I've probably written and re-written the start to this post 10 times. Sorry if it's not particularly well written but im not in the best of places right now.
Married for 10 years. She is... was my everything. The only person that i've ever met that I have ever wanted to spend my life with. I wasn't the perfect husband... I know this. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve and tend to bury my emotions, but I was fighting that. I had trouble with some aspects of intimacy that related to past trauma... but I was trying to be a better man! I love my family so much. Rightly or wrongly I've linked a lot of my happiness and self worth to my family unit.
COVID restrictions were hard on her. Right before it hit she had left a job under bad circumstances that hurt her greatly (there was some bullying and general nastiness involved) and she found herself stuck at home and unable to financially contribute. I was still in work and was able to keep us afloat financically but her self esteem was hit hard despite me giving what assurances and support that I could. When the restricitions were eased she started to get involved with a local youth organisation. I was all for it! It played to her strengths, it was something that she sincerely loved and was good at and so I threw all of my support behind her! She got more involved and started going on organised weekends away with the kids... and this is where everything felt like it went to hell
I've always pointed to that first weekend away as when everything changed. She came home afterward and she was distant, standoffish. I asked what was up and she assured me that nothing was the matter so I left it. She started going on nights out with the other guys involved in the org and again I thought great, no problem, so happy she's making new friends! The nights out became more frequent and the distance between us felt like it grew. It got to the point where I broke down, told her that it felt like she was drifting away. Even specifically told her that it felt like everything had changed after that first weekend away. She told me that nothing had changed. I was breaking my heart to her and she said reassuring words, but was cold about it? Like it annoyed her to be having the conversation.
She disengaged more and more - not just from me but from other things. It was at the point where I was the only one in work, while also being responsible for all household chores and anything else that, frankly, she didn't see as a fun thing to do.
The weekends away continued and so did the nights out with her starting to arrive back home later in the AM. I asked myself if she was cheating and I utterly hated myself for even having that thought. My general mood changed - I became short tempered with our son at times. I pathetically craved the few times that she showed me affection.
Fast foward to January and the night before our son's birthday party (which was happening before lunch time next day). She announced her intention to go out on the night before the event and I made the point that being out 'till 3-4am in the morning wasn't exactly a good idea given that we had a lot to do. She agreed, acted like I was nagging but still agreed and said she'd be home at a reasonable time. I wake up 5:30am next morning and she isn't home. I check for a text message - nothing. I called her, a couple of times and she eventually answered. I ask her if everything is ok, maybe a bit more frantic that I should have been but I was worred, and she blows me off. Tells me that that she was having trouble getting a taxi so she's sitting in someones house waiting for one, and then she hangs up on me (she later claimed that I hung up on her). Hours pass, she eventually gets home and I, probably wrongly, blow my lid at her. I tell her that if she was struggling to get home then it would have taken nothing at all to drop me a quick text message so that I wouldn't worry. She agrees, she nods and smiles but I can tell it's just that y'know? Saying the right thing just to end the conversation. She takes herself off to bed for a few hours and I attend to the usual morning chores to get them out of the way before the party prep. Eventualy she levers her arse out of bed and proceeds to sit in her usual smoking spot, glued to her phone. After a time we started getting things ready for the party, loading cars and the like, and I happen to walk past kitchen bench and notice that she's left her phone there, unlocked. It was a surreal moment, telling myself that I was an awful person while my hand reached out towards the phone, swiped down to see notifications and saw that first whatsapp message. Without going into too much detail it was very VERY obvious what had been going on and where she had been that night.
At this point it's a blur. It was like temporary insanity. I marched into the other room and slammed my fist down on the table and shouted 'who the f*** is [name]'? She froze, she tried to shrug it off, she denied, she said some really clichéd things (even had the gall to be offended when my response to 'I didn't mean it to happen' was 'what, did you trip and fall on it?'). Her Dad was there and heard everything. I walked out of the house and I kept walking... I dont think that I had a thought in my head other than 'get far away from this'. I missed my son's birthday party, something that i'm deeply ashamed of, but how the hell could I go and plaster a smile on my face after what I had just found? I was utterly destroyed.
My father-in-law kept things going for the sake of my son and the party still happened, though it goes without saying that my boy was upset that im not there. FIL confronts my wife. My mother-in-law confronts my wife. They both tear her a new one.
Anyway, fast forward a bit - I end up home after she begs me to come back. I apologise to my son and beg for his forgiveness, not just for the party but for all the times that I had been short with him recently. I feel like the complete arsehole.
