My favorite thing about your writing about cheating is how swiftly and ruthlessly you cut through the waffling to reach the unpretty but true things, and I need that right now.
In January, my husband and I were talking seriously about splitting up so that he could join a religious community. We’d been having compatibility issues for some time, mostly related to our politics/worldview. I’m very much a liberal feminist, he’s….not (despite being strongly interested in social justice issues earlier in our relationship). He had started researching which ones would be best and looking into travel plans. We’d talked it out and it really seemed like a good solution.
At the end of February, I found out he’d been having a torrid emotional affair with a woman he met on a kink website (that he had pressured me to also sign up for an account on because he was trying to convince me to have a threesome). They had made various concrete plans re: moving, our divorce and their marriage, and shared some very explicit photos and words; my husband felt it was serious enough that we talked to our 11-year old about the likelihood of “Dad going to live somewhere else because it would be best for him”.
And then all of a sudden — I’m still not sure exactly what triggered it — he had a complete change of heart. COVID obviously had made travel and/or either one of us moving out much more difficult if not impossible, so I agreed to tentatively see if we could work things out. This was in June, and since then he really does seem to have turned a new leaf. He’s leaving me love notes, making a real effort to say kind/complimentary/appreciative things, acknowledging the hurtful things he’s done and apologizing, talking about what an idiot he was to waste time when the woman of his dreams was in front of him, and our sex life is incredible.
But something is just… not right. Maybe it’s the quick way he went from “I want to be a monk!” to “I want to leave you to marry another woman!” to “I absolutely adore you and would do anything for you!” He does have a history of being really passionate about a project or topic, putting a lot of time and effort into it, and then abandoning it completely. I just feel like I can’t trust that he really means it this time; how sincere can his love be if he apparently was sincerely, deeply in love with someone else just a few months ago? He was diagnosed with OCD several years ago and I feel like it’s at play here, with our marriage being the latest topic of sudden, intense interest — constant, passionate involvement in subject — to equally sudden and almost total abandonment of subject of interest.
A final twist — also related to the exhausting, disappointing, confusing, hard-to-take-seriously cycle of obsession — he’s been obsessing in the last week or so over my sexual history — grilling me about how many guys I’ve slept with/dated/kissed and not believing me that it’s quite a small number — he says he finds it hard to believe because he finds me beautiful and sexy, but it feels like he’s calling me a liar, or rubbing in that few people found me desirable in the past. I was (and still am) overweight and shy so it’s kind of a sore spot for me, but since I keep telling him his disbelief upsets me and he keeps doing it, I don’t think I’m overreacting. One reason he thinks he knows things about my past that I’m hiding or misrepresenting: when we were first dating he found all the journals I’d kept since I was a teen, read them, memorized the “juicy” bits, and threw them in the trash. He also (currently) goes through my Facebook wall and asks how I know/if I was ever involved with various people who I interacted with 10+ years ago.
Context: We’ve been married for 12 years, we have an 11 year old child together, I’m the sole earner (and have been almost our entire relationship), we don’t have any real financial cushion as far as separating, his family lives nearby and mine live far away.
I’m not even sure what I’m asking you, to tell the truth. Maybe the fact that I am writing to you asking if I can trust him to be sincere now is answering my own question — I don’t trust him. I don’t think he’s being maliciously manipulative but I’m not sure that matters. Have you seen situations where the cheater genuinely comes to their senses and makes real, lasting changes? Is it worth giving it some time to see if this is real? If I do, how do I manage it gracefully for the sake of our kiddo?
Thanks for any advice or support.
I’m really sorry this loser didn’t become a monk. Preferably the kind that self-flagellates and wears sackcloth, lives in a cave and eats crickets. The silent, suffering sort. An alms-for-the-poor, medieval kind of monk. Alone in a cold village holding a tin bowl to beg for crickets. This letter would’ve been much improved with that ending.
Instead we got… you SUPPORT HIM AS THE SOLE BREADWINNER. And for that kindness he cheats, lies, and abuses you.
It would’ve been FAR easier if he had just left this shit show on his own and let the Holy Order of Fuckwits take care of him, but no, you’re going to have to un-chump yourself instead.
