More than 6 months have passed…and I am doing so much better.
First off, let me just start by expressing my absolute heartfelt thanks for the support, encouragement, tough-love, blunt advice, and kind messages that I received from this community. The huge outpouring of support I received here brought me much needed strength.
Next, a brief history of my story - a TL;DR, if you will:
- Married for less than 2 years; dated for a few years prior to our wedding.
- In early 2021 I started getting suspicious … something felt "off" with my wife’s "friendship" with a coworker.
- Had a chat with her in May 2021 when she basically told me that she "needed space", among other things. Basically she tried to blame me for the "issues’ in our marriage. Also she refused to participate in couples’ counseling with me.
- In June-ish(?) I first posted here, worried that she was having an emotional affair. I got like 45 pages of advice, comments, suggestions.
- Confronted my wife, she denied, denied, denied. Implemented a soft-180 and noticed her picking up on my behavior change.
- Eventually she came clean, I told her we were getting a divorce. She tried to get me stay, arguing that a divorce was "drastic" and we should merely separate.
- I moved out on August 2, 2021. Across the country to a new job.
- Divorce was finalized just over a month later.
I am doing much better than I was six or seven months ago when I was posting here about my ex’s infidelity and my divorce.
Like, objectively so.
- I have a fantastic job, which is MUCH better than the one I left.
- live in a great city, close to family and tons of beautiful outdoor activities.
- have an amazingly fun, loving, and loyal dog
- get to travel for both work and for fun at least once a month (I’m typing this from an airport bar, returning from a trip where I visited old friends who I left when I moved away)
- am making tons of new friends
- have started to go out on dates and spending more time with girls, it’s been fun!
- Continuing my therapy and improving myself mentally.
- Have a consistent weight lifting routine and am improving myself physically
- I am developing my skills at playing guitar and getting into new hobbies
- I bought a new truck to help take my dog and I on many adventures.
And Best of all: I have started to set clear boundaries to help me live my own authentic life and value myself for who I am. I realize now that I was treated terribly by my ex-wife, who for many years in our relationship merely took advantage of who I was and my kindnesses. I allowed myself to be a "doormat" for far too long. The friends that I went to visit for the Super Bowl this weekend each pulled me aside and told me how proud they are of me. They know the circumstances of the divorce and the infidelity. They each told me that I deserve better, that they wish I had seen that value in myself sooner. They told me that my ex wife is…basically just living life as a shitty person. They don’t have much contact, or even friendship, with her anymore (and a couple of these friends have known her for like 12+ years! And are still not willing to maintain sincere friendships with a person who would do this to her husband). My friends made me feel so loved, so respected, and made me realize for the first time in my life that when I go against my desires to always "be selfless", and take care of myself and put myself first, I become a stronger, more confident, and happier person.
Now, all that said: I still have rough days. I still get triggered by a bad dream every now and then, or by a song that played at my wedding, or one that I sang at a concert with my ex. But these bad moments are certainly outweighed by the good moments I am living in this new chapter of my life. Things are only looking up from here.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am about to board my flight home - and get ready for a date with the cute lady I’ve been spending some time with lately.
17 comments posted: Tuesday, February 15th, 2022
Christmas has been…a hell of a lot harder than I thought it would be.
I thought I was doing okay. I thought I could distract myself. I thought I could pretend that the first Christmas post divorce would be alright. I went on a trip with my family to celebrate the holiday. It’s been more frustrating than fun. Seeing my parents and my siblings all interact with and hug and hold hands and talk with their significant others has been super hard on me. I feel like just these last couple of days of "Christmas vacation" have knocked me backwards a few yards on my path to healing. I felt like I was doing so well - and BOOM - it’s like I opened a closet and all this infidelity-related trauma and PTSD started pouring out.
