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Married for 21 years, but now lonely and unhappy. Started having online affairs.


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I'm a married woman with children, and after over 20 years of marriage, my husband with his self employed business that takes up all his time, his lack of romancing, my decreased spark of passion for him, all made me start to crack. This year in 2019, I have had 3 online 'pen pal' relationships with other men, none of them local. All of them I met through the social website Reddit. This site allows people to meet anonymously, then go to a messaging app to correspond further.

 

My first 'pen pal' relationship was a married man, and after 3 months of regular writing to each other, light flirting and sharing photos, silly joking and deep emotional conversations with each other, I felt guilty and decided to end things with him. He was friendly and cordial. I do miss the friendship of the man I'll call Pen Pal #1.

 

For 4 months, I avoided the affair side of Reddit and vowed not to get into another online emotional affair. I got busy with a brand new full time job and tried to absorb myself in my favorite hobbies. I attended church with my husband. But the unhappiness in the marriage and lack of romance kept eating at me, and before I knew it, I started to message men on Reddit again until I found a few potential affair partners.

 

Pen Pal #2, a single man who lives closer to me than the first, was an even more adulterous relationship. I crossed the line with him into heavier flirting and then sexting. After 3 weeks of this double life, experiencing sexy chat with this man and cute suggestive texts daily, I felt horrible guilt again, disgusted with what I had done without my husband knowing. I told my sexting 'friend' I couldn't do this anymore. This man was even hoping to meet in real life. He actually expressed a desire to hook up physically. I was so, so tempted that it scared me. It could have happened, he told me about a future business trip, and I was entertaining the thought for a week. I was overcome by lust and attraction to this man, who I knew was a self-described 'player' in real life. Our last conversation confirmed it. Guy was already planning to hook up with a girl at work- the same age as my oldest child. That was the end of that.

 

The same time I was sexting with Pen Pal #2, I developed a more distant, more platonic friendship with Pen Pal #3. He lives overseas and we will never meet. This man is single. He's depressed and lonely and the weird thing is that he acts like he has feelings for me, at least a crush. I know I should stop writing to him, but he provides such interesting intellectual conversation. He's so worldly wise and super smart, so different from my husband who's more a common blue collar "working Joe" type.

 

As of last night, I still was writing to my overseas pen pal. It's very unhealthy. My remorse over these online relationships (2 of which have ended) have made me feel broken. It's Christmas. My grown child is home but is busy with activities. Husband? Still working all the time. I feel like a zombie and cannot function, and the idea of talking to my husband about divorce scares me so much. I do love him. But as a family member, not a lover. I love my children and I do not want them to know about the things I have secretly done this year.

 

I'm losing whatever peace and sanity I used to have, and regret starting these online affairs. But the damage is done, if not with my husband and family, but within myself. :upset:

 

I had never strayed before. I had never entertained the thought of physically sleeping with another man. I know that if I'm not happy with the marriage, the healthier choices would be to either 1. talk to my husband about marriage counseling, or 2. tell him that I'm seriously considering divorce.

 

I have actually done #1, and it fell practically on deaf ears. My husband basically said I need to start having sex with him more. But it's hard to feel passion toward a man who just pops in and out of the house a few times a day while on his phone with a customer. Never wants to have a meaningful or deep conversation with me. Whatever spark I used to feel for him when I was young is gone.

 

I hate to blame him when I should blame myself, but he hasn't really listened or taken steps to fix anything on his end. I am now looking at this new year as a crossroads in my life, with divorce an option. I have a low paying job and don't know how I will start over again as a single mom.

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Sadly, you sound starved for affection. Neither of these tactics are useful. They are both passive and manipulative, just like catfishing on reddit. You need to go to therapy by yourself privately and confidentially. Discuss why you are catfishing and trying to change your husband. Discuss your distress. Never threaten divorce. However if you are contemplating it you need to privately and confidentially consult an attorney to discuss your options.

 

You need to get involved in life more. Go out and get a job or side hustle. Take some classes and courses. Volunteer, join some clubs and groups. Become interesting, intriguing, mysterious. Get a new look, get in shape, new clothes, hair etc. Shake up your routine more, be out of the house more. This may not get the attention you wish from your husband but you will at least start changing the person you can change...you.