Yes you, Jenny. After a long recitation of crazy, at no point did I hear if this relationship was ACCEPTABLE to you. You don’t trust him. Okay. But you followed that us with Is it worth giving it some time to see if this is real?
YOU ARE UNDER ZERO OBLIGATION TO RECONCILE WITH THIS FREAK. Even if his contrition is real (it’s not).
1.) Are you okay being the sole supporting breadwinner for a fuckwit?
2.) Are you okay that he nearly abandoned the family on a whim? (I’m fine with that, just fervently wished it, but I’m not married to him. What exactly does he bring to the table?)
3.) Are you into kink sites and three-ways? No judgement if you are, but was that YOUR idea? Or did you feel like you had to go along?
4.) Do you want to keep a husband who promises marriage to another woman while married to you?
5.) Are you okay with a man who continually batter-rams your boundaries? Whether it’s sex sites, an affair, harassment over your former sex life, or throwing your journals in the trash after reading them — is this OKAY WITH YOU?
You get to decide. You MATTER. You absolutely MATTER. And as a liberal feminist, is this how you model to your son the way women should be treated? By keeping this abusive nutcase around him? Who treats his mom like shit?
(This is where I segue into my personal fantasy that Marty Ginsburg becomes an icon on par with wife, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Men aspire to be like him. People magazine names him Sexiest Man Departed. Hipsters wear his thick, 80s tax-lawyer spectacles as the apotheosis of cool. Women dump douchebags everywhere with the withering remark: “I’m sorry, you’re no Marty Ginsburg.” Supportive! Intelligent! Total team player! Child-rearing! Wife-adoring! #getamarty becomes an international campaign… )
Back to you, Jenny.
I found out he’d been having a torrid emotional affair with a woman he met on a kink website
People don’t get on kink websites for the friendships. They’re looking for someone to play kink with. He’s either having sex with these folks, or is organizing it. He was planning a future with this woman. Chances are excellent that he had a physical affair. If he didn’t, then your other conclusion is that he’s a person utterly divorced from reality who enjoys fantasy more than his family. Dealbreaker for you?
and our sex life is incredible.
Get STD testing.
He was diagnosed with OCD several years ago
You’re under no obligation to stay with him because he has a mental health diagnosis. Also having mental illness (a very common thing) is not an excuse to be abusive. It doesn’t matter what flavor it is in the DSM, what matters is — is this relationship acceptable to you? He has an obligation to treat his illness. A diagnosis is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
grilling me about how many guys I’ve slept with/dated/kissed and not believing me that it’s quite a small number
That’s emotional abuse. Try “None of your goddamn business.”
It sounds like talking to you about it is part of some kink imagining you with someone else, and maybe justification in his twisted head for fucking people who aren’t you. (Well, you’re just a dirty girl who gets around, so…)
No need to untangle it, though. “Grilling” you about something personal and none of his business? NOT OKAY.
I was (and still am) overweight and shy so it’s kind of a sore spot for me, but since I keep telling him his disbelief upsets me and he keeps doing it, I don’t think I’m overreacting.
You’re not overreacting. Did he tell you you were?
So what if you’re overweight or shy. Your former sex life (or lack of one) is still NONE OF HIS BUSINESS. Good people don’t harpoon our vulnerabilities!
And please change your internal script. I hope you don’t hang on to this loser because you think no one else would want you.
he found all the journals I’d kept since I was a teen, read them, memorized the “juicy” bits, and threw them in the trash. He also (currently) goes through my Facebook wall and asks how I know/if I was ever involved with various people who I interacted with 10+ years ago.
This is CONTROLLING and abusive. And fuck him.
And then all of a sudden — I’m still not sure exactly what triggered it — he had a complete change of heart. COVID obviously had made travel and/or either one of us moving out much more difficult if not impossible, so I agreed to tentatively see if we could work things out.
And then all of a sudden, he realized he would lose his sole breadwinner.
He has family near by. He can move out. Lawyers are available on Zoom. Please get one today. Put down the hopium. You have NOTHING to work with.
how do I manage it gracefully for the sake of our kiddo?
You sane parent him. You lose the loser. His relationship with crazy dad will sadly be his problem, but you can help him straight away by showing him what boundaries look like.
Enforce yours today.