I felt miserable all Christmas. I Still do. I just want to be alone at this point. I’m way over my social limit right now, with all these heavy feelings about to spill out of me. On Christmas, I couldn’t help but think about all the holiday traditions and memories I made with my ex-wife and ex-puppy over the last several years that are suddenly, cruelly, lost out the window. The holiday brought back all that sadness I felt throughout this year. All the betrayal I felt. The anger at my ex wife for not being willing to communicate with me about what was really going on. For making me feel that it was somehow *my * fault. For leading me to believe that she was willing to work on things, but doing nothing to actually demonstrate that. For leading me on, letting me think that me doing what she told me she needed, for "giving her space", was all to help us... and she was going behind my back and investing all her time and energy into pursuing another relationship.
I keep beating myself up. Thinking about how I feel so down and miserable and broken up so often and how I have all these pieces I have to pick up to start to put my life back together and she has...seemingly nothing like that. She got to keep the house we lived in, the dog we raised, the friends we made, the restaurants we loved...the new boyfriend she started dating while we were married. And here I am, terrified of being alone forever. Nervous to start interacting with women again someday. Clueless as to how, or when, to even begin.
I’m upset about how things ended. I’m angry at myself for not speaking up sooner, for the things I left unsaid. For not defending myself when she was treating me poorly. For not calling her out on her shit (like staying out till 2am, getting drunk and "watching movies" with another man while her husband stayed home...what the hell is that!?). For not making it abundantly clear that I was being hurt and felt disrespected and that lines were being crossed in our marriage.
It makes me so sad to think how she didn’t even seem to *fight* for us. How I wasn’t worth her just telling the other guy "no" or cutting things off the moment they started to get even *close* to "the line". Why wasn’t I worth that to her? How much of our relationship was bullshit to her? How much of it, if any, was real? I remember how fucking devastating it was when, after I told her we should get divorced, she cried and said that seemed really drastic and that we should try a separation for a few months first. I responded, "why, so you can just fuck around with Mark (her AP) for a few months and *then* decide you don’t want to be with me? No, let’s get it over with now." I told her point blank several times that we could not improve our relationship while the other guy was a part of that relationship too (because, no matter what she said, he certainly was a part of it--against my will and knowledge). She always refused to cut him out or deflected and told me he had nothing to do with "us". I asked her one last time to cut ties with him and she flat out said no. I knew it was over.
I’m angry that I lost friends when I moved. I was planning to get season tickets to the local NFL team near where I used to live and go to football games every week with them. Now, I watch them on TV and feel like shit that I’m not there with those buddies I got to know and subsequently lost.
I don’t want her back. I don’t want anything to do with her. Well, that’s not true. I *do* wish I could know if the way she handled things has fucked her up as much as it’s fucked with my head. I know I’m not ever going to get that closure from her--but I wish she could truly know how badly she made me feel, how absolutely torn apart and broken I have been. I wish I knew that she was feeling guilty and torn up for how she treated me. A Taylor Swift lyric has been hitting close to home with me lately: "just between us did the love affair maim you too?"
I miss coming home to someone to talk to. I miss having someone to text memes and inside jokes to. I miss having someone *miss* me. I miss being hugged and kissed. I miss being desired. I miss going on long drives and listening to meaningful music and holding hands with my partner. I miss having a partner and now... months after the divorce, I realize with her...I never really even had a partner.
Anyway. Sorry for the ranting. Why do I keep hashing this out? Why do I keep thinking these things? Having the same arguments with myself over and over again?? Why can’t she get out of my head??
13 comments posted: Sunday, December 26th, 2021
One chapter of my life closes; the next is just beginning...
Guess what I came home to today? Correspondence from the court containing the final decree of dissolution.
It is done. My marriage is officially over.
I feel...strange. "Numb" is probably the best way to describe it. I am relieved, but I can also feel a thick lump stuck in my throat. The good thing is that everything is done--the legal matters are settled; financials are all sorted out. I officially have no reason to be in contact with her ever again. As far as I am concerned, my past life with her (while still a big part of me) is in the past and that is where it belongs and where I will strive to make it stay.
