“He Cheated on Me with His Wife. Is This Relationship Fixable?”

I’m middle-aged, with four teenage kids. Two years ago when my husband and I got separated, I fell in love with a guy seven years my junior, also newly separated. We had a wonderful, touching year of bridging gaps, supporting each other through the trauma of failed marriages, and rediscovering fun and intimacy. I travel a lot for work, like to exercise regularly, and also like time with myself and sometimes alone with girlfriends. My kids, of course, take a lot of time, too. His only child is 22 and busy (although she lives with him), he doesn’t travel, and, although he does have friends, he doesn’t seem to crave long evenings or get-togethers with them like I do with mine.

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, during which time I loaned him a LOT of money (thousands and thousands of dollars). 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.

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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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. What?! No!

    (ok, I’ll read the letter now)

    1. I read it.


      “He just felt out of control and was trying to regain some self-esteem and control”. Seriously?! After everything he did, THAT’s his excuse?! I know violence is not a solution, but he definitely deserves to be punched in the throat.

      1. Kicked in the balls is more deserving (and more satisfying result :D).
        This man is too unstable and too much baggage… And you already have a lot on your plate.. just do WWS.

  2. WTF? Why would you even WANT to fix this “realtionship”?
    Also, next time, please don´t “force” a guy on your kids. Even though they aren´t little anymore I´m sure they don´t need to be exposed to Mom´s love life.

  3. I agree with Wendy you need to first get divorced and then MOA from this guy. He obviously didn’t care about you enough to consider exposing you to STDs by being with his ex and no matter what happened in his life it is no excuse to betray your trust. Instead of exposing yourself to that, expose yourself to other areas of life beyond a romantic relationship and I think you will be a more fulfilled person in general. Good luck!

  4. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

    I actually think you have a pretty good head on your shoulder, which if you’re a regular reader you would know I pretty much always feel the exact opposite. You have friends. You have hobbies. You seem to genuinely have been blind sided by a situation you couldn’t have predicted. You loaned money but you are getting it back. So I guess first of all kudos to you.

    I really know you will be just fine without this guy. There are other fish in the sea, and ones who haven’t betrayed you so much. I know if I were you I could never fully trust him again. It’s great that he’s going to a therapist but some wrongs just can’t be undone. Him going to a therapist doesn’t change the fact that he told personal details to his wife, read your personal e-mails, had sex outside of your committed relationship, etc. It doesn’t change any of that. It’s awesome that he’s getting help – but that’s not really awesome for you.

    And you have 4 teenagers. That just went through their parents divorce. Spend all the time with them you can. Make sure they know that they are your number 1 priority because they are probably going through a whole pile of emotions you might not have even thought of. Plus they’re surly teenagers to begin with – so they might not feel comfortable talking with you about these things.

    So keep seeing your friends for happy hours, create a loving post-divorce stable life for your kids, keep exercising, keep up with your hobbies, and practice self love. If that means getting yourself a weekly mani/pedi, do it. You seem to have your shit together – so please dump the guy. Maybe you two could fix this, but why would you want to? You have enough of your plate and have gone through enough drama.

    1. Eagle Eye says:

      Yes! I would also like to reiterate the point about your kids. Even though they’re teenagers, it doesn’t necessarily make the divorce easier on them (in fact, its probably harder), many of my aunts and uncles divorced when the kids were around those ages, and my cousins really struggled with it. Not that I don’t think that you’re doing all that you can to be a good mom, its just a sore sport for me…

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Yeah it’s a really rough age. And no matter how tough teenagers like to act like they are – they feel pain for deeply I think – and then won’t show it. So I just think they need all eyes on them now. Lots of family meals and family fun time. Weekends going to the lake or watching football together or whatever. They just need to have a lot of fun right now. And the LW sounds like a good Mom so I’m sure when her kids are having fun she’s having fun. So then why need a guy? If they’re teenagers they’ll be out of the house in 5 years anyway. Date then. This is a special time in kids’ lives, and once they’re gone they’re gone. If I were her I would cherish this time with them – it goes by in the blink of an eye.

      2. I really wish people woul stop suggesting that single parents who date are somehow not spending enough time with their kids. Nobody tells married women not to go out alone with their husband or have sex until the kids are grown up and out of the house. I did not stop being a woman when I had children, the word is mother, not martyr. Yes the LW needs to MOA from this guy, but I don’t think it’s fair to ask her to have no romantic life until her children are adults.

      3. yeah i would agree. i don’t think this LW is doing a particularly stellar job of juggling the two but many women including my mother were amazing single Moms who still managed to have a social life including dating. just like anything else it’s the way it’s done.

    2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      Oh and in an effort to not be hypocritical to myself I just have to point out – you’re both still married. Meaning you both still have legal contracts that are valid. Those legal contracts have an implied duty to bang each other. So don’t get me wrong I think you both had clearly defined boundaries that you were in a relationship together that was monogamous – but still – they were married. It will always trump a girlfriend relationship. Not morally – I don’t think there is anything wrong with both of you moving on while you’re legally separated – but I also don’t think what he did is up to the level of cheating in a normal relationship. Although he gets zero free passes for then sharing intimate details with her – that’s just straight up fucked up.

