Now, your wife is still having an online relationship? That's a complete dealbreaker. Don't accept this, not for one more second. She doesn't get to keep her boyfriend while you sit on the sidelines and 'support' her because she's going off the deep end. It does sound like something has snapped, but that doesn't mean you are required, or even expected, to stand by while she cheats. No one is expected to support that.
The days where you are wondering why you can't keep things in perspective? That's your brain bargaining - you want things the way they were, and if only you could get over this, they could be, right? WRONG. Your wife is cheating. She may not be physically cheating, but she is most definitely in at least one emotional affair. That is not the path to a happy marriage.
She doesn't want to leave, and she doesn't want you to. Well, she can have that (you both still at home) or she can have her online life.
First I'd recommend some software that will let you see where she goes online and what she writes, and what is written to her. There are many out there, and there are programs for the phone as well. This way you will know what she's doing, and what you're up against.
Second, the EA stops, NOW. Either that, or you are separated. This isn't negotiable. If you are to work on your M, then your wife cannot be in another relationship. I suggest you see if she will read a few books on the subject, or some of the articles in the healing library here. There is a great 'faqs' section for WSs (wayward spouses) that will help her see what is wrong with her behavior.
Third, see an attorney. Consultations are often free, and you need to know what your rights are, and what you should legally do to protect yourself. You may think "but I don't want a divorce". No one said to get divorced. Just talk to an attorney to see what is available, nothing more right now.
Fourth, start the 180. It's in the healing library, Faqs for the BS (betrayed spouse), question #11. It' for you, it helps you regain your strength and sanity when the affairs are stripping both away. It will help you clear your head and gain perspective. Meanwhile, it will show your wife that you are not kidding about your needs and boundaries, and that either both of you are in this marriage, or neither of you are. Right now, she has one foot in and one foot out, and you're hoping that she pulls the other one in.
Cheaters are very selfish people, at least while cheating. They will justify cheating as their right to be happy. They will blame the BS for anything possible. They will claim it 'just happened'. Nope, they are selfish, plain and simple. They cheat because something in them is broken and they have very poor coping skills, so they take the easy, cheap way to feeling better - external validation. That's what an affair partner is - external validation. This is NOT your fault, in any way. If she was unhappy, she had so many other means to deal with it. She chose full on destruction. Not good.
Your priority now is you. Take care of you. Sleep, eat (or drink some Boost or other nutrition drink), try to go for walks. Remember, none of this is your fault.
And please, you cannot 'nice' your wife back. She is lashing out, and she is enjoying the external validation. She is so selfish that your pain is irrelevant to her. She will care when looking at you, but not enough to stop the behavior - it feels too good. If there are no consequences, not real negative effect, then why on earth would she stop? Because she suddenly realizes it's wrong? Because you are so nice and understanding? No, no way. You have to have boundaries, and she needs to understand that you will not accept more than 2 people in your marriage. She is using the computer to turn your marriage into a group effort. That is not what you signed up for and it's not what you want. If she feels no loss, she won't stop. She's known it's wrong since day 1. That doesn't matter. SHE is what matters to her right not. She needs to see that she won't have her happy home life and her internet sexual escapades.
Good luck, and keep posting - vents, questions, etc. This site really is filled with caring, knowledgable people that have been where you are and can help guide you through the hell-maze of infidelity.
I will take just a small part from your post to comment on:
...became unhinged and said we needed to separate. I agreed but when push came to shove - she did not want to move and she did not really want me to either.
You believe that the two of you need to separate, but it sounds as thought she is calling all of the shots. I think you might do better at keeping perspective if you were making the decisions for your life. If you feel it is time to separate, then you can initiate that. You can file for separation or D. If she will not move out, you can, but check with your attorney first to ensure you do not appear to be abandoning the home. Even a couple of months at an extended stay hotel can provide some perspective and relief from the drama.
This is a difficult period the first weeks and months after discovering an A. Give yourself permission to feel and work through all of the up and down emotions that come with dday.
There is much good information in the BS FAQ in the healing library (yellow box upper left corner of screen). The books Not Just Friends by Glass and Sexual Detours by Hines are also good.
Keep reading and keep posting, and come over to the I Can Relate Forum to check out the Betrayed Men thread.
I'm thinking, did you say vows? Like one-and-only, having no others? kind of stuff?
When the team isn't playing well, most times, coaches say; "We're going to get back to basics."
I can't be sure what's happening chemically in her brain, but can she not go back to basics - like, honoring you (only) & respecting the sanctity of your M?
If she can't, I'm sorry. It's good of you to stick by her when she goes off the rails...you're a good man for that - but comes a time you should jump before the crash too, isn't there?
Sending strength to you.