I tried hard to work on the marriage, before her emotional affair bubbled to the surface. And while I know that I have my faults (and certainly, they are many), I know that my love for her was real and powerful and that is why this hurts still. I gave my heart to another person, someone I thought I could trust more than anyone and who would reciprocate that love and companionship and loyalty...and she tossed that aside. I know that I tried my best and I would have done everything for her and for our family...but she chose to throw that away. She checked out of our marriage; she threw away our vows; she failed to be honest and true to me and that is what matters.
Thanks to all of you beautiful internet strangers who have followed my story. Who have provided me support and love and care from across the planet. I never would have guessed that in my lowest moments, the most strength and love I would feel would come from people I have never met in real life. This community is wonderful and I truly don't think I'd be here without it.
As cliché as it may be, the lyrics to Taylor Swift's "All Too Well" have been very meaningful to me through this separation and divorce, particularly:
And I know it's long gone and there was nothing else I could do
And I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to
I know that there was nothing else I could do; and nothing else I needed to do. I made the best choices for myself, planted my feet firmly facing forward, and started down a path to a new life for me. I know that it will take time for me to heal and that I need to allow myself to mourn and to grieve...but I know that eventually, I will forget about her. There will no longer be "good times" or "bad times" just..."time". She is my ex-wife. And that is all.
Finally, from "All Too Well", again:
'Cause there we are again when I loved you so
Back before you lost the one real thing you've ever known
I know that I loved her and that I treated her so well and she threw it all away for some asshole dude who thinks it's just all fun and games to go after another man's spouse. She lied to my face, denied any wrongdoing, gaslit me and manipulated me. She refused to acknowledge my feelings. She made me feel for so long like this was all my fault. Like there was something lacking in myself and that I was the one who needed to do more and give her space and...and...and...
Fuck it all. It doesn't matter anymore. I loved her; she lost me. She lost one of the best things that was a part of her life. I would have given her a lifetime of happiness and she tossed it to the side. She did it because she is selfish and lazy and narcissistic and scared and a myriad of other things. The loss is on her - entirely on her.
I am going to stay strong. I will keep working hard. I will pick myself up whenever I fall off this "horse that is called life" and I am going to sit up tall and keep moving forward until I can look back and see this whole shitty experience as merely a dot in the distant horizon.
And out in front of me? I have a life, and it only goes in one direction: Forward. There is a beautifully vast landscape out there, a whole life of love and adventure awaiting me and my dog, Marley.
47 comments posted: Tuesday, September 7th, 2021
Divorcing, Moving Across the Country, New Job - so much change!
Please view my post in "Just Found Out" for more info regarding the background/lead-up to divorce. I just don't feel like typing it all out again :(
Status as of right now? The initial divorce filing has been served; just hashing out some portions of the separation agreement now. It won't take long to finalize. I have resigned from my current role and accepted a really great position at the top law firm in a city about thirty minutes from where I grew up. I will be moving back there (across the country from where I am now) on August 6 and starting the new job shortly thereafter.
Because of how fast this all happened, I'll initially be staying with my parents while I get settled with the new job, and figure out my own housing situation. But I am looking forward to living nearby my family (my parents, two siblings) who I am very close with. I also have lots of good friends out there who I haven't seen very much since I moved away about 6-7 years ago and am looking forward to spending more time with.
Given how fast all this is happening and I'm not certain exactly where I'll end up living - at least not for probably a month or two - I had to make a lot of quick decisions. My initial thoughts were to spend the next two weeks packing up my stuff and then load boxes and furniture into one of those POD things (for storage and moving). That way I could just have it shipped to the new location and stored while I figure out exactly where I will be living after staying with my parents for a bit. That way I could just drive myself out there, with my essentials in the car, and kinda turn it into a fun road trip to cool off with. Not having to worry about a trailer or a moving truck or anything - I could just stop by and go see some MLB games at various ballparks, hit up some cool craft breweries, or maybe see some new sights in states I've not visited before.
