It's been quite a week on a number of fronts...but the one creating that enormous chasm in my stomach is the fact my wife is requesting we separate after discovering I've been messaging another woman on Linkedin for the past 4 years - with the messages becoming increasingly inappropriate.
We've been together over 12 years and married about 10.5. We have 2 beautiful girls, 5 and 4 years old.
The messaging commenced on a professional basis, I was providing advice on how she may find work opportunities in our shared field. After a couple of years we continued in contact and I started sending messages suggesting we meet, and saying a few other inappropriate things. I don't really know what I wanted to get out of that. It's true I was interested to meet her. This was in a professional capacity, but at some point the lines became blurred. We never did meet personally, but the damage was done by the messaging which suggested I was very much interested in meeting her - and for the wrong reasons.
My wife is a very strong person with very clear moral guidelines around infidelity, cheating etc. Although I didn't meet her, to her it appears I was very much intent on meeting her.
In the past week she has said she wishes to separate and has made some initial enquiries with our mortgage broker about how she can look at keeping the house. She has not yet brought it up with family or friends, to my knowledge.
I've made an enormous mistake. What I considered to be 'innocent' of 'friendly' chat was anything but. I failed to see at the time the potential for the hurt I could cause.
I'm filled with fear and regret right now. Fear that my actions will cause me to lose the most wonderful parts of my life. I'm fearful of only seeing my daughters 50% of the time (this kills me) and fearful of losing my best friend and biggest supporter - my wife.
She feels abused that she has spent all this time caring for me and my children, whilst in her eyes I've been playing this cheeky game behind her back.
I know she is hurting a lot right now. She is an incredibly stubborn (for lack of a better word) woman and my fear is that her pride would never allow her to reconcile.
My pleas are falling on deaf ears. I know at this point it is probably unreasonable for her to be feeling any other way.
I thought the past couple of days we were making minor progress, but this morning she confirmed she still intends to separate.
I'm feeling incredibly low right now and would like any thoughts..
Four years is certainly a long 'professional association' - were the sentiments reciprocated, encouraged and elaborated mutually? If so, you may definitely have a case to answer; otherwise, and it is a long shot, this could reside entirely in your imagination as you may have built the scenario around your own infatuation (and this would account for guilt in equal measure).
As you mentioned, it all comes down to intent, not 'what appears' or 'suggestion'. Once you ascertain that for yourself, you can dispense with vagaries of perception and address the issue of your marriage and family - defensiveness will not aid your cause and your wife is sending a very direct message that will challenge the depths of your commitment.
Sorry I don't have advice beyond doing some serious soul searching and being honest without pretense - it's all about your family now and what compels you to redeem yourself in their eyes.
Hi Tim, welcome
Thankyou for your honesty, it isnt easy.
It seems separation is inevitable. To some messaging like that is enough to break away, for others (and we get this here often) they find ways to overcome. It's subjective and in your case I'll assume you will part ways.
Although for different reasons (my ex wife abusing me) I separated in 1996 following a suicide attempt. We had two daughters 7 and 4yo. Heart breaking is an understatement. So let me inform of the personal process. Grief, the loss of your neighbours, pets, full time fatherhood, home and so on, everything is turned upside down and this grief process will likely last for a few months. I had visitation rights for every 2nd weekend as it was in those days, 50% is far better and your wife will feel that 50% loss also.
You cant rush the grief however, my grief overflowed. I rang the girls principle, constantly enquiring if they got to school on time and if they coped ok- "Tony, kids are resilient, they adapt far better than their parents". I then began to relax. Then after 2 months of living in a 10ft caravan I spotted a block of land and made the purchase. I dreamed of erecting a kit home and starting my new life in a positive mode. We settled, she got the house and the mortgage and I got the garage that I disassembled and re-erected on the land. I built the kit home. My girls would play hop scotch on the slab and every fortnight see an amazing transformation in the building. Suddenly I realised the power of distraction and positivity.
So, my message is this- go with the flow with your grief, weather the storm with sad comments from your kids (one I'll never forget is "dad we want to keep you". Stay as friends with your wife if possible but have no expectations and time might change things there. Be flexible with her with the kids needs but above all else please remember that there is indeed a life beyond the turmoil, a life that you can carve.
There is one possibility for your marriage. Attend a marriage counsellor. When you do, tell your wife, if she wont attend then that's ok. It will benefit you regardless as these processes are best not experienced alone. You never know even after separation she might attend a session especially if its put in terms of maintaining a friendship or best communication for the benefit of your kids.
You made a mistake. That proves you are human.
There was one observation in particular:
"I know she is hurting", and she "confirmed" her intention to separate...
You seem to express your wife very much in the third person, as if removed from the event... with you as an observer, more than one intimately involved and accountable.
This infers some distance from each other emotionally, at a time when you really need to be supportive (both, in solidarity) during the process to find understanding regardless of outcome.
BTW, Stubbornness is rarely a sign of strength - your wife is afraid and vulnerable, looking for certainty and control where presently there is none. Here is a call for you to be proactive in pursuing measures to remedy the situation without delay - waiting for things to resolve themselves may be unwise.
Hello Tim, if you had been texting a work boss, then there wouldn't be an issue, but because it's another female and for no apparent reason this has been going on for 4 years with the intent to meet up, creates a problem for your wife.
If for example it was your wife doing this with another chap then you might feel the same as your wife, but now she has found out there will need to be a slow reconciling with her.
To chat with another person on Linkedin can start as a genuine conversation but the more you talk the chances of diverting away from what you have been discussing is most likely, especially after 4 years, then you're caught between a rock and a hard place, because at that stage it's too late to tell your wife.
If she is determined to separate then there's a chance to build back the trust you have lost, but this may be slow depending on her willingness to cooperate, however, if you can tell her that you have contacted your doctor and ask them for a referral to talk to a psychologist, may be a good way to have her back with you.
Your point about being distant was an interesting one. She is largely shut off to me right now, so I am trying to play a supportive role whilst also being very cautious not to push. I suppose that is coming through in my words, also.
It was a lost-cause as such, and further to this, I am not actually attracted to this woman. All of which makes me wonder further about what I was doing?
You raise some interesting points and I do really appreciate you taking the time.
I agree, Geoff makes some good points in fact my thinking has been along similar lines in that if in your situation the only opportunity to get her back would be to rely on her inner feelings of any love she has left.
This means pleading with her and trying to convince her isnt going to benefit you. Dropping facts like attending a DR and psych is good. A stray comment "we had a good marriage before I stuffed up" or "I wont find better" could spark the inner love. One comment particularly and potentially good would be "if we had another opportunity I'd introduce fail safe ways it would never happen again" now thats a question and questions are good because it leads to "what are they". If she is interested she'll ask if not she wont. If she asks "a complete open book, access to my phone and any other thing you need to build trust".
Less is more when it comes to impact upon her to realise you love her and its worth another try.
Time is also an amazing healer. in the following thread I mention that during a heated exchange between partners a break of 20 minutes can work wonders.