So now I have to wait and that is what is killing me. For now, its killing me a little less than it would for me to leave. But, when it needs to end I think she needs to go. I worked my ass off on this place and I still have some things to do. I'm seeing a therapist and I am continuing my work in mindfulness. Maybe I'll get somewhere with it and grow a little.
These things are complete and utter changes in her behavior. We have been married for 23 years and it is as if she has been replaced by an alien being. She is not only my lover but my good friend and partner.
It doesn't excuse what she is doing, but it might help make sense of it, and if she is able to stop the estrogen and she goes back to her "normal" self, would you be interested in trying to work things out?
There is a lot at stake here and a lot for you to think about and discuss with her.
Should I stay or should I go?
We didn't say the exact words: for better or worse, but I believe them. I will live by them. This is the worst - she needs my support. If it all goes to hell - I will know I did my best to work through it. Getting her the help she needs is only the first step - there is a lot of work to do after that.
I need to be patient - there is plenty of time for moving. But, yeah, easier said than done.
I am not leaving until I am certain she understands what she is doing.
She may NEVER understand what she's doing. Or, she may fully understand right now--and not care. Estrogen doesn't render women incompetent, you know. She's making choices, not rendered incompetent by hormone replacement cream.
You can't change ANYTHING other than your own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Instead of trying to accept the unacceptable (which your mere presence in the marriage tacitly demonstrates), I'd posit that it's time to draw a firm line in the sand.
As long as you're in the same house, trying to love her back, or "make her understand," or whatever---nothing's going to change.
Trust me on this. I tried every method known to humanity to get my WH to understand what he was doing.
Know what? He knew--all along.
I'd wager your wife does, too.
Does that mean either of our WSs is healthy and making wise choices? Of course not.
But don't make the mistake of believing you can somehow guide or help or change anything she does.
I'd strongly recommend implementing the 180. It will give you the distance you need to see whether/how your actions are perpetuating your unhappiness, and perhaps the strength to make wise decisions for your future.
You can't make those decisions for her, for her future. Just your own.
"Staying until she realizes what she's doing" ... is just ...I don't know. Kind of futile, really.
Because, then what? What if she understands, and doesn't care? What if she understands, and chooses to keep doing just what she's doing?
Then what's your line in the sand?
If an epiphany is going to occur, it's far more apt to do so if there's some shock and awe.
No decision is irrevocable. If your wife decides she "believes" in therapy (and if that's not a lame excuse to avoid facing herself, I don't know what is), decides that there are only going to be the two of you in your marriage, decides to go NC with EVERY other man, decides to give you all passwords and stay offline, shows remorse, gains insight, etc---you can R.
There's not a chance in hell of R as long as she's engaged in her current activities.
And there's not a thing to be gained by "staying until she understands what she's doing."
That assumes she doesn't already.
I'm really sorry. I do understand the pain, and I am very, very sorry you're experiencing it.
Has she asked you to participate or escort her? Is there anyway you can see to allow her to indulge in her fetish and remain married? She could well wind up loving you forever for letting her stretch her wings. This is really tough. She is not out looking for love. That would ruin the fantasy. I bet she does not even think of this as cheating and wishes you could appreciate her interest.
All I can tell you is that I let a woman like this get away and I will always wonder whether I should have been a little more open-minded. I know this sends the wrong message... but there are so many men that would trade places with you. Her happiness; your boundaries. Everybody else here is probably right. Damn, this is really tough.
Your wife is cake-eating. Many of us here, myself included, have heard something along the lines of "I don't know what I want right now," but they want you to stick around until they figure it out. From my own experience and from the hundreds or stories I've read here on SI, it never works out that way. They will continue to eat their cake until the bakery goes out of business.
I'm sorry you have found reason to be here with the rest of us, but keep reading. SI is full of supportive people who know what they are talking about.
Your honor and your loyalty is amazing. Please take care of yourself right now because your WW currently is not. I wish you the best of luck. *hugs*
She's cheating. This isn't an adventuresome woman who's been denied sexual escapades with her husband. It's a woman who's chosen to cheat on her husband. That she's doing the Fifty Shades of Gray thing just shows that she landed on a site like a million others where it's currently trending. It's mainstream---and having endured a long marriage without it, her current fascination, by definition, is NOT a fetish.
It's a dalliance. An experiment. A marriage-destroying, soul-sucking foray into the world of a CHEATING woman.
It's not special, and does not require special handling. It requires BOUNDARIES.
Some people cheat with blondes with bigger boobs than their wives. Some cheat with strippers. Some cheat with older, uglier women. Some read "literotica" online and decide that the Fifty Shades of Grade thing appeals.
