This is the latest installment of our ‘You Decide’ series where you will provide your opinion on a fictional affair scenario. 

This time we’re considering a situation where Cindy is so afraid to speak her mind – her truth – for fear that her unfaithful husband will leave her for his emotional affair partner.

Please read on and share your thoughts in the comment section on how you would help this person .

The Backstory

Cindy’s husband, Tom has been having an emotional affair for the last year-and-a-half with a woman who lives half-way around the globe.    He and his affair partner have never met face-to-face.  Their entire relationship has been via text, phone, WhatsApp and Skype.

So of course, he doesn’t admit that it is an affair.  He views their relationship as two good friends helping each other out with their marital difficulties.

You see, several months ago, Cindy went through a terrible phase where she was sick, her mother died, she lost her job and she had a kid.  She admits that she didn’t treat Tom very well – even saying that she was mean to him.

During this time, Tom met Andrea (also married) online through some sort of hobby-related forum.  They started chatting online and it went on from there. 

Shortly thereafter, Tom started sleeping in another bedroom.  Tom and Cindy have not had sex for almost two years. 

What’s Going On Now

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version in bullet format.  We’ll start with Tom.

  • Tom blames Cindy for what’s going on because she was ‘mean’ to him in the past.  He refuses to let that go.
  • He feels they need to work on their friendship first before he will commit to the marriage and/or have sex with Cindy.
  • He is constantly on his phone texting and/or talking with Andrea – even in front of Cindy.
  • He refuses to go to marriage counseling because he doesn’t trust therapists.
  • He gaslights Cindy anytime she tries to bring up their relationship and the idea of him not ‘talking’ to Andrea anymore.  He throws out the “you’re trying to control me” card, as well as falling back on the “I can’t get over how mean you were to me” card.
  • He spends most of his time locked in his bedroom on his computer.  He’s detached from Cindy and his child.
See also  Discussion: How Do You Get the Cheating Spouse Out of the Affair Fog?

Now let’s move on to Cindy

  • She does not want to lose her marriage as she loves Tom very much.
  • She is not sleeping or eating much out of anxiety about this whole situation.
  • She continually tries to reason with Tom about how they can make their marriage great and frequently recommends books and articles for him to read.
  • She blames herself for what’s going on. She feels that her behavior and mindset during her rough patch caused all of this, but is frustrated that Tom will not forgive her and release his resentments.
  • She very much wants to have sex with Tom, but is afraid to even bring the subject up.
  • She is afraid to establish boundaries or make demands for fear that Tom will leave her or get even closer with Andrea.
  • She is thinking that she will just try and wait this whole thing out. She’s going to fake it until she makes it.

There you have it. What should Cindy do?  What does Tom need to do? You decide!


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    14 replies to "Too Afraid to Rock the Boat – You Decide!"

    • TheFirstWife

      Yes this was me at the start/DDay of the second A.

      And yes he stonewalled and denied the entire first 4 year EA. Said I was making it up in my head.

      But yet confessed the 1st EA to the second OW and he knew it was wrong all along.

      I was afraid – very scared – during the second A he would leave me. I had no $ and a mortgage I cannot afford on my own and children. I forced myself to hang on for 90 days just to get some $ in my name. It was brutal. That I remember.

      Cindy is in my exact shoes. She is trying to reason with Tom (and we know that won’t work). Tom is blame shifting and using her rocky period against her. It’s his “excuse” for an A.

      Unfortunately the only thing that resolved my situation was telling my H I was D him on DDay2 when I found out he was still w/ the OW and I thought we were reconciling.

      I did everything I could prior to that. But the A would not die. So I finally had to save myself and just wave the “I Surrender” flag.

      I’m not proud of having to tell my H I was D him. But left with no choice, I had to save my sanity and get out of his infidelity cloud and move on.

      I suggest Cindy re-evaluate her position and take a firm stand with Tom. He’s either going to commit to the Marriage or they should separate. Maybe when Tom has to live and provide for 2 households he may wake up.

      At the very minimum Cindy should do a very hard/strong 180 on him and detach.

