The most insidious and oft-overlooked red flag in the giant book of red flags is without a doubt LYING.
Lying is so pervasive that we even have a term for the more “innocent” ones: “little white lies”.
How about “fib”? Sounds like a name for a little hamster. Fibster.
We’re so accustomed to being lied to that we let is slip by again and again with no consequence or action. When it comes to our saintly women, men like to fall all over themselves explaining away these indiscretions. Our women are just far too innocent to think that they would lie to us for insidious reasons. They’re just little fibs. Chubby hamsters running on their wheel. Adorable.
The egg heads explain the phenomenon of the lying wife by pointing out that women are conditioned to lie and be more manipulative from an early age. They don’t have the physical attributes we men have… so they can’t punch and kick and push their way out of a bad situation, so they lie and manipulate their way out of it.
That guy just said something mean to you? He’s 9 times the size of you? Turn on the tears, rub your eyes, point to the large man and scream “That man PUNCHED me!” and watch the entire world come to your rescue. Girls learn this pretty early on. Especially the pretty ones.
Little White Lies, Deep Dark Secrets: The Truth About Why Women Lie
Regardless of WHY it happens, the truth is that yes… Women lie. Women are in fact human beings. They have faults. They have vices.
But like all vices and manifestations of psychological baggage, lies must be dealt with. They must not be ignored. There must be a reason for untruths to be spilling out of her mouth, and it’s usually not as innocuous as you think.
I’ll give you a real world example.
My ex-wife and I were invited to 70’s themed party years ago. Everyone was going to go in fake afros, bell bottoms, big sunglasses, big shirt collars, etc. We didn’t really have anything on hand so we had to put together some outfits from any old clothes we might have. She asked around at work if any ladies had anything she could use and she came back with a giant afro wig and glasses. “Look what Sally at work gave me! She said I could just have it! They’re perfect!”
Fast forward to a few days after the party and she asked me to get something out of her purse. Right there on top of a giant wad of crap was a receipt from a costume shop… showing that she had purchased an afro wig, glasses and other things her friends “gave” her to use.
What the…? Why would she lie about that? The grand total was about $30. It’s not like she broke the bank by spending $30. Weird.
Immediately my mind went to “it must be me” mode. Was I such a hard ass about budgeting that she couldn’t share with me that she spent $30 on something unnecessary? Was she that worried about my reaction? Was I causing her to do things in secret like this? Must be me.
I was conditioned. I knew exactly what her reaction would be if I confronted her… and I did… and I was right.
“I couldn’t tell you because I knew you would be mad/upset/angry/sad” is the most overused and manipulative excuse of them all. What they’re doing is shifting the blame from themselves to you. “I just HAD to lie about it because you are such a baby about these things! You always blow them out of proportion. It was nothing.”
Take a moment to think back to all of your interactions with your wife over the years. Were there moments sprinkled in there where she expressed displeasure with something about you? Can’t think of any? Let me help.
“You’re not wearing THAT shirt again, are you?”
“No… we’re not buying that. It looks really stupid and tacky.”
“This place you picked out for us is no good. Next time let me pick.”
“Sigh… do you think you could have the kids not look like hobos when I return?”
“We have people coming over, try not to be too much of a slob.”
Just innocent little wife jabs, right? Little tests here and there to keep you on your toes? What would happen if the roles reversed and you said half of those things to her? You’d be labeled a real abusive jerk of a husband and she’d have six other wives lined up to tell her as much. But I digress…
See, during those frequent little jabs… she had absolutely zero care about what your response may be. Your feelings weren’t a factor. She was just stating facts. You need to know that your favorite shirt looks terrible, that thing you want for the bedroom is tacky, the place you picked out for your date is really trashy, the kids look like hobos when she’s not around and you really need to do a better job of keeping yourself and the bathroom looking good. To her, these are all just necessary statements like “You left the oven on again”. It’s not like she’s out to hurt your feelings… your feelings aren’t even a factor.
See my point? She constantly takes little jabs at your sense of self-worth with zero thought as to how it may annoy or even hurt you. So why NOW is she suddenly concerned about your reaction to something she might say/do?
Because the thing she is hiding with her little lie is just the tip of a much bigger and more sinister iceberg… and she is VERY well aware of that.
Otherwise she would rub it right in your face with no regard for your thoughts.
The $30 afro wig and glasses ensemble my ex-wife bought? It wasn’t about me at all. It was about her. She had a spending problem. She coped with her anxieties by spending and eating. That was her thing. That receipt was one of about 3,987 red flags that told me “Dude… she has a problem”. This particular red flag was there in black and white and she sure didn’t like that I saw it. Yes, it was just $30, but it was a little receipt that was the first of many receipts that added up to thousands of dollars we needed and didn’t have. She knew that. One little white lie at a time hid this reality from view.
Here’s another example you may have run into. I’ve heard some variation of this more than a few times (the names and exact situation are all made up):
You wife was married once before to a dude named Randy. She claims that he was abusive and treated her like dirt throughout their relationship. You’ve personally only met the guy once and she hasn’t spoken to him in 10 years. He’s been a total non-factor in your relationship.
One day you see the messages is open on the laptop you share. Buried at the bottom of a list of conversations is the word “Randy”. She had a text conversation with him. This particular conversation was dated over one year ago. You start going through the messages fearing the worst… and thankfully it’s nothing. Just inane blabber about how his family is doing, good to hear from him, so sorry to hear about this brother, etc. They had four different conversations over a period of a month and then it stopped. He ended the conversation with “Would love to see you sometime soon.” She didn’t reply. Now you feel bad for snooping. But now it’s got you thinking…
Your wife has been blabbering consistently about how awful this man was for the past decade. Years of horror stories. No details left out. One time she pointed out a bottle of ketchup during a routine grocery store trip and said “Randy threw one of those at my head years ago. I had to get stitches.” If there was ever a concern that you may not be comfortable hearing Randy stories, she sure didn’t show it. She never asked. You just let her vent and all is well.
