Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 12:31 PM Thread Starter
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Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

So two weeks ago, my wife of ten years essentially moved back home to the house I've continued to maintain with our 9-year old daughter. I say "essentially" only because we'll be moving her stuff back home over the next month or two before her apartment lease ends in August. Our separation began around April of 2010, briefly cohabited again in June 2010, before she again left for a new "other man" in July 2010.

Our story is incredibly long and involved (as are many others stories here I imagine), so I'll spare the details here. Married young and became parents young, she grew up without a father (and all the issues that can come along with that), a lot of awful immaturity on both sides, multiple repeated affairs, several marriage counselors giving up on us, porn addiction, eventually a bit of alcohol/drug issues, depression, etc. In the last year, things seem to improve substantially when the "other man" my wife was seduced by was arrested and sentenced to a 3-year prison term for sexual exploitation of a minor under 13y/o. He was (unsurprisingly) an incredibly manipulative individual twice her age who essentially "captured" my wife and withdrew her from her friends, family (including our daughter), etc. and it wasn't until several months after he had been gone that she finally woke up to what had happened. Really I think it was the fact that I knew that she was under his spell and thus wasn't "herself", that enabled me to endure all this time without pulling the trigger on divorce.

I am writing this post because I think I have an incredible story to tell here and I hope to someday be able to use it to help others. So to that end, I first hope that others will see this title and find hope that even the most hopeless looking situations are not necessarily hopeless at all. I've read stories of couples being separated for a year or so, or even divorcing and then reconnected years later with another marriage in between, but I haven't yet seen any stories of couples surviving a 3+ year separation. Granted, we were extremely close to divorce on multiple occasions, with lawyers hired and court dates set (and then delayed, and delayed, and delayed), new lawers hired, lots of dating in between, etc. As any divorced person will tell you, you've never seen the worst of someone until they realize that their impending divorce from you will not go the way they hoped. It's a miserable and financially ruinous thing to go through, and should be avoided at absolutely, without question, all costs.

Certainly we're not exactly out of the woods, her being home only two weeks now. We started this most recent road to recovery back in October last year and little by little we have been reconnecting stronger every week. I let her move into the bedroom while I sleep on the couch just down the hall in order to let her get herself accustomed slowly. There are still some very large issues that we'll have to move past as well, such as:

1. Relationship: We aren't being physical AT ALL. No sex, no kissing, quick friendly hugs are about the limit for the moment.
2. While we have processed through the things that brought our marriage down to begin with, and have corrected most of them, we have not discussed at length much that has transpired during our separation. I imagine there are a lot of questions we both have, like, "how many people have you slept with?" or "When did this or that affair start?" or "What do you think has changed about yourself or what have you discovered in the last three years?", etc.
3. Combining income/expenses again.
4. Trust Rebuilding. This will naturally be a long-term step for both of us.
5. Communication. Another long term step, but it's really lacking right now as we both feel like we're walking on eggshells I think, or at least I do. Not out of fear that I'll anger her, but I don't want to bring up things that will make her uncomfortable too quickly or assume the wrong thing.
6. Sex. Physicality in general. Did I mention that one? Yeah I probably did.

So if anyone has any advice for me on good ways to proceed from here, it would be most welcomed!

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post #2 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 12:44 PM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

I personally would keep finances separate for now. So no intimacy between the two of you? Is she just moving back in for financial reasons? I would be thinking long and hard about this the question is what do you want jmo.
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post #3 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 01:01 PM
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Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

Wow. So she moves back in and you get the couch? That's a pretty serious case of oneitis!
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post #4 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 01:09 PM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

Pretty amazing. You two must care deeply about each other. I really don't have any advice, for a long time I hoped that my ex and I could reconcile, but I've given that up. I wish you the best.
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post #5 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 01:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

Tom67: Finances will be kept separate in the sense that I don't think we're going to go back to using only a joint checking account. With that said, when she left in 2010, I was left with the mortgage on our house, with our credit card bills, our car payments, our utilities, etc. Now I think what will happen is that she'll start contributing to these financial needs. She has been spending a ton of her money lately on non-essentials while I very seldom have any to spare, so this needs to be worked out. In the past there were times when I questioned if she was staying married only for financial reasons (probably was) but now I don't think that is the case. Since coming home, she has had no problem with paying for a number of things things related to the household including a massive multi-month electric bill I had accidentally let go overdue, our cell phone bill, new laminate wood flooring and paint for our living room, has gone on two grocery shopping trips for our house, etc. So she has already started to contribute financially, and in ways that wouldn't benefit her if her stay was temporary or looking for financial gain.

