My husband and I are in our 40s with two young children. This past year, he started an affair with a 25-year old woman, (he said it was only an emotional affair), and then moved into another apartment (he said it was to be closer to work–he works frequently at nights) that he wouldn’t tell me the address of.
For the first few weeks, he would come home a couple of nights per week; then he wouldn’t come home at all. A couple of months later, in August, I moved with the kids into a new apartment (our lease was up and I wanted to move to a safer, cleaner apartment for the kids) and told my husband that I would be limiting contact with him to just email about the kids and finances. To protect my and the kids’ legal and financial interests, I filed for divorce a little more than a month ago.
The past few weeks, my husband has been emailing me and texting me about how he can’t live without me, how he thinks he we can have a happy marriage, that he will do anything to restore our marriage and family. He also sent me a draft of a no-contact letter he would send to his mistress. Should I give him another chance?
I did expose his affair to his family and friends a few days after I found about it. After that, he said that he had ended the relationship with his mistress, but I found out later that that was not the case. Also, I’ve recently discovered that he changed the beneficiary of his life insurance policy from me to his sister (my lawyer is in the process of taking actions to try to remedy this).
Should I proceed with the divorce as I originally planned? Surprisingly, after I went no-contact on him, I’ve been feeling pretty good, and, in fact, much happier than I was when I was with my husband, even pre-affair. My kids seem fine as well. Looking back, I think he was sort of emotionally abusive–he and my in-laws would criticize me, he would blame me for his career problems, and a lot of times I felt like I was walking on eggshells.
However, I talked to a pro-marriage counselor, who thinks it’s possible for my husband and me to have a great marriage, much better than the one we had before, if he shows through his actions that he is repentant and is willing to take the lead in restoring our marriage. If I don’t give my husband a second chance, I feel like I might be depriving my kids of the chance to grow up in a happy, intact family. But it looks like recovery would be a lot of hard work and painful (reliving the details of the affair). The counselor said this would be temporary and worth it in the end, as the best outcome for me and my kids would be for me to have a happy marriage with the father of my children. I also think, who would want to date a divorced woman in her mid-40s with two young kids? Even my attractive single friends are having a hard time dating.
I’m also suspicious of my husband’s motives, though he does sound sincere. Maybe the OW dumped him. Maybe he realized how much he would pay in child support and decided divorce wasn’t worth it (this past year, he has been telling me that he wants to leave me, that I’ve been a horrible wife, that he’s unhappy with me and needs to find his happiness). Maybe he’s trying to confuse me and gain the upper hand in divorce proceedings. Maybe he just still wants to eat his cake and have me around as a back-up option.
Any thoughts you could provide would be greatly appreciated!
Gee, I don’t know who I want to slap harder. Your husband, or the quack who told you taking him back would be “worth it in the end, as the best outcome for me and my kids would be for me to have a happy marriage with the father of my children.”
Okay, I’m going to slap the quack first. (I’ll get to your husband next.) Your quack is making a value judgement — it’s better for families to be together, regardless of the evidence. And he’s selling you hopium — despite infidelity, abandonment, and on-going emotional abuse, oh hey, you can FIX THIS, just pay those therapy dollars, dredge up the affair details, and tug your cheater by the ear to marriage counseling.
Small caveat: if he shows through his actions that he is repentant and is willing to take the lead in restoring our marriage.
Now, you might argue that Chump Lady makes value judgements that reconciliation is a unicorn and “pro-marriage” therapists like this guy are quacks. I would argue that I give advice based on EVIDENCE. I don’t peddle hopium.
So let’s look at the evidence of your husband’s “repentance.” He wrote a DRAFT of a no contact letter to the mistress. Is that what sorry looks like? No, sorry looks like not hedging your bets. His draft is contingent on what YOU do. (Don’t divorce me.) “Look at my pretty letter” is not actually sending the letter and taking the initiative to break up with her. That would look like saving your marriage. This looks like a lame gesture.
He’s promised you before that he had ended it with her, and you found out that wasn’t the case. So I would argue you’ve already give him “another chance.”
Let’s look at the other evidence — he’s so sorry and cares so much about his children that he changed the beneficiary of his life insurance policy to his sister. I’m not smelling the repentance.
Oh, but he could change it back because you’ve got a lawyer on it? Okay, he’s STILL a man who is capable of spiting his children in a divorce because he’s a selfish son of a bitch. Is your pro-marriage shrink going to give this guy a character transplant?
Here’s more evidence — you are the kids are HAPPIER without him. No one is treading on eggshells. Do you want to risk him coming back and abandoning them again? This is a man who is capable of walking out on his family and not leaving a forwarding address.
“The best possible outcome” for your children is a home life without dysfunction. The best possible outcome is when you have sane, committed, loving parents — and those households do not always include fathers (or mothers). Quack is saying that being raised by a single parent is Less Than. Fuck that shrink. Yes, most of us thought were were getting the gold standard, of two loving parents for our children — and then life happened. And you know what? You can rebuild, reinvent, and do MUCH BETTER than the crazy-ass, abusive chaos you were living with.
If you want to make a decision based in fear — namely, this is the Best I Can Do because I’m in my 40s with kids and no one will ever love me again — I think you’re making a HUGE mistake. You’d rather gamble on your husband’s demonstrable bad character and an emotionally abusive marriage than take the risk you could be happy alone or love again?
I don’t know a lot of reconciliation unicorns. I do know a LOT of middle-aged divorced people with kids who’ve moved on and remarried. I’m one. My husband is one. A bunch of readers of Chump Lady did it. I know a nice man down the street who married a divorced woman in the 1960s who had FIVE children, who he helped raised, and they’re now in their 70s and still together. Oh, hang on the couple across the street from me, he married a woman with FOUR children, and they’re still together 24 years later. Oh, and there’s the woman in my art class who was a single mother, with two failed marriages, who married a divorced Englishman with two kids. They’ve been together 30 years. And there’s my aunt, with two kids, who left her alcoholic cheater and got remarried in her 40s to her high school sweetheart whose wife ran off with the town priest and left him with two teenagers — and it’s 28 years later and they’re still together.
I just gave you FOUR examples of older people with kids who met before the dawn of internet dating.
Alice, I live in nowhere Texas and I can swing a cat and hit a couple who happily remarried in middle age. This is not dreaming the impossible dream.
My advice to you is go ahead and divorce him. His “sorry” should not be contingent on what you do or do not do. If he’s for real, he should be just as sorry after the divorce as before. So, go ahead and impose those consequences and get on with your life. If he wants to do the hard work and court you after the fact, well, then you’ve got your life — and that insurance policy — in order.
But my guess is the “sorry” will evaporate as soon as the child support is calculated. I think you’ve wasted enough of your life on this loser. Time to gain that life without him.