I’m at a loss about how to proceed with my marriage. Two years ago me, my wife and two kids were prepping to move overseas for a work commitment. Before we left, my wife connected with one of my foreign coworkers while he was visiting the United States. It seemed reasonable she would want to reach out and form some friendships prior to us moving overseas and I didn’t think much of it.
However, even before we left the US she went from acquaintances to obsessive texting, first thing in the morning and last thing at night (texting him as I laid beside her). We had always had a rule in our 9 year marriage not to get too close to members of the opposite sex, and had credited this as a point of pride of how we protected our marriage from potential infidelity.
She was not shy at all about her interactions, talking so much about him that she even brought him up a couple times while we were trying to have sex, which to say the least killed the moment. I had never seen her in such a state of infatuation (and we were still on the other side of the globe from this guy) and my concern increased as the day drew near for us to move over and join him in our foreign office. I kid you not, up until that point in 9 years of marriage we had never even gone to bed mad at each other, always committed to working through issues as they came up. So, I did what we’d always done, I told her that her relationship made me uncomfortable and asked her lovingly to back off and please respect our boundaries. She listened, didn’t say much and seemed to understand.
Over the next two years she pursued her relationship with him with little boundaries save sexual ones. (I know they have not been intimate physically since I was present at the majority of their physical interactions). Within 2 months she was calling him her best friend, soul mate, twin. In social settings she was flirty and buddied up, she insisted we become close to his parents and have our kids call them Grandma and Grandpa. She texted him night and day, and would come visit me at work only to go off on walks and dinners with him and the kids. We had numerous conversations, which built in intensity and would end in me furious as she sat silent through most of our talks and in the end would say “he’s just a friend, I don’t know what to tell you.” She was never secretive about her interactions (until recently), appearing completely oblivious and apathetic to all the pain it was causing me.
Eventually he moved away but they kept their daily interactions. I eventually found on her computer, purely by chance, a photo of her she had sent him with no bra on and a thin tank top, holding a photo of them in view. I confronted her and she played dumb, refused to admit she knew it was inappropriate, that I was overreacting. Over text she tells him she loves him daily, is in love with him in a best friend sort of way, is grateful for him, can’t wait to see him, blah blah blah. She has admitted to being physically attracted to him and having fantasies. I have blatantly identified that she is emotionally cheating on me tried asking, demanding, pleading, being more loving and attentive, writing letters, texts, couples counseling and at each and every turn she has 100% refused to even acknowledge that she has done anything wrong or that I have a right to feel betrayed. She actually said we can’t talk anymore because I get too upset and it scares her. (I have never ever been even close to physical, I don’t even spank my kids for god’s sake).
So here I am. About a month ago I wrote her an email outlining that our marriage can’t move forward without her ending her emotional affair, acknowledging the damage done and choosing to want to reconcile with me, I also communicated this in person as well. We are sleeping in separate rooms, she never responded to me in person or in writing other than saying she read the email. I told her I am moving on for my own sake, emotionally and mentally finding happiness with the reality looming that our marriage may be over.
I don’t know that I could ever divorce with two daughters that mean everything to me, but it is hard imagining the next 50 years with someone who won’t even acknowledge their behavior. I have told her part of me moving forward is that I won’t bring up the affair anymore, won’t try to work through it, and won’t ask her to communicate with me unless she wants to and can initiate. I also told her part of me moving on may in the future mean divorce at some point. It’s been a few weeks, she has yet to even discuss this with me. Am I doing the right thing? The truth is I desperately want to stay married to her, I love her and see that she is lost in the woods. How do I break through to someone in an altered reality and deep state of denial? Am I the delusional one? Feeling so lost right now. Thanks so much for your time.
You know, sometimes people send us messages and we just refuse to hear them.
Now, some people are confusing and send mixed messages like: “I love you, I love him, I just can’t decide.” Or “I hate you!” and then the next minute “But this marriage means everything to me!”
That’s a mixed signal. And generally a lot of mindfuckery goes with that. (“I didn’t say that, well if you want to INTERPRET it that way…” “I fail to understand your hostility.” Etc.)