So now that dear old Randy has come out of the woodwork and sent random messages that were friendly and normal and out of character and unexpected… she doesn’t mention them? At all? Not for an entire year? How odd.
You get an idea… instead of just coming out and asking about them, let’s do something more passive… something sneaky. Let’s see if she comes clean.
You: “Honey… remember that one crazy woman that was married to Randy before you? I saw her at the store the other day and she looks like a total meth head. Really scary.”
Her: “Whoa. Yeah, she always had some serious problems. I haven’t seen her in years.”
You: “Yeah, she actually recognized me and asked me if we have heard from Randy. I said ‘Nope, we never talk to him… thank god’. She just laughed.”
*here’s her chance to come clean…. nothing so far*
You: “So.. how long’s it been since we heard from him? Not since you and I started dating… what’s that, like 10 years ago?”
Sigh… there it is. You gave her a chance.
This woman has been mentioning this creep on a regular basis for years, and never mentions the time he apparently awakened from the dead and communicated with her out of the blue. Why? Because something more is going on. Here comes the rest of the iceberg.
He has touched a nerve in her. She felt something inside and she’s a bit ashamed of it. She still has some residual feelings for Randy and she doesn’t like that. Those messages made her feel something good for that short period of time, and she secretly deep down holds out hope that he will message her again. She even started having thoughts of asking him out to lunch. You know… just to catch up. She knows it’s probably wrong… but she isn’t strong enough to overcome those wandering thoughts and she couldn’t bring herself tell you right away that he reached out to her. Why not? Because she knows that telling you would put an end to the communication forever and she’d never hear from Randy again.
The woman who wouldn’t shut the hell up about the guy when he was gone is now completely quiet about him when he reappears. She lies to cover for him. Two big strikes and probably a sign that you are in for some serious trouble.
There’s always a story behind the little lies. Always. But all of that pesky reality can get wiped out with one phrase: “I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d get mad.” The reality of the situation flips and now it’s on you. You’re the crazy, irrational one.
Don’t fall for it.
Don’t ignore lies. As soon as they appear, you call them out and dig deep. Talk it out. Investigate. Don’t let up. You may not like what you find but it’s better to know the truth.
Here’s a common term in the world of relationships: BAGGAGE.
“Baggage” is another word for all the negative shit that happened to you in the past and that is presumably deeply embedded in your psyche and ready to bubble up at a moment’s notice. After a marriage dissolves a man will often talk about all of the ex-wife’s baggage she brought to the relationship and how he should’ve acted on this crucial data earlier on.
Examples of typical female “baggage” may include:
- No father figure in her life
- Comes from a broken home
- History of sexual abuse
- History of sexual promiscuity
- History of poor past relationships with men
- Past drug abuse
You get the idea. This is all a bunch of stuff that when us seasoned guys hear it we wince and say “Ooo… be careful, dude.” What we mean is “The chances of this relationship not working and you getting hurt are much higher than with a low/no baggage girl.”
This is true.
Also true: The chance of you finding a low/no baggage girl are somewhere between slim and none. This isn’t a typical condemnation of current western society, but rather a testimonial to human nature.
We ALL have baggage. All of us. Every one of us.
What we ALL don’t have is the ability to COPE with said baggage. Therefore your litmus test for a good long-term relationship partner shouldn’t be “Does she have baggage?”, but rather “Awful shit happens to everyone all over the world… how does she DEAL with it?” This is the bread and butter of what makes a good partner. Staring life right in the eye when it gives us a shit sandwich and saying “That’s it?! What else you got?”
I myself have baggage. A good deal of it, actually. I was dumped by my wife for another man (ouch). I was left with three kids that I have most of the time (double ouch). As a result, my professional life has suffered and I would probably have more money if it wasn’t for the divorce and expensive kids (triple ouch). My ex-wife is also fucking nuts (quadruple ouch). These things do not work in my favor. What DOES work in my favor is how I dealt with them and continue to deal with them on a daily basis. This translates into fortitude and strength. The kind of stuff you want in a partner of either sex.
Picture baggage as a bunch of luggage in the back of a car. A woman who has a shit ton of baggage is barreling down the road in a car with suitcases and duffle bags poking out of the back windows. The trunk is so full that it’s open and tied down with bungee cords. It’s a mess.
The weight of the baggage is SO much that it actually throws off the balance of the car. She has to keep her hands on wheel at all times and constantly make corrections with little tugs left and right. The second she takes her hands off the wheel… SCREEECH! She’s off the road and headed for a tree. Disaster.
That’s what baggage is. It’s all the shit that happened to you in the past that WILL have a negative impact on your life and relationships with others… UNLESS you recognize the baggage for what it is, live in reality, and take steps towards remedying the situation. If you don’t live in reality and say you have nothing to worry about… SCREECH… you’re running right off the road and into danger.
Here are some real life ways in which mature adults “deal with baggage” successfully:
“My entire family are alcoholics. I watched my mom and dad drink themselves almost to death and it ruined my childhood. Because of that I have vowed never to touch a drop of alcohol. I don’t know need it and I am fine without it.”
“I was sexually abused at a young age. Because of that I have intimacy issues and see a therapist on a regular basis. As a result I recognize that I have issues with impulsive promiscuous behavior, and don’t want to threaten my current relationship… so I don’t put myself in compromising positions. No drinks after work with colleagues. No sexual talk at work. No girls’ nights out drinking and going to clubs. I tell my boyfriend about all of the men that contact me and hit on me at work… I don’t want to leave anything a secret no matter how small. Trust and transparency is important.”
“My mother was abusive to my father. She would always hit him and belittle him and call him names in front of me. Because of that I vowed to never do that to my man… but, I recognize that I’m also attracted to guys like my dad and find myself later loathing them and sometimes acting like my mom. I need to get to the bottom of this and talk to a therapist. I need to learn to better control my anger.”
