Cheating, pending divorce...does it get any better?
May 19, 2009 1:23 PM   Subscribe

How to deal with a cheating wife? very sad story....

Here's the whole thing.


- Married for 10 years. 5 of which we both worked, the last 5 years the kids
were born. Mom has been at-home ever since.
- started having real bad marital problems 2 yrs, ago. we tried therapy together,
books, you name it...
-about 1 year ago, we started to build our "dream home" Foolishly, thought
this would help us re-unite...
Note: we both purchased our first apartment together. paid it off. gave
a downpayment for a big house. huge mortage. House prices went to the roof.
sold the house. paid of mortgage, still got some money left to build a house.
Currently renting a nice, yet very small house.


- 2 months ago, caught my wife having an emotional affair with the architect.
Yeah, the same guy that is building our "dream home". So I confronted her.
She denied it first. But when I said I had seen the evidence, she accepted it.
At that point, I said we could fix things, I said I forgave her, but she should immediately
stop all contact with the guy. She said yes, and we promised that we would work on saving our marriage.


- Fast forward to the present. To summarize, it turns out she did not
stop email contact. Emotional affair now blown into adulterous affair.

-She does not know I know. But I know. A mutual friend, kinda of spilled it
out...I have installed software to monitor. Yes. all true. very intimate
and loving emails...she's saying he is the love of her life, bla bla bla.
She'd marry him any minute if both of them were not married...[sic]


So here's the sticky point. Remember, she does not know I know.
In theory, we're working on our marriage, right? so I got an appointment
with a marriage therapist. We're going there together tommorrow. She
keeps saying she does not want to divorce, that she wants to fight for it.

BUT, in her emails, to the architect-lover, she is saying she will divorce.
No doubt about it. She will wait until the house is finished "for obvious reasons"-quoting her.
My parents lent us around 100K to continue building. I promised my dad I would repay.


So now, she is planning to divorce me, and to get the house when it is finished.
She's mentioned that shes gonna get a good lawyer...(is she a witch, or what?)

ANYWAYS:

here are my choices. This is what I need advice on:

a) Counter-act. without her knowing, rent a place, move out. Basically
tell her: You finish the house. you pay for it. see if you can make it. (I know
she wont have the money). She *might* have to sell it as-it-is, hoping
that someone else will finish it. Sue her for divorce.
I am already renting a house right now, so the kids are not left homeless or anything.


b) continue to play dumb-ass...finish the house. then she'll want to divorce,
and we fight for the house to be sold and split in court. risky. If I succed,
I use that money to buy a house for the kids. I just feel like even after
the whole cheating thing, she wants to rip me off with the house, for which
we both worked for it, and even me much more, and then I am stuck with
a debt to my father! Does she care about that? dont think so.

Life sucks.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (80 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
a) screws your parents
b) screws your kids
c) kick her out
d) bring it up with the therapist (stick to facts)

I vote for D, then C.
posted by rhizome at 1:27 PM on May 19, 2009


Is she actually having sex with the guy? I hate the term 'emotional affair' -- in most cases it means friendship. If she hasn't had sex with him you are very lucky and still have a lot of negotiating room.
posted by Flying Squirrel at 1:29 PM on May 19, 2009


I can only contribute the following: store an off-site copy of all logs and evidence on CD. Good CDs. Multiple copies.
posted by adipocere at 1:29 PM on May 19, 2009 [15 favorites]


Get a lawyer asap. I'm not an expert but there's a good chance you'll make things worse for yourself without one.

Personally, I'd bow out of the therapy appointment tomorrow, even if it means faking the stomach flu, but ymmv.

Moreover, I'd find a therapist for yourself asap. This is big stuff and there's no reason to go it alone.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:29 PM on May 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


And yes to adipocere's (non-rewritable, I assume) CD/DVD suggestion.
posted by small_ruminant at 1:30 PM on May 19, 2009


First, contact a lawyer and discuss the monetary and legal ramifications of your two decisions (or discuss any other options that might be available). I would do this before letting her know that you know about the affair. You should also ask for any other advice you might need to protect yourself and your family. Your wife sounds like a cheat and a user. So beware.

