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Completely confused and all over the place

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 Ozzy1788 (original poster member #83108) posted at 5:49 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Background: UK based, married 15 years, 2 kids.

About 6 weeks ago my wife sprung on me that she lost physical attraction for me years ago, and that our sex life hasn't been great for a long time. This absolutely floored me as I have always been up for sex and thought that she just didn't have the drive I have. Also I have felt that our marriage, while having ups and downs, has always been pretty amazing. We do great things together, have incredible holidays, and there are plenty of times when we have had great sex.

In the background and ex contacted her on FB about 4 years ago. It was just messaging back and forth and then about 2 years ago they met up in person. I was always fine with this as I am not a jealous person, and she always (truthfully) told me that there were no feelings there. But I did always question his motives.

Anyway 2 weeks after the initial chat she acknowledged that she does have feelings for this other guy. This again totally floored me, and I feel like a mug. But after a lot of chats, reading and listening to Esther Perel and the like, I can totally understand where she is coming from. After being together so long things are not going to be the same as they were, and it is totally understandable that these things can happen.

If it wasn't for the kids we would have separated, but she says (and I believe her) that she sees us together longer term. She just needs this escape at this point in our lives. After a lot of chatting I reluctantly agreed that she should do what she needs to do.

She has now been with him on 2 occasions and my brain is an absolute rollercoaster. On the surface I am OK with the sex side of things but I think the fact that I can't talk to anyone about it (friends and family would obviously not be able to understand this). She has managed to create a complete separation in her mind and wants to focus on us getting better and not talking about what she is doing.

People on here might struggle with it as well, I am not sure. But the truth is I love her and love my kids and would actually rather ride this out than lose my kids for half the time and not be with her.

But I alternate between feeling sick / panicky / completely messed up and being completely fine to the point where I can joke with her about it. The worst part is in order for her to feel attraction to me again I need to be at my most confident at a time where I am feeling at my lowest.

Anyone had similar experiences or can offer any advice for coping?

posts: 173   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8783610
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Twitchy ( member #25393) posted at 6:04 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Nope.

No way.

Shouldn't be allowed

What do you think she is doing when she's meeting her ex? From your post, it seems like you're under the impression their meetings are just social get togethers. At the very least, this is an emotional affair, and it's just wrong. Of course your emotions are all over the place. She's actively cheating on you and you gave her permission to do it.

This needs to stop, like yesterday.

(edited for typos)

[This message edited by Twitchy at 6:08 PM, Thursday, March 23rd]

BH(me)-49, FWW-43,D-Day #1 - Oct 2007 - On-Line EA leading to a failed rendez-vousD-Day #2 - Nov 2008 - In person EA caught early.

Away you will go, sailing in a race among the ruins.If you plan to face tomorrow, do it soon. Gordon Li

posts: 772   ·   registered: Sep. 2nd, 2009   ·   location: Ontario - Canada
id 8783614
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HellFire ( member #59305) posted at 6:15 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Esther Perel

Stop listening to her. She is a wayward apologist who makes excuses for the cheater, and blames the BS. She has no clue what she's talking about. That you have listened to her is evident in the "pick me" dance you're doing.

Allowing your wife to cheat? No. Just no.

Does this man have a wife? Is his wife ok with her husband having an affair?

How can she respect you,when you don't respect yourself? How can your marriage get better while your wife is having an affair? How can you feel confident knowing she is choosing another man over you?

[This message edited by HellFire at 6:19 PM, Thursday, March 23rd]

I will be everywhere you look,but nowhere to be found. And that will be my revenge.

posts: 6704   ·   registered: Jun. 20th, 2017   ·   location: The Midwest
id 8783616
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Confused282 ( member #79680) posted at 6:25 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Well since you are now officially in an open relationship is it ok for you to date?

You might as well as she is.

Are you ok being the home life, paycheck and nanny while the love and sex go to the other man.

Honestly Ester Perel says true things but there is a lot of bullshit with her. She absolutely condones cheating no matter what she says.

