decision for YOURSELF, because she sure as hell doesn't have a track record that prioritizes you. 

Here are parting question for you to think about. As a military man, you live on and believe in honor, commitment, trust and integrity.  More than most, you understand the meaning of honor, truth, integrity and selflessness, 
  1. If your wife walked next to you in battle and knowing what you know of her, would you trust her to protect you in the heat of battle?
  2. When she's on night patrol, would you sleep soundly because she's committed that no harm will come of you while resting or would you sleep with one eye open and one eye closed?.....or not at all? Your answer here is a critical one. Essentially, she is supposed to protect YOU while you protect her and your family financially and with love and spirit while separated and protecting us (country) 
  3. Would she have your back at all times or just sometimes? From what I read, she's a "me" person and you're a "we" person. Me people don't make good husbands, wives, significant others, teammates, work mates or battle mates. 
  4. Would she honor and respect the chain of command and/or take instructions from her superior under duress?
  5. Does she love, honor and respect you as you must love, honor and respect your her, your country and those that fight next to you?
 
I could ask many more, but you get the point here, no?  Life and marital life in particular isn't to be confused with war, but it sure as hell contains a lot of battles that determine the life or death of one's marriage and spirit to live as one or none. The convictions that must be present and held highly are similar in nature. Ask yourself if your wife can honestly exhibit the qualities incumbent upon a spouse. In the military, some code violations result in discharge. 

In marriage, some principle violations result in divorce. It has nothing to do with you loving or not loving her so don't fool yourself here. It has EVERYTHING to do with loving and taking care of yourself and your three boys.  In order to do that you have to make decisions that will make you temporarily weak, hurt and uncertain,  better long term. You have some serious decisions to make and if you don't think or want to, then you're enabling harm upon you and your three boys.   Take control of your life. It's worthy of being significantly better, but you're so beaten down, you may have forgotten what true happiness is. You have a long road to travel to attain happiness, which has nothing to do with your marriage, but has more to do with your decisions.
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JORGE
Three more things 

1) You really don't have a marriage as she's broken nearly every vow. You're married on paper and that's about it. I'm saying this because your response from here on out will determine your mindset.  If you agree that you don't have a real marriage as it is defined, then you're free to consider the fact that you're not losing a marriage because one can't lose what they don't have. You may be losing the fantasy of one, but in reality, nothing's lost here aside from what you wish it was.

2) I'm big on reality, but like anyone else, can allow the lines between reality and fantasy get blurry. One thing about forums like this one is clarity is easier for us posters who aren't confused by the emotional and psychological drama one experiences while engaged in the infidelity whether on the wayward or betrayed side. I'm saying this to address something I didn't address strongly enough in my previous post above. 

Your decision moving forward includes a number of intertwined complexities that will impact your decisions. They include, but are not limited to three boys between six and fourteen, a mortgage and finances. These are huge and weigh heavily on you. The natural thing betrayed and wayward spouses (sometimes) default to is the refusal to face the monumental climb of divorce/separation and embrace the easier decision by rug sweeping and hoping stuff changes. Some believe the decision to stay is harder. I won't go into what's harder because it's all relative and the reality is both are hard, but at the same time it's human nature to to take the easiest and less painful option. 

3) All things being said and contemplated, know this as its simplicity may help you navigate at complicated process.  Peace and happiness can't be substituted for, so if the price is high, yet peace, happiness and the pursuit of living a fulfilling life is ahead, then do what you do, then go for it. Life is hard, but happiness isn't as elusive as it may appear to be for you at this time. 

Your boys. I'm sure your thinking of them in terms of having them for 50% of the time and wanting them to grow up under one roof. I totally get the 50% considerations and your wife's wayward lifestyle can expose them to the type of men whose moral fibers aren't conducive to being around your boys. My take is that your wife just wants variety and may not be interested in other permanent relationships, just fun ones. 

If so, this will keep you in a perpetual unhappy state, so being under the same roof will not carry the purpose most seek to keep the marriage in tact for. Kids and people in general adapt to the environment they live and work in. A cheating, unfaithful wife will not make a warm home. My best friend lived in such a household. I thought his home was like mines. Two parents, one sibling, three bedrooms, one bathroom, etc. 

His dad however was a rolling stone and the home was always tight. He and his sister, grew up traditionally but turned out to be dysfunctional because their mom and dad weren't one. The kids are happiest when mom and dad are happy. It's not necessarily the roof they're under, but the happiness that's in home that shapes their outlook in life. 

I get disturbed by infidelity. I'm especially disturbed when good people are taken to the cleaners and I'm super disturbed when they're military men and woman. So, if I'm a little long winded it's because you've unfortunately hit my trifecta nerve. ÃƒÂ°Ã…¸ËœÂ
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ThrivenotSurvive

Your post showed up twice, and I answered under the other one.  I’ve moved my response here so you can see how much our responses are similar.

*** 

Here is my opinion, you know far more about the situation than I do and I could be wrong.  But based on what you've told us, here is how I view it.  

If your wife was begging for your forgiveness, taking herself to therapy and doing everything possible to save your marriage, I MIGHT give her a chance (unlikely, but possible due to kids in the picture).  

The fact that she feels she needs time to think is, to me, an answer without actually giving an answer.  She wants your stability and your devotion (you've put up with far more than most would) but doesn't really want to be married.  She doesn't want you to move on - but she doesn't want to change her lifestyle.  

Your wife has been messed up from day one as best I can tell.  During the part of your marriage that should have been "honeymoon-esque" - the early years - she was already cheating.  She is clearly one of those people who needs near non-stop outside validation.  The people I've known with that issue did not get past it without significant professional help - and a huge desire to do so.  Those who didn't, typically blamed their behavior on those around them and have multiple marriages under their belt to show for it.  Your wife appears to be the latter type.  