      1. Yes, THIS. While it’s messed up that he lied to her, he is still married. It was his legal WIFE that he was sleeping with. When (if) the divorce goes to court, the court sure isn’t going to see this man cheating on his girlfriend as the problem.

      2. tbrucemom says:

        That’s what I thought. The wife probably has more reason to be concerned about STDs than the LW. For the life of me I can’t understand how both the LW/wife and the BF/husband can both be separated for two years and not be divorced especially while having another serious relationship. My ex-husband had a girlfriend while we were separated and even though we never had sex and divorced within a year I guarantee if we did have sex I would be the one who needed to worry about catching something! Also, as a “secretary” I take offense to her comment about a secretary’s salary. Granted I don’t make huge money, but I’m able to take care of myself and my daughter quite well without any handouts, thank you very much!

      3. im pretty sure the secretary comment was to emphasize that it was a considerable amount of money- as you say, you make enough to take care of yourself and your daughter. that comment wasnt offensive…

      4. I dunno, it rubbed me the wrong way, as well. LW could´ve just as easily said “more than X dollars”.
        You´re too nice, katie, always giving people the benefit of the doubt!

      5. She said ” I loaned him a LOT of money (read: more than most secretaries make in a year)”. That’s not offensive. That’s saying that she loaned him a lot of money, more money then a secretary makes, which is then assumed to be a lot

        If she had said, I lent him money, but only as only as a secretary makes, so not that much, that might be offensive. I mean she talked about secretaries in terms of yearly salaries. How is that offensive? It’s not even giving the benefit of the doubt it’s just reading the words. Lol

      6. OK, I just think she could´ve phrased it better haha

      7. Addie Pray says:

        In this little dispute I rule in favor of …. Katie. (Sorry JK!)

      8. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Yeah I took it as her meaning it was a lot of money – but not wanting to specify exactly how much. Some people (me) are weird about discussing money so I could just see her wanting to emphasize that it was a lot – without actually putting a number on it.

      9. 6napkinburger says:


      10. GatorGirl says:

        I took big offense to the secretary comment too. To me the comment had an air of “I’m better than a secretary” which, being that is my primary job descritption, I find offensive. I’m educated, hard working, and happen to love my job- it doesn’t need to be belittled. There are other ways to decribe the amount of money loaned such as “over $20,000” which isn’t offensive.

      11. “Granted I don’t make huge money, but I’m able to take care of myself and my daughter quite well without any handouts, thank you very much! ”

        Then why are you offended?

      12. Cheating is about deception, not technicalities.

        He (presumably) led her to believe that they were in an exclusive relationship. You can’t bounce back and forth between “free to date because you’re separated” and then “free to sleep with your wife”, whenever it’s convenient.

      13. 6napkinburger says:

        Actually, if you are legally separated, sleeping with your spouse can be a huge no no if you’re trying to get a divorce. Until last year, in new york, if you were trying to do a normal divorce, you’d have to be separated for a year, and if you banged each other during that time, the separation year started again. So i don’t totally agree with this part — legally.

    3. WIWTTSS.

      totally and completely.

      1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Katie – That’s my first EVER. You just made my whole day a success. Nothing can go wrong from here.

      2. yay!! i love successful days!!

    4. Addie Pray says:

      Great response, IWTTS! (Now, come on, this comment is much better than any WIWTTSS’s, right?)

  5. Even the headline screams MOA.

    I think people forget after a long relationship, you NEED the time to rediscover yourself, who you are at that moment, and just get back in the groove of being YOU. LW, you’ve got a ton going on with your life – keep that momentum up. Definitely MOA from this guy – it sounds like you’re raising another child by keeping him on. And as Wendy said, it won’t kill you to be on your own, relationship-wise, for a while.

  6. LW, you don’t REALLY love him. You said that you: “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.”
    When you REALLY love someone, you always love them. You might be mad at them, you might even think you hate them. But true love doesn’t only show up on the good days- it’s there, warts and all.

    So, since you don’t truley love this guy, why would you stick around after all the shit he’s put you through? He broke your trust big time, he’s lied, he’s violated your personal privacy… He’s just not worth fighting for. It seems like you have a wonderful, full life, with your work and kids and friends… Focus on those for the time being, and leave this loser behind.

  7. I’m sure this is a really naive question, but as I read this letter I realized that I don’t quite understand the separated/divorced distinction. I mean, divorce is obviously a final state in which a marriage is completely over and no longer recognized. But is ‘separated’ a legal term? Is it a sort of limbo state? I’ve heard of couples remaining separating for many years without formally divorcing; what would be the advantage of this or reason for it? Clearly you’d have to formally end 1 marriage in order to begin another, but is being in a long-term committed relationship while separated from a spouse legit?

    My intent is not to detract from the LW’s question and concerns — I am just trying to understand this better and would appreciate any insights!

    1. kerrycontrary says:

      I think a lot of states require you to be legally separated for a certain amount of time before preceding with a divorce. Many people may do it to figure out whether they really want to live separately from their husband/wife, while others are set on getting a divorce but need to do it as a legal formality. This is also the time period when financial/custody/legal issues are hashed out. I personally don’t think you should be dating someone before you are legally divorced, but to each his own.

