Older couples sometimes drift apart and become dissatisfied with their marriage. Once the kids leave home, they get what’s often called a gray divorce.

Gray Divorce

By Sarah P.

You may view retirement as a long-anticipated liberation from the rat race, but it is also a period of substantial change and adjustment for your marriage. Some of the most overwhelming changes will take place between you and your spouse.

Some couples may have been drifting apart for years due to life commitments. Other couples may have drifted apart due to past infidelity that was never addressed and swept under the rug. Or, some couples may have been literally torn into shreds by a partner’s recent affair.

When an affair is or was added to the marriage mix, this period of time can mean absolute upheaval and utter destruction.

In the past, conflict may have been masked or swept under the rug because most of a couple’s time and attention was devoted to their careers and/or raising a family together.

For couples that are facing or have faced an affair, even in the distant past, they may find spending more time together unnerving at best and explosive at worst.

There is also nothing like an affair to ensure that spouses sometimes feel like they no longer have anything in common.

After all, when moral standards of such profound meaning are carelessly dropped, one person in the couple will likely be left feeling as if they do not even know the person with whom they share the same bed!

These events often culminate in a world of emotional pain that is very hard to work through; naturally the topic of divorce may cross one’s mind.

Some may argue that if they have already spent 40 years together, the unknown is unbearable. Still, ambivalence around whether to stay in a marriage or to part ways will linger. Regardless, others have already taken action.

One Less Bird in the Nest

Consider these statistics:

“The divorce rate for those ages 50 and older doubled between 1990 to 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. Known as gray divorce, it’s an event that doesn’t have to be negative. “It’s not necessarily a midlife crisis anymore,” says Garrett Oakley, a financial planning professional with the online investment service Betterment. “It’s a midlife turnaround.”

Whatever the reason for the change, those going through a gray divorce will encounter both difficulty and opportunity as they navigate their new lives. Without a doubt, the biggest financial challenge posed by gray divorce is the loss of income and assets.

Couples working together toward retirement goals could find themselves left with only half a nest egg, less income and fewer years to recoup the missing amount.

Getting a divorce later in life may mean less savings and sacrificing some retirement dreams. However, people may find that’s a fair trade-off in exchange for being able to spend their senior years as they want.

Getting divorced after age 50 doesn’t have to be a financially devastating experience. However, you may still want to think carefully about what you hope to accomplish by ending your marriage. While a divorce may be the right answer in some situations, other couples may find counseling and compromise let them enjoy retirement at each other’s side.” (1)

Money is most often the deciding factor in gray divorce and for good reason. All of the financial plans that a couple had made for retirement will go out the window. Worse, a gray divorce can greatly complicate or reduce a person’s standard of living.

Tom Sightings, for US News said, “Divorce during your retirement years can complicate your retirement plan. Retirement assets may need to be divided, and alimony could be granted after a long-term marriage ends.

The Financial Consequences of Infidelity

Here’s how to cope with a gray divorce:

  • Find out if your Social Security payments will change.
  • Determine what retirement benefits you are entitled to.
  • Consider whether you need to hire a lawyer.
  • Be prepared for the possibility of alimony.
  • Decide if you will keep the house.
  • Be prepared to divide household goods.
  • Communicate with your adult children.
  • Don’t forget about pets.
  • Focus on future happiness.

Older couples sometimes drift apart and become dissatisfied with a long-term relationship. Once the kids leave home, some couples split and go on to lead separate lives.” (2)

A further complication is the emotional aspects of a gray divorce. If your home was the place where all of the holiday parties were hosted and where family gathered, these gatherings will be extremely difficult to lose. Your adult children and grandchildren will feel the shift.

Additionally, there are health issues to consider. If you were to develop a catastrophic illness, would it be adequately covered by insurance? Even if it were covered, who would your support system be?

On the other hand, would you fully trust a cheating spouse to take care of you if you stayed married and developed a catastrophic illness?

These are all important points to consider when going through a gray divorce.

Most of all, I think if you are considering a gray divorce, it is important to contact a qualified therapist or marriage mentor to talk through these things.

Don’t forget that you can talk, you can explore all your options, and you can spend weeks gathering information WITHOUT having to make a decision. I would encourage you to talk to experts and explore all scenarios that involve staying or going.

Being armed with information and talking to third-party professionals is essential.

What do you think?

  • What is your greatest fear if you were to divorce after 50?
  • Alternatively, would the prospect of divorce give you hope?
  • What advice can you give to readers who are thinking about a gray divorce?
  • Do you think finances are important in making decisions or is gray divorce an emotional decision?
  • What questions do you have about gray divorce?
  • If you have thought about divorce or if you were in mediation, what changed your mind?
  • If you have stayed with your spouse, why did you decide to stick it out? What were all the pros and cons that you weighed to make a decision?
  • Does anyone regret staying in their marriage?

We hope to hear from all of you. Remember, not everyone who reads this blog leaves comments. However, what is said here is helpful and taken very seriously. Gray divorce is a topic we have been receiving emails about lately. So, readers, please sound off about gray divorce.

Sources:

https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/family-finance/articles/2017-04-20/gray-divorce-the-financial-challenges-and-opportunities

https://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/baby-boomers/articles/navigating-divorce-in-retirement

 

    68 replies to "Should I Stay or Should I Go: Is Gray Divorce for You?"

    • Sarah P.

      Hi All,

      Let’s get things started. Please watch the trailer below. Despite the humor in the film trailer, this was a very serious film. The two were actually on their fast track to a divorce until they saw the couple’s counselor in person. They were facing a “gray divorce” and had slept in separate beds for years.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-s22_Mvikl8

      Does a sexless marriage – when both people in the couple do NOT want a sexless marriage – constitute grounds for a gray divorce?

      Sarah

    • Exercisegrace

      Another great article that brings a lot to think about and discuss! Prior to his affair, I (naively) would have told you that cheating was a deal breaker. Automatic divorce. Funny how when you find yourself in certain situations, the answers aren’t so clear! For most of us, the decision to stay or go is agonizing, and it’s based on many factors.

      I was in my mid-forties when my husband’s affair began. Our four children were young, ranging from two toddlers up to our oldest who was about 14. We had been married over 20 years and I was a stay at home wife and mother for the majority of that time. I gave up a lucrative career and never looked back. It never occurred to that cheating could happen in OUR marriage. D-day was seven years ago, and I am now 54. I depended entirely on the life we built to sustain us in retirement. His bad choices extended to giving his whore half of our business, and it cost us dearly to get her out of it. The financial fall out has been tremendous. Two years of therapy for me, him and us (not covered by insurance) at about $90/hour adds up to frightening sums of money. Add in husbands depression, which impacted his ability to work and make money (no paid time off when you’re self employed!). For longer than I care to admit I could just get the basics done, so we ate out A LOT. I’m sure we could do an entire blog post (and I think Linda did?) on the financial impact. Ultimately his business floundered and he dumped our savings into trying to keep it afloat, not being able to stand the idea that his actions largely contributed to a catastrophic failure on many levels.

      I do love him and I have wanted to make this work. I have put tremendous effort into recovery. Financially, neither of us would survive retirement on our own without combining households and expenses. So on the hard days, I just try not to let my mind “go there”. It isn’t an option.

      Side note? My husbands maternal grandparents divorced in their late seventies. Everyone was shocked. They just assumed they would stay together unhappily since they had done so for over 50 years. After the divorce, they remained friends. She blossomed and became very active in an assisted living community. He……was himself until he died, LOL.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello ExerciseGrace,

        It’s always great to hear from you. You have suffered so much due to your husband’s affair. You have lost so much financially. Of the two of you, who do you think has spent the most time working on affair recovery? After all these years, has your husband had true insight into the harm of his choices?

        I am sorry to hear all about your financial losses. You have been affected by his affair at every level in your life.

        That’s an interesting story about your H’s grandma divorcing grandpa, but it doesn’t surprise me. It doesn’t surprised me that she blossomed and he stayed the same.

        But the truth is, many people don’t have the financial luxury of going through with a gray divorce.

        What is the current status of your relationship?

        Big hugs,
        Sarah

    • Cheryl M

      My husband and I have been married for 29 years. He had an affair that began about 2 years ago. He finally ended it about 8 months ago but the question of “ should I stay or should I go” plays in my head often. Our kids are grown and there is no reason to stay together. He claims he will be faithful the rest of our marriage as this has caused so much pain and destruction for both of us. He wants to stay together and on good days so do I. But do you ever truly recover and have good days consistently? When I “go there “ in my head I think I have to get out to finally feel better
      Never thought I would be facing this in my late 50’s and at times I’m still pretty angry about it all. We get all the pain for something we had no say in.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Cheryl M,
        I hear you and this must have been so disappointing for you. You make a great point when you said that “We get all the pain for something we had no say in.” Isn’t that the truth. The statement is resounding in my head like a large, ringing bell.

        You will feel better sometime, but it takes time.

        Big hugs,
        Sarah

      • Shifting Impressions

        Cheryl M
        The question of whether to go or stay plagued me at first as well…..I gave myself permission to “not know” the answer. I don’t know about you but I was such an emotional wreck for the first few years after d-day I wasn’t in the best shape to make such a difficult decision. I knew that if I walked away prematurely I would probably regret it. There will be grief and pain whether you go or stay…..but I encourage you to take the time to ask yourself what you want and maybe get some help dealing with the pain of it all.

    • Hopeful

      My husband’s affairs started when we were fairly young, early 30’s and he was highly successful. I am fortunate that as far as I can tell there were no financial implications. Even with his success I think he would have been more successful if he did not go down that path. Since dday he has grown so much in his profession and success. I do attribute it to him being less detached, more focused and maturing through the recovery process.

      For me the lies and actual cheating was bad but what hit me the hardest is I thought we were a team and always would be. For me that was the greatest betrayal. As you know my husband is in the mental health field. I was highly successful, worked really hard and put him through his higher level education and started up his business with all of my bonuses I had earned. I remember my accountant telling me if I use it for that there is a good chance I could lose all of those earnings if anything happened between us or if his business was not successful. I did mention that to my husband but I never gave it a second thought. For me it was really hard since I gave up my optimum career and location for his career. I was fine with it since we were a team. And my husband assured me if I decided to leave him he would not hide assets etc. However it was hard to get the point across how devastating it would be since getting half of our marital assets even though that would be a lot cannot at this point replace or make up for all I invested in him and gave up of my own career. He kept telling me not to worry about that but it was crushing. I still struggle with that and as a man and the one who has the amazing career, who is revered and highly successful it seems easy for him to say that if he or I decided to part ways. He has admitted he would not be where he is today career wise without me.

      My last thought related to this is since my husband’s affairs happened at a “younger” age I was actually happy about that. First if we did divorce I felt like it would give me time to enjoy my life an create one I would be happy with alone or with someone else. I also will say I am glad it all came out when it did. I feel like we are a team now and dealing with the stress of teenagers, health issues, becoming empty nesters some day etc. Also we both (especially my husband) look forward to having a lot more time together once our kids are in college. We love our kids and spending family time together but he looks forward to it being us. From what he sees professionally this is not normally the case.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Hopeful,
        *gritting teeth over here*

        The thing that always gets me riled up about your story is that you worked your butt off for his career and sacrificed your high-powered career for his career. Of course what you were doing was correct because that’s what a team does. And as you said, you were a team.

        But, what I see in many marriages is one person agreeing to everything while the other person has their fingers crossed, behind their back. They want their spouses to follow certain rules while they do what they want. I am not saying that this happened to you, but it feels like your H went through a phase where he felt teaming was optional on his part.

        There is this humorous (but vulgar) image I have in my mind about cheaters. I imagine them dressed like Charlie Chaplain and moving around in uncoordinated ways until…whoops…! One of them just stumbled and fell onto the genitals of someone else when they were just talking a quiet walk in the park and minding their own business. I call it “crotch tripping.”

        Hopeful, so glad your husband is over that period in his life and I am glad he is being a team again.

        Hugs,
        Sarah

        • Hopeful

          I do think for him it was parallel lives. And I think at his core his is selfish and was indulged in all ways as a kid compared to how I grew up. I think he hid/covered it up well. Or it only came out once in a while, not a constant issue. During the affair years it was hard to identify since they were sporadic. Now that I know everything it makes sense. I could never understand how things could be so good and then so bad. But as we figured out the longer time went by without contact he would be more like I guess you would say himself (less detached, depressed and disconnected). For him he said he just kept the affairs going since he felt like he messed up so bad and it could not be fixed. Yet he finally decided after 10 years to end it on his own. So he had flashes of doing the right thing. I do think it is still a struggle for him not to be selfish. Nothing related to women but he naturally takes care of/thinks of himself first. I guess it is the reverse of me I take care of others first and have to work to put myself first. I think the fact that we both have better awareness is critical. It still can be hard and we have to work at it after so many years habits form and a dynamic has been created between us.

          Thanks for all your work, thoughts and comments!

    • Shifting Impressions

      I have so many thoughts regarding this post. As many of you know, D-day came only a few weeks away from our FORTIETH wedding anniversary. Happy Anniversary, right?? I felt like someone cut off my air supply. And if that wasn’t enough almost a year later there was another d-day….I inadvertently stumbled on the fact that he had another EA about 15 years previously.

      The last six years, since d-day have been incredibly difficult and I can honestly say I have fantasized of walking away. But how do you walk away from a lifetime of memories together? We started dating at 17 and are now 66, So many years together…four children and four grandchildren. We have seen each other at our best and at our worst. So a lifetime of ups and downs….of joys and sorrows.

      Fortunately our finances aren’t dictating our decision to stay together…..there is enough to go around. Taking financial implications out of the mix has given us more freedom in our decisions. We stay because we still want to be together. Anything less wouldn’t work for me. Our family is everything to us. There have been times when I have been tempted to run away from it all. But that temptation comes in low times and is steeped more in fantasy than it is in reality. You know the fantasy that running away will solve all my problems. I think in reality it would create more problems then it would solve.

      Should he be unfaithful again I don’t think I could go through it all again. The fact that he shows true remorse and we work hard to not cause more damage, by treating each other with care, makes staying possible.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello Shifting,

        I had no idea the news came right before your 40th anniversary. What was he thinking? And even more, did you put on a happy face and celebrate your 40th anniversary? If I were in your shoes, I would have been crying all day.

        Honestly I don’t know how you suppress your rage against your husband. Or maybe you are fortunate enough not to have rage. I sure as heck would have had it. My hand would have been itching for his nice clothes, a match, gasoline, and the front porch. But, then again, why ruin a perfectly good front porch? Yeah, the front porch wouldn’t deserve such treatment.

        Shifting how do you reconcile the horrible timing of D day with concepts like forgiveness. You are a far better woman than I am.

        Sarah

        • Shifting Impressions

          Sarah
          What were any of the Cheating Spouses thinking?? They were only thinking about themselves. I’m sure he didn’t think he would get caught….especially not two weeks before the anniversary.

