My wife says she has feelings for another married man.
My wife & I have been together 13 years married for 6. Have 3 children together. She has been a stay home mum for the the past 8 years and has within the last 6 months gone back into the work force and loves it. I was and am happy she has found some purpose for her personally after staying home for so many years with the kids. She, as expected, has found new friends at work, found a new level of respect from her peers there and socially blossomed. Maybe a little too much. She goes out with her friends almost every weekend of late, all night to bars, house parties, crashes there for the night and I rarely see her. She does night shift so we only cross paths for an hour or so a day during the week.
She has told me about her supervisor at work, we’ll call him “J”. 31, married with children. They seemed like they hit it off as friends and shared similar interests. At first I thought nothing of it And was happy for her. She started going to gym together after work as it is a shared interest between them, which at first I must admit was a little odd but I never wanted to be insecure partner and say anything so I let it go. We have always had an enormous amount of trust between us and loyalty was never an issue. But then I noticed her making little comments that made me feel uneasy, comments like “J” said not to wear shorts at the gym because he didn’t want any distractions” and he would confide in her about his own relationship troubles and envied myself for having a woman like her. He’d drop her home after a work basketball game. It just made me feel uneasy. We finally had a sit down discussion. She seemed vague and distant. She eventually came clean and said she has feelings for him but insisted she doesn’t love him and that it was all one way and the he had no idea about how she felt. She mentioned the words “having a break” etc. I have tried to break down these walls she puts up (loves the drama, wants to just give it up) And get out of her how she truly feels about me. She says she loves me but when I asked her but are you “in love” with me? she couldn’t answer. I don’t know where I stand exactly and it’s killing me. I feel as though this can be fixed. I just don’t know if she’s going thru a phase from all this new found excitement of change in her life. I just want her to say I still love you, ur the one for me. I can’t get her to talk and say it. I’m shattered I may have lost my wife, my best friends heart. She wants a break then we make love. Confused.
Hi Find The Way,
I was in a reasonably happy place till I read your story. It brought a lot home for me. I understand your confusion.
My 'Partner' (supposed wife of 25 years) works with men, they actually have to squeeze past her at her work, all day long. Last year, she stopped coming home on time, started going to parties with people she hardly knew, going out on weekends and leaving her phone at home "accidentally". She said we must stop having sex and we drifted apart quite quickly. She was going out at night to 'gym' and would be gone for a couple of hours almost every night.
Everyone will hate me, but I got suspicious, I needed to know. I drove down to the gym one night. Her car was there, but she wasn't. It happened again with her telling me she was shopping, I went to the shop her car was parked, but she wasn't in the shop. A female co-worker phoned our home and told me that my partner spent a great deal of time with this guy at work and out of work then hung up. So finally, I brought it up, just like you did. I got attacked! I got yelling, I got hysterical screaming and a great deal of blame for events in our lives over the last 10 years. I even got a suggestion that we should take a break (married with kids mind you). But, she insisted that she had never actually done anything with this guy. The guy in question left town, and suddenly she stopped going to gym, stopped leaving her phone at home, stopped spending weekends out. She even "slept with me" a couple of times. I can never prove anything, so I am forbidden to bring it up. Now, we don't speak. She is always angry. Just like you Find The Way, my 'partner' expects I should stay, but she cannot say why I should stay. In my mind like yours, is the question: Why did she go for another guy? If once, it will happen again. And what does that make us, the guys who stay at home ? Please tell us how things go. Come back often.
Hello Find the way
It’s great that you have sought advice on these pages. I’m sure there are many married men and women that can relate to your unease and I hope we can provide some comfort.
First of all, your wife sounds like a good mother who has really worked hard on the home front rearing the children and probably doing the lions share of the housework. Now that she is back mixing with adults daily, it’s not all that surprising she is feeling stimulated socially. All good so far.
However, to go to nightclubs and bars regularly and stay out all night (who’s looking after the kids?) is not acceptable in a marriage for either men or women. There’s no shades of grey here, it’s wrong.
The “feelings” she has for her male colleague are a major red flag for me and you have every right to be deeply concerned. Where do you go from here?
Every marriage has its hurdles and so far your marriage has been sound, that’s a credit to both of you. If you love your wife and you wish to stay married to her, you will have to get her attention and clearly explain how you feel. I have found it helps to write it all down, even if you have to read from the paper. Women are generally more articulate than men and if she tries to ignore your concerns and change the subject it is easy to get frustrated and often arguments follow. That’s why I would put your feelings to paper.
If she can’t commit to saying she loves you and wants to stay married to you, then I believe you have to take action. I know it is very difficult and there are children involved but your wife will never totally respect you if you stay married while she has “feelings” for another man and spends nights away from home. Your action could take the form of trial separation with or without counselling. Your action may shake your wife into reality and the marriage can be saved. It is often said in these posts, that no matter how much one loves a person if the other cannot respond in kind, it’s difficult to see a future.
I wish you the best and please respond if you need further discussion and moral support.