We talk, she begs, we cry. She admits that this other person is someone from the youth org (remember that first weekend away that I mentioned earlier?). I lay out the terms for me to even consider moving forward one of which is she can have absolutely nothing to do with this person and never be voluntarily in a position where she would interact with him - which would mean giving up the org. She goes to bed and I eventually pass out on the couch. The next morning we talk again and she's hesitating about agreeing to my terms because she doesn't want to give up the org. I lose my cool, why should it even be a hard decision? How dare she put this other thing above our marriage? She rings her parents begging and sobbing asking them what she should do and her mother again tears her a new one. Tells her that I should throw everything of hers out of the front door and kick her out. I somehow end up in the car with her father and he's trying to keep me from having a full blown meltdown (he is one of my favourite people!) He takes me home, I walk in and she looks crushed. She tells me that she agrees to my terms and wants us to try to move forward. I say that I appreciate that it's going to be hard for her to give up the youth org but it's not a situation of my making right? I tell her that she needs to appreciate that the process of healing is likely going to span years and she says that she understands this.
The next few weeks are hard, I can tell she doesn't know what to say or do which I can somewhat understand? Where is the manual for this stuff? I blow at least once, how the could she do this etc? and we keep talking it out. However, the entire time she's moping around, shoulders sloped, because she can longer work with the kids. I can empathise with this to an extent y'know, I don't like to see her in pain but still... a bit of perspective please? She's given up something that she did for less than two years whereas i've had my entired worldview shattered. It's hardly comparable!
So that was the start of this year. Things did feel like they got better, if only a little. I could never shake the feeling that she is only half-engaged with the relationship and that there was some very obvious general resentment on her part about what she had had to give up. I reiterated several times that while I empathised about the fact that she had to give up something that she very much loved, it was a condition that she agreed to in order to move forward with our relationship. She argued that I should be able to seperate her working with the kids from the fact that this person would be involved and I shot that down. I asked her if the situation was reversed did she really think that she would be able to accept my continued interaction with the person that I had cheated with? She started to say she would be able to - I shot that down as well.
At more positive times we talked about building something new, hopefully something better and I told her what I needed to get there. I told her that I need to be made to feel safe, secure, wanted... things that you never think that you'd have to say out loud? We go on trips away together. Once outside a train station she grabs a hold of me and kisses me and in that moment its bliss.
She gets a new job in the care sector. It's a perfect fit for her however it's a lot of hours per week and our son struggles with seeing her less - but as it gives her fulfilment we work with it.
I'm sure that some of you are thinking that this guy is a spineless dick. Why on earth did he not just kick her out and have done with it? Why did he swallow so many spoonfulls of s***? Well, beyond my feelings for my wife there is my son. I have a little boy who is the most sweet, kind, sensitive and pure soul that you can imagine. At times i've thought about what it would be like to have the 'parents are splitting up' conversation with him and I get a picture of his little face in my head, of what it would do to him and my mind just recoils from it. When I found out what was going on (D-day is what you call it right?) the thought of what it would do to me little boy if we split up was very much a part of why I went back so quickly. Somebody will likely tell me why that's wrong and unhealthy but there you go.
Last week she seemed down again and even more disengaged than usual and I ask her what's wrong. You guessed it, she's down about having had to give up working with the kids again. I try to empathise but I've had enough. The truncated version of events is that I get emotional, angry even, ask how the we are ever going to move on if she is always going to have one foot in the past? Also, I don't need regular indirect reminders of this other persons existence!
We go back and forth, there's tears and then she drops the bombshell - the words 'I don't think that I want this anymore'. I lost my head a little, called her self absorbed, selfish asked how the f could she keep doing things like this to someone she claims to love?
This is where I am now. I talked about the situation with my FIL and he worries about his grandson and thinks that we should try to keep things going, basicaly a sham marriage, until we both believe that our son is emotionally stable enough to handle the situation. Part of me sees the sense in this (for my son's sake), the very angry part of me wants to very publicly blow the lid off of this entire situation (but I know that would hurt my boy). I've pulled no punches and told her exactly what she has done to me but now it feels like im at the bottom of this pit that she's dug for me... she says that she's sad that im being cold towards her? What did she expect?
I'm sitting alone at home writing this. I feel hollowed out. My self esteem and sense of worth is so low as to barely be worth mentioning. I'm flip-flopping between extreme sadness, anger and the need to make sure that my son never gets hurt by this again. I'm haunted by the memory of the person that I spent so many years with and would give anything to have that person back. I'm absolutely sure that I could have been better, done more as a husband... but i'm not yet so broken as to think that any of that justifies what she did.
How do people put one foot in front of the other in situations like this? How do people who cheat on those that they claim to love not realise what a perfectly constructed hell that they create for them?
The worst part? I still sincerely love my wife
F*** me right?