          I was completely shattered…….the rage was only one part of it. If not for the rage, I probably would have been a puddle on the floor, completely unable to function. For the anniversary we had a really special dinner planned with our children and their partners. The kids had put together some really amazing and funny cards and gifts etc. I went to that dinner feeling like a shocked zombie. At that point I couldn’t celebrate the marriage because the moment I stumbled upon that incriminating email, I no longer felt married. So I decided to celebrate the amazing adult children that came out of the last forty years together. That’s what got me through that night.

          The thing is he had been so completely miserable the year before at our 39th anniversary and the whole following year….it all made sense When the 18 month EA came to light. But he did cut all contact with the OW, the day I found out. If he hadn’t done that the match and gasoline thing might have been a distinct possibility!!!

          So the timing was just the way it happened. As for forgiveness, I’m not sure if I have come to the place of complete forgiveness even six years later. It’s been a long hard journey that is not completely over yet…..I’m not sure if it ever will be. We talked about it last week and I mentioned that he had never really asked me for forgiveness. So as you can see we are absolutely still a work in progress. I never really did suppress the rage….I embraced the grief and all that it encompassed (including the rage). I gave myself permission to feel all those things but to try to find the least hurtful way to express that grief etc. You can be sure I failed several times.

    • BoundaryBuilder

      I stayed with my 62 year old husband after affair with former Cockroach HS girlfriend was exposed. 30 years married in February, 2 years post D-day. To put this conversation in context, betrayal with Cockroach started in mid 2017 as a every day texting only EA that lasted for months. He bit when she fished him on Facebook 45 years later. Escalated to a PA in early 2018. PA lasted a total of 12 days (that I know of) – he shacked up at her house 3 different times. Tacked a few days onto the end of a couple of business trips and falsified our calendar. And took a four day “fishing trip.”

      I’m also in my early 60’s. Post betrayal I’m not as resilient as I used to be, so planning retirement this fall. A little earlier than I’d hoped. PTSD from post D-day year of “trickle truth” (continued lying) took a toll. Doing better now. For me, it was his lies that almost destroyed our marriage. Cockroach was never really a threat. Not much spend on the affair, no financial abuse accompanied the emotional abuse. Lucky me.

      Why did I decide to stick it out? Sunk costs effect first and foremost. Refresher: “The sunk cost effect occurs when a prior investment in one option leads to a continuous investment in that option, despite not being the best decision.” Guess I wasn’t willing to throw away a 28 year marriage until I was sure there was no other option. Financial considerations were very important to me also. Why should our family loose our home in a divorce settlement because he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants? We live in a VERY expensive housing market. Splitting assets meant I would never be able to buy another house in the area where my heart and home are located. I adopted a wait and see attitude, got support from a therapist, and started building new boundaries around what is and isn’t acceptable in our marriage.

      The biggest down side to staying in the marriage for me is this – I don’t think I will ever trust him. And, I will never know whether or not the last 30 years haven’t also been one big lie. He travels a lot for work so over the years had MANY opportunities to seek ego stroking from strange. He claims he never cheated before, but the two years of lying came so easily! I don’t readily believe him. I will never trust him unconditionally again, the way I did before D-day. My eyes are open as we go forward. Lack of trust in the person who’s supposed to have your back, be your partner in all things is a big weight to carry.

      I wish I could say he also got therapy or signed a post nuptial with an infidelity clause. I wish he would do these things to help reassure me, However, he has changed for the better. He’s more present with us, kinder to me. For the last year he’s been unflaggingly supportive of our recovery as a couple. We take trips together, have the occasional date night. The light bulb over his head finally went on – he understands that lies of omission are still lies. And his willingness to “be the healer” once he stopped the lying is helping me recover from PTSD. I could have done without the year of trickle truth lying, but things have improved in that department.

      So, do the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to staying in 30 year marriage after a betrayal? So far, I would say yes, with reservations. This is an individual choice with so many variables. What’s true for me may not work for someone else. Staying is hard work!

      • Sarah P.

        Hi BoundaryBuilder,

        I have to admit that with each passing year, I feel more strongly that I would stay if my husband had an affair. Now, each situation is different but I know my husband well enough to know that if he had an affair and IF our kids found out, he would crawl into a hole and curl into a ball. His biggest fear in life is losing the respect of our children. On the other hand, he has never experienced what it’s like to lose MY respect. Ask any ex boyfriend and it was a chilling an memorable experience that they never forgot. (Of course they did things to lose my respect. Someone has to do something pretty harsh to lose my respect and each of them earned it. So my husband truly has no idea…)

        But, on to the topic of staying. I have spent many years working hard and used to work in high tech. I spent many years saving and investing and my rule of thumb has always to live below my means. That way I can save. So I have spent years deferring all of the trappings that money can buy and living well below my means. I have spent years setting aside money for college and money for disasters and have also had to financially support family members who were elderly and lost everything in the crash. Don’t get me started on what it’s like to see family members dedicate their entire lives to work and putting their money solely into the stick market (and not diversifying) and losing everything and having nothing to show for it.. and they are too old to work. So I have lived a life of financial responsibility making sure there is money for the disasters in other family members lives, not just my own.

        A divorce would mean that the inheritance that is supposed to go to my rightful heirs aka my children or towards my retirement, would go to an unworthy inter-loper and her kin. Sure, men say they have their biological children’s interests in mind. Even after they divorce I have seen men actually pay for college for their biological children.

        Boom. Then they remarry.

        Somehow their own biological children and grandchildren become complete strangers to them. Soon they get enmeshed with the next wife’s family and all of a sudden he is putting her kids through college while financially abandoning his own. I can think of three examples in my off line life where this has happened. If I think harder I can probably come up with more. But, the utter emotional and financial blow that is dealt to biological children is BRUTAL. I have no understanding as to why a man would abandon his own biological relatives in favor of the relatives of a total stranger. I have no idea why a man would turn over the inheritance that is supposed to go to his children to strangers, yet it happens. The new wife often takes control and what she says goes. And if a guy doesn’t comply then I would imagine he gets kicked out of his bedroom. Soon many nights on the couch gets lonely and he trades his children’s inheritance for bedroom time with his new wife.

        There are no guarantees except people will lose money in a divorce. And as we get older money is more important and sometimes harder to come by, especially near retirement age.

        It’s not fair that money should take such a front and center role in life, let alone decision making. But, fair or not, the older we get the more it will become about money because we have to think about retirement, medical bills, nest eggs for children and grand children…. and so it goes.

        Life is not cut and dry. But, from a financial perspective any divorce deals a heavy blow. But, this is most of all the case is gray divorce. Betrayed spouses you all hold much more power than you know.

        And BoundaryBuilder, I like your approach.

      • Kittypone

        Hi, Boundary Builder…..Sarah and a few of of “long timers” here know me…..I am exactly 4 years post 1st DDay, and life has NEVER been the same again….WS EA started online, like many on here know, Harlot was the one who pursued him even after him deleting her request, until she Messenger-ed him begging for him to friend her as he seemed able
        To help her….for background story, my husband is a minister and he got suckered into her story….she was having problems in her marriage and she figured that a perfect stranger, living in another country, would be the most ideal marriage counselor to help ser solve her problems and not have to spend a penny doing so…..long story short, they started exchanging very personal, intimate details of themselves and next thing you know, they are now texting, chatting at all hours, video chatting, sexting, actual phone sex, exchanging dirty pics of each other….you name it, they did it……it never got to be “physical” in its entirety only because she lives 2,500 miles away in another country and he couldn’t quite manage how to travel there without me knowing about it and not raise war about it….he did ask me for permission no less than 10 times to let him travel there for a weekend just so they could meet and possibly consummate the relationship……ARE YOU READING THIS CORRECTLY??? THE IDIOT WAS ASKING ME FOR PERMISSION TO GO MEET HIS AFFAIR PARTNER!!!!! Who in their right mind does anything like this?!?!? You got that right: NO ONE. This goes to show you that affair fog IS real, that the person experiencing it does take leave of their common sense, that an alien comes in and moves into the body of the spouse you’ve had for over 28 years (like I did) because all the poo that comes out of their mouth is completely opposite to the person you’ve always known, that the pain and hurt they inflict you with their words is beyond anything you ever thought possible……

        Yes, I’m 4 years post DDAY and still married…..Sarah P. know a whole lot more of my case than what I’m posting here right now, but all of this is to tell you, that EVERYTHING you said in your comment, I lived through…..I AM doing better now than I did 4 years ago…..I STILL take therapy, down from 3 days a week to twice a month and I AM a better person and have grown like I never even imagined I could…..but….the downside of this all? I no longer trust my husband with ANYTHING at all….I started my own separate finances and I don’t disclose to him how much or where I spend my money…..I no longer love him and it feels more like a chore to just do life with him…..I’m seriously considering moving to the guest room just so I don’t have to even sleep in the same bed with him, except that my mom now lives with us full time and I don’t feel like explain anything to her right now…..we just became grandparents for the first time one month ago and I feel like all the love that I have stored in my heart is solely for my grandson right now….only reason why I am not filing for divorce right now is because I don’t want to have to put my mom through the uncertainty of where to live if we split…..we have no assets: we don’t own a home, we don’t own a car, we don’t own a business or nothing of the sort…..he inherited an apartment from his father when he passed away, but I don’t know that it could be split in a divorce battle, so I’m not counting on it…..anyone here can give me pointers on what should my next steps be?

        • BoundaryBuilder

          Hello Kittypone:
          Glad to hear you are doing better four years along, and still seeing a therapist. I also agree that the betrayal made me a better person. And my marriage may not be “better” but it is healthier in a lot of ways. I’m crystal clear about communicating my needs, and I’m getting better and better at maintaining and enforcing my boundaries around what is and isn’t acceptable in the way we treat each other. Although I miss the trusting person I used to be, no way do I want the old marriage back. No financial abuse accompanied the affair, so while I do take an active interest in our finances, I don’t have any fears around that aspect of our marriage.

          You ask about next steps…. it sounds like you have already made some decisions. From what I can see you are already on a path to eventually leave (divorce?) your husband:

          You no longer love him, you’ve detached from him emotionally and are ready to move into the guest room. Which if you want to do, why not do it? Tell you Mom you’ll sleep better on your own. Which is true!
          You’ve separated your finances.
          You don’t trust your husband at all.

          So, assuming you want to leave (sounds like you do), if I were in your situation I suppose my next steps would be to get my ducks in a row to get ready to file for divorce.

          I’d consult a lawyer about what divorce in my situation might look like. Many lawyers will give an initial consult for free. Remember, it takes time to file for divorce and for a divorce to become final. Are there mandatory waiting periods in your state? Is your state a “no fault” state, etc.? A lawyer could help you sort all this out. Sounds like you have some income of your own if you have the resources to keep separate finances. Is there an opportunity for spousal support – maybe partial, or at least temporarily?
          If there aren’t any marital assets to split maybe that will make the process simpler and easier?

          If your husband owns the apartment, it appears the big stumbling block is where you will live.
          I’d start saving for a security deposit and first month’s rent for a new apartment, and start looking for a new place to live. If you don’t want to worry your Mom, maybe do this on your own?
          Could be a challenge to look for a new place without a car, so if public transportation isn’t great in your area maybe saving for and obtaining a used car could be part of getting your ducks in a row? Not sure about the region you live in, but in my area rents have gone down and there’s lot’s of vacancies due to covid. Now could actually be a GREAT time to find another place to live.
          Hope this helps you Kittypone. I know the tasks necessary to move on to a new life may feel overwhelming, so if I were in your shoes in order to not feel hopeless I’d make a detailed to-do list outlining everything needed, step by step. Spread sheets (LOL!) I’m a big fan of spread sheets. Taking things on tiny step at a time until you reach your destination could help you to get there. Gradually. My best wishes!

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Hey Sarah P:
      Yes, yes, yes! I’ve worked hard and lived beneath my means to assure we’d have health insurance, a state funded retirement pension on top of social security, and my private retirement savings account on top of that. And the equity in our home. We live in a community property state and earn about the same salary, so by law, in divorce husband could take HALF of everything I’ve worked so hard for, including retirement funds. He’s an independent contractor, so has NO retirement savings. He does have a sizeable inheritance from the death of his father – by law this inheritance is HIS (inheritance wasn’t co-mingled with family accounts), I can’t touch it. Doesn’t seem fair does it? And you mention an important consideration that often gets lost in the mix when considering divorce – diminished inheritance passed to the next generation.

      The idea of another woman reaping a financial windfall from my sweat and tears while I’d have to downsize my retirement expectations really boils my blood. When we were in the darkest patch after D-day, husband claimed that if we split, he’d never remarry, and had no interest in pursuing any kind of relationship with Cockroach, or with any other woman EVER. I had a good laugh about that. He was willing to risk a 28 year marriage to get his ego (and dick) stroked by someone he barely knew! Post divorce he’s going to take a vow of celibacy? He’d be enmeshed with some woman before he knew what hit him. I read many of the texts they exchanged during the EA phase. Cockroach is a smooth online operator who easily manipulated my husband. Don’t get me wrong. He’s culpable; at each fork in the road he choose the path that led straight to her vagina. But he was so gullible! He thought she was really into him. Trust me, she wasn’t. He was shocked when I suggested that perhaps sucking his dick wasn’t its own reward. Hope it’s okay to be crude here. Cause crude is how I feel when I think about this stuff. I’m usually a very genteel gal :-). I guess one of the reasons why some men are willing to disown their families financially and emotionally for a complete stranger is pretty simple – the ego stroking they get from shiny new strange is the priority.

      I’m confident a big motivator for Cockroach when she fished him was financial. She’s a twice divorced, not very attractive (I’m being kind), uneducated 61 year old woman working several crummy jobs that involve scrubbing toilets to make ends meet. Her retirement prospects are probably pretty grim. It’s likely my husband was the biggest, fattest fish her online relationship trolling ever hooked. And half of that potential jackpot she eyed is MINE. I’m not giving that up to anyone without a fight. This doesn’t mean I’m willing to stay in a miserable situation, or willing to put up with continued infidelity. Husband knows if anything like this happens again, I’m out of here and good riddance. And my new boundaries around what is and isn’t acceptable in the way we treat each other are crystal clear. While I’m hesitant to give away half my wealth at this time, I’m not afraid to decide to call it quits if circumstances change.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi BoundaryBuilder,

        I am a very genteel gal too, pretty boring really and I was partially raised by a grandmother straight out of the Victorian era. I am a card-carrying member of the DAR.. I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke, I don’t do recreational drugs and this has always been my lifestyle (except for a year or two of social drinking in college). My only “drug” is coffee and I have kids, a husband, and dogs. I like to read and write and work hard and I like to save money.

        But…I will tell you that there is nothing like infidelity to cause me to say things that would make a sailor blush. Profanities are welcome here because they are quite often mechanisms for comic relief. I have real doozies of profanity that go through my mind, but I try to keep them in my mind because I don’t want to offend anyone.