      1. lemongrass says:

        I really think the no dating while legally married thing is on a case-by-case basis. My SIL tried to leave her emotionally abusive husband while 7 months pregnant, he found her and beat her up. A few months later she got out for good but he refused to sign the divorce papers for 10 years. Not because he wanted to be married still or because of the kid (he has had no contact with her) but simply to piss her off. She was well entitled to date during that time IMO.

    2. In the US, at least, separated is when you’ve filed (or are filing for) divorce, and just waiting for the divorce to be finalized. Sometimes it can take years to finalize a divorce, depending on the money, property, children involved.

      Although, some people (like Hugh Hefner), will live separately from their spouses and technically stay married for YEARS, and never actually file for divorce, because of whatever reason. That’s also separated, too.

      Also, I think there are certain states where you have to be legally separated for 6 months or something before you can even file for divorce.

    3. TheOtherOtherMe says:

      In my state, separated also means that any income earned or assets acquired after that point cannot be awarded to or divided with the other spouse after the actual divorce. (An important point.)

    4. I think sometimes it’s a legal term depending on the state and sometimes it’s agreed upon between the two spouses. I dated a guy in high school whose parents were separated for twenty years with no divorce or signs of getting back together in sight. The dad started a business, its profit skyrocketed, and he simply didn’t want to share that money with his estranged wife. So, it was an agreement that they would never officially divorced if he supported the kids education and she didn’t get a dime of his money. Totally messed up agreement in my eyes, but it’s hit thirty years now and apparently it still works for them.

    5. There’s a difference between “legal separation” and just agreeing that you’re separated, usually. Technically, “separation” should mean legal separation, which other commenters here have explained. But some people use it more casually, just to mean that even if they haven’t started the legal process, they are no longer living as a married couple.

      I don’t know anyone who uses the term “separated” to mean “I can have girlfriends and also still have sex with my legal wife”.

    6. Avatar photo theattack says:

      In my state there are two different kinds of separated. Legal separation, which you have to file for in court, and just a casual agreed upon separation. If you are legally separated then you’re legally allowed to date other people, but if it’s not official then any extra-marital relationships you have can be used against you in your divorce. Not very many people get a legal separation, and they get themselves in trouble with new girlfriends. One major reason that people avoid divorce when they don’t want to be together is the cost of attorneys. An uncontested divorce can be under $1,000, but contested divorces can get out of control and cost thousands and thousands of dollars for both people. Another major reason is they’re afraid of the way their belongings, money, and children will be distributed, so they try to live in limbo as long as possible.

    7. Some people chose to remain separated and never get divorced for tax/health/church purposes too. If neither party never intends to marry again, it can work out should both parties agree.

  8. “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.”

    Yea – next time don’t do that….you sound like every confused 23 year old girl I’ve interacted with…not to excuse the behavior as that guy has his own baggage to deal with, but that was probably a huge contributor to his infidelity ESPECIALLY the making of plans and then canceling, and avoiding…not to say that you are totally to blame for that (not by any means) but that is just rude and inconsiderate to do to anybody – especially someone that would remain loyal regardless.

    1. And yea – I don’t think you are that into this man…hard to be with all the BS he pulled – even before you found out about the cheating…so def MOA. I just pointed out that paragraph because it resonates some behavior I have experience with that I’m not too fond of.

    2. Yes, that paragraph and a later one had me wondering why she claimed they were in a committed relationship, when it sounded that they were not committed, and by her choice, rather than his. Probably her inner good sense was telling her it was foolish to commit to this man. Something about him must have seemed off at a sub-conscious level. I don’t know why the loan of a substantial amount of money under these circumstances. Perhaps the push for commitment was a way of establishing control over her, he seems quite jealous of her outside activities and time not available to him. Was the loan an emotional payoff — I can’t commit any more to you right now, but I can help you out with these $? It just seems very off. In any case, he treated her very badly and the betrayal of confidences to his wife is unforgivable. Still, I don’t get the sense that LW had ever decided that this was the guy for her.

  9. WWS. Holy shit, LW. You sound like a well-spoken, reasonable individual who is mostly on top of things. So… why are you even considering “fixing” your relationship with this man?

    “I flip-flop between appreciating all his effort…” His effort isn’t for you. Seeing a therapist, dealing with his wife, & paying you back are all things he should’ve been doing already. He’s only BEGINNING to put his life in order, & that’s something he should be doing for himself. Don’t bother appreciating it except to tell him “Good luck” before you delete his phone number.

    “…and thinking that he irreversibly destroyed my trust and love for him” He did! I’m sure he didn’t mean to or WANT to be malicious towards you, but his life seems to be a mess. People who have messy lives often behave in an even messier manner. Both of you have marriages that are damaged, & now the relationship you’ve tried to have with each other is broken as well. That is just too many peices to try to put back together. They’re bound to get all mixed up (and they already have)

    You’re not under any illusions about the fucked-up-ness of what this guy did– you lay it out extremely clearly. Why do you want to go back to him? He’s already pushing you to get over everything quicker than you’re comfortable with. Like Wendy said, “You got a rebound relationship out of the way; congratulations.” Despite the severity of the drama here, you got out pretty unscathed. Thank god you didn’t “commit” fully by letting his guy penetrate every aspect of your life, thank god you’ve kept all your friends, etc. Gather your friends around you for strength, cut this guy out of your life, & starting dealing with everything else.