1. talk to my husband about marriage counseling, or

2. tell him that I'm seriously considering divorce.

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You should never begin a new relationship, even if only online, before ending the relationship you're in. It's never too late to get an education for a higher paying career. When my aunt's children had grown and she hadn't worked in twenty years, she decided to become a nurse in her fifties. She enjoyed that career for many years, and at the end of it, could even work part time when it suited her before she retired.

 

Even if your kids are grown, they'll be upset if you and their dad divorce, but it's your life and if that's the only way you'll be happy, you have to do what's best for yourself. My point on this is that it will go a whole lot easier and without a lot of anger if your kids don't find out you've been sexting and speaking to other men online. You don't want to go through life with them blaming you for that bad decision. So stop that crap now and try to delete that evidence.

 

What would I do if I were in your shoes? I'd stop communicating with other men and use that time to get continuing education for a career or trade so that you will be better off financially whether you stay in the marriage or leave it. And then make an appt. with a psychologist and tell your husband that you are attending by yourself since he refuses to go. If the fact that you're making major changes in your life and going to a psychologist doesn't scare him into action, it's likely he doesn't care if you leave.

 

Even if you end up divorcing, give yourself a minimum of a year without dating, or you are bound to choose an inappropriate man who is okay dating a woman fresh from an extremely long marriage because he only wants a short-term fling.

 

Find fulfillment solo before being ready to share your life with someone. I know you're craving companionship, but if you rush, you'll beat yourself up about it later.

 

In case you didn't know, in many states, after 10 years of marriage, you're entitled to half of his retirement savings at the point of the divorce. You're also entitled to half of his pension, if he has one, when he retires. You're also entitled to his higher rate of social security benefits, even after divorce, and that won't affect him.

 

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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I have seen this more and more on here and in real life.

 

The man feels it is his duty to provide the best he can for the family and then it becomes who he is which is not unlike when women became somebodies mom and totally lost themselves in the role. Frankly put your husband may think he is doing a great job as a husband, father and provider. He works hard, doesn't cheat, provides for his family, is home at night and is a pretty solid guy. For many men (myself included) that is all we were ever taught or experienced growing up. The fact is that all that is just the nuts and bolts of being a good father/husband.

 

 

Many of us have been around here a long time and have seen guy after guy find themselves here AFTER their wife got fed up and pulled the trigger on divorce. They want to change, they now see the error of their ways and hadn't realized just how serious their wives were.

My best advice right now is try your very best to get him to understand just how serious you are and what grave danger your marriage is in. Don't threaten divorce but be very frank with him and say "I am very unhappy in our marriage and we need to go to marriage counseling because I don't see this marriage lasting if we don't" Don't expect him to all of a sudden see the light so tell him to think about a few days and you both can talk about finding a counselor. He may want to Do It Yourself kind of thing but you need to insist you both have a professional counselor individually and couples. If he refuses then you should make an appointment to see a therapist just for you so you can work through some of these things you need someone to talk to about. This will help you prepare for ending your marriage. No nagging, no eye rolls, no hands on your hips and dirty looks just sit him down when you are alone and have his full attention and be very matter of fact with him. This is serious stuff and it needs to be handled with brutal honesty.

 

The worst thing is regret and not giving it one last herculean effort to save the marriage. If you try and you still think divorce is what is best for you and your husband then you can go into it with the knowledge that you tried. I have seen more than a few marriages that were on the brink or already considered dead come back and become even better than ever. It can happen but it takes a lot of work and dedication from both spouses. If you or your husband think it is to much work try going through a divorce and the life after, it is no picnic trust me.

 

These online things only hurt your character and betray your family and I am sure you are better than that. There is no time to waste so after the holidays sit him down but DO NOT tell him about your online boyfriends.

 

Keep posting

Lost

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I have seen this more and more on here and in real life.

 

The man feels it is his duty to provide the best he can for the family and then it becomes who he is which is not unlike when women became somebodies mom and totally lost themselves in the role. Frankly put your husband may think he is doing a great job as a husband, father and provider. He works hard, doesn't cheat, provides for his family, is home at night and is a pretty solid guy. For many men (myself included) that is all we were ever taught or experienced growing up. The fact is that all that is just the nuts and bolts of being a good father/husband.

