Dear Chump Lady,
This is the first time I have put our story out there into the infidelity community.
We have been married 30 years. We have 6 beautiful kids. My wife is kind, intelligent and beautiful. I like her so much as a person. She started drinking around 2007. It got worse and worse. I tried everything to help her. She started having alcohol withdrawal seizures 2 or 3 times a year. She stopped taking care of herself and began losing weight. We, her family, saw all this first hand. To the outside world she seemed great. Even in her decline she was kind, beautiful and smart. She published 3 very successful books. Made a great name nationally and internationally in her category.
We watched her decline with sadness and horror. After a while we could not bear it any longer and to protect our hearts we pulled away emotionally. Family still looked great to the outside world, but internally we were a shell of the loving family we had always been.
Right before the pandemic started our second oldest daughter told me mom was having a 5-year affair with another married man in town. We live in a small town. He was the perfect dad all the mothers thought. (My oldest said this story is the exact same a the TV show Pretty Little Liars.) His five kids had grown up along side ours. Our wives were good friends. I never liked or disliked the guy. Anyway, she had a 5-year affair with him. Starting around 2015.
I found out from very trusted people he was a sexual predator in our town. That he targeted women with low self-esteem and addiction issues. That my wife was like number 7 on his list of victims. My friend said have you noticed how many families have left town seemingly innocently. I said yes. He said look more closely. Almost 6 families sort of unexplainably had left town over the years. Then I looked more closely they were all members of our childrens play group that this guys family belonged too.
I also know from things I read and her friends that he kept my wife drinking to continue the affair. Once confronted, my wife said she did not want a divorce that she wanted to work things out and stay together. She is still drinking. I love her and I know she loves me. She told me she thought I fell out of love with her a long time ago. I said it was the drinking, I could not bear to watch you hurting yourself. But her affair is now part of her addiction. One cannot stop with out the other stopping. The affair guy was not happy we want to work it out. It is my understanding he never intends to leave his wife. But he still wants my wife on the side even if it destroys her.
Here it is in a nutshell. Even though all her closest friends have told her he is using her she will not believe them. She thinks he is her friend or lover. During the 5 years she told her friends and him I was abusing her physically. She kept going to the hospital and falling down while drinking and had bruises everywhere. She told everyone you would drink and have an affair if you were married to him.
Our kids are older and have stood by me so everyone now knows this is not true. They love their wonderful mother with all their hearts but cannot believe she has done these things. My wife is a romance writer. I feel so much guilt that I drove her into the arms of a predator I cannot bear it. I love her. But like the drink, she is now addicted to the affair and him I have been told. Who knows. I can no longer tell up from down.
Our marriage began a rebirth in the summer of 2020. He was not happy, but my wife and her friends said she had made a clear decision to be with me. That she never saw a future with him nor wanted one. Then in Oct 2020 she had a massive seizure. She has been in the hospital since then with brain damage. She may never be the same. I have stayed by her side all year in the hospital and will never leave her till she recovers, if that is possible. She asks me all the time how can you still love me after what I have done to you? I ask her the same about me. I tell her I will stay by her side forever. The only way I will ever leave is if she asks me too. That me caring for her is not an exchange. She could tell me now she no longer loved me and will leave me once well. I will still care for her till that time. My heart will be broken but more than anything I want her to be happy. If not with me so be it.
Her cognitive baseline can be very low and very high. Who knows what the future holds only God. I recently brought her home after a year in hospital. I am scared beyond words this will not work. Her thoughts can be all over the place, so he comes up sometimes. It is never “I want to be with him. It is like he is a friend and the sexual part was meaningless.” An escape or as she called it before the seizure, recess like in school. There is no way to deal with this while her brain is so injured. There is no villain or good guy here. Just two people who got lost.
My mind goes all over the place. Happiness she is alive and we are together. Fear the moment she is well a day or 5 years from now she will seek him out. That I will never be able to trust her again. She told me throughout the year I was alway the one she loved and wanted to be with. That she was shocked I was so devastated by the affair because she thought I no longer loved her and would not care. That she had decided to throw her life away. Why not? She had lost her husband. Her kids and her career. Why not have an affair to escape? I hate this guy more than I can say. Everyone including my wife’s friends have said take the high road. I try. I am not an innocent bystander in this. I did make my wife feel this way. I do not care if she was drinking, I could have shown more love. She is the most wonderful human being I have ever met. More than anything we have always been friends. Maybe there is no way to figure this out except take it one day at a time. This is probably unanswerable.
Oh, it’s answerable. She sucks.
This is how you want me to read your letter: You’re a noble man loving a wonderful woman through a difficult journey and you shall be rewarded for your steadfastness! No matter how much she hurts you! Her happiness is all that matters!
(Are you sure you’re not a protagonist in one of your wife’s romance novels?)
This is how I actually read your letter: Spackle. Spackle, spackle, sweet hopium delusion! Snorting spackle. Freebasing spackle. Injecting pure-grade spackle into your veins… Spackle shakes…. more spackle.