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      “I flip-flop between appreciating all his effort…” His effort isn’t for you. Seeing a therapist, dealing with his wife, & paying you back are all things he should’ve been doing already. He’s only BEGINNING to put his life in order, & that’s something he should be doing for himself. Don’t bother appreciating it except to tell him “Good luck” before you delete his phone number.

      YES!! You worded that perfectly.

      1. At least we have a guy paying back what he owes in this situation :X

      2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Yup. It’s pretty sad that that’s impressive, but I’m impressed, haha.

  10. Ugh. I have a friend in a similar situation. He left his wife, moved too quickly into a relationship with her, pushed her on his son, cheated on her with his wife, the wife sent her a voice recording of them talking about him cheating on her, but it’s HER fault he cheated because she has male friends, so on, so forth. Add to the mix that he’s passive aggressive, drunk ALL THE TIME, has a DUI on his record and the only reason he has a job is because of her father and you get the picture. And we learned about the cheating six months ago. I wish she would leave him but she “loves him” and wants to stay even though she “can’t trust him.” UGH.

    Women: STOP DATING MARRIED MEN. What did you expect would happen?! Sheesh.

    1. Sorry, all the anger about my friend staying with that loser had to come out somewhere.

    2. Separation is not good enough. I’d want to see some paper work (not literally, but you know). For someone to have been separated for two years with no divorce, something is up. I know that some states have waiting periods, but the longest I’ve heard of is a year.

  11. “I…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”

    i think this is the most important. not even looking at the comlicated crap with ex’s and husbands and seperation vs. divorce and whatever- in a good relationship, even on the bad days you love them. period. even when you are shouting and screaming at each other, you love them. THAT is a real relationship. and because you dont have that, move on.

  12. Make sure you get your money back first. Please, please, make sure he pays you back. Honestly, I would wait to fully end things until you have your money. Otherwise you will likely never see it again.

    And then get yourself tested, DTMFA, and MOA.

  13. SweetPeaG says:

    LW, what do your friends say you should do? What do your kids think? Being that you have close friends that you are very active with, they probably know a fair amount of detail about your situation. Your kids (hopefully) do not know all the awful details, but I am sure they have seen a difference in their Mom. They have probably heard you cry or have witnessed “hours of dysfunctional texting and messaging”. So… why don’t you get a feel for some of their opinions? Ask your friends! Tell them to be HONEST! And observe your kids- because I don’t think it would be smart or healthy to go into detailed conversations with them about it- but, you can probably tell what they are thinking when this guy is around or you are talking about him.

    We are just strangers who all think you should move on. Too much has gone wrong in this relationship for it to ever go right. But, you don’t have to listen to us. Listen to the people who love you, know you, and want what is best for you. I have a hunch they will tell you that this isn’t right for you. You sound like you have the potential for a lot of wonderful things in your life- beautiful kids, travel, and fun friends. So, why let such a defective relationship bring you down?

    1. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

      I completely disagree with that idea. Do not ask your kids’ advice. Part of being a parent is being a role model. Involving your kids in your love life is really messed up. You’re the parent! Act like you know what you’re doing. With teenagers – since she didn’t say teenage boys – I’m assuming at least one of them is a girl. Teach your girls not to put up with someone that treats you like this. Teach your boys that if you treat girls this way they will not put up with it and dump you – so it’s not something you do in a loving relationship. Teach them – that’s what you’re there to do – don’t seek their advice.

      But yes – ask your friends – and then dump him regardless of their answer.

      1. SweetPeaG says:

        Oh, I agree that she not ASK for her kids’ opinion. I think I have maybe miscommunicated here. I did specify that she OBSERVE her kids and specifically said do not discuss it with them…. “And observe your kids- because I don’t think it would be smart or healthy to go into detailed conversations with them about it- but, you can probably tell what they are thinking when this guy is around or you are talking about him.” Key word being observe.

        I think that her kids seeing her and pain and then reacting to it is all the evidence she needs that this guy is no good for her. Her kids have seen their Mom on hours long text messaging wars! What the hell kind of example is that? I think she should really stop and look at what is happening around her, rather be stuck in this little dysfunctional bubble she is in. Her kids probably do not love having this guy in their Mom’s life. Her kids probably know it is unhealthy and have reactions to it. Isn’t that enough for her to realize she needs to move on? Because they are the people who matter. Not us.

        That’s what I meant. I definitely do not mean for her to go ASK her children what to do.

      2. Avatar photo iwannatalktosampson says:

        Oh okay sorry I didn’t read your comment well enough. Yes I agree with that. I’m sure she already knows how her kids feel – and I doubt it’s good. If they loved and adored him she would have mentioned that. So that right there should be answer enough. Most kids of divorced parents eventually like whoever ends up being their step parent – but that’s because they’re a good candidate and the parent has given sufficient healing time. Neither of which is present here.

      3. lemongrass says:

        I have a friend whose mom did that after her divorce, still doing it as her daughter is an adult. I really feel for her as she has told me many times that her mom should have just let her be a kid.

  14. Dump him.

    You want to know why? Look I actually feel sorry for him, because his ex is clearly abusive, she’s abused you and certainly he has copped years of abuse from her. But he cheated on you; he betrayed the details of your most intimate secrets with his ex; and he spied on your computer accounts. All those things are total dealbreakers.