      She should also get a counselor for herself AND a Plan B in place (just in case).

      Cindy needs to get control – and realize if he runs to the OW it’s not b/c of anything she did or did not do. It was his choice.

    • Shifting Impressions

      Here is a boat that definitely needs rocking. Sounds like Tom is a very manipulative and controlling person. He is also pretty good at the gaslighting. He has poor Cindy believing this is her fault.

      Cindy went through illness, a death, a birth and a job loss…..that’s an awful lot to handle. I wonder how supportive Tom was through that time.

      She needs to get help for herself….as the TFW said there is no sense reasoning with Tom when he is in this state.

      I would suggest that she read THE GASLIGHT EFFECT.

    • Angela

      She should just bluntly say “your girlfriend can have you. I’m gone. Want me to buy you a plane ticket? Because I’m done being married to a ghost”. He won’t leave because if its been going on this long and he wanted to leave, he already would have. Taking a stand will only earn her respect and yes, he’ll even fear her new attitude. He’ll keep trying to cake-eat, and gaslight, but she’ll have to be prepared to file for official separation. Cindy is already living with separation anyway, but being taken for granted. This is the HARDEST THING IN THE WORLD to do and convincing a BS to do it is the next hardest thing in the world. She needs to realize she’s already living without her marriage, but still having him in the house is confusing and tormenting. She has to decide to end her own torment and stop hoping for him to do it. She should tell him she is willing to answer for any wrong she committed in the past but not until he gives up his extramarital relationship. Again, this is much harder said than done, but if I knew her and was friends with her, I’d do everything I could to relieve her fear of confronting him and demanding action.

    • TheFirstWife

      Angela. Excellent advice. Too often (at least early on) the BS is too afraid to do that.

    • seenthelight

      I would hire a detective. He hasn’t had sex with her for 2 years, the EA has only been going on for a year and a half. I’d guess there is probably someone actually nearby that he’s having a PA with. At least he isn’t giving her any other “gifts” since he isn’t having sex with her. I don’t think he has any interest in her or what is happening to her. Including the hard times she had before this. I think she needs to cut him lose, she already has one infant to take care of by herself, she doesn’t need another one. To get to that point, she’ll need to get some help from a therapist or local women’s help center if possible.

    • Deanna

      She needs to grow a backbone. If not for herself than for her child.
      She is enabling his behavior. She needs to figure that out.
      Him? He’s a waste of time at this point. Until he’s having to face the fact he isn’t going to have his cake and eat it too, he isn’t going to change. Perhaps down the road but not now. Why should he?

      Problem I see is Cindy. Much like an addict, she has to want to change and I don’t hear that in her story. Some women? Like being a victim.

    • TheFirstWife

      I think Cindy is having a natural reaction to the A.

      The first 5 months of my H’s A (after hearing ILYBNILWY and I want a D from him multiple times) – I was reeling. Exactly like Cindy.

      I did everything possible to be supportive and helpful. It took me a few months to get my act together. I needed $ and had none. I was afraid I’d have no support financially from him.

      So I hung on for about 5 months.

      At DDay2 I put on my boots and told him to get out. By then I was financially stable. Big difference.

      I think Cindy is just not sure what to do. She needs some support. Professional counseling maybe.

    • Blindsided

      Wait what out, Cindy? “Fake it til you make it”? “Make it” til you have a husband who tires of his EA with another woman, or she tires of him, or he finds a new EA? You don’t have a marriage now – you have a roommate, and not a very good one either. Own your part in being mean to him, apologize, ask for forgiveness. Model the type of respect you want both to give and receive. YOU are not responsible/at fault for his EA. However, you are responsible for your behavior. So you were mean/not a good wife … change! Ask him what being a good wife would look like/feel like to him. If you can commit to those changes then take those actions. Take a stand – you want to have sex with him, but afraid to bring it up – seduce him. Make the move. If he doesn’t respond, then you have more information with which to make a decision. You are allowing him to have a foot in two different worlds – his marriage and his EA. You are “reasoning” with him … that involves your head. Speak with your heart instead. Tell him how you feel. Tell him you love him, and want to make a go of a real marriage. Say goodbye to the marriage you have/had, and start a new one. If he is open to that, you first need to establish a boundary … end this affair NOW, or move out until you decide you WANT this marriage, or carry on without you and your family. Though this is scary stuff, I promise you will have a release of anxiety, will sleep better and will be in better health if you respect yourself, know that you deserve something better than the status quo. You deserve love, passion and a partner. If you are unwilling to speak for what you want, you likely don’t think you deserve better … then you better figure out why you think you don’t deserve that, and get some professional counseling to learn why that is so.

