Two months ago, my bipolar wife of 12 years left me, because she “needed space.” Our marriage was very good, she’s been a great wife.
I’ve since learned that she’s having an affair with a married man, since before the breakup.
I’ve been crushed.
She appears to be very different now (drinking, smoking, skimpy clothes, uninterested in our child), and very happy.
She only contacts me regarding child care arrangements.
She only mentions divorce when she’s angry. She prefers just to remain separated forever.
She’d have to buy me out of our house but she doesn't earn enough. She lives there now, while I’ve moved out.
She won’t allow me to return unless I have a chaperone. She’s paranoid that I’ll "bug" the house and claims to be afraid of me.
She’s refused marriage counselling or reconciliation. She says she doesn’t love me, and probably hasn't for years.
I exposed the affair to her parents. She exploded, screamed and cursed.
She claims that I’m the one who cannot be trusted, and calls me abusive over a five-year-old fight we had, and for some verbally aggressive behaviour on my part in the heat of the breakup.
I apologized to her to no effect. She filed a police report, threatening to have a restraining order placed on me.
Her rage is towards me and many others around her, even our child.
Yet just before the breakup we were doing fine.
We had a wonderful marriage and we were good for each other.
Do I file for divorce in another month, or several months?
My family said to end it now, that any reconciliation can come during the process or even after divorce.
My therapist said bipolar wives often leave, then return about six months later. And that if I want her back I should do nothing.
So how long should I "hang in there" and remain her husband? How will I know which path to take?
Crushed but Hanging On
Your wife’s created a murky set-up with too many uncertainties for clear answers so soon.
Focus on the immediate need of making sure your child is not neglected nor put between you two.
Make sure you have defined legal access and visiting rights.
Then, start looking at what’s driving her, with your therapist’s help. Though you say your marriage was fine, she started the affair before she left.
Examine in therapy, too, just how serious was that fight of the past? While I’m not saying you’re to blame for her leaving (she’s the one who cheated), there’s frequently a contribution from both partners when a marriage starts to fail.
So, instead of asking your therapist whether to leave or stay, get some counselling on your own to better understand your dynamic in the marriage.
Your parents may have opinions, but you can’t make your decision about when to divorce or not, based on them.
You’re the one who must weigh the factors and come to a logical conclusion. To do that, you need legal, financial and counselling direction for yourself.
Armed with a better understanding of all that’s involved, you must tell your wife what you’ve learned.
She may be interested and want to give it another try. Or she may not.
But by then you should know whether you can trust her again to even try being a family with you.
If not, there’s no waffling back and forth, just start divorce proceedings.
FEEDBACK Regarding the guy who’s wondering whether to tell his female friend his feelings though she has a boyfriend (July 11):
Reader – “He needs to confide his feelings. For both their sakes. She could truly think that what they have is a very good friendship.
“She and her boyfriend could be very open people who don’t see any harm in friendships with the opposite sex.
“He didn’t state whether she was hiding the friendship or not, it’s hard to know what’s going on.
“On the other hand, she could be stringing him along, using him (is he paying for these meals and trip?).
“Maybe she thinks he’s homosexual…?
“Or maybe she does have feelings for him and doesn’t want to end a comfortable relationship for something that might not be reciprocated.
“It’s not fair to her if she’s totally innocent in all of this, and it’s not fair to him if she has ulterior motives.”
Tip of the day:
Casting for opinions about whether to divorce is like fishing without bait. Gather material understanding first of what went wrong.