And FWIW, your second option sounds WAY too risky. And will you really be able to play dumb for that long? Ugh.

Lastly, so sorry you are going through this betrayal upon betrayal upon betrayal.
posted by murrey at 1:34 PM on May 19, 2009


Get a lawyer asap. I'm not an expert but there's a good chance you'll make things worse for yourself without one.

Seriously, the amount of money involved in this is reason enough to talk to a lawyer. The action that makes the most sense for you financially (if not emotionally) may depend on the laws of your state, the contracts involved with your new house, your specific financial situation, etc. and no one here is really in a position to give you the best advice on that front.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:36 PM on May 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Find some reason to slow the pace on the house. Seek a lawyer. Gather evidence to build a case. Take that bitch to court. Shelter your kids from as much of it as you can because they need to be able to love and respect both of you.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:36 PM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Make an appt with a lawyer asap. Become very familiar with the laws of your state when it comes to custody and assets so that you are prepared and informed before you meet with your attorney. Keep in mind that you need to be your best advocate in all of this- don't rely entirely on your representation and research their advice- you need to become an expert on divorce law in your state- it is very easy for Dads to get totally screwed.

Keep detailed records of everything. Don't let on that you know until you've gotten legal advice.

Make several appts with the best attorneys in your area- your wife will not be able to hire them if they have already consulted with you.

Do not get into any angry confrontations with your wife from now on.

And don't expect the laws to automatically side with you- you have to watch your own back starting now.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:48 PM on May 19, 2009 [23 favorites]


I'm sorry for not using a softer touch- but I am very familiar with father's rights and how they are easily trampled when fathers are uninformed and put their faith in the system doing the right thing.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:52 PM on May 19, 2009


I'm so sorry. I can't stress this enough - get a lawyer asap, and also get a therapist for just yourself.
posted by warble at 1:56 PM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Retain a lawyer -- and keep it on the down low! If you have an experienced lawyer, he/she will be able to steer your decisionmaking in a way that protects your legal and financial interests. Above all else, don't act on impulse -- what might feel good in the moment may not be the best approach for the long term.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:57 PM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


In three words: Lawyer up, yo.

But as everyone mentioned here, keep records of EVERYTHING, don't let on to her until you and your attorney have an action plan formulated (or whatever attorneys come up with - IANAL, etc., etc., etc.).

And even if it isn't advisable to do so, the vindictive side of me says you should find a way to get back at this architect...lodge a complaint with the BBB after the lawyering-up is made public? (I know...I'm a rebel.)
posted by po822000 at 1:59 PM on May 19, 2009


Please, whatever you do, don't get ugly with her, don't say ugly things about her, etc. You are about to enter into an arrangement with her that deals with your children. No matter how you feel about her and what she is doing, do not speak or write anything that is negative about the mother of your children. If you do, it will get back to her, her lawyer, and worst of all, possibly the kids. Someone needs to be the grown up here and that needs to be you no matter how much you're hurting or how you're angry. From now on, think of things as a business arrangement in which you need to deal with your childrens' mother; not your wife. Learn to see those two rolls as different things. If there is going to be ugliness, let it originate elsewhere.

Your children, not the house nor the money, should be your first priority. Not only do you have to make sure that their physical needs (food, shelter, clothing) are met, but you also need to protect their mental and emotional well-being.

All the above advice assumes this situation goes to divorce.
posted by onhazier at 2:02 PM on May 19, 2009 [30 favorites]


The others have said it and they're right... Get a lawyer, keep records of everything.

Depending on your state the laws may or may not side with you but if you can prove with logs of e-mails her intent to defraud you then it may help. Again, get a lawyer.

What I can say is this...act QUICKLY. Don't procrastinate. Don't say "I'll call a lawyer tomorrow." Go NOW (first available appointment, whatever) and, of course, don't tell her.