But, of course… it’s never that easy, is it? It’s VERY tempting to take your hands off the wheel for just a second. “I shouldn’t HAVE to always be steering the car. This is stupid. SALLY doesn’t have to steer HER car all the time! I should be able to take my hands off the wheel whenever I want!” – This is not a good thing. This is what we call a broken woman. Mature people recognize that life isn’t “fair”. We all have our own little crosses to bear and we all overcome and navigate through life in our own way. We each have our own special prescription bottle with “take these if you want to be healthy and not hurt yourself and others” pills. We take our medicine every day and we deal with it.
So with all that being said…you’ll hear me preach abundance and not tying yourself to one woman to the point of ignoring red flags. I still believe that 100%. If you see things that make you say “uh oh” repeatedly, you don’t walk away… you run. Listen to your gut. If you are repeatedly running into the same issues that means that your woman, with all of her baggage, has taken her hands off the wheel and you’re about to be ejected through the windshield and end up as a quadriplegic face down in a mud puddle. Broken people bring down and destroy all those around them if they have the chance.
Don’t give somebody repeated breaks just because they otherwise make you feel good. This is your life partner we’re talking about here. This woman is potentially the mother to your kids. If she repeatedly crosses the line into inappropriate or destructive behavior, you’re in for big time trouble. Recognize it and get out of the damn car.
If your woman slips up and says “Alright… that was wrong. I’m sorry. I’ll fix this” and she GENUINELY tries to fix it… and DOES fix it? Then bravo to her. You have a winner. She’s an adult and she saw shortcomings in herself and saw a way to improve. There’s nothing more admirable than that.
Unless of course she screwed some other dude… then it’s just over. Sorry guys.
So my wife starts working with the personal trainer. She literally spends at least 2 hours each day at the gym.. and longer on weekends. How the hell does she accomplish this? She gets up at 4:00am every single day. This is her mission now. This is on top of her very long work schedule. I rarely see her.
I continue playing Mr. Mom at this point. I cook. I clean. Not ALL of the cooking and cleaning… but a good chunk of it. I help with the kids’ homework. This is on top of my full time job and 2 hours of total commuting each day.
Did I ever have enough of this BS and actually tell her that we need to make a change? That she is spending too much time away from home and I need to get out and do things, too? Yep. I sure did. Her response?
“You have never supported me in anything. You made me take this job and don’t let me to do anything I like.”
I… wait.. what just happened??
I still remember that conversation in the kitchen. Seeing her very crazy looking face as she spits out these words. Wow.
I was flabbergasted. This was a total fabrication. I made her take this job? I don’t let her do anything? What in the hell?
COMMON RED FLAG: Sudden obsession/addiction that usually revolves around self-improvement (actual or imagined) or in some way takes them back to a more youthful time. Examples are joining the gym and working out for hours at a time, going back to school, staying out late, making new younger friends, etc. This combined with a sudden rewriting of history is a VERY common red flag and cause for concern. The two always seem to go together.
After working out with trainer dude for a few months, the wife is buff. Not really in a good way. Too much so. She was never a petite gal, but this was just bulky, man-like muscle. Not the fitness bunnies you see in the magazines at all. I’ve worked out with athletic women before (when I was a younger attractive gym goer) and I know that chicks who lift weights can look extremely good… but this was not good. Not at all. Steroids? Who knows.
She is now glued to her phone like a teenage girl. Her speech and overall behavior is changing. She’s much more… trashy. Her southern twang is stronger than ever. She didn’t have an accent at all for the first 10 years of our relationship. Even her text messages to me look like they are coming from somebody else. Random misspellings. She has suddenly forgotten the difference between “there, their and they’re”. How weird. Who was this woman? She used to make fun of people like this.
COMMON RED FLAG: Being glued to their phone 24/7 is bad. Sudden change in behavior and personality is also bad. Becoming what she always hated? Watch out.
Bad News: My grandma was dying. She was in a nursing home down in Florida. She suffered from dementia and now kidney cancer. Her days were numbered and my mom wanted to know if I wanted to go down and see her. I hadn’t seen or talked to her in years (since the dementia kicked in and they put her in a home). Maybe we can stay the week at the beach there and make it a vacation. See dying grandma, say our goodbyes, enjoy some sunshine. Sounds like a plan.
(In hindsight… this was every bit as weird as it sounds)
So, we all load up in the minivan and head down to sunny Florida.
We arrive. Wife still glued to her phone. She still wakes up at 4:00AM and goes to the beach to workout. We hang out at the beach and her physical appearance is jarring. She posts photos on social media… another obsession of hers. Her sister sends me a text. “She looks like a man.”
Day two of our stay in Florida was D-Day. I was in the condo alone putting our baby down for a nap. Wife and two other kids were down on the beach. My mom was away. She spent most of the vacation with my Aunt, thankfully. I fired up the laptop. Wife was logged into Facebook. I saw a conversation between her and her personal trainer dude. This was not appropriate talk for a married mom of three to have with another man. Oh, god. No way.
Is she having an affair!?
No. Fucking. Way.
I approached her right away with what I saw. This was a mistake. The rest of the week was spent very openly talking about all things related to our relationship. This involved her denying any kind of misbehavior on her part… It was only flirting via Facebook. Nothing else. OK… they did kiss that once. Oh boy.
COMMON RED FLAG: This is called “trickle truth”. The awful truth is not so bad if you let it out just a little at a time. Usually the trickling goes something like: We were just being friendly -> We were just flirting -> We just kissed once -> He came over a few times but all we did was talk ->We may have kissed more than once -> Ok we had full blown monkey sex right on our bed while the neighbors watched and it’s all recorded and on the internet forever.
We agreed to do couples counseling. You can read about the results here.
The next several weeks of my life were pure hell. I’m going to purposely leave out the details. Just trust me, it was bad. It does me no good to expose those old wounds again.