    • Finally Disclosed

      I am in recovery after my wife last year discovered my multiple online emotional affairs. That led to admitting to a decades-long addiction to pornography and self-gratification.

      With that history as the backdrop, here are my thoughts …

      Cindy needs to set up non-negotiable boundaries for Tom including that he come clean about the impact his emotional affairs have had and are having on Cindy, he cut off communication with the emotional affair partner, he needs to get counseling, he needs to attend a 12-step group, and he needs to finally provide for Cindy and their child. If he fails — she needs to give him some latitude as he will make mistakes; don’t expect perfection — in any of these or other boundaries Cindy establishes, he needs to go.

      Cindy also needs to get help for her and her child. If she’s not working, she might view her situation through a financial lens. There’s also a health lens, as she’s stressed and anxious, and she’s not eating or sleeping well. She needs to see a doctor for a physical.

    • TheFirstWife

      I think Tom is past the reasoning stage.

      I tried that for months w/my H – no success. The only thing I heard was everything wrong with ME and witnessed how the OW was his focus.

      Only action had any effect (see above post).

    • Sarah P.

      Here is my take. And I need everyone to understand that while everything I say is serious, it will be heavily laden with extreme sarcasm. Please forgive me for that. But, Tom has really made me mad and I don’t even know him. That’s a feat.

      Cheaters are liars and we must assume that while in the affair or affair fog that everything they say will be a lie.

      Because of this, I am looking ONLY at Tom’s behavior. The only reliable data we have is what Tom is doing. So that is the information we have to work with.

      1) It is easy to intuit that Tom refused to support Cindy through a devestating time. All those losses took focus off of Tom. A normal person would give Cindy grace and ask how to support her through one devestation after another after another. And I doubt Cindy was truly mean. I believe Cindy was grieving and she was not all smiles and fun. After all, Cindy had to go through ALL this at the same time.

      -Cindy got ill
      -Then she lost her job
      -Then she lost her mom
      -Then she had a baby

      I don’t know if that is the chronological order. But anyone in their right mind knows just ONE of those events triggers the grief process. The five stages of grief. During the grief process anger is one of the stages. Anger at what was lost or what changed (a new baby) with a dad who is missing in action by choice. Cindy was mean? I am laughing. Sorry that doesn’t fly, Tom.

      And I believe Tom has made Cindy believe she was mean. I don’t believe she was mean— I believe that was her internalization of Tom’s view of her while Tom was gaslighting her.

      And Tom doesn’t trust therapists and he has a good reason. He is lucky I am not their therapist. I would unmask ALL the shit he is up to. And he certainly would NOT trust me after that. He would cry and say, “She is untrustworthy! She was paid to enable me and instead she unmasked all my bullshit and wanted me to be held accountable! I can’t trust her to enable me and I can’t trust her to help me gaslight Cindy and I can’t trust her to help me destroy Cindy’s self esteem piece by piece!” So yes, Tom is right not to trust therapists—good therapists at least.

      2) Tom won’t have sex because he wants to be friends first? I am sorry- but that is bogus. That is one of the funniest things I have heard a cheater say: “Umm, Honey, I know I am your husband, but I don’t feel comfortable having sex again until we are friends first.” That’s something some women say, but I have never heard a man say that. The men I know say, “I want sex first and if we turn into friends later, that’s a bonus! But let’s have sex first! I want to know what’s under those clothes first. Then we can talk. That is after the post-coital nap.” That’s what men say. And most cheaters don’t stop having sex with their wives.

