I’m shattered! My wife of 14 years has been cheating on me. I’d believed our marriage was rock solid.
We met at university, studying economics. She’d already planned her rise to the top in her family’s business.
I’m a self-employed business consultant - a choice we agreed on, so I’d have time for managing our lifestyle, the children’s education and special pursuits.
Our daughter’s age 11, our son’s age nine.
I’d noticed my wife’s bedside iPad left open recently when she rushed out to an early meeting. The enlarged bolded message about sex caught my eye.
I recognized the sender’s email. He’s her company manager. He’s been to my home, chatted with my children, drank my wine.
I called my wife and told her to come home while the children were at school. She arrived with the crisis-mode detachment of her work life:
She “didn’t mean for it to happen.” And her co-cheater “hadn’t expected things would become serious.”
Does it mean it was “okay” if he just carried on having sex indefinitely with his married female boss?
She said a civilized divorce would be best for all.
I’m stunned that she could carry off that guilt-free approach without embarrassment.
Do I just accept that we start divorce negotiations?
What about the kids? I give them breakfast, drive them to school, take them to after-school sports, help them with homework...
Where do I begin to deal with this shock, my anger, my tears?
Begin with reality, not fear. Your children need your usual guidance and protection. Don’t let your wife’s cool control intimidate you.
For now, ask a divorce lawyer only about general procedures, the process and possibilities.
Meanwhile, get personal counselling to handle the immediate shock and restore your self-confidence in facing this.
Discuss with the counsellor whether marriage counselling together is worth pursuing.
If yes, tell your wife it’ll be helpful regarding the kids, and future relationships.
Focus on essentials, including the healing you and the children will need.
My husband has a moody streak. It’s mostly manageable except for the week before/after his birthday. He’ll be grumpy all those days.
It’s frustrating because I usually leave my gift- and card-shopping till that week.
I want to scream at soppy cards, NO! He’s NOT “the man of my dreams” (at least, not then).
Worse, I begrudgingly buy both the gift I know he wants and the card! He accepts them while still moody.
He’s over it a week later and thanks me heartily for everything - the gift, the marriage, etc. Relief.
What should I do?
That two weeks of negativity is harder on him, internally. It’s an unpleasant annoyance for you to handle but its predictability reveals his own self-doubts.
Still, it’s hard to take. Better to shop for his present and a light-hearted card a month ahead. Give him space on his own closer to his birthday.
Here’s what I once advised a wife with a similar complaint: Wait several weeks after the moodiness passes.
Then raise the topic as a “curious phenomenon” you’ve noticed during otherwise-positive years together.
Say that you feel sad for him that he counts his misses and losses just before his birthday, instead of counting his blessings included in each year’s milestone.
The woman followed my advice. The man swept the cobwebs from his self-appraisals. They now enjoy together the fussing, plans, special menu and gifts for each new birthday.
FEEDBACK Regarding siblings’ resentment of a couple described as economically “successful” (October 17):
(Ellie: the following reader response was emailed that same day:
Reader – “I liked your response very much... but becoming concerned about how the writer defined “successful."
“Financial success is such a narrow/unsustainable definition.
Thinking about success from a different perspective would help her see her siblings' successes as well as her own.
“Defined differently I imagine her siblings have been "successful" too.”
Ellie - From the same reader, November 9:
“WHY WON'T YOU ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR AND YOUR READERS' NARROW DEFINITION OF SUCCESS?”
I regret that the volume of responses to the original letter-writer didn’t allow space for publishing all.
There’s anger in this re-framed approach. Applied to all readers of the column and to myself, it’s based on no direct/certain knowledge, just attitude.
For me, “success” means having reasonable life comforts, not squandering one’s health, and positive family connections.
Tip of the day:
Divorce is hard on everyone involved. Understand the legal process. Try marital and/or personal counselling. Focus on children’s needs.