I’m currently on the fence living with a two-time cheating wife. We have been married for 25 years now. Both married in our late 20s. We have two children and are about to be empty nesters. I am a physician and my wife has always worked part time as a nurse until two years ago.
At that time two things happened that stressed our relationship. One, my daughter ( 15 years old at the time) was diagnosed with bipolar disorder after a suicide attempt and the revelation of other self-injury behavior. This was a shock to both of us and especially my wife, who seemed to always take great pride in her perfect little family and her perfect children. I grew up in a home which had issues with depression and I made sure our daughter had the professional help she needed to recover.
My wife, however, did not deal with this very well and she began to drink more, started going out with her friends more, and quit her job as a nurse and went back to school to become a financial advisor. Her selfish, narcissistic traits, which always been there to some degree, became much more pronounced. Still she had never given me a hint that she would cheat on me except for a bad tendency to tell me periodically about how many men at work were hitting on her, telling her how pretty she was and trying to get her in bed.
I always tried to act cool when she said this to me and didn’t act jealous, although of course I was inside. Then her first confirmed affair came to light a year ago almost to the day. A Cinco de Mayo party at the bar near her work where she met one of my best friends “just for a drink.” It turns out he had a local motel room all ready for them but she still says to this day that she turned down his request for sex and had no idea that was what he wanted. I don’t really believe her, but I have no proof whether they went there and had sex that night or not. At a minimum they flirted, kissed, and met at a bar without my knowledge and lied about it.
She had been caught many times prior, and a few times since, flirting heavily with him and kissing him at parties at our own own house and other friend’s houses while we all had a few drinks and she always said it was the alcohol that “made” her do what she was doing with him. I consider this at least a strong EA and probably a PA. I was informed about the motel by my “friend’s” wife who actually hired a private investigator. Obviously she had her suspicions too. Well, finally after a few months this all came out and they have not met alone and have acted respectfully when together at social gatherings. I figured, okay, after 25 years of marriage, I can live with some heavy flirting and even a one time motel visit, if that is all this was. However, she always minimized this affair saying it was no big deal and blamed it on the fact that my friend was a player, which he is, and she had been drinking.
So, we come to affair #2, the “real” affair. In late July, only a few months after the above affair, she accidentally ran into the brother of her old boyfriend from college while out with the girls again at a local music festival. She had dated this boyfriend for several years just prior to us meeting and had become very close to him. She left him because he became a cocaine user and eventually a cocaine dealer to support his habit. During this time, I have now found in retrospect, that she used cocaine with him every weekend for years and became very comfortable with the weekend binging with cocaine lifestyle. All this while she was going to nursing school!
Well, now go to the present, 25 years later, and this guy’s brother asks her if she would like to call him after all these years and gave her his phone number. Long story short, she did call him that night, he drove out to meet her, and they went to a hotel and did cocaine and had sex, just like the old days. She didn’t come home until 9 a.m. the next day.
She had never done anything like that before in our 25 years of marriage. I was very worried about her that night and called her many times that night but no answer. She lied about what had happened of course, and said she was sorry she drank too much and passed out on a friend’s couch. Over the next several weeks I became suspicious and started becoming a detective. As time went on I caught her meeting him multiple times, and their affair continued. She lied right to my face numerous times to keep the affair going. Not only did she meet him to do cocaine and fuck, but she professed her love to him and said she had always loved him. He treated her like gold and said the same back to her. She was the one he shouldn’t have let get away, blah blah blah.
Timing on this affair couldn’t have been worse (if they ever are) because we were just about to leave on a wonderful 2 week trip to Europe for our 25th anniversary. I was very tempted to cancel but my hopium kicked in, and I thought if we went we could re-connect and maybe save our marriage. Well we had a decent time on the trip but during times when she could get a cell phone connection she texted him behind my back, even saying that she wishes he was here with her instead of me. Finally, after 8 months of lying and cheating with him, meeting him at bars and going to motels all night, I finally left her and moved out and started divorce proceedings. I had told her many times during those 8 months that she was crossing an unforgivable boundary and if she saw him again I would divorce her. She would cry and promise no more, and then see him all over again.
After I had left, she broke down and started crying every day, calling and texting me that she was a fool and wanted me back and truly only loved me. The whole groveling begging thing began. She started doing all the things that they say in those reconciliation books that she would need to do to help me forgive her and try to start over again. She began to look like the mystical unicorn in all it’s glory. After weeks of this I finally started to feel that maybe, maybe she was being sincere and I should give it one more try. I moved back home and for the last month now she has been the beautiful unicorn. I must also mention, that my daughter, who loves me more than the world, and is much closer to me than my wife, was showing some signs of getting depressed again and this, of course was a big part of me moving back in to our home.
On one hand I feel that maybe she has come out of her fog or mid-life crisis, or whatever it was, and she has learned her lesson and we should do the hard work of reconciliation. On the other hand my deep inner self and gut tell me that she went too far and that I could never truly love, respect, and trust her again. I’m still checking on her phone and being the detective and it’s obviously been very, very painful.
