I was you, albeit younger. Entered into a committed relationship with a woman around age 21/22. She was brilliant, high achieving, beautiful. She had a young son (around age 3) from a man with whom she did not share a serious relationship. I moved in with her. We both went to grad school. We struggled to juggle budget (on grad school level money), studies, work (each of us worked part-time in our respective grad fields), child rearing, etc. Lots of sex. It was the sort of "us against the world" struggle that often forges the blue-hard steel of a life long partnership and relationship. Or so I thought.
After grad school, we relocated a couple thousand miles to a new city. Romantic and beautiful city. Hit the ground running. Housing. School. Soccer for the kiddo. All of this stuff to me reinforced the "us against the world" partnership I thought we were forging. When we finally got a bit of extra money saved up, she splurged for a wine country hot air balloon ride with me on my birthday. Super romantic stuff.
Then she met the AP. It was like you describe. Gradually increasing emotional distance. I was running at 1,000 mph trying to establish a foothold in my new career, she was too, and the kid was in school by then, so I chalked it up to fatigue and stress. I was wrong. Sex started to diminish. Again, I incorrectly chalked it up to fatigue and stress. Then she started a hobby and began staying out more frequently, and later, with her hobby activity group. Or so I thought.
One morning in December, about 9 years after we got together, she didn't come home. It was a weekday. There were no cell phones in those days. I was up early, fixing breakfast and packing school lunch for her son, getting myself shaved and showered and ready for work, mentally planning my morning of school drop-off, etc. Over all of that, I was worried about her. The hobby group often went out drinking. Did she get arrested for DUI? Have a drunk driving accident? How could I find these things out? I was already thinking of who to call when, around 7:00 a.m., she drove into the driveway. Came into the house, disheveled, wearing her work clothes from the day before. "I'm seeing another man. I'm going to leave you and move in with him. My son will come with me."
I was gutted. Literally could not breath. Actual physical pain in my heart. I drove the son to school, then went to work, closed my office door, and collapsed on the floor weeping uncontrollably. In a brand new city. Knew almost nobody. The one person whom I viewed as my pillar, my anchor, poof! Gone.
Christmas that year was literally Hell. We were separating our household stuff and each planning a move, but getting a new place around Christmas is almost impossible. There was a lot of overlap. I actually came home from a workplace Christmas party, fairly intoxicated, bundled in a warm coat, to find her in the living room watching a movie and canoodling with her new man. They politely retired to the spare room (where she was staying), closed the door, followed by the sounds of giggling and then intimacy. I puked in the toilet next to their room. It was as awful as you can imagine.
I'm telling you this to tell you it gets better. You have to put one foot in front of the other and start moving on. Baby steps at first. In my case, we shared custody of the son on an ad hoc/informal basis, meaning I had to interact with her for years. The first few times, I wept when I saw her and begged her to reconsider. Her eyes were cold as ice. As an aside, I'm pretty sure she is somewhat ASD. She's brilliant but detached in the way one often sees in a description of mild Aspberger's.
Here's a thing. The first time you have sex with somebody new, it will be like the coolest, sweetest drink of water you've ever had, like the first drink after almost dying of thirst in the hot desert. And sex for guys our age is plentiful. A buddy of mine, age 60, recently got divorced. If your equipment still works more or less normally, and if you are solvent, it's a buyer's market out there for men, my friend. Take advantage of it as soon as you possibly can. When you're basking in the afterglow, silently thank your wife.
Years later I met the woman who is now my wife of many years. The son (then in high school) was my best man. It was a sweet wedding and life has been good since then. In many ways I owe a debt of gratitude to my ex. I didn't realize how difficult she was to be in a relationship with until I was in an easy relationship. When we were young, I thought of her as "intense". In hindsight, "intense" is just the flip side of "bat-shit crazy".
[This message edited by Butforthegrace at 1:26 PM, Wednesday, July 13th]