Ester Perel in the beginning of her second book state of affairs does tell the truth in the beginning.

"This is not a book based on science or research this is based on my personnel experience with my clients"

"I mostly deal with couples on the higher end of socioeconomic status" aka really rich people.

In fact she is the couples therapist for will and jada smith (bang up job there)

Listen to her podcast called "where should we begin" there are 2 episodes with a couple in an open marriage.

Perfect for you.

They are a year apart and in the first one it sucks but everything is working as advertised (not really).

The one where she checks in on them a year later she is breaking all the rules and now has primary loyalty to the lover.

I doubt you can save this one honestly. If she is already out the door and the kids are the only reason she is staying following the standard advice won’t help get her back.

But it will save you years of drawn out pain.

That’s all you’re in for with this. Years of drawn out pain.

Might as well rip the band aid off.

Ironically if there is a chance to save your marriage removing yourself from this equation is your best bet.

Separate prepare for divorce and go no contact with her. Send her to her new happy life.

Who know if you will but one thing for sure you are going to need to start dating again.

Might as well prepare for it now.

Don’t let your self be used and abused.

Don’t let your self get stuck in this Limbo.

The sooner you take action the faster you move on.

Either she will come back and you will work on your relationship or you will meet someone new and be better off.

You met her you can meet someone else.

I’m so sorry she did this to you. Now you learned it is not ok to talk to Ex’s no matter how modern and enlightened we want to be.

Take care of your self.

posts: 169   ·   registered: Dec. 16th, 2021   ·   location: USA
id 8783619
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Confused282 ( member #79680) posted at 6:32 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Wanted to add when you listen to that podcast pay attention how she really does not seem to care that much about the man.

It’s all about the woman.

In fact she barley talks to the man about his dating which is why that open relationship is not working.

If he was dating it would be over as any man would rather be with a new woman that loves him over some woman that’s getting nailed by other men all the time.

Unless they are serial cheating men.

Which her rich male clients are probably primarily are.

posts: 169   ·   registered: Dec. 16th, 2021   ·   location: USA
id 8783621
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src9043 ( member #75367) posted at 7:17 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

You should not set yourself on fire to keep your wife warm. She started an EA with the OM and then came to you for permission to take it to a PA. Her next possible step would be for her to leave you for the OM. If she doesn't leave you, you will be sharing your WW with the OM for the foreseeable future. Once he is gone, what is there to stop her from finding some other guy? You are simply allowing this horrible behavior. All this happens while you just watch will kill you. I would divorce her so quickly that it would make her head spin. But I've been through this bullshit and I learned not to tolerate one second of such behavior.

If your wife wants to blow up the marriage, there isn't much you can do about it. For the sake of your dignity, well-being, and respect from your children, family, and friends don't tolerate this behavior for one more second. Since you are not willing to pull the plug on this marriage, give her one opportunity to stop this nonsense. Don't be a doormat. You should get into counseling with someone that can help you get out of infidelity. Hit the gym, work on your appearance, start going out with friends, and look for other female companionship. Who knows, you might find someone a lot better than your WW. It would be hard to find someone worse.

posts: 717   ·   registered: Sep. 7th, 2020
id 8783630
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leafields ( Guide #63517) posted at 7:20 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Welcome to SI and sorry that you've had to find us. There are some pinned posts at the top of the page and the Healing Library that have really great resources.

Your brain is all over the place because that's what happens when your brain has suffered from trauma.

I'm guessing that you're really not ok with this, as you mentioned you would be separated if you didn't have children. Is this the type of relationship that you want your children to think is normal? Please don't stay together just for the children. My adult children told me that I should have left my XWH a long time ago.

I was not ok with my spouse deciding to bring somebody else into the marriage.

It's your choice, but do you really want an open marriage? Of course, it should also allow you to do the same.

BW M 34years, Dday 1: March 2018, Dday 2: August 2019, D final 2/25/21

posts: 3467   ·   registered: Apr. 21st, 2018   ·   location: Washington State
id 8783631
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asc1226 ( member #75363) posted at 8:14 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Ozzy,

Of course you’re confused. You’ve allowed your wayward wife and Esther Perel to convince you that laying waste to your marriage is the path saving it and that enduring soul shriveling pain and trauma makes you a good husband.