WorkingOnMe: Well, sort of. Over the last few months, she has spent the night with us at the house a few times as we transitioned. Maybe five or six nights in three months. She had already made clear she planned to move home and not renew her lease, but we never set a move in date. On those nights she would stay over, I would go ahead and let her sleep in "our" bedroom while I slept in the very comfortable couch in our loft just outside of the room. (It is comfy. My wife once slept on it for two months prior to our separation because of her affairs and not being able to face me)

Two weeks ago the plan was simply that she would spend the night as she had before, but she ended up staying two nights, then three, four, etc. and has been here since. In order to do so, she started getting more and more clothes and essentials from her apartment, and after the 5th or 6th day, I went ahead and cleared out all her old drawers and closet space and cleaned/folded/put away her clothes to see how she's react, and she decided she was ok with it. So it all just sort of happened in the last two weeks, without either of us knowing it would turn into that this soon.

I had long ago told her that when she did move back in, that I did not want to just be "roommates" with her. Since she originally was just staying a night or two, I was fine with crashing on the couch. Two weeks in of course, it is starting to feel a little like roommates, but perhaps I am bending my position a bit because everything has improved so much in the last two weeks. We're talking more, we're more comfortable being around each other alone, we're doing everything together (alone or as a family), and for now, hugs are even more frequent and she is initiating them. The other night we watched a movie together in bed before I left to go to sleep, and she woke me a bit early to give me a hug before she left for work at 5:30 this morning. So I guess my current position is simply that as long as she and I are continuing to take positive steps and not simply standing still, then I'll let this play out naturally.
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post #6 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 01:44 PM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

So how do you try to affair proof your reconciliation going forward? Are there firm boundaries,expectations and consequences if they are not kept?

"Truth is like the sun,you can shut it out for a time,but it ain't going away"-Elvis
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post #7 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 01:58 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

TBT: I think those are coming next. Friends have asked me things like that too, like if we are allowed to check each other's phones or e-mail accounts or Facebook, know where the other is when we want to, etc. Right now we haven't really gotten comfortable where we are yet. We have talked about healthy boundaries and unhealthy boundaries, same with healthy and unhealthy expectations. I think the consequences are pretty clear. We've known for a long time that we were at the very cusp of divorce for a long time, and if anything like an affair were to take place now after everything we have put into it at all this time, then the marriage would be over.
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post #8 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-25-2013, 12:58 AM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

Wow, you stuck it out all of this time? That is such dedication! I really hope that this sticks with you guys. That's really fantastic that you are planning to stick to your guns about another... slip (putting it nicely) meaning the absolute end. I would think that rushing right into that talk would be difficult, so I think letting it play out naturally, while maybe guiding it gently along, would be good. That way you still have some control over the situation but you can still allow things to settle down first. I read somewhere that it's a good plan to let things build back up between two people, but after a few weeks, to schedule a talk so you two know the boundaries and what happened during the separation.
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post #9 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-26-2013, 06:40 AM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

Yeah l just wanna say congrats really and admire what you've been through yet found your way back.
l know from what you say your eyes are open and so really , just all the very best with your new life together and may you happily grow old and fat together
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post #10 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-26-2013, 09:00 AM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

How do you deal with the memory of her affairs? Has she ever shown remorse or apologized for the pain she put you through and the danger she put your child in by dating a sex offender?

I'm not impressed with this woman. Is she going to any counseling to get to the root of her issues?
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post #11 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-26-2013, 10:25 AM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

Good luck, OP. I'm rooting for you, knowing that this will not be a simple process. Trust will take a long time to build, and that's what my primary focus would be after such a long time in turmoil. I hope you can both pull as hard as the other on making this work long term.
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post #12 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-26-2013, 10:37 AM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

I don't see why anyone would pat you on the back and congratulate you for sticking it out....I would pat you on the back for moving on. I mean, I hope it all works out for you, but I think you have rug-swept a lot of the terrible crap she did, and helped feed her cake.

You seem pretty desperate to get her back. I don't think that is a great approach at all. SHE should be the person on the couch, and SHE should be doing the heavy lifting. Your estranged wife went on a sex-romp with at least 4 men that you know of for years. You deserve better than that. You deserve some real answers.

