A comment received on the site from a newly separated man:
My world crumbled a few months ago when my (now ex) wife told me she wanted a divorce. I suspected that she had (or still has) an emotional affair. Like the guys in this post I was always faithful, supportive, I don’t drink or do drugs, I love our son, took care of her whenever she was ill and supported her academic ambitions, loving her through good times and bad.
Then to be informed that “at least I am a good father! ” After over 20 years together, those words cut me like a knife. I don’t feel good anymore, broken and desperately lonely. I am somewhat older than she and had just retired, only to have my life turned upside down and inside out. And for what? A feeling? Unfilled? No purpose to life?
Please explain somebody how this can happen to someone who would have given his life to her. And what of him, this person in the shadows? How does he fit in to all this? Where is the justice in it all? Please tell me.
Let me start by saying that I am so sorry for your pain. I’m sure you are incredibly shocked, disappointed, hurt and devastated by the end of your 20 something year marriage.
I will try to give you advice by giving you my perception of what your ex wife might be thinking. You say you were faithful, supportive, not a drinker or drug abuser, a good dad, and a good financial provider. While extremely admirable, to her that wasn’t enough. There was something in the relationship that was missing, something she wasn’t getting out of the marriage. She was unfulfilled. So, she checked out.
Do I think her reasons for leaving were warranted? I have no idea because I wasn’t in your marriage. But, here is what I question. Was this a shock to you? Did she ever try to talk to you about things? Did you know she was unhappy? I’m amazed at the lack of communication (unless you left that part out.)
I don’t think men or women just leave without years of being unhappy and their spouses having some idea. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that most people cheat (especially emotionally) until they have made a significant effort to make the marriage better.
I promise I am not taking her side. In fact, I’m a bit disgusted (and trying not to be too judgmental towards her.) I’m just trying to understand why you are so surprised, unless her emotional affair is so powerful that she left you for him, despite the fact that the two of you were pretty happy. But I think those cases are very rare.
Let’s look at the positives for you. First, you just retired! Congrats!! That is wonderfully exciting. I know you say you feel lonely and broken but that is only temporary. Ask anyone whose spouse left them and they will agree. It’s way too soon for me to tell you that someday you will date and possibly fall in love again. Right now those words probably make you nauseous, which is understandable.
So, I’ll just say that this is the time for you to take care of your son and yourself. This is a time to grieve the loss and work on accepting, healing, and enjoying your son and your every day life as much as you possible can as you find peace. Change is extremely scary but trust me, you can handle it. You have to if you want to be happy.
Regarding your question about the other guy, here are my feelings. I believe that any relationship that begins with cheating has a big disadvantage and is less likely to work out long term. That’s just my opinion. It’s just bad karma, with cheating being a temporary fix for a lot of people who are in unhappy marriages or unhappy with themselves. That said, it doesn’t matter what happens with him and her. Now it needs to be about you.
You ask where the justice is. It’s in the fact that you can wake up every morning knowing you did your best and were the best husband you knew how to be. You can know that her leaving was out of your control and that you had many many happy years together. You can look at your son every day and realize the miracle of the wonderful person you have raised. But try not to focus on feeling like a victim. Instead, you are a man who gets to choose his future now. No, your ex wife isn’t in it, but someday you will be at peace with what she did. I hope at least. If you can find that, happiness will come with it.