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After 45 Years of Marriage

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SeventyFour posted 3/2/2018 17:48 PM

I am 73, my wife 68. We have been married for 45 years with children and grandchildren.

For the last year she has become increasingly cold, distant, and detached. On February 21, 2018 I took the morally ambiguous action of breaking into her email. There I discovered a yearlong correspondence with a man she had known in high school.

It begins with a message from him about their forthcoming 50th high school reunion in a distant city. She responds that she would be attending and added that hearing from him had “brought unexpected emotions.” He responds and in a roundabout way says he is hoping their renewed relationship will become more than simply Platonic.

After initially writing he will be staying with a friend at the reunion, when she tells him I will not be accompanying her, he writes back to say he has changed his plans and will be taking a room at the reunion hotel, even though it’s “kinda spendy.” My wife responds by sending him her cell phone number.

I drive her to the airport to fly to the reunion and, totally clueless, tell her to “have a good time.”

I have no direct knowledge of what happened at the reunion. She now admits to visiting his hotel room, but denies having sex.

After the reunion she writes to him, “that I was totally overwhelmed by all you told me and quite touched. You mean a lot to me.”

Some time later I bring in the mail, which includes a handwritten business envelope addressed to my wife. The return address is his (she has occasionally mentioned him during our marriage). A privacy-respecting person, I give her the envelope. She takes it and never mentions it or its contents to me.

In further emails she tells him about garden-variety problems in our marriage. Later she sends him an email comparing him and me indicating she has more in common with him than she has with me. She also gushingly praises his (not too good) poetry.

Once, when she is visiting our son in a distant city she sends me an impersonal 5-word email describing the weather. On the same day she sends him a personal 57-word message.

In January she tells him, “I find myself storing up things I want to write to you about, thinking, ‘I should write to Jack [not his real name] about this’ and thinking about issues in new ways and trying to understand old ones." After being caught, she acknowledges that at the time Jack occupied her thoughts more than I did.

Finally, on Valentine’s Day, a day dedicated to mutual declarations of love, Jack writes this to her: “Dear Jill [not her real name], . . . Just thinking today is a good day to say hello . . . . and might I add that it has truly done much for my whole being to be back in touch with you.”

To which Jill responds, “Thanks for your greeting. I am touched and hesitant to respond in fear of saying too much. My husband is ‘out of sorts’ to put it delicately. And I have been having fantasies of ‘I wish I could talk to Jack. He would understand . . . . I love being in touch with you . . . ., Jill.”

After discovering this correspondence 10 days ago, I confronted her with it. She has only grudgingly been open with me. I feel like an police interrogator, having to drag every bit of information out of her.

She has now sent an email to Jack saying that after “difficult reflection” she has decided to end the correspondence because the situation is becoming “too complicated.”

I find this unsatisfying. Why is it so "difficult"? And what happens if things become less "complicated"?

I am devastated, crestfallen -- and feel like a fool. All of this after 45 years of what I thought had been a strong and generally happy marriage. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

BearlyBreathing posted 3/2/2018 18:26 PM

74- sorry you had a need to find us, but you couldn’t find a nicer group. It sounds like your wife was having an emotional affair at the very least (EA). Please look in the healing library (upper left corner,yellow box) and read there. Lots of good information on how to handle the shock you are in.

Also, please be sure to take care of yourself. Be sure to eat, drink lots of water, avoid alcohol, and get some sleep and exercise. This takes a lot of a person, and you need to be good to yourself.

If there is any chance they had sex, then STD check at your doctor’s is in order - for both of you.

Others will be by with more advice, but I wanted to welcome you to the one club none of us wanted to join.

Hang in there.


BearlyBreathing posted 3/2/2018 18:26 PM

Sorry duplicate post


[This message edited by BearlyBreathing at 9:22 AM, March 4th, 2018 (Sunday)]

GoldenR posted 3/2/2018 18:27 PM

Wow....this one is brutal.

First I'll say that I'm sorry that you're here, brother. Having said that, you can take solace in knowing you're in the right place. You'll get better advice here than you would with a therapist.

I'm going to be blunt....she had sex with him. Don't for one minute think otherwise. Adults don't have an online emotional affair only to meet up in a hotel room and talk. They don't. Adults have sex. Period.

What you need to come to terms with is that right now, this is not the woman that you fell in love with. This isn't even the same woman from a year ago. She has changed. She is a wayward wife, or WW. If she opens her mouth about her and the other man (OM), she's lying. Count on it.

She's probably acting angry with you right now, bc she's upset that you burst her fantasy bubble.