She moved out. The sad part was that she was gone so much anyway, that the kids didn’t even notice. Seriously. After two weeks of that we decided enough of the charade and we sat the kids down to break the news. I remember sitting in our little living room and my wife looked at me with puppy dog eyes… as if to say “Can YOU do it, please??” I just motioned towards the kids “Oh no… this is all you. Go ahead.”
She told them. No hesitation. Mom was going to go live somewhere else. My daughter collapsed on the chair and immediately cried. My oldest son just sat there with his hands on his knees like an old man. Staring. Frozen. My wife called to him to come sit with her. He screamed like somebody shot him. My littlest boy was 1 and a half years old.. he had no idea what was going on.
Toughest day of my life.
I wished every type of cancer on her that day. I hoped for her to have a long, slow and painful death. She hurt my kids. She put her selfishness above their well being. Their lives will never be the same… and neither will mine. How could she do this?
This was all happening so fast.
Looking over what I have just typed… it seems so sudden. Boom. Boom. Boom. Done. Yep, that’s exactly how it was.
They say when things like this happen that you should “keep busy”. Oh, I kept busy alright. That’s never been a problem. Mom just wasn’t around at all for the kids anymore. She would pick them up from school, drop off, and go to the gym. I would feed them and put them to bed and she would pick them up in the morning for school. I was still commuting to work.
A divorce agreement was written up by her attorney. It was surprisingly fair. She recognized her contribution to our debts and took half. She also took one of the vehicles that was paid for (she would later crash it three times and finally total it). Left me with a car and the little house. 50/50 custody of kids. No fine print. No gotchas. She just wanted out fairly and fast. She had a new life waiting for her.
I couldn’t sign fast enough.
READ PART 3
Things I hear a lot from guys online: “Well, did YOU ever run into this…” or “What did YOU do when this happened to you?” I just realized,…I never really did share my full story with the world. I hinted at it a bit in the About Me page, but I haven’t gone into any kind of detail to paint a picture of just HOW and WHY some blowhard bald guy in his forties decided to make a website and declare himself an expert on all things relationshipy.
So, here it is.. PART 1 of my story. Hope you get something out of it and learn a thing or two. If not, at least poke fun at me where applicable.
I will start with what I consider the PRIME time in my life: My twenties. I was fresh outta college with a degree and a set of skills that actually made me marketable in the workplace. So much so that I had three job offers right out of college. I realize this is basically unheard of these days, and I just want to say to you new college grads out there: “HAHAHAHAHAH!!” Just kidding, you kids are getting hosed. Sorry. Now if you could put almond milk in my cappuccino, that’d be great.
So, there I was in a new town, in a new state, with money, full of dreams and ambition. To have a giant Fortune 50 company ask YOU to come work for THEM and offer you a nice salary and even nicer benefits… well that put me in a good state of mind right off the bat. I’m wanted. I’m pretty ok. The hard work finally paid off. Life is good.
My wife-to-be (high school girlfriend) is living still back in our home state. She’s finishing up school. We meet from time to time, but mostly it’s just me in my apartment. I am quick to make new friends. Coworkers. Actually, they sit right next to me in the cubicle farm we all work in. That’s how guys work. We just randomly point at some dude nearby “You. You’re my new friend. Let’s go hang out and make fun of each other.” So we all become best buddies. We learn that our job requires that we travel a great deal. Cool. Field trips together!
We go on airplanes, land in a variety of different places, work long hours, go to bars and strip clubs and have a jolly ol’ time. None of us are married. None of us have kids. I have money leftover every month and I save. I buy toys for myself.
The girlfriend joins me in the new town and we get married. I help get her a new job through my job connections. We move into a nice house. I continue hanging out with my friends most of the time and she has her friends. I develop hobbies that take up a great deal of my time (guitar playing, for one). As with most things I get interested in, I dive into it 100% and become kinda good at it. My two best buddies join me. They don’t last long with actual guitar playing, but they’re happy to tag along when I want to go watch live music at a dive bar.
We also go to the gym a lot together because I like lifting weights and playing basketball. I look pretty good. I get hit on every now and then when we go out. My friends tease me over it. I know I look good. I workout hard. Makes me feel good about myself. I would never cheat because… well.. it honestly never even occurred to me that it was an option. I wasn’t wired like that.
Looking back I realize that I was kind of the “Alpha” of my pack. I wasn’t really all that “strong” or “ultra-manly” of a personality… more like I just really enjoyed a lot of different things, and I think my enthusiasm was infectious. I was a good dude who loved life and loved hanging out with friends.
As I moved on in the company and further up the chain, the buddies and I separated. We all went to different groups. One guy got fed up with his group and went to work for a consulting firm. Then another guy did the same thing. Another guy hates his new job but sticks with it. Me? I’m starting to hate mine, too.
Work is getting depressing. There’s an overall malaise to the the new area. My boss is a giant grump. She hates life and lets me know it. Repeatedly. She’s been at the company for a gajillion years and never fails to tell me how much it sucks. My coworkers are not fun. They’re not anywhere near the definition of fun. They’re all boring parents who can only talk about kids. One time we all decided to do a company volleyball tournament together as a team. The whole time was spent with me getting pissed at them for not giving a damn. One guy showed up to games in jeans. For fuck’s sake… jeans!
I have approximately 19 bosses. None of them are what I would call “Pretty intelligent and cool people.” I am still convinced to this day that one of them was genuinely retarded. The politics are laughably bad. People around me dropping like flies. One guy leaves due to stress. We still see him at company picnics. He got really bad hair plugs while gone. That’s awkward. One woman died after getting her stomach stapled. Guy next to me has ball cancer.
That’s it. I want out.
I was told I can’t go to any other group for a while. I’m stuck in this position.
I get the harebrained idea to start my own business. This is around the time that my wife wants to have a kid. The big 30 is closing in and her biological clock is ticking so loud the neighbors are complaining. A new kid AND a new career as an entrepreneur?! I can do this! Besides, the wife has a nice career herself! She’ll support us (financially and otherwise) no matter what, right?
