My husband of 25 years is a really good father/uncle/church member, who is friendly to everyone and is generally a very nice guy.
He is also a well-meaning though largely clueless husband who doesn’t really understand what emotional partnership means, though he has an inflated sense of romance, loves chick flicks and desserts, is an emotional adolescent who gets sulky if I imply I am upset with him for something, has not much interest in sex, (not that he’s particularly skilled), and does not usually grasp what I am upset about when I am upset, unless it a) explained very clearly to him, and b) isn’t blamed on him, and c) isn’t too emotional, because he has a “problem with emotional outbursts, like raised voices.” I have contemplated leaving many times, but he’s such a nice guy…
Six weeks ago I found out he had a 7-month affair that ended six months ago, though they “remained friends,” on his pleading, for three months after that. There was BDSM involved, and threesomes attempted, neither of which I thought he had ever heard of. They met online, through an online matching service.
When I confronted him, he admitted that though he was only ever looking for friendship, the friendships only began to have a sexual element ten years ago. Because the sex was meaningless, he considers the lot of them irrelevant. He has not denied that one per year is still 10 women, and has admitted one for three weeks, one for three months, on for five months, blah blah, but insists that he only had one affair, the one last year, because she was the only one he fell “deeply in love” with (was that before the whips, or after, I wonder?). This was while we were in marital counselling, by the way.
Anyway, he is extremely sorry about that affair (the others are, according to him, irrelevant, so he will not discuss them), and “knows it was stupid”. He is being all nice now, helping in the kitchen (didn’t even know he knew where it was), coming home on time (7:00 p.m.), spending time with the teenage kids, complimenting me.
This stuff is so far from who I thought he was, clueless, adolescent, and emotionally flat as he was, that I am having trouble comprehending it. It’s like saying someone came from 1796 in a time machine, and while you believe it, you really can’t believe it. It would be so easy to forget that he wrote the woman sex poems, and kept a running tally of the BDSM equipment they liked, and confessed to her he is only staying with me because of his assets (ha ha), and has had sex with (he insisted he didn’t “sleep with” (what an idiot) any of those ones…) a number of “friends”, met on the internet.
I look at my kids and wonder if (chump alert!!!) this is not a good enough reason to disrupt their very smooth lives (though an unhappy mother and the polite but non-affectionate parental relationship they have grown up with are good reasons to reboot them). It is just so hard to comprehend that all that crap is from the same person I share a bathroom with.
Would you be able to spare a large bucket of ice water ? I need to douse my head.
Hand-knit socks are nice. Puppies are nice. Chocolates on your pillow are nice. Men who tie women up and whip them in secret are not nice.
Apologies to any 50 Shades of Grey fans out there, but the guy sounds nuts. It’s not just that he gets off on sado-maschochist sex — it’s that he’s been living a double life, for at LEAST a decade, that he admits to. My guess is he hasn’t much interest in sex with you because he needs the thrill of deceit and the threat of violence to get a boner.
Now if I were Dan Savage, I’d say something like, poor man, he just wants to share his kink, and his kink is so very important to him, and he was just too emotionally fragile to share it with you, (oh, the judgement!) and if you’d stop being vanilla and try to be more understanding, he could coax you into a kinkier sex life. Yes, it was shitty of him to do this behind your back, but the important thing is He’s Getting His Kinky Needs Met. Buy a leather harness and a trapeze, be game and giving, but whatever you do — Don’t Break Up the Children’s Home!
Fuck that noise with a studded dildo, SoCal. He’s a serial cheater. He’s “clueless, adolescent, emotionally flat” AND he’s a serial cheater. A real combo plate of delight, that one. He’s been holding you and your kids hostage for cake. He knows you don’t want to destroy their stable home life, and so he gives himself carte blanche to fuck around on you, give you the scraps of his attention, and then correct you if you get uppity about that. “No raised voices!”
Oh, but he’s “nice.”
How about his excuse for online dating? He was looking for FRIENDSHIP? Doesn’t that strike you as a slap in the face? What about you, his wife — aren’t you his friend? Can’t this “friendly” guy find friends? To say that is a dig at you, SoCal. A subtle implication that you let him down and he must seek solace elsewhere. (Well if you had been a FRIEND….) He’s blameshifting.
He’s also minimizing (“the sex was meaningless”) and refusing to be transparent (“they are irrelevant so we need not discuss it.”) Even if you wanted to reconcile, you have absolutely NOTHING to work with here. He’s without remorse. The only thing he has to fall back on, what he’s hooked you in with before, is Nice. He helps in the kitchen. He acknowledges the existence of his teenagers. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?
His “kindness” is an insult. It’s window dressing. He betrayed you, exposed you to a decade’s worth of STDs, and his failure to acknowledge that in any meaningful way is cruel. He’s upping his game, ever so slightly — a compliment! be grateful for the kibble toss! — so you don’t divorce him and take away his cake.
Divorce him. Talk to a lawyer immediately. Start auditing your finances and figure out how much of your marital resources have gone to his alternative reality. Don’t tell him any of this. Let him keep washing dishes and being a church deacon — you quietly go on the offensive and make your escape plan. You just learned of this 6 weeks ago — you’re in shock. I know it’s very hard, but you need to fight back. This guy isn’t a time traveler from 1796, he’s your enemy.
It’s okay to be furious. It’s okay to raise your voice, or weep, or be completely immobilized by the enormity of his lies. But you must, MUST protect yourself.
I know you feel that protecting yourself from him is betraying your children in some way. It’s NOT. This is NOT on you. Do not model this dysfunction to them. Life is going to toss them some tragedy too, no one is immune — what you are doing now is modeling to them how to handle adversity. How to not take shit. How to rebuild your life. Stick up for yourself. You are deserving of so much more than his abuse. Yeah, I said abuse. His infidelity, his endangering your health, his passive aggressive schtick — it’s abuse.
Read on this forum — so many of us had to break divorce news to our kids, and watch the fall out. We’ve gotten to the other side — and thrived — and you will too. Please take the long view and save yourself from this “nice” man.