The worst part is in order for her to feel attraction to me again I need to be at my most confident at a time where I am feeling at my lowest.

Trust me, the last thing your WW sees right now is confidence. How can she when she’s looking at her own shoe prints on your forehead?

The only way to demonstrate confidence is to show her you will not tolerate another man in your marriage. Check out the simplified 180 in the healing library here. Also read the Tactical Primer pinned at the top of this forum. Consult with a lawyer about what divorce looks like for you, even if it’s not what you want - knowledge is power.

If you want out of infidelity you’re going to have to start moving forward out of it. Maybe your WW will pull her head out of her ass and follow.

I make edits, words is hard

posts: 612   ·   registered: Sep. 7th, 2020
id 8783644
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ChamomileTea ( Moderator #53574) posted at 8:27 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

It sounds like you're looking for a way to tolerate the intolerable. sad

I think there are lots of new BS's who feel like if they can just find a way to deal with the betrayal without rocking the boat, that the WS will eventually get tired of the AP and come back to the marriage. Typically, the new car smell would wear off the affair and the infatuation would wane. But that's not what happens in illicit affairs. The excitement of doing something so morally wrong, the lies, the sneaking... it all ramps up the adrenaline and dopamine. This can extend the two-year shelf life of infatuation out a decade or more. Then, there's the pair-bonding effect of sex, the biochemical cocktail released into the body which keep the cheaters going back for more. Rather than appreciating your love and patience, her allegiance ends up with the AP instead. In order to keep the drama of the affair, there becomes an us vs. them dynamic, where you and the other BS are held at odds. Frequently, the end result is that the affair partners leave hearth and home to set up housekeeping together. They've been allowed to basically run out the clock on their obligations and ease into the idea of leaving.

The bottom line is that going along to get along doesn't make you any safer from the threat of divorce. Your WW isn't cheating because of you. She's cheating because of her. There's nothing in her character which prevents it, and you can't "fix" someone else's character flaws. They have to do that for themselves.

I'm so sorry this is happening to you.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 8:30 PM, Thursday, March 23rd]

BW: 2004(online EAs), 2014 (multiple PAs)
Married 40 years; in R with fWH for 8

posts: 7060   ·   registered: Jun. 8th, 2016   ·   location: U.S.
id 8783651
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 Ozzy1788 (original poster member #83108) posted at 8:31 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Thanks for the responses so far. They are what I was expecting and do speak a lot of sense!

However, it is hard to convey the whole situation in a few paragraphs. She loves me, I love her, we both love the kids. We met a long time ago as friends and saw each other go home with other people even though we knew we had feelings for each other. Ultimately we got together and over 15 years on here we are. The situation we are in is like a return to that - she didn't expect to start feeling that way for this other guy but she did, and I genuinely feel like I shouldn't deny her this opportunity.

So yeah, it is an open relationship. If it carries on between them then I would be up for doing similar, just at the moment it isn't something that I want.

My life without her and the kids would be much worse than riding out this period so I don't think I will be leaving her.

I guess I am hoping that someone who has been in a similar boat will help me with how they coped with it. My wife has been completely honest with me the whole way through, and so I can't hold any of this against her. It is my feelings about it which I need to deal with.

I know people will think that makes me a doormat but this is the truth of the situation.

And to those who asked, I am actively working on losing weight, getting more in shape etc. I plan to be a lot more selfish and do the things I like and give her space to lust back after me (hopefully!)

Twitchy - they were just get togethers until she told me the feelings had grown and I gave her license to do something with those feelings. I always told her I would prefer that she didn't, but if she felt that she needed this then I wouldn't hold it against her.