    Why are they dealbreakers? because they’re a clue that he doesn’t care enough about you. That when the shit hits the fan, he’ll save his own miserable hide over yours. He will let you down again.

    oh and also, about this bit.

    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.

    That’s totally normal. You’re divorced with kids, so it’s really not very surprising that you weren’t ready to hitch up again yet. Don’t apologize for feeling that way. Don’t feel that because you wouldn’t commit fast enough that you somehow deserved all the abuse and crap that this guy and his ex dished out on you.

  15. MOA NOW! and then sue him to recoup the money. Use everything against him, emails, texts, Facebook messages. Everything possible!

    Technically how can he cheat on you with his wife when he’s still married to his wife? I’m confused by that. Aren’t you both being adulterers? He’s still married and you’re still married… Estranged but still married…

    Everything about this dude seems bad (unprotected sex, crazy soon to be ex)- seriously MOA. Get divorced, find yourself and then have a relationship. Because this is not a relationship…

  16. Dust it off and move on. And really why does he get any say in where you are in the recovery process? If you were going to stay with him it would take more than 3 months and a few counseling sessions to rebuild the trust in your relationship. Focus on all of the other things you have going on in your life and let him deal with his own baggage.

    1. let him deal with his own baggage- YES

      lets not play the twlight/50 shades theme of “going with him into his darkness and bringing him back into the light” ITS NOT HEALTHY OR RIGHT. you will not fix these issues for him. only he can do that, and it does seem like he has some significant ones to fix.

      1. 2 days in a row with the 50 shades/ Twilight hate, Katie! You´re going to end up with some enemies if you carry on like this! 😀

      2. eh, thats ok. people need to understand that 50 and twlight are terrible examples of romance!!! it angers me. lol.. and i just finished it recently, and ive been reading about it online, so its in my head right now, so im seeing it everywhere..

      3. Yeah, I haven´t even attempted to read either of them and I already hate them!

      4. wks!

  17. LW, neither of you were totally “in” this relationship. You had other interests and activities that were pressing enough to avoid his calls and texts, avoid talking committment (when you were both still married to other people – excuse me?), etc. and he was sleeping with his wife and who knows what else they were talking about besides every detail of your life – like possibly getting back together? Maybe that’s why she went off the deep end… In any case, it’s time to be honest with yourself that this whole thing doesn’t add up to a keeper – while there may be affection, the needed honesty, trust, and committment by both parties is just not there.
    Sucks, but what you are left with is a good opportunity to be a role model for those kids on how to take responsibility for a mistake and recover with class and dignity..

  18. You talk a lot about what you did wrong in this relationship, that you were distant and noncommittal and then, after you decided you wanted to be with him, forced yourself and your kids into spending time together. Truthfully, it doesn’t sound particularly helpful and he was well within his rights to be upset that you seemed so ambivalent about him. It seems like the implicit question here was whether you somehow caused his behavior, and the answer, of course, is no. He dropped a nuclear bomb on this relationship. Three, actually! There was the snooping on your very personal email and Facebook messages, a complete betrayal of your trust and violation of your privacy. There was having sex with another woman, another complete betrayal that also unnecessarily jeopardized your health. Finally, he shared all the personal information he gathered and shared it with his ex-wife, who turned out to be emotionally unstable and physically threatened you.

    And he thinks you should be over it by now? He should be amazed that you even bothered to try to stay with him at all! People get over betrayal all the time but any one of these three things would have been enough to end the relationship. It’s hard to parse out the timeline, but the good part of the relationship, the “best it ever was”, only seemed to last a few months. Most of the time you were together you weren’t sure you wanted to commit to him or were bitterly arguing. It just doesn’t sound like there’s enough here that’s worth saving to forgive everything he’s put you through.

    1. particularly helpful = particularly healthy

  19. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Yes! Of course it IS fixable! Just roll over and do anything and everything he says. Anything. Please do. You two truly do deserve to be together. Forever. And on a related side note, yes — it was such a joy to finally read a letter from a thoroughly together modern woman and not one from someone so absurdly gullible or desperate or even pathetic. So, so glad that’s NOT you…

  20. From the information you shared, it seems like you have a great life minus this guy, so why are you still hung up on him? He seems like the big “BUT” in your life. ” I have a great life, great kids, great friends, BUT there’s this guy who cheated on me with his wife”. That doesn’t sound like someone I’d waste another second on.

    After already being through one marriage and raising children, I’m sure you already know what is involved in creating a happy and healthy relationship and what is involved in creating a miserable one. Nothing you said about this relationship would lead me to believe it’s the former.

    Focus on yourself, your children, and wrap up your own divorce so you can move on and start your own future, not one with this man.

  21. Addie Pray says:

    What Wendy and others have said – MOA. But I’d just like to point out that we could have all saved time by simply applying my rule — 3 or more references to “texts” in the letter, and you automatically move on. “Texts” was mentioned 4 times here, ergo, move on.

    See? So far the rule has worked perfectly – no exceptions spotted to date. I dare someone to submit a letter, refer to texting in the slightest (but do it at least 3 times), then wait and see: Wendy’s advice, albeit for reasons other than my rule, will be MOA. It will! I bet everyone $5.

