My goal of trying to avoid a traumatic and abrupt ending to my wife’s affair turned out to be naïve. While I had been hoping to avoid making the demand that she completely cease communication with the other guy, that was exactly what I had to do in order to end the charade we had been playing for the previous three months.
I was on the web site for our cell provider upgrading the family’s phones when I happened to notice the summary of text messages for each of our numbers. This is information that I had been actively avoiding for three months. The volume on my wife’s phone, which far exceeded the others, made it apparent she had been lying about reducing her amount of texting. I clicked on the details and saw exactly what I had seen months earlier, messages continuously throughout every day with distinct gaps at times they were together. The affair hadn’t changed one bit. The only thing that had changed was her ability to hide her actions from me.
The detail that hurt me the most were the texts on a particular evening that my wife and I had spent together. We went for dinner and drinks and stayed in a hotel room just a few miles from home, a much deserved evening to ourselves with no kids. Instead of that time being between just the two of us though, she used any moment when I may have gone to the restroom or simply looked the other way to text the other guy. I couldn’t even spend an evening alone with my wife without the presence of this unwelcome third party.
It was obvious that I couldn’t just wait for the relationship to wind down. I wasn’t angry as much as I was sad and frustrated. When the kids went to bed, we sat downstairs in the dark while I confronted her with what I had found. I told her I had tried to allow her to manage the ending of this relationship on her terms, but now there was no way I could be expected to stay in this marriage if she was going to have any more contact with this guy. We both finally agreed that all communication between them would end immediately. She was so serious about that commitment that she actually encouraged me to monitor her activities to give me piece of mind that they were no longer in contact. She was essentially telling me to spy on her.
Unfortunately, her commitment lasted less than a week when I intercepted several e-mails between them, including one he sent to her asking to get together in a few days. It was obvious that they had no intention of ending communications or scaling back the relationship at all. They were just looking for a means of communication that I couldn’t detect. The composure that I had maintained over all those months finally reached breaking point.
The kids were at school, so I was free to start yelling the moment she walked in the door. She told me that he had messaged her, and she made the mistake of responding instead of informing him that his contact was no longer welcome. She claimed that she didn’t understand his message about meeting because she had been clear with him that the relationship was over. It was the first time that I called bullshit on her and accused her of knowingly lying to me when she said she was ending the relationship. She stood firm to her ignorance of his intentions and reiterated her commitment to our marriage and family.
That commitment didn’t last much longer than the previous one. A week later, she met the other guy at a coffee house giving me an excuse of an excessive wait at a doctor’s appointment. This time I found out by tracking the physical location of her phone. She had coordinated the meeting by texting a mutual friend who texted the other guy on her behalf. Her justification this time was that she had some things to return to him. Of course, that was a logistical issue she could have just told me about, but I yet again let her have the excuse.
I was strangely calm in response to this incident as opposed to my anger at the e-mails because subconsciously I knew it was coming. By now I had made a critical realization. Her behavior over the previous couple of weeks wasn’t devious as much as it was desperate and irrational. She knew that I had full access to her e-mail account, and she was the one who told me to spy on her. She had to know that I would be suspicious about her excuse at the doctor, and I had already told her about the ability to track her phone. If her intent was to leave, then she had multiple chances to do that, but she instead continuously reiterated her commitment to her family. If she was actually trying to continue the affair without my knowledge, then she was doing a comically bad job of it.
I realized that I had been waiting for my wife to make the conscious decision to commit herself to her family over this guy. I thought of her in complete control of the situation, but now I realized that no one was in control. She had been in daily contact with this guy for two years. He was her primary confidante during the most emotionally difficult time of her life. He was her source of comfort when she was feeling scared and confused. Is it really reasonable to assume that she would be able to just abruptly end something that had been such an integral part of her life for so long?
It was irrelevant by this point whether she was justified in building that relationship. If I was trying to argue a legal case against her, then she had no defense. If I was going to choose to continue to work on our marriage though, then I had to accept the complexities of human emotion. The reality was that she had built that relationship, and she couldn’t easily walk away from it regardless of her desire to. While this realization tempered my anger though, it did little calm my anxiety. The situation in front of us now seemed more random than ever.
You could certainly argue that I was naïve for not demanding that she cease all communication with the other guy once I had discovered the affair. You could also say that I should have walked away after any of the multiple times that she reneged on her agreement to end it. I have no idea what the outcome would have been had I chosen those actions. It’s entirely possible that I would be sitting in exactly the same place reminiscing about how my firm stance had been the right strategy for saving our marriage. I suspect though that the more likely outcome would be me lamenting about the end of our marriage. As I said in a previous post, the people who we are now would still be suffering from the impetuous actions of the people we used to be.
The story of the actual affair ends here. I suspect there was further interaction between my wife and the other guy over the next month but nothing that I detected and certainly nothing that I’m concerned about now. He moved to another state for work which obviously helped the situation, although communication between two people in today’s connected world doesn’t worry much about distances. It’s not as if his physical location meant that I could rest easy, and we had considerable work in front of us to recover from the damage of the previous two years.
The charade we were still maintaining though was that the affair didn’t involve sex. I realize how absurd that sounds, and by this point I didn’t honestly believe that sex wasn’t a component of a two year affair as serious as this one. We had so many other issues to confront though I that wasn’t ready to challenge that topic yet. I had minor bits of evidence that refuted her claim but nothing definitive. That evidence did exist though, and I ultimately discovered in one of the worst ways you can imagine. As much I despise teasers, that part of the story deserves its own post.
I also had some things I needed to resolve with the other guy. I certainly hold my wife accountable for her actions, but it’s not as if he was an innocent party. I have specific reasons for hardly mentioning him by this point, but that’s about to change.