Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ten years of marriage: A "Dirty Trick"

I lurk on a few on-line forums that discuss mixed orientation marriages, closed loop relationships and challenges that straight spouses face.  Below is a story from one of those forums.

This quote isn't exact;  I cleaned it up to make it easier to read.
Seven years ago, and three months after the birth of my third child, my husband told me he cheated on me with a man. Four years before that he had done the same thing, "but not all the way."  Both times, after much crying and begging on his part, I took him back.  After the second time we talked about his attraction to men and how it had been there for years.  We also saw a marriage counselor.  Within two years our sex life dwindled to nothing. By then he had quit therapy, and no matter what I did, our relationship just got worse.

Last Spring my hours at work got cut so I was making a lot less money.   Pretty soon we fell behind on our bills. In the Fall, when he realized how bad our finances were, he said he wanted a divorce. What a slap in the face! After all I had forgiven NOW he was done?!?

His mother was sure he was cheating on me. I asked him if that was true, over and over again, but he kept telling me, no, and I was over-reacting.  He still lives at home but he spends almost no time there, unless he has to watch the kids because I'm working.  Well, last Friday I found a Valentine's Day card from his "lover" along with gay porn and a bunch of condoms. I feel like the last 10 years was a dirty trick. I immediately called him on it but first I made copies of the love letter.

One thing that makes me so mad is that I have defended him to both of our families.  He says that I'm the problem because I'm bad with money.   The reality is that, if I had known what a liar and a cheat he was, we wouldn't have been married last summer anyway.  After I showed him the Valentine's card he finally admitted that he was having an affair and that it started more than 11 months ago.  He also told me that he has gone on vacation with this man and he has had sex with him in our home with our children asleep. I am so angry, I can't sleep. I am sad for my kids because they think we have a great family. The poor things don't even know about the divorce yet.  After all that he has done to me I don't even want to look at him.

C (41 yr old mother of three kids, ages 12, 9 and 8.)
This woman feels like her 10 years of marriage was nothing more than a dirty trick.  When you read her side of the story, it sure seems like he continually lied to her and strung her along.  Then, once he found a boyfriend, he decided he wanted a divorce.

Stories like this are pretty common but every time I read one I am astounded by the selfishness and cruelty described.  When you 'love' someone, this is how you treat them?

On the other hand, something else that constantly amazes me is how often women will choose to overlook the obvious.  The guy cheated twice, admitted to a life-long attraction to men, and doesn't have sex with his wife.  What was she expecting??

I suppose I'm being cruel for thinking this, but...wasn't she's fooled twice and now it's shame on her?

 For those who are interested, here are a few more details about this woman's situation:
I went with a don't ask, don't tell policy. I had come to terms with no sex and having a gay husband. It wasn't what I wanted but I was working with it.  Slowly, over the last 3 years, he has gotten more and more disconnected. I see now when he started fooling around. I have a gay friend at work who said he had seen him on the gay website adam4adam and knew it was my husband because our kids' pictures are posted there...that was over 2 years ago. My co-worker would not talk about what he saw but said about 1 year ago he stopped posting.  Now I've found out that's when the boyfriend started. So go figure.
I don't know how to react to this.  Now I have many more questions than answers.


  1. "I suppose I'm being cruel for thinking this, but...wasn't she's fooled twice and now it's shame on her?"

    I understand the sentiment of where that comes from, but try to avoid it. It's a form of "victim-blaming": making the person who did no wrong responsible instead of the person who did wrong. It happens a lot in society (and very often to women), and it does is make people less likely to admit there's a problem because they don't want to be blamed for something they didn't do.

    I'd say she needs to re-examine the decisions she made and decide how she wants to handle such situations in the future, but in no way is it her fault that he abused the trust she gave him. He's still the bad guy, and he deserves all the blame.

  2. Try putting yourself in the shoes of a woman with 3 very young kids to clothe and feed who's not making a lot of money. How terrifying that would be to realize so much of their security is tied to such a selfish asshole. Can you really blame her for deluding herself into thinking it could work out. You know the old saying, "if wishes were horses beggars would ride"......Long road for her. I doubt he'll be any more honorable as an ex. Towards is kids or his former wife.

