Heartbroken says it all. I’m hopeful to get some advice from people who know how I am feeling … betrayed, violated, and lonely.
My husband ‘J’ and I have been married for 13 years (this past September), together for 16 years. My husband will be 40, and I will be 39, in March. We don’t have any kids, but have 2 awesome dogs, and have good paying jobs. J even has a side business that is starting to pick off the ground.
We’ve been very happy and had so many good memories over the years, even when life events throw a wrench into things (for example, J deploying to Iraq/Afghanistan, deaths of close friends / family, J finding out he has an 18 year old son and we never knew about). But, 2020 was an especially tough year for our marriage. I started having some health issues (causing weight gain and low libido) earlier in the year, he started ‘hating’ (his word) his job, we had to remodel due to a flood on the first floor, and J’s companion dog got cancer and died. And of course you have COVID, which has been tough on everyone.
In Aug/Sept, I noticed that J started getting frustrated with me more easily and our sex life (which was quite frequent in past years - 3-4 days / week) was almost nonexistent following my health struggles. We talked about it and we both agreed it was stress from life and was just circumstantial. Retrospectively, I know that was a mistake now.
Then in late-October, I was sitting on the couch with my husband watching a movie and I got a text. The text contained a simple message, “what do you think?”, and it included naked photos of my husband. I was in complete SHOCK! I asked him about it and he was forthcoming and explained he had gone on a pornographic website that a friend told him about, and the site was ‘interactive’ (eg, sharing pictures, videos, sexting, 3D video games). I couldn’t believe it. I personally think watching porn is healthy, but the idea of virtual interaction between my husband and another woman was just not acceptable to me. What’s worse, the photos were also sent to my sister-in-law as well, causing a lot of unwanted questions being sent my way.
After I got over the initial shock, I asked my husband to show me the site. I was curious about what was on there, what the attraction was, and wanted to know if it was a detriment to our marriage. J said he was ‘off’ the site and didn’t show me, but I was still curious. So, I set up an account on the site and I knew immediately after only a few minutes that that type of site was not good for our marriage. I communicated to him that he needed to delete his account (if he still had one) and to not do that ever again. J said he deleted his account and wasn’t on there anymore. Foolishly I believed him.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving and my husband casually brought up the idea of an open marriage over desert. I told him that I didn’t like the idea because of STDs, unwanted pregnancy, potential for either of us to fall in love with another person, etc. and I didn’t want to introduce that risk into our marriage during such a fragile time. Suggesting marriage counseling as an alternative. Again, SHOCK came to mind because hall passes, open marriages, swinging, etc. was all something we both said previously we didn’t want. This was a monogamous relationship. But, since it seemed ‘important’ to him, I told him I would think about it and we should talk about what was causing him to ask about this. And I didn’t exactly want to talk about it at his parents’ house over Thanksgiving if you know what I mean.
But, my life changed drastically after that conversation, even before realizing that it had.
J had two business trips (to the same location) scheduled in December (first week of Dec and 21-32 Dec), and when he came home he seemed ‘distant’. For example; Christmas Eve, he didn’t participate in any of the traditional holiday stuff that we do every year, and Christmas Day he didn’t participate in our family card game (my parents are in our COVID bubble and came over), couldn’t wait to get work done in the office, went on a drive in the car alone, etc. Even though we were having more sex, we weren’t arguing, etc. in December, I could tell something was ‘off’ with him!
On 30 December, he told me he wanted to go away for a few days to ‘clear his head’. That he felt really overwhelmed and needed some time to think things through. He deals with low-grade PTSD from deployments, so sometimes he needs that space. And because this seemed to be something that he really needed, so I said ok and we could pick a weekend for him to do it. That’s when he said I’m going to X location tomorrow and I’ll be back on 2 January. The location was the same location as his two business trips in December, which was a red flag for me. I got really upset and asked him how he could book the hotel without discussing it with me and how he could go on New Year’s Eve. That he would be leaving me alone during COVID on a holiday! Well, suffice it to say, he left on his trip on the 31st.
On New Years day, that female instinct took over! The the hotel didn’t charge to our account, he didn’t call me at midnight to with me a Happy New Year, etc. So, I started digging. We have a joint computer and it didn’t take long for me to discover that he was talking / sexting with a woman since November that he met on that interactive pornographic website. I found phone calls between them on our cell bill, IMs on the website, emails back and forth and confirmed that she lived in X location (where he visited 2 times for business and where he was on New Year’s to ‘clear his head’). In the IMs on the website I confirmed their virtual affair stated in November and they talked about how their sexual encounters were the hottest they’ve ever experienced (even graphic details so I know what kind of things they did). I also learned that she too is married, their sex was unprotected (and he came home and had sex with me after), and they talked about me, her husband and our marital problems. I felt so VIOLATED! And dirty … From the phone calls I know he talked to her on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, on the drive to X location, etc.
When he came home on the 2nd, I confronted him. And I did so calmly, not raising my voice and not yelling. Just asked him if his trip was good, if he was able to clear his head and if 'she' helped him do so. He was the shocked one this time, but admitted to the affair, confirmed it was only three times (the same ones I uncovered), that he likes her but doesn’t love her, blah blah blah. He also said he’s just ‘lost’ and doesn’t know what he wants anymore. That he has thought about separation / divorce for 6-9 months because he is so unhappy and that I just didn't listen. Trust me, I had no idea!
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind and I am so sad and angry and devastated that I feel I can barely function sometimes. I’m sleeping a little better, but I can barely eat because I’m nauseous all the time from the stress and the constant crying. I seriously can’t believe this is my life. I’ve gotten a COVID test (got negative results), an STD test (pending results), had my first counseling session with a therapist, and consulted a lawyer to find out what the options are to protect myself. I decided to stay at my parents’ house to give myself some time, especially because I knew my parents would also help me do all the things I’ve mentioned.
J and I have talked on the phone and texted a little, and he’s answered the questions I’ve been courageous enough to ask. While he seems remorseful and wants to go to a counselor to work through things, I can't help but feel like anyone in his position is just sorry he got caught. This marriage will not survive with three people in it, and it won’t survive with that website in it! The last 16 years feels like a lie and it just breaks my heart.
I have so many questions … and these aren't all of them. Any advice ... please!
• I want to go back home. He’s the one who cheated after all and I made it a home for us and didn't break our vows! Do I request that he live in the guest bedroom downstairs and I live upstairs until we figure out how to proceed? Or do we sleep in the same bed?
• Is he still on that website and talking to her via IM or some app on his phone allowing him to do it? He says no, but how do I get over that constant feeling that he is?
• Do I contact the woman or do I contact the woman’s husband? I feel like the husband deserves to know!
• How could he do this to me? Our marriage? Does the last 16 years not mean anything to him?
• Is this just a mid-life crisis because he is so unhappy with everything that he was looking to ‘feel’ something different, exciting and thrilling? That will wear off with 'her' even if he's stupid enough to think that it won't.
• How does he justify lying to me and having the affair? I could NEVER do something like that to him!
• He says he wants to work through this, but how does he expect me to trust him again? Especially if he says he doesn't know if he wants to be married?
• How could he confide in this woman when I’ve always been here and accepted all his flaws and struggles?
• Will this pain ever subside? I feel like I’m going through trauma and I too will now need to be a survivor of PTSD.
• I feel like I’ve lost everything. My husband, my best friend, my self-esteem, etc. Please tell me it gets better.