Do you think that what she did could have just been a midlife event and that she now might truly be that elusive unicorn or is this just the typical reaction when they finally realize that they are about to lose the dream and the cake? Do most cheaters grovel and plead and beg only to go back to their old ways when things have calmed down?
Thanks for listening and any help you can give me.
I don’t believe in the fog or in mid-life crises. I believe in character, and that’s shown over time. From what you write, your wife has had issues with “narcissistic, selfish traits” over the course of your marriage. Case in point, aside from the cheating, she responded to her daughter’s suicide attempt with drinking. So a kid who needs psych help and stability gets a mom who enjoys “girl’s nights out,” being inappropriate with men, fucking around with men, and alcohol and cocaine abuse.
Let me connect the dots for you — she responds to your daughter’s pain and makes it about HER pain (loss of her “perfect family”). She takes this crisis as carte blanche to screw around — leaving you in an absolutely horrific position. You are oh so conveniently hostage to her shittiness, because you don’t want to rock the boat. You need to be the rock who holds the family together. You don’t want upset your daughter’s fragile emotional state further, which is one of your stated reasons for taking her back.
Oh, that and she’s real sorry.
She’s not sorry. She’s sorry about the loss of cake. She’s sorry the consequences were starting to be imposed and if she trumps up some genuine imitation Naugahyde remorse you’ll come back. She hoovered you.
How do I know hers isn’t a true unicorn heart? Because this isn’t her first rodeo. She continued affair #2 for 8 months in front of your face while you begged her not to. And she totally lied to you about affair #1. As you didn’t provide further details, I’m assuming she didn’t give them to you. She’s still minimizing her affairs and lying to you. Grown ups don’t go to hotels to hold hand and recite Bible verses. They go to hotels to fuck.
You spackled affair #1 (what’s one night in a hotel after 25 years together?) — which fed her entitlement to indulge in affair #2 — and some blow.
Are you feeling the sorry?
Next you get uppity. Now you’ve had enough. So you file, you end the crazy train. She hoovers you back.
And you write to ask me if she’s sincere this time.
I don’t think she is, but let’s say for the sake of argument she is. Let’s say she sobers up and quits screwing other men. Okay, you are left with a woman who does NOT respect you.
She has tried over the years to goad you into the “pick me” dance — aren’t you jealous? Other men want me! NOT respectful.
She rewarded herself with a second affair after you forgave the first one. She does not respect you.
She enjoys girls nights out and acts like a single woman, giving her phone number out to men. She does not respect you.
She flaunted the second affair in your face and refused to believe cake would end. She does not respect you.
Do you think she respects you now that you threatened divorce and have her on a short leash? Do you think that’s a recipe for happy? Now she’s the hostage — one false move and I divorce you. How will you know there’s a false move? You won’t unless you monitor her. So now you’ve got this parental/police vibe going.
The Unicorns would say, oh now she is repentant, now she’s going to own her shit. Except you’ve given me zero evidence of that, because she hasn’t come clean about her affairs. I’m always dubious of the remorse of cheaters in foxholes. Why does it take cataclysmic consequences to manifest their “remorse”?
Oh! I know! Because suddenly the pain is HERS. Your pain, your daughter’s pain, meant jack shit to her. That has been demonstrated clearly by her actions. You told her she was crossing an “unforgivable boundary” — and she crossed it.
Enforce that boundary. I think you clearly sense this is not sustainable. Honor that feeling. My opinion is that she destroyed your marriage and you have no obligation to work with her to fix this. Frankly, I don’t think she’s invested in fixing this, she’s invested in a lack of consequences. So test the depth of her sorry — divorce her and see how long she commits to her path of self improvement.
Did she do rehab and counseling when you filed? Or did she just expend on her energies in hoovering you back? Guilting you about your daughter’s depressive state?
Your wife has major issues and I suggest she work on them without you, while you move on and get your life together. If she’s truly sorry, she should be willing to bear the burden of those consequences. Her “recovery” should not be contingent upon what you do or do not do.
As for your daughter — keep giving her professional support for her depression and bipolar illness.
One lesson you can model to your daughter is — we can’t control a lot of things, but we can control ourselves. Your daughter cannot help her illness, but she can control the degree of crazy she allows in her life. She needs a sane parent. She doesn’t need a cheating cokehead for a mom. You cannot control your wife, but you can control the degree of crazy you allow in YOUR life.
Yes, divorcing her will be disruptive and difficult, but you’ve already started that course. The back and forth and instability isn’t good for anyone. All you can do for your daughter is what you’ve been doing — give her professional care and be the sane, consistent parent.
My opinion is you can be the saner, happier, and more consistent parent without your toxic wife. You want to know why you’re stuck? You won’t give yourself permission to save yourself –so here it is — SAVE YOURSELF.