But, at the same time, I have to acknowledge that I am struggling right now. This shit is hard. I have good days; I have lots of bad days. I am trying to stay strong, but it is so difficult. I am doing my best 180 and grey rock; not helping out around the house at all; and just trying to take care of myself as much as possible.
Even though I've made this decision, and feel good about it, and feel like it's the right choice - I am still so scared and nervous. It's like I am packing up my whole life from the last 6 years and just flinging it away. It makes me feel badly that I am moving back in with my parents and I'm almost 30. Even knowing it is only temporary still makes feel like I'm just kinda...losing it. Returning to my hometown area makes me feel like I'm taking a step backwards. Like, I moved out, got my law degree, got married...it all felt like I was forging my own path and now? I'm just retracing my steps. It's hard to feel confident and strong in my decisions now and going forward when I feel like I've lost ground.
I have zero motivation to pack or move furniture. I've packed a few boxes of books and winter clothes and stuff. But the more I look at it and the more I see all the other stuff I have, the more I'm just like: "Do I really need or want any of this?" Plus, the POD thing seems like a great idea, but it's going to end up being crazy expensive at a time when I'm going to be straining a little financially until things stabilize a bit more.
I almost would rather just fucking leave it all. Just pack my Civic with my clothes, my essentials; maybe rent a small trailer or something if I need a little extra space; and then just get the hell outta town. Do my little road-trip and get some "me time". And then not look back.
I don't really want most of the furniture we have anyway. It's going to remind me of her and of getting it with her and stuff... I thought about some of it (like the grill, the bar cart I have that I really like, my home office desk)...but ultimately, I'm not going to be able to even use any of that for a few months anyway, given that I don't even have my own place yet and don't know for sure when or where that will be. And when I do figure that out, then I could just buy new stuff myself!
But then my brain flip-flops and thinks, "You're still being WEAK! You're giving her EVERYTHING! Take it all! Take everything! GET OVER IT."
Ugh. This is all so HARD. It messes with your head in so many different and surprising ways. I know I need to do what's best for me - but like...navigating all these little nuanced details and making the tiny "every day" decisions that comes with a divorce AND a big move AND a job change...man it is just a lot and it is hard to deal with and figure things out.
it's just...so much change, happening so fast and all at the same time. I feel like it hasn't really "hit" me yet. I feel so emotionally drained. I mean, I'm sad, I'm scared, I'm hurt, I'm angry, I'm frustrated, I'm nervous, I'm excited...it all sucks. I feel like I haven't yet had that big "release" emotionally...
275 comments posted: Thursday, July 22nd, 2021
Pretty certain my (28M) wife(27F) is having an emotional affair
Been married 18 months, no kids but one puppy, together for 6 years, and I (28M) think my wife (27F) is emotionally cheating on me and not actually willing to work on the relationship issues we've been struggling with. We are both lawyers; the "OM" described below is an attorney at her law firm, he is my age, too.
Need advice, encouragement, and perspective. (Long post, sorry!)
TL;DR: Based on my reading of others’ experiences, and various articles, and my own feelings, I am concerned that my wife is emotionally cheating on me (I share examples in the long thread). My therapist and close friends who know the details all think that my wife’s behavior is NOT OK, but I’m struggling with the best way to initiate a conversation with her that will be open and honest and productive. If she is emotionally invested in someone else, I don’t think I want to continue being in a relationship with her. But I want her to tell me that so I can have some sort of confidence in making my decision moving forward because right now I feel like I’m trying to stand still on shaking sands and I’m hurting and it all absolutely sucks.
Sorry for the long post. I'm happy to answer any questions or provide further details as needed--just ask! So things have been pretty rocky between my wife and I for several months. We had a rough 2020, (didn't most of us??) but I thought it was more due to the stress of my job, then COVID-19, then she lost her job and my job started getting worse as I felt a stressful anxiety to perform even better as the only income earner at the time. Then she started a new job and we sort of...drifted apart. Early this year we had a talk about this where I expressed my sadness that we are so distant and haven't connected in a long time. We haven't been physically intimate in nearly all this time tier. In early April I commenced individual therapy and it has really helped me process my thoughts and feelings and I've been actively trying to share those with my wife and be confident in being vulnerable and honest and genuine.
