Wife, affair, separation ... what's next
ok - I have read much of the other threads which have been very useful and insightful and am hoping others might comment on my situtation.
I have been married for 7 years, and living with the same girl for 12.5. She has always taken depression medication having been diagnosed for depression when she was young (Lexipro and Tegretol) and periodically has battled anorexia and at times has been very vulnerable - easily breaking down in tears at little things - especially if stressed.
We have lived in a few different countries (she is American, I am Australian) and are now in Australia. She is a corporate lawyer and has a job that at times is relatively high stress. We are 36 (me) and 35 (her).
In November (2012) I caught her having an affair with a 20 year old that she has been playing ice hockey with. She initially lied to me for about 4 hours making up various excuses before finally admitting that she was sleeping with the guy and had been for about the past month (I had just known she wasn't wear she said she was and hadn't expecting this). She told me she was unbelievably sorry, doesn't know what she was doing had felt like she was out of control, had been seeing her psychiatrist who hadn't been helping and would do anything to save her marriage and make it work.
She went back to see her psychiatrist who didn't help and then to our local GP (regular doctor) who told her she should be admitted and she spent a month as an inpatient at a psychiatry hospital.
She had becoming increasingly angry at times leading up to this, and had recently got a tattoo on her wrist which was much much bigger than she said she was going to, she had also been looked over for promotion three times at the firm she was at which had rocked her confidence. She had also starting drinking a lot (which is easy to hide in a country like Australia), but was getting out of control with this.
Looking back, I see now that she had increasingly gravitated towards a group of people that were non-confronting for her, mostly people that are non-professional - no judging here, some very nice people, some that are sleeping with my wife (so not nice) - but had navigated herself to have no friends that are peers, only work friends that are 5-6 years younger than her that look up to here, and friends from icehockey that similarly look up to her because she is a lawyer and works in the city.
I had helped her to find a new job and she had just started in (8 days) at a new firm at the next level that she had wanted to get to.
Unfortunately the psychiatric hostipal was not a very helpful place for her. All her family are in the US (and didn't come out), I and my family have largely been her family support here..... instead of taking the time to reflect and digest she went a different way.
The hospital took away the usual things (cables and anything that she could hurt herself with) but left her with her mobile/cell phone and she spent most of the time on the phone, texting, facebooking, smsing with the 20 year old and other similarly aged friends (remember she is 35) in the process racking up a $1,000 phone bill. She met lots of people in the hospital that had been in and out of the place over the years and had a no-one needs to be accountable for their actions approach to life, that 'things' just happen and that is the way it is. Lots of victim mentality. The 20 year olds seemed to give her the advice of just work out what makes you feel happy on that particular day and do it.
She had lots of visitors from our other friends and my family and some tough conversations but also love and support. I put aside my feelings of anger, betrayal and hurt and gave her support. I did not let her off the hook though and told her that irrespective of the diagnosis, it would not change the work that her and I needed to do to rebuild out relationship.
For about 2 weeks she was telling me, my family and our (usual) friends that she was going to fix our relationship and get control of herself.
The psychiatrist wasn't too convinced that she was actually unwell, his first thought was that this was just a mid-life crisis, however, this seems to have changed (I should say that in Australia they are normally retiscent with the medication and often assume that people from the US are overmedicated and this may have been part of his thinking). He nonetheless took her through a period of time of taking her off her regular medication and putting her on two different ones (anti-depressent and mood stabaliser) which is a rough process, she became paranoid, angry and hostile and in my view has not really settle back to a normal person since.
After two weeks of being in the hospital she told me she was continued to see the 20 year old she had the affair with (had told me she had cut off all contact) wanted to separate and wanted a different life.
She is consumed by a fear of getting old and tells me that she feels like she has to go out there and live her life while she still can, she looks the best she will do now and while she can go out with the young kids she is going to do it, dam the consequences.
She spent another 2 weeks in hospital, came out just before christmas with (according to her) diagnosis of bi-polar, depression, anorexia and alcoholism.
The plan was for her not to drink for 6 months.
She moved out, took her things has moved a couple of times in the last month and is now staying about 1 mile away from the 20 year old who she is with every waking moment. We are oddly still talking, but having very weird conversations, she tells me she wants to live a single life, sleep with lots of different people and date whomever she wants, it was just sex with the 20 year old but now she feels something for him, but equally is planning on being with lots of different people.
The last month has had one of everything, picks up the car, crashes it two days later, planning on getting another tattoo, she has started drinking again and has been out clubbing every night with the 20 year olds. She is rake thin and the diet seems to be alcohol and mcdonalds at 2am or 3am in the morning. She is now planning on moving in with the 20 year old and is busy introducing themselves around as the new happy couple.
We are working through a financial settlement (that is the process here) which is what you do before a divorce - you have to wait 12 months for that.
I have been all of the place, heartbroken, sad, desparate and at times in despair. I am grieving for my best friend, the girl she used to be and the future that I thought I was going to have with her.
Sadly, I understand that with bipolar comes promiscuitiy and that the future I had thought of is gone. She is adament she wants a different life, but equally tells me she might change her mind in 6 months and wants to do relationship counselling - this is the same conversation that she is sleeping with other people.
She is coherent, has gone back to work and so far is keeping the job going, the lifestyles are pretty inconsistent though so who knows.
I don't know where this leads, I am one foot in front of the other, people tell me you can see the future, run away, my head I think knows this, but my heart aches for her .... I think she is in the middle of a bipolar mania phase, but one that might go on for a long time, she is going to need the financial settlement money as her lifestyle is not paid for by her own salary, but equally when she gets that money it will probably fuel the mania.
I think she feels like she has the best of both worlds, she knows I still care and in the meantime can do what she wants. She knows that what she is doing is destructive to me and to the old her but doesn't care. She tells me she doesn't miss being 'accountable' to someone (we don't have children, and are pretty relaxed people so there really wasn't much accountability, probaby as much as lets talk about what we want to have for dinner tonight or something similar) and can just do what she wants when she does it.
I think she could crash down the track.... or that putting in the work to fix our relationship was too much at the time and her plan is if we get back together it would be again down the track, but then on even terms - and who could judge her then etc.
But how can you hold your life (head talking not heart)??
Your own self worth is massively shaken when something like this happens and I feel probably understandably, but very low.
I don't know what to hope for.....
It would be great to here from people that have had this happen to them and found a way to nagivate it.....
I know it is my own opnion that matters on this one, but also views on whether this is a scenario that I should thank my lucky stars I found out at 36, pick myself up and move on with my life... or ... love her more, but give her space and hope for a tomorrow with her.
I can't begin to tell you how inconsistent her actions (the affair) are with my own value system, the thought of being with someone else to me (even now when she is well and truely into a new relationship with the 20 year old) feels like cheating. This is probably dellusional, not sure...
I should probably also say that our own relationship before catching her in the affair was not a troubled one, lots of love, lots of laughs, intimate with each other, it was almost like she was living a double life. The times she has slept with the kid before I caught her was in our house when I was travelling for work, she would talk to me from one room, go next door and sleep with him, then talk to me again in the morning as she drove to work with him in the passenger seat during the conversation.... calculating and deceitful.
The girl I met 12 years ago took my breath away, she was confident, enthusiastic, full of life and beautfil, the girl/woman she is now and that did those things and the things she continues to do is not 2% of that girl.
Any comments welcome.