    My rule is going to put therapists/relationship experts/advice columnists out of work – mwahahahahaha.

    1. You should probably copyright it, or something.
      I´m still kicking myself for not patenting WWS 🙂

      1. Addie Pray says:

        Yea, what were you thinking? You really screwed yourself on that one. One time a commenter asked if Addie Pray had came up with it… You were conveniently sans internet so I might have gone ahead and said yes. Mwhahahahaha.

        God, AP is evil today. Also, she is referring to herself in the 3rd person. She doesn’t know why.

      2. OK, I´ll share credit with you, anything to be considered as awesome as AP!

      3. Addie Pray says:

        Oh mon dieu, stop it, you’re making me blush. … Ok, truth: I gave you credit. I’m not as evil as I appear to be, sigh.

      4. You´re too sweet. 🙂

  22. A lot of people are bringing up the point that if he’s tecnically married, then really he’s cheating on his wife with her. And a couple people said that you shouldn’t date married guys.

    I know a couple who are both separated and who are living together as basically a married couple. They have committed to each other in every way except for marriage, and they probably never will get married. The man had a spectacularly bad marriage, and it was essentially over for years before he got up the guts to leave. The woman had already been legally separated for years, and they just didn’t divorce because they didn’t see the point. In her case it’s very amicable between her and her ex. They met while both separated, with their marriages over in every way except legally (but both legally separated). He’s divorced now, she is still technically married to her ex. They have a great relationship. Her kid lives primarily with them, and his kids stay with them too on the days that he has them. They function like a family. The kids even call them both “mom” and “dad”. They’re all very happy with the arrangement, as happy as they can be when the kids have divorced parents.

    Anyway, long-winded, but my point is that for both of these people, the marriages are clearly over. Just because they haven’t cancelled the marriage contract, doesn’t mean that the relationship still functions. Would you call them cheaters? Would it be ok if the one who’s still married went and slept with her ex?

    Remember, whether someone cheats or not is dependent on what is acceptable in the relationship. In open marriages, do you say the participants are cheating when they have sex outside of the marriage? Hard-core religious people might, but those of us who are more accepting would say that if it’s known and agreed-upon, then it’s not cheating. Separation falls into the same category. The parties know the marriage is ending, and that the sexual relationship is over. It’s not a surprise, it’s out in the open. I wouldn’t consider that cheating.

  23. I can tell that you’re trying to associate your noncommittal behavior with his resulting actions, and I think you’re being too hard on yourself. If you really were hurting him or making him feel unsure of your relationship, then he could have just broken up with you. No one forced him to keep sleeping with his wife. You don’t have to run out of one person’s arms and right into another, meaning that he could have dealt with his feelings over your behavior without sleeping with someone.

    Just move on and learn your lessons for next time.

    1. Huh? If she’s not ready to make a committment, then they are just dating and having sex and he is free to date and have sex with somebody else concurrently. That’s what no-commitment dating is. There doesn’t appear to have been any agreement that they were to be monogamous or dating exclusively. His misconduct is how he violated confidences and put all the blame on her, not that he was also dating his wife.

      1. There seems to be an assumption that she didn’t want to commit to something major, such as marriage or moving in together. The only time the LW explicitly states her ex’s position on the commitment issue, she says he complained that she wouldn’t ‘commit to a relationship’. If that’s the case, then she has no reason to assume that she is the one and only. Some of the other things she reports him saying suggest that he thought he was willing for her to be his one and only, if she were willing to make that commitment. Since she wasn’t, he’s free to sleep with his wife as well as her. Absent a mutual commitment to a monogamous relationship, one shouldn’t assume a partner isn’t sleeping with other people.

      2. I assumed that if she considered him to be cheating, then they must be exclusive. Though now I realize that “cheating” was Wendy’s word, not hers. IThe LW said at the end that she thought they were committed. I’m sure it’s very possible that they were, in fact, not committed, but I have no other info than what she presents.

  24. Sue Jones says:

    Things get a lot more complicated in middle age. If you are dating at that point in life virtually nobody gets through “baggage free”. However, all the talk about “commitment” ” technically he is still married to his wife” etc. is a lot of black and white thinking BS. It sounds like she thought the were in an exclusive sexual relationship, yet she has a lot going on in her life and didn’t want to move in together, be together constantly, and act like they were married to each other. She wanted a sexually exclusive relationship with a lot of freedom on her part to come and go and live her life. He wanted to replace his marriage with a new and improved version. He is needy and his life is a bit of a mess at the moment. He turned to his crazy ex – and yes if they are separated then she IS his ex, to fill up his neediness while he borrowed money from her, etc. etc. So yes LW was betrayed on a lot of levels. He is not the man she thought he was. You can still love someone and know that it is not good for you. MOA.

    But I do take issue with the rigidity of thinking that if he is still married (hey divorces are messy, complicated sometimes and SLOW sometimes) that he can also bang his wife even though they are separated when he is in an exclusive new relationship and pressing for a higher level of commitment from the LW. Way to establish TRUST in that new relationship, eh? It shows a real weakness of character in the man and it also sounds like they really want different things out of a relationship at this point which is a huge issue.

  25. I’ve only made it halfway through (to be honest it was hard to get past the title, I was hoping Wendy was being really awful or something, but no, terribly accurate), haven’t read any comments, and here is where I am at:


    And why the hell are middle aged people texting and messaging each other!?!

