A couple people asked for me to post this. I wrote this in a PM, figured it would be about as short as I could muster. And yet I still feel I left out so much...
My wife had a rough childhood growing up, father was in jail most of her life. I was with her when they reconnected at the age of 18.
She has self-esteem problems, probably from that. She is absolutely beautiful, a real amazing woman, and yet she sees herself as ugly and worthless many times.
To many people, they would probably have looked at our marriage and seen the perfect couple. I think her friends were very envious of her. Outwardly I was a very good husband. I always worked to make her feel loved and cared for. I always told her how beautiful she was and how much I loved her, how I appreciated her. Did the random flower and card thing. Went out of my way to make her feel special.
A blessing and a curse, I think all that stuff made it more difficult to accept the part I was playing in her unhappiness. I loved and cared for her very much, but I didn’t listen to her the way she needed, I didn’t know how. I only shared my true feelings when I was lashing out in anger (which was not often). I wanted to protect her because she was already so hard on herself, I didn’t want to add to that. I had the best of intentions but all it did was drive a wedge between us. I helped around the house but only after she asked. I was bad at anticipating her needs. Again some people would be happy to get any help, but that is where I made the mistake. I told myself I was a great husband and she should be happy about me, always trying to justify myself instead of sucking it up and giving her what she needed. She told me for YEARS she felt like we were just roommates. And in my head I thought it was just her general disposition, or a woman thing. I thought it would just get better as time went on, or that she would just one day snap out of it. I never felt responsible for her her disposition.
Things went downhill when her father passed away. I know that kind of thing causes people to reflect and what not. A few months later is when she started going out with her friends more. We started MC because we were fighting more and both were getting tired of it. At first MC made it worse for me, because I was just chugging along before, after MC I realized how much crap I was putting up with.
Things came to a head one day when we were arguing about nothing. She was seriously pissed off at me and I hadn’t done anything. I knew that day was the last day of our marriage, but I told myself I would give it 100% for one last shot before calling it quits. I pulled out the Love Dare from my nightstand, it had been sitting there for a few years. And in that first page I realized my part. I had been trying to be right instead of happily married. I had justified that my wife was crazy instead of taking personal responsibility for what I could.
Overnight I completely changed. 100%. I started REALLY listening. I was able to start having empathy. I learned to share my feelings even though I knew they would cause some initial pain. Importantly for her, I was proactive about helping her around the house. Taking charge of the house and kids before she had to ask. I became the perfect Beta husband.
It’s that change that allowed me to detect something amiss in our next counseling session. She said something about being addicted to butterfly feelings, and how it was nice to get flirted with when she was out. I got that little annoying feeling in my stomach and could tell something wasn’t right. I had been completely trusting of her our entire relationship, but I started snooping that night.
I saw some messages to old friends, new friends, girls. No neon signs but little things that didn’t sit right. She was a little flirty with some of these guys. Nothing overt, just, flirty. Talking about hot guys to her girl friends. Telling other guys they looked good. Reminiscing about good times with old friends, about how she used to like them.
That was about the time she started the ILYBNILWY talk. Needing space. Feeling smothered. Needing to find herself. Wanting to be free, seeing if she could make it on her own. Like 100% standard cheaters script.
I let her go out with her friends and chat with old guy friends. It was making her feel good about herself. I wanted her to feel good. I wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to find herself. I had no idea what it all meant. I hadn’t been reading about affairs or hovering around the CWI forum. I had no idea this was standard cheater stuff.
Before I go on I should say that one thing I royally screwed up on in my marriage happened at the very start. I had a friend I met on the internet from college. We had met a few times, we were really good friends. We talked a lot and liked each other but never made anything of it. She got married before I met my wife, she let me into her marriage, and when I met my wife, I let her into mine. Nothing inappropriate ever went on, I always told my wife when we talked, kept my messages and offered to show them to my wife. But when we first got married she didn’t like it.