You're far beyond couples therapy at this point...she is not only cheating on you but she is basically perpetrating a scam, a con, and being your wife and (I'm assuming) co-signer on all documents, it may be legal fraud.

The lawyer will know how to cover your ass and get out as best as possible.

And honestly I give you all the good thoughts in the world...I pray you're able to get out of this and get the $100k back for your folks.
posted by arniec at 2:03 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Rhizome's (d) advice is not good. It may be emotionally satisfying to lay everything out in front of the therapist ("see? I'm in the right"), but a therapist is not a judge. Keep quiet, get a lawyer.
posted by Leon at 2:10 PM on May 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


After reading Edmund Andrews's bit in the Times, I'm wondering how much alimony you would have to pay her since she's a SAHM. I wonder if it would be enough so that marrying the architect wouldn't be a good idea to her. Also, child support. Would you sue for custody of the kids or would you have to pay alimony and child support?

Retain the lawyer now.
posted by anniecat at 2:12 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am so sorry that you're dealing with this - it really and truly does suck.

Lawyer first. Before anything else, talk to a lawyer. Explain the situation, answer their questions, get a big picture legal perspective before anything else. It's amazing how many things seem 'right' in this sort of circumstance (including theories from friends, things you read on the internet, etc.) that are, in fact, totally NOT right from a legal perspective.

Either cancel tomorrow's therapist appointment or commit to staying absolutely, 100% silent on this particular side of things. Do not, under any circumstances, do the "angry blurt" and spill what you know.

Lawyer. Lawyer. Lawyer.

Lawyer.
posted by VioletU at 2:12 PM on May 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Your kids really do come 1st.
Document absolutely everything you've learned, store it away from home.
Document the finances.
You're justifiably angry, but you must plan so that your children's needs are met.
posted by theora55 at 2:15 PM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


If the mutual friend spilled it to you it is possible they will also spill to the wife that you know. The playing dumb option might not last very long.
posted by collocation at 2:17 PM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Don't tell her! You need backups plus off site backups of the backups. Ask technical friends if you don't know how to make them, but get those backups tomorrow. Get a good divorce lawyer the day after tomorrow.

I don't know how divorces work, but you want (a) her out, (b) the house, (c) the kids, and (d) her paying child support. A good enough lawyer might get you all these things because she is planning to defraud you.

You must also add your patents $100k onto the deed to the house, so if she gets the house, she still owes your parents their $100k.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:17 PM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


If you don't have backup, figure out *now* if they are on the computer itself or on the internet. If they are on the computer, get said computer out of the house now, and back up the whole hard disk. If they are on the internet, make screen shots of every email. If your lucky, someone who knows more about court than I will say what constitutes good enough evidence for emails.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:22 PM on May 19, 2009


Everyone else already said it but to drive the point home, here are the three steps you should immediately take.

1) LAWYER LAWYER LAWYER. Don't tell her you've gotten a lawyer. Let the lawyer decide when and how to enter the picture.

2) Record and document everything. Particularly that she is deliberately deceiving you while carrying on an affair in an attempt to defraud you. How big a difference will this piece of info make? I have no idea, and neither do you. See point 1: The lawyer will know.

3) Do not provide ammunition for your wife and her lawyer. Do not angrily confront her. Do not lay this out for the therapist. Do not for gods sake tell her you have records of her affair; she will immediately try to destroy all the evidence.

4) GOTO 1.
posted by Justinian at 2:22 PM on May 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Get a lawyer today; do not tell your wife or your therapist or anyone but your lawyer that you know anything.

