Dear Chump Lady,
I have been pouring over your blog for months now. I need advice!
My husband of 18 years, had an affair in 2010 with an old friend from high school. They reconnected through Facebook and she lives in another state. Through divine intervention I immediately found out about them meeting (my husband was out of town for 36 hours for “work”). When a friend of a friend called and said my husband was with another woman! My husband and the OW both swore that they kissed but nothing more. Yes I did email her immediately! I kicked him out of the house. But it was 2 weeks before Christmas, so I let him come back home way too soon because of the holidays. Things were not good before the affair and never improved at all after it. We’ve spent about 4 years off and on in couples and individual counseling to try to resolve our issues and be happy with each other as we are.
I doubt that two adults who spent months planning a meeting “only kissed.” But let’s pretend they did kiss and it ended there.
Do you consider kissing and spending 36 hours together an affair? Would this be a no-brainer for you to hire the lawyer ASAP?
He knew it would be sudden death if he ever contacted her again. Earlier this year, I found an email from her to him and I found he had access to her Facebook login and password.
He said he had contacted her again because he “needed closure.” She is still married to her husband and they have four children.
I told him we needed to separate, told him to move out and he has been out of the house for two months. I have met with three attorneys and feel well-informed.
However, I can’t bring myself to file. I have told him I still would like to fix the marriage. To which I get no response. He is living in his sister’s basement (he is 42 years old) and he still lets his paychecks come to our joint account. So I pay all of the bills and then keep what I need to live on and tell him how much cash he can take out. And he goes along with it… He isn’t really a go-getter in life. So I think he could live this way for quite a while, or until the OW decides to leave her husband for him.
I have been a SAHM for 8 years. Our kids are 8, 5 and 4. I know they will be fine. I am a child of divorce and feel pretty well-adjusted.
I do not know what I am afraid of. I don’t know how to fix the marriage. I don’t love him. I do feel guilty about breaking up the family and I worry about the financial impact for myself and the kids. I am actually quite content to have him out of my day to day life. We spent years living like roommates. Right now I feel pretty hooked up, I am in our house, living on his money and I don’t have to deal with his day to day bullshit. However I am also in severe limbo. Do I file or wait for him to file?
I have new accounts at a different bank. I am stashing away money each time I shop and have a couple thousand dollars put away. My mom has loaned me the retainer for the attorney. I have been offered a part-time job that will be flexible for the kids school and preschool schedules.
So why am I so afraid to file for divorce first?
Last question first — why are you afraid to file? You don’t want to be perceived as the bad guy. The ender of marriages. The breaker up of family. As you write, your husband is passive, “not a go getter in life” — so in typical asshole fashion, he’d much rather YOU take the lead and do his dirty work for him. I’m sorry to tell you in my experience most cheaters are like this. They don’t file for divorce — the chump does. I liken this to those gruesome civil wars where soldiers force people to shoot their own family members. He created the war. He’s forcing you to hold the gun — and shoot something you love.
You told him you’d like to fix the marriage and got no response. That’s your answer. There is nothing here to save, so Limbo, you’re going to have to be the person to put a bullet in it. He’s not going to do it. He’s not going to fix the marriage. He’s not going to end the affair. What is torturous limbo for you is cake for him.
You could keep living in limbo — but why? Why would you want to put your life on hold for someone you do not love, and who treats you like a roommate? No hang on, people don’t generally betray and disrespect their roommates. He treats you like shit. Okay, he pays the bills. It’s the least he can do. He’s got three children for fuck’s sake.
Four years is enough time to waste. You have a great set up, better than most. Pull the trigger, already!
Do you not want to divorce him because you don’t want to give him the satisfaction of doing his dirty work? Step away from the power struggle. Stop taking responsibility for this. Divorce is the consequence of HIS actions and INactions. His affair. His failure to end the affair. (Bullshit on “closure.”) His nonresponse to your gift of reconciliation. This is on HIM! He has broken up your family, not you. Oh.. but maybe you should live with it, because it was “just a kiss.” You did live with it for four years — and he demonstrated with his continued contact that he’s not One Bit Sorry. And it was not just a kiss — it was abandonment and profound disrespect. Compounded by indifference to your pain and a failure to fix what he broke.
Do you not want to divorce him because limbo isn’t so bad? Stop smoking hopium. Put down the crack pipe. Limbo IS bad. It’s soul destroying. You can do this on your own, and when you do, you’re going to be much happier. Limbo is shitty chump cake. You’re not in the marriage, and you’re not out of the marriage. You’ve got the worst of both sides — a lousy marriage and no real new life. Oh, you have an “intact family” and you’ve got paid bills. Newsflash — you don’t have an intact family — daddy lives in a basement. You do have paid bills. But with a job and a court order you will also have paid bills. You don’t need this idiot.
Do you not want to divorce him because you’ll be damned if the OW has him? Your husband is not a prize. He lives in a BASEMENT. Cockroaches live in basements. Mold lives in basements. Let her have him. I sincerely doubt she really wants a guy who lives in his sister’s basement, but maybe she’s delusional enough to leave a husband and four kids for that. Have you told her husband what’s going on? If not I would. He deserves to know, and she deserves to be thrown out into a relative’s basement herself somewhere. Anyway, this is not the start of some Great Romance that you are thwarting by failing to divorce him. It’s two pathetic people acting pathetically. Be the grown up and remove yourself from this ridiculous situation and let them have each other.
You can do this Limbo! Yes, it will be hard on the kids at first. But modeling this crazy to them is worse. You’re going to be just fine on your own. Better, I promise. Don’t waste any more of your life on this guy — there’s a good life out here waiting for you on the other side.