******* This is mostly just background, so skip down to the next stars for the important info *****
I've known for several months that something was not right with regard to my husband's ex-wife. She has always been mentally and emotionally unstable, and I mean that in the clinical sense, but her ups and downs have been more extreme than usual lately.
Years ago, I had to block all communication with her and even had a restraining order for a while because she was stalking and harassing me. Since then, the only way I've known what was going on with her was if WH either told me or forwarded her emails/texts, or if she pulled something like withholding the kids (she and WH share custody of their two daughters) and WH ended up in court over it.
All that to say that it hasn't been uncommon for me to pick up WH's phone to see what's going on with her. Truly I never did that because I didn't trust him but mostly because of morbid curiosity, and also because I feel like it's better to know ahead of time if she is about to do something really crazy like show up at our house in middle of the night or crash a family party.
So recently I've noticed that her personal attacks via text have been even more vicious, and usually followed within a few days by some way over-the-top compliments or texts that were friendly in tone. The ups and downs were so much more extreme than usual, that I suspected something in WH's behavior must be triggering them. Then one day over the Summer, I noticed that she had texted him just one word: "on?" while he was at work. Then a couple of weeks later, I saw the same thing. Around that same time, we started going WAY over on our cell phone data allowance. My usage hadn't changed, so I knew that it must be something he was doing. I checked and saw that he had downloaded the Voxer app and that he was friends with her there. Every time I checked after that, his chats with other people were still there, but hers was always clear. Then one of my stepdaughters casually mentioned sending him a Vox from "Mommy's" phone, a message that I never saw, and I knew he must be clearing their conversations for a reason.
While I was figuring this all out, we were in the process of adopting a baby, who was born in September. Knowing that something wasn't right was eating me up, but I was scared to confront him because I was afraid that it would put the adoption in jeopardy. If it had been a "normal" adoption, maybe I would have confronted it sooner, but the baby is the biological child of a close family member, and if we didn't adopt, baby would end up with strangers and I just couldn't bear that. So I kept my eyes open and my mouth shut. And continued to continually observe veiled references to "secret" conversations.
On Monday (11/4/2013) I was setting up WH's new phone, and I decided to look through his old emails. Because the volume of emails he receives from his ex is incredibly high (when she in middle of an episode, it isn't uncommon for him to receive more than 10 ranting emails from her per day) I haven't always read all of them. I found a couple of emails from early spring, right after we had told the step kids about the adoption. In them, OW made reference to the fact that she could cause me "quite a bit of heartbreak" if she wanted to, and went on to say that she was just choosing not to do so because she didn't "want to cause any grief" for WH. It hasn't been uncommon for her to make unfounded statements like that, and her credibility is so terrible that if it had been just those statements alone, I would have overlooked them. But taken altogether with the fact that I knew they were having secret conversations, I felt like I had all the proof I needed.
******* This is probably the only important part of the post *********
We actually had to go out of town, so I waited until we were in the car in middle of nowhere to say anything. I figured if he couldn't go anywhere, he would be forced to listen to me long enough for me to overcome any denials. All I said was, "something has been bothering me for a while. I know that there are boundaries being crossed with your XW, that you at a minimum are having secret conversations with her. I don't know the full extent of it, but I want you to tell me the truth." I fully expected him to deny it, but he paused for a second and then he said, "well, we do talk 'offline'. It hasn't been sexual, but it's definitely been more personal and more often than I should be talking to her."
The conversation went on from there, and I somehow managed to maintain my composure, but it boils down to an ongoing emotional affair over the last year between him and his XW. I've just got so many thoughts swirling around. I'm angry, I'm incredibly sad, I'm totally confused, and I'm terrified.
I don't really know what to do. He says he wants to make it right, I want us to stay together, but I have no idea how to go about rebuilding trust. He can't exactly go no contact with her until the kids are both grown, which isn't for 11 years. He asked me what I want him to do, and I'm just not sure. I did tell him that he is to cease any contact with her that isn't necessary communication about the kids, immediately. I don't even want him to tell her that he's not going to carry on with her anymore; I don't think she deserves that. It just needs to stop.
Part of me wants to demand all his passwords, and to start comparing his texts to the bill to make sure nothing is being deleted, and to install some kind of spyware on all his electronics to make sure he isn't talking to her. But I don't want to live like that. I want to trust that he is doing what he says, but I just can't right now. I don't know what's reasonable for me to ask, but I do know that something major has to happen.
***** This is just venting and random thoughts ******
One thought I can't get out of my head is, "WHY her???" She is beyond vile, in every sense of the word. She made his life living hell while they were married, and since they divorced has done countless awful things to him. She has tried to sabotage his career, kept his kids from him, told his family awful lies about him, continually demanded more and more money, stalked, harassed, verbally abused, and so on. And to top it all off, she is the most physically unattractive person you could imagine. I just do not understand why he would want to have anything to do with her when he admits that he hates her.
