Dear Chump Lady,
Well, my husband and I are one of the Unicorns that reconciled last February of 2013. I was strong, kicked him out, got an attorney, did NC, and he came crawling back, broke up with her and followed the CL suggestions for reconciliation to a tee. He signed a postnup, went to counseling, took full responsibility, and he’s been unbelievably caring and giving me full support.
I still read your blog everyday, and just as everyone wants to get to Meh, so do I, but alas I don’t know if that will ever happen. And I want to share with my fellow chumps the other side (reconciliation) and that it’s not easy either.
My husband is a MD and I work for his group. There is no way for us to leave this area, because he’s a partner, and our parents need us as they age. The OW also works at this hospital. I was wishing she would find another job, after her meltdown and threats of exposing my husbands infidelity (which makes no sense since everyone already knows). Other than a few of her friends, most people are so happy we have “worked it out,” and have been more than supportive of me especially.
It can be very awkward at times, because I work with her closest friends, and it is an unspoken word for all of us. I’m always insecure that I might say something that would be misconstrued and get back to the OW.
The OW has gone to be a nurse supervisor in the hospital, so she only works a few days and stays away from our area. (Last year, she would purposely come over and make “appearances,” which was not good for my husband, me, or the staff, but since he broke it off, we never see her. We are extremely professional and never let this affect patient care, but at times it can make for some awkwardness. For the last 7 months though, NC, except for seeing her car from time to time in the parking lot.
Now, let me tell you about today. My mom, has had a rectal bleeding since Sunday. She went to another hospital and was discharged Monday, only to start bleeding again severely today, so I brought her to my hospital where I can make sure she gets treated well. In the ER, I heard the OW’s voice, you can imagine how those gut wrenching pains started back in my soul. We both saw each other, no words, but I glared, and she walked away.
My husband stayed away purposely, so we would have no scenes. He hugged me later and reassured me it’s going to be okay. He’s sorry for putting me in this situation. And as he says,”no worries, I love you.” I said, “the problem is, even though I want to believe you, the trust has been squashed. I have a protective wall built up and I don’t know if I will ever feel ‘normal’ again.” He said, “it’s just going to take time, and I’m here with you.”
The sad thing is, will it really get better with time? Will I ever get to Meh? Can Meh exist for a Unicorn?
I’m so sorry. How awful for you. The way I read your letter is that you just can’t feel safe so long as the OW works at this hospital. You have to tiptoe around her at work every day (and hope your husband is doing the same), you have to bite your tongue around her friends, and this is the hospital your parents will use as they age and have health problems. Of course, you’d want that environment to be safe as well. But you can’t feel safe because this woman and her threats are a constant presence in your life.
Of course you don’t feel “meh”! And look, it’s all still quite recent. February 2013 was 8 months ago. The fastest way to “meh” is no contact, and even though you don’t speak with her, she’s hanging around like a bad penny. No wonder you feel unsettled.
Something’s got to give. I would talk with an employment lawyer soonest. Are you in the States? Here, with our federal discrimination laws, I would worry that she could bring sexual harassment charges or retaliation claim against your husband. That’s possible, yes, even in a consensual sexual relationship. As a partner, as her superior, he could be guilty of creating a sexualized work environment. I don’t know the laws where you are, which is why I suggest you consult with an attorney. I would think his business partners must be very concerned about his affair, or they should be. I would look into some sort of legal settlement with this woman, pay her severance, and make her go away for a price.
Sorry, the best suggestion I have for you is an expensive one. I would hope your husband could go to the matt for you on this. Because the only other way I can see you getting to “meh” — if that’s possible as a unicorn (I have my doubts) — is if you just eat the big shit sandwich of having to work with her.
To do that, you’ll have to project a hell of a lot of confidence. Confidence, you most likely do not feel 8 months into reconciliation. You’d have to feel utterly secure in your marriage. And you’d have to feel like she’s not a threat. Even if there is no affair going on, I think she’s still a threat for legal reasons.
I’m also worried that your husband stayed away from you and your mom in the ER under the auspices of “not wanting to make a scene” with the OW. If it were me, I would’ve wanted his support then and THERE, having him visibly at your side. Scene, OW? Bring it on. He could’ve projected: “I’m with my wife and my sick MIL. I’m here to support them.” He missed an opportunity to ignore her and publicly support you, and I fault him for that. It’s much easier for him to say “I’m with you” at home later… after he was not, in fact, “with you.”
He sure made one hell of a mess. I’m sure the OW doesn’t relish bumping into you either. (Not that we care — but I’m just pointing out that he’s hurt everyone. He just gets to float along as if Nothing Happened.) Thinking you can all work together is a very tall order for Meh. I don’t know many successfully reconciled people, but I would think they sure as hell don’t still work with the affair partner.
How deep is his love? How deep are his pockets? It’s going to be seriously expensive to settle this, and pay her off, but that’s what I think is needed here if you both cannot find work elsewhere. Talk to a lawyer.
As much as I’m faulted for my skepticism over reconciliation, I want to believe in unicorns. I hope it works out for you, Tammy. I’m glad you found the strength to boot him out and lawyer up right away. I’m glad he’s doing the hard work and signed a post-nup. But the work ahead may be harder and more expensive than he reckoned. Let’s see if he can go the distance. It’s not enough to say the right things like “I’m with you” — he needs to make a stand.
To me, “meh” is about distance and being healthily indifferent to the cheater. I don’t know if “meh” and reconciliation are compatible. To choose to stay with your former cheater is to stay caring about him, trusting that you’ll learn to trust him again. IMO, no matter how healed you are, how can you ever be “meh” about having been betrayed by your spouse? I feel meh about my cheating ex-husband, but he’s my ex. We have no future together. I never have to make myself vulnerable to him again.
It’s totally natural that you feel the “trust has been squashed” and meh is not in sight. To be intimate with someone, you have to be vulnerable with them. You rightly cannot let your guard down, or feel vulnerable, so long as the affair partner is someone you both work with. Someone’s gotta go. I hope it’s her. Good luck.