Please make me feel better about my situation or at least help me to stop blaming myself. It took me 25 years to realize I am married to a NPD. My STBX has a black belt in silent treatment. He has gone months at a time not speaking to me.
I started noticing that he was spending a lot of time smiling into his phone. I was coming out of the fog of dealing with a newborn and a toddler and started noticing other things. Our weekend plans started to involve his coworker, her husband and their child. Every weekend. So I started snooping. He was having an emotional affair with her.
There were no “I love you’s” at this point, but there were lots of “let’s get to know each other better” and “how awesome is our friendship” conversations. They were texting constantly. Much of it was work talk, but the balance shifted to personal as time went on.
So, let’s cut to the Saturday morning a week before Mother’s Day. My husband gave my son a cute buzz cut. I saw that he texted her a picture of our son’s new look. Then I hear him on the phone with her making plans for the day. When he got off I made a comment about having plans with them again. My tone was not kind. He deflected and we never ended up seeing them that day. But, I got one of his classic silent treatments.
A week later was Mother’s Day. My first Mother’s Day with my daughter. He was an ass all day. Pretty much said nothing to me. He made a brunch, but it wasn’t for me. His mom and sister were with us. Later that afternoon I asked him if I could talk to him after the kids went to sleep. He said, “No.” That he had nothing to say to me and that there was no point in talking about anything. I had to beg him to talk to me. So, later that night he came into the kitchen and gave me his best, what-the-fuck-do-you-want face. I said, “Are you in love with your coworker?” He looked confused. He said, “No it is a professional relationship. Nothing more. Why?” I didn’t want to admit to snooping, so I responding vaguely with, “I’ve noticed some things”.
He didn’t persue it further and neither did I. But I was pissed about how unreceptive he was about hearing my thoughts. So, I said to myself, “Well, fuck it, if he isn’t open to talking to me about things, then I will talk about it with other people.” I started talking about what was going on with him and his coworker with pretty much anyone who would listen. Flash forward a few weeks later and one morning before he went to work I exploded. I told him that I read all of their texts and that the relationship was completely out of line. He looked shaken and remorseful. He promised to quit and never talk to her again. I saw that he started updating his resume, and the personal texting stopped (she was confused). Then he found out that I was telling our friends what was going on. He felt vilified and I heard him say to a friend, “Everyone thinks I’m having an affair, so maybe I should.”
He never ended up quiting and the texting with her started up again despite our starting couples therapy. We stopped because it wasn’t working. The affair turned physical and now we are divorcing.
What nags at me is that maybe if I was more discreet and didn’t blab to anyone who would listen, that he was having an emotional affair, maybe he would have followed through with ending things with her. What do you think?
I think grown ups want to fuck. Sorry to put it vulgarly, but that’s the gist of an “emotional” affair. Okay, okay, it’s a deep, abiding friendship between kindred spirits. Star-crossed pals who happen to share a cubicle. The Great Platonic Nothing Going On Here! That Dare Not Speak Its Name.
They want to do the horizontal bop.
Oh, your mind is in the gutter, Chump Lady. People can have friends of the opposite sex! Or same sex! You fail to see the nuance! Some people have deep, emotional connections to the Other. It’s okay to have FRIENDS. What are you, the Friend Police?
Grown ups don’t invest a ton of time in each other, spend every available weekend together, and enthuse about their awesome “friendship” unless they want to get in each other’s pants. Yes, that is my cynical view. (You read my mail for a week and tell me what YOU think, skeptics.)
It’s just “professional”? Professionals don’t send pictures of their sons’ haircuts. Or socialize. Or wax poetic about their awesome connection. They do whatever they’re paid to do.
Professional people have boundaries. Unprofessional people have sexual harassment lawsuits and get ugly letters from HR.
So your husband was smitten with a co-worker. Instead of being straight with you about that, or being straight with the counselor about it, he continued his barrage of Awesome Connection.
We have a classic case of It’s Not What I Did, It’s Your Reaction To It That Is The Problem.
His enmeshment with his coworker isn’t the problem, it’s your telling people about it.
If you hadn’t told anyone, he just would have gone on texting her forever. Content to share toddler haircuts and gossip about Suzy in Accounting. But no, you MADE them fuck each other! You planted that thought in his head! So, of course he had to do it! (Why don’t you plant some other thoughts in his head, while you’re at it, like full custody and a generous divorce settlement?)
Look, it’s not optimal that you’re triangulating with other people, for support, a reality check, or to Compel Him to Behave. Because all that did was distract you from the reality that a) he’s not supportive b) he’s gaslighting you, and c) he’s behaving how he damn well pleases without regard to you.
What you should’ve done is figure out what’s acceptable to you and acted on that. Silent treatment? Not acceptable. Constant attention to the coworker? Not acceptable. Being a shit on Mother’s Day right after you birthed his child? Not acceptable. And figured out what YOU were going to do about it.
You don’t need consensus to know there is a problem. You needed acknowledgment from HIM that there was a problem. He sent you a VERY clear message — he was okay with his emotional affair. He didn’t give a shit what you thought. So — do you want to try counseling with him? Or should you move right to the divorce lawyer consultation? Because those are the options he left you with.
You tried the counseling — he wasn’t invested. That leaves divorce lawyer.
Did he “try” to stop it?
He never ended up quiting and the texting with her started up again despite our starting couples therapy.
Apparently not. And all that did was ramp up the Must Have You! drama to the physical. (If they weren’t already fucking beforehand.)
He gave you a brief window to do the pick me dance, but really, he was already checked out. And now, he’s blameshifting his lack of investment on to you. (Yawn.) Same ol’ cheater same ol’.
Quit blaming yourself. You didn’t make him cheat. Hey, as long as you’re telling people… Tell Ms. Employee of the Month’s husband what been going on. And maybe the HR department too — after you get your settlement, of course. Let those legal Chatty Cathys work out the power of disclosure.