A woman recently posted a very candid and honest story on the "Divorce" section of the super popular website Reddit. In the post, she outlines the conditions that led her to question her marriage and eventually have an affair. This coeherent chronological breakdown gives us a rare and unfiltered look at what goes on in the mind of a cheating spouse. I thought it would be interesting to break her story down into pieces and give my thoughts as the story unfolds.
In my case there was no abuse. We were together for 8 years that was mostly good and we have 4 kids. Right around 5 years I got a promotion at work and i got it in my head that my XH was dragging me down, or at least holding me back from more success and a better life. We never had a lot of money but with my promotion I was now making more than he was.
I can't tell you how many times I have heard this scenario. There is a reason she started her story with her job promotion. This was the switch. So many infidelity stories start with some "switch" that breaks down the cheaters boundaries and gets the cheating machine whirring along. For many women, the simple act of making more money than her spouse starts the process. Why? Because her respect for her spouse just took a major hit. She WANTS to look up to him. She WANTS to brag on him. She WANTS to be able to see him as the super lover-provider combination that every woman dreams about. Since he's a husband and a dad, his Lover qualities probably went out the window long ago. He was a Provider... now he's not. What's he left with? Nothing, other than an angry wife who grows resentful.
There is a phenomenon known as "hypergamy". The terms refers to the trend of women marrying across or UP their social food chain. Women CEO's tend to not marry garbage men, in other words. The opposite tends to not be the case for men. The male CEO will gladly marry the secretary, school teacher or cashier.
Before everyone writes me with, "Nuh uh! I'm a stay-at-home dad and my wife is a doctor and we've been married for a million years!" ... Great. That's awesome. I wish you were the norm. You're not. You're an outlier.
Back to the story...
I started working longer hours and at the same time his hours were cut so he was at home more. I really began to resent him because he was home and because he got to spend time with our kids. Most nights when I got home they were already getting ready for bed if not already sleeping. After a few months of my new job it was clear to me that things were not going well at home without me there. Some nights the dishes weren't done when I got home or the kids hadn't eaten or whatever else I could think of to be mad at him about. It really didn't matter. He kept saying that he would try harder but that it was hard being home all the time. That always made me really mad.
She's jealous. She's angry. She is not happy being Mrs. Breadwinner. It creates a great deal of resentment in her. THIS is not what she envisioned when married. She points out that the house is not clean enough... but the truth is there's nothing he could do to make her happy in this situation. Absolutely nothing. It's over at this point.
For the next couple years things kept getting worse. My hours weren't any shorter and his were on and off fulltime. There was no convenient time for him to be working full time because of my hours, but we also needed the money. Whenever he would tell me that he could get extra hours I would always complain and the less hours he worked the more I complained that he wasnt bringing in enough money. Whenever he brought up the contradiction I would tell him that he needed to figure it out. I knew that it would bother him so I started saying that a lot and for everything that I could.
Here is where she starts bluntly pushing him away. There is zero he can do to make her happy. She's not going to tell him, "There is nothing you can do to make me happy, so just divorce me already." She is following the common cheating wife pattern of treating the husband with such disrespect that she actually gets more angry if he doesn't stand up to her and divorce her (as she wants).
I really started to resent him and I pulled away from him. I knew that it was hurting him but I didnt care. If he didnt want to be hurt then he would at least try to make me happy. I used that same thing to justify when I started to talk to another guy at work. I thought he was just a friend but talking at work turned into texting at home and then pictures and videos and then trying to sneak some alone time with him. I knew that it was wrong but it made me feel so alive, and my husband had not made me feel like that in years. I was tired of being unhappy and I was doing this for me.
And here it begins. Didn't take long. The "Must find new and better mate to procreate with" programming is off and running. The rationalizations come out in full force. "I was doing this for me."
The worst was the night that I came home at a reasonable time and found that he had cleaned the whole house, cooked the whole family dinner and picked out a movie for all of us to watch together. This would have made me swoon a couple years earlier, but that night I couldn't even look at him and I pretended to be sick. I spent the rest of the night in bed while he waited on me and checked on me and even made me different food and brought it to me in bed. It made me feel terrible, and then it made me angry that he made me feel that way and by the end of the night I was texting with the other guy.
See? There's absolutely nothing he could do to stop the machine from running. Nothing. This is why reconciliation and trying to "win" your wife back is so fruitless. He would be much better off if he got a head start and began the process of self-care and rebuilding. He's wasting months and years he can't get back.
Over the next month or two from that night it did not matter what he did. He was wrong just for breathing most days. He would get so upset with how I was treating him and I would just wait and egg him on into losing it because i knew it would happen eventually. After most of the fights we had he would apologize for whatever I told him he did wrong if there even was something, but I never did. I would usually find a way to make him feel even worse. I knew that I was right because he was wrong and that was all that mattered to me.
She's pushing and pushing and pushing him away. This is the equivalent of kicking him in the balls and hating him for wincing in pain. She will do so until he either dies or comes to his senses.
I even pretended that I didn't care when he found out about my relationship with the guy from work. It really destroyed me inside to see him holding back tears, but I wasnt going to let him see that. He was at his weakest and that was when I chose to tell him that I wanted a divorce. I could almost hear his heart shattering inside his chest. He talked and fought and said that we could work through it together. I really wasnt interested in fixing our marriage, but i mostly ended things with the other guy but only because i knew i could get it back if I wanted it.