She didn’t think it was appropriate and wanted me to stop. I had told her everything I just said, about old friends, both married, not hiding anything. In my mind I was justified and she was being irrational. This girl was one of the only friends I had that I could share things with. I didn’t want to just give her up. It really bothered my wife, but I did nothing about it. In essence, I sh*t on her feelings.
So back to where we were, a few things happened in short time.
She started texting this old friend of hers. And she started deleting all of her texts and FB messages. Her logic was simple, the kids always had her phone and would dial people she texted. Made sense to me, I had seen it happen. I did not like them talking so much but I was still talking to my friend (didn’t want to give that up) and I definitely felt hypocritical about asking her to stop talking to her friend while I still talked to my mine. But I was still uneasy about everything, so I started leaving her FB on at work and that’s when my world started crashing down.
I was sitting at work, doing my thing, actually I was alternating between work and texting my wife. Counseling was off and on, I felt like we were making progress but she was very wishy-washy. The text messages were good, love you see you soon type stuff. I was flabbergasted when I switched over to FB and saw a stream of messages from the last 24 hours. This random guy, an old friend of her dad’s, was exchanging messages with her. She was talking about how she liked to look but not touch, how she thought he was hot, they were talking about her rack, then they started talking about sending naked pictured of eachother.
This may not seem that bad to some people now. It doesn’t to me. But that completely shattered my world. My wife is a strong, sweet, Christian woman. She was my first and we both waited to have sex till we were married. We had two kids. She worked at a church. The thought of her acting so whorish cut me deep. My arms literally started shaking and I could hardly see. I ran to my car and drove to our MC screaming and crying. I could not believe that in the middle of texting me she could be talking to this d-bag guy about sending and receiving naked pictures.
I confronted her, she told me she felt dumb, they would never talk again. She committed to me 100%. Said how sorry she felt and all that jazz. Things actually picked up from there, our relationship was really growing again, but she still seemed in angst about her life.
At that point I read all I could about cheating and affairs. Saw she had all the signs. But I rationalized that this was my wife, she may have the signs but she isn’t there yet. Nothing was going on. My wife was telling me nothing was going on, I had to believe her. I confronted her on the texts and deleting them, let her know I didn’t appreciate it. And she cut down quite a bit on them. Still kept them deleted though (it was a “habit”).
After some more counseling sessions we were really reconnecting. We starting enjoying eachother’s company. We were going out on fun dates. She told me she was looking forward to our relationship, but she still at times would tell me she wanted to find herself, wanted to see if she could make it on her own. I didn’t care, I knew we both loved each other and things were going to get better. Halloween night we went on a date and it was the best time of our life. We had so much fun. We both talked about how much fun we had and how much we loved eachother. We went home and had great sex. Things were on the up and up.
The next night we both wanted to go out but couldn’t get a baby sitter. Her ****ty single friend called her and said she was going downtown that night and wanted her to come. She had a hotel room, and they could stay there the night without having to drive home drunk. I expressed my concern but didn’t want to be “controlling” as she put it, and so she left.
Midnight I got a call, she wasn’t that drunk but her friend was so they were going to stay. Everything in my body wanted to tell her to take a cab and come right home, but again, didn’t want to sound desperate or like an ass. The next morning, determined not to “hover”, I took the kids out. I didn’t want to be home when she got there. I wanted her to feel like she missed out by going out. We stayed out till 1pm, when I got home, she was still not home.
Everything took a turn for the worse from there. She started getting agitated about everything. She stopped all physical contact. She would actively avoid me physically. She started texting all day to her ****ty single friend, something that was odd because she used to hold this person in contempt for being such a *****. She got super secretive of her phone and phone conversations. She started taking drives “just to get away”. I’ll never forget the time I kissed her forehead goodnight and she recoiled like it burned her. Through all the books I’d read I knew something was going on, I just refused to believe it. I figured she met someone while she was out and she was talking about maybe wanting to see them or date or something. Or maybe her ****ty friend was pregnant and she didn’t want me to know.
