So after about a year, he started to feel that I was too reluctant to commit. I admit that I was dragging my feet and would avoid the topic of commitment, make plans with him and then cancel them, and sometimes avoid his texts and calls. I did love him, but I still needed the other things, and I wasn’t sure about committing. I wasn’t ready to consider a future; I just really liked our present. I cut back on work travel, I forced him on the kids (they liked him fine; they just didn’t like the dad replacement), but we had a terrible fall with lots of criticism and fights and hours of dysfunctional texting and messaging, although we did have some nice times, too.
By February his business had collapsed and he went bankrupt (he is a very hard working guy, no laziness issues here). In the spring we actually were the best we’d ever been. He was surprised I stuck with him. I tried to support him emotionally, the kids were more accepting — it all seemed lovely. Then I got about 60 texts from his wife (separated from him now two years). Full of venom and hate, and a LOT of personal details about me (financial stuff, health stuff, things I had told him about my relationship with my husband and work). She threatened to contact my kids with details about our sex life, made all kinds of unfounded professional threats…on and on. Honestly, I was completely scared, but had no idea how she knew what she knew. I actually thought she might have rigged a spy machine somewhere. Of course, she knew because he had told her. Apparently, they had been having “occasional” sex together — unprotected — for about six months the previous summer, fall, and winter, during which time I loaned him a LOT of money (read: more than most secretaries make in a year). Also during this time, he was accusing ME of being unable to commit to a relationship. During this time, he also had found a way to read all my emails and Facebook messages, many of which were about him as I tried to sort through my feelings by talking to friends.
Disaster. Collapse. Total betrayal. He says he always only wanted me — he just felt out of control and was trying to regain some self-esteem and control. I am pissed, hurt, betrayed…still love him on good days, but on bad days I want to take his heart and wring it out like he did to mine.
It’s three months since I found out. He has been seeing a shrink weekly, actually went to court and got a restraining order against his wife (her texts escalated to threats), and has paid me back 3/4 of the money I loaned him. I flip-flop between appreciating all his effort and thinking that he irreversibly destroyed my trust and love for him, replacing both with flashbacks, palpitations, and a nugget of hate for him and her that feels like he gave me a permanent disease for which he should be punished.
Can I get over this and be OK with him again? Or can I give in to my desire to punish him and cast him off? How do I decide? He seems to think I should be further along in the recovery process than I am. I have made progress, but I still think about what he did a dozen times a day. When a guy who reads my email, fucks his wife in secret and exposes me to STDs, tells her all my secrets, and takes money from me under false pretenses (I think we are in a challenging but committed relationship, he is actually fucking someone else) — is that fixable? Or should I dust off my heart and move on? — Sucker-Punched
Dust off your heart and move on. With an estranged husband you’re still legally married to — if not emotionally committed to — and FOUR teenagers you’re parenting, plus all your hobbies, interests and friends, you have more than enough on your plate to keep you occupied. You don’t need the added drama of a man who, as you say, “reads your email, fucks his wife in secret and exposes you to STDs, tells her all your secrets, and takes money from you under false pretenses.” You also don’t need the drama of a relationship whose dysfunction, which dates back to your second year together, feels like a “permanent disease.”
MOA. Move on already from this man and this relationship and this drama and this distraction from the pain of your failed marriage. Quit projecting your disappointment from that onto this. You can’t heal your broken heart from one failed relationship by trying to fix another broken one, and until you deal with the true culprit of your pain, you will continue a cycle of bad relationships because that’s simply what you’ll attract to your life.
You got a rebound relationship out of the way; congratulations. Now move on to the next stage in your post-divorce life (which would entail, I guess, actually getting a divorce, right?). Focus on your kids and travel and friends and your hobbies and work. Fill your life with people and activities that pump you up, not drain you. Don’t worry about finding a new relationship just yet. If you went straight from a long marriage to a drama-filled relationship, when was the last time you actually experienced being on your own, without a partner and without the drama of dysfunction in your life?
Get to know yourself again. Embrace the loneliness; it won’t kill you. Stretch out in your own bed, by yourself. Let the wanting of someone else wash over you; it won’t kill you. Fill the hole in your heart with self-love. Fill it with your kids’ laughter and conversations with your friends and new scenery on your next trip. Find happiness on your own again and trust that when — and if — your heart is ready to love and trust someone else, it will radiate a magnetic energy, attracting potential partners your way. But until you’re emotionally ready, your heart is sending a signal to be left alone, and there’s no way a relationship — with this man, or anyone else — can be built on that.
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