Love your website and your no bullshit approach to this nightmare. I am currently an attempted unicorn, (although sometimes I feel like an ass with a carrot glued to its head).
Short story is the cliche — wife of 15 years has affair with smooth-talking older boss. Lasted 12 to 18 months, sex about 12 times with no protection (if they are to be believed with regard to the number of times). Classic “we have a connection/he understands me” bullshit. I stayed and tried to “move forward” with her for our family, and did everything in the most painful way possible in the process.
– Letting her choose to remain with the company, because she loved her job and I thought “forcing” her to quit would make her resent me.
– Not reporting him to spare her the humiliation and career damage
– “Respecting her privacy” by not looking at her phone
– Buying a home
This pick me dance lasted about 8 months. The pain and frustration ate at my soul like an acid. I began drinking more, and frankly began unravelling mentally. I finally reported him, anonymously, to try and get him out of our lives. I was up front with my wife, and even warned the creep, asking that he do the right thing and just accept responsibility for his actions and leave. Of course he didn’t.
This led to a total freeze out emotionally from my spouse. Eventually an attempt at self harm on my part, and a 9-month separation. My wife and I were very slowly building a relationship (spending some evenings/dinners together) with nothing physical and her flat out saying she had no idea what she wanted, when another woman began showing SERIOUS interest in me (it was mutual, to be fair). My wife then “confessed” she still loved me, wanted me to move home, wanted to be a family again — everything I had begged for, presented all at once, basically out of the blue.
I felt I had to take the chance. We have four children, a home, and by that point 17 years of marriage. So I moved home. I wasn’t proud of how it looked — I never intended to use another person to make my wife jealous — but there it was.
My wife has been fantastic for the last year. No contact with the other man, totally loving and devoted, and open book, etc. I have no reason to doubt this is what she wants. I know this has been a disaster for her and really believe she would never cheat again. Frankly I think she would do just about anything for me.
So that’s it — I am (we are) a unicorn… Except I still wrestle with the sheer magnitude of the lies, the omissions, the betrayal. It still consumes me at times. It affects my ability to enjoy sex — hell it affected my ability to HAVE sex for a time. Her behaviour still baffles the shit out of me and makes me wonder who she really is at times. I frankly question if I made a mistake going home.
I feel guilty though even thinking these thoughts. I feel like I am betraying her perfect conduct and sincere intentions by even considering the question of whether I will ever be able to let it go.
Any thoughts? Is there a statute of limitations for choosing a path when the stakes are SO HIGH? I am a father. I have responsibilities. My dad totally abandoned us when I was 2 — we had a very rough life as a result. I feel selfish and shitty for my doubts.
When someone shows you flagrantly toxic narcissism, it’s rather a tall order to forget it ever happened and feel safe again.
Also factor in that your wife was a good manipulator, because she maintained her affair for 18 months (at least, the self-reporting of cheaters is suspect). You’re wondering, like every chump in reconciliation wonders, she fooled me then — how do I know she’s not fooling me now?
Well, you don’t. That’s the dilemma of reconciliation. You don’t trust this person. You can either do the mental gymnastics of remaining married to someone you don’t trust or you can’t.
Oh but you’ll learn to trust again! Well, that’s what the RIC unicorns says. Through Great Courage and Honest Reckonings Your Marriage Will Be Stronger For This!
I don’t know any of these stronger marriage unicorns Thanks to the Wake Up Call of Infidelity. What I see are a bunch of twitchy, sad people on reconciliation boards “triggering” years after the fact. Of course, everyone hopes to be a real live unicorn some day! (It’s a process!) So they choke down their fears and take another toke on the hopium pipe.
How do you know she’s not fooling you now? Through years of the trust-but-verify lifestyle. Being the Marriage Police. And as any wily cheater knows, it’s pretty easy to get around that. You get a secret cell phone. You get a P.O. box. You set up a fake Facebook profile. You conduct your affair at work. By throwing your chump off with your goodness and devotion. By being hurt and wounded when they don’t trust you — “Aren’t you over this YET? I’m doing everything right!”
Oh, Chump Lady, you’re so cynical. Maybe she’s really Changed!
Okay, so just confer trust without verification and learn to live with your twitchy doubts, for the good of the family.
And maybe she has changed. Still doesn’t change who she was and how she treated you in the affair.
What exactly has she done to earn back her marriage?
My wife has been fantastic for the last year.
No contact with the other man,
Does she still work with him? See my workaround above.
totally loving and devoted,
Devoted to who? Her good impression? Does anyone KNOW about her affair? Has she had to admit it to anyone in your life, in your family, in therapy? In her job?
and open book, etc. I have no reason to doubt this is what she wants.
You have every reason to doubt this is what she wants. She had a good life and four children and chose to throw it all away for an affair with her boss. She’s not exactly the poster child for gratitude. Besides which, fuck what she wants — what do YOU want? Is this marriage — with its fractures and lack of trust now, however loving on the surface — ACCEPTABLE to YOU? Is this who you want to grow old with? Have sex with? Commit yourself to?
I know this has been a disaster for her
How exactly has it been a disaster? She still has her family and zero consequences. Did she lose her job? Someone’s fine opinion of her? How exactly has she suffered as compared to how you have suffered? You know who this has been a disaster for? YOU. Do you think your wife writes to advice columnists and asks “Boy, my affair has really been a disaster for Jobin. It’s been so unfair to him. What should I do?”
No. She felt entitled to her affair. And she felt entitled to reconciliation.
and really believe she would never cheat again. Frankly I think she would do just about anything for me.
Based on what evidence? Apparently, she was quite happy to have a front row seat to your nervous breakdown, so long as it didn’t interfere with her affair. You’re GUESSING she would be there for you, and when TESTED she was NOT there for you. She ate 8 months of cake. That is who she IS. That is her character on display. “Thinking” she would be there for is, is just that — a thought.
Your wife ate cake until you stopped pick me dancing. You diverted your attention to another woman, and that was a threat to her kibble supply. So, she reeled you back playing the guilt card of fatherhood.
Where was the concern for her four children when she was fucking her boss for 18 months?
Now you’re the Bad Parent for considering divorce? Don’t feel “shitty and selfish” — you’re reacting to what SHE did. The problem isn’t your reaction, the problem is WHAT SHE DID. She broke this marriage, not you. Don’t forget it.
I have responsibilities. My dad totally abandoned us when I was 2 — we had a very rough life as a result.
You absolutely can be (and should be!) a responsible father when divorced. Divorce is not abandonment. It’s a legal severing of a marital relationship.
You want to test your wife’s commitment to reconciliation? Here’s an exercise in shit-owning — have her sign a postnup. Work out a fair custody arrangement and financial settlement in the advent of a divorce. If you want to try harder at reconciliation, do it with the support of a fully worked out divorce agreement. You said she’d “do anything” for you. See if she’ll do that. She won’t do it? There’s your answer.
Or you can skip that step entirely and just face that her affair was a deal breaker for you. And it doesn’t matter how sorry she is now — you want a new life.