But I had been reading Love Must Be Tough and I was starting to get my balls back. I told her if she didn’t want to respect me, maybe we should separate. Instead of protesting, she said it would be a good idea. I got her the papers to review that night. The counseling session that night I told her if she deleted another text again I was leaving. She promised she was trustworthy, she was committed, nothing was going on. The ride home was unpleasant, we were two complete strangers in the car ride home. The next day I woke up and checked her phone, messages to the guy. Good, she got the hint, no funny business. The hacker in me though didn’t trust it 100%, so I ran it through her phone records and that’s when I saw it. She had selectively deleted half her texts. That was so much worse than before. Now she was actively being deceitful to me. I checked her phone and found she created a fake email and FB account. I could not believe the deceit. I didn’t tell her anything. I just said, “I was going to wait till the papers were signed, but I’m leaving right now. You have a week to find a place to live, I’m staying at my parents. We are not separating, we are divorcing.” And I took all her credit cards and gave her the grocery money for the week and left. It was amazing to me that during that time she was still playing innocent. “What do you think I did this time” “What did you find out” “Why won’t you stop playing games and just tell me what you think you know but really don’t” “Oh big deal, I deleted a couple texts, get over it”. Amazingly though I was leaving because of the deceit, I still believed nothing was going on. I thought he was helping her get ready to leave, advice about divorce and finances and planning to leave and what not.
At work I told my boss what was going on and that I was divorcing and needed some time off. I went back to my desk to get some stuff and even worse than the first time, I got my heart ripped out of my ass. I don’t know how or why or what or anything. But popping on my screen, was messages from the night before from her FB. I didn’t even know I left it on, and she knew I was checking so I don’t even know why they did it. The messages were from her friend, I couldn’t see her responses but I could see what he wrote to her. Talking about the fantasies she had been having, how they could act on them now, how she wanted to come out there for a trip and they could see eachother all week, what outfits she would wear, how he was going to pound her so hard she wouldn’t be able to walk straight.
A piece of me died right there. All that naivety I had and trust was completely destroyed. All the signs made complete sense. I was a fool for not trusting my gut and for being so naïve. Turns out she had been sex messaging this guy since a few days before I had read the Love Dare. They took a break because they both knew it wasn’t right and she wanted to work on the marriage, but it was back on in full force not 24 hours after we talked about separating. My wife, who I believed was trustworthy to that point, was a complete lying, deceiving, b*tch. Everything she said to me over the last few weeks had been a sham. All the gaslighting, making me feel guilty or controlling. Promising nothing was going on. Committing to me 100%. All the work I had been doing on our marriage…
I started putting two and two together, she was texting this ****ty friend of hers every day all day long. What else went on? I wondered what happened Halloween night, that was when sh*t seemed to hit the fan. Was she seeing some guy locally too? She had been talking about co-habitating instead of divorcing “for the kids.” I figured she was playing me for money and was going to try to steal from me at any time, probably to fund her “vacation” to go see the EA partner. I called her and told her I needed her to go with me to the Bank to sign some papers. She tried to delay it, I was more and more convinced she was trying to screw me. She told me she “wanted to talk and see if we could work things out” and I let her know I would talk to her after she signed the papers. My plan was to see what she would tell me. If she lead me on, I would know she was just after my money. I was 95% sure I was going to hear more stories, so I went expecting to continue divorcing.
On the way to the bank, I started thinking about how I would destroy her and this guy. This supposed “friend” who was a “good Christian guy”. He was a counselor and I had messaged him making sure he was responsible and didn’t have any malicious intent with my wife (naïve and dumb I know). His response was he would never do anything like that to ruin a marriage, they were just friends. He enjoyed helping people in their marriages. Funny that he said that after they had sex messaged for 3 days straight and sent him naked pictures (I checked the phone records and for literally 3 full days they back and forthed every minute). I had my plan all worked out. I was going to message them both on FB, I can’t even write what I was planning because it is so evil and twisted, but I was assured neither of them would enjoy sex for the remainder of their life ever again. I was in the process of planning how I would out her on her own FB, changing the passwords and posting all the back and forth messages and how she had been lying and cheating this whole time while I worked hard on the marriage.
