Dear Chump Lady,
In May, after awhile of snooping because I suspected something was wrong, I discovered my wife was having an affair with her boss. I saw emails from her to him on her cell phone. When I confronted her in the shower that morning she initially denied it. I left only to return to the shower 5-10 minutes later. She finally admitted to having slept with him twice. I demanded that we not go to work that day to discuss our future. Her immediate knee jerk reaction was to suggest counseling. I was very angry and emotional but after hours of discussion I finally agreed to rehabilitate the marriage and go to counseling.
During that discussion, she only apologized because I told her how hurt I was that she never said “I’m sorry”. Weeks go by and she never looks into counseling, so I made an appointment. We went to 5 sporadic sessions and stopped because it was too expensive and not working. Since then I have tried my best to address everyone of her concerns over the past 4 months. But, she has not moved one inch since D-Day. We talk less now than we ever have, have less sex, and I am fed up!
I believe that she is still sleeping with him, but I have no proof. She says their relationship is “strictly business”, but I don’t believe her. How could I? All of her words speak to wanting to not hurt me. She expresses her desire for more space. She wants a physical separation, nothing legal yet.
We have 4 children that we have raised for the past 13 years. 18 year old girl in college, from my 1st marriage, and 3 young boys 5, 3, and 1. My children are my life and I am fearful that I will lose them. I am afraid of leaving the house because I don’t want to put myself in a legal disadvantage when the inevitable time comes. I want more than anything for this to work so we don’t hurt our children, but she just doesn’t act like she even likes me anymore, nor does she even try. We parent well together, we run the house and day-to-day operations together well. But when 8:00 hits and the boys go to bed everything changes and she just disappears mentally and emotionally.
I’m so sorry. You’ve got absolutely nothing here to work with on reconciliation. She’s not sorry, she wants to move out (more cake, free babysitting!), she won’t do counseling, and she still seems deep in her affair.
I know you don’t want to hurt your children and break up the family. You’re not doing that. SHE is. She’s walked away from her marriage and her kids with this affair.
Let’s review what you don’t control, okay? You don’t control her degree of commitment, to you, to her kids, or to the marriage. You don’t control if she sticks around or leaves for the boss (aka “more space.”) You don’t control her fucking around.
You just control YOU, how you are going to react to this shit. I’m sorry your choices suck, because they really truly suck. I know you don’t want your marriage to end, and you want an intact family for your children. But here is the choice she has put before you — you either accept the life of a cuckolded husband OR you divorce her.
Pain behind door #1! And pain behind door #2!
I suggest you choose door #2 for these reasons:
1.) By leaving, you will not be modeling dysfunction to your children. You don’t want three boys to grow up thinking it’s okay to be cuckolded and emotionally abused. You have the chance to rebuild your life and have a healthy relationship some day. And you can be the sane parent, even if that’s only 50% of the time. Kids just need one sane parent, and you can be that person. (But you can’t be sane living the way you’re living now.)
2.) Taking tough measures, being prepared to walk away and mean it, is probably your best bet for saving the marriage (if it can be saved, and you know I’m a skeptic). I sincerely doubt Mr. Bossman wants to date a single mother with three small children. Fuck her on the side? Sure. Love of the ages? I doubt it. Let her look at life from the single parenting side of the aisle. She won’t find it as nice as cake-eating. She’ll find her stock doesn’t trade that high.
Essentially, I’m saying that lawyering up might scare her straight. BUT personally, I would not want to be married to a person to whom I’d have to hold a legal gun to their head to commit to me. Some people can live with that no-aethists-in-fox-holes kind of latter day conversion to monogamy, but I’m not one of them. You might be, so I throw it out there.
Next, some thoughts on lawyering up. (Please note, I’m NOT a lawyer.)
1.) Give a lawyer all the evidence of an affair. You should file for custody. She might be inclined to give it to you if she thinks she’s riding off into a sunset with Mr. Boss. But in any case, the affair into is useful for leverage — your lawyer could threaten to depose her boss if she doesn’t agree to settlement.
2.) You should lawyer up and file SOON. She’s having an affair in the workplace and could be fired for that. You do NOT want to have to pay child support to an unemployed mother of three. Get in front of this thing as soon as possible.
3.) Document how much time she’s spending away from the children as a result of her affair. Again, this could be helpful in custody dispute.
Finally, I want to say — as many letters as I receive and publish about mothers abandoned with small kids, and assholes cheating during chumps’ pregnancies — men get terrible shit sandwiches when it comes to infidelity. Not only do you, the faithful guy, lose time with your children, but you have pay support to the household of a cheater. You should, of course, ALWAYS financially support your children. I’m talking about alimony — I think that shit should be null and void if you cheat.
And the ultimate shit sandwich for men who’ve been cheated on? Paternity testing. You have small kids. If you have any doubts about the time line of her affair, please get your kids paternity tested. Again, talk to a lawyer about this.
Marc, I know this all seems so doom and gloom. I just want you to know we all survive this shit. And the kids survive. And it will work out in the end. It’s terribly unfair. ((((Huge HUGS)))) But please be mighty and serve this bitch divorce papers.