HEY YOU: So often I hear the stories of failed careers, sudden firings, layoffs, start with something to the effect of “Yeah, it sucks… but my wife has a nice job so I don’t have to find something right away. We’ll be ok for a little while.” Dude, NO NO NO. Never take your foot off the gas. In my case I should’ve kept my career and worked a little on the side if I wanted to explore the entrepreneurial thing. My wife’s well-paying job gave me a false sense of security. Like her money was a crutch that would be there just in case. It’s not. I know if the opposite were true you’d be expected to step up for her… but it’s a double standard and that’s reality. She needs the security, not to play the part of provider.
Almost everyone I know is telling me not to do this. I listen to the handful that stroke my ego and tell me that I’m smart and work hard and I should strike the iron while it’s hot and take advantage of my youth. I ignore everyone else telling me “Are you fucking out of your mind? You’re going to have a kid and start a new biz at the same time?”
Strangely one of the few to support my idea were my disastrous in-laws. As much of a mess as they were, they always looked up to me.
Speaking of… did I mention we also move out of state to be closer to her very dysfunctional family? That was a condition she put forth. “Oh you want to do your own business? Then we’re moving closer to my childhood home so I can have my family around me.”
***I will pause here as you all stare at the screen and say “DUDE!” repeatedly. I know… I deserve it.***
Nothing could stand in the way of my success. I was determined to move to a new place and get my piece of the pie. I didn’t need to conquer the world right away… but I needed to start work immediately. Hit the phones. Drive around. Join all the networking groups. Go go go. I was up for the task and I was going to show the world what I was made of.
The wife… she’s not really my biggest cheerleader. More stressed and doubtful than anything. She had a job lined up right away. It paid her more than the last place and with good benefits. Still… I need to bring in cash. I know it won’t be a success overnight and it will take time to build my client base. Her patience is very very thin already.
Baby comes. Baby is awesome. Baby is perfect. I love this little girl. She is the apple of my eye. She has turned me into a ball of mush.
We live in a rental home because we can’t afford to buy a new one. Still haven’t sold the old place back home. We have tried but no real bites yet. Priced too high? We lower the price. Stress stress stress. Wife takes time off to be with baby. Three months. She returns to work. She hates that she has to go back and resents that I am not bringing in enough money for her to take off indefinitely. She’s pretty blunt about it. Even though she has a new job, the baby changes everything. I feel worthless, too. I work harder. Everything comes second to my business at this point. I gotta make this work.
Money starts coming in, but in spurts. Feast and famine. I drive all over the state. I work hard, but tell myself I can always work harder. I haven’t seen the gym in months. I look horrible. My hair is falling out. Oh great.. now I’m bald. That does wonders for my self-esteem.
I point out the need for budgeting. It’s ok to not buy things just because you want them. Prioritize our purchasing. Our situation is not forever… doing without now will pay dividends later. We’re still young. The wife’s attitude is basically “You should be better at providing. I shouldn’t have to do without something just because you had the harebrained idea to become an entrepreneur and get rid of a regular paycheck. I’m playing by the rules and bringing home a paycheck. Do your part.” She has a point.
Instead of clipping coupons, she spends. It’s her way of coping. We rack up credit card debt. I’m the only one who seems to care about this and put plans together to pay the debts down. She chooses to ignore the issue. Just bringing it up reinforces my failure. Every negative thing is tied to my failure. Washing machine breaks? Well, maybe if we could afford a better one.
COMMON RED FLAG: Poor coping skills. What do they do when things go bad? Look at it as a problem to be solved? Look to you for help and guidance and support you along the way towards finding a solution? That’s great. Do they blame you and everyone around you and stomp their feet like a child because they don’t “deserve” such awfulness? Do they seem to be sabotaging your efforts to improve? You’re in for a world of hurt.
Caring for our finances was now my job. She has zero interest and didn’t want to talk about it.
We live about 45 minutes away from her parents. This introduces a whole other world of problems. Where we lived before was about 7 hours away from her family. This provided a protective buffer away from her dysfunctional past and kept her baggage at bay. Now we have a front row seat into that chaotic world.. and it’s not pretty. Non-stop drama. This is when my wife begins to morph into her past self. The part of her I never really got to see before.
We move to a different town that’s closer to the area where most of my business comes from (and thankfully two hours away from her family). She’s offered an even better job right away. We buy a home (yes we sold the previous one). A small little starter home… just to last us a few years until we can afford something bigger. In the meantime I am still chugging away in my business. I finally string together a couple of decent years. I had to work my butt off to get there. My network is growing. Clients are happy and I’m getting referrals. Sweet. About fucking time.
My father dies. This is unexpected. He is only 53 years old. Heart attack. Over the next few years my mom ages approximately 20 years. She leans on me a great deal to help with all the logistics of life my dad that took care of… and to empty emotionally on me. She’s a mess. Her entire well being was dependent on that man (codependency 101)… and now he’s gone. She lives almost 4 hours away from us. She refuses to move closer. As a business owner, husband and parent, this is draining and very stressful.
Kid #2 arrives. A boy. My new best buddy. Over the years he will grow to be quite the awesome young dude. Wife takes a shorter maternity leave. This time it’s no big deal. Daycare it is. Worked well for the first one. That’s what everyone else does, so no big deal, right?
I don’t have hardly any really close friends since we moved. Just acquaintances from work and husbands of my wife’s friends. When you work from home alone, are on the road a lot and raise two kids… you don’t have any random dudes to point to and say “Let’s hang out!” My wife has friends. They’re all her coworkers she sees every day. I’m still in regular contact with buddies from back home, but it’s not the same. I’m lonely. The culture in this new state is completely different… Lots of good ol’ boys and cliques… or maybe I’m just making excuses?
The wife is going back to school. Yay, more debt! She needs her doctorate to compete in her field. I completely support the idea and further pick up the slack as she goes down the road of self-improvement. My wife is now a “Doctor”!? Cool.