Luckily God had been working on me those few weeks, and in the middle of my rage showed me that is not the man I am nor who I want to be. He reminded me that I have been unfaithful to him, and yet he still loves me and shows me mercy even though I don’t deserve it. I promised to myself that I was going to be a man of character and treat her with love and respect and dignity no matter what happened.
When she was there to sign the papers she was still in her mood. She made me seem like the bad guy. We got home and before she said I word I let her know, “I want you to know that I’m willing to listen to whatever you have to say, but I want you to know that if you aren’t ready to be 100% honest with me, then don’t say anything.” I told her if she was not 100% truthful about everything, we were 100% done and there was no way we would ever reconcile. I also told her before she started that no matter what happened, I was going to treat her with love and respect, because she was the mother of my kids and that I did care about her as a person. I mentioned that I hoped she finds happiness in her life, and that regardless of what happens with us, she won’t find happiness on her current path.
She still tried to play games somewhat. She was not immediately forthright. She would not tell me anything for a few minutes. She wanted to know what I knew first. I told her what I knew did not matter, because she was going to tell me everything and be 100% open. She asked what I wanted to know.
My plan was, start with the unknowns and work my way to what I did know. If she lied about what I did know, I would know she lied about the stuff before. So I mentioned a trip she took a few weeks before, “What happened on the trip?” I could tell she was honest. She was 100% quick on the response. She was with her friends and relatives the whole time, I knew that.
Then I asked her what happened on Halloween night………..crickets……….she turned her head to the side. She was trying to hide from me. And before she could say anything, I knew that my worst fears were confirmed. “What do you know? Who told you?” I wouldn’t have it…. She started crying.
Interesting that up until this point I had imagined many times what would happen if my wife ever cheated on me. You replay the possibility in your head, and you imagine that you will be a fountain of rage and anger. But when I heard her say the words, I was completely calm. I can not describe why I did not get angry or upset. I stopped caring about me for those few minutes, and I had empathy towards my wife. Not because I was planning on forgiving her, quite the contrary, I was all but sure we would be divorced at that point. I felt bad for her because I knew that she had ruined her life, and could see in her face that she knew it too.
She gave me the details of what happened, well, a watered down version anyway. And I just sat there with her and prayed for her. I let her know that she would be forgiven, that God had forgiven her. That I would still treat her with love and respect even though we wouldn’t be married. That she had to turn her life around not for us, but for herself and our kids.
My wife started bawling. I guess at that point she started saying all the things you want your wife to say when you get that bombshell. I didn’t really even offer anything, I was pretty convinced we were getting divorced so I wasn’t looking for her to prove anything to me. But she started talking about how sorry she felt. How horrible she felt. How it broke her heart to think about the pain she caused me and our family. She said she knew what she wanted, she can’t believe how she could ever screw up something so awesome. She told me that she couldn’t believe how humble and forgiving I was and that is why she married me. She talked about how much she loved me and how attracted to me she was. How she was desperate and in so much pain and completely lost and was just trying to fill that void. She told me how I was the perfect husband and she could not have asked for more in a man than what she had seen the last few weeks. She offered me her cellphone (actually she offered to throw it away). She told me she would delete her FB account. She would stop going out with her friends. She would never talk to any of these guys ever again, immediately. She offered to do whatever it took to show me that she could be trusted. She offered for me to take as much time as I needed to rebuild her trust.
In essence, she was truly remorseful, even before I knew that was a term.
So to make a long story short, I have chosen to forgive her because I have seen from her actions that she is truly remorseful. And that she was lost and in pain and didn’t have the emotional maturity to handle it properly. More importantly, she has recognized her depression and emotional shortcomings and begun working on fixing them. And as far as showing, though I commented that sometimes I feel like there is a spark missing when she looks at me, she has made extreme efforts and progress on showing me love, respect, and working on my needs. From the effort side, I couldn’t really ask more, and I see her making improvements every day.