This all happened to me a few years ago. I told a friend the story of my divorce and I was told to share.
Started a few years ago. I thought we were happy. We were your usual suburban professional couple. Financially secure, healthy, good sex life, two kids (14f and 9m at the time). I thought we had a healthy social life.
We were going through one of your typical married couple rough patches. Both of us were working long hours, not spending enough time together, we were going through some developmental problems with my son and tensions in the house were running a little high.
I noticed that she was spending a lot more time on her phone texting with her “girlfriends”. I didn’t think much of it. I started making a much more concerted effort to get out of work when I could, help around the house and be more emotionally available, but over the course of a few weeks the gulf just kept getting wider.
I ended up accidentally finding some messages when I charged up an old IPad for my son to use. Her FB messenger was still logged in and there were a lot of highly questionable messages with a guy from her hometown who I will call JimBobCooter or JBC for short. The messages weren’t completely inappropriate, but I could tell there were quite a few missing based on the times and context of the messages. I made a mental note to keep an eye on this and went about trying to fix things up.
The next day after I took the day off to knock out some projects that I thought would make her happy, and left her some sweet notes reminding her how much I appreciated her she was once again in the corner of the living room “texting her girlfriends”.
I took the boys iPad to the office opened up FB messenger and watched in real time as my wife tore me down. Her and JBC were making fun of me. All of my flaws, insecurities and secrets I entrusted to my partner were now fodder for her and JBC. Not only that, but while there wasn’t outright sexting there was a sexual undertone to the whole conversation, especially when she was bashing my performance in the sack.
I managed to take some screenshots, but missed a good bit of the messages, because as the conversation was unfolding she was deleting them.
I wasn’t emotionally capable of confronting her. I stayed in the office until she was asleep and had a couple drinks.
I took off the next day and spent some time soul searching, drinking and trying to figure out what to do. The wife came home and wanted to know what was wrong and I just coped out and told her I had a bad day. A couple minutes later I was watching the iPad as the train wreck kept unfolding.
So began a couple solid weeks of taking screenshots, drinking and detaching myself from the relationship. I knew there was no going back from this. The messages were now overtly sexual with my wife completely into it, and JBC was sprinkling in “I love you’s”.
I consulted a lawyer and got my options, and started moving forward.
Here’s where everything got absolutely surreal. Watching the messages I found out JBC was coming to town to spend a weekend of quality time with my wife in a pretty nice hotel. I was missing a good bit of the info, they must have had a phone conversation about it at some point, but I was able to infer enough to get the when and where.
Sure as shit the next day the wife is buttering me up and wanting to take a spa weekend with the girls to relax and when she gets back we can really focus on our marriage. I go with it all the way. It’s the greatest idea she’s ever had, and I’ll do anything to get us back on track.
I get with the lawyer and have him draft a strong separation agreement stating that she would move out, she would get weekend visitation, no child support in the interim until the divorce is final. Then I sit through the most agonizing two weeks of my life. After all this most of my feelings for her are completely gone, and I’m just seething with anger like I’ve never felt before.
D-day arrives. I take the day off work. I Withdraw half of any money in any accounts we are joint on, leave her half alone. I had already redirected my paycheck to a new bank. I close our money market account and get a cashiers check for her half and deposit my half in my new account. I stop at office max and print out about 75 pages of FB messenger screenshots, and I kill time because I don’t want to be at home.
She texts me that she’s taking off and that she loves me. I tell her to have fun.
I show up to the hotel at about 830 and call the wife’s phone from the lobby. It goes straight to VM. They are probably already at it, whatever. I walk up to the front desk and ask if I can use the phone to be connected to JBCs room. It rings three times and he picks up.
Me: JBC, can you send my wife down to the lobby please?
JBC: I don’t know what you’re talking about bro.
Me: Ok then. I guess I’ll have to call Mrs. JBC and get her down here. (Totally a bluff. I knew he was married, and I knew her first name but that was it.)
JBC: (Inaudible, shuffling, panic)
Me: You got five minutes. Click
Not even two minutes later my wife comes walking out of the elevator looking a little flustered. I sit her down in the corner of the lobby.
Her: Starts spewing bullshit saying it’s not what it seems etc etc.