Also, chances are that she took the affair underground. Get a VAR and put it in her car, and you'll know soon enough.

Demand that she get tested for STDs. And you will need to do the same.

Stick around here. Give updates as you can. People better than me will be chiming in

[This message edited by GoldenR at 6:29 PM, March 2nd (Friday)]

SorrowfulMoon posted 3/2/2018 18:56 PM

Sorry for your troubles SeventyFour.

More experiences posters than I will help you but in they are likely to reiterate GoldenR's and BB's advice.

Take care. Don't drink alcohol but plenty of water, eat well and take exercise. You need to stay strong physically to overcome the emotional challenges to follow.

Do not believe a word she said. She has betrayed you both emotionally and physically. It is your wife and the OM against you. Cheaters lie, lie and lie again. It is who they are.

Your first task is to get out of infidelity. I would see a lawyer with a view to serving her. She is deeply into him and in that situation strength is your only weapon. If she changes then reconciliation is possible but only from a point of strength. If not, then you have started the divorce process quickly which is a good thing.

If he is married inform the other betrayed spouse (OBS) immediately this will shake them both out of the so-called affair fog.

Also read the guidelines and do the 180 plus No Contact with her unless about the divorce. You need to risk the marriage in order to save it.

She is not your wife or your friend at this stage, she is your enemy and treat her accordingly.

smilethrupain posted 3/2/2018 19:24 PM

It's all so cliche.. it hurts to read these. You're the boring husband and Jack is the long lost love that never came to fruition/night in shinning armor come to sweep her off her feet. Makes me want to vomit. All these affairs are the same.

I'm so sorry. I can imagine you're hurting. Hang in there and try to follow the advice here.

My personal opinion based on what you shared is that they did not have physical intimacy. Sounds like an AE getting started.

smilethrupain posted 3/2/2018 19:29 PM

Nothing in the correspondence shared with us points to sex (IMO). They would have been more upfront with their feelings and more loose with their words. The fact that she says she's afraid to say too much, and the fact that it doesn't sound like their communication was very frequent, points to the beginnings of an emotional affair (still not ok!)

But she even "confesses" to him that she wishes to email him more since she gathers thoughts throughout the days/weeks that she wants to share with him. When two adults sleep together, they don't hold back like these two people were. They would have been much more forward in their communication. And based on her words in the emails, it doesn't sound like there was other communication going on.

Again, JMO and gut instinct.

pureheartkit posted 3/2/2018 22:01 PM

This is sad. I'm sorry she's being like this after all this time. You would think after 45 years a marriage would be bulletproof. Keep coming back here, we want to help.

paboy posted 3/2/2018 22:50 PM

Perhaps you might want to try this. Bring your children in for a family meeting. Let your wife know that your undecided what to do, and that your seeking their help and advice. That if they consider for you to move on, your going to need help to do this. Alternatively if they advise to resolve it, perhaps they can help with this as well.

This is probably the best consequence you can give her, as the children/grandchildren will mean the world to her.

She will come out of the fog quickly.

You will still need to draw your line in the sand. NC at all is your 1st requirement.

Iwantmyglasses posted 3/2/2018 23:02 PM

Can your wife have any bigger of a cliche affair?

I want you to google the high school reunion affair.

This is just classic end of life....this person sparks the beginning of life feelings.

Frankly, I would be laughing at her. It is just beyond. Have you asked her to go to the doctor for a dementia assessment?

What does she think is going to happen. Her it’s “spendy“ internet high school boyfriend is going to assume power over her health and care at her age???

Have you asked her how someone who uses the words “spendy“ in regards to a hotel stay is even attractive to her? Seriously it was what 200 dollars?

Oh my gosh!!!!! I just can’t. She is a joke.

[This message edited by Iwantmyglasses at 11:04 PM, March 2nd (Friday)]

hopeforthefuture94 posted 3/3/2018 01:09 AM


Welcome. You found the best place to be when you desperately need it the most.

Let me start by saying that infidelity is a coping strategy. That includes an emotional affair (EA) or a physical affair (PA). This was a concept that was really hard for me to grasp, but once I did, it helped me understand it better.

Your wife has been a mother and married woman for 45 years. Recently, she got a dose of what we call on this website "Ego Kibbles." Meaning, she got some attention, and when she did, she liked it. Of course she would. Everyone likes attention.

The difference is that internally healthy people can receive the attention and keep proper boundaries.