But being "OK" with it and having it actually happen are very different things it seems and so that is what I am now wrestling with.

posts: 173   ·   registered: Mar. 23rd, 2023   ·   location: UK
id 8783652
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Cooley2here ( member #62939) posted at 8:42 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

People are coming here with their own lives and experiences, so it may be difficult for us to understand how you are feeling. This is your marriage, and if you want to stay in it, then you need to find someway to cope without it stressing you out constantly. Stress is a killer. It goes after your blood pressure. Your digestive system, everything.

If you think you could find yourself in a sexual relationship with another woman beside your wife, and the both of you can manage it that’s fine, but unless you are very good secret keepers, you’re going to have trouble keeping this from your children.

No one here is blaming you for wanting to stay, but we do see some codependency here that is not healthy. Your wife should not be so important to you that you lose a complete sense of self-worth. On here you will read many people saying love is an action not a feeling. If your wife loves you, she will not do what will harm you.

When things go wrong, don’t go with them. Elvis

posts: 4253   ·   registered: Mar. 5th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8783655
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Dude67 ( member #75700) posted at 8:47 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

There is no putting the Jeanie back in the bottle. You either continue on the track you’ve allowed, issue an ultimatum and let the cards fall where they may, or open your marriage.

Esther Perel is an enabler. Now you believe her having sex with her ex is your WW finding herself. It’s not that. It’s called having an affair. Best of luck.

posts: 785   ·   registered: Oct. 21st, 2020
id 8783656
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straightup ( member #78778) posted at 8:49 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

You seem to want this to stop.

Tell her it needs to stop.

The idea that you tolerate this and ride it out - I don’t think any of that is sensible or likely to work.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
Mother Teresa

posts: 359   ·   registered: May. 11th, 2021   ·   location: Australia
id 8783657
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Confused282 ( member #79680) posted at 8:53 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

You don’t know they were just get togethers.

She was lying the moment she made contact with him.

She knew there was attraction.

Well if you are not willing to leave then at least work on space between you.

Also honestly you need to date and that will be easier for you single than in an open relationship.

At least talk to a lawyer or whoever handles divorce in your country.

In America you would still get your kids just not full time.

You don’t have to tell her you are doing it. Just at least make sure you have the full accurate picture of what life would look like separated.

Listen to those podcast I mentioned on Ester open marriage couple. There are 2 of them. One was last season I think and the other was a season or 2 behind.

You can hear how hurt the guy is and in the follow up a year later it’s even worse.

I hope things work out the way you want them to.

I don’t think they will unless you take serious action.

Kicking her out, moving on and finding another girl. That shows confidence.

posts: 169   ·   registered: Dec. 16th, 2021   ·   location: USA
id 8783660
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Lurkingsoul12 ( member #82382) posted at 9:08 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

I don't think you will find many people here who are in the same boat as you. If you believe this arrangement with your wife might work for you and you are looking for ways to work this out then I don't believe this is the right forum for you. Essentially, you are looking for polyamorus relation with your wife and her AP. You should visit websites that are created solely for the purpose of helping poly people. They will help you. There are few ploy people on this website too who are doing great in this arrangement. One member I remember is PSTI. She has a thread that explains why she is a poly, how she made it work and how it is different from infidelity relations. That thread might help you to understand your situation.

Your current arrangement is definitely not sustainable and healthy. There is an ethical way to do this.

[This message edited by Lurkingsoul12 at 8:03 AM, Friday, March 24th]

posts: 457   ·   registered: Nov. 12th, 2022
id 8783664
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Trdd ( member #65989) posted at 9:14 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Showing confidence might just be telling her "no, I can't do this. It was a mistake to ever say yes". Or to say, "I'm going out on a date this weekend, can you watch the kids?"

Being essentially coerced into letting your wife sleep with another man is not confidence, imo.

posts: 967   ·   registered: Aug. 27th, 2018   ·   location: US
id 8783666
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Beachwalker ( member #70472) posted at 9:14 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Ozzy:

When you were married, did you and your W exchange vows? Did those vows include monogamy? If yes to both questions, then your wife is cheating and involved in adultery. If the answer is "no" to at least the last question, then you have no ammo here.