If you tell her, you are fucked. Asymmetric knowledge is too strategically advantageous to give up. Your wife even said she was going to screw you over in the divorce. So save all the data and call a kickass monster of a lawyer right now and do everything she or he says. Good luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:23 PM on May 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


Zip whatever logs you have of conversations and email them to a private email account in case you lose CD-ROMs.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:25 PM on May 19, 2009


My comment is more to the "life sucks" part of your post. I can tell you how this is likely to play out. You get a lawyer and do everything the lawyer tells you to do. You and your wife end of divorcing. You figure out a way to deal with the house finances and the debt to your dad. You're all upset and hurt but after a while you pick yourself up by your bootstraps and get back to enjoying life, family, and friends. She shrugs the divorce off thinking things are finally going to end up the way she wants them. She runs into the lover-architect's arms except...*sound of screeching tires*....he's married and decides erm no he's not leaving his wife for her after all. Realizing things are never going to happen with architect-lover because he cares more about his wife than he ever did about his fling with her, she decides to try to patch things up with you. She comes crawling back full of "I'm so sorry" and "I love you so much." That's when you tell her that she had her chance and blew it. She pretty much ends up with nothing both emotionally and financially.

Things suck for you right now since you found out you are married to a liar and a cheater. Things are going to really suck for her later, and continue to suck for her.
posted by GlowWyrm at 2:27 PM on May 19, 2009 [12 favorites]


Before anything: LAWYER.

What they will advise you to will have almost everything to do with the laws in your state.
posted by crickets at 2:28 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, this is a trifle skeezy, but if you are seriously considering just making the computer itself part of the evidence chain, I would suggest an alternative:

If you are computer literate (enough to reinstall XP), and your wife knows you are computer literate, fake a hard drive crash.

Yank that sucker out (after making the backups I suggested), then slap in a new drive. Old hard drive goes in a safe deposit box, maybe with your lawyer (UP!), etc. Then reinstall XP. "Honey, the hard drive crashed. Don't worry, I got a new one, cheap, but I have to reinstall everything."

Then reinstall everything. Under no circumstances do you let on that you are aware of the issue. Do not put Frida's "I Know There's Something Going On" onto your anniversary mix tape.

I think it's pretty overkill, forensically, but I am not a lawyer.
posted by adipocere at 2:42 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Post all your harvested data to Google Docs or some such. Things [CD's] get found and disappear. Permit your lawyer access to those as well.

Gives you that great a-ha moment later when she thinks you got nuthin'.
posted by Freedomboy at 2:46 PM on May 19, 2009


I'd avoid sabotaging the PC. Just get backups of evidence, make copies of those backups, email yourself and your lawyer copies, and then keep quiet. Don't do anything that will potentially give away your inside knowledge.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:47 PM on May 19, 2009


Yank that sucker out (after making the backups I suggested), then slap in a new drive. Old hard drive goes in a safe deposit box, maybe with your lawyer (UP!), etc. Then reinstall XP. "Honey, the hard drive crashed. Don't worry, I got a new one, cheap, but I have to reinstall everything."

I think that's an awesome idea:

1) You'd have the source materials to back up your allegations in case she accuses you of faking the logs.

2)If it turns out that your electronic snooping will weaken your case, you have the only evidence that you did it and can take a hammer to it.

Either way, I think it's a good idea to have that hard drive in your possession.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:53 PM on May 19, 2009


Actually, depending on your wife's level of computer knowledge, I'd just swap the drive for an unformatted one, saying nothing, and let her find the "operating system not found" error. Keep the packaging and then you can pretend to bring a new HD into the house and do the switch, assuming she won't stand over you while you did it.

You could also just clone the drive while she's out, but I'd prefer to have the original.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:58 PM on May 19, 2009


My humble thoughts:

Do bring this up at the next therapy session, as soon as possible.

You can let the therapist take the lead, in how the discussion goes. But I think you ought to be prepared to do this:

Bring up the evidence, in a calm and level-headed manner, in the presence of the therapist.

Indicate to your spouse, that you love her, and your desire was and is, to continue building a family and a marriage with her. But this is based on fidelity and trust. You cannot have a family or a marriage if she continues to consort with this other man. She said she'd stop contact but she decieved you - it continued, and became more intimate.