Guess what? When you're married, it doesn't matter. It's all idiotic self-indulgence, selfishness, and entitlement, and nothing makes any of it special.
If, after you feel SAFE in your marriage again, you wish to explore this "fetish" (which I would wager will become repulsive to your wife, should she return to the marriage and own what she has done to it and to you), then fine. (It's utter nonsense that you can't engage in it with her because she "can't see you as a Dom.") But for heaven's sake, don't place your emotional and physical (because STDs abound) well-being second to your wife's "happiness." The suggestion that you escort her to her assignations is, unless you want to have an open marriage in which you are the observer, patently ridiculous. Please don't place this burden on your shoulders. Certainly, embrace it if it's what you want. But I don't get the sense you do.
What do YOU want? Clearly, you want to save your marriage. So what will it take for you to have a marriage in which YOU are comfortable? This is not all about your wife. YOU have needs. What are they? For me, they were NC, transparency, remorse, accountability. As I mentioned upthread, I did a LOT of waiting "until he really understood what he was doing." That never happened. In all honesty, I'm not sure it ever really does. My husband is personality-disordered and genuinely incapable of the empathy required. But really, even the most remorseful WS can't fully understand the impact of his/her actions on the BS. It's indescribable. Those who are empathetic can come quite close, I imagine. But they really don't wholly understand. Expecting that is...putting your life on hold indefinitely.
Ask yourself honestly: is waiting until you're "certain she understands what she's doing" a way of postponing a decision? Because you don't need a reason for that. No decision need be made now.
Or is it a KISA thing, allowing you to see her as her guide, her savior, the one who can safely steer her back to safety? Or is it a control thing? Do you see the situation as one that only you can help her correct? None of these is particularly healthy. All are pretty typical of the mixed-up thinking of people who have recently discovered betrayal, though. Time will help you see things--your things and hers--for what they are.
Sit back and see how things unfold. No big decisions need to be made now. Stop placing demands on yourself or setting arbitrary and immeasurable deadlines ("until she understands what she's doing"), and instead ... breathe. Watch. Think carefully about what YOUR requirements for marriage are.
If she says she wants to stay married, watch to see if her actions align with her words.
You can take all the time you want to make a decision. Or, you can choose NOT to make a decision. It's completely up to you.
But please. Don't put your own emotional well-being on the line by buying into the explanation that this Dom/sub thing is somehow special, and in order to keep her, you have to find a way to nurture it and participate. It's a mainstream trend with some die-hard devotees, and doesn't change a darn thing about how it should be approached.
Cheating is cheating. And YOU get to decide what kind of marriage you want. Thing is, so does she. Because you want to remain in the marriage, I hope that the two of you quickly align.
My D-day was 19 months ago. I am in the middle of a successful R but if I could go back in time and do one single thing, it would be filing for divorce. That single act would have saved me so much pain I can't even quantify it.
This is a scorched earth situation.
I am not leaving until I am certain she understands what she is doing
Let me save you some trouble. She will NEVER understand what she is doing to your marriage. She doesn't understand now and she will not understand in hindsight. You can write that down and refer to it later because it will be one of the few things that will be universally true about your situation.
My wife is 19 months out and still truly has no idea what she did and how it affected me. She hasn't a clue.
You can't nice her back. I have been posting here for 19 months and others have posted longer. I have never seen it and I have never heard of any other person that witnessed kindness and understanding ending an affair and enabling reconciliation.
Your wife will cheat and use you as long as you let her. That kind woman that you married is gone. She has been replaced by a pod person. She is going to act like a completely different person and the old "rules" will not apply with her.
Let me tell you what happens if you try to nice her back to normal. She will punish you for it. She will say and do unspeakably hurtful things as long as you entertain her wishes.
On a long enough timeline you will figure out that it's not worth it and you would rather be alone anyway. You will figure out that being alone actually isn't that bad. She will try to stop this by stringing you along and giving you hope. She will toss you a bone every now and then just to keep you on the hook. Finally you will get to the point where you are perfectly happy to file for divorce.
Then and only then will she wake up.
I will explain to you how I feel about what happened to me. When I was 19 I was deployed in a foreign country. I was homesick, hot, exhausted, hungry, being shot at and as generally uncomfortable as a human could be. I realized back then that this would be the worst day of my life. There was no way it could get worse.
I would relive a month of that day just to take away one day of the aftermath my wife left behind.
Do yourself a favor and plant your flag. It's the only positive thing you can do for your situation.
Anyone here disagree?
Any or all of these approaches may turn out disastrous, but I think it is a long shot that she will respond to the 180, IC/MC, and subsequent steps toward R. The remaining options include:
a) Try to handcuff her to your marriage by forcing her to give up her fantasy
b) Handcuff her, put her on a leash, and take her to bdsm party
With which outcome would you be more happy 5 years from now?