        But, for everyone else…. swear away, be crude, and use the slang of your choice. It always makes me laugh when I read it. (And I need a laugh since this is such a dim subject).

        I like the fact that you told your husband that that “perhaps sucking his dick wasn’t its own reward.” I died laughing when I read that.

        Those are the thoughts that go through my mind.

        I have noticed that SOME men who cheat are REALLY gullible to the extent that it is LAUGHABLE. Some men actually think that if the other woman says she will drop dead if she can no longer have sex with him, a man will believe it and think he is a better person for having sex. I mean, he is doing a public service! He is having sex with the other woman so that she won’t drop dead! OMG.

        The alleged prize in his pants is SO important that it is the only thing keeping the other woman between life and the morgue. Where did I come up with this one? This is one that my ex’s other woman said to manipulate him. Of course, I never found any of this out until long afterwards, but one of the things that she told him was that she would drop dead and be a sad ghost for the rest of her existence if she couldn’t have the ALLEGED prize in his pants and be with him forever. When I heard that, it was so pathetic that I actually laughed. It was even more pathetic that he believed it. That made it double hilarious! But, I did not even get to the most pathetic part. Apparently, he actually cried when she told him that. It was apparently the thing that caused him to break it off with me. Even though I had NO freaking clue any of this was going on at the time.

        What astounds me is that SOME men cannot see through such utter manipulation. How can a body part be that important? It can’t and his body parts were nothing special, so I have no clue what she was talking about.

        If a guy told me he would die if he couldn’t have access to body part of choice and only mine would do, I would actually laugh.

        Actually wait…a man did try to manipulate me with that once when I was single. I found out he was also seeing someone else, so I was pretty offended and scratched him OFF my list. Apparently he couldn’t live without body parts from lots of other women and there was no way I was going to be part of his elephant seal harem. Men are resilient. They find new eye candy every day and will certainly not die if they lose access to a body part. They will just go and find that same body part on another woman. In fact, some go find another body part when they already have one waiting at home!

        I mean us women all have the SAME equipment. It’s pretty straightforward! And our equipment is so similar that if we are in a house together, our equipment auto-synchs and bleeds at the very same time! How NOT unique.

        Well, Boundary Builder, you managed to get me to drop my boundaries and talk about some of the more outrageous things that I have experienced regarding sexuality.

        I want to know if there are other betrayed spouses out there who are privvy to absolutely PATHETIC things that the other person said in attempt to reel the big fish in.

        Today has been a really rough week (on a personal level) and I need a good laugh!!

        Boundary Builder, do you have any more zingers that you told your husband? Do share! And anyone else share your zingers too.

        And if you are wondering why I don’t want to be part of an elephant seal harem, just watch the following video:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CE7Srq7gXI

        Sarah

        • BoundaryBuilder

          Sarah:
          Sorry you’ve had a tough time last week. Hope you’re doing better now. Laughter is indeed the best medicine, so I’m ready and willing to have a good cackle about my husband’s asinine behavior. Not exactly what you asked for, but hope it fits the bill. The fact that I can laugh about this stuff shows I’m healing. There is light at the end of the infidelity tunnel! Maybe I’ll know I’m truly over this when I don’t give a hoot about husband’s Cockroach AP. Cockroach who? Looking forward to that day. I think you’ve struck a nerve with the “gray divorce” article. Any gray haired fellow betrayed out there could view this LONG tale as a humorous pep talk with a serious message. The message is this: the betrayal isn’t necessarily about “true love soul mates” or the AP being better – better than you are in bed, better at living life, better at FILL IN THE BLANK. They’re not. And the betrayal isn’t necessarily about your partner worshiping at the shrine of the AP’s sexual prowess. Maybe husband was being kind when he told me sex with Cockroach wasn’t all that great, but I believe him. One important thing I learned from all of this – if someone has a hole in their soul they’re willing to fill with vacuous ego kibble, the source of the ego kibble is irrelevant. It’s all about the kibble, not the person dispensing it. Another thing I learned – there are stone cold mate poachers out there coveting your hard earned nest egg, ready to stroke your partner’s ego to get it! I’m not demonizing Cockroach, or blaming her exclusively. Husband is not an innocent lamb. He has agency. The betrayal is 50% on him, 50% on her. But until I reach “Cockroach who?” sure is fun to mock her.

          Immediately following D-day I was a hysterical, sobbing mess. Even in the thick of the maelstrom my intellect kicked in and calmly assessed the situation. I was incredulous – DUMBFOUNDED about how the betrayal got started, and his choice of AP. She’s an old high school girlfriend who fished him on Facebook 45 years later. She’s not a long lost first love, they weren’t kept apart by cruel fate. Their high school liaison ended when she cheated on him and dumped his ass for another guy! I don’t think he’d spared her much thought over the last 4 1/2 decades. I was shocked to learn my (usually) intelligent and discerning husband of 28 years is THAT guy – a willing patsy who step by step followed the cheater’s playbook to engage in a texting EA, followed by a brief PA, with an old high school girlfriend – that started on FACEBOOK! Jeez, what a pathetic cliché.

          To cope with the betrayal, I morphed into Super Sleuth. I surprised myself with my newfound detective skills.! Super Sleuth was desperate to make sense of the betrayal, to understand what when where why and WHO. Super Sleuth HAD to learn about Cockroach, what she was up against. I learned his choice of AP, the type of person she is, was unbelievable. Husband is a tidy, serious guy with a very particular aesthetic. He’s professionally successful, well traveled, loves film, good food, music is super important to him. We live in California; hippie lifestyle is a really big thing here. And it’s not his thing. He’s a bit contemptuous of hippie culture, quick to joke about hippie art and beliefs, hates pot smoking, hippie cuisine. Folks, if hippie is your thing, no offense meant. To paraphrase, “some of my best friends are hippies.” I just never thought my hippie scoffing life partner would betray me with one. Yes, Cockroach is a scrawny 61-year-old, pot smoking, card-carrying hippie chick – with a slutty edge. Hate the word slutty, but when the shoe fits………..Think: above the knee, form fitting hippie patterned dress with kitten heels, rock crystal ankle bracelet, bedecked with beaded necklace, earrings, rings and bracelets. On any appendage able to sport hippie frippery, she’s all in. Visualize: long, unkempt frizzy gray hair down her back, with prune face, poor teeth, and strabismus (Google it ☺). Let’s just say she looks her age. This gal is NOT what I would think of if asked to describe my husband’s type. And not just his physical type, the things she’s into aren’t what my husband is into. The litany of likes on her Facebook page are telling. She ascribes to naturopathic medicine, weird diets, and paranoia about “chemicals”. He makes fun of a lot of this. She strayed from the hippie chick stereotype in one thing – her taste in music. SHE LIKES COUNTRY MUSIC for crying out loud! Husband can barely tolerate country music! As far as I can see, the only thing they had in common was high school.

          PART TWO TO FOLLOW later. Thanks for reading. I enjoy writing. Cathartic!

          • Sarah P.

            Hi BoundaryBuilder,
            You painted such a detailed picture of the cockroach that I could pick up my pen and draw a caricature of her. (Like the Chump Lady, I do satirical art and also very serious fine art. But, my satirical art is my favorite.). Yup, I can picture this lady perfectly.

            I know this sounds weird, but quite often wayward men choose mistresses that are NOT their type. I wonder if it’s a subconscious thing. If they choose someone against their type, they won’t risk falling in love with the person. They can better compartmentalize the affair. My ex left me for the OW. The one who said she would die if she couldn’t have the ALLEGED prize in his pants for herself. But, this woman could NOT be more opposite than me in EVERY way.

            First off, she was nearly 10 years older and that biological clock was SHRIEKING. Second, she was the daughter of a couple of janitors. Why is this important? Because one time his mom told him – before we dated – that he should find a CEO’s daughter. His father was a professor with a PhD and my father was also a professor with a PhD and got it from one of the nation’s top schools. My dad was also at USC film school when the now famous directors were there. My dad knew the Fonda family because he would crew their sailboat on the weekends. He and I were from “equal families.”

            The OW and I could not look more opposite in appearance either. I am a tallish, fair-skinned Auburn/brunette with an extremely feminine body type and she was about 5 feet tall and probably 80 pounds. I have hazel green eyes and she had black hair and coal black eyes. I have long curly hair and she had short, straight hair cut in a bob.

            He did not marry who his mom expected. She wanted him in the ranks of CEO’s and he is in the ranks of janitors. How glamorous!

            Talk about opposites!! People who met her said she was really intense and easily angered.

            Then, I am laid back and chill.

            After he left me for her, he soon figured out she was a nut bar. He sent word through the grapevine that she wasn’t who he thought she was. (Really?!) I did not bite. He never apologized, but even if he did, he did things that are SO horrible they are beyond reconciliation. He did things that are against the law like assaulting me and battering me so that I would move out of my house and she could move in. I was so terrified I hired a lawyer and put the house on the market. His name was second in the title and he didn’t really contribute to the down payment. I was so stupid to let him be on the title! He lived there with her until it sold. The real estate market had crashed and I didn’t get any of the money out that I put it. I lost about 20k!

            I heard that after I would not bite at his passive aggressive attempts to pull me into the “pick me dance,” he pretty much resigned himself to being with her.

            So does anyone know what an angler fish is? It’s that fish that lives in total darkness but has a brilliant light that hangs off its head. It’s prey will be attracted to the light and the angler fish will swallow it whole. Well, here is the thing about the male angler fish. The male angler fish is smaller than the female. It attaches itself to her body and then becomes slowly absorbed into it. Isn’t that weird?!!!!! And it’s a good thing it’s dark down there because the male doesn’t get to see that the female looks like something out of your worst nightmare. Well, I have heard through the grapevine that his marriage to her is a lot like that. People I know have seen him at networking events and they say he is like a shell of a person. She digs her claws into his arms wherever they go and ensures he doesn’t talk to women. She knows she “won” a cheater so she keeps him in a metaphorical choke collar. She knows that if he has one second alone, he might take an interest in someone else. So she is with him at all times, wherever he goes, and has him in a prison of a relationship. Well, he got what he deserved, didn’t he. And he is like that male angler fish becoming part of the female’s body until it’s dead.

            It’s just so romantic!!

            These men who cheat with these women have no clue what she will be up to IF they marry the other woman. Their alleged soul mate often turns into their worst nightmare.

            Yes, there are many stone cold spouse poachers out there. I am well aware they exist and they are HEARTLESS. Some of them take great pleasure in breaking up families. I have met them first hand and that’s how I know they exist. They are not some kind of myth like a big, bad wolf hiding in the woods; they are real. They don’t care if your kids become suicidal. They don’t care if your kids lose house and home and their inheritance. They don’t care if they cause the death of someone. These people are the most heartless, arrogant and entitled people I have ever met. They think they are special and that the rules only apply to others. Oh and heaven forbid you do something that makes them angry. They can dish it but refuse to take it. I suspect these are Cluster B’s.
            (Narcissists, borderlines, and sociopaths). A wife has to lay down the law if a spouse poacher crosses her path. A wife has to be the stronger one and not tolerate anything.

            Okay, BoundaryBuilder, let’s hear part 2 of your story. Feel feel to add snark, sarcasm, and make fun of this person all you want. Go for it. Vent all you like.

            Another topic….

            And for anyone out there who believes in a higher power, in good vibes or even positive thought, please send up a prayer for my grandma who is in the process from transitioning from this world into the next. She is very frightened and this is very sudden. She had stage 4 cancer and was healed and the cancer went into remission. But several weeks ago a doctor wanted to do an exploratory surgery on her bladder. He ended up creating a huge whole in her bladder and intestines. It could not be repaired. She entered hospice yesterday and my mom says that she is really out of it. My grandma is already seeing people in the room who others cannot see. That’s a huge sign that she is moving on. Today she saw her deceased mother-in-law in the room. That makes sense because my grandma took care of her mother-in-law until she died and they were great friends. She was closer to her MIL than to her own mom. Now apparently her mother in law has come to help her make the transition so she is not alone. When people start seeing deceased relatives, they generally have very little time. My mom was unable to rouse her mom from sleep today. I may not even have a chance to say goodbye and this makes me so sad. So if everyone could send good vibes so that my grandma will have enough time for me to say goodbye, please send good vibes my way. Her name is Lucille and I can’t stand the thought of her slipping away without me having the opportunity to say my goodbyes. My grandfather also has stage 4 cancer. It’s so sad.

            All good thoughts are appreciated!

            Sarah

            • BoundaryBuilder

              Sarah:
              Sending good vibes to both you and Lucille. So sorry to hear about your grandparents. Stage four cancer for BOTH? That’s rough.
              Thank you for taking the time to focus on us betrayed, even in the middle of personal grief. The metaphor comparing your X to an angler fish is brilliant!
              You also mentioned Chump Lady. I love her website; especially the satirical cartoons. How did betrayed folks manage before the internet? Infidelity support websites like yours have educated, comforted and guided me going on two years now. I’ve posted on Chump Lady a few times, but felt disingenuous because I haven’t left my cheater……at least not yet :-). Actually, after two years of just reading, I’ve posted on several infidelity support websites recently. I was musing about this during my morning commute. Why now and not before? I’m grateful for the existence of places like Emotional Affair. Voraciously reading blogs every day got me through some really dark times. Think I’m ready to turn the page on this chapter. So, I’m leaving my mark. And.Then. I. Will.Stop.
              Cockroach saga part two on the way to (hopefully) lift your mood. Formulating my thoughts. Please don’t forget to take care of YOU during this time of loss.

    • Blind Sided

      I’m new to all of this and not sure where to begin. We just celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary last September, got our youngest married off in October, looking forward to being just us again. We were having a great time, sex life was great, talking to each other better than we had in a long time, making plans for our 25th wedding anniversary to Jamaica this year and couldn’t believe how great everything in my life was going. Then i found out the day we were moving my youngest to California (2 days after Christmas), that he had been texting/talking to 30 other women since the end of November! The texts were intimate, the girls sending naked pics of themselves to him, asking for money, telling each other how much they love each other, want to sleep together, making plans to meet up! I was devasted to say the least! When I confronted him, he doesn’t think it’s cheating or going outside the marriage because he didn’t actually “meet” them & wasn’t going to! How am I supposed to believe that when he’d been lieing to me for several weeks & telling 30 other woman how much he loved them while still telling me the same thing & pretending everything was great! All of these woman are basically catfishing him as every single one was asking for money from him & he’s a 55 year old man with 20 & 30 years old sending him pictures! I asked if he really thought those woman were interested in anything other then getting money from him and all I got for an answer was “probably not”. So he’s willing to throw away 28 years together over a fantasy!? I’ve read several blogs, articles, etc and majority of them talk about reconciling. But I don’t know how to process all of these feelings knowing that I can’t trust him again as that has been shattered. He has yet to even feel any remorse or even acknowledge he did anything wrong & is still texting/talking with them. He moved out a couple weeks ago & I believe he is now seeing one of them in person. Any suggestions or articles to help move forward alone when you still love someone that you can’t take back into your life as it’s way too painful & untrustworthy?