People who are internally bored, unhappy etc, like the dopamine rush from the ego kibbles and continue to seek after it. It makes them feel desirable, younger, attractive. So they go back to it over and over again, in your wife's case mostly via correspondence. Every email, or letter is like an alcoholic getting their drink. They live for the drink. Not because they love the drink itself, but rather, how they feel when they take that drink. It relaxes them, makes them feel invincible, etc. Your wife got caught up with this guy, not because she has pined for him for the past 50 years, but because he made her feel desirable, younger and superficially alive. We call that unicorn fantasy land. It's very common here. We like to think that because you have been married for 45 years that means your marriage is automatically exempt from unicorn fantasy land, but unfortunately NOBODY's marriage is.

So, the best thing that has happened in all of this is that she knows you know. That is step one. In order to get her out of unicorn fantasy land, the affair whether emotional or physical needs to be exposed. If this HS boyfriend is married, then his wife needs to know. Because, you see, when affairs are exposed to people, then your wife can't live in fantasy land anymore. She is thrust back into real life, just like the rest of us. It's where she needs to be.

So, moving forward there are some basic things that need to happen to see if she is ready to be your wife again. You get to decide if she is worthy of that distinction. Reconciliation is a gift that YOU get to give ONLY if she is a worthy recipient. There are some very easy ways to see if she is worthy or not.

Transparency. She needs to give you all her passwords, and her phone ANYTIME you ask for it. Yes she is 68 years old and a grandmother, but she lost her right to privacy the minute she let her boundaries slip. She needs to give you a time line of when and what happened. Any resistance to the above items means she is not ready to be your wife. Many people even have their spouses take polygraphs to confirm any lingering suspicions. She should be willing to do that should you desire.

No Contact (NC). Period. He is dead to her at this point. She may be whiney initially and moody and it's because you are taking away her dopamine source. Just like the alcoholic not being able to drink when they need to relax. Many go to rehab. Counseling will be your wife's version of rehab. Find a counselor who specializes in infidelity. Now, if she chooses to break the NC then you need to serve her a dish of consequences and allow her to spend some time outside of the house....if you know what I mean. You are not plan B. Don't let her treat you that way. If she does, show her the door. She needs stern and swift consequences so she knows where you stand. An apt with a laywer is a good idea too. It's good to know where you stand should she not be a candidate for R and a lawyer can help arm you with information. Plus it shows her that you are taking this seriously and you mean business.

There are a few bad words here on this site. These include

"Gaslighting"(trying to make the situation look not as bad as they are in order to fool you into thinking you are crazy)--YOU ARE NOT CRAZY. Trust your gut.

"Rugsweeping" (this is the "just get over it, what's done is done" routine.) Don't fall for it! You have to deal with the situation. Rugsweeping always erupts at some point. It doesn't work.

"Blameshifting" (this is done by accusing you of not giving her enough attention or whatever excuse she comes up with). Infidelity is a choice. She is 68 years old. She could have used her big girl words if she was feeling neglected. She chose to cheat and cross boundaries. That is 100% on her.

Moving forward: Both of you need to go to Individual Counseling. (IC), She needs to go to learn proper boundaries and how to cope when she is feeling old, and put out to pasture. She needs to learn how to find constructive coping strategies. You need IC so that you can learn how to cope with the heartache and grief you will experience. This is not a joke. This will be one of the hardest things you will ever go through. It is so confusing learning that your life or your spouse wasn't what you thought it was. Every BS on this site understands to some extent what you are going through. Listen to the wisdom on this site. There is a lot of collective wisdom here and all WS (wayward spouses) have very common tactics about them. Almost as if they all read from the same "How to Cheat" book.

You need to be able to get help in real life. Your adult children will be a good resource for a few reasons. She needs to face the consequences of what she has done. That is called owning it. When you own what you have done, it shows the BS (Betrayed Spouse) that you are serious about reconciliation and are trying to be a safe partner again for them. Plus, the adult children are mature enough to handle the information. They will be able to support you and your wife at the same time. Make sure you get sleep, and eat. Go see a doctor if you need help with sleeping or depression.

It's important to know that this will not be over anytime soon. I know it's the suckiest way to spend retirement but it's important to know what you are up against. We call this the "rollercoaster" meaning some times you will hate your wife and some times you will love her and that will change minute by minute. It's normal to feel like that. But it's also very overwhelming. It's important to know what to expect so that you aren't thinking you are crazy for feeling that way. You are not.

Keep posting 74.


OneInTheSame posted 3/3/2018 02:27 AM

What Hope ^^^ said.