I am going to proceed with the assumption you both promised to be faithful to each other, "forsaking all others", and be monogamous with each other. Why else would you be in turmoil? If I’m wrong, please correct me.

My personal view on having a spouse is that you have to share them with other people every day. You share them with family members, friends, their co-workers, church members, if they play a sport, their team members, etc. You get the point. Here’s how you share them:
Physically: Grandkids will want to sit on your spouse’s lap, hug them, kiss them, play games with them, and so on;
Mentally: At work, they must collaborate with others to solve a problem or, generally speaking, to fulfill their task as employee;
Emotionally: They will have family and friends call them and share good news and your spouse will be happy for and with them. Likewise, someone will call with really bad news and your spouse will do their best to comfort them while crying with them;
Spiritually: Others will ask your spouse to pray with them, study with them, or talk about and share spiritual advice.

So, what’s left for you? JUST you? Sexually. In my opinion, when you relinquish that aspect to another, you willingly give up the special and unique link you have with your spouse. When someone else shares that link, you are no different than all the other partners. I know others will 100% disagree with me, but that’s ok! We are all entitled to our own opinions – right or wrong – and this one’s mine. I share it with you because if you and your W DID consent to an open marriage, or you are willing to alter your vows to accommodate this new arrangement, then what you are experiencing should have been expected. If you don’t like what you are now getting, you need to sit down with her and discuss what you are willing to accept and how you want the relationship to proceed from here. If you two don’t agree, then it’s time to part ways.

If you continue in an open marriage, you need to ask yourself some questions;

How will you feel when your W doesn’t come home for several nights?
How will you feel knowing you’ve given her permission to be in another man’s arms? In his bed? Having sex?
How will you feel watching your W get larger as the baby inside her grows over time, knowing this child is not yours?
How will you feel about raising another man’s child for 18+ years? And if this child has a physical or mental handicap which prevents them from living on their own, and you are a caregiver to another man’s child for the remainder of your life?
How do you already feel about her enjoying sex with another man over you?
How do you feel about the risk of her contracting an STI/STD and bringing it home to you?

These are reality questions, and I hope you consider them all.

She has managed to create a complete separation in her mind and wants to focus on us getting better and not talking about what she is doing.


Of course she doesn’t want to talk about it! She knows what she is doing is wrong and she doesn’t want to "face the music"! She doesn’t want to hear that she lied to you about what she was doing and with whom when she wasn’t with you. She doesn’t want to hear that she violated her promise to be faithful to you. She doesn’t want to hear how she put you at risk for a disease. She doesn’t want to hear about how she crushed your spirit and humiliated you in front of her new BF. (I’ll bet you 100 to 1 she has told this guy how much better in bed he is than you, which is why she keeps going back!) She doesn’t want to answer the question from her kids why she is sleeping with another man at night instead of Daddy. Of course she doesn’t want to talk about it!

YOU CAN’T GET BETTER WITHOUT TALKING TO HER ABOUT WHAT SHE IS DOING! IT WON’T WORK!!

Tell her YOU need to talk about it and see if she’s willing to humble herself enough to do so, to help you work through this. See if she’s willing to put you ahead of her "needs". This is true love. If not, you know your place, and right now it’s 2nd. Are you OK with that?


I just read some other responses and your comments:

It seems you are ok with an open M, but:

So yeah, it is an open relationship. If it carries on between them then I would be up for doing similar, just at the moment it isn't something that I want.


What do you want? It sounds like you DON’T want an open M. You need to convey that to her, and tell what you DO want.

And to those who asked, I am actively working on losing weight, getting more in shape etc. I plan to be a lot more selfish and do the things I like and give her space to lust back after me (hopefully!)


That’s the "pick me!" dance. Stop it. You either have her "pick you" now and stop seeing other men – this is a monogamous relationship – or you continue tolerating being treated as 2nd, or at best, equal with other men. Are you OK with this?

And if you go seeking other women and start shagging someone else, what are you going to do when she is pregnant with your child? Will you WW be ok with that? This is a question you both need to address immediately.