She told me, however, that she feels like she is smothered and overwhelmed and needs space--which I've tried to respect and give to her. Through all of this, though, she's indicated that she does want to work on improving things with me and getting to a place where we can both be happy. So I've had hope that if I keep trying and putting in effort, things will move toward a better place.
It hasn't. I don't know if anything I'm doing is helping or hurting. Giving space, trying to be more supportive of her, not trying to be controlling or restrictive....she still seems so far away. I find myself holding back things if normally be excited to tell her about because she gives off a vibe that I annoy and distract and bother her. I brought this up to her and how I felt like she's not putting in much effort from my point of view, and that I don't think there's a way to improve our relationship without actually spending time together talking about it and addressing it. She indicated that she had been "trying and putting in effort" for the past year and felt like i was the one who wasn't doing anything and now she's kinda burnt out? I apologized and said I can't change what I did or did not do in the past, but I'm ready and willing and trying hard to fix things now, but I need her help too.
She didn't have much to say to that. And because of the distance between us, I've started to notice how close she has gotten with a coworker of hers. A single guy, about my age. They see each other every day, go out to lunch almost every day (sometimes just the two of them, sometimes with others). My wife frequently stays late at work and, though not confirmed to me, I'm pretty sure he's always there too. They go out for drinks with coworkers and have attended soccer games together, just the two of them, and then gone out to bars and I know they've gone over to his place till after midnight as well.
This all makes me feel super uneasy and hurt. My wife doesn't do any of this with me. In fact it seems like a chore to her to have to spend time with me. But she willingly and gleefully seems to adore being around this guy (I'll call him Mark for ease of reference). This has been happening since like early March at least. I didn't bring anything up then because
1. she even mentioned to me that she didn't want to make me sad by hanging out with Mark, but that he's a "good guy" and had "never tried anything";
2. things were starting to get rocky between me and her and I wasn't confident enough to assert myself;
3. I didn't want to feel like the "jealous boyfriend type" and tell her she can't be friends with a guy.
Well, as things have deteriorated between us and I've observed her talking to him and spending what seems like most of her time with him, it's been hurting me more and more. I told her last week that they are making me uncomfortable. She asked "well, what do you want me to do about it?" And I felt very strongly that she should be the one to decide what she wants to do with the information I give to her about my feelings on her closeness with Mark. She never suggested anything, just said that I can "put my mind at ease about that" and it kinda tapered off into her accusing me of not trusting her. I told her that I do trust her to jot do anything physical with him but that I do not trust mark because I don't know him. She seemed taken aback by that.
After I told my wife that I was uncomfortable with her and Mark being together so much and their "friendship" or whatever it is, I felt very strongly that I shouldn't tell her what to do or anything. I didn't want her to feel controlled by me, but she also didn't propose anything to resolve this herself. The next few days I did notice she was at home more often and didn't go out for her usual drinks and happy hour with coworkers, which usually resulted in her spending extra time afterwards with Mark. I could tell she was sad and really down and I ended up telling her that I want her to be happy and do what makes her happy and I worry that she basically took that to mean that she should continue doing whatever she's doing with Mark regardless of my feelings.
I've spoken with my therapist about my feelings on this and what I'm wary about and what is giving me pause and anxiety about my wife's friendship with her coworker.
I told my therapist about how it makes me uncomfortable that my wife And Mark see each other all the time. That she chooses actively to spend more time with Mark than me. That she seems to constantly be texting him. That I've seen her sitting on the other couch near me, texting him long threads or continually chatting when I am lucky when she sends me three texts during the day.
...That she has on several occasions gone out drinking with him and then went over to his place and didn't get home until around 2am when he drove her home??? That just last weekend she brought our dog over while she went out with some girl friends and had Mark dogsit while I was out of town and didn't even tell me about that until after the fact...