Your boys are home all the time while you are not and she is engaging in this behavior.  Kids are a hundred times more perceptive than we give them credit for.  My aunt is a child psychologist and she would tell you that this environment is EXTREMELY damaging to your boys.  How the mother treats their father - and how he reacts to it - tells THEM how relationships work and what to expect for themselves.  Kids exposed to a long term cheating spouse (even if they think they are "hiding" it have an extremely HIGH probability of becoming a cheater (I'd rather be the perpetrator than the victim) or being cheated on (find a SO just like mamma and try to "redeem" her just like you did.) 

Here's my recommendation.  Remove yourself as a choice.  You should never have been one in the first place.  Show your boys that forgiveness and compassion are not the same thing as tolerating disrespect for years on end.  You gave her multiple chances - she squandered them.  Now, for your own health, well-being and self-respect, you are letting her go.  You can still show forgiveness by not speaking ill of her to them - just say she is a flawed woman as all humans are - and you each needed different things.  It REALLY helps kids if you can keep from bashing the other parent.  As they get older they will have to come to terms with their own feelings and realizations about who she is and the choices she's made.  Not having to "defend" her to you will allow them to process their own negative feelings.  I suggest never lying about why you broke up - they are likely more aware than you think.  Just keep it to the facts - "Your mom was unfaithful repeatedly.  I had hoped we could work it out, but she was unable to make choices that allowed us to keep our family intact.  I tried very hard to save the marriage, but was unwilling to allow myself to be continually disrespected.  In every relationship forgiveness is important, none of us are perfect and there will be times you mess up too and need to seek forgiveness.  But what you do after you make a bad choice says as much about who you are as the bad choice itself.  Will you use the experience to become better?  Or keep going down the same path?   Your mom did not make the changes necessary to us to continue as husband and wife.  At some point you have to choose your own happiness and well-being if the other person is unwilling to change.  I reached that point with your mother."   

Then I'd get yourself and your buys some short term therapy to deal with what has happened.  If a qualified and kind therapist can help them sort their feelings out EARLY, they stand a good chance of NOT repeating the past.  You also need help.  I know it is not in mena's nature to seek psychological help - particularly ex-military.  There is a sense that you should just suck it up and get on with it.  I highly encourage you NOT to do that.  Your wife's actions and the series of events that you have been through - re-entry after enlistment is REALLY, REALLY hard.  Pain when not dealt with well becomes suffering.  But suffering is NOT necessary.  Pain is there to tell us to look at the problem and DEAL with it.  To do something different.  I would suggest a male counselor who has experience dealing with infidelity (like the man that runs this site.) 

Your wife is, in my opinion, a very, very, very bad bet.  She has a track record - and is ambivalent about even trying again.  You deserve far more.  And your boys deserve to see you remove yourself from a unhealthy situation, take time alone to heal yourself and reset how you apporach relationships - and then later find a woman who treats you with love and respect.  Then they will have a role model of what reltionships SHOULD look like.   

I am sorry that your wife's issues have hurt you - you deserved to come home to a woman who could give you an environment to heal within.  That she actually hurt you further is beyond disappointing and sad.  

 

BS - Female
Married 27 years, one adult child
DD May 2016

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” - V Frankl
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GuyInPain
The one thing I would add to the good responses above: Require your wife to move out.  It is not you who should be wondering whether to leave or not – you're the one committed to the marriage (so far), you're the one committed to your sons having a stable & nurturing home, so why would/should you be the one considering whether to leave.  She has already left the marriage in so many ways.  She needs to feel the real-life consequence of that: getting another apartment (at her expense, not yours), or moving in with a friend or relative & having to visit the sons on some basis that you choose.  You say she can't decide & that she says she needs time to decide.  Okay, but let her stew in her indecisiveness while living outside the home that you're living in with your sons.  The pain of that could very well help her to decide – & more quickly than otherwise. 
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Keepabuzz
GuyInPain wrote:
The one thing I would add to the good responses above: Require your wife to move out.  It is not you who should be wondering whether to leave or not – you're the one committed to the marriage (so far), you're the one committed to your sons having a stable & nurturing home, so why would/should you be the one considering whether to leave.  She has already left the marriage in so many ways.  She needs to feel the real-life consequence of that: getting another apartment (at her expense, not yours), or moving in with a friend or relative & having to visit the sons on some basis that you choose.  You say she can't decide & that she says she needs time to decide.  Okay, but let her stew in her indecisiveness while living outside the home that you're living in with your sons.  The pain of that could very well help her to decide – & more quickly than otherwise. 



1000% this 👆👆👆. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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BlindCheetah
I told my husband that if he couldn’t 100% commit to staying and working on improving himself  and our marriage it was pointless for me to try. 

Female BS
Married 19 years 
2 tween girls

DDay 10/2019 
Affair 1, 11/2010 to 2/2011
Affair 2, 6/2019 to 12/2019 - Persistent One is still trying to contact him. 

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Keepabuzz
My wife wasn’t unsure at all when she confessed her affair to me. She had ended her affair a month prior, and was 100% sure she wanted the marriage. I told her to pack her $hit and move in with her former AP, or sleep in her car, I didn’t care. She obviously didn’t want to do that, and was in a far more stable state of mind than I was at the time, so I packed a bag and left. I was in no shape to take care of the kids. I was gone about 4 days, and came home because my girls needed me. When I came back if I wanted to separate she would have been moving out, not me. That is true to this day. If I ever decide to divorce her, she will be leaving, not me. I didn’t do anything wrong. 
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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