Back again after 9 years. Wife had an emotional affair (let's face it, it was liekly physical as well, but I'll never really know) in 2013 which resulted in a looong road to eventual R. Things have been great and we've had two more kids since then, and really ticked off some amazing things in terms of work and our own lives. The affair is now a memory, well in the past, and we did a lot of work to get over it. I'll admit, at the time, it took everything I had. Fast forward 9 years.
To set the scene: Wife has been struggling fro a bit in regards to life in general and the usual malaise with COVID and a busy work life. We have done well to get through it, and the kids are thriving. We have both suffered from a bit of anxiety and to be honest, the last few months have been a bit of a struggle. I ended up in hospital with a panic attack (which I thought was a heart attack - thankfully it wasn't!) a few months ago, which took me by complete surprise. Evidently I was dealing with a lot more latent stress than I thought - but who hasn't in the last two years, right?
We both have very busy and stressful jobs, and we've been drifting slightly apart in regards to emotional intimacy. Physically, we have a great sex life, but we just don't make time for ourselves. Without too much information, we talked about the possibility (and I stress, possibility) of MAYBE going to a swingers club for a laugh - not necessarily to do anything - but to get out of the grind and have a laugh. We are both sexually very open in regards to things we'd like to give a red hot go, and so we've floated the idea a few times or perhaps having fun with another couple - but we've never acted on it. Whatever floats your boat right? I have stressed over and OVER again that if we did anything, it would be as a couple - there would be no polyamory situations of 'dating' anyone else. If a bit of fun happened with like-minded firends, so be it. And it likely wouldn't anyway. We opened a couple profile on a 'couples' app that leans that way just for a laugh and to see what was out there. And that was it. We hadn't messaged anyone, nor were we really looking to.
As a side note, we have friends whose marriage is a bit rocky at the moment after the husband went away for work and had an affair. He's now decided he 'might be polyamorous' and his wife (bless her soul) is trying to work through this. She's been a saint really, and is trying to understand it. I made a comment to my wife that I thought his excuse was pure rubbish, but of course she took his side and could 'understand that it might just work for him'. I noticed she also started reading a book 'The State of Affairs: Rethinking (?!?) Infidelity' by Esther Perel. I thought this was a bit odd, but it's all a rich tapestry of research, right?
To compound this, my wife is having to move to another city for a two year military posting next year. We agreed to not move the kids noting they have finally settled after years of moving, and we promised we weren't going to do it to them anymore. This isn't a huge problem under ideal circumstances, we have dealt with this our entire careers and I am more than happy running a FT job and tkaing care of the home front. Besides, there are plenty of opportunities nowadays for flexibility, and she can always come home and work from home from time to time.
Anyway, in light of the above struggles and a bit of a lack of emotional intimacy, the wife suggested we see a marriage counsellor just to do a 'health check' on the marriage and work out some ways we can improve it noting everything that is going on. We also agreed that if it felt right, we'd bring up the idea of experimentation if we felt comfortable with the therapist. We have our first session, all is great. We talk openly, I do the homework on love languages etc and I'm feeling good about it. I go away for an overseas work trip, and we get ready for our second session. This was a few days ago.
I'll also add here that my in-laws are staying with us due to it being the last week of the school holidays. It's great having them down to see the kids, but you'll soon see why this swiftly won't be so great in the next paragraph!