She is offered a big fat promotion. Her company wants to have her run one of their business locations. More hours. Lots more hours. I let her know that I don’t like the idea of her being away from home more… but I will support whatever decision she makes. More money is possible if the business does well. She’s been making more than me the last few years. Now she will really make more than me.
I support her and give her lots of advice on how to navigate the new work environment (I have a great deal more business experience than her) and I use my expertise to help out her office with some things… doing everything I can to make sure she succeeds. I will also have to step up as dad even more. Kids are getting older and more into sports. I coach them all. I’m there doing what I can to help out around the house.
Uh oh, the economy has crashed. Clients aren’t paying their bills. People are closing up shop. Oh shit, this sucks. What the fuck now!?
Stress. We ain’t leaving this little starter home anytime soon. She is not a happy camper. She’s the breadwinner now. This can’t go on and I know it. I’ve reached the end of my rope. The entrepreneurial world has come to an end.
I asked one of my clients if he would consider hiring me to work for him full time. He says yes. I now have a regular full-time salary again. Hallelujah. I come home with the news and my wife hugs me like she hasn’t in years. The stress has taken a huge toll on her. I am a failure.
Child #3 arrives. Another boy. This is a surprise. Especially considering how infrequently we have sex. She always wanted three kids and I was happy with the two. I actually looked into vasectomies. My doc cancelled on my initial consult appointment and I never got around to rescheduling. Ouch.
(Yes, the kid is mine.)
Wife takes nearly zero time for maternity leave. Her work is above all else. She has started becoming more distant from me and the kids. More time away from home for a “girls night out”. I do the right thing and stay home and continue playing Mr. Mom. I commute an hour to work every day. I still coach teams. I am exhausted. Stressed. This point in my life is just a fog. I’m on automatic pilot.
I work out sporadically. I’m still out of shape. Wife has lost weight, but she’s also a physical mess. She starts working out more with coworkers.
“My boss uses a personal trainer, and I want to use him, too” she texts me one day. We basically have zero time together and she never sees the kids… and she wants to go to a personal trainer? Well… ok. I will support whatever she wants to do to improve herself. We’re starting to bring in some money and I would like to more stringently pay down down debt instead… but I support her. That’s what being a partner is all about, right?
READ PART 2
How the hell did I get here?
I’m seated across from a very nice and motherly marriage counselor.
My wife is next to me. Tissue in hand. Dabbing at her eyes. I have somehow held back my tears. I don’t know why, but I just poured out my life story to the counselor. It really has no bearing at all on why we’re here… at least not directly… but it seemed right at the time. I was probably hoping for my wife or the counselor to break out into tears and sympathize with me. “We didn’t know you were so complex and interesting! You win dude of the year! Yaay! Let’s get this marriage back on track!” God, I was such an ass. I was in a state of shock and extreme anxiety. I had not slept for two days. My heart was thumping out of my chest. I had already lost 11 lbs. How is that even possible?!
I talked and talked… the counselor sat there with a concerned look on her face. She nodded and hummed sympathetically at all the right times. My wife was normally stoic and emotionless. She had a hard time with intimacy of any kind. Today she was sobbing quietly and wiping tears.. a state I had only seen before when somebody died or she was caught overspending for the 100th time.
I wrapped up my story with the line “… and now here we are with you… because I found evidence of infidelity”. You could see this took the counselor by surprise. “Oh… okay.” Not what she was expecting. My wife went immediately from sobbing damsel to angry bitch in the span of one nanosecond. She had enough of my histrionics.
“Okay, here’s the deal. We were on vacation and I stupidly left my Facebook page open and he saw messages between me and a guy… but it WAS JUST FLIRTING!!” *turning to me* “I know you don’t believe me, BUT IT’S TRUE!! WE NEVER DID ANYTHING!!”
Back to crying. Very convincing. It was a lie. One of many. She has been in an affair for three months with her personal trainer. I would later find evidence and she would admit the full extent of the affair.
The counselor was calm… “Okay then.” She went on to describe people drifting apart in marriages… boundaries… mid-life-crises… the usual boilerplate stuff. I sat and took mental notes. I am a man… a fixer. I was determined to come out of this with some nugget of information that would put things back the way they were.
I just wanted my damn life back.
Then the wife opened up about what’s wrong with me. Some of it was completely false. Reinventing history (a way to rationalize her behavior). Some of it was right on the money. Hearing all this come from her… it hurt. Who was this woman? “And I don’t like having sex with you. I never have. I just want it to hurry up and be over. I’m sorry, but it’s true!” Okay, that did it. I’m crying. She found the button to push.
The counselor has an interesting response to my tears. “You need to learn to be able to take all of her emotional vomiting and just let it roll off of you. You can’t be so hurt so easily.”
Easily?!?! Did she just hear what she said? I haven’t slept in two days because of this! This is my wife and mother of my three kids! What the fuck is going on here!? Has everyone gone mad?!
But I now get what she was saying. “Dude. She’s nuts. Big deal. Most of them are. Deal with it.” A future mantra of mine.
The issue of money came up. The wife admitted that she did have a spending problem, but me constantly picking on her about money and questioning every expense really pissed her off. She was an adult and didn’t need another dad. The counselor agreed. Wow. I was made to feel like a control freak. At one point I said something to the effect of “My wife just needs to…” and the counselor quickly cut me off, raising her voice. “No! She doesn’t NEED to do anything! That’s not for YOU to say!” It was two against one now. I was defeated again.
We wrapped up the session and drove our separate ways. She was now armed with new emotional ammo. I felt like crawling out of the office on all fours. She drove away to be with her new man. I went to pickup two kids at school and the other at daycare.
Part of her “crisis” involved her emotionally and physically disconnecting from the kids (a mental state she is still in). She wasn’t home when they woke up, and not there when they went to bed. She took them to practices and then dropped them off to “go do work stuff”. This was good enough for her.