I think you wife really needs to get her self together before you expose your child to this all over again.
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post #13 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-26-2013, 10:49 AM
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

The ground rules that you say you are discussing now should have been agreed to before she ever contemplated moving back.

I am worried about your comments regarding 'healthy' and 'unhealthy' boundaries. Boundaries change once a spouse has been shown to be capable of cheating. There are no 'unhealthy' boundaries in your situation. You should have passwords to everything and you should know where she is at all times.

Also, the financial situation should have been agreed to. It shouldn't be, 'oh she paid this bill' or 'that bill'. It should be agreed that she puts 'X' amount of money in the joint account to pay expenses.

I am worried you aren't protecting yourself (and your child) enough.
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post #14 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-28-2013, 01:06 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

Battleworn: Yes the plan is to let things settle in for a few weeks/months, but eventually we will sit down to discuss in detail the events of the last three years and some prior. As it stands now, we know what our expectations are, we know where we went wrong and what elements need to change, so that's good. We can't just bury the past though, so we'll address it in time, but we don't want the emotional baggage of that to get in the way right this moment.

Thanks Whitehawk.

LostViking: To clarify a few things... he was not a convicted sex offender when they met and she moved out with him. The events that got him arrested took place (without her knowing) during the spring, summer and fall of 2011. She moved in with him in August of 2010, and he was arrested in late March of 2012. He was under investigation for a long stretch of time prior to the arrest as well, but he kept that from her too. She found out when she came back to their apartment after work one day to find the place swarming with police who were taking her computer, tablet, camera and phone, along with ELEVEN cell phones that belonged to him that she also didn't know about.

She has apologized several times about different things. Not long after leaving me and moving in with him, she apologized for having engaged in another affair, for having cheated on me rather than been up front about problems and seeking a separation/divorce first. When he was arrested, she came to me in tears, utterly revolted to discover the things he had been doing, the fact that she had allowed our daughter to meet him and do things with them together (before I found out about him and put an immediate stop to it, on threat of a nasty, nasty divorce). Thankfully, he never had access to our daughter, so there was no harm done there, though knowing that she was originally ok with them being around each other was enough to break her down into tears. She was utterly humiliated, rock bottom. She has since also apologized more than once for all of the lying and covering up she did both while she was gone and prior to her leaving.

She has been in counseling (though isn't right now) and is on an anti-depressant. My being a pretty crappy husband, her rough childhood, our immaturity, and a few bad choices of hers along the way led her to a lot of the messes she got into, but she's really made nothing but positive choices in the last two years or so, during which time she has been in Nursing school and recently graduated with her LPN certificate and will finish her RN and BSN in the next six months and 18 months respectively.

DoubleTrouble: Thanks for the support. Trust will take a while to rebuild. We're also working on the friendship/relationship first, with nothing sexual or even physical involved. She and I haven't had sex or even kissed in three years.
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post #15 of 295 (permalink) Old 06-28-2013, 01:07 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Wife moving back in after 3+ year separation

Tulsy: As I said, it's a terribly long story. I can say that I know I share a large portion of the responsibility for what happened. I never cheated, abused her or yelled/screamed, never drank or did drugs or gambled or any of the "obvious" things that a man can do to ruin a marriage, but I was a piss-poor husband. I left her starved for affection, used guilt and manipulation freely, got into some pretty messed up sexual fantasies and more. I drove her away, to the point that any guy who gave her a tiny bit of positive attention, would leave her captivated and vulnerable. I loved her dearly and thought I was a good husband by not doing any of the bad "obvious" things listed above, I worked hard to provide a good living, bought her gifts and supported activities/friends, but in the other important relational/emotional ways, I failed miserably. Cheating was absolutely wrong, she knows that, but I drove her to it, and in some screwy ways even endorsed it. (there was a time when we tried swinging) The sex offender was a smooth talking, manipulative dead beat, all three factors needed for a woman in her position. (charisma to charm her and lure her in, manipulative to break down her values to get her to do what he wanted, a dead beat so as to be "above her" in any way, so she would never have to feel inferior to him, which given her poor self esteem at that time, was a breath of fresh air to not have to worry if you are "good enough")

So maybe I have rug swept a few things, and I know no one should blame themselves fully when a partner cheats, but I am also supremely confident that her adultery never would have occurred if I had been even a half-decent husband. So I feel if I have learned from my mistakes and be a good husband going forward, then I shouldn't have anything to fear from her in that area.
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