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At a total loss


SonicYouth
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My wife and I are 32. We met in the first week of college and have been together for 14 years. We have a 3-year-old daughter, who is my entire purpose. My wife finished nursing school where we lived, in my hometown, and she took a job in a city about 3 hours away. I agreed to move with her to support her career, even though it meant leaving my family and my entire support network behind. I was excited about starting a new life together, building our own legacy. I work from home, and she works 12-hour shifts at the hospital. I clean, cook, so the majority of child care. I want her to be able to relax when she is at home.

 

A few months ago, I found some overly friendly texts she’d been exchanging with a doctor. I brushed it off, but I couldn’t change my gut feeling something was off. I told myself it was OK to have male friends. I was almost past it. I thought I was the problem. I have a lifelong history of anxiety and obsessive thoughts and blamed it on this, and she did too. Encourage me to go to therapy, change my meds, knowing all along she had feelings for him. Flat-out lying to me. Last week, she went out with her friends and was out till 1 am. She said she ended up at a bar with just one of her girlfriends. I later found out the doctor was there too, and they ended up kissing. She lied to me for over a week, pretending everything was normal.

 

She has blamed my mental problems on driving a wedge between us. She says I can’t fulfill her needs because my anxiety does not allow me to be an equal partner to her. Yes, I struggle with some mental health issues, but I actively work on them. I take medication, go to therapy, exercise. My family is my life. My identity is being a husband and a dad. I cannot envision a future where we are not a family. Worse still, in the new city that she moved us to, I have no friends, no support network because I am 100% dedicated to supporting her and my daughter. But this is where my daughter’s school, friends, life is. Without her, I have no reason to stay here. But I can’t leave her.

 

I want badly to repair this, but I’m not sure she does. I know we at the bottom of our marriage, but there is still love between us. I am afraid that she is so smitten with this new shiny object that she will ruin lives over it. I don’t know what to do.

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Just because you have a child it doesn't mean that you stop living as an adult. She's lost her respect for you because you don't seem to be able to balance your life very well and while toddlers can be a handful (I agree with you), I feel like you're using your daughter as an excuse for lack of growth. You are only 32 and supposed to be having the time of your life. It's wrong of your wife to speak to other men that way and be dishonest with you (dishonest towards the marriage). Try couple's counselling if you both have access to it. Since you are truly invested in your family and love them, show your wife how much it means to you. She has to have her heart in rebuilding the marriage and reconnecting with her family again. If this is one-sided it won't work.

 

I'd also suggest you both set up some clear boundaries regarding inappropriate friendships. If she's feeling that resentful of you she needs to tell you and vocalize that and actually tell you whether the marriage has a shot of working (if she's willing to repair this). You should never feel like you're carrying the weight of the marriage on your own or in a lonely marriage. You really should start incorporating a few more elements in your life so you don't stagnate... I think you're falling apart (on a personal level). Have at least one or two hobbies or interests and learn to think creatively and enjoy life too. There's no reason why you can't share these with your wife and daughter and I think having interests of your own and being able to share them would strengthen your bonds as a family. I feel like you've isolated yourself unwittingly.

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Would you say that your treatment for your anxiety is working, OP? What is it your wife wants from you that she feels you haven't been providing?

 

There is never a good excuse for cheating, to be clear. What she has been doing is unacceptable and not the way to deal with a crumbling marriage. However, should you decide together that you want to work on this, you will need to re-evaluate how effective your treatment has been and whether there is more or something different you could be doing. She needs to do the same, in assessing how she's been responding to these issues and why she played fast and loose with the boundaries in your marriage. If she doesn't, then this will likely happen again.

 

She needs to cut this doctor off immediately, regardless. That is a budding affair and there is possibly more to it than she's letting on, either in terms of what physically happened or her emotional attachment to him. How did she meet this guy? How long have they been talking, that you know of?

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Holly, yes, I am working. I have a very demanding editing job that keeps me in front of a computer 9-10 hours per day that I consider very respectable work. It paid her way through nursing school. I take a lot of pride in what I do, because I’m respected at work in many ways I feel I’m not at home.