      • Sarah P.

        Hi Blindsided,
        First off, I am sorry for what your husband has done and the mess he is making.

        It seems to me that he is suffering from a case of testosterone poisoning. Before everything thinks I am sexist, my dad came up with the term and concept of testosterone poisoning. My dad thinks that “testosterone poisoning” sometimes leads men down paths that are NOT in anyone’s best interest IF a man doesn’t continually check himself and reflect when easy pickings appear. Now my dad made this concept up half-jokingly, but it was inspired by the absolutely insane things he saw men around him do. Your husband is in a really insane state of mind right now.

        I need you to lock down your finances. I need you to call an attorney – one that gives free consults – and tell the attorney what happened and ask how to lock down your finances.

        If your husband is out of the house and 30 different online women are asking for money, this is not a good situation. You need to lock all assets down because even a penny cannot be spent on these women. Your husband is aware he is being used for his money and he is still showing signs that he is okay with it.

        Your husband is NOT in his right mind. I don’t know how you feel about getting family members involved, but you need four strong sons, brothers, and neighbors to go and physically pick your husband up and carry him home. Then you need to call his mom and have her pull him around by the ear until he cries “uncle” and signs a post nup that all funds go away.

        It’s actually pretty easy to get rid of 30 young women. You text them an asset sheet that shows he is dead BROKE. Create a fake asset sheet if you must and then lock up all your money. Right now emotions over what he is doing after 25 years of marriage have to be set aside and you have to put on your financial analyses hat. You need to pull any family members in who will help keep your husband in check, and you have to lock up the money. After 25 years, if you do get a divorce, they will often alimony. But, you have to lock down that $$.

        Your husband reminds me of someone on a suicide mission. It’s like he is the pilot of a plane and women offer themselves up. The only problem is, he has to take his hands off that plane, in order to access those women. And so as his plane is heading towards the ground all he cares about is the fact a woman is on his lap.

        He MUST be reigned in. You must take the wheel of that plane and metaphorically tie him to a chair so that he can do no more damage. He is NOT in his right mind. A man in his right mind would stop. He would realize that he had gone too far and he would stop.

        Now I don’t want to sound harsh. I am very concerned about you and what is happening. But, right now you need to put your brain into survival and logical mode.

        Remember, the way to disarm your husband is to lock all your funds up and to throw away the key. He can try to fish for young woman at that point, but he will fail miserably. Once they find out he has nothing for them, they will scatter. He needs to have a massive wake up call that most women under 45 are simply not going to be interested in him. And middle aged women also need money.

        Your story makes me sad because no one wins here.

        I do like the books and advice that Boundary Builder recommenced.

        What does everyone else think?

        What’s your best advice for Blindsided?

        I say take away his wallet first and do it effectively. Then you can figure out the emotional part. But, right now the financial part is front and center.

        Big hugs,
        Sarah

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Blind Sided:
      Whether it’s a former high school classmate on Facebook, or a decades younger woman texting via Tinder, stone cold opportunists exist, and have always existed. Social media just makes their goal easier to accomplish. And the goal isn’t necessarily to have a meaningful relationship with our partners. They’re eyeing our hard earned nest egg, and are willing to stroke ego to get it. Doesn’t exonerate your husband, or mine. They’re complicit. I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this horror.

      A couple of books I found useful to help me wrap my brain around the betrayal and sort out what I wanted to do about it:

      “Not Just Friends” by Shirley Glass – includes a lovely section on “Healing Alone.”

      And “30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tatics – How Manipulators Take Control in Personal Relationships.” Short and to the point. Not about moving forward after a betrayal, but super useful. Helped me identify unhealthy dynamics in our marriage that were always there before the betrayal; I just wasn’t willing to name to them until after the betrayal. Could help you to feel better about your decision.

      On another practical note, I hope you’re protecting yourself financially. The alarm bells in my head are ringing. Your husband is not sorry about his actions, and willfully engages with women who are blatantly cat fishing him for money. He’s moved out. If you haven’t already done so, seems prudent to get your financial ducks in a row, and take steps to protect what’s yours. I was way too trusting about finances before my husband’s betrayal. Post betrayal, I realized that someone who could lie to my face for two years about an affair was also capable of stealing from me. Harsh but true.

      Blind Sided, this is the worst part. But I know you will get through this. There’s strength and resolve in your post. Hugs!

      • Kris

        Thank you to both Boundary Builder & Sara P. for your advice. The first thing I did when I found out in December was separate the rest of the finances even before I confronted him. Everything he is using right now are credit cards & loan in his name only. My finances are okay since he is not on any of my checking or savings accounts. I did speak with an attorney to see what my options were legally, so I’m okay there as well. Just having a hard time with the roller coaster of emotions of letting go of a 28 year long relationship & all the dreams that I had associated with this man. I haven’t seen where anyone else had the issue of the online situation so that is why it’s been hard for me to relate to anyone else as it wasn’t in the “physical” part of the betrayal – at least not then. I believe he has now that he has moved out & have had other “signs” of him seeing someone closer to where he moved to. So there is no hope of reconciliation as he still has not come to terms that he did anything wrong or shown any remorse for his behavior on the texting/dating apps. So to protect myself I’m moving forward with the divorce papers so that he will be liable for the bills he agreed and we can make a clean break and I can try to move forward to heal. Just trying to figure out all the emotions that still come and go with this as well. At this point if he did finally realize what he’s done and would want to come back, I’m not sure I could ever trust him again or trust any man for that matter. I think this is going to be a long, lonely road for me to try to recover from. I have gotten both of the books mentioned above as well, some of it does help but like I said, most have not as they talk about trying to reconcile & that is not in my future. Thank you both again for the encouraging words of advice! I’m glad I was able to get some comfort from those that have been through the betrayal as well!

        • Sarah P.

          Hi Kris,
          I am SO RELIEVED that you have the finances in order.

          I DO believe online cheating is very common based on what I have seen in my offline life. There are a lot of middle aged people who open up online accounts to see what is out there. Between Ashley Madison, Facebook fishing, and all the hookup apps, some people are under the illusion that there are thousands of people out there who they might have a fun time with. But, this is no more than an illusion. Someone’s dating profile could be totally false. Even people who are unattached write fake profiles. I have a single friend and she is quite attractive. The number of men out there who fake who they are or what they are is outrageous. She has had probably 50 different dates in 10 years and they have all bombed.

          Many people get pulled in by the grass is greener syndrome. When they go online they will find hundreds of profiles of women who have photoshopped themselves and made themselves out to be better than they are. I read an article where many trans men (men who are transitioning to women) will photoshop themselves and go fishing for heterosexual men. Since photoshop is so advanced, you can make anyone look like ANYTHING and it’s hard to tell it’s fake.

          At first, online dating was a good idea; when it was in its early stages and being used by professionals who had no time to date. I was one of those people. I was working 60-80 hours a week and I had a friend who wouldn’t stop bugging me until I put up a profile. So I put up a profile with no photo. I was too embarrassed. Low and behold my (future) husband was also working 60 to 80 hours a week. He was the only person who returned as a 100% match. I felt lukewarm about his photos but wanted to meet him because at that point I was looking for a man who had my values and wanted to get married and have a family. Well, he looked much different in person and there was a lot of chemistry. Photos don’t tell the whole story at all. We met one night for coffee and eloped a year later. The rest is history.

          Speaking of that, I don’t see a long, lonely road ahead of you. I had friends who kept pulling me up – thank goodness – and they wouldn’t get off my case until I got back in the dating arena. They were also on the lookout for me. I was surprised at how many interesting men emerged when I thought life was over. I know it’s hard to trust, but you too can get online and see who is out there. Betrayed men exist as well and there are betrayed men your age that have been through what you have to go through. Please don’t give up just because you were married to someone that was different than who you thought you were married to. You deserve happiness and love. And it’s not your fault that you were married to someone capable of such cruelty. That is NOT your fault. So, please consider picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and NOT be alone.

          Kris, please reinvent yourself. Now that your husband has fallen off a metaphorical cliff, you are free to be whoever you want to be! You are free to live any dreams or aspirations that you put on hold.

          Can you tell me if your husband ever calls you or makes frequent contact? Any idea why he thinks he is not in the wrong?

          Big hugs,
          Sarah

          • Kris

            Sarah – thank you again for your encouraging words! Maybe sometime in the future I would be ready but I can’t really see myself yet at that point. I’m strugging to find my footing and just try to now cut ties & move forward the best I can. He had moved out 3 weeks ago and honestly I still don’t have any answer as to why he felt going online was somehow not betraying our marriage. He said he even knows that all they are asking for is money but still continued to text them even after I confronted him! He would lie & say he wasn’t, but had the evidence he was! They are even a “broken” english language where I told him he doesn’t even know if they are actually women he’s talking to! There are so many scams and softward now that he could be talking to a guy or a room full of woman where it’s there job to text at all hours to get money from any men they can! But he still wanted to continue the texting all of the women. I only here back from him when I have texted needing an answer regarding a bill he agreed to pay for. I texted him the 29th after I believe he’s actually seeing someone now & wanted to verify that since he was still texting/talking & now physically seeing someone since he had spent the last weekend with her that there was no reconciling our 24 year marriage? I received no response from him at all. I finally had to text tonight to get information from him so I could file taxes. Still not a word regarding any type of information regarding our marriage/separation. I also found out tonight that he’s taken another substantial loan out, so now he’s got a “wad” of money to blow on all these woman – until that money runs out anyway! So I’ve been gathering “proof” and information to move forward with filing divorce papers as I feel the sooner I can cut ties financially and emotionally from him on all levels, it might help me start healing. Just need to realize in my head that someone that could lie to me so easily for several months & pretend everything was great in our marriage, isn’t worth trying to keep. It’s trying to tell my heart that is hard to do! I think that’s where I get hung up at is I still love this man and I don’t know how to stop – even with all the hurt he has caused me. But I know he is not going to change right now and I need to break free and start to live new dreams & like you said, reinvent myself to something even stronger and better! Hugs back to you all!!

            • Kris

              Sorry Sarah forgot to answer your other question at the end. When I confronted him about texting/ talking to the other 30 woman he didn’t think it was cheating because he didn’t sleep with them! I told him not yet but when you’re telling them all how much you loved them, want to sleep with them and making plans to meet them, your already betraying the marriage and disrespecting me as your wife. He still didn’t see it as cheating! The only reason i felt he hadn’t met them yet was there were inconveniences and I caught him before he could! But like I said before, now that he’s been out of the house for 3 weeks I believe he’s moved on to the physical cheating now. Another reason I don’t think I could handle him wanting to come back after being with others. That’s all I would see or think about and wonder what diseases could he possibly give me! Just still don’t get why he would not think it’s cheating! There’s no remorse at all on his side.

            • Sarah P.

              Kris,
              This sounds like a real mess. I want you financially separate from your husband ASAP. I had a friend who experienced financial abuse. He took out a loan with her SSN and forged her signature. Guess who is paying off the 30k! She is and she is in her 60’s!

              I know it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that the person you thought you knew changed in a flash.

              There is a book from the 80’s about the grass being greener on the other side. But, there is an even more helpful book called Runaway Husbands by Vicki Stark. She was abandoned out of the blue in her 50’s when her relationship could not have been better. She explains this phenomenon really well and maybe the book can provide you comfort.

              You are still young and have a whole life of adventure before you. Think of all the interesting things you can do. Think of all the hobbies you can take up, all the volunteer projects, all the travel. You could even go back for another degree. Or teach English outside of the United States. There are so many choices in life and so many changes of scenery to be had.

              Now I am not discounting the devastation that you are going through. I am just trying to get your mind to expand and realize there is life beyond a husband who has fallen off the cliff of sanity.

              And all those women he is talking to are mostly fishers of some type. Instagram now has a filter that can realistically change one’s gender in a photo. I was unable to tell it was altered. He doesn’t know who the heck he is giving this money to. But you won’t go down with his insane ship.

              Double big hugs,
              Sarah

    • Kris

      Sarah, thanks so much for the book idea. I will research getting that today. I’m definitely cutting my financial ties with him as I’m not going to pay off his debts again! Thank you again for helping try to expand my mind to look beyond the pain of the present and know I have more to offer in the further, with or without someone else in my life. I will take the steps to close this chapter and look forward to the new one! It may take me awhile but I will hope to get there!

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Kris:
      Whew. I’m so glad you’re protecting yourself financially, and facing forward towards a new life without him. He’s taken out loans????!!!! The sooner you file, the better, IMHO.
      Kris, he may never feel remorse, may never acknowledge that what he did was wrong and destroyed your world. Again, my alarm bells are ringing. Someone with a normal stockpile of empathy wouldn’t behave as he’s behaving. Someone with a hole in their soul they’re willing to fill with ego stroking from online ho’s has something missing in their emotional wiring, Not your job to figure it out, or fix it. It’s your job right now to take care of YOU. As Sarah said, be grateful you’re not “going down with the insane ship.” A favorite saying of mine “not my monkeys, not my circus.” Going forward, maybe let your divorce lawyer handle the communications about which bills to pay, etc.? May cost extra $$ but the peace of mind could be worth it. No contact sounds like just the ticket right now. You’ve got this!

      • Kris

        Thanks BoundaryBuilder! I too agree that the sooner I cut all ties, the better I will be and start healing myself as well!

    • Hangingin

      Wow I’m so happy to have found this page! Doug helped me find it. I will post my own story later on but really, you have all in your own words written it for me. I have such empathy and sympathy for everyone on this site. I’m 72 and it has been a “should I stay or go” issue with me for a year and 7 months now…..but so far I’ve stayed.

    • Wendy

      I am in process of processing an EF. My husband reconnected with a high school platonic sweetheart 2 years ago and is taking a week or two vacation from life to spend in LA LA land trying to figure out what he wants in life at her guest apartment downstairs in her home. She reached out to him /us as have been friends on facebook when her spouse had a bad cancer 2 years ago for support because that is my husbands speciality as a doctor. He went above and beyond to counsel and support his treatment and he passed away this summer. My husband has been overwhelmed at work and life and she has been there while he has totally distanced from me. He left last Friday and we are trying to work with a coach but honestly at this point I feel very hurt and sad that he would do this to me.

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Hello Wendy:
      I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. Of course you’re hurt and sad! I’m outraged on your behalf! I don’t post here often but my heart goes out to all fellow gray haired betrayed spouses who’ve been chumped by that old trope – an affair with a high school flame. I hope the following doesn’t offend – not my intention. The goal is to give you a few words of support from one betrayed spouse to another. My gut tells me your husband is in the midst of monkey branching himself into a new relationship – trying things on for size with the HS girlfriend “figuring out what he wants in life.” WTF! I’d be tempted to jump on a plane to confront them lickety split if this happened to me. I admire your restraint. Hope you saw my post on the “survey” thread encouraging you to take care of you right now. And if taking care of you means reaching out to family and friends for support, DO IT. Please don’t sacrifice getting the support you need from people who care about you to service his image management.