You don’t have a mixed signal. You’ve got a very direct signal — you just don’t want to listen to it. Her actions and her silences clearly communicate she prefers her affair to her marriage with you. Hell, you’re not even Plan B. You’re the cardboard stand in. The guy with the job, the father to her kids, the Potemkin husband. He’s the Great Schmoopie Love. Her best friend. Her Savior. The recipient of her saggy-tit tank top sexts. (Okay, I don’t know if she has saggy boobs, but two children? Seriously, very few people look good braless in a tank top without Photoshop. Another clue that you’re dealing with a delusional human here.)
I love her and see that she is lost in the woods.
She’s not lost in the woods. She is deliberately and with much aforethought in an affair.
Your wife is not a timid forest creature. She knows exactly what she is doing. She sees that it hurts you and — for YEARS — she does not give a shit. Nope, your distress doesn’t register on her narc-ometer. (The arrow is perennially stuck at “me.”)
Not only doesn’t your distress register — YOU don’t register. She’s texting him in front of you. Dining with him and your children. And asking your children to call his parents Grandma and Grandpa. WTF Jason? When did it get to this point? You may as well be a potted plant for all the resistance you’re showing.
Look, I don’t mean to beat up on you, but you’re doubting your senses here. Is this inappropriate? YES YOUR WIFE AND KIDS DINING WITH YOUR COWORKER INSTEAD OF YOU IS INAPPROPRIATE. It’s a huge Fuck You. What happens next? You just forlornly unwrap a soggy tuna sandwich at your desk or something? This is WRONG! That’s YOUR family, NOT his family!
How do I break through to someone in an altered reality and deep state of denial?
Oh, don’t we all wish we had the answer to that one. If you find Thor’s magic denial-smashing sledgehammer, let me know. I have a few people I could use it on.
Jason, your wife is FINE with her altered reality. Your reality sucks? Hey, you’re an annoying buzz. Her reality is that her Love is Perfect, she has a Savior Best Friend, and she’s deliriously attractive! She PREFERS her altered reality. YOU DON’T CONTROL THAT.
You only control YOU and your reality. You want to snap her into reality? Start taking care of yourself. Stop the threats, stop the pointless counseling, and call a lawyer. Start getting real about separation and divorce. I know you love your kids, but this marriage is not sustainable unless you want to keep playing the role of Potemkin husband with zero needs or respect. That’s the direct message she’s been sending you for TWO YEARS — I’m in an affair and I don’t give a fuck what you think.
When she’s looking down the barrel of a divorce summons, hey, she might suddenly find her “remorse.” But I sincerely doubt the sincerity of these latter day apologists. The person who has been blithely disrespecting you for years is the Real Her. Start trusting that she sucks, Jason.
And also start considering that unless you had an ankle monitor on her, with close physical proximity to Mr. Schmoopie there for years, she was probably in a physical affair with him. Call me crazy, but I don’t send braless tank top pictures to my “friends.” (Or anyone. I’m 48 for Christ’s sake.) She wasn’t a nuisance to that guy. He had the dinners, he sent the constant volley of texts, he made himself very, VERY available to her. For two years. People with integrity don’t get that cozy with another man’s wife. People who fuck other men’s wives do crap like that.
Not that it matters. Emotional affair, physical affair, it’s grossly disrespectful of you. Everything you witnessed are courting behaviors — dining out, sexts, inside jokes, introducing each other to your parents. Adults don’t court without sex as their goal. That’s how adults express intimacy — by fucking.
I have told her part of me moving forward is that I won’t bring up the affair anymore,
How delightful for her.
won’t try to work through it,
Great! Nothing is required of her for you to be there!
and won’t ask her to communicate with me unless she wants to and can initiate.
Permission to ignore you. More of the same ol’ same ol’ Jason.
I also told her part of me moving on may in the future mean divorce at some point.
“May,” “at some point.” Ooh, I’m scared. That’s a fine threat!
I may at some point invade Oklahoma. I don’t know. I’m thinking about it. Shopping for armies right now on Ebay. I’ve already picked a few cute uniforms (epaulets!), consulted with a few Israeli arms dealers. Invasion is a talking point on the agenda. Perhaps. I think Oklahoma should take me very seriously if things ever get out the planning stages.
Jason — she doesn’t BELIEVE YOU. You know why? BECAUSE YOU’RE STILL THERE.
It’s been a few weeks, she has yet to even discuss this with me.
Time to take your power back, Jason. If your wife’s affair and utter lack of concern is unacceptable to you, start acting like it. You’ve exhausted reason and counseling. Time for bold action and enforcing boundaries. Call a lawyer today.