I need to vent and maybe hear some advice from anyone who experienced a similar situation. My wife and I knew each other since we were 13 and were friends for many years. We have been married for 12 years and are both in our 40s.
Soon after our marriage my wife was diagnosed with a rare disorder that has crippling episodes and I have done everything from sit with her in the hospital for weeks, bath her, help her go to the bathroom and perform other care taking tasks as needed. This disease comes in waves and she can be perfectly fine one day and near death the next.
I doubt myself and feel like I may not have done all that I can. I have let circumstances overwhelm me, I felt like I was barely keeping my head above water. Basically, seeing someone I love fall apart has not been easy. Also, I travel a lot for my career which can take me away for extended periods. However, I have done the best I know how to do. Our medical bills equal essentially the price of a new foreign car every year, to escape financial ruin I have not felt like I can change careers. Plus, she cannot work with her disability. That makes me responsible for our survival. I am also in an established field that doesn't transfer well into other areas.
In 2009 she had two affairs with men I knew. I worked in another city and drove 500 miles round trip every week to be with her on the weekends. She refused to move where my job was because she "hated the city" and then accused me of abandoning her. We were in heavy debt from medical bills and this job paid a lot--and had excellent medical benefits. I knew she didn't like the city (I didn't like the city), but this was an opportunity we desperately needed. Nevertheless, I found correspondence, graphic pictures and strong evidence of a sexual affair (in both cases). She denied it, said I really didn't understand--etc., etc. In the end, the details came out and we went to marriage counseling and ended up separated for a year. In 2010 she was in and out of the hospital for 26 weeks. Although still trying to cope with the betrayal, I was still her husband and her only family--I had to step in to make medical decisions and she ended up in the ICU. After almost losing her a few times, I decided my pride be damned, if she wanted to work on it, I was willing to give it a shot and I was going to be there for her.
Medical issues still arise--just opened a $20k medical bill. She also had some pelvic surgery two years ago that left her with little or no sexual desire and some nerve damage causing sex to be painful--at least this is what she said. I have tried to roll with the punches because I did marry a friend, not just someone with whom to have sex. Plus, intimacy comes in many packages and I am willing to explore options. I felt like I made concessions on many fronts.
This last November, I noticed some activity that looked eerily familiar. I don't want to be the husband that just snoops all the time so I confronted her about my suspicions. She admitted on the advice from a therapist she had begun being involved in an anonymous sexual type chat group--basically in an attempt to help get her libido back. Mind you, intimacy in our relationship has been negligible. After talking to her therapist, I reluctantly agreed that I could see the merits--I actually thought it was pretty messed up but this guy is supposed to be very good at this type of issue. However, I recently found out that the nature of the contact is not so anonymous at this point. Apparently, this is still all on-line and by phone, but it seems like this is counter productive to rebuilding our relationship.
I feel very bitter because in the same time period I was having coffee with a female friend of mine about once a week--my wife knew we met weekly because we are in the same field and "talk shop." I decided to stop that weekly meeting because it became apparent the potential for something more was there. I was attracted to my friend and I enjoyed our conversations, but it was important to me to reserve those feelings for my wife. I feel guilty over innocent activity and she feels justified over hers.
My wife has tried to tell me that this online flirting, dirty pictures and sex toys is harmless and fills a need of hers. The problem is that I feel as violated as I did back in 2009--in some ways worse. Now, I am starting to hear about my "past sins" and the fact that I don't have the body I did when I played football back in college. What I am hearing her say is that this is my fault.
In one sentence she tells me how she cannot believe I am considering leaving--the next she tells me she has no intention of stopping this on-line relationship. I have resisted the temptation of sending the "other guy" some pictures of her hooked up to IVs in a hospital bed to go along with the sexy underwear shots. I am resentful because this has not been an easy life for me. I made the conscious decision to be loyal and be present no matter what terrible things happen--not just in action but in thought (as best I could). The vindictive side of me wants the other guy to see the reality and not just the fantasy in case he wants to take this further. No worries, I am hurt but not cruel. If I leave, she is going to be in bad shape. However, I know I cannot walk out of our marriage and still be there for her medically--the commitment involved would ruin any shot at me having a normal relationship/life. If I cannot trust someone, I don't know that I can be that invested. Although she is in her mid-40s, well educated and should be well aware of the ramifications of her actions--I still feel guilty. Am I cruel and selfish to want more and be willing to walk out on a very sick, but promiscuous woman? Am I overreacting?