    OK… I’m going back in 🙁

    1. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

      Um, why wouldn’t middle aged people use technology? Ageist much?

      1. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I’m hoping that it was supposed to mean that middle aged people should have better communication skills than to rely on text messages.

      2. YES! stated much more concisely than I 😉

      3. Not at all – Texting and Technology for ALL! Damn I wondered if I should have gone on a tangent about that…

        Anyway ~ I would just assume that any woman who describes themselves as middle-aged is probably in their 40s/50s (no 30something is wearing the middle-aged crown until forced), which means that they spent their formative years developing and building relationships at a time when texts and social messaging didn’t exist. So one would assume that they have the tools in hand to communicate without reverting to a text battle like a 12 year old. I mean at some point I need the mother of 4 teenagers to set an example by just picking up the damn phone.

        Plus, as discussed elsewhere, texts and emails are also much more prone to misinterpretation and if in a serious relationship the communication skills should be kicked up a notch… I get why the 22 year olds write in about having essentially a relationship that is based on FB and text communication (they don’t know any better) but I don’t understand why a middle-aged woman has the same problem.

      4. Sue Jones says:

        My husband and I text constantly and we are in our 50’s! Just a few minutes ago: ” do we need anything from the store?” ” We are almost out of milk, eggs, and baby carrots”. I suppose I could just break out the old manual typewriter, but texting is so much more efficient!

      5. Yes, but you are using it as a functional communication tool in a way that improves the efficiency of your lives (which is really what all this technology is for).

        When you get the point where you describe your own behavior as “hours of dysfunctional texting and messaging” I think we all agree that you might try the ol’ face to face. Anyone beyond high school (maybe college, kids these days do seem a little green) who would sit there in front of a screen/phone going back and forth FOR HOURS with the man you are in a serious relationship with has some communication probs.

      6. yeah i get what you are saying. using texting for things that are trivial (do we need milk, what time was that movie) vs things that are important like are we a couple? certain things definitely need to happen with a more direct form of communication. and you would think that people who weren’t in their teens would remember that. i personally love texting, but if it’s something important i don’t text about it. i certainly wouldn’t text my husband and let him know i was having doubts about our marriage.

        now i did text him today to remind him he forgot to take the trash to the trash can (i was running late, i should have just done it!). so instead the dogs got to it and then pooped up the evidence which i got to clean up. they are lucky they are all cute!

      7. Avatar photo theattack says:

        I have such a hard time not texting about important things sometimes. It’s not because I think it’s a good idea, because it’s definitely not. It’s that when I’m really upset about something, I want to talk about right away, and when you’re in an LDR you sometimes have to wait a while to talk about something. It’s just evidence of my need for patience when I text about stuff that I shouldn’t. I’m working on it though.

      8. I used to get into text back & forths with my fiance (then boyfriend)… LDR as well. But I would be exhausted after 15 minutes, so I haven’t a clue how you could do it for hours, and it never turned out well. I’ve pretty much managed to eliminate it and wait until the end of the day/next day, though it is hard sometimes 😉

        And to reiterate, not against texting generally or in a relationship. I text my fiance practically every morning when I get to work a hello or happy friday. Love sending and receiving the LANDED text at the airport. But not the best method for problem-solving.

  26. WWS x 1000

    I just really don’t want to believe people like this exist… “I forced him on the kids (they liked him fine; they just didn’t like the dad replacement).” ugh. way to chuck the feelings of 4 human beings that rely on you out the window, for someone you didn’t even really commit to. Please get your kids some counseling as well, as I imagine they may need some.