I would look at this a different way and let go of the outcome.
Please understand that you cannot control your WW. Just as she made the choice to indulge in these affairs (it had nothing to do with you, but more to do with falling in love with escaping reality), only she can make the choice to come back to it. If your marriage is to reconcile, she must be willing to fix what is missing in her. You cannot do that for her either.
All that you can do is to let her know that you would prefer to work on the marriage (if that is true) but that you won't accept infidelity in your life. You resolve to move forward to a brighter and more functional future that fits in with your needs or boundaries. She is free to come along, of course, but that is her choice, you won't do her part for her, and you will not hold yourself back if she refuses.
Let go of the fear to let go of the outcome.
As a betrayed spouse, we often fall into a victim mentality and freeze ourselves with fear. We are afraid to take any action, because we are afraid of potential consequences. But action is required for a change to take place. It is one of the most basic fundamental laws of the universe. There are things out there that are more important than our fears. Your rights as a human being, your self respect, and staying true to what you believe, being the most important of them. You are an empowered individual. Focus on what you can control - the choices that you make.
Be willing to stand up for yourself!
You have needs and you have boundaries. Do not compromise the ones that come from the core of who you are, or you compromise that core itself. If you accept your WW's behaviour in your marriage, she will not change. She's in a fantasy world and that is a hard drug to give up without incentive. So, what do you do? You hold one hand out to her, and the reality stick in the other to provide that incentive and to stay true to yourself. By following this underlying guideline (with a more tactical edge given by painfulpast's 4 pt plan) you make the marriage and yourself attractive and the affair world a harsh place to be.
The outcome may be that your wife leaves you and continues her online life. The outcome may be that she works on herself and your marriage. That's her choice. But that's not the big picture. The big picture is your goal - getting rid of infidelity in your life and moving forward to that healthy and bright future.
Let go of your fear.
Let go of the outcome.
Stay true to yourself.
[This message edited by SerJR at 3:21 PM, November 6th (Wednesday)]
I have been more Yin in this than I thought possible. However, I am standing up for what I need. She wanted an open marriage. I considered it, read about it, thought hard about it and said no. She is now working through that. We each have one foot out the door. I am willing to work to rebuild the marriage but I am aware that she will lie and she has deceived me before. And I am not even certain I will be able to stay in the marriage without trust. We will see when we get to that point.
And I am lucky to have loving family and friends that I can and do confide in. They are watching my back.
Let go of your fear.
Let go of the outcome.
Stay true to yourself.
Thank you, SerJR. I know this in my heart but I need to keep hearing it, repeating it, and doing it.
We didn't say the exact words: for better or worse, but I believe them. I will live by them.
I bet there was a line or two in there about forsaking all others as well. I'm not saying leave, but don't think you are betraying your vows, as she has already broken them. You have every right to leave.
It sounds like you are thinking this through, as is she. That's about as good an answer as you can get. I do hope, however this ends, you find yourself happy in time.
You remind me of myself. I had a real battle when I found out my FWH had a ONS... he had previously had a lot of online "adventures".
Your WW doesn't sound remotely remorseful and the fact she is still maintaining one of these online relationships is not a good sign in my mind.
My Ex was very similar, he never once said sorry, he blamed me etc, he "needed more" physically (a different obsession but same needy behaviour) it was classic mid life crisis but also he is a sex addict and narcissist so...
I fought from both sides in my head - R or D, R or D. I bought a keylogger which was one of the best purchases I have ever made. See the thing about online affairs is, they're so easy to lapse back into. A few weeks after D Day my FWH was "frustrated" because his needs were not being met, so off he went again to the good old internet, only this time I could see all the blaming, and the "my M was a mistake" and the other things that were said about me. I realised he could only ever truly love himself and the attention he could get online.
This whole BDSM thing has been around since the dawn of time but the 50 Shades phenonenom has made it all "acceptable" to people who would previously had not thought about it. Your wife needs to realise that real life isn't like a book... and face up to her responsibilities.
I know you are hurting a lot right now and I can hear that voice that was shouting at me to to "fight for the M", "save the M"... I would just say, have a real think about whether the M means as much to your WW as it does to you. Because if you're not both on the same page, it's impossible anyway.
There are other options, and from further down the line and now being on my own (with 3 children, by the way so it's not an easy choice) I can safely say I do not miss worrying about my FWH's computer useage. And from his behaviour since we split up, I know for a fact he a) has no remorse and b) is 110% never going to stop.
Take care and look after YOU. Do something nice for you, get some counselling and ask your WW to get tested too if she's meeting randoms off the internet.
Thinking of you.