That she seems to be happier when she comes back from hanging out with him or when she's talking him. That reminds me of how she seemed and acted when we were first dating and getting to know each other and that crushes me. I just have really weird gut feelings about the whole thing. From my perspective --which is the only one I have since she won't talk to me about this--I feel like lines have been crossed that should not be in a marriage. In fairness to her, maybe she doesn't think any boundaries have been broken. Or maybe she is "towing the line" and it's only a matter of time until stuff gets physical.
...I told my therapist that it hurt me when I explicitly told my wife last Sunday that her closeness with him is making me uncomfortable and uneasy she immediately responded with "well we are just friends, so you can put your mind at ease about that". And then immediately shifted the conversation to "well what do you want me to do about it? He's one of the few things that have brought me happiness and support lately" which absolutely crushed me. It doesn't feel to me like they are "just friends" and I can't shake the weird feeling. And it makes me feel so bad and guilty to feel like this, because I want to give her the benefit of the doubt and not assume the worst...but also I feel like my feelings are valid and deserve to be respected too.
Anyway, after I told her that I want her to be happy and do what makes her happy, this past Saturday night she went to a coworkers wedding with a big group. This has been planned for a while, it was a small wedding, and I didnt go. Mark was there. They all got super drunk together and then a DD brought her home at 1am and she was absolutely wasted and while I was helping get her into bed and making sure she'd be OK, she just kept repeating over and over "how's mark? Is mark ok? Did mark get home?" And I said "im sure he's fine. I don't have his number, you can find out tomorrow." Then she goes: "I know his number!" and started saying my number. That hurt. Then she kept asking about how he was doing and if he was ok until she fell asleep.
Now, a couple days out of that moment and still processing it, I feel even more like she's totally lost feelings and attraction for me and that she's not just friends with this guy but is more emotionally invested in him than she's willing to let on or maybe even admit to herself.
It's really hurting me and I can't get it out of my head and my mind keeps wandering and assuming things and I really want to have a real honest conversation about this with her but am nervous that
1. it's going to come out as accusatory and interrogative on my part and make her super defensive and dismissive from the get go; and
2. I get all hung up that I already "shut the door" on this issue and shouldn't rehash it with her because I already brought up that I'm uncomfortable with their dynamic and then a few days later told her I just want her to be happy and do what makes her happy.
I'm constantly hurting. I feel like a doormat. I wish I had figured things out sooner and stood my ground better. There's a pit in my stomach. I don't have an appetite. I'm not sleeping. I'm losing weight. I can't focus or concentrate. I worry all the time about if she's flirting with him or texting him sexual stuff or hugging him or if they cuddle when they're together -- all things she doesn't do with me. I get angry because he's a single dude who also actively chooses to spend all his time with a married woman--what's in it for him?? And then i feel guilty about feeling all this stuff...
Anyway. I'd love some advice. I just want this hurt to stop. I want her to be honest with me. If she's done with "us", then tell me. If she would rather be with him, then tell me. If she's emotionally cheating, I want her to know that, own it, and understand how it's hurting me.
How can I broach this subject with her? Should I? How can I get some...answers and definition about the dynamic between her and Mark but not in an accustory/interrogative way? Is she emotionally cheating on me? How should I confront this?
My therapist didn't really have suggestions for me beyond "yes you should have this conversation and you should firmly know going into what your boundaries for a married relationship, even one that's rocky, are and what is and is not okay for your partner to do."
I've confided in several close friends and my sister about the details I shared here and every single one of them thought it was fucked up, even for my wife to be doing in a marriage where everything was okay. That makes me feel a bit more validated, but I still don't know the best way to go about initiating this conversation and having it be an open and honest discussion where my thoughts and feelings can be heard and where she doesn't immediately feel defensive and defective.
Please help. I welcome any and all advice, comments, thoughts. And please be blunt. Feel free to DM as well.
[This message edited by CheesecakeBaker at 1:53 PM, June 22nd (Tuesday)]
548 comments posted: Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021