Forgive me, OZZY, but all around, this sounds like a very bad idea. But, it’s your life and your M. You need to do you.

I always told her I would prefer that she didn't


This is her being selfish. Since she knew you didn’t want her to commit adultery (unless you agreed to this ahead of time), and she did it anyway, she showed she has little to no concern for your feelings. Sex is very personal and very private. Your desires, feelings, concerns, etc. were of no consequence to her.

posts: 356   ·   registered: May. 4th, 2019   ·   location: US
id 8783667
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Blackbird25 ( member #82766) posted at 10:07 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

For me, it's the kids. You didn't mention your children's ages, but how do you explain this arrangement with kids who are growing up? When they ask where their mum is - what do you plan on telling them? She's out with her boyfriend? I mean I guess you can try to keep this from them for as long as possible - but kids grow up and they figure things out. You do them such a disservice by allowing your wife to follow this path of cake-eating. You are obviously not okay with this arrangement - or you thought you would be because of some misplaced loyalty that makes you want to make her happy. (YOU'RE not happy so that already isn't working). Giving her license to go screw other men is not making YOU happy - you wouldn't have come on here to discuss this and tell us that you're so confused and your emotions are all over the place. Of course they are. Don't you want to be the one that your wife desires? Don't you want to be the one she goes to for love, affection, attention - she's giving all that and more to some old flame. Yikes man. This is textbook you being a doormat. Don't be a doormat. And don't let your kids see you being a door mat either. You mentioned that you told her that you would rather she didn't move her affair (because that's what it is truthfully) to a physical level but if she did you wouldn't hold it against her? What happens when her feelings grow with the OM and she falls in love with him - then what happens to you and your kids. Is the OM okay with the status quo? Is he married by chance? What if they do fall in love and OM wants your wife all to himself and he's not willing to share? What then? Again - for me, it's the kids. I just don't know how to shield them from the fall out of all this. But hey - if you're determined to make it work, that's your choice. It's just sad to see the kids get dragged through all this and totally inconceivable that you as the father, and she as their mother, are too blinded by this whole situation that you can't see how this could harm them forever. That just takes selfish to a whole new level in my opinion. Also - stop the pick me dance. There is nothing that you can do to yourself - lose weight, change your appearance, get fitter - that is going to get her to see you differently or lust after you as you put it. Either she loves you - all of you the way you are; or she doesn't. She wants you and her BF and she wants you to be okay with it. But you're on here confused as ever with your emotions all over the place! Just tell her what YOU need and what you're willing to accept - if it's something that resembles an open marriage, well then I wish you the best of luck. Start saving money for your kids' therapy though - I fear that they're gonna need it.

Me: BS Him: WH, Married 1996
DDay#1: 5/2012 (EA 3 mos, PA 1 month
DDay#2: 12/26/22 (EA, 1 wk)
Reconciling and doing well.

posts: 195   ·   registered: Jan. 23rd, 2023   ·   location: USA
id 8783682
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survrus ( member #67698) posted at 11:17 PM on Thursday, March 23rd, 2023

Ozzy,

You're going off the rails on a crazy train.

This is not good for your mental health.

If the OM has a SO or a wife let her in on the happy couple.

If your WW has told you the OM is single, divorced or in an open relationship check up on it, people in affairs lie oddly.

Have you confronted the OM?

I would expose the OM to everyone in his life that matters, parents, siblings, job, facebook, etc etc.

posts: 1486   ·   registered: Nov. 1st, 2018   ·   location: USA
id 8783688
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Browsing41 ( new member #72237) posted at 7:35 AM on Friday, March 24th, 2023

It sounds to me like you should be posting on an open marriage or hotwife forum.

You did give her your blessings to sleep with another man. At this point you can't really claim she's cheating.

I do think that she doesn't respect and she is only using you at this point.

She may care for you as a friend or like a brother but she is not in love with you. She just doesn't love you the same way you love her.

posts: 37   ·   registered: Dec. 6th, 2019
id 8783736
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