      What is it about affairs with high school sweethearts? I don’t understand how rational people like my husband are willing to engage in this sad cliche; pursue the futile hope to recapture their youth at the expense of their families WITH SOMEONE THEY BARELY KNOW. Hello, high school was decades ago! They don’t have a clue who the other person is anymore. Texting/emailing/lovey dovey phone calls are not the same as being in a real life relationship (duh). Hence, fantasy. A little ego stroking from the old girlfriend and they’re willing to throw away a marriage! Willing to progress from digital long distance ego stroking to in person stroking of other things………If you read earlier posts on this thread, you’ll see my husband betrayed me with Cockroach HS girlfriend who also fished him on Facebook 43 years later. I hate Facebook (LOL). Their relationship started as a texting EA, then escalated to a PA after my husband spent months distancing himself from me, devaluing me our daughter our home and our town. Rewriting our history to justify the affair was happening also “I’ve been unhappy for years, blah, blah, blah.” Interesting that I didn’t hear about this unhappiness until the Cockroach fantasy was in the middle of our marriage hoovering up his attention.

      You say the relationship is “platonic” and he’s staying “at her guest apartment downstairs in her home.” I hope this doesn’t sound harsh, but I call BS on this scenario. I know you desperately want to believe your husband – I wanted to believe my husband too. BUT adults with functioning body parts and libidos like to have sex. Most men don’t invest themselves in an EA with a HS girlfriend they’re attracted to unless they want to f*** her. They usually don’t hold hands and play Monopoly when they do meet face to face. Perhaps the EA is just what he’s copping to right now with more confessions to follow? He didn’t carry on a month’s long EA because they’re buddies — they’re doing the mating dance. Even if it hasn’t crossed the line into a PA, this emotional betrayal is just as damaging to your relationship. Emotional affairs are courtship. Is it okay with YOU for your husband to court someone else while married to you? What do YOU want to do? I get it that he’s “overwhelmed at work and life” but that’s no excuse. Everyone has periods of unhappiness. Everyone has challenges. But not everyone cheats. It’s good you’re both working with a coach, but I hope YOU are also getting help from a professional therapist just for you. A therapist who understands that infidelity is emotional abuse. Nothing you did or didn’t do in your marriage is an excuse for this betrayal. And, it’s telling your husband could have been honest with you about his unhappiness BEFORE he journeyed to HS girlfriend’s home.

      Your husband is a doctor. He’s breaking CDC recommendations traveling during a pandemic, and I assume HS girlfriend is not inside his social bubble. This feels particularly egregious to me. This is serious. He knows better. If it’s a PA not only is he risking STDs, he’s also risking exposure to Covid. If you do reconcile please do insist on an STD panel and insist on the appropriate quarantine protocols when he returns from LA LA land. Because this behavior is outside medical standards and the monkey branching is so obvious, my alarm bells are ringing. I’m wondering if they met face to face before this? I’m sure your thoughts are following these same threads, and that’s okay. One of the most valuable lessons I learned from my husband’s betrayal was to pay attention to my inner voice. Even if it meant not believing the man who was supposed to be my life partner who swore to be honest and true. I learned to see the real man in front of me, not to see the man I thought he was. If I was going to reconcile with this man, it was important to reconcile with my eyes wide open, armed with knowledge. Hope that makes sense.

      Again, please take care of yourself right now, and focus on what YOU want. One step at a time, one day at a time. The rests will follow.

      • wendy

        Thank you for your comments and you are spot on with many of your comments. I am seeing my own therapist and she is working with me to take care of myself and set boundaries. I am writing a lot and reflecting. I know I have not done anything to deserve this. I am in talks with a lawyer and mediator and have a few close people to support me however appreciate this group as an independent resource for me. Most of my other support know both of us or thought they knew my husband and are shocked. I enjoy writing and have actually started a book to reflect my feelings each day. I am in process of publishing my first book this spring and sadly this will fit as an unanticipated sequel. My first book is called “Coffee Connections: My Long Term Affair With My Daily Brew” and is part memoir about networking and my socialization using coffee as a common thread throughout the book. The original intent behind it was that I have often branched and used coffee connection/friendly meet ups to compensate for the lack of time my husband spends with me. I love coffee and sip it talking with friends, he hates coffee and drinks it to stay awake to work. At the end of the book I share that I hope as he retires (we are both in our early 60s) he will be able to take the time to enjoy the coffee with me.

        • wendy

          One more thing is that he is stupid because although he just got the covid vaccine second dose last week no normal person would purposefully fly to LA right now. Also our daughters who live in SF do not know he is there. He did not want to share this. We have not seen them for almost a year. If I got the vaccine my kids would be the first ones I would visit.

          • Sue

            Hi Wendy….so sorry you have to be a member of this club. Yeah I think the old hs flame thing is probably pretty common. In our case my husband went to visit his hs girlfriend after her husband died, unknown to me. They had never dated, he just had a crush on her in hs but she dated other guys, not him, and then married one of them. He was working at his home place about 3 hours’ drive from here, fixing up the old house, so it was easy for him to go see her from there. He went to see her for a year and a half, working on her house too and doing things for her, and then one day he made a move on her and she accepted. The PA started the following week and lasted 2 1/2 more years until I found out. He immediately broke it off with her, told me all the details, said he never stopped loving me, and has been working hard to be the perfect husband to me ever since. Today 2 1/2 years later, we’re still together mostly because we’re too old to go thru the hard work of divorcing, financial issues etc. But no matter how hard he tries, I no longer love him as I did, don’t want him to even so much as hold my hand, we sleep in separate bedrooms and never look each other in the eye. We do things together, we even laugh at things like we used to. But it’s different now, I don’t think anything’s going to change because I’m too traumatized by what he did. We did marriage counseling together, then we’ve both been in separate therapies for all this time. I’m still working hard on my own childhood/separation issues, hoping that someday I can let him back in. But so far, it’s just a very sad and lonely existence for both of us and that may not change. His AP has no clue what she did to us. They were both 65 when this started, my husband was a stupid fool but I feel like she could have had better sense. They didn’t even know each other after all these years. He just had some fantasy thing in his head and I guess she was flattered by all the attention. Her husband who had just died had been a preacher and she told my husband they hadn’t had sex for 25 years. What kind of woman tells this to a man she hadn’t seen since high school and they’re supposedly just friends? Oh well their affair happened. In the early confusion as I was hearing his confessions, my husband told me the sex was great and he was “glad that he’d had that time with her.” What?! He’s saying this to me? I came very close to leaving right then but didn’t and we’ve both worked hard since then. But like I said, our marriage (I don’t even consider myself married anymore) is broken probably for good. Well I thought you might like to hear another gray-haired husband goes after high school sweetheart story in case there’s anything here that helps. I wish you the very highest and best outcome.

            • wendy bornstein

              it is amazing me how common this is. sounds similiar in many ways. I did speak to mine tonight and he clearly does not get why I am even upset still and thinks this is just a week off. He is literally living in La La Land. I am not sure what we will do as I need to set better boundaries as have the nurturing caretaker gene and feel it was totally exploited. I put in the hard work and he went off for the pleasure time in CA without me.

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Hmmm. He gets the second vaccine dose and then BAM jumps on a plane to LA (of all places!) to shack up with HS sweetie pie? I rest my case. Looks like a long term affair. And yes, his choices are incredibly stupid. My sister lives in LA. The city is pretty much shut down, and she’s afraid to go out in public unless absolutely necessary. Not exactly a romantic destination right now.

      Wow congrats on your publication! Writing was a huge emotional outlet during my betrayal as well. Putting it all down helped me to connect the dots, to trust myself. And to VALUE myself. Sounds like you are taking care of yourself with therapy and emotional support from people you care about. Sounds like you are considering divorce – and you have your own lawyer? Which I heartily recommend. Mediation is all well and fine, but you need to take care of you. If you don’t mind me asking, do you live in a no-fault state? Interesting your husband is participating in long distance relationship coaching with you while playing house in HS sweetie pie’s home in California, which is a no-fault state. Not sure if physical residency matters or not in the big picture. What does matter is whatever you decide to do next. Also interesting- he doesn’t want your children to know about his asinine behavior. Image management! Just in case he decides HS sweetie pie isn’t worth destroying his family for. Does he assume you will take him back if he deigns to decide your marriage is “what he wants in life” after all? That you will protect his reputation with your children and keep this a secret if he reconciles with you? He has a lot of cajones! He obviously isn’t considering his family’s well being right now. Getting on that plane was a choice. A drastic choice difficult to walk back. I would feel like our marriage was “Plan B” if my husband did this to me. And, it’s not clear HS sweetie pie is his “Plan A” . HIS needs are clearly the priority here. It’s all about HIM. Ego stroking from HS sweetie is the cherry on his late life quest for novelty sundae.

      Wendy, it is particularly shitty that our husbands chose to betray us RIGHT BEFORE RETIREMENT. Husband and I are in our early 60’s also. During our entire marriage, my husband traveled for work most of each year. It was up to me to raise our daughter, pay the bills, and keep our house functioning. After 28 years of hard fought team work and personal sacrifice, I too hoped our retirement would be dedicated to spending time together rediscovering each other. And what was my reward after 28 years of marriage? He has an affair with a low life HS girlfriend who fished him on Facebook and was obviously out for financial gain! I couldn’t believe this was the man I married. Surely he’s been taken over by a pod creature :-). Stupid Shit Cheaters Say came out of his mouth:
      “There must be happiness somewhere”
      “For years I worked and sacrificed for our family. I deserve happiness”
      “I’ve been unhappy for years.”
      “Blah, Blah, Blah. ME ME ME.”
      Well JEEZ, what about reinvigorating our marriage for a start? What about MY happiness? After 28 years THIS is my reward? GAAAAAH. My blood is boiling just thinking about this BS.

      How can I help? Ask me whatever’s on your mind right now. I’m not an expert. I can only speak from my experience. Glad to help you if I can.

      • wendy

        thanks so much- I live in Massachusetts and it is an equal share state but I am speaking to an attorney just to learn to protect my interests. I did speak to him about an hour ago and told him my feelings of betrayal. He is still in denial that he just needed time to rest and this was an opportunity to see a good friend. It doesnt penetrate that I put in all the work and he is breaking our vows by taking his limited vacation time with her. Of course we have had ups and downs and no marriage is perfect but it was how it was until she came along and then he had her on an emotional pedestal. . It is a bit complex and he is totally emotionally immature. Book smart, MIT type but lacks emotional intelligence. His friend is more sophisticated than he is and I honesty don’t think she would settle down with him. i think she invited him as a friend as she is having different friends visit who have gotten covid vaccines from the east this winter. she is in Laguna Beach.. Her husband passed away after a tough 2 year battle of cancer. He is a stupid doctor who is viewing this as a chance to take a vacation and get away from it all without major expenses and didnt think through the consequences of his choice. I am meeting my therapist and will set boundaries to protect my interest and we will see if he is truly dedicated to healing or wants to move to La La Land. I am a realtor and am getting our house ready to sell next month. We have a second home on Cape Cod and I am staying here where I have good support and friends separate from him.

        • wendy

          I love the term Image Management btw. Are you divorced than?

    • Cheryl

      Wendy- right now it sounds like your husband is deep into his affair fog. I tried to talk sense into my husband after finding out about his affair and there was absolutely no way to get through to him during that time. It was lie upon lie upon lie. They say that when someone is in the throes of the affair, regardless of an EA or PA, everything that comes out of their mouths is a lie. My husband had an affair in 2018 with someone we both knew too. At the time we had been married 28 years. I contemplated staying and leaving so many times. My husband reluctantly went to marital counseling but unbeknownst to me he was researching “ loving two people at the same time “ articles online while in therapy. Needless to say it didn’t go well.
      After about a year, I finally said “ enough is enough” and told him if wanted to continue his “ friendship “ with her than I wished him well but I was leaving and finally that time I TRULY MEANT IT. It was more about saving myself at that point.

      When he realized how serious ( and emotionally stable) I was during our conversation, he ended his relationship with the AP a short time later and we have worked on our relationship since then.

      It has been a really difficult journey, so much anger, rage and tears but for us, we found our way back to each other. He decided to tell our 2 grown sons about the affair, something I didn’t agree with but it was his story to tell.

      Only you can decide what is best for you. I wish you grace and strength and know you do not walk alone. No one knows what this hell is like until you have to walk in our shoes.

      • wendy bornstein

        thanks for sharing- I am sleeping much better with him away from me and was at the point of needing sleeping pills for my first time last up to the days he left for his trip. I read the PTSD article on the website yesterday and definitely share many of those triggers. This is all new to me and it is so wonderful to have this support group. I am learning so much and really appreciate it. it is hard and scarey and new. He has been there 4 days and called to tell me how he is resting and catching up with his thoughts. I told him it is much more complex and he is still in his dream state. Will keep everyone here posted. Thanks going to read and get off my computer for a few hours.

    • BoundaryBuilder

      So sorry about the PTSD! PTSD is a bear. Don’t feel badly if you do decide to use occasional medication to deal with the sleeplessness and panic attacks. Getting sleep, remembering to eat, and exercising if you can are super important to get you through the next few months. I hope your therapist recognizes that PTSD is a real thing for betrayed partners. Some therapists aren’t trained to appropriately support the damage infidelity leaves in its wake. I too suffered PTSD symptoms. Couldn’t sleep, eat, or focus. I retired in November (earlier than I’d planned) because PTSD took a toll on me. Not as resilient as I used to be. Doing better now. 3 years after D-day the occasional trigger does still grab me, but learning to cope with that. My anxiety did diminish over time. I hope you are being straight up honest with husband about the anguish this is causing. Witnessing my suffering was important to help my husband finally get a clue that his selfish behavior was literally making me sick.

      Your husband states he is “resting and catching up with his thoughts”. Goody for him. Heavy sarcasm…. What about you and your state of mind? I’m guessing you made it clear you weren’t pleased with his choice to “take a break from life” and find himself in LA before he left, but he went anyway? This conversation feels very familiar to me. A couple of weeks after D-day in the midst of that shit storm, my husband inexplicably decided he needed to take a four day “fishing trip” to “clear his head.” Which of course, wasn’t fooling anyone. And made me even more ill. I asked him not to go, but he went anyway. What was I going to do? Forbid him going? I could barely make it out of bed! I was down for the metaphorical count; Husband kicked me while I was down. After a couple of days of unanswered texts, I finally got a text response “sorry you are having such a hard time with me taking some time for myself. I am off the grid right now. Which has been good for me.” Bless his heart. He did go fishing alone during the day (she had to work that time), but he spent the night at her home all four days. Even now, unanswered texts are a trigger for me. Turns out he had me blocked on his phone while he was with her. So, if he doesn’t respond right away I start going down that rabbit hole. Again, getting better but the occasional reminders do suck.