Second session is going great, we're having a great chat about ways we can improve our emotional intimacy (wathcing a TV show in bed so we can cuddle etc), and I mention that I am feeling a bit insecure about the upcoming posting noting we had to rebuild trust after wife's affair in 2013, and so I was feeling understadnably a little anxious about next year. All is great until wife drops an absolute clanger: 'Yeah so I am lacking emotional fulfillment from the marriage, and despite my best efforts to convince myself that I'm not like this, I really think the only way to get fulfillment would be from seeing other people in an ethical non-monogamous relationship or relationships.' You could have heard the therapist's mouth drop....probably matching my own. I instantly went into flight-or-flight mode, and that feeling I first felt back in 2013 on DDay came flooding back. Needless to say, I went into shutdown; I was present in the room, but I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The therapist sucked his teeth, looked at me and said, 'how does that make you feel?' I replied, 'I feel like I've just been had.' I also mentioned that her posting is now like an hourglass, we are swiftly running out of sand as the time flies this year until we are faced with its reality. And now in light of this information, my anxiety has just been compunded exponentially. The session was a blur after that, I struggled to take anything in. My blood was throbbing in my veins, and I broke out in a cold sweat while my stomach flipped. This wasn't a case of, 'oh hey we've thought about perhaps being comfortable enough sexually to maybe experiment, this was full 'I want to see other people and I want you to understand it and be fine with it eventually'. I was f#%king ropable.
At the end the therapist said, 'I really think you two should go and get a coffee at the end of this and talk.' My wife suggested that would be a great idea. Still seething, and barely able to conjure a coherent thought let alone hold it together, I mumbled, 'No, that;'s not going to happen - I need to go to work.' I paid, my hands shaking, nonchalantly mumbled goodbye to my wife, and got in the car and drove to work. I didn't leave work until 8pm that night. I simply couldn't face going home. I eventually did go home, kissed the kids goodnight and just got in my gym gear and went and worked out until 10:30pm. Other than my kids, home is not a space I want to be in at the moment. I left for work at 6am this morning, and stayed there all day again. I eventually felt compelled to come home (I desperately love seeing my kids), but I didn't speak to my wife. I can't tell you how akward it is to make small talk with the in-laws like nothing is going on, while my marriage feels like it has blown up.
But here's another rub: When we set up our seperate-but-couple profile on that app, I don't think she realises that my notifications let me know that it dings my phone when she logs into the app. Long and the short, she is logging into the app multiple times a day. This app isn't like Tinder, and noting the niche and the size of the city we live in, it's not like there are large numbers of people creating profiles on it daily. I can seperate the curiosity and/or boredom of just looking at profiles from the idea she's messaging people/couples WITHOUT me (another strict boundary we agreed on when all this talk started), but in light of all of the above - it's not looking great. She's been on it 3 times in the last 12 hours alone.
I had a mini-panic attack in the car (just a fluttery heart, countered by some deep box breathing), but I drove myself to the doctors and unloaded everything (without specific details). He is ex-military as well and he has prescribed me anti-anxiety medication. Noting the potential side effects, I'll start that course on Saturday to be safe.
I'm also very bloody angry that she has dropped this at literally the worst possible time; I am trapped in the house with her parents and I am now expected to slowly chew this dripping excrement sandwich while maintaining a cool and calm demeanour. She asked quietly to talk tonight and I told her no. My anger is absolute.
To be honest, I feel like the whole marriage counselling push was for her to validate droppng this bomb. She evidently wants this far more than I do, and she doesn't seem to understand why I have some reservations, and probably more correctly, clearly defined boundaries. I said to the therapist, 'this isn't asking me to try a food I haven't eaten before, this is asking me to move to Mongolia; when I have absolutely no desire to do so. It's asking me to try and 'fall in love with Mongolian culture' when I know full well that I have no interest in the culture whatsoever because I like Japanese/French/Canadian culture instead.' Weird metaphor I know. At any rate, the therapist now wants to see us 'on our own', which (and I could be wrong) is usually codeword for 'shit has just spiralled out of control and I need to see what's going on!'
I'm at a loss. It's Friday tomorrow and she's going out with girlfriends tomorrow night. I'm leaving the house early again so I don't have to deal with the whole uncomfortableness of this rockshow, and I really have a good mind to pack a bag tomorrow and just leg it for a few days. Hell knows my body is screaming at me to do so. Any advice would be appreciated from anyone who has gone through similar, or advice at all really. Thanks for the read, it's good to get it out regardless.
Who needs a drink....