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..
I’m sorry to hear about your recent turmoil and your current situation. I think we’ve all done something in a moment or over time with little thought for the consequences, only to suddenly really grasp what is at stake when it’s potentially too late. From your wife’s perspective, it’s possibly cold comfort that you didn’t actually cheat, as for all purposes it may look as though the intention was to cheat and she possibly thinks that was the original reason you contacted this colleague in the first place. I’ve had female friends in similar situations say to me that it’s almost worse to find their partner contacting all these women trying to cheat and not be able to. I do think that you have a hope of getting your marriage back but for me it would depend on three things, your wife and her nature, time, and accountability/regret. You can’t change your wife and how firm her boundaries are, they are hers alone. But I will say it’s not an easy thing to dissolve a marriage, particularly when kids are in involved, and it’s not a decision that is taken lightly, for anyone. Would you say that there was love between you both before this? Or could this be the “final nail in the coffin” so to speak? Time also heals most wounds, she might not forget but the rawness will hopefully gradually subside. Be aware that she may think of it/remember it out of nowhere though and become randomly angry at you. And third is accountability/regret. I prefer when people are real and raw with the truth and dont dry to minimize it. How you respond to this is one of the things you have the greatest influence on. If you don’t know why you did it, I would want my partner to put their head in their hands and say they're stupid and they don’t honestly know why they did it, they don’t even find her attractive. I'd be hoping that they said they were looking for an ego boost etc. I want them to be honest about what their intention was, because it would sound to me like it was to have an affair. And I'd want them to be incredibly repentant/sorry, I would need to feel that they are sufficiently distraught that they will never do this again. How can she be sure she can trust you. I’d also want them to do things around the house to remind me that they are needed, now the lawns, fix something etc. I wouldn't want them to go too overboard so it seems fake or not sustainable. It can take a lot of work on your part to rebuild the trust you have lost but people can come back from worse.
Tim, firstly, I just want to say that this is incredibly brave and honest for you to come out like this, and would like to say that you came to the right place to start.
Ok, now this is rare for me to disagree with another person here, but I don't share Tony's (white knight) opinion here in regards to the marriage (apologies Tony). I do see that your marriage is not lost YET, but I do understand that it is going to take some serious work to "repair" and even then is going to leave some 'scars". If you resign your thoughts to that which was suggested that the marriage is over, then it may as well be, so I encourage you to keep hope, be patient and be considerate.
Your wife may claim that she wants a separation, but still that's not final, and if you really are remorseful and regretful of your actions here, and wish for there to be a way in which to repair the damage, there is genuine hope still. Be aware though that its not going to be easy, but remember the important thing is how you also feel here, and if your marriage is worth saving for you personally (sure your partner's feelings are important to, but try focus on yourself to start, to make sure you still want this).
All I can say is keep being supportive of her, show love where you can, show her that you still have her in your thoughts, even if she dismisses it. Just make sure you don't do it in a controlling or "try hard" way, without trying to push the issue too much, keep showing her how sorry you are for the mistake, and that it was a mistake. Above all, be truthful in all ways with her, don't try passing blame, making excuses, "blunting the blow", just tell her straight up when she wants to talk about it. Let her know that you want to put this behind you and wish for you both to continue as a happy couple as best you can.
This is going to take a lot of time, lot of patience and a lot of deep care to repair, but its never lost unless you start thinking it is lost. Sure you will most likely question yourself, that will always happen and negative thoughts may slide in, just keep fighting against those thoughts by looking to see why it is you are wanting to continue. As for your partner, try and encourage her to also not give up, by simple suggestions and in small ways, you basically need to start building her trust in you back again, and that will take time. Other things to consider will be start doing things you both enjoy together again, show her the better you is still there.