 

I feel a bit stuck in terms of personal growth. I read, I listen to music, I work out, but yes I am limited in what I can do. I take my daughter to school at 7 am, work all day, pick her up, make dinner for her and my wife, and then maybe go to the gym and read or listen to music before bed. My wife works some weekends, too, so I have my daughter for 13+ hours on those days. I don’t see how say I’m supposed to join a tennis league or something with this schedule. That is why this stings so deeply. My reliability and sacrifice has allowed my wife to develop her career, her friendships, and hence this affair.

 

I feel as though my treatment and self-care is working, but my wife’s general feeling seems to be “too little, too late.” She claims that I cannot be there for her when she is upset or has had a bad day. I don’t believe this would be surfacing so significantly now if she hadn’t found another option. I think she’s infatuated and doesn’t realize what I provide for her, including in terms of emotional support. We broke up briefly in college for similar reasons, and she came back to me. I don’t know why she expects another person to love her more.

 

In terms of counseling, I am going to bring her to my next appointment with my therapist, who also does couples counseling. I want the whole truth to come out, because I have been telling my therapist that this affair was all in my head and was working with her on ways to cope with obsessive negative thoughts. My “worst case scenario” as I described to the therapist was that my wife was having an affair and would leave me. That was seen as preposterous just a few weeks ago. The biggest source of my anxiety by far (since around Xmas) was this relationship with the doctor that I had to convince myself was not real. Now I feel like my wife is using my anxiety that stemmed from her lies as an excuse to get away. How is that right?

 

Also, how is this supposed to improve my anxiety? My worst case scenario turned out to be absolutely true. My trust in my wife has been absolutely rocked. If she genuinely wanted me to improve and save our marriage, she wouldn’t have lied to me about something that was emotionally tormenting me for weeks and cruelly used my mental illness against me. Still, we can connect. We have so much fun together when the air is clear (before this). What absolutely stuns me is I begged her to give me a ”chance” to improve two months ago, when I discovered this budding relationship and she assured me that it was all in my head. I can’t actually move forward if my therapy is based entirely on lies.

Edited by SonicYouth
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It's inexcusable that she kissed another guy and is investing time with him through texting, etc. As a decent, mature person, one would either work on problems or divorce. That said, you two are lacking an emotional connection. You only describe solo activities when she's home: reading, gym. You two are workers and parents, but you're both at fault in not keeping the spark alive.

 

How about, when you're daughter is at school, going to your wife's work place now and then to eat lunch with her? You're both working, so get a sitter once a month for date night. Most people can take vacation days and sick leave. Can you two take a day off once in a while, while your child is at school, and have a "play hooky" day?

 

For yourself, you might also find a meet up group for Dads and kids who meet up on weekends for outings. It can't hurt to check it out, and you might find other meet up groups for just yourself, and make it a goal to attend to meet other guys in the area.

 

She needs to know her one chance is over, and that boundaries cannot be crossed ever again, because you're not a doormat. Make those boundaries clear, and if she can't stick to them, you'll be going to a lawyer.

 

Look at articles on how to reestablish an emotional connection with your wife, and let her know what you'd like from her in return, or discuss things you can do together to makes things great again. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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So according to my calculations, you've been together since you were both 18.

 

Put very simply, I think she's outgrown you and the relationship/marriage. Never had the opportunity to explore other opportunities, other people, and experience life outside of you and your relationship.

 

She's a practicing nurse and now has this opportinity. It's an exciting time for her, new opps, new people, new feelings. A new man.

 

I think she's using your "mental issues" as a way to place blame on you versus owning that she's simply outgrown you, and has become attracted to another man. It's a form of gaslighting.

 

I mean your mental issues may play a role, but I suspect this would have happened regardless of your issues.

 

I am sorry to say this, but you can try couples counseling but don't think it will work to save this.

 

She's outgrown you, attracted/involved with a new man; this relationship/marriage has run its course, you married too young imo.

 

I'm sorry!

Edited by katrina1980
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So according to my calculations, you've been together since you were both 18.