 

 

Many of us have been around here a long time and have seen guy after guy find themselves here AFTER their wife got fed up and pulled the trigger on divorce. They want to change, they now see the error of their ways and hadn't realized just how serious their wives were.

My best advice right now is try your very best to get him to understand just how serious you are and what grave danger your marriage is in. Don't threaten divorce but be very frank with him and say "I am very unhappy in our marriage and we need to go to marriage counseling because I don't see this marriage lasting if we don't" Don't expect him to all of a sudden see the light so tell him to think about a few days and you both can talk about finding a counselor. He may want to Do It Yourself kind of thing but you need to insist you both have a professional counselor individually and couples. If he refuses then you should make an appointment to see a therapist just for you so you can work through some of these things you need someone to talk to about. This will help you prepare for ending your marriage. No nagging, no eye rolls, no hands on your hips and dirty looks just sit him down when you are alone and have his full attention and be very matter of fact with him. This is serious stuff and it needs to be handled with brutal honesty.

 

The worst thing is regret and not giving it one last herculean effort to save the marriage. If you try and you still think divorce is what is best for you and your husband then you can go into it with the knowledge that you tried. I have seen more than a few marriages that were on the brink or already considered dead come back and become even better than ever. It can happen but it takes a lot of work and dedication from both spouses. If you or your husband think it is to much work try going through a divorce and the life after, it is no picnic trust me.

 

These online things only hurt your character and betray your family and I am sure you are better than that. There is no time to waste so after the holidays sit him down but DO NOT tell him about your online boyfriends.

 

Keep posting

Lost

 

Thank you so much, @lost and hurt. That is the advice I wish to take. I like the words you used for how I can approach and speak to my husband about how I'm feeling about the marriage. Mentioning the online boyfriends would hurt him at this point, and it's something I am going to stop. Thank you for not being judgmental. I know my behavior over the last months, and especially recently- the sexual exchanges with one of the men- could be grounds for divorce. This gives us a chance to repair it before just throwing 21 years of commitment away.

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They weren't really boyfriends, IMHO. Not in the full sense. Penpals 1 & 3 are platonic in nature, #3 might even be gay.

 

Other than that, I agree with Lost.

 

You need to work with the therapist to address the problem that caused you to look for a little spice/excitement -or maybe it was just some emotional connection - not over-worry the fact it happened.

 

I think the whole Eat-Pray-blah-blah thing is over-hyped and has probably broken up some families unnecessarily.

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They are not boyfriends. It's cyber sexting with random strangers. Most jurisdictions have done away with grounds for divorce. Are you sure he doesn't have a (real) girlfriend? One that is not some weirdo or catfish online like the types you are entertaining yourself with?

 

When you tell him your marriage is in peril he will just tune it out...again. Or better yet he'll be smart enough to call your bluff and do what I advised which is to see an attorney. Talking at him has never helped so why would more talking at him help now?

Mentioning the online boyfriends would hurt him at this point
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I'm not sure the online conversations rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors. You needed an outlet - an emotional connection you weren't getting at home - and the distance of the online trysts likely saved you from acting out in a physical way with someone you might have chosen to hook up with in real life. I do agree that you need counseling to figure out yourself and your own feelings, and reconcile/forgive yourself for emotionally straying. We're all human and when needs are ignored, its the perfect opp for things like this to happen. If your husband doesn't want to change, this will only get worse and you will wind up with a real affair. Hoping he goes to counseling with you....hope this resolves in a way that makes you both happy...hope the new year brings peace with whatever outcome there is. good luck

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  • 2 weeks later...

Step 1, I'd see a therapist alone. Work through your thoughts & feelings.

 

Next, if you want to save your marriage (and it sounds like you do), speak to your husband when you have his undivided attention. Explain where you are at, and explain that you think counselling is the only way you see of improving matters. Give him a few days to process and speak to him again. If he agrees, great. You are on your way.

 

If he does not, your life will only get worse, your indiscretions bigger and with them, your guilt.

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I have seen this more and more on here and in real life.