Me: I’m not here to argue. The things that are said in this pile of papers are what’s going on. The only way I’m not giving a copy of this to daughter, your parents and emailing it to everyone we know is if you move out immediately. (Wife was very prideful. Daughter was going through a rebellious teen phase and her knowing probably would have forever killed their relationship. Wife was also her parents golden child and she always worried about what they thought of her. I didn’t have much leverage and shame was my only card to play. Also her professional life is built up around her image, so I knew she would protect that at all costs.)
Her: Sniffle, mumble, inaudible
Me: This is a check for half of the money market account. I’ve withdrawn my half of the money from all the other joint accounts. You should have more than enough to get a place.
She starts to cry a little. I could almost see the different thoughts and waves of emotions going through her, but now was the time to keep pressing.
Me: Here is a separation agreement that I think is more than fair considering what’s going on. I’m going to need you to look this over, sign it, and leave it at the house when you get your stuff. Do you want to look through these screenshots?
Me: Ok. Go have fun with JBC. Do not come back to the house or I’m going to send this (holds up ream of screenshots) to everyone.
I bounce out of the lobby, and I can hear her start to have a breakdown. I get to the car drive off to a parking lot and have my own crying rage fit. Previously I would have cried in front of her and yelled and whatnot but I managed to get my shit together enough to pull it off.
I don’t know what she did that night or over the weekend. She texted and called over and over wanting to talk. I just turned the phone off and by the time Monday afternoon rolled around there were movers getting her stuff and she delivered the agreement. I let her have a talk with the kiddos basically saying mommy and daddy need some time a part, we still love you, etc etc. Standard divorce talk.
After a week she wants to have a real talk for the first time. I oblige her because I’ve already got my shit together and I’ve got an idea of what I want, but I should hear her out.
She’s so sorry. She wants another chance. She wants her family back. She’ll do anything. She’s on her knees crying into my lap. I have no intention of ever taking her back.
I tell her she needs to set up marriage counseling on her own at a time that works for me. I tell her that I can’t live with her, but she should be around the children to try to maintain a relationship with them.
So starts our new normal of her coming over the house, cooking and having dinner with the kids three nights a week (she always saved me a plate, I made myself scarce), her cleaning the house and doing the kids laundry then heading back to her place.
We went to counseling. It consisted of her working through her issues with the therapist trying to figure out why she did it, her begging for forgiveness, and me stoically playing the victim.
I was never going to give her another chance. All I wanted to do was kill time, establish myself as the primary caregiver to the kids, and establish her as not having residency in the house.
After a few months I go to my own therapist and get diagnosed with depression and PTSD. I ask my work if it’s possible to go to part time for the foreseeable future to deal with personal issues, and it’s no big deal.
After six months of therapy I told her that I couldn’t forgive her right now and that I wanted an amicable divorce, but she is still the love of my life and maybe someday we could give it another try. She was devastated, but agreed to the divorce if I promised to try again someday.
Once the divorce was filed I needed the kids to want to stay with me. I left a google search for “how to survive your wife’s infidelity” up on the shared PC at home, and I left some printed out infidelity articles not so hidden in the kitchen. My daughter found them and came to me crying. I told her she wasn’t supposed to find those, that mom made a mistake, that mom still loves her, and that I would always be here for her. My daughter who used to hold my wife in such high regard now wouldn’t talk to her without screaming, and it crushed her.
Not surprisingly when the court needed statements from the kids a few months later little brother followed big sisters lead and they both wanted to stay with Dad in the house they grew up in.
When the divorce was finalized I got the house (had to buy out some of her equity, but that’s ok). I got primary custody of the kids. I got awarded generous child support due to the difference in our incomes due to me working part time.
Now for the last two years I’ve gotten to live in the house with my kids, work part time, get the now ex to subsidize it for me, and when she takes the kids over the weekends I get to have my fun with tinderellas and some FWBs I’ve cultivated.
In the eyes of my kids I’m the patron saint of fatherhood for taking the high road and always being there.
In the eyes of my ex I’m the one that got away that she will always pine for, and I get the bonus of having her come over for sex whenever I want it by dangling that carrot of maybe getting back together.
But that is never going to happen.
This article originally appeared on Reddit.