      To answer your question about whether or not I divorced my husband, the answer is no I did not. We are still together. Why did I decide to stick it out and stay with him? He’s a liar and a cheater. Harsh but true. This truth, that he lied and cheated, will never go away – as much as he’d like to rug sweep the whole thing and pretend like it never happened. Why would I voluntarily offer him my back when it’s possible he could stab it again? Well, to start, I’m a functioning Homo sapiens with intact emotional wiring. For good or bad, I’m a mammal bonded to my mate. We have a child together, our finances are intertwined, and together we’ve shared decades of life’s ups and downs. I’m a chump with faith in people’s ability to change. And, I wasn’t willing to throw away a 28-year marriage until I was sure there was no other option. I do recognize the sunk costs effect played into my decision-making. Refresher: “The sunk cost effect occurs when a prior investment in one option leads to a continuous investment in that option, despite not being the best decision.” Financial considerations were also very important. After a lifetime of hard work accruing retirement savings and equity in our home, I stood to lose an awful lot. A gray haired divorce was NOT for me unless absolutely necessary. Why should daughter and I lose our home in a divorce settlement because he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants? We live in a VERY expensive housing market. Splitting assets meant I would never be able to buy another house in the area where my heart and home are located. We live in a community property state and both earn about the same salary, so by law, in divorce husband could take HALF of everything I’ve worked so hard for, including retirement funds. He’s an independent contractor, so has NO retirement savings. He does have a sizeable inheritance from the death of his father – by law this inheritance is HIS, I can’t touch it. Doesn’t seem fair does it? Staying doesn’t mean I’m willing to put up with emotional abuse, or that I’m not ready to leave is anything like this happens again. He knows that if he betrays me again I’m out of here and good riddance. I’m not afraid to call it quits if circumstances change. BUT If I’m honest with myself (and you) if finances weren’t a concern the outcome might have been different. I sometimes wish I could be alone and just be done with him. Because:

      The biggest down side to staying in the marriage for me is this – I don’t know if I will ever trust him. Lack of trust in the person who’s supposed to have your back, be your partner in all things is a big weight to carry. Regaining my trust is the last step in the reinvention of our marriage; proving to be the most difficult step. He hasn’t done anything to make me doubt his vow that he’ll never have another affair. I know if he wants to cheat on me there’s a gazillion ways to hide it in today’s high tech world. So, I refuse to play marriage cop. Surveilling him is a fool’s errand. But memory of his Jedi mind master of compartmentalization persona still troubles me. The self-entitlement was strong with this one. He was so adept at living a double life. I wish he would get therapy to sort out his issues, so he could understand why he thought it was okay to do what he did. Until he can smell his own bullshit I don’t think I can be safe with him. And, I will never know whether or not the last 30 years haven’t also been one big lie. He travels a lot for work so over the years had MANY opportunities to seek ego stroking from strange. My mind sometimes “goes there” remembering certain unsettling events I spackled over, now further tainted with doubt. Which sometimes triggers the PTSD. What about 2003 when he withdrew from me for several months? What about that phase he went through when he dyed his hair? Was he trying to look younger for a special someone? What about in the late 90’s – that email I innocently stumbled upon where he was making dinner plans to meet with a gal during a business trip to LA? He complimented her beautiful smile! I really stuffed that one down deep. Amazing how I spackled over that discovery due to having a new baby. Too terrifying to face. I read many of the texts he and Cockroach exchanged. To be honest, my gut told me his affair chat bot was a bit too polished for my comfort, like he’d done it before and knew the drill. The false flattery he blithely dispensed was truly unsettling. He claims he never cheated before, but the two years of lying came so easily. I don’t believe him. I will never trust him unconditionally, the way I did before D-day. All I can do is adopt a wait and see attitude, and vigilantly maintain my new boundaries around how we treat each other. And keep my eyes open as we go forward. One day at a time.

      • Wendy Bornstein

        Thank you for sharing. Sounds like an awful situation. My husband totally had me on a pedestal and there were no issues until 2 years ago. He had some depression but we had all the normal ups and downs and do have significant savings in retirement that in Massachusetts would be equitably divided. We also have 2 homes and once we sell one we can pay off the second and have a small amount for a down payment. Anyways if he leaves for her she owns a great place on Laguna Beach. So the money is the least of my concerns. I told him I didn’t approve of his trip. He said he would not go if it really bothered me but I knew in the back of my mind if he didnt go now it would just be postponement. He has had feelings for her for years and I think that may have contributed unknowingly to his depression. He had a void in his life that I learned after her presence she filled not me. I told him point blank at the beginning to give me 6 months notice if he wanted to have a relationship with her and to be honest. He repeatedly said they were friends and he was talking to her to help guide her husbands cancer treatment. Once he passed away this was more troublesome. I told him I didnt want him to go visit if he recognized it was wrong and not to cancel because he felt guilty. He has repeatedly has a habit of putting guilt or blame if I prevented us from things he wanted us to do even together. I didnt want this to end up being a guilt trip and told him he needed to confront if its me or her. He also has not mentioned any of this to her and we had been facebook casual friends. He is visiting her for 1 plus weeks. I find it troubling that he has not brought up my concerns as then obviously he wont come home and cut off ties with her. He would be a total ass to have her host him and then without discussing anything of the situation. She has been nice to both of us and I am not totally sure if she is as aware as she has shared on facebook that since the vaccine she has a few friends visiting her this month. She may be aware or she may not. It is hard to tell and I don’t think I should confront her. I think he is not being open to either of us.

        I started to write a second book chronicalling all of this that I will publish someday as either a sequel to my Coffee Connection Book I am working on or a novel totally changing identifying content. I find it therapeutic to write and it has been flowing. Maybe it will be shareable to Doug & Lindas platform. I have one friend reading it and she has commented on how heartfelt it is. I am editing as I go along.

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Wendy:
      Unless the invitation was for BOTH of you to visit Laguna, or the invitation for your husband to visit was sent via a GROUP invite extended to other friends AND THEIR PARTNERS equally as the opportunity presented itself, perhaps you are giving her too much credit. What kind of woman invites a solo husband to stay with them – and then is okay with it when they actually do so? Even if he’s not being honest with her about you reservations around their friendship there is still something wrong with this picture. She may be “nice” to you, but it’s hard to ignore those red flags when they’re waving in your face. Again sorry if my two-by-fours are blunt:-). If your husband got the vaccine and you haven’t received your vaccine yet, of course this is a handy excuse to justify his trip without you. And the classic “we’re just friends” explanation is as old as human speech. BUT apparently the EA has been going on for months. What you describe is a classic EA! I believe she knows what she is doing. Blaming the AP SOLELY or confronting them is generally not a good idea, so trust your instincts there. Although the betrayal is 50% on them and 50% on our spouses, the AP’s aren’t married to us and don’t owe us anything (well basic empathy for another human being would have been nice). Our SPOUSES made the choice to woo another woman, etc. Reminder: depression/emptiness is no excuse to cross over appropriate boundaries, to take that first step down the slippery slope towards possible destruction of our marriages. My husband’s goal behind the betrayal with Cockroach was definitely self medication. That is no excuse to betray me. To lie to me. To collude with Cockroach. Cause that’s what it is when a long term secret EA or PA affair happens – a plot between two people to harm their significant others. Our husbands obviously weren’t thinking about us or our needs when they started following the cheater’s playbook step by step. And I don’t think they were thinking about the AP or their needs either. It’s all about them and how the AP makes them feel. Just my two cents which you are welcome to take or leave. I hope this helps!

      Keep up the writing! WordPress could be a place/tool to blog about your experiences. A blog could be a nice way to help structure the writing. The blog writing could be adapted into a novel. Whatever works! I’m glad money is not an issue that will be a big factor into your decision to stay or go. Trust yourself. There’s something to be said for Cheryl’s approach. Her husband dithered around and it wasn’t until she was finally ready to leave and MEANT IT when she presented her ultimatum that her husband realized he could really lose her. Same thing for me. Telling my husband that I would be fine without him and he was welcome to go, and really MEANING IT when I said it turned the tide in our marriage. I’m not saying this is what you should do. You should do whatever you feel is right for you and your marriage. In the meantime, take care of yourself. Appreciate the time alone in Cape Cod if you can. This is the hardest part. I get the feeling you will get through this whatever you decide.

    • Cheryl

      I totally agree with BoundaryBuilder ( love the name)!- no woman without an agenda would invite a married man to stay with her without his spouse. I’m sorry but it’s true. My husband went on a trip as well with his AP, after repeatedly denying he was going alone to “ give us a much needed break”. I suspected they were together but still didn’t have hard proof. It was only after D-Day, that I got the story ( which I’m sure had many details omitted) .

      Do I love my husband still? Yes…. but not in the same way I did prior to his affair. Prior to the affair, I trusted him 1000% but not anymore. I do have to say with time and him making good decisions it has gotten easier but it will never be the same. The vows were broken and that is my reality.

      Do I want to get divorced? No… this person is my best friend, the father of my children and I have to remind myself that we have had 29 great years together and ONE REALLY SHITTY year. I really try to focus on the good years but betrayal runs deep. I feel he is doing the work to reestablish trust and works on our relationship.

      Will I leave if it happens again? Absolutely 100% WITHOUT A DOUBT! No need to talk about it…nothing… I will be gone.

      But Wendy I caution you… the reason why I brought up the affair fog is because your husband is not thinking clearly. If you give him a half hearted ultimatum right now, he may choose to leave. Make sure you are making the right decision for you.

      My heart breaks for you as I know this devastating journey so well. I completely agree with BoundaryBuilder…. you must take care of yourself. I didn’t sleep, I lost 70 lbs and I was a wreck. Taking care of yourself is a MUST!

      We are all part of a club no one ever wanted to join. Hugs to both you ladies!

    • Cheryl

      My husband and I worked at the same place and his AP worked for me at the time. Nice…….

      • Wendy Bornstein

        you are both great – I just started reading the book Chatters and Cheaters by Susan Meyer and it is very helpful although I now learned that my husband. has lied to me. On the books suggestion of documenting what you can I decided to check our cell phone bill history and whalla there are frequent calls and long ones in just one the past mo. I looked at. I have now downloaded the full year. He is not being forward or truthful and as mentioned does have an image management issue.

      • BoundaryBuilder

        Yikes. That sounds like a living nightmare! Sorry you had to suffer this abuse in your work place as well as your home. Yet you survived. You are a hero!

    • Cheryl

      Wendy- I am sorry to hear that. At this point, he will tell you that they are just friends, you are overreacting, she needed extra support, etc..etc…

      I am sure your mind is spinning and your world has turned upside down. You will get through this and you WILL be okay. The book “Not Just Friends” by Shirley Glass is also excellent.

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Oh Wendy I am so sorry. Yes, buckle up and get ready for the gaslighting. And blame shifting “how dare you check the phone records – if you don’t trust me what’s the point blah, blah.” I suspect his response will be that the problem is not what he did, but your reaction to it. Or he could surprise us and be honest about everything right away. But, in my experience, they only admit to what is already known. I had to peel back each lie like an onion, layer by layer. It was the water torture drip drip drip of each exposed lie that almost destroyed our marriage, Not Cockroach.

      I second Cheryl’s suggestion to read Shirley Glass. When I was in the midst of the maelstrom my coping mechanism was to educate myself about infidelity, to understand the behaviors and motivations that are really at play here. Not to fix myself or fix our marriage, but to be armed with knowledge. There’s a lot of information out there about reconcilliation, which wasn’t what I was particularly interested in learning about. I wanted to understand the research, power dynamics, behavior patterns and so on. If I was going to reconcile with my husband it was crucial for me to do it with my eyes wide open. Having a vocabulary to name things was also super helpful.

      You WILL BE OKAY. You are a successful, intelligent woman with a lot going on – you’re a mother, a writer, a realtor/business woman who’s probably helped 100s of folks navigate one of the most complex financial decisions of their lives – buying a home!

      Speaking of homes, I know you have a lot on you plate right now, but I feel compelled to ask you about the sale of your MA home. Was this a mutual decision made RECENTLY in the last few months? Was it his idea? Sorry but I can’t help but worry that the timing of this feels a bit suspect. You’ll both be sitting on a convenient big pile of cash. My mind is going there. Take care of yourself!

      • Wendy

        We have been talking about selling our home for about 3 years as we both approach retirement age and actually bought our cape home 5 years ago with the intent of having it a primary landing place and then possibly renting near our kids in the winter months. The timing was exascerbated with COVID because the market is very hot right now. I went into full accelaration with this trip 3 weeks ago and a defined timeline. I shared my real estate website.

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Good to hear the sale was a long standing plan. Yes, the market is crazy hot around my area also.

      Hope you are weathering this situation okay?Selling the home could be a welcome place to put your energies right now.

      • Wendy Bornstein

        Thanks I am fortunate as I am staying at our second home and not sure I will welcome him here!!

    • Shellie

      I just turned 50 in December and my husband turned 51 the same month. We have been married over 27 years, together over 30. Plus, we grew up together. We graduated from college, worked a year then got married. Then I worked two jobs putting him through law school. Afterwards, I was able to be a stay-at-home mom taking care of the kids and everything else while he built his career. He has been very successful and allowed us to live a very nice lifestyle. We always viewed ourselves as a “team,” that even though he was in law school working on his career, it was a team effort for both of us and our future family. We have always had a very loving, healthy, honest relationship. We were best friends. Our marriage was not perfect, but it was a really, really good one. Lots of love and laughter and trust and many commonalities. And I never thought I would be 50 years old, getting divorced from the love of my life and starting all over. And another woman was going to get to reap all the hard work we had done together, just as we were about to become empty- nesters and start on our next adventure in life together, with plans we had been making together for years.

      Exactly 2 years ago I started suspecting my husband was having an affair with a woman who worked for his biggest client. She was one of the main “point people” for him at the client. I also must note, we live in a small-town, a town where my husband and I both grew up and moved back to after college and several years away for work. Our family is a well-known family. She and her husband are not from here. Needless to say, the affair blew up all over town. As a result of the affair, my husband lost this client, which cost us about 1/3-1/2 of his income plus our insurance benefits. He also lost a small pastorship at a country church.

      And, my husband is not her first affair. She had an affair about 3 years into her marriage 18 years ago. She and her husband were high school sweethearts and dated all through college before getting married. And she has had a few more “inappropriate” relationships with other men in town over the years.

      She was 10 years younger, married with 2 young children, and she and her husband were considered friends of ours (we would occasionally go to dinner with them and other people from the client and even took a big group trip with them about 6 months into their affair (which I did not know was going on at the time). She is the COMPLETE opposite of me: she’s loud, self-centered, a know-it-all and likes to be the center of attention. She also thinks she is always the smartest person in the room. In fact, people say she is like a female version of my husband! It’s almost weird how alike they are. I think her ego is actually bigger than his! She does not really have any close girlfriends (she told me this once and I actually felt bad for her so I tried to be her friend). In most social settings, she is usually hanging out with all of the men. And in her work environment, she is not generally well-liked. She creates a lot of chaos in the office. And she rubs people the wrong way. It has caused issues at her work for several years, even before the affair.