I'm so lost. If you read even part of this, thank you.
[This message edited by VeryHurtbroken at 10:43 PM, November 6th (Wednesday)]
"If only I can fight just a little longer, I know it's gonna make me stronger" Jamie Grace-Holding on.
They have been divorced for 7 years. We met a year and a half after the divorce, and started dating six months later, so two years total after the divorce.
[This message edited by VeryHurtbroken at 10:53 PM, November 6th (Wednesday)]
I'm so sorry. It sounds to me like something was not completely healthy about your H because he married this crazy train wreck. He needs to figure out why he did that, and why he had children with her. Choosing a mentally and emotionally unstable person to be the mother of your children is a really bad decision.
It seems likely that whatever is wrong with your H is the reason why he is still entangled with his ex. I would suggest telling him there is no chance of staying married unless he starts IC immediately and owns his shit.
I would also read all his messages. What sorts of things was he saying to her? How do you know it wasn't physical? It's reasonable (and arguably necessary) for you to ask for full transparency.
What is the custody agreement for your H and ex's girls? I would chose one and only one avenue of communication--email. Unless there is an actual question about the children, no contact at all. If there is a question, email, and you get to see every one from her. You determine whether it warrants a response. Or if you don't want to do this, then he does it with the counselor or a lawyer.
Your H has shown himself to be incapable of boundaries, and will need plenty of IC before he's ready to handle this situation on his own. Otherwise, he's going right back to the status quo which is some kind of twisted codependency with this woman that's been going on since he met her.
Whatever you do, do not rugsweep this. Insist on individual counseling for him to figure out why he was ever attracted to this woman and what he gets out of their relationship. He'll need to learn a ton about boundaries and how to be emotionally healthy. He is not a safe person right now!
I very much hope you were able to adopt your baby.
With regard to why he married her.... He was 18 and she was 25. Both came from ultra-religious families and most people in their circle married young. He says he married her because he wanted to have sex, and at the time that wasn't an option outside of marriage. My youngest stepdaughter wasn't planned. He had actually already filed for divorce when they found out about the pregnancy.
You can tell just by looking at photos that WH didn't really "blossom" until his mid-20s. Somewhere around 23-24, he went from being a skinny boy with zero self-confidence to an attractive and charming man. A lot went into that transition that isn't relevant on this forum, but at some point I guess he realized that he could do better. That being married doesn't mean you have to put up with abuse and harassment. He actually pushed for them to go to counseling, but after several failed attempts to reconcile, he filed for divorce.
Because I think they had a bad experience with MC before (in his mind it didn't "work"), I'm almost reluctant to suggest it. But I do think it would be beneficial to have someone help us get through this, because I am totally lost and he thinks if he is just nice enough to me that I'll get over it.
And the adoption did work out. Our sweet baby is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and probably the only reason I am not totally melting down over this!
[This message edited by LizzieJane at 12:25 AM, November 7th (Thursday)]
Plus since she is the XW, it seems it would be pretty darn easy to have sex again since basically "been there, done that". Otherwise why bother with the XW?
Sorry to throw that out there.
She is beyond vile, in every sense of the word...I just do not understand why he would want to have anything to do with her when he admits that he hates her.
Seriously I would make it an absolute condition for having even a chance at R (not R but just the chance at it) and anything more than the most minimal relationship legally allowable with your baby.
I didn't mean to attack your H in my previous post--although it does sound that way! In your story, I saw the kind of red flags that I missed in my H, so I pounced. Red flags do not mean that your H is a bad person, just that he is not an emotionally healthy person.
18 is so young. Yikes. Still, if your H had come from a warm, loving, supportive family, he would not have put up with abuse and harassment for long, no matter how young he was. Something in his FOO (family of origin) must have made him feel unworthy. Somehow, he didn't grow up learning healthy boundaries (such as "your crazy is not my fault" and "respect me or I'm out of here").
It is much to your H's credit that he tried counseling to improve his marriage, and that when his efforts weren't working, he got divorced. It's also to his credit that he married a smart, sane, strong, beautiful, loyal woman this time!
The problem is that he didn't heal the FOO damage that got him married at 18, and taught him to tolerate the misery for however long. This damage is not your H's fault, but it is his responsibility to fix it. If he's like my H, he really wanted to believe that he had come through a bad childhood and bad first marriage unscathed. Mine wanted to believe that he had overcome all that before he met me.
But actually, he was vulnerable in ways that he couldn't admit, and I didn't have the psych degree or experience to see. OW saw his brokenness, though, and knew how to exploit it. She played the damsel in distress and knew all the right moves to make him feel obligated to help her. Because of his FOO, my H was incapable of saying, "This is your problem. You deal with it. I am not responsible for you. You're an adult. Go make your own self happy. It's not my job."