Find the way - I'm so sorry you're going through this. As a woman and wife I'm hoping to give you a particular perspective. It is a difficult one to speak from because it comes with some shame.
My husband and I have a complicated marriage and there is some emotional distance. I have in the past fallen in love with a colleague I was close to. So to an extent I know her position - I have just made very different choices.
What's standing out to me is the fact that she appears to be quite confrontational with you about her connection with J. That tells me she is purposely walking the line.
My husband doesn't even know I had any kind of feelings for my colleague - and to be clear, my colleague and I have never acted on it, to any extent, because we both put a lot of stock into being faithful even when things are not easy. It's human to become distracted at some point during a long-term relationship - it's human to develop feelings you didn't plan or ask for. How you handle them is your choice.
The fact that she almost seems to want you to know that he is interested in her, tells me that she is looking for a level response. My guess is she is either trying to signal that she is not getting everything she needs in the relationship - OR she is looking for permission to give up and give in. That's my interpretation. The fact that she is out in clubs and sacrificing all her time with you, makes me feel it's possibly the latter.
Falling in love with someone else does not make her an evil woman. Discovering needs and wants that she didn't know/remember she had after years of being a devoted mother is not unusual. But I think she does need your guidance in how to handle this because she doesn't appear to be handling it responsibly. And when I say "she needs your guidance" - I say that because you have children, and you are now not just partners, you are also co-parents. Even if you were to separate, you would still be family.
My suggestion would be to always fight for the marriage first... never give up easily. But also do not torture yourself or allow her to torture you and inflict irreversible pain for longer than needed. Seek clarity with her. Seek couples counselling. Seek counselling on your own. Look after yourself and your childrens' father. Ask her if she would be willing to distance herself from J. to give your marriage a full chance.
I hope this was helpful at all. I hope you are okay.
Thanks all. Bit of an update.
To be clear, I’m certain there’s no physical betrayal here. It is emotional. Wife has been distant and cold towards the whole family when came home, almost in a depressed state. Approached her calmly and tried to get her to open up. To cut a long story short, she says she wants to go out, not have to worry about me at home with the kids, doesn’t want to hurt me etc. we both agreed that there will be no more gym sessions and as she opened up I feel the “J” issue is more of a side one. My reply was stern and told her that if we were having problems so be it but to (maybe not intentionally) neglect the children was unacceptable. I mentioned spending more time together, even partying, having fun etc together but with tensions and emotions running high it’s going to be difficult and to be fair uncharacteristic for me these days. We talked about a trial separation but the specifics are vague. She says she needs space and time and that me trying to get definite, clear, immediately answers isn’t helping. She says she’s hurting too which was actually a relief for me but she is still resistant to outside help. She timidly agreed to try and to be fair we had a far better day if somewhat tense. I could tell she was trying with kids, engaging with them more, lost the snappiness and attitude toward them gave them kisses which is a step in the right direction. Still so far to go and I’m still unclear of the best way to tackle it.
I think I’ve learned that this won’t be fixed quickly and my direction up to now has been to get short and definite answers that I believe she doesn’t even know the answers to. She mentioned that these feelings started when we came back from holiday in April and returned to work for night shift. She doesn’t want to give up work which I don’t want her to do completely anyway as I feel she will then resent me but I’m just trying to find a way to get the balance back in our lives. With this vague separation throws another level of complexity to it also and I feel her friends on the night shift are also a factor of not wanting to give it up. I’m just trying slowly to nudge her in the right direction without her feeling overwhelmed and pushing back or closing herself off.
Thank you all for your responses. This is the only place I can talk about these problems and gives me some comfort and strength. Any constructive advice is very much welcomed. I can’t believe how quickly life can change, how fragile. God bless us all.
Hi Find the way,
Hope things get better still and that some good positives things happen for you and the family.
My opinion is not one that I experienced like your situation. It more of a thought that i thing is happening. My thought if only a little bit helps with clarity and some understanding than it be a bonus to hopefully a saved marriage.
You wife has gone thru an emotional change of environment, going from home life to a working life has opened more emotional doors to her life as well as a bit of the grass is greener on the other side.
It may be like a mid life crisis, have a bit of 2nd stage of youth life one that of clubbing and drinking.
This has may be cause of so much responsibility on her for a few years and that all of a sudden the sense of freedom and someone else like J who connecting on her on that same level.
I think you marriage needs to have maybe a more time like a weekends away, some date nights, or more emotional surprises from your part to help combat this feeling that she missing from her life.
A change of routine was broken by her. Meaning she wasn’t happy and the work gave her more confidence to break up the routine of the marriage role she had.
Have you though of going to gym with her.?Not as a trust issue but to support her in her hobby or interest? Sometimes when one is emotionally goes wondering they are missing something that she craves. Maybe words of comfort or expression of love like surprise gifts etc.
I hope something out of this helps. Never like to see marriages fail more so with children involved. I come from a split family. Lots of hurt.
All the best.
