My husband of 11 years is having a six-year affair, which he told me about two years ago. After he told me, he started a cycle of leaving to stay with the other woman and coming back to me. By the time he told me about his cheating, they had a one-year-old son together. He has introduced this woman to his mother and siblings, who now have a very close relationship with her.
I noticed that since he told me about the affair he has used her to punish me for expressing my anger or feelings. If I complain about any of the hurtful things he does or says, then I can be sure that the following day he will move out of our home and only come back when he has “cooled down.” This cooling down can take weeks or even a full month. When he comes back he claims to have left her. It seems he actually does leave her during those periods, but when I make him angry, he goes back to her.
I am now at a point where I am too tired to entertain this drama. I want to leave him, but I second guess myself, because every time I am about to leave he suddenly acts like he has changed or claims that he was about to change.
This makes me fear that I may leave him and then he will become a good person to this other woman or the next woman. I also have fears of dying alone. I am 35 years old and I am a Zimbabwean living in South Africa. In black African communities, especially Zimbabwe, divorce happens but it is not the norm. People here, especially women, are encouraged to stay in their marriages no matter how tough things are and so finding a single person happens, but it seems to be rare.
Feeling messed up all over.
Dear Been There,
You’ve got a classic Cake Eater there. He’s got you and the Other Woman doing the pick me dance for his awesomeness. He leaves one, reels the other back. Stays for awhile, then leaves to reel the other back. Then blameshifts the whole sorry mess on to you. You MADE him leave? Not that it will make you feel any better, but I promise you he’s mindfucking the Other Woman in exactly the same way. He’s not with you — he’s “cooling off.”
Nice game he’s got going there. Everyone invests in him. It’s total centrality. And when one woman gets difficult, he threatens her with the Other Woman. And so privilege is maintained. He stays in cake.
BT, the only way to end this painful situation is to not play his game. Leave him.
Oh, but then he’ll straighten up! Then he’ll be perfect for the next one!
No he won’t. I’ve covered this fear before, it’s a common one. His promises to change, or to get you to invest in his potential, are just manipulations to keep him in cake. Judge him by his ACTIONS. For two years he has been leaving you and openly living with another woman and their child. That is who he IS. That’s his character. For four years before that, he was leading a double life, lying to you. That’s a lot of demonstrated evidence of who he is. The only person who matters to this man is himself.
Let’s say he changes (he won’t), he still has a son with the other woman and responsibilities to that child. That situation is not going away. These people will remain in his life and have a door into yours for as long as you’re together. Not to mention, they’re bonded with your in laws.
You don’t mention if you have children with this man. If so, do you want to model this sort of arrangement to them? Men can just have as many baby mamas as they want? Women have to take it?
You did not sign up for this. You married this man and he made a commitment of fidelity to you. He did not keep his promises. Leaving him just means that you accept his broken promise as broken. Deal off. To stay would be to accept new terms that disrespect you and make you a second-class citizen in your own marriage. A part-time option, that is until you say something to “upset” him. So the rest of your marriage will be walking on eggshells, catering to this idiot to keep him happy. No thank you!
If divorcing him makes you rare — okay, you’re a pioneer. Things will never change unless women have the guts to risk not being treated like crap. If you stand up, you’ll encourage other women to stand up. That little son of his might grow up to hear there was one woman who did not stand for his father’s bullshit and left him.
As for dying alone? You can have a very full life without this kind of abuse. You can reinvent. Maybe you can date someone who is not a black Zimbabwean living in South Africa. Maybe you adopt a child. Maybe you get a new group of friends who admire and respect you and treat you well. Maybe you will be beloved to others instead of isolated in a terrible marriage. So many possibilities, BT.
My advice to you is to leave him — and when he complains? Tell him you need a “cooling off” period. Permanently.
P.S. Please get an STD check. The OW might not be his only OW, and there’s a high rate of HIV transmission in South Africa. ((Hugs)) To stay with this man could be endangering your health.