Hi Chump Lady,
About 10 weeks ago my soon-to-be-ex-wife had been staying out later than usual at the club that she manages. I didn’t think anything of it, seeing how she runs it and works hard. I trusted her that if she needed a ride she would call. Well, it continued and on Halloween, I went to bed around 10 and she was not home. She went to meet a friend of hers for a drink. I spoke with the friend who had left at 10 o clock. I woke up at 1:30 and she was still not home. I panicked and called her phone and she didn’t answer. I called the club and no one answered. So I went there.
I found her in a jeep with another man, who turns out to be her emotional affair partner. Luckily when I got there, there was nothing physical going on. (It could have happened before I got there or it was just getting ready to). The nights that she had been staying out late, that’s who she was with. I got her home and confronted her. She denied doing anything wrong and she was belligerently wasted. She walked out of the house and I followed to get her home to talk. In the meantime, she had called the AP to come get her. I got her home once again and she dropped her phone. I found it and checked and found a text message from him: “It’s so hard to sit here and not touch you.” I can’t honestly remember what her reply was because I was so shocked. That was my wife, who swore up and down in our 8 years together that she would never cheat.
I confronted her about it and she just shut down. She walked out of the house again and went to stay with the AP. She came back the next day saying, “I’m sorry, you must hate me.” She also gave me the line of “I don’t know who I am outside of our marriage.” We decided to take some time to figure out what we wanted. She continued to stay with the AP and within a week she told me that it had turned physical. A few weeks went by and we talked again. I asked her if she thought our marriage was worth saving. She replied, “I don’t know how we go back from here.” I told her we couldn’t go back from here, we had to move forward and I would do whatever it took to save our marriage. I got “I am not in love with you anymore.” I believe in the vows I took, apparently she didn’t.
I told her that if she wanted a divorce, I will give her one. We are currently in the process of getting stuff ready to file. She now has her own apartment. We met last Saturday to discuss the house and some financials and she told me stuff like she hasn’t been happy with anything for awhile. That she thought when we took our anniversary trip, it would rekindle our relationship. Apparently I never got that memo.
In two weeks since D-day, she moved her stuff out of the house and had her AP come to our home to help while I wasn’t there. That’s ballsy!
Her job is quite stressful and does take a lot of her time. I would always try to check and get an idea of where she is at mentally. I would ask her if she was happy with our marriage. She would always tell me yes she was. Apparently she’s a really good actor. I wasn’t happy with how the marriage was playing out either, I was doing all the housework and taking care of the dog, cooking and cleaning. But, I was never unhappy with the woman I married. I was unhappy with the circumstances of our marriage at that time.
Lastly, she told me that she never cheated on me and I explained that if you are talking or sharing information with another man that you should be sharing with your spouse, you are already on your way there. She also told me that she was sorry for “wasting my time”, and told me that she thinks she’s a failure. So I texted her the other day as a last ditch to save our marriage. Poured my heart out and all I got in return was “I am so sorry, I don’t feel the same way.” Now I realize that she was already checked out and there was nothing that I could do to save my marriage.
My question — is this my fault for not picking up on her unhappiness? I am not a mindreader and we weren’t the best communicators. Things kind of got into a rut in our marriage, but that is no excuse for stepping outside the marriage.
Is there more I could have done? It’s really bugging me.
I was going to lead with “No, her unhappiness is not your fault.” Add some hugs, and a few words of uplift. But I doubt some strange blogger on the interwebs is going to convince you of your innocence with a platitude. So, for the sake of argument, let’s say her unhappiness IS your fault. Let’s say, you’re a horrible ogre with a unibrow who only wears pilled sweaters and smells of sauerkraut. And every time your wife tries to build a little block tower of happiness, you knock it down. BAH!
And let’s say that happiness is the greatest virtue. It’s more important than keeping your word, or integrity, or protecting orphans, or the rule of law, or getting free shipping on your next order. No, her happiness is THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS. (Not your happiness. You’re an ogre. You only enjoy destroying block castles. Just HER happiness.)
Now let’s look at this.
Your cheating wife has a whole decision tree of available options.
She could make a clean break. Eight years with a joy-sucking monster is a long time. What gives? That’s an awfully long investment in someone who fosters such misery. Maybe she’s a masochist?
But hang on, happiness is the greatest virtue! If she wishes to maximize happiness, why would she seek pain with an ogre? That makes no sense.
She could communicate her values and her expectations. “I’m sorry Ogre Breath. I need constant joy and an ever-rotating display cart of desserts.” She could keep you apprised of her happiness levels. “OMG, the German chocolate cake made me happy, but then Oreo pudding turned a corner and I’m confused.” She could tell you in clear language what she needed to be happy. “STOP knocking over my block castles and fetch me some chocolate!” (Instead of dealing in vagaries like “I don’t know who I am.”)
Or whoaaa — she could act responsible for her own happiness.
Because even if we accept that you suck, and that her happiness is The Most Important Thing, there is still nothing in the bylaws that says her happiness is YOUR responsibility.
And so we come back to what she did. She cheated on you. She bullshitted you. (Dude, it wasn’t an “emotional affair.” She was having sleepovers and late nights long before you caught her. You really believe that timeline?) She called her idiot affair partner to “rescue” her (you meanie!) instead of behaving like an adult and leveling with you. She let you continue to invest in her. When you repeatedly asked her what was wrong, she let you keep investing in her. (So she could keep extracting value from you.) And when you confronted her, she got “belligerently wasted.”
We decided to take some time to figure out what we wanted.
She was living with her affair partner. Is that what YOU wanted? Around here we call that cake-eating. What’s with the “we”? Do you see how you’re taking ownership of her bullshit?
When you questioned her about why all of this was happening, and made a heartbreaking offer of grace, she responded with “I am not in love with you anymore.” Which is a total non-sequitur. Your lovability (or hideousness as the case may be) did not make her cheat. Her character did. Her lousy choices were made with full agency. To reply that she doesn’t love you, is to imply that you compelled her to do this. One has nothing to do with the other.
The IRS: Tracy, why did you not pay your taxes?
Me: I’m not in love with you anymore.
My mom: Tracy, why did you eat the last of the Christmas cookies?
Me: I’m not in love with you anymore.
My husband: Tracy, why do you keep stealing the covers?
Me: I’m not in love with you anymore.
Fact is, I’m a cookie-eating, cover-stealing scofflaw and my inner warm fuzzies don’t make me any more or less guilty of my offenses.
Put another way — our faults, real or imagined, do not drive others to abuse us. You cannot make anyone do anything. You tried your best. Moreover, you offered to try harder where SHE had failed (cheating).
All of which to say, this is not your fault. This is not on you, it’s entirely on her.
Please take good care of yourself and get a kick ass lawyer. Best wishes for a new and improved life in 2018.