What you were hearing in my previous post was probably partially me trying to warn my naive pre-d-day self. I want to say, "Yes, he's a generous, loving husband and an awesome father and he loves you with all his heart, but he is broken!! OW is broken, too, so she knows how to manipulate him, and if you don't get his ass into IC, he's going to cheat!
I wouldn't try MC yet. If you both go to IC separately, you'll be in much better shape for possible MC down the road. I sometimes go with my H to his IC to hear about the crap his childhood taught him, vs what he's learning now.
he thinks if he is just nice enough to me that I'll get over it.
Just being nice won't cut it. Being nice isn't going to earn back your trust. Being nice isn't the same as being honest. Being Mr. Nice Guy to his ex is probably part of how he got into this mess. Now, he needs to be Mr. I Own My Shit and figure out why he stole time and energy from you and his kids and gave it to CrazyX, what he told himself that made it OK to deceive you, and lots of other whys.
I'm glad you have your sweet baby to keep you grounded. Betrayal is quite a roller coaster--I'm still riding it!
my H was incapable of saying, "This is your problem. You deal with it. I am not responsible for you. You're an adult. Go make your own self happy. It's not my job."
You hit the nail on the head with this. Seriously. Throughout our relationship, the best I've ever seen WH manage his XW is to just ignore her meltdowns and pleas for help. But he has never been able to maintain that for long before he's felt the need to just placate her to "keep the peace" (his words). I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to bonk him on the head and yell, "WHO CARES if she is upset about XYZ that we're doing that she doesn't approve of?! That is her problem, not yours!" But for some reason he has never gotten that.
What's weird is that WH is SUCH a mentally and physically strong person. He has a very demanding job, and is very well-respected in his field and regarded as very much an "alpha" personality. So I can't wrap my head around how he can have it all together in that regard, but be a total wimp when it comes to this bat-shit crazy lady!
I agree IC would be beneficial. I guess my next step should be to find a counselor. I know WH will go because he told me today that he will do whatever I ask. I just can't seem to find it within myself to start researching counselor so right now, though. I think I'm just too mentally exhausted.
I am so sorry to put my 2 cents in but are you sure it didnt become physical between them again? I say this because when I read your post about seeing 2 msgs from her only saying "on?" makes it seem like she was asking something to the effect of..."are we still on to meet up" type of thing.
Plus since she is the XW, it seems it would be pretty darn easy to have sex again since basically "been there, done that". Otherwise why bother with the XW?
Don't apologize, it's a valid question.
Each time I saw that "on?" message, it was sent during times when he was at work. The nature of his job is such that when he's there, he's there. No getting away from the workplace physically, but he has the flexibility to be online and carry on a dialogue with someone. I knew when I saw the messages that they referred to being "online" which he confirmed when I confronted him.
I'm trying to be very realistic and honest with myself, and I truly cannot think of a time in the last year when every minute of his days were not accounted for. He usually works 70-80 hours per week, and if he were lying about being at work there is no question that I would know. When he's not at work, he's with me and the kids, without fail.
That isn't to say that they didn't have conversations that were sexual in nature. He denies that, but I'm not certain I believe him. She's not a very interesting person by nature, and has a super boring life, so I'm not sure I see them just "shooting the shit" innocently several times a week. I hope he is telling me the truth, but right now I can't say that I believe it.
These two have a long and twisted history - whether it's good, bad or ugly doesn't seem to matter. This dysfunctional inability for either one of them to truly cut the cord speak volumes.
When caught, cheaters IMMEDIATELY go into damage control mode and play down whatever it is they were really doing. They ALL claim it was only 'emotional' or an 'inappropriate' relationship, but 99% of them NEVER admit it's physcial until you chain them to the floor and torture them. They simply will NOT admit to it if you don't have proof to make them admit it. And you don't have proof, so he'll cling to this story like grim death.
But the sad truth of the matter is that it's usually always MUCH MORE than what they're admitting to.
I just don't think you've nearly been given the full truth.
I think if you dig deep enough and stay 2 steps ahead of these two, you'll find the evidence you're looking for.
Good luck to you.
It's great that your H will go to IC. I would make it your number one priority. It was unbelievable to me also that weepy, needy, train-wreck OW could make my brilliant, strong, decisive H do anything she wanted. But she could and she did. On d-day, he admitted to thinking that suicide was the only way to get out of his relationship with her.
With IC, my H was able to admit that he was damaged by his childhood and that a lot of his self confidence was faked. He was able to see why he had poor boundaries and how to strengthen them. (I didn't notice his boundary problem because I never tried to step over the line he should have had. I don't manipulate or threaten him, so he stayed healthy with me.)
I got a recommendation for an IC from my doctor. Even a less than perfect IC will be able to get your H to figure out why his ex has this hold on him and how to go as NC as humanely possible.