Oh, and let me add:

Three months after my own d-day, I learned my brother had taken up with his "old flame" through contact on Classmatesdotcom. He divorced my dear sis-in-law right before their 46th anniversary, and less than six months after her d-day. Beware of any hesitation to cut contact or completely end the affair. My brother actually "came back" over a year after the divorce, giving my s-i-l false hope, since she learned on New Year's Eve he had been seeing his OW the entire time he was home. She and the kids insisted on a psyche exam as much of his behavior was off the charts for him. She still believes there is something (besides senior sex) driving his behavior. Very sad. I don't want that to happen to anyone else . . . or to you. You have no hurry to make decisions.

[This message edited by OneInTheSame at 2:35 AM, March 3rd (Saturday)]

pureheartkit posted 3/3/2018 09:09 AM

Hope is right on everything. These are the same things that all of us have in common.
If she can understand these ideas, maybe she will be able to turn her ship around fast. This infatuation won't last. She needs to see that pronto.

SeventyFour posted 3/3/2018 15:43 PM

First let me thank BearlyBreathing, GoldenR, SorrowfulMoon, pureheartkit, and OneInTheSame for your understanding, support, and encouragement. I greatly appreciate it.

Smilethrupain, Thanks to you too for your support and insights. I agree that if it was only an EA before I discovered it, the trajectory of the correspondence indicates that the relationship would sooner or later have become a full-blown PA.

Iwantmyglasses, Thanks for suggesting that I google "high school reunion affairs." I did so and found lots of good insights and understanding. The idea that there is a change in the developing brains of a pair of 14-17 year-olds strongly attracted to each other that never goes away makes some sense to me. It may partially explain the rekindling of "Julie" and "Jack's" emotional (and possibly, or potentially, physical) love affair. And (see below) it may support my worry that their attraction to each other will never, so long as they are alive, come to an end.

hopeforthefuture94, Thanks for your thoughtul and extensive insights and for your support. I think you are spot on about the "dopamine rush." My wife is an mild alcoholic who has had the problem under control for the last several years. My catching her sneaking drinks was what eventually led to her getting the help she needed. So it makes sense to think that she has a need for some kind of buzz or another to be happy or sustain her. And her EA (and possibly PA or at least the prospect of a PA) was likewise giving her the kind of buzz she craves. As I review the correspondence I'm coming to think that she became addicted to the buzz, the dopamine rush. And to successively higher doses of it. And to receive a higher dose she had to become closer to Jack, give him more love, signal her availability by denigrating me to him (as she did). As a result, if it was actually only an EA when she was caught, it would, sooner or later, have become a PA.

One thing that really troubles me now is the possible resumption of the relationship. I'd feel better if she'd ended it herself. But she didn't -- or couldn't! So I can't help wondering what would have happened if I hadn't broken into her email, discovered the affair, and (at least temporarily) broken it up. How long would it have lasted? When would she have made up a cock-and-bull story about having to visit her sister in the reunion city and hooked up with Jack in the "kinda spendy" hotel?

And I even worry (and this may mean I'm a little off my rocker) that the two of them will reunite, physically as well as emotionally, after I'm gone. She and I are in good health and in very good physical shape. We work out hard and do vigorous hiking. We saw a TV series on PBS some years ago called "Last Tango in Halifax," centering on a pair of senior citizens who had been close as teenagers hooking up and marrying each other after the death of their spouses. I'd turn over in my grave at the thought of Jack and Jill getting together -- even after I were gone! I don't believe in curses, but if I did, I'd put a curse on such a relationship. If she had ended the affair of her own volition I wouldn't have this (perhaps irrational) concern. But she didn't. And I do.

This has also had me wondering whether I can re-do my will so my half of our joint retirement funds goes directly to our children when I die rather than to her. The idea of Jill and Jack hooking up after I am gone and then spending money I have earned on themselves drives me nuts!

Marz posted 3/3/2018 15:58 PM

As a result, if it was actually only an EA when she was caught, it would, sooner or later, have become a PA.

going to be blunt....she had sex with him. Don't for one minute think otherwise. Adults don't have an online emotional affair only to meet up in a hotel room and talk. They don't. Adults have sex. Period.

Sorry man but every betrayed spouse wants to think it's just an EA.

You're in denial of what's happened

[This message edited by Marz at 4:00 PM, March 3rd (Saturday)]

Western posted 3/3/2018 16:00 PM

I agree with GoldenR. Holy shit Batman.

Your last post sums it up and you have handled this well.

If you want to change your will, I fully support that.

Who on earth at age 68 thinks about cheating ?????

Assume they did and act from that standpoint.