  3. I guess I have a few thoughts on this. In general, it sounds like the guy was a bit of a bastard. I mean, it's pretty balsy to bring your lover into your own house while the kids are there sleeping.

    On the other hand, we are only hearing this from her perspective, which could be highly slanted. There are some questions I would need to have answers before completely passing judgment. Why did the marriage counseling fail? Why did their sex life dwindle down to nothing? She never explicitly says that those are his fault. She only implies it.

    I'm not trying to blame the victim, but I also don't want to jump to any conclusions about what happened. It seems likely that he was just a jerk, but it could also be that he was dealing with a lot of emotional pain and didn't know how to deal with it. Or, it could be that her side of the story is not telling us everything. I don't think we'll ever know, nor can we make a sound judgment without knowing.

  4. I think there's plenty here to make a judgement about their situation. Of course it could be her story is all a lie but this is repeated too often...this kind of story is not uncommon. She wanted to hold her life together. She was the primary parent he was never around, they had financial problem. He did the minimum (crying, begging and counseling) to convince her to give him a chance. His own family didn't even believe him...I'm sure on some level she knew he was cheating but a woman with 3 school aged children is powerfully motivated to try to make things work even if that means entering into a "don't ask, don't tell" arrangement and living in a sexless marriage herself. This is a young woman.

    But when insult is heaped upon injury...sleeping him her home while the kids were there, vacationing with him while she was taking care of THEIR kids, exposing his children's pictures on a hookup site and being so indiscreet that her co-workers knew what was going wonders why he seems to hate her so much. She's not responsible because he's gay and chose to marry a woman without disclosing that detail. Where in any of that does this woman fail? Being naive and wanting to believe the man she married? As far as "crimes" go, that's not even close to what he did.

  5. I feel badly for the wife. She's not a psychologist, she doesn't know that this guy is incurably gay. She had a misplaced hope and things ended badly. It's too bad she didn't cut her losses earlier, but she didn't know any better.

    The guy has a responsibility for what he created, and sounds like he's just a selfish asshole.

  6. The husband sounds like he's incredibly irresponsible and callous. Posting pictures of his kids on A4A? How fucked up is that! I do hope the wife has the courage (and support) to leave him permanently and find a new life, as frightening and difficult as that may be.

  7. While the details described sound like awful judgment on his part, I'm also hesitant to judge. The family has been freshly launched into volatile roller coaster ride which could last a good while.

    If the hubby was someone I knew, I'd be pressing him to think hard about what he can do in the here & now to be fair and responsible in dealings with his still-wife and as a parent. None of that erases past bad behavior, of course, but much remains that he can do as well as he can.

    In my own case, some of the circumstances were parallel (10-yr marriage, 3 young kids, full-time at-home Mom) and some were different (no sexual activity, came out to my wife on the same day I came out to my therapist).

    Those differences did nothing to lessen her sense of betrayal, though. After she found my journal from college, including some anguished inner conflicts about wanting to be a parent but believing that being gay cast me out of all normal society (think late 1970s), she was convinced that my investment in the entire marriage had been solely based on a cold, calculating master plan. (That was not the case, of course. I had loved her dearly and made being a good husband and dad my top priority until I realized I was self-destructing and needed to start working through my stuff in the open.)

    The point isn't to make my then-wife the bad guy in this, it's that deep, soul-crushing betrayal is a pretty normal response at this point.

    I wish patience, good help (therapists, mediators), good will, and recognition that everybody's going to have to pitch in to weather the divorce, as well as the co-parenting during and after.

  8. maybe, like my husband he used religion to guilt her into staying. My ex husband had a fit when I got a tubal ligation - because it was against the church. Fourteen months later he admitted that he had been lying for the past 12 years. He couldn't understand what the big deal was - he was finally telling the truth and I punished him by filing for divorce. He really thought I would stick around until he figured it out. I knew before he did. As my friend said, "He was just on the bi-way to Gaysville." (btw, my friend is gay - he is one of my good friends).