      She is also a big runner and she and my husband became big running buddies in 2017 (she started working for his client in summer 2016). I never thought anything about it because we have always had a very honest and trusting relationship, he is just “not that kind of guy” plus she seemed happily married. Her husband is a fantastic guy. And my husband is the LAST guy everyone in town thought would do this. Pus, she is not very attractive. She’s kind of “masculine” too (But I’ve learned affairs aren’t about looks. They are all about how that person makes you feel. And they are also a lot about egos and narcissism). People could not believe it when they found out, because he and I always had such a great marriage. We grew up together but did not start dating until junior year of college. We have always had such a solid, loving, respectful, trusting relationship. We were also best friends. And We are opposites. I’m very laid-back and easy-going. He is very outgoing and gregarious. He told me, when I first confronted him about the affair, that I was “easy to be in a relationship with. You are kind, loving, loyal, stable. You are my constant, my anchor. She isn’t easy to be in a relationship with. She can be difficult.” But he also told me that she “gets him, ” that they are “kindred spirits” and she is his “soulmate.” They have “so much in common. She likes to run, I like to run. She likes the outdoors, I like the outdoors. She likes music, I like music.”
      And the big thing? He told me that “Everybody was always needing and wanting something from me. You, the kids, work, church, the school, my family, your family … She never wanted or needed anything from me. When I was with her, I could just ‘be'”. I told him that’s because he isn’t doing real-life with her. That they could just escape to fantasy land and have fun together, which is what they did. For 2 years.

      I should also note she comes from a very dysfunctional family (she would talk all the time about how screwed up her family was. Her husband comes from a very stable, good family. Really good, healthy relationships in his family). Her sister lives here now and is married to man she had an affair with. The sister had two affairs while married with 2 young children. The second affair she got pregnant, divorced her husband and is now married to that guy. Her brother has been married twice. And her parents are divorced. Her mom remarried but was about to get divorced again when she suddenly passed away 6 years ago. Kind of makes you wonder about “Family of Origin” issues…. She also told my husband that her marriage was more like a “partnership.” My husband kept talking about how their marriage “wasn’t a good one like ours…” She would also complain to him about her boss at work….

      One year ago, after a year of his adamant denials, major gas lighting, etc, and saying and doing things that were so awful and off-the-wall, I finally got the evidence I needed (I finally figured out I could look at his cell phone records, for one thing. And I secretly recorded a 65 minute conversation. Plus I found texts, pictures, gift receipts, etc. For 2 years they would talk on the phone 12-18 times a day, sometimes for several hours a day. One month they were actually on the phone for 45+ hours. Most other months were averaging 25-35 hours! I asked him how in the world they could get any work done talking that much!) and confronted him for the first D-Day. He would not admit to an affair but I caught him red-handed. I asked him to leave and he was out of the house 3 weeks, all the time begging to come back, to save our marriage, etc. We had been going to marriage counseling because I felt something was not right. When I asked him to go, he was very willing. It turns out he was sitting in therapy for 2-3 months lying to the therapist too about his relationship with her. He kept saying that they were “just friends” (a phrase that I now know is a MAJOR RED FLAG!), and such.

      So, working with a therapist, we worked on him coming back home. One main thing was that he had to end it with her. He did not want to but he agreed. But it was difficult because they worked together, talking on a daily basis. I should have known better….

      So, after three weeks, he came home and ended it with her (I later discovered the “end” of their affair lasted 24 hours) and we continued working on our marriage with the therapist. Then COVID hit and we quarantined at our condo at the beach with our kids. After a while, I just knew something wasn’t right. But he seemed to be doing all the right things. But he was still secretive. And I knew he had to talk with her about work stuff. But we decided he would leave the client and we were working on a plan for him to do that. But he still refused to work with me on taking steps to set boundaries in our marriage. He was still going to “Happy Hour” several days a week, once we got back home after quarantine, which we would argue over (A few years ago he would go one afternoon a week for 2 hours with his friends. But it eventually became 5 days for several hours. I learned that she was always there. As one of his friends said, “she’s not only the only woman at our Happy Hour, she’s alsoalways the last to leave.” This is while her husband was juggling his career and taking care of their kids, along with the help of his parents. Parents at her kids school would say how she would never be at events or would come in when it was almost over, and her husband would have been there the whole time).

      Well, about 3 months after the first D-Day, my youngest sister, who lives here in town too, accidentally caught them meeting up at a secluded place around the University in our town. Needless to say, all hell broke loose. He tried to lie and say they were meeting for work stuff but it was just lies. I asked him to leave again. Long story short, we had to tell our kids (ages 23,20 and 16) because they were asking where dad was. He refused to come to our house to tell the together so I had to do it alone. He kept asking me to put it off for a few weeks. I told him they were going to wonder why he wasn’t at home….

      My daughter (my oldest) had actually figured out about the affair several months before (she considered the AP a friend and looked up to her) and was very angry with her dad. (She flat-out confronted me one day and told me I better not lie to her about it). But he did not know she knew. I later found out my two sons knew about it. The youngest had apparently seen them together very early one morning in fall of 2018 and called his big brother at college to tell him he thought their dad was cheating on me. (My husband was meeting her very early in the mornings to run but it came out later they didn’t always run. They would go to her loft while her husband was back at the farm taking care of the kids, getting them ready for school. We think this is when my son saw them. He had snuck out with his friends one night and was out very early one morning. She and her husband lived outside of town on a farm but owned a loft in-town. Turns out the loft, which she was really the only who used it, was the “love nest.” ). The boys did not say anything to me because they didn’t want to believe it was true. They said they didn’t think their dad could do something like that.

      Thing blew up, and over the next few months, we talked some. He would not go to therapy but kept telling me he loved me. He kept telling me he couldn’t “choose” or “decide” between the two of us. He would say, “I just don’t know what to do.” I was still very willing to work out our marriage. I did not want my marriage and us to be over. I was willing to do whatever it took. Her husband divorced her within 2 months because he said he had “been down this road with her before.” And my husband kept saying how bad he felt for her because of all she lost because of him and the affair. I told him that she knew what she was getting into, that she was a grown woman, and she knew the consequences. I honestly think if her husband had taken her back, he would have come home. But I wouldn’t have wanted him that way. I told him once that I was not a consolation prize or second choice. And for a long time in our lives, I WAS his FIRST choice.

      He laid low and wouldn’t talk to anyone for months. He never went out. One of our good friends talked to him several times (several of his buddies tried but he avoided them). Our friend asked him how he could turn away from 30 years of a great marriage, history, kids, a life built together with me for the AP? My husband replied, “I know. But I have 2-1/2 years with her!” Our friend said that’s when he realized my husband had just lost it.

      After several months of trying (he was still seeing her and still did not live with me), I told him that “no decision was a decision.” and that he was not the only one who got to choose. I told him I loved him and wanted to save our marriage but I had to look out for what was best for me and the kids (I also discovered during this time he had been taking trips with her on the weekends she did not have her kids, including to our condo! She got shared physical custody of her kids. One week on, one week off. Plus she got no alimony or child support. And her husband got decision-making over all the aspects of their kids).

      Long story, but here I am. I never thought in a million years he would ultimately choose her/the affair over me and the kids. He is living with her (he moved in October 2020 after my youngest, who had gone to live with him for 3 months, suddenly came back home to me and hasn’t left since) although he will not tell his kids he is. His dad also died suddenly 2 months ago. And he is hot and cold with me. He acts like he misses me and is really nice to me the weeks she is with her kids (she stays at the farm the week she has her kids while my husband is at her loft) but once she is back, he is back to being cold and distant.

      I do believe deep down he is not entirely convinced he’s making the right choice, but it’s the choice he’s making. He has even intimated that to one of his best friends. It has broken my heart into a million pieces, and my children’s as well. My two oldest did not see or speak to him for 8 months. They now communicate with him but it’s not like it used to be. We were all a very close family and his actions have had devastating consequences for all of us. And he does not seem to “get it.” He doesn’t understand why we all can’t just “get past this and move forward.” And he tells me that that kids are “resilient” and will get over it eventually. I honestly think, from things he has told me, that he thought I (and everyone else in our family and community) would be upset but would then be so happy for them that they found each other. I have often wondered if I handled everything in the right way. But ultimately, he would not cut off contact with her and I now know there is no way to save/heal your marriage unless they cease ALL contact. You can’t move forward with any reconciliation without that happening first and foremost.

      I think it’s a classic midlife crisis affair. And I’m sure one day he is going to wake up and realize just what he’s done and what he’s lost. And I know that more than likely, she will cheat on him. She has just done it too many times before. I also now know that I did nothing to cause his affair, that there is ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE for infidelity. If you are unhappy, you either go to your spouse and work on your marriage, or you get out and then move on. The betrayal part just is so devastating and creates permanent damage that can never be changed. Not just for the betrayed spouse but for the children, extended family, friends, etc. And until the WS wakes up and realizes and takes real responsibility for what they have done, there is nothing you can do.
      I believe that the passage of time, and the perspective that comes with that passage of time is the only thing that will wake them up. And then I think at that point, it will be too late. And it is so sad. It is such a waste. I read somewhere that the BS, the kids and the people that love the WS unconditionally are the ones left holding the bag of consequences for the WS’s actions. It’s unfair but it’s true. Not to say the WS faces consequences. They most certainly do. And sometimes it’s delayed (EVERY woman in my town who has reached out to me because they have lived this has told me, their husbands ALL came back later at some point or told a close friend that their affair was the WORST mistake of their life, they regretted leaving their wife and kids, and if they had it to do over, they never would have done it. Even the men who married the AP, the marriages have not turned out like they thought. Several of those 2nd marriages to the AP have had infidelity too. And none of them have been as good as the first). But it’s the innocent victims who suffer the most. I’ve also learned affairs are about addiction, ego, and absolute selfishness. And they are all textbook. . Every. Single. Time.

      I’m one year out from the first D-day. 12 months ago I never thought I would get to the place I am. I spent many days and nights curled up in a ball on my bed, or ugly-crying with snotty nose and everything. There are still difficult days but all-in-all, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I would advise anyone that as you go through this, make sure you go THROUGH the storm, not around it. It will be painful, excruciating, horrible, sad, lonely and so many other emotions. But it’s how you heal. Don’t avoid the storm like the Wayward Spouse is doing. And take care of yourself. Discover yourself again. At our age, we have kind of gotten lost sometimes in our spouse. Find your way back to you again. I think you will like the person you find! I am going back to school for a graduate degree. I have changed jobs. I found a great therapist to see as I go through my recovery from this. I’ve made time for me to get in better shape (my revenge body-by product of the affair is one of the positives to come out of this whole mess!), spend time with my girlfriends, and at some point, I will start dating again once my divorce is final. It’s weird to be doing that at my age but I’m just trusting the process and know that there is a really good plan for me out there. I have not gotten to the point of forgiveness yet with my husband, but I know I will. I don’t want to be bitter and I really don’t think I will be. He isn’t worth it and I know the AP certainly isn’t. And while I don’t want terrible things to happen to either of them (yes, I still love my husband and always will), I have learned recently that all is not roses in their fantasy world. Things are not going well for her at work, her ex is now dating a really nice woman and seems very happy while she still sneaks around town with my husband, although everyone knows they are together, she is kind of a pariah in our town (she has brought this on herself with her insensitive and entitled behavior and actions towards me and my family the last several months. I’m determined to take the high road in all of this, even if it kills me!), she and my husband both look terrible physically (he has gained a lot of weight and his drinking, which has always been an issue although he is very high-functioning and successful, has gotten much, much worse), the financial reality of divorce is hitting him pretty hard. Actually hitting them both pretty hard. The reaction and social fallout for them rom their affair in our small town is becoming more apparent. And the “fairytale” they envisioned is not turning out the way they planned.
      It’s like I told him,
      “You aren’t doing reality with her. Doing real-life with someone, like paying bills, dealing with teenagers, dealing with finances, work stress, and so forth is much harder than sneaking around and having fun affair sex and lunchtime runs telling someone all your hopes and dreams while your spouse is at home dealing with real world family issues.”

    • Sue

      Wow, what a story! And reading it made me so angry. My husband’s too is a classic midlife affair, he regrets it and we are still together. Had I been 50 when I found out about his 4 year affair, I would not be here because 50 is still quite young to walk out and start a new life. But I was 70 and pulling it all apart at this age just felt like too much. So here we are, roommates, taking one day at a time, unhappy days for me and lonely for us both. After his affair (he dropped her immediately), he just went back to golfing and watching sports on tv. Thousands of dollars on therapy for both of us, nothing much changing because I cannot “return” to him even though he says he loves me deeply and always has. And he still can’t share his thoughts and feelings with me, which is what allowed him to pull off all his secret stuff. I never had a clue. We’re just past 2 1/2 years from D-day with who knows what kind of life ahead for us. So you have a whole new life of possibilities ahead of you! Go and make a wonderful new life for yourself. 20 years — from your age to mine — is a LONG time! ☺️ Probably you will always love your husband in some ways but you deserve so much better than what he has given you. He probably realizes it too. Best of luck to you.

    • Cheryl

      It’s always so amazing to me that the details may be different, but the story is always the same. The guy loses his mind and acts totally irrational. My husband became a completely different person during his affair.
      I agree with Sue- Shellie go and live your best life. Be happy… you deserve it.
      I stayed in my marriage but even after 2 years post D-Day, my marriage will never be the same and there are times I regret not leaving and being able to be 2 years into my next chapter. But here I am……some days are pretty good and others aren’t. I can totally relate to you comment Sue about your husband not being able to share his thoughts and feelings, mine is basically the same. The shame he has felt over his affair I know runs deep within him, but he absolutely refuses to talk about it. I always think things need to come into the light to overcome them but quite frankly, I am exhausted by the whole thing. I certainly never expected my life to be turned upside down but here I still am dealing with all the emotional fallout that I never even got to have a say so in.
      Healing and peace to you all.