The brutal coldness of the cheating wife is always astounding. In her mind, there is no human lower than the man she has deemed as, "No longer worthy of being my partner". Their history together means absolutely nothing.
I could see that he was trying and occasionally i would let him know, but for the most part I kept being a huge bitch to him for any and all reasons that I could think of. I'm not sure how much more the man could have done to make me happy besides finding a job that paid enough for me to not have to work at all. He said that he was looking, but looking and finding are 2 different things. It was around this time that I discovered this group and a few others. I started posting things about him, from my perspective only, and I got so much positive feedback for how I was feeling that I knew I was right. The more I posted the more validation that I got. It wasn't just me who knew that XH wasn't worth keeping around. I had the whole internet telling me how terrible he is. I started saying awful things to him and even outright ignoring him. I was so confident with mine and everyone elses opinion that I contacted a lawyer and within a couple weeks had filed for divorce. I continued to use this site and a couple others to validate my feelings and for encouragement to go through with it, and finally it was done.
For the cheating wife, there is no shortage of validation and "You go girl!" sentiment from her friends and strangers on the internet. She can do no wrong. This drives the husband completely crazy. It's just human nature.
It went pretty smoothly. XH didnt ask for much besides to not get divorced and to try to work it all out. I didnt care about that though. He was broken, but I was free. I could do whatever I wanted without having to feel any guilt or answer to anybody. It was an amazing feeling of freedom. It didnt last long though. In the first month after he moved out I missed garbage day 3 times. There was also rarely a single clean dish and the laundry sat in piles so long that I had to start doing the sniff test to see if it could be worn again. I also never saw my kids more miserable. My oldest had seen some of the messages from the other guy months earlier and she knew that XH still wanted to try to work it out. It didnt take her long to stop talking to me at all except to say that she wanted to go to XH house. The others all told me that they wanted to live with XH too. I did my best to try to make them happy, but I ended up just buying them toys all the time and the happiness only lasted minutes. I also was having a lot of trouble with work. Being alone I couldnt work all those extra hours that I was expected to. I finally gave in and starting calling XH to watch the kids. He would always come over as soon as he could and he always asked me if i needed anything. When I would get home I would find clean dishes and laundry and even dinner sometimes. He would never say too much after I got home. He would just say to call him if i needed anything and leave. One night he took out the garbage and brought it to the curb because it was garbage night and I forgot again. He always looked so sad when it was time to go.
Oh, God. This poor guy. This is a conditioned man. He's been kicked in the balls and spat on for so long... and yet he still believes she is his one true love. Can you blame him? He's been told his whole life that this is the ONE thing he was to live for. In his mind, he failed. He failed at providing and maintaining a relationship. Everyone in the world is telling her she's "the bomb".In his mind, everyone seems to be conspiring to tell him how worthless he is. He has to improve and NICE his way out of this... otherwise he is in fact the scum everyone is making him out to be.
Finally after a couple months my friends convinced me to go out on a date. It was for dinner and a movie and I was excited and hopeful, but at dinner I started getting a feeling of overwhelming guilt. It got so bad that I ended up not even going to the movie. A week and about a million tears later I was on a therapists couch. I told her everything that had happened starting with the promotion that I got at work. She did not agree with me or with any of the encouragment to divorce that I got. I ended up in her office 2 and sometimes 3 times a week, and the more that I talked to prove that I was right, the more that I started to see how wrong I was. It was truely heartbreaking. I dont know if I cried as much in my whole life as i did in the first month in her office.
I had a therapist tell me once, "I can't tell you how many times cheating wives have cried on that couch telling me that they couldn't believe what they did... that they were acting completely out of control. Those same women were the ones that ended up doing it again and again."
After about 2 thousand dollars of therapy sessions I learned that my XH had his faults, but I figured out that mine were so much worse. I did so many awful things and said awful things that I wouldnt want to be with me, but he did. I still remember him asking me in the meeting with the lawyer to please not go through with it. I did go through with it though, and then later I bragged on here how great it felt. I was so wrong, and now I can see it.
It took $2k of therapy to elicit feelings of empathy. This is not a good thing.
A couple weeks ago I went outside with him when he was leaving the house. I asked him about getting back together. When he looked at me his eyes were full of tears and a couple went down his cheeks. He told me that he didnt know if he could. He said that the pain has been too much for too long and that if we got back together that I might just turn around and do it to him again. He said that he always thought that I would realize how much he loved me and stop up until i signed the divorce papers and let out a big over exaggerated sigh of relief. He said that hurt him more than anything else and that he doesnt know if he can ever trust me again. I dont blame him. I destroyed a man who looking back was a great husband. I deprived my kids of having a great father in the house with them and I took his kids away from him. And me, the one who pushed for the divorce expecting happiness and a life of freedom, spend all my free time sitting at home or sitting on a therapists couch.
Good for him. He's right. There's no way he can take her back... because he's not sure if he can survive another heartbreak, and he knows it won't be the only time she has feelings of doubt and ends up cheating again.
It's in her nature. She's a cheating wife.