Tell her, she needs to make a choice: this man, or the family. The choice is hers. Express that you're hurt terribly by this, and it would hurt even moreso if she chooses this man, and the children likewise will be devastated. But if she really wants to leave you cannot stop her. Don't beg, don't plead, don't grovel. Make it clear that if her choice is to leave, this is hurtful, but retain your dignity. Don't project apathy, but instead project a calm resolution, in spite of the fact that you won't be feeling this inside.

Give her a time frame to decide. Discuss this with the therapist.

Otherwise I would not talk to a lawyer until or unless your wife makes it clear, that she has no intention of remaining part of your family.

Tell her also that, because of the issues you have, work on the house ceases immediately until this situation is resolved (and it goes without saying, please fire the architect). You both can decide on what happens here, once the Big Question gets answered.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 3:05 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Extra comment - I don't dismiss what your spouse said in her emails. You're assuming she's lying to you about the house, because of the physical infidelity.

Point taken. But maybe she doesn't really know what she wants.

She's telling you, she wants to work on the marriage, she's telling the architect that she wants to run off with him. What if both are lies? What if she's confused and unable to decide what she wants so she's telling both of you, what you want to hear, as long as she can?

Confronting her about it, will force her to consider what she really does want.

Again, bring this up with the therapist.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 3:08 PM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


lawyer first, therapist second. This shouldn't be a question. It stinks, but you're going to have to play poker now, not sensitive huggy bear. Sorry.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:11 PM on May 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


I don't know how divorces work, but you want (a) her out, (b) the house, (c) the kids, and (d) her paying child support. A good enough lawyer might get you all these things because she is planning to defraud you.

I do know how divorces work and the chances are he doesnt want these at all. He wants to work shit out, and he still loves and cares about her. He wants her to be really sorry and to come clean be miserable and for him to feel better and for it not to have happened at all. All this legal advice is good, but what OP should really do ASAP is talk to his friends and/or close members of your own family to figure out literally where you're going to stay and when and how and all that stuff. You can tell your wife you're leaving but not why. Don't go to couples therapy, you're done with that now. Just tell her you need to be alone for a day or two and jet (set up all the computer stuff if you have to, but don't bother if you are flipping out.)

Again, do get a good lawyer and follow their advice since you have the legal upper-hand you can show mercy and share custody and money if you feel she deserves it. But more important than all that is that you don't freak out and that you have support and some kind of plan.

Be cool, good luck.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:18 PM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


What turkey just posted may feel right, but if you choose to do that FIRST lawyer up. Know your options and facts.

Hmmm, ask the lawyer, but with discovery you may be able to send a marshal to take the architects computer for evidence before he knows what's up and starts deleting. Evidence of fraud would be mighty handy.
posted by sammyo at 3:24 PM on May 19, 2009


Copy all the evidence. Talk to a lawyer. Neither of these actions preclude reconciliation, but attempting reconciliation first could hinder your evidence gathering should it go poorly.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:33 PM on May 19, 2009


You could also just clone the drive while she's out, but I'd prefer to have the original.

Keep the original. Install the copy.
posted by oaf at 3:34 PM on May 19, 2009


And make another copy of the original, since, given its relative age, it's likely less reliable than the copy you just made.
posted by oaf at 3:35 PM on May 19, 2009


If love be rough with you, be rough with love. Take the hard drive now, clone it, and store the original safely. Copy the clone to an on-line backup. Then find the meanest lawyer you can.

And get a DNA paternity test before you decide to fight her for the children. You're in the no-trust zone.
posted by nicwolff at 3:57 PM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, I have to tell you, she sounds like a gem...I am just getting out of this relationship with a woman who claimed she was getting a divorce, I was the love of her life, she wanted to spend her life with me, her husband was abusing her.....guess what? I haven't heard from her in about 4 months. Guess why? Because her husband threatened not to give her a cent when they divorced if she hung out with me. So when the truth is out, she was actually in love with herself and her standard of living (money). It pretty much sounds like your wife is the same way, and I would definitely get a lawyer and as much proof as possible that she has been in an affair.
One thing to be careful of in this situation would be the kids...They are pretty much innocent to this whole thing, but will be affected one way or another. Kind of sounds like mom is going to try and turn them on you, so heads up on that one. The best outcome for the kids though, would be to maintain the best possible relationship with their mother that will allow you guys to still co-parent effectively, because believe me, divorce on kids is hellish, especially when its a nasty divorce and relationship afterwards.
good luck my friend, someone i respect told me "love is a warm gun"...
posted by Direwolf at 4:04 PM on May 19, 2009