 

Put very simply, I think she's outgrown you and the relationship/marriage. Never had the opportunity to explore other opportunities, other people, and experience life outside of you and your relationship.

 

Yes, aside from a brief break in college, we have been together since we were 18. You very well may be right, but that doesn’t lessen the pain. I have given everything to my family. I married the woman who I thought was my soul mate at 26, and wholly dedicated myself to building our life together. Apparently I just didn’t do it right? Didn’t do enough? Why does she get a pass on this? She owes me a chance to work through this together.

 

I believe that she is gaslighting me, and it’s nakedly cruel, because she knows that’s my greatest vulnerability. She’s using it to extricate herself from me, absolve herself, and make me feel like it’s my fault. How is this in any way right? I am not some meek supplicant waiting for bread crumbs from her. I’ve grown, too, into a father and what I though was a better husband. This isn’t fair.

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Sonic, oh it's not right! It's cruel. And very very hurtful. And I'm so sorry you're experiencing this.

 

As painful as this is, my advice would be to find good a lawyer and file for divorce.

 

While I am a big believer in communication, talking things out, marriage counseling, I just don't think will work in your case, and will only prolong the inevitable.

 

Again, she's outgrown your relationship, she's attracted to a new man and has essentially cheated.

 

You should be done with this, the sooner the better, I would be if roles were flipped.

 

Again, I know how painful this is and I'm so sorry!

 

I wish the best for you and your young daughter!

 

((Hugs))

Edited by katrina1980
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Yes she is gaslighting you. You need to just lay it out on the line for her that you know it's not your "anxiety" issues, she is having an affair, or at least an emotional one. Give her an ultimatum. Either she shapes up and address her behavior, or start the process of separation. You can even get full custody because you already have taken the role of raising the child full time. She can pay child support.

 

How it got this way? Because you stopped being a couple. You stopped having one on one quality time, going out on dates, time away from baby to be adults. It happens to a lot of people. You get so absorbed with your responsibilities with raising a child, career, paying a mortgage, etc, you never had any time for each other. Right now she's lost her way. She's seeing this new freedom at her job..the socializing, receiving attention from male coworkers...it make her feel special, it makes her feel so alive. It's very addicting, like heroin. They start to lie, start to be absent from home, and they divert blame just to keep chasing that high. That high is her only focus. I hope with the reality of losing everything she will snap out of it.

 

I have seen for myself, marriages can survive infidelity. So don't lose hope, but please protect yourself and get legal counseling just in case.

Edited by smackie9
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Katrina, I appreciate your straightforward advice, but I’m not ready to give up on this. I’m taking my daughter to my mom’s house and spending the week there. We’ll see what happens, but I can’t let this go without fighting for it.

 

Ok fair enough, I hope it all works out.

 

For now, taking space is good and like smackie said, try to recapture the love you felt at the beginning.

 

Feeings do tend to ebb and flow in long term relationships, so perhaps my original advice was a bit hasty.

 

I just abhor cheating and gaslighting, both so cruel and hurtful but you need to do what's right for you and your daughter - your family.

 

It will take a lot of work and your wife owning her role, but can be done.

 

Good luck and keep us posted!

Edited by katrina1980
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Thank you, and yes, I will keep coming back to this thread. It’s been a huge help already. Divorce has never been an option for me. I meant my vows, unlike my wife, apparently. I am committed to seeing this through, and the thought of taking my daughter away from her is agonizing. They have a tight bond and this is not her fault. She would not understand why she can’t see mommy every day.

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For those of you keeping score, my marriage is effectively over. We had a long car ride home from our daughter's birthday party today, and my wife does not want to be married to me anymore, full stop. She does not want to try and heal the marriage. I, foolishly in retrospect, basically begged her to reconsider and give it one more shot. I just couldn't take the pain of believing that our family was actually breaking up. It's surreal to me. I still love her and feel like we can heal from this, but she is not on board. Yes, I realize that it's denial, but there is a shred of me that believes with some time apart the person I fell in love with will come back and realize that we still need to be a family. I do not believe she's being honest about the other man. I think she wants to be with him more than she is admitting, possibly even to herself. I don't believe this would be happening if he hadn't come into the picture. She claims that he made her realize how unhappy she actually was in our marriage. I can hold my chin high because I have the moral high ground. She can harp on my anxiety, but nothing is as clear-cut as cheating, and she did that. I don't know if she will be honest with her family, but they will be devastated and not understand why she's doing this. She will have to carry that shame for the rest of her life.

 

But yes, gaslighting could not be more dead on: "They lie and keep secrets, and if/when their partner catches on and confronts them, they deny, make excuses, tell more lies, and do whatever else they can do to convince their partner that she (or he) is the issue, that her (or his) emotional and psychological reactions are the cause of rather than the result of problems in the relationship. Basically, the cheater wants the betrayed partner question her (or his) perception of reality and to accept blame for any problems." I was right all along. I knew in my gut all along that there was something going on. She knows I have a history of anxiety and she used that against me, making me believe that it was my overactive, anxious imagination; that it was my fault she was drifting away from me, when all along there was someone else.

 

In any case, I really can't ruminate on this stuff anymore. She's gone, and I have to figure out how I'm going to rebuild my life, on my own for the first time ever. I have never lived as an adult without her. The first step is to get away. Thankfully I can work wherever my laptop is, so I as I said above I'm taking my daughter to my mother's house and staying there for the rest of the week, hopefully gaining some clarity on my next steps. I am not looking at attorneys yet. I'm treating this as though someone died. It came that suddenly. I can only think of the next 3 or 4 days right now, and that's helping me feel a little better. I still feel like I'm in a bad dream that I'm going to wake up from, but in a way , I feel relieved knowing that this is in the open and I can start the rest of my life. Does anyone have any thoughts/advice/kind words?

Edited by SonicYouth
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I am so sorry that this is happening to you.

 

My ex had an affair and my world fell apart too.

 

I had 2 small children that I raised alone.

 

It wont be easy, it will be the hardest thing you have ever done, but you will survive.

 

First and foremost Be kind to yourself!!

"do what you need to do to get through". If that means you need to lie in bed for a day feeling miserable then do it.

Have your Mum make you lots of cups of tea. Talk to your Mum about the issues, or dont, what ever makes you feel better at the time.

Hug your Daughter. She will be scared and confused and needs reassurance.

 

Im sending you cyber hugs ((( )))....take care

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Hi Sonic, it's hard but try to stay positive. She was honest with you even if it was very late. I don't agree with the way she used your anxiety against you and wasn't willing to be honest with you about the emotional affair from the start. It seems to me like the marriage ended a long while ago but both of you just weren't ready to let go. You're right to have the resolve to move forward. You have the rest of your life ahead of you.

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Sorry to hear this. Unfortunately she lost interest and checked out a long time ago. Probably when you thought things were "fine" because arguments and other hassles stopped/slowed down. But they stopped because she was already checked out, stopped investing and started to plan her departure, replete with a new man.

 

Read up on "walk away wife syndrome". It's all about a little too little, a little to late. It's about being on autopilot and getting complacent. The reason it's a shock and seems like "gas lighting" (even though it's not) is because her giving up and withdrawing seemed like things were running smoothly, so it comes as a complete surprise when this "running smoothly" is really her exit plan.

 

The best thing you can do now is pull back. Definitely consult your attorney about your options and child issues in the event of divorce and get your ducks in a row regarding that probability. The other thing to do is consult a therapist to get advice and guidance on navigating this, support and keeping your head sorted out. These are both necessary at this time. If by chance she decides to want to stay married both will help you reflect, rethink and regroup one way or the other..

my wife does not want to be married to me anymore, full stop. She does not want to try and heal the marriage.
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Your wife is in the "fog". If you really want to save your marriage, you must act quickly and put an end to the affair. Contact your wifes HR department and report her and the Doctor immediately. Find out if he is married or has a g/f and contact her. These relationships often die when drug out into the light. Then move your family back home.

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