  27. Sucker punched says:

    Wow, what an incredibly thoughtful interesting and useful series of comments!!!! I don’t know where to start..I’ll say first of all thank you for giving me your time and thoughts. Second, I’m actually genuinely surprised that no one thinks I should stick it out in the face of his efforts…guess that shows how off I am/have been.
    Mel–I did hit him. I’ve never done that before. Probably shows how dysfunctional we really are.
    Regarding the conversation about separation…in PA it is 2 years before you can file unless you and your ex agree to everything…my ex and I can’t agree on the price of the house, for example (despite 5 appraisals..believe me, folks, my argument is only that I can’t buy the house for him for 30% higher than the appraised price, and his is that it is worth more than the appraisers say!), so we have to wait two years before it can be settled by a judge.
    Re the secretarial salary comment..first I apologize to those who felt insulted. I did in fact mean to say that it was a VERY large amount of money, more than any sane person would lend without a contract or some other good reason…you are right, I was just trying to show commitment or make him stop criticizing me for not committing. I did not intend to diminish anyone’s choice of work or earning capacity.
    Fabelle and Iwannatalktosampson…I think you said it the most clearly for which I thank you especially.
    DMR–I appreciate that you feel sorry for him. I do too..the difference is that you see clearly that feeling sorry shouldn’t be the ruling emotion. Thank you for that.
    Leah…It is helpful that you seem to have gotten such a clear picture from my probably rambling tale…yes I was hurtfully ambivalent, no I couldn’t have done better than that, no that doesn’t justify his horrible behavior….and damn, you are right. If he is hurt again he will feel justified in any behavior that helps him feel in control.
    Addie…I will use that rule forever. No more texting in adult relationships..but it does work well with the teens!
    Oldie…I was absolutely committed to the relationship. I wouldn’t have considered another man at any time. Its just that I couldn’t say when we would move in together, or if we would get married. There was no doubt that we were in a serious relationship.
    But you are right, it was, in fact, his wife! Which is also bad, since she wanted to get him back, and he just used her to make himself feel better. He says she manipulated him by saying she just wanted to have sex and be friends…how convenient for him to believe that.
    To all of you….thank you so much for your unified stand that what he did on several levels was severely fucked up. He does not think the email/facebook spying was terrible–he says anyone would have done it, and points out that I read my kids facebook pages if they leave them open..and the details to his wife he justifies by saying he loved me and couldn’t stop talking about me. Even as I write that I see that I am really messed up to still be in this relationship.
    And whether he knew it was cheating? he certainly did, if only because we weren’t using condoms…and because he hid it…and because I had told him that if I wasn’t giving him what he wanted he needed to break up with me, but that I wouldn’t continue to see him if he was seeing other people..I specifically said that was a hard line.
    Sweetpea and Iwanntalktosampson–thanks for your comments about kids. I love spending time with mine..actually one of the demises of my marriage was that I put the kids higher on the priority list than did my husband (he is an only child and always wanted to be the center of attention…to the extent that he didn’t like them to have friends in the house because then they wouldn’t pay attention to him!). The my cheatin boyfriend is actually quite good with them, plays games with them, picks them up at sports and school, drives them to dates, and gives dating and shaving tips. BUt that is neither here nor there…I just want to acknowledge that they were wounded by my hours of secret texting and distraction, and also that I do really appreciate my time with them…amazingly even the 14 year old boys and my 18 year old daughter like to hang with me, and the boys will occasionally hold my hand on the street!
    My kids are really wonderful, and very emotionally evolved. Their stand is that they trust me to make good decisions, and as long as he makes me more happy than not they are OK with us being together. I tried to use what they know of this (and of course you are all right that they knew we went from always to gether to never together, with mom crying in the bathroom) to demonstrate that everyone makes mistakes, and that the quality of forgiveness and the opportunity of redemption is always there….but maybe the message is don’t settle for some one who treats you badly even if they sometimes treat you great, and that all of us have to live with the consequences of our actions (meaning cheating lying and betraying can not be reversed)
    Haha, I can feel myself getting confused even as I type. So I’ll stop, will think hard about what you all said, and leave by saying I really appreciate the the sense of community I found among all you strangers. Thanks again.

    1. Thanks for the response!

      “maybe the message is don’t settle for some one who treats you badly even if they sometimes treat you great, and that all of us have to live with the consequences of our actions (meaning cheating lying and betraying can not be reversed)”

      Yes, this. You got it exactly.

      It’s not about being unreasonable. There are good, principled reasons not to forgive. Past bad behavior is a good indicator of future bad behavior; you dump people who hurt you because by doing so, they’ve shown that they can hurt you. Situational factors don’t really mitigate it either, because there will always be situational factors.

      Also, deep down you hate him for what he did to you.

  28. Avatar photo bittergaymark says:

    Now my REAL advice:

    Yikes. What a mess. You’re the mother of FOUR teenagers — focus on them and their needs and stop trying to be one yourself with all this pointless relationship drama. Seriously, you obviously can’t pick a man for shit, so simply give a rest. Wait a few meager years until ALL your kids are out of the house and then try again. Oh, and you know — get divorced already… But as for right now? Go out and buy yourself a vibrator…

  29. Avatar photo theattack says:

    Seriously? Don’t date someone unless they have finalized divorce papers. That means that you yourself need to get divorced too. What you’ve been doing is messy, inappropriate, and setting a bad example for your children. His obligation is legally to his wife, and while he shouldn’t have lied to you, you shouldn’t be dating a man who is still married. Do you know how often this kind of thing happens? ALL the time. Get a divorce yourself and make a rule for yourself not to date anyone who is currently still married to another person.

  30. fast eddie says:

    Boy howdy that letter has more venom in it then a pit of cobras. Most of the time you have to love someone to hate them that much. Hang in there baby until he pays off your loan then kick his butt out and say thanks for the ride.

  31. I cried home and almost hit a truck. I actually has concluded that we are done from this marriage, but I took a second thought when I got home, I REALIZED THAT IF i SHOULD LEAVE, THEN MY HUSBAND WOULD NOT HESITATE TO GET MARRIED BACK TO HIS EX WIFE

  32. mellanthe says:

    Your relationship is not fixable. He’s clearly playing you two women off against each other and inventing rules for him that don’t apply to the women in his life.

    He never fully left his wife; going back to your wife for sex does not a separation make. But it’s worse; he wasn’t just having sex with her, he was telling her detailed and intimate things about uou that you’d confided to him. That suggests an emotional element to the ‘affair’. He emotionally confided in her things that he should have kept between you. Even more than the sex, that is unforgivable. You’ve been treated apallingly by both of them.

    I second avice that ideally one should always wait for someone’s divorce to be finalised – I think when there’s a longterm relationship breakup, it’s best to be sure that your potential partner has fully gotten over the past relationship and its problems and learned their lessons.

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