I spend a lot of time thinking about the chicken and egg question — which came first, the death of the marriage or the affair? My soon-to-be-ex said that it was never good from the beginning, (which would be 35 years ago). I know that isn’t true, but I don’t know when things started to go bad.
Now that I know what a crappy person he really is, I suspect there were signs years ago that I either didn’t understand or ignored. But what I really believe now is that he would have at least put some effort into the marriage (other than going to marriage counseling and lying) and I wouldn’t have heard ILYBINILWY if it hadn’t been for the affair. I now believe that, being the impulsive and addictive person he has always been, he got involved in an affair because it was fun and exciting. It was new and, of all the things I could not be, I could not be new.
Once he got involved, he couldn’t stop because he can’t stop anything he gets over his head about — drugs, drinking, traffic violations, binge eating. I was always the mommy and it’s not fun being married to mommy, even if that’s what he made me. Once he got into the affair, he found out how “wonderful” she was — he couldn’t even think of one bad thing to say about her, except she didn’t like it if he put his elbows on the table. She was so “loving” (puke here).
Anyway, my point is that I have been beating myself up for years. (It’s almost one year past the fourth and last D-Day and I am waiting for the final divorce decree.) Every time he wanted to come home to me, he ended up leaving again because he “missed her so much.” I remember every cruel thing he did — we were on an isolated beach on the Virgin Islands, just the two of us — when he said he didn’t love me for the first time. Even though that was five years ago, I can go back to that feeling in a second. And there have been many other instances of hurt and cruelty.
He told me (referring to her) “even a word can get you hard.” He also called me from the pharmacy where he was buying Viagra in order to have sex with her, and told me that I should watch porn by myself — the implication being that maybe if I was as skillful sexually as she was that he might have stayed. Then there was that time that he charged 64K on my Amex for his business, didn’t pay it, and walked out because I was “nagging him” to pay the bill and not ruin my credit. She supposedly didn’t want any money from him; she just wanted him to be happy with her. (Yeah, right.)
Part of me believes that he and the OW ran off into the sunset and will be very happy, while I am left alone at 60. The logical part of me knows that he drags misery wherever he goes and he will soon ruin that relationship, which started out with the stink of betrayal and lies. It would be easier for me to know that I didn’t waste 35 years (40 if you count before the marriage) with this asshole and that some of it was real. (Of course, I have my son, who is the love of my life.) I do believe that he had to justify what he did by saying that the marriage was dead before the affair started. But I would like to know, which came first — the death of the marriage or the affair that killed it? Was this an exit affair and, if it was, why did he come back four times before I finally had enough?
Does it matter? Dead is dead. Does it matter if the corpse was crushed to death by a falling piano, bludgeoned with ball-peen hammers, or poisoned by a genetically modified cookie? It’s DEAD. That’s either a sad thing (wow, Bob had a good inning, we’ll miss him!) or a relief (Bob, what an asshole, set another place setting, Satan…)
What exactly is the point of your autopsy?
Who killed Bob? Bob killed Bob. Was Bob a waste of 35 years? He sure sounds like a waste of space. But that chump question is best answered by realizing that YOU were real, that you invested, that you loved — and that’s the only story we control here — our own.
And that’s where your focus needs to be — not on “was this an exit affair?” or “was Bob ever truly happy in 35 years?” or “why did he keep coming back to me?” but “Why did I tolerate an asshole like Bob?”
I realize you had many years together and deep sunk costs, but when someone tells you they don’t love you anymore, the proper response is “Buh-BYE.” NOT the Pick Me Dance. Not being part of the rotating cake buffet. Not sitting around to listen to their many suggestions of how you can improve yourself. (And when they do that? Share! “I should watch porn to improve my performance? You should watch Jane Austen. I need you to be an early 19th-century English work of fiction. With a castle. Why can’t you be more like Colonel Brandon?”)
Did the marriage die before your ex had his affair? I don’t know. Maybe it did. News to you, I’m sure. Then it was incumbent upon him to either try and save it with some therapy, or leave honestly, fairly, and definitively.
Marriage counseling is fine if you’re in an actual marriage. You know, with TWO people. Then, sure, share your sexual fantasies and frustrations, work on how you both can improve yourselves for the better. But when a partner is cheating? Then it’s just a pick-me-dance competition. That shit is doomed.
Your ex is a typical cheater. Why did he come back four times? CAKE. And because you continued to be of use to him. (Or your American Express card did.)
By your description he was cruel, unfaithful, and financially abusive.
Part of me believes that he and the OW ran off into the sunset and will be very happy, while I am left alone at 60.
You were “left” without a cruel, unfaithful, financially abusive fuckwit. That’s GOOD news.
He didn’t get a character change when he left. He’s still the same creep. She “won” a creep.
Hope she’s got a good credit score. She’s gonna need it.