I was told to let her move out and have her space. I did. She never came back. We only had the one counseling session. She filed for divorce immediately. This was the beginning of the new me. One day I will thank the counselor for giving me the much-needed wake up call. I needed to be torn down completely before I could build myself back up.
Let’s be really blunt here for a moment. Monogamy.. it just ain’t right. And by “right”, I mean… it just doesn’t make biological sense. It goes against the strongest of forces: Our primal urge.
I am a firm believer in science. Crazy, I know. Science tells me that we human beings are just animals. Super smart versions of the common ape. As such, we are slaves to certain underlying instinctual drives that seep through the social and moral safeguards that we put around us. In other words, no matter how much we say “I love you and only you” to our wives, that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to bang that hot young thing that keeps smiling at us at the gym. Our programming is setup to say “Bang as many young, fertile women as possible. Spread your seed. It feels good. It’s awesome. Do it again and again until you die.” But, we don’t. We wouldn’t want to do anything that hurts our beloved spouse and causes our life to crumble around us.
That “I wouldn’t want to do anything that hurts my spouse” thing? That’s reason. That’s rationality. That’s your “honor”. That’s your social intelligence recognizing the visceral feeling you have at that moment, digesting it, and coming up with a pretty good reason why you shouldn’t bend Buffy over the bench press and impregnate her right then and there. “That just wouldn’t be right. I couldn’t live with myself.”
But you know what… people DO bend the proverbial Buffy over ALL THE TIME. My eyes were opened to this after I had my divorce and started dating around and talking to other singles. Holy crap do people cheat a lot.
Yes… this applies to women, as well. Women cheat a whole heck of a lot. They are just as susceptible to the lure and draw of an extra-marital fling.
Why is this? What the heck is going on that people cheat left and right knowing full well the negative implications of an affair? Don’t they have the same voice in their head setting up a roadblock and stopping them from taking the next step towards a really big life mistake?
Yes, they do have that voice. The problem for some is that their moral safeguards may be temporarily down (there’s a whole host of reasons why this happens). This may in turn leave them open to attack from the competition. Once the enemy is in the gates, no amount of social intelligence or intellectual reasoning will be able to drown out the firestorm of feel good brain chemicals that an inappropriate secret relationship will create. Your task, as a man, is to prevent that from ever happening, because once it does… it’s over, Johnny.
The standard advice I give up front to men is to create the best version of you possible. The most attractive YOU may be enough to keep her eye from wandering and daydreaming about that guy from the office. Then again, it just may not be enough. You can’t be around to wow her 24/7.
So now, as a man, we’re in a bit of a pickle. You’ve done a shit ton of hard work on yourself. You’re awesome by every sense of the word … but man, your wife just did or said something that makes your instincts kick in. “Uh oh… something’s up here.” Now what do you do?
Well, two schools of thought here:
- Do nothing. If she can’t see the greatness you have created for you, her and the family.. and she STILL acting inappropriately and possibly looking for validation and emotional/physical connection outside of your marriage, you just let her go do her thing. Protect yourself and start a new chapter in your life. More than one fish in the sea, right!?
- Do whatever you can to stop the wife from walking towards that inappropriate line. If you sense something is up, you confront her immediately and get to the bottom of it and squash it. You have to do this VERY EARLY in the process. It’s too late if the deed has been done.
With option #1, you do come across as the tough one. “Don’t need ya. Your loss. Beat it, bitch.” You’ve maybe lost a wife, but you keep your ego and masculinity in tact.
With option #2, you’re running the risk of looking weak. “I sense something is wrong! I feel threatened! I’m going to prove to you just how much I NEED you! Please don’t leave me!”
This also has the negative side effect of pushing her more quickly towards the line and away from you. You’re being needy, and needy is unattractive.
So.. my advice? Do a little of both.
Let’s give a very real world example to illustrate how to pull this off. This may be a little familiar to some of you:
Because of your trips to the gym and new wardrobe, your wife has been also hitting the gym and buying sexy panties at Victoria Secret. She loves showing them off to you. She is looking GOOD. Like, REALLY good. Sex has been amazing. You two are sexting each other almost every day. You’re on cloud nine.
You won the battle of reigniting your sex life, but the war isn’t quite over.
The other day, you were at the grocery store together. You step away from her for just just a moment to get bread in the next aisle. You come back to your wife and she is talking to a man you’ve never seen before. She is beat red in the face. She motions towards you. The guy looks over, gives a little laugh and says “Oh, sorry about that… have a great day!” He walks away.
“What the heck was that all about?” you say.
“I think that guy was about to ask me out!” Her face is still flush and she has a sly smile on her face. “He said ‘Wow.. you are hot! What’s your name?‘ and then you walked up. I just pointed at you and said ‘That’s my husband‘ and he apologized and walk away.”
You listen and just laugh it off. Awesome, your wife is sexy. You already knew that. You reach over and grab her and pull her close to you. “That’s right… you are HOT. Sexy, even. Mmmm…We may have to go home real quick before picking up the kids.”
What you don’t realize is that the mystery grocery guy just set off a cascading series of psychological events. To her, that was REALLY awesome and unexpected and for a brief second she felt like a million bucks. That random guy moment was worth about a million Facebook likes. That was a million “You go girl!” text messages from friends all at once. That was uber validation.
Most people would laugh and be done with it. Smile, shake your head and forget about it. Maybe you take that energy into the bedroom. But, your wife was caught at JUST the right time and this had a profound effect on her. She would like another taste of that drug as soon as possible. It’s perfectly natural.
The next day, you are both lying in bed reading a book. She puts her book down and looks at the ceiling. “I can’t believe that guy said that to me yesterday at the store! I haven’t had that happen since I was in college! Any idea who that was? Don’t think I’ve seen him before.”
Ding… a little bell just went off in your head. Your antennae are quivering ever so slightly. You forgot about the incident. She obviously hasn’t. What does she care who this guy was? Weird thing to ask.