 

The man feels it is his duty to provide the best he can for the family and then it becomes who he is which is not unlike when women became somebodies mom and totally lost themselves in the role. Frankly put your husband may think he is doing a great job as a husband, father and provider. He works hard, doesn't cheat, provides for his family, is home at night and is a pretty solid guy. For many men (myself included) that is all we were ever taught or experienced growing up. The fact is that all that is just the nuts and bolts of being a good father/husband.

 

 

Many of us have been around here a long time and have seen guy after guy find themselves here AFTER their wife got fed up and pulled the trigger on divorce. They want to change, they now see the error of their ways and hadn't realized just how serious their wives were.

My best advice right now is try your very best to get him to understand just how serious you are and what grave danger your marriage is in. Don't threaten divorce but be very frank with him and say "I am very unhappy in our marriage and we need to go to marriage counseling because I don't see this marriage lasting if we don't" Don't expect him to all of a sudden see the light so tell him to think about a few days and you both can talk about finding a counselor.

 

This is serious stuff and it needs to be handled with brutal honesty.

 

The worst thing is regret and not giving it one last herculean effort to save the marriage. If you try and you still think divorce is what is best for you and your husband then you can go into it with the knowledge that you tried.

 

^ Couldn't have said it better myself. As a guy who's ex-wife did this to him behind his back, I can't think of a more painful experience to be cheated on. Trust is a true lifeline in marriage. I suffered greatly for both emotional and physical affairs and the pain is still there 10 years later.

 

Carve out several hours in a day (or several days) to have a serious heart to heart, and don't let him blow it off as you are just venting. If he sees that you are 100% serious and divorce (and all the crap that comes with it) is imminent, then he should pay attention.

Then counselling for each of you and both of you.

If that counselling doesnt help you move forward find another therapist.

Spend the $ thousands on counselling, it will hundreds of thousands at stake! Not to mention the broken hearts of you, your husband and your kids!!!

 

and as lostandhurt said, a marriage can come back to life and be better than ever!.

 

I wish you well.

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What I find glaringly apparent from your posts is that you were looking for connection - such a fundamental need for most of us - and when it really wasn't going to happen with your husband, you sought it from other men.

 

I'm going to tell you to stop beating yourself up about it, because the way you carried it out ensured that NOTHING was ever going to happen. You ended the correspondence with two of them when the conversations started getting deeper. When it looked as though something physical could have happened, as with Mr Player, you were terrified. These are not the actions of a cold-blooded adulterer, and you're seriously damaging your self esteem by telling yourself they are.

 

If you read through your post, it's like a shopping list of the nice connections you could have with people... all the way from light-hearted banter, silly conversations, intellectually stimulating conversations and simple friendship; in other words, a list of your needs. You don't say what your life is like outside your marriage, but are you able to maintain friendships which would supply you with all this, without putting you in a situation where you would feel guilty or jeopardising your marriage? Do you get much mental stimulation from other activities, hobbies or friends?

 

By all means go to counselling if there are things you want to do, but are prevented from doing them by the way you're feeling. If you feel that marriage counselling would help, by all means go.

 

However, I'm wondering if your life would become more fulfilling if you were able to take care of your needs independently of your husband - without corresponding with guys in secret. A third healthy choice which is a glaring omission is the one where you develop yourself as a person and stop looking to your husband, or any other man, as the sole source of good things in your life.

 

Although we're fed with all this stuff about how our husband/wife should take care of all our emotional needs, it's a load of rubbish. Looking to one person to be our "everything" is just completely unrealistic. When you say

He's so worldly wise and super smart, so different from my husband who's more a common blue collar "working Joe" type.
it's apparent that you'd like to meet people like this - so have a think about where you might do so in real life in some appropriate social context.

 

At the moment you are giving yourself a very stark choice - to stay and be unhappy, or get a divorce. What I'm saying really is that there are other options which seem to have been unexplored; if you take care of yourself, the relationship with your husband will take care of itself.

 

You're the only one here who can decide what your feelings and wishes really are, but I'd caution against taking a step which may well leave you even more unhappy and lonely than before.

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Wow, I could have written this exact same post. I totally understand what you are going through. Its so difficult when the one thing you need you are getting from someone outside your relationship. My husband and I have been going to therapy for over a year now. Its not helping. while work is a huge distractor, the thing that is keeping us together is medical conditions.

Good luck, I would love to hear how things turn out for you.

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