    • Sue

      Cheryl, you didn’t say how far past D-day you are (unless I missed something earlier), but I understand your exhaustion! I was exhausted too, and I’m sure the whole thing still is at least a part of what drains my energies. Or maybe at 73 I’m just slowing down, I don’t know. My husband did talk about everything, but only when I initiated the conversations, which all three of our therapists encouraged me to do. Why is it that the woman has to initiate all the conversations? But I got all my questions answered, and he has been the “perfect husband” for these past 2 1/2 years. Left to his own, and in spite of all the therapy he’s had, he still doesn’t share feelings and emotions with me or anyone. Our therapists say that maybe he just can’t, based on his own upbringing. He’s the oldest male in his family and is a real caretaker of everyone around him, which is how he got in deep with this woman. He says that he needed her appreciation of him, for the handyman kinds of things he did for her, how she put him on a pedestal all the time and stroked his ego. He was getting appreciation at home too, but this woman was kind of “gushingly” appreciative, the way he told it. She just couldn’t thank him enough. The male ego thing, I think. I clean the house, do the yard work, take care of our animals, fix our meals etc etc on top of living my own life outside of our home as a musician and teacher, and I don’t need or expect to be thanked, although he does thank me sometimes. He seems to need to be thanked and noticed for everything he does around the house and yard. He’s all about the love language of service and good deeds. My love language is all about words. Our therapists have told me that I need to thank him more openly if that’s what he needs. So I make it a point to thank him when he does something and tell him how nice it looks or whatever, but underneath I resent feeling like I have to do this for him when I still never get what I need so much from him, which is his sharing of thoughts and feelings. He’s been advised by his therapist over and over to share more of his emotional self with me, dreams, things he reads or thinks about, etc. but he doesn’t. He will now share a dream with me once in awhile, but that kind of sharing isn’t threatening or risky. His affair seems to have been about getting to age 65 and feeling like he wasn’t needed or useful anymore. Which was all about him, not me. So we’ve talked it all out in therapy, he has gone back to his emotionally locked up self, albeit he’s very kind to me and assures me he never stopped loving me even though he was “gone” for 4 years. Without him aiming some emotional energy towards me though, I’m too afraid to give him my heart again, and that’s where it stands now. To say I don’t trust him would be inaccurate….I just don’t trust him with my heart anymore. So we live together now, roommates, and will probably stay together, but it’s a very lonely and hyper vigilant life. I am working not only with a Jungian therapist, but with a shaman who will help me get to the roots of my own childhood wounds – we all have them – and hopefully get me to a place where maybe I can let down my guard a little. Supposedly his affair triggered in me ancient uncovered memories of sexual and other abuse in my childhood which now (in my 70’s!) need to be cleared out so that I can allow trust again.
      To Shellie and others….I do recommend this kind of clearing out of old stuff before you ever go into a new relationship with someone else. Whether we are the betrayed or the betrayer, we all have old and VERY unconscious patterns that we carry around with us. They need to be brought to consciousness if we’re ever to be whole. Often they don’t come to light until something like an affair or a loss bring them forward,

    • Shellie

      Thank you all for sharing your stories too. As you said, Sue, (and my therapist confirmed, along with our marriage therapist), that every affair is pretty much textbook. It’s like same song, different verse. You just change the names or a few of the details. And that is what is so sad about it. It’s not “special” like they think, at the end of the day. It’s just such a waste and everything has changed. FOREVER. For what? And the fallout is tremendous. It’s just not worth it.

      I do know of people who say that their second marriages from affairs are just so wonderful and worked out, but I think that there may some sugarcoating to that. I think most marriages are not horrible ones that you need to escape from. No marriage is perfect, but if you’ve been together with that person as long as most of us here have with our spouses, there is a reason you’ve been together so long. And that’s why our marriages deserved the time and effort to save them, to fix them. We married each other for a reason. The two APs who “ride off into the sunset together” are just taking their issues and baggage from one marriage to another, escaping the inevitable. They’re searching for something to make them happy and they will never find it until they do the hard work on themselves. That’s why the divorce rate for 2nd marriages that resulted from affairs are so high.

      I am so glad I found this thread. I have not found many blogs/articles on MLC affairs at later ages, compared to those about shorter affairs at younger ages. This website has been so helpful for me working through everything. It’s been good “therapy” as I try to move forward and heal. It’s also made me realize how strong we women are! I told someone that when you go through something like this, you certainly find out what you are made of!

      • Phoenix2020

        Isn’t it astonishing how “one-of-a-kind” the WSs think their new “loves” are, when the cliché bell is ringing loudly enough to deafen anybody with a brain (although which “brain” may matter).?!? I throw up in my mouth every time I hear about “soulmates” and the only one who “gets me.” I read so much of my story in all of yours, and it breaks my already broken heart, but I am bolstered to know that I am not alone.

        At 63 and 66, we’ve chosen to stay together and work to heal rather than burn up any chance of comfortable retirement. The AP has been dispatched, though not without movie worthy melodrama. Also, I would rather naked wrestle a grizzly rather than grant Miss “the Universe has gifted me to you” (seriously, she wrote that to him) one second’s access to our family and grandchildren. I’m 19 months out from DDay and don’t know if I will ever fully get beyond the devastation. My husband became a liar and a cheater with a woman who was also lying and cheating…lovely! No matter how charming and repentant now, he revealed a selfish, and frankly narcissistic nature (complete with smear campaign and flying monkeys) that I may not be able to unsee now that it has been exposed. It was probably always there; I was just too lost in the gaslighting to realize it. Anyway, at this late date I am finally learning to set some healthier boundaries. If he truly wants ME (as he says he does) maybe we can make it work. If it is narcissistic mask, I guess I will find out in time. Assets from my family will go into a trust that he and Miss The-Universe-is-My-Pimp (should he resurrect her if I croak first) won’t be able to touch.

        It sucks that any of us are even having to contemplate these choices. I surely never imagined it would be my life!

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Hello Phoenix2020!
      Love AP moniker Miss The-Universe-is-My-Pimp (LOL).
      Also LOVE the trust idea. Make it ironclad! You inspired me. We have a trust for our daughter, but I haven’t looked at it in years. It’s time for a fine tune. Always assumed he would go first but who knows. I could croak first, and who he might bring into his life after I’m gone is a concern. He didn’t show good judgement getting involved with Cockroach, obviously.

      It feels especially brutal that our spouses were steps away from discarding us right before retirement. We were superb wife appliances for the last 30-40 years, but now, after years of reliable service, they want to experiment with another model? Is the thought of spending the final 20-30 years of life with your wife so awful? Awful enough to trade down for ego stroking from someone inferior just because they crave a new experience?

      Conserving nest eggs to maintain a comfortable retirement should not be a primary driver determining whether or not to reconcile with a cheating spouse. But this is the reality we face.
      Get an exit plan in place just in case he is wearing a narc mask. Yes, time will tell but it can’t hurt to be prepared. I’m so sorry about the “soul mate” BS and the smear campaign complete with flying monkeys. That is a lot to overcome. My Husband’s betrayal and post D-Day lying was horrible, but at least I was spared those indignities. I too wondered if my husband was always a selfish jerk, or worse a covert narc, and I was so used to eating shit sandwiches I didn’t see it. The betrayal gave me the kick in the pants needed to start setting healthy boundaries and stop dining from the shit sandwich buffet. One good thing that resulted from this crap.

      I hope you’re both getting individual counseling, and I hope you’re working with someone who understands trauma. If he wants to stay with you, he has to prove it CONSISTENTLY and be willing to “be the healer”. The good news for me is that three years later I’m still here and thanks to my new no nonsense attitude our marriage is healing. But it is hard work, and my husband had to work on his own stuff to get here.
      Best wishes.

    • Phoenix2020

      Thank you BB. The inspiration works both ways! I think the very best outcome of these discussions is that we can all support, validate, and inspire each other. Someday I will write my story, but I probably won’t be able to match the delightful snarkiness that some of you have been able to produce. 😉 I will admit, however, that I chuckled at myself when it finally dawned on me that the AP saying that she had been “Gifted by the Universe” to my BS was tantamount to being pimped. It helps me see her (at least momentarily) as pitiful rather than merely malevolent.

      I particularly appreciate your comments about your new no-nonsense attitude and decision to stop dining at the shit sandwich buffet. Both of those are positions I am working to adopt, but it’s a struggle for me. At this late date, I am having to build skills that I just don’t have much foundation for. If you’re willing to offer examples, I’d be grateful. I also find that I have dined far too often at the Gaslight Grille (next-door to the SS Buffet). Got any words of wisdom there?

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Happy Mother’s Day to all the gray haired mothers on this thread!
      Phoenix2020, thanks for the comments. Your snark production is doing just fine, BTW! While I certainly can’t claim to be some sort of reconciliation mensch, I’m glad to share information. Strictly from my point of view – a few things that worked for me. Three years later H and I still are hammering out a new version of our marriage. Very much a work in progress with one step back, two steps forward. Individual counseling was a big help to get me through. The counselor I worked with was versed in trauma and was the first to suggest I was suffering PTSD symptoms. I’m not a big fan of marriage counseling to “fix” infidelity. Often a Marriage Counselor works from an “unmet needs” model where the cheating spouse could draw a get out of jail free card while the betrayed spouse may be inadvertently blamed for the betrayal. Individual Counseling JUST FOR ME was important and helped me take care of myself. In my case, regaining my self esteem after the one-two punch of the affair and the year of post D-day trickle truth (continued lying) was a turning point in the betrayal, and our marriage. Respect for myself helped me realize my worth, and helped me articulate to my Husband that I would be okay without him. If he wanted to leave our marriage it would be an opportunity to trim some dead wood out of my life. Good riddance.

      Loving myself (another way to frame self-esteem) helped me to come to a decision about our marriage/family. We have an adult daughter – I had to model for her that it wasn’t okay to put up with emotional abuse. If he wanted to stay in our marriage, be part of our family, he’d have to prove it. Consistently. It was time for me to make my expectations and NEEDS explicit. Which I did. My husband wanted to stay, and I was willing to take a chance if he was committed to looking at his own stuff. He had to take responsibility for his actions. We had to build a new marriage. I certainly didn’t want the old marriage back!It took months of introspection and much turmoil for my husband to get to the place where he could “be the healer” and support my recovery. And, I was relentless. Before D-day, equilibrium in our marriage was maintained by me swallowing conflict to keep the peace, and making my needs very small. Post D-day all bets were off. He broke the marital compact so the old unspoken arrangements that served his needs were null and void. There were CONSEQUENCES for the choices he made. I was ready to leave. I’m not saying this is what you should do. You should do what is right for YOU, and focus on your needs and what you want in the marriage. In my case, I believe making my needs small and not asserting myself somehow gave him permission to not see me; gave him permission to devalue me and pursue his self-entitlement to have an affair and lie about it. Hope that makes sense!

      Also super important to help strengthen boundaries was educating myself about infidelity, and learning about emotional manipulation tricks of the trade most cheaters employ. Not to fix myself or fix the marriage, but to be armed with knowledge. I had to learn to see the real man in front of me, not the man I thought he was. If I was going to reconcile with this man I wanted to do so with eyes wide open. You’re already one step ahead on mastering this – you’ve seen some of his hidden nature. And, YES once you’ve seen someone’s true nature it can’t be unseen. Not that my husband is on the “dark triad” spectrum – he was definitely high on the self entitled jerk spectrum 🙂 during his affair and the D Day aftermath. In the middle of that shit show he seemed like such a stranger to me anything was possible. For self preservation JUST IN CASE I dove into the literature on infidelity, narcissism and so on. Google terms like DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender), false equivalencies, minimization, etc. etc. and read up. “30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics” by Adelyn Birch is a quick, concise 61 page read that covers most of the ways manipulators take control in personal relationships. Learning the game so he couldn’t play it with me was key.

      Also key to standing up and pushing myself away from the shit sandwich buffet was learning to trust myself. To listen to my inner voice. Even if that voice was telling me to not trust my life partner. Listen to any alarm bells that go off in your head, and listen to friends and family who you know have your best interests at heart.
      Become and stay very conscious of the relationship, and the part you play in it. If you constantly feel insecure, heartsick, anxious or hurt you can get caught up in the drama (manipulation) and become blind to the larger dynamics. Keep in mind how you feel when you know you’re being manipulated. This was easier than trying to figure him out while he was lying and making excuses. If I felt insecure, anxious or hurt I knew something was amiss and then could take measures to improve my healthy boundaries around how I’m willing to be treated. And how we treat each other in the marriage. Hope this helps, and I wish you all the best.

      • Shifting Impressions

        BoundaryBuilder
        YES, YES and YES!!! WELL SAID!!!!
        I took a very similar path. Your advice to listen to your gut, in my opinion is spot on.

    • Phoenix2020

      BB, I really appreciate you taking the time to put together such a thoughtful and thorough answer. And, SI, thank you for weighing in. The whole trusting my gut thing is really like traveling in a foreign land for me. I think I have almost always *felt* my gut instincts, but whatever it is that they have tried to tell me over my lifetime has mostly been canceled out by the veritable Greek chorus of “shoulds, oughts, and supposed tos” providing constant commentary as to why I should ALWAYS give offenders the benefit of the doubt. The Chump Lady would probably classify me as the chumpiest of chumps. I can see my face on the cereal box now: “RATIONALIZATIONS – The Breakfast of Chumps!”
      I smiled at your resource suggestions. Over recent years, I had built up quite the war chest of Audible credits, and in the last eighteen months I have probably downloaded a couple of dozen of books on the subjects of affairs, manipulation tactics, trauma, and recovery. Not only was Adelyn Birch’s “30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics” among them, but also her equally succinct “Boundaries After a Pathological Relationship.” I’m not sure how I stumbled upon it, but one that really hit home for me was Dana Morningstar’s “Out of the FOG (Fear Obligation Guilt). My daily commute is about an hour each way, so I’ve had time to listen a lot in the year and half since D-Day. Like you, I don’t classify my WS as fundamentally Machiavellian, but there are some right arrogant, entitled shithead characteristics (that he manages to effectively conceal from the wider world) operating with that man! He routinely orders up the DARVO special for me when we visit the Gaslight Grille!
      With regard to individual therapy. I started that before I knew for sure that he was having an affair. I’m so grateful to have had someone to “catch” me when I made the discovery. Initially, she was pretty validating, but in time, I really felt stalled. Once WS had said that he wanted to stay and work on us, she pushed toward couple’s therapy (with a different therapist). I don’t know if it was her or it was me, but I just didn’t feel connected. To me, her direction seemed to be “You need to feel your feelings,” and I was caught with “That’s exactly the problem. I have NO FREAKING IDEA HOW TO DO THAT!!!” Add to that the need to go to the body and fender shop to for an aftermarket hip, and the individual therapy train sort of derailed. I did some poking around today (shh! I was supposed to be paying attention in a TEAMs meeting) for a therapist who lists trauma and infidelity in their competencies. Did you try EMDR? If you did, was it helpful? Hypnosis? Brainspotting? Tapping? All of these are listed with the Psychology Today “trauma” search for my area. Heck, if it would help me feel any better, I’d give midnight moonlit wiccan chicken dancing a go!

    • BoundaryBuilder

      Therapist I worked with was pretty straightforward. Talk therapy, with occasional homework. She was big on Behavior Modification. What made her approach unique was the underpinning that infidelity is abuse. Emotional abuse that has consequences and may cause long term damage including PTSD. When interviewing a new therapist I suggest asking a question like “do you believe infidelity is abuse?” and see how they respond.
      EMDR is mysterious to me, but seems like it can help. I’ve read reports from other BS that claim EMDR made a big difference to moderate PTSD and stress responses.
      Anyone else have therapeutic suggestions for Phoenix2020?

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