I know this sounds so rough and not compassionate but polygraph her. Find out if they did it.

You need the whole truth and start to act from there.

Sorry man. At 73, you should be in your golden years chilling out and happy. This story is mentally sickening.

hopefull77 posted 3/3/2018 16:14 PM

I would definitely put things in your children's name!
My H had a 2+ year LTA with a woman he knew in HS
I too met him in HS ...we met 47 years ago and married 35 years on Dday...we are doing well but the blind trust is gone and I do love our life that we made together...I know I will never feel or look at him the same...
This year we will celebrate 41 years of marriage.
I love my family and I appreciate the hard work my H has put into reconciliation.

I understand what you say about "them" getting together if you died...I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be all that fabulous
Hang in there...this is so not what one expects at this stage of the game...but you will get through this...keep reading...this place has a wealth of info

GoldenR posted 3/3/2018 17:47 PM

The will is a good idea. I'd also open your own separate bank account as well, and move half into it.

Also, weekends here can be show. Don't be discouraged. Things will pick up.

Jane112 posted 3/3/2018 18:01 PM

No soliciting

[This message edited by SI Staff at 6:43 PM, March 3rd (Saturday)]

hopeforthefuture94 posted 3/3/2018 22:54 PM


It was good to get more insight into your thoughts. You are right about the affair becoming more involved had you not discovered it when you did. You will put yourself in an early grave though if you try and second guess how long it would have lasted. The answer, is it would have lasted as long as she (or he) was getting the dopamine rush. Once that source ran dry, it would have stopped and she would have looked for the dopamine elsewhere. Either in some other relationship or returning to alcohol etc.

That is why counseling for her will be so important. She needs to understand her "whys". Why is she not content with the life she currently has. What void is in her life that she is trying to fill with artificial means? When she can start coming up with the answers to those questions, then she can start addressing the real issue and finding constructive coping strategies and proper boundaries. Perhaps, learning a new skill, traveling more, spending more time with grandkids, etc. The issue is finding out her "whys" requires work. And coping poorly doesn't. So, is she willing to put in the work? If the answer is yes, then you can proceed with caution. If the answer is no, then you decide if you want to D or live with a wife who is not a safe partner.

I would certainly meet with an attorney and look into your will and your assets. Also, keep digging and see if you find anymore info. Remember cheaters lie and minimize. So, perhaps they only chatted in the hotel room, but, experience tells me that more happened than just chatting. My H swore up and down on my dday that nothing physical happened. Later his story changed from nothing physical happened to "I had sex with 4 other women." So, yea, be prepared that there is almost always more.

As for Jack and Jill getting back together after you die. I think if she has done the work it won't be an issue. If she is truly remorseful for what she has done, she will see him through different eyes.

For example, remember those 4 OW? Our dday was 3 1/2 years ago and he has done everything in his power to become a safe partner for me. He has done the work. He was in counseling weekly for the first year learning his "whys". Now when we talk about his A's, He says it was dumpster diving. Meaning, it wasn't that the OW were anything wonderful, the only qualification was that they were available and willing. Classy, I know. So, now that he is a safe partner for me, there is NOTHING about these women that he would run to if he and I did end up divorcing. Being stuck with any of those women is his worst nightmare.

So, it will be for your wife. If she decides to do the hard work and do it because SHE wants to then there will be a day that she will feel the same way about Jack. She will realize that Jack was available and willing. Period. Nothing romantic and whimsical about that.

The quickest way out of infidelity (which is your goal) is to set your boundaries and then step back and watch what she does. A wayward wife (WW)who wants desperately to keep her husband will be anxiously engaged in creating the timeline and will do it willingly. She won't need to be reminded etc. Create your boundaries. Meaning, moving forward, what do you want you married life to look like. Spell it out and be specific. Don't be afraid to tell her exactly what you want. R is after all a gift. Nobody can give this gift except you.

Spell out your terms and then step back and watch her actions or inactions. Her actions will tell you pretty quickly if she is in or out. Do not be codependent in this and try and steer the outcome to how you want it. That will only serve to prolong your misery. She either wants to be married to you or she doesn't. Her actions/inactions to your requirements will tell you how committed she is. Make sure your kids are involved in this. Facing them should help to snap her out of this more quickly. Do not try and protect your wife from the consequences of her actions. Your kids are old enough to handle the information and to be a big help to you both.

Your doing well 74. I know you probably feel like you are drowning and are in living some alternative life, but you really are doing well and being methodical in your approach and being realistic of the situation.

Keep hiking and eating and taking care of yourself. That is key to getting through this nightmare.


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