Yes this is exactly what I feel is going on. I remember talking to her even long before this issue came up about her having a certain emptiness to life. While she loved the kids, she had nothing really for herself. I tried to support her, I felt sorry she felt that way. We used to train together, do fitness events, go to the movies, holidays and seemed relatively happy but when she started mixing with a new (might I add, a much younger) crowd things seemed to gradually change.
It’s like she wanted to still do those things but without me. Like she found something exciting and different. I just don’t know how to give her that without seeming forced and fake. It’s like even if I do genuinely try she doesn’t want to see it that way. It’s almost cringeworthy for her now to think about it.
I’ve got to find a way to break down that wall that has been built. I feel as though I am viewed as holding her back, boring, “she doesn’t want to hurt me” as if I’m a burden. But do all this and not to push her away even more, especially if she has asked for time and space. Is this a good idea? Or a ploy to distance herself further?
I want to be strong and respected by her, to win her heart back, which is hard because I feel a shell of the man I once was, anxiety is about, I struggle to eat and sleep. I’m not grovelling but emotions sometimes get the better of me.
I want proper help for us both. Some guidelines, someone neutral to help us set goals so we can overcome our feelings of hopelessness. All I need is her to see that speck of light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t feel I have it right now. So things seem futile despite my best efforts.
I feel it needs a neutral voice of reason but I know how she feels. Anything like this seems almost an attack on her, somewhat repressive and overwhelming.
One thing I know is that the ball seems to be in my court. She doesn’t seem to have the fight in her to save us so I feel I have to now win my wife’s heart back, which is somewhat humiliating and seems like a huge mountain to climb. I’ve got the will but I don’t know the way yet.
I’ve told her all this & maybe there was a speck of hope there. I love her so much, if I’m holding her back then all be it hard, I would have to let her go but not without trying to save us first.
I don’t want to let her go and she has regrets some time down the track. The damage may be too much to repair. Another lover in the meantime would be the deal breaker for me.
Where can I get help? Thank u all
Hi Find the Way,
It great that you have good insight and quite mature about your situation, meaning not getting aggressive or creating more drama as you definitely got a lot going on already.
Pouring your heart out will be the way to go, it would allow her to see how much you love her. I can hear in your post how much you love her. I think if you genuine and willing to save the marriage as you are than it going to be some hope to overcome this. The side effects will be if not saved you be emotionally wreck but it worth it when it a family.
The young lifestyle will fade. It a short term happiness thing. Most start to get sick of the nightlife after a while as the thrill of going out dies down and the effects of regularly going out takes it toll on the body and mind. You need to play the long game.
This honeymoon phase of her life will change. The honeymoon stage is existing to make up for shortfall she had but once these shortfall have been filled and she looks at life again to have more long term completeness it will be a very fragile time for her.
Beening yourself is all you can be, she would still see the love she has in you from the day you married. Anxiety is hard but bravery is more powerful and beening brave in time of need will show the man you are. It still there.
She will need your help as this lifestyle not a life time thing. She may get left behind or start to doubt the road she travel on and that may bring some emotions from her as well.
Getting help for both of you would be great, but it got to be willing on both sides. Also playing the blame game on each other will lift the difficulty level up.
You can only do what you can, but I think in time she see your efforts and the family she got. It going to be a long road. It up to you how long the road will be. Meaning how long you wait till hopefully some hope back in your marriage.
Hello Find the way
You have fleshed out your situation in greater detail now. You are understandably passionate about your wife and family. It is heartwarming to read. You are being very patient and seem to be prepared to play the long game.
I was in a similar situation many years ago. I know how frustrating it can be trying to reach someone who seems somehow not there, like having a conversation through a pane of glass.
Could you persuade your wife for you to both attend couples counselling? I know this suggestion gets rolled out in nearly every post but based on my experience it can help flush out the invisible obstacles to progress. The counselling shouldn’t be seen as a way to fix a marriage but rather show a person a third way that can help them understand themselves better. Often the improved self clarity gives a person the confidence to speak clearly and articulate their feelings and desires. The benefit of a trained, neutral facilitator is that they don’t carry the personal emotional baggage that can sabotage husband and wife discussions.
Good luck and best wishes.
Find the way, the words you said in your last post were just what my 'partner' said. She wants to step up her life, and do things, but she wants to do it all without me. My 'partner' went to a party with our daughter and tried to sex it up to the point where our daughter had to say "No! it is too much" (although the too much was too little if you understand the clothing she was wearing). It all came to a head from a young single guy that hit onto my 'partner' at work. She insists nothing happened. But she wants to be 18 again, and single. I have been to 3 counsellors, and 2 psychologists with 'partner', but nothing is changing. I fight every day to keep the relationship, I put up with being called stupid and told I am lazy (though we paid everything off years ago with me working 2 or 3 jobs at once).
It is so very interesting to hear the similarity of feelings between out 'partners'. My 'partner is 43 and going through perimenopause, the mood swings are astounding. She insists that I should be man enough to put up with her problems.
All the best to you Find the Way, like me you are not a quitter.
I must point out though, that the conflict has impacted our children in a big way. In hindsight, it would have been better for the kids and my own mental health if I had walked away.