      This is the craziest thing I have ever heard a cheater say- except for things like a strange woman fell from the sky and into the bed.

      3) Tom locks himself in his room having video sex or whatever he does all day long.

      4) Tom doesn’t father his own child because of some lady who may or may not exist halfway around the world.

      5) Tom feels there is no issue with this. Well, because “Cindy was mean!”

      No Cindy was grieving. And mean to Tom probably meant during her grieving, she did not orbit him like a moon whose sole purpose was to circle him and ensure he always knew his greatness and superiority and that she was merely a moon caught in Tom’s superior gravity. Because he was a real planet and she was a mere moon circling him— and lucky to be circling him.

      6) Tom has left Cindy on her own to work through three traumatic experiences and a new experience (having a baby) all on her own.

      Because Cindy was mean!!

      Okay, here is my read on the situation based on what Tom is doing.

      1) Tom is a narcissist. That means Tom is also an asshole and very bad husband material. Narcissists are not nice people.

      2) The woman (or man, or partner in a weird fetish) halfway across the world probably lives halfway across the street.

      3) The secretive computer behavior and obsession makes me believe there is MORE going on. I feel like Tom might be doing something worse than an affair online. He doesn’t want to sleep with his wife and instead is locked in a room with a computer? Hire a security person who can take deleted information off the hard drive. It’s still there but needs a specialist to access it. It usually exists in some kind of temp file that still exists somewhere.

      This does not add up. None of it does. There is a bigger story. I don’t know what it is, but it’s time to find out. Cindy needs to hire someone who can take a look and figure out how to do it when he is gone. Is he ever off the computer? Or has he become one with the computer aka one with The Borg. What the heck is he involved in? This doesn’t make sense to me— even though Tom is a narcissist.

      Cindy needs a PI, but more importantly a security specialist. She needs to know the facts and the only way to know them is by someone getting into his computer. (Also she needs to consult an attorney to figure out how NOT to break laws). Do not break laws.

      Cindy needs to let this marriage go. There is some craziness going on. Pursue full custody. It’s essy to see Tom has dismantled Cindy’s self esteem to the point she cannot see straight. He has so scrambled her mind she wants to have sex instead of figure out The Facts. He has messed with her to such an extent she is in an upside down world.

      Lack of sex is not the problem.

      Tom is the problem and ????of it. She needs to get The Facts now, because The Facts determine what direction she needs to take. She needs the facts on what is occurring on the computers and phones. She needs to know who he is talking to. And what he is saying. She needs to know all of it.

      Otherwise, the marriage is OVER. I normally do not take such a strong stand. Tom is not husband material and since we can do nothing to make someone “a good person” all we can do is cut losses. Trying to stay in such a relationship with further twist Cindy’s mind. It will get worse and harder to leave.

      This is NO environment for a child. There are good men out there if Cindy wants to remarry. But Tom is not the guy. He will never be who she needs. This is something I can intuit. I say “Run.” But first get The Facts. Tom could be into some really sick stuff and that is my gut feeling. And this sick stuff is not necessarily legal. It could be one of many things. She MUST find out.


      • Shifting Impressions

        I’m with Sarah on this one….
        Everything inside me says RUN!!!!

    • TheFirstWife

      I don’t think Tom is beyond help. IF he wants to change. Anyone can change IF they want to. It is on them.

      Cindy needs help. She needs support. And she needs to determine how much longer she can live like this.

      She needs counseling. Then a plan B and an attorney. And she needs to do the 180 on him. To protect herself.

      My H was walking out the door and D me on DDay2. Not sure what changed his mind or made him come to his senses. Maybe he finally realized his mistakes. I don’t know.

      But I’m sure it wasn’t the fact I told him I was D him. Because a few hours earlier he just didn’t care about our M. He was ending it.

      He has changed. It can happen.

    • Sarah P.

      Hi Shifting,
      Yes she needs to run. I believe Tom is a narcissist and they are beyond help. There is nothing to build on.

      Hi TFW, yes indeed Cindy needs help and counseling and an attorney and a plan B. She needs to do the 180 as you said.

      Now I am thinking of a Flock of Seagulls song:

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