Possible EA or just me being paranoid about a platonic friendship?
I’ve posted on TAM a few times and I’ve been reading a few threads regarding EA’s so I thought I’d share my current story.
I’ve been married to my wife for 17 years. We have 3 kids 17,16, & 11. Wife had meltdown almost 3 years ago and basically emotionally detached from the marriage. WAW for sure. ILYBINILWY. So for the last 2 years or so we kind of evolved from totally imploded marriage to a slowly normalized relationship. Still no sex. But we went from a couple years ago sleeping in separate bedrooms total emotional distance (from her) to sleeping in the same bed to even her being comfortable partially naked around me. We’ve even gone on a few vacations abroad together.
She went back to school to better herself and found work. A big change from being a SAHM for many years. But through that time her demeanor went from constantly sullen and blue to upbeat and happier. We shared more fun and relaxed moments together. I began to think that we were turning things around.
Whenever we would talk about the state of our marriage she would, however, always regress to the memory of how much she put the marriage before herself throughout that time. She felt she lost herself and sees herself as weak in those years and that she never wants to become that person again. So a thought of us being together romantically in the future has never entered her mind. She fully believes that it will never happen and that eventually we will go our separate ways as soon as our youngest is off to college.
Now skip to a few weeks ago. She says she’s going to a lunch date with some friends and that she shouldn’t be long. I try texting her several times to get an update because I’m waiting at home with the kids to see what our plans should be, but she’s basically unreachable. I get a little worried because this is not like her to be gone for so long and without contact. Turns out she went to see the manatees in a marina not too far from home and that she was with just one of the 2 friends she originally planned to hang out with. Then a couple weeks later, while at work she texts me that she’s going to grab something where she works and will be home a little later than planned. I text back a little later, concerned because the weather reports show for tornado-type weather and that she should try to get home soon. No replies for about 2 hours. Then she arrives home. I asked her where she went for dinner and she said she went to happy hour and I asked where. She vaguely alludes to “over there”, which I kind of pick up on as a little evasive. That night, I’m sitting in our living room and her phone is on the coffee table at my feet. It lights up from a text message and I glance at it.
It’s from a person we’ll call Matt and it says “sleep well”. I kind of brush it off. But I’m curious.
Two nights later, with her phone on the coffee table, another texts lights up the phone. It’s from Matt asking “How’s your evening?” I become super suspicious, to say the least. Mind you, we haven’t fully reconciled at this point. She hasn’t told me she loves me in a romantic way for almost 3 years. Red flags start to come up. And I don’t sleep at all that night.
Two days later I ask who Matt is. She explains he is a coworker and a good friend. Even says that he’s kind of her confidant at work. And they can just talk so easily.
I know, how many red flags can you count???
I ask if there’s anything else going on that I should worry about. She says no. And I tell her that I am really uncomfortable with her spending time with another man. Given the state of our marriage, such a friendship could be dangerous. She replies, “Noted”.
This was 2 weeks ago. This past weekend we were in a grocery store and she wanted to send me something from her phone but didn’t know how. I asked to see her phone, to which at first she was hesitant. Finally she handed me her phone so that I could screencapture what she wanted to send to me and then text it to me. She hovered over me every second I had the phone. When she saw me open up her text messages she literally yelled, grabbed the phone from me, and tried to shrug me off saying she had to do something first. Yes, I had every intention to see what her messages were from Matt. When she finally gave back the phone, I went straight to her messages, with her hovering, and saw a string of texts from someone who’s initials are most likely that of Matt. They read about a camper van project that he couldn’t wait to show her. Prior to this she did mention that Matt was leaving in March to travel and settle west and that he wanted to hang out with her and other friends before he left. And on another occasion that a “friend” bought a campervan and was planning a trip out west. I immediately assume she’s talking about Matt.
We have another conversation and I tell how strange she acted in the grocery store. She says that it was so weird that I would try and go through her phone. I think to myself, “well it’s even weirder that you changed OM contact name to his initials, probably to throw me off the trail in case he texts you and I might see”. She then says, Matt is only a friend and he will remain my friend for as long as can be. I ask flatly, “Can I trust you? I need to know that I can trust you.” I tell her that I believe her to be a principled, moral person with integrity, which I believe. She says there is nothing bad going on. It’s only friendship.
Now I know I’m coming off as a possessive husband right now. But if our marriage was a happy and healthy one, I probably would have no problem with her having a guy friend. But it is the fact that she is spending time alone with this man and now being clearly secretive about it that concerns me to no end. I honestly don't think it is physical yet but I can sense the emotions are ramping up now that he will be leaving in a couple of weeks. And I know that every spouse couldn't possibly believe that their SO would cheat up until the moment they found out, or even later.
It’s been a rough couple of years for me. I’ve been on the outside hoping for reconciliation. She’s told me a few times how impressed at the changes that she has seen in me. Yet she sees no future for us together.
Do I live a lie for the next 6 years, supporting her and seeing her move on, even romantically? Or do I say “see ya” and live with wreckage. She wants to make no effort at rebuilding our marriage. So what is the point of living one more day like this? BTW the money she makes couldn’t possibly pay for her own apartment and affording to pay for one as well as her school wouldn’t be feasible either.
I’m ready for the beta male remarks and the “man the f*** up” demands. But I’m at that point now to make a very harsh decision that would cause a lot of heartache for a lot of people. The thought of my youngest son having to go through our divorce breaks my heart. I’m at work typing this and I’m about to lose it. But I can’t live this way any more. It’s like I’m a widower living with the ghost of my dead wife. She comes into my life, haunts me, and then drifts away. And then does it again and again.
The only glimmer of hope is that my therapist is also working to get her into IC and maybe try and work with her more. She went a while back, but stopped going. I think she’s very good at compartmentalizing her emotions and simply doesn’t want to address some of her deeper issues. Sad, really.
Anyway, bring on the abuse. I think I know what I need to do.