We are not a unicorn methadone clinic here, John. I am not the person who’s going to tell you to work with this. I traffic in bitch slaps. And I don’t even know where to begin…
How about: You think she’s wonderful, and she tells people you abused her.
Nonstarter? Or how about you pick-me dancing with not one but two adversaries — the bottle and the Other Man. Either one of these things makes her UNAVAILABLE for a healthy relationship. Two of them? Fuck this shit, John. You’ve got nothing to work with.
Even in her decline she was kind, beautiful and smart.
She’s not kind. She cheated on you. Lied to your face for 5 solid years. Risked your health with STDs and COVID. Beautiful? Delirium tremors aren’t a good look. Smart? She’s an idiot who risked a loving marriage and six children for fucking strange. An escapist who thought she’d be the heroine in her own bodice ripper.
Why are you polishing her image? Where is your anger? Why is SHE the victim here?
I found out from very trusted people he was a sexual predator in our town. That he targeted women with low self-esteem and addiction issues. That my wife was like number 7 on his list of victims.
Bullshit. Here you want me to believe that, what? He raped her for 5 years? Later you say she says it’s an escape, like recess in school and the sex was meaningless.
Seems to me your wife has plenty of self-regard. She thinks she can fuck around on you with impunity and hand out bullshit excuses for it. Her Happiness is the most important thing.
This trope, that the affair partner is a wily predator, is a staple character of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Oh poor Waywards! They know not what they do! They were lured by that mean, mean Schoompie.
Adults have AGENCY. She consented to a 5-year affair. It’s a decision she made — that “smart” woman.
Moreover, she BLAMES you for it. Oh! I didn’t think you loved me!
Do you see the ever-shifting mindfuckery here, John?
Even though all her closest friends have told her he is using her she will not believe them. She thinks he is her friend or lover.
Here’s some irony. Do you have any close friends telling you that your wife is using you? While you persist in believing she is your friend?
Is it okay with you that your wife wants another lover? Is that the marriage you want?
During the 5 years she told her friends and him I was abusing her physically. She kept going to the hospital and falling down while drinking and had bruises everywhere. She told everyone you would drink and have an affair if you were married to him.
I feel so much guilt that I drove her into the arms of a predator I cannot bear it. I love her.
You did NOT drive her to an affair. You didn’t do ANYTHING to make her cheat on you. We don’t compel people to abuse us. She could’ve had an honest conversation, therapy, consulted a divorce lawyer. Instead, she chose a 5-year affair.
Do you think imposing a small consequence — emotionally withdrawing from her alcoholic chaos — made her cheat? The recovery professionals will tell you to Detach with Love from addicts. Where is HER self-recrimination for cheating and drinking? All I’m reading here is how she wants to retain her good opinion of the Other Man.
she is now addicted to the affair and him I have been told.
Who told you that? It’s bullshit. Anyway, even if you believe in sex addiction (I believe in sentient adults with agency who do asshole things for escapism), her addictions are NOT your problems to solve. They’re HER problems. And you don’t control it. In the scary can’t-save-her sense AND in the this-isn’t-your-fault sense.
There is no way to deal with this while her brain is so injured. There is no villain or good guy here. Just two people who got lost.
Who wrote this story? I feel like your alcoholic, cheating romance writer wife wrote this. How tidy. How devoid of accountability. I’ll just say my husband was beating me for 5 years to garner sympathy for my abuse of him. No villains here!
Our marriage began a rebirth in the summer of 2020.
Uh-huh. In that she’s still cheating and drinking kinda way.
He was not happy,
WHO CARES, JOHN?! But I get it, joyous rapture… you thought you won the pick me dance.
She asks me all the time how can you still love me after what I have done to you?
I’m wondering that same thing.
That she was shocked I was so devastated by the affair because she thought I no longer loved her and would not care. That she had decided to throw her life away. Why not?
Apparently she has enough cognitive function to mindfuck you.
Was she going to discuss this with you? Or her 6 children? I suppose they didn’t love her sufficiently either. Nice how it’s everyone else’s fault and she’s the sad sausage.
Everyone including my wife’s friends have said take the high road.
You reference your wife’s friends a lot. They aren’t your friends. They knew she was cheating on you and didn’t tell you. They’re co-conspirators. Anyway, what they think doesn’t matter. This is YOUR life — is this marriage acceptable to you? You owe her nothing, brain injury or not. Work out a settlement to cover her insurance and be free, is my vote.
I am not an innocent bystander in this. I did make my wife feel this way.
John, if you have superpowers to make your wife feel things, then I’m sure you would choose to make her love you and treat you with respect. It’s so funny how your superpowers only conjure rejection.
She is the most wonderful human being I have ever met.
In that My-Husband-Beats-Me lie kinda way.
I think you need to meet more human beings.
Or like, actual human beings.
More than anything we have always been friends. Maybe there is no way to figure this out except take it one day at a time.
Maybe call a divorce lawyer.
If she feels threatened by that, say, hey we’ve always been friends!
If you can live with the incongruity of words and deeds, so can she.