Three days later her friends come over to drink wine and gossip. They do this every now and then. You walk into the kitchen to get something to eat and hear a friend say “Tell Mary about that guy at the store the other day! Did you ever find out who he was?”
Ding ding… Now your eye is twitching a little. She’s still talking about it. She’s talking about it with friends. What the hell?
A week goes by and all is cool again. Then you walk by the kitchen and your wife is chatting on her cell at the kitchen table. “No no… It wasn’t Betty’s ex-husband. No, this guy wasn’t married. He didn’t have a ring on. Oh, he was ok. Kinda rough. No, I’ve never seen him at any school meeting. No idea who he was. It was weird. You’d think I would have seen him before.“
She’s STILL talking about this guy?! Jesus. Get a hold of yourself, woman! Some chick at the gym asked me if I was single the other day, I didn’t bring it up and I forgot all about it in an hour. This kind of stuff happens all the time!
Then..the last straw. She approaches you a few days later. “Hey, babe. I’m going to go out Friday night with some ladies from work. You be okay with the kids here? Not sure what time I’ll be back.”
Ding ding ding ding. She hasn’t done this in YEARS. Not on a Friday. Fridays are always your night together watching a movie with the kids, eating popcorn, and then wild sex when they all go to bed. This can’t be a coincidence. Time to probe a little.
You: “Who’s all going out?”
Her: “Oh, Rebecca, Amy, and Sally.”
Ding ding ding ding ding. SALLY. Sally is the lowlife office gal your wife has been bad-mouthing for the past 5 years. Sally has two kids from two different guys. Sally used to be a stripper. She is divorced. You personally know three guys who have banged her. She drinks like a fish. Giant fake boobs and likes to show them off at seedy bars and on every form of social media. Giant YOLO tattoo on her stomach. She is bad news.
You: “Huh.. Sally, eh? Cool. Tell you what, though. I’m going to go ahead and get a babysitter. I don’t feel like being cooped up on a Friday playing Mr. Mom. Need to go do something fun. Haven’t been to that new bar yet on 3rd street. Or that new club outside of town.”
Her: “What? Who are you going with? What club?”
You: “Nobody… just me. The strip club that opened last week. They have a special on Friday. Free beer with a lap dance. Heard about it on the radio. They said a hot crop of young girls from all over the country are there for the grand opening. I’ll get a cab and go out there. Might do me some good. It’ll be fun.”
Her: “Uhhhh…. what?”
Unless she’s completely dense, she will get it. You just said “That’s a really really stupid idea you have. I can do something equally stupid. I have options, too. Temptation is around every corner and in the time it takes me to call a cab, I can find it. Don’t forget it, sweet cheeks.”
You didn’t say it with explicit words, but with your actions.
What you’re doing here is a sly form of something called “Mate Guarding”. You sense the enemy circling. Your wife is just too god damn stupid or too caught up in the feel good brain chemicals to realize that with every mention of this mystery guy and with the newfound friendship with Sally the hooker and the unexpected Girl’s Night Out she is repeatedly walking towards that “inappropriate” line. She’s not crossing it… but she’s repeatedly looking at the line and tip-toeing closer and closer to it. This is not appropriate behavior from a wife with a loving and sexy husband and kids and she needs to be told this, but in a careful way.
Unless checked, the wife will continue to tip-toe. It’s just human nature. She will say it’s all innocent…
laugh it off… and then keep inching closer and closer and closer to that line. Most of the time they do so with NO malice. They’re not literally telling themselves “I need something else beyond my husband. The hunky grocery store guy made me realize that I am wanted by other guys. Therefore, I’m going to put myself in situations that will open me up to inappropriate behavior and negative consequences.” If you were to say something about it, they would legitimately be flabbergasted. “I haven’t been out in years with the girls! Sally just wanted to celebrate her promotion! She’s harmless. You’re being stupid!”
Putting things into a perspective they can relate to, via your ACTIONS, and shocking them a little bit may be enough to snap them out of it. She may suddenly realize that, oh yeah, it is weird that she’s talking about that mystery guy so much and that no, she should NOT want to hang out with a person like Sally. Sally is a a whore.
Or not, and you enjoy a night of hot young strippers and free beer.
It takes NO time at all to cross right over that “inappropriate” line and never come back to this side again. We all innately know this. This is why jealousy is a thing. This is why my woman peaks over my shoulder when she hears my phone vibrate with a new text message.
Here are other “walking towards the the line” scenarios that are common:
- The wife mentions Chad from work. He is SUCH an asshole. He said something really stupid in a meeting. She heard he cheated on his wife. Oh my god, Chad said something really bad in front of the boss today! OH MY GOD, listen to what Chad did today! This is insane! (translation: Chad is on my mind a lot and I can’t stop thinking about him.)
- Your response: “Ya know… We should have Chad and his wife over for dinner. I gotta meet this guy. He sounds like a doozy. Tell him to bring his kids.”
- “You remember Steve from college? He Facebook friended me yesterday and says he wants to get together for dinner or something to catch up.”
- Your response: “Awesome! Let’s meet him at the new bar in town. Been wanting to check it out.”
The beauty of these responses is what you are NOT saying. You are not explicitly saying “Uhhh.. do you think this is appropriate, sweetie? You should immediately say NO to Sally and NO to Steve. You’re married. Did you forget!?” No, that would be viewed as insecure, jealous and controlling. Instead, you take the higher road of “Sweet! Let’s meet the guy!” or “Sweet! I’m going to go something fun and a little seedy, too.”
You know what happens? “Oh, we’re not going out on Friday now. Sally cancelled it. She’s a bitch. Let’s watch that new Netflix series, instead! Do I need to go buy popcorn? What was that beer you liked? I’ll stop and and get some.”
No matter how moral, intelligent, trustworthy and perfect your woman is, you MUST be the man and keep on alert at all times. You must be able to figuratively grab her by the shoulders and point her back in the direction she should be facing: away from the inappropriate line.