Obtain a lawyer and your own therapist on the side. Let the lawyer advise you on the computer--tell him or her you need an appointment now.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:04 PM on May 19, 2009


I don't know how lawyers are supposed to keep this family together. It seems like anonymous wishes to keep his family together and loves his wife.

Talk to your wife, anonymous. She is the mother of your children and your family member. She was/is probably your best friend. She may be bored, extremely confused, and a people pleaser. Some people will tell people (the architect) what they want to hear because they don't have the guts to cut them off or hurt their feelings. She probably loves the attention and is living a fantasy life. She might be extremely immature and her priorities are all out of whack. Nobody can determine what goes on between two people in a marriage. You probably contributed to the breakdown just as much as she did.

Take a good hard look at your family and see what you can do to keep your wife with you and your kids. Don't go down without a fight. This isn't about who is a witch and who and who isn't to blame. This is your family and it's better you start talking with love and healing in mind instead of calling a lawyer. Calling a lawyer could potentially put you in a spot of foolish pride and defiance instead of in a place of communicating with your wife.
posted by Fairchild at 4:23 PM on May 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Keep in mind, since you are married, it's YOUR computer, too. No need to hide anything. Just take it to a lawyer and back the fucker up.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:30 PM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I strongly disagree with rhizome and thermonuclear.jive.turkey

This situation is way beyond discussing this in therapy and getting any kind of satisfaction or improvement there. She is planning to screw you, and you have to use one of the only advantages you have in the situation, which is that at this point, she doesn't think you know. You may not be cut out for deceipt and treachery like your wife seems to be, but you are going to have to become a very strategic and careful person for the next little while, and it's all in order to protect your kids (first and foremost) and protect yourself, especially in relation to your financial health.

To this end, I would do what a lot of people have suggested here. Lawyer up in total secrecy. Keep the lawyer card, and all the knowlege you will be empowered with close to your chest. Don't act until advsied to. Make very good multiple copies of any evidence and leave them variously with family and in a safe deposit box. Be nice and remember always, always to be calm and take the higher ground. Do not let (rightful) anger inform angry behaviour, not even once.

There are two reasons to remain calm against every instinct to unleash the moment you may imagine to be very satisfying where you say "I know what you're up to." Firstly, you will never be implicated as a bully, abuser or angry maniac. This is something an unscrupulous person may try to say against you when they are deperately clawing for custody of children and property assets.

The second reason, is that this person has hurt you monumentally, and I would like to offer that it will give you a great deal of pleasure to confuse, mystify and freak her the hell out with your calm and adult behaviour. Looking hurt (as you no doubt actually are) only gives her the satisfaction of knowing that you care. Of course you do, but she doesn't deserve to know that. It's very satisfying to be the grown up around othes who are acting in such a tawdry way - anything else is beneath you. Try to remember that.

Have your parents somehow documented as lenders to your home project. She still owes that money that you borrowed together, but their contribution must be documented.

This is all going to leave you with one big gaping hole in the what-to-do-nexts... and that's to privately seek support from trusted friends for your own emotional health in dealing with such a terrible betrayal, and additionally, seeking the support of a therapist for yourself. Again, do this privately.

And never say nasty things to your kids about their Mom. That will only make them feel shitty.
posted by lottie at 4:37 PM on May 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


@ thermonuclear.jive.turkey

I would say that she's not "confused". She's telling him she wants to "work on the marriage" because she wants the house built so she can screw him. She's buying time, and she's not stupid enough to tell him what she's up to. He's being lied to, and she's stringing him along.
posted by lottie at 4:41 PