Dear Chump Lady,
My wife finally announced to me in early September that she was in love with a long standing friend of ours. He and his wife have been our friends for about sixteen years. Their marriage started tanking about 6 years ago, and then apparently he had an affair that she got wind of around 3 years ago. They live in the same house, remain married, but take turns with the kids and are separated “spirtually”. They do some things together. I haven’t asked about the details.
For about 8 or so years, my wife’s friendship with the guy was the strongest amongst the two couples. And starting 4 years ago or so, she began listening to the guy’s marital issues.
I got extremely uncomfortable with their friendship. I said don’t spend time with him unless I’m around. In 2011 (I think) I said I think you’re having an emotional affair. She said that wasn’t the case.
She’s always denied all physical contact.
She began seeing this guy behind my back for lunches at work periodically I’ve learned. And rode the train with him when commuting without telling me.
In summer 2013 she really began withdrawing from me emotionally. Finally in September I got her to talk and she admitted that yes she’d fallen in love with him and out of love with me. She still claims they’ve never had any physical contact. Not even hand holding. It was just the emotional connection and converstation.
She cut off all communication with him in mid-September at my request. I’ve looked at their emails and texts. None since the cut off. The pre-Sept ones were never sexual. No sexting. No mushy emails. Just chatty, friendly, brief stuff. Sending links to news articles. Sharing information about yoga. Let’s meet for lunch. She claims he’s never declared outright affection for her but has said “You’re cooler than any of the women I’ve dated since my marriage broke up.”
Current status: We’re both seeing ICs and we have an MC. She’s been grieving the loss of her “friendship”. For 3 months. I tell her we can’t reconcile unless she can become indifferent towards him. We’ve stopped sleeping together. She claims tremendous feelings of guilt about her conduct. But she does have a laundry list of grievances toward me: I didn’t connect enough emotionally, I don’t show enough initiative around the house, I can get grumpy when working to reduce the amount of time our two boys spend on electronics. She has remorse, she claims she is working on things but has to do so inside herself first because she doesn’t know who she is anymore.
I’m seeing a lawyer for the first time next week. I want to get started understanding what to do if I want to get divorced.
Am I fucking crazy for being an emo chump and wanting to stay together because I think I love her still? Don’t ask me why I didn’t go ballistic 3 years ago, I don’t know, I’m a chump. I trusted my wife that she was just friends…
You know, I don’t know a lot of people who spend that much time mourning their commuting partner. Awhile ago I gave advice to a woman whose husband was having an emotional affair, same deal, it appeared non-sexual, but she hadn’t confronted him about it. My advice then was — confront and see what he does. You’re much further along in this mess. You confronted three years ago — and what she’s done was a) continue to see him behind your back, b) focused on your faults, c) told you she’s in love with him and not you.
Yeah, I’m not seeing a lot to work with here. If she’d slapped herself in 2011 and noticed she was on a slippery slope and recommitted to the marriage, I’d say go for it. Patch things up. What I see here is half-assedness. She’s cut off contact — but then how could you believe her, as you asked her to not see him in 2011 and she did it behind your back? She sulks and “mourns.” You don’t sleep together — and that’s not much of a surprise, seeing as she’s missing him (oh that puts you in the mood, for sure…) and how can she feel “indifferent” toward her fantasy guy when she’s got no sex life with you?
Emo, she’s acting like a person in a full-blown affair, if you ask me. I believe emotional affairs can be just that — infatuations that don’t turn physical. And in those cases, they tend to be on-line with a lot of geography in between. You don’t have that. These people have known each other for ages AND they meet up behind your back. My guess is it’s probably been physical. You also know the guy is a cheater, thus his separation that’s not a separation.
Adults tend not to “fall in love” with people they aren’t boinking. The OM sounds like the classic douchebag wanting your wife to do the pick me dance with the women he’s dating. “Oh you’re the COOL one.” He’s exploring all his options — she wants to be in the game, but her Marriage Is Holding Her Back.
Whatever she’s doing with this guy, she’s treating you like Plan B, the fall back guy. She says she doesn’t love you — I’d lawyer up too. Who wants to be her consolation prize?
Emo, here’s a chronology that’s atrocious — OM’s marriage tanked and an affair was discovered 3 years ago (the affair was going on 6 years?). Four years ago — one ENTIRE YEAR before your chumpy friend, OM’s wife KNEW about the affair, your dear wife was discussing OM’s “marital problems” with him. Which I assume included his infidelity? Your wife has been aiding and abetting the break up of that man’s marriage — which makes her a terrible person, and no friend to that wife.
Apparently she wasn’t saying, hey come clean with Marge! Or, if you don’t tell her, I will! No, she was insinuating herself in that break up, vying for his affections, and falling in love with him.
That’s a sign of her character — and in my opinion that would tell me all I need to know about how viable a reconciliation with her would be. She doesn’t care about OM’s bad character, she doesn’t care about hurting her friend, or you — she cares about her kibble supply from this douchebag.
I’d talk to OM’s wife too. She might know a lot more about this affair than she’s letting on to you.
Emo, I’m sorry. I see a woman who is checked out of her marriage. But, like most cheaters, too cowardly and gutless to end it. She’d rather you be the bad guy. Protect yourself. See that lawyer. Good luck.