I think one of the main reasons we generally react so badly to infidelity is because we neither expect it or plan for it. Even if we had given it any thought then we really don’t know how we would react until we are there. I think it can help to replace infidelity with some other, maybe more logical, understandable trauma.
Like if you wake up in the middle of the night and smell something unusual. Realize it might be smoke. Of course you get out of bed and investigate. You open the door to your kitchen and see flames. I think that for most of us it’s clear what we do: get everyone awake and out, call 911, maybe try to extinguish the flames, save valuables…
What we wouldn’t do is close the door and go back to bed hoping the fire will go away. We don’t negotiate with the flames. We don’t ask the firemen to only extinguish part of the fire. We don’t phone the contractor to fix the damage before the fire is out. We don’t spend time shouting out about the unfairness of the world and why you – a good decent guy – have to experience your home burning.
Fires in homes generally end in one of two ways: Once the flames are out and the damage evaluated you realize if the structure is still salvageable, if the damage repairable and if the loss can be compensated or replaced. In marriage terms this is what is called reconciling. The other option is realizing that the damage is too extensive, the house completely burned or is not worth recovering. That’s when you cut your losses and move on from the charred ruins.
Honestly – nobody here can tell you if your home (marriage) is so damaged from the flames that it’s totally unrepairable. We have seen marriages survive what most would consider worse, we have seen marriages end from what most would consider less. What we CAN say with 100% conviction and what extensive experience has show us is that NO MARRIAGE can survive or recover while the affair is ACTIVE.
Just like having the contractor start fixing the kitchen cabinets while the fire is still burning doesn’t make sense. Or replacing the wet carpets while the firemen are still dousing the flames. Just doesn’t work. Doesn’t make sense.
With that in mind it’s only sensible to do what you can do, rather than what you might want to do.
The distance and the separate nationalities might make things different and more complex. The distance is definitely not conductive to reconciliation.
These are the steps I would probably be looking at if I wore your shoes:
Right away – like NOW – get legal advice on divorce. Where would you file? Can you file in Florida? Does her being in Canada change things? What is the process? The big issue here IMHO is that MAYBE the one that files has slightly more control over the whole process. I would worry that if she files you might be required to retain a Canadian attorney, maybe have to go to court there in person or something like that. Having home-ground can be a benefit both in time and cost.
File. Beat her to it if she insists she wants a divorce ESPECIALLY if there is the threat of the divorce being processed in Canada.
It’s a process – it can be stopped if both agree and the one filing usually has (slightly) more control over the timing. Going back to the burning home analogy: Filing is calling 911. You don’t want the fire, don’t want the firemen spraying water all over your things, but even less you don’t want everything to burn. It’s doing what you need to do rather than what you want to do.
If you want to reconcile then let her know. But be realistic:
“Wife. I think we have something and would want this marriage to work. But I won’t share you nor will I stand in your way if you think OM is the one for you. I refuse to share and have initiated the steps to end our relationship, both emotionally and legally. It’s a process and takes time. If you want this marriage then you need to let me know but the further along I go the less likely am I to want to reconcile”
Don’t argue with her, her OM or her family. The situation is actually quite simple. No matter what they throw at you: You were neglectful, unattentive, a loser… whatever they throw at you. The stock answer is something like:
“Maybe so but that’s not really relevant. Whatever issue I or we might have had could have been dealt with and might have eventually led to divorce. That does not justify her decision to have an affair and hide it from me for so long. She was totally free to file for divorce or demand change at any time.”
Be truthful but factual on social media or whenever/wherever you tell people the condition of your marriage: “My wife is having an affair with OM. I do not share my wife and she does not want to end the affair. We are divorcing.”
Nobody “wins” divorce. You don’t get graded and the one that scores higher gets a medallion. Divorce is IMHO all about damage control. Have your attorney give you a fair and expected result and work from that. You can hedge your position, but the likely outcome will be the one the attorney originally suggests.
Don’t expect her family to take sides. They will – they will take HER side. But this can end in one of two ways: If you reconcile then the family will side with her and reconciliation. If you divorce… well… they won’t matter anymore. They will simply be the family of your ex wife in Canada.
With a pragmatic and realistic view of what lies ahead you create the base for your personal recovery. It’s playing with the cards you were dealt. Might be more twos and threes than Aces and kings, but two twos and three threes is a full house and beats a king and an Ace.