I am in desperate need of advice and some virtual support. I am in a very dire situation that has me deeply upset and scared of what could come.
Background: DH and I have been married 8 years, together for 11, and are in our 40s with two young kids. We were long distance when we dated and were engaged, and then moved to the same city six months before we got married. While dating, we weren’t totally exclusive in the beginning, but obviously were by the time we got engaged. A few months after we were married, I found out he had had a last hurrah with an ex for one night. It occurred when we were engaged but hadn’t yet moved to the same city together. He had broken all communication and told her he was planning to marry. She figured out how to contact me and sent me a message. I confronted him, he was mortified and remorseful, we entered months of individual and marriage counseling and ultimately stayed together. We have done complete open access to communications and have check ins with a counselor from time to time. I’d say I had built back trust to a decent level, and didn’t think about the infidelity every day. We have had 8 years of a mostly happy marriage. It hasn’t been perfect but there has been respect, communication, friendship, decent amount of romance (harder with small kids and work travel).
Two weeks ago, DH came home extremely upset. He told me he had been fired because work found out he and a colleague had had sex which is against policies. What’s worse, the other person confessed to her DH and has (we think) been coerced by him into reporting it was not consensual. By reporting the allegation she has been protected from being fired, which would have happened to her as well for her part in the act. There is an investigation but he has not been charged with anything. He is on administrative leave and has retained attorneys.
He has — I believe truthfully which I know sounds naive — told me the series of events as is. They were on a work trip at the same location, had drinks with colleagues after the work event, and then she said she wanted to show him some photos on her laptop from a hobby they been discussing and they went to her room. He claims they were chatting then she leaned in and told him she thought he was attractive, put her legs on his lap, and they kissed. They stopped and talked about what’s going on here (she is also married with children) and she got up and went to the bathroom. He stood up to leave, she came back, then they kissed again and had sex. Afterwards they discussed that it was a bad decision and he left. The next day they talked again in person that it was a terrible mistake, she asked for everything to just go back to normal, he agreed and they traveled separately back from the trip. Before and after this incident they had never flirted or communicated in anything but a professional manner. This was somebody he worked with occasionally and with whom he claims has never flirted or had communication outside of professional capacity at work. It wasn’t planned or "a long time coming" or similar. I’ve reviewed all text messages and emails and everything is completely up to code. The nature of his work requires emails cannot be deleted; they go to a server. He has pulled up the server entries so I know nothing was deleted. Same for his cell statement which I have been through.
He described (on my insistence) what happened to prove it was consensual. There were different positions, foreplay, things she joked about "my DH is going to kill you if he finds out." He has sworn on our children’s lives that it was consensual. Though I have little reason to trust, I do believe him. He is not capable of a crime; it’s just simply not the person he is. Her words and actions also don’t fit somebody who is a victim: The next day she emailed him inviting him out to dinner with two other colleagues before they flew back from the trip but joked he was probably tired from presenting at the conference so understood if he wanted to pass. (He did). We also ran into this woman and her husband, whom we’ve met a few times at work events, about two weeks after the incident at a restaurant. She came over from her table to our group four times to talk during the course of the evening, was happy and friendly, complimented something he had recently done at work. She ran into him at work the next day and said she was sorry she crashed our party but that we were more fun. He thought they had just made a terrible mistake and had agreed to move on and had been professional after the fact. He presumed she was on the same page from her words and actions. Until he found out she was now claiming it was not consensual.
Not only am I dealing with infidelity, I can’t even start to address it because of the serious allegation made against him. We live in a small community and are involved quite a bit, and some know he was let go and there is an investigation just not what for. Some friends have reached out just to say they’re sorry and are here for us, but others are giving a wide berth (understandably). We are not talking to anyone about what it going on other than each having a single designated confidant to confide in.
We are deeply scared of what could come. There is no evidence, just her word versus his. All he has are communications showing professionalism and colleagues who were with them up to a certain point; they knew she had stayed to show him the photos but of course had no clue anything was or did happen after. She could say she was drunk (they were all drinking but nobody was drunk), or that she was coerced because he is senior to her. Her word is stronger here and despite the rage I have for both of them for being so disrespectful, I’m MORE concerned about my DH going to prison for something he categorically did not do. If he is charged and it goes to court it will be wildly public and awful. And my children could lose their father. The investigation will take a long time, we were told, potentially months, and because she is claiming she’s a victim the first component of the investigation is only focusing on her, and her story of what happened. He will not be asked for his side at this time, which is hugely frustrating, and why we have attorneys right now.
I don’t know what to do other than try to get through each day. Our kids are cared for, DH and I are each trying to set up mental health appointments. I am not sleeping or eating well and am completely spaced out. I’m getting by at work and with the kids; they are too young to know anything is going on thankfully. He and I are being civil and managing logistics while he focuses on his attorneys and what could happen. His future career is in jeopardy and I don’t make enough to support us or even me and the kids solo. We are not rich but aren’t paycheck to paycheck. For now he is being paid. I am trying to deal with scrutiny and knowing people are gossiping about him/us, which is crippling to me.
We have been talking each day about the future. He is despondent that he hurt me and wants to make it work if I am willing to try. I’m not willing to do anything other than not make a decision right now because there is so much else at stake. In some sick way because we did so much therapy and work when I found out he had cheated before we were married, I’m almost numb to it because I’ve been hurt so deeply already and already "did all the work" to come back from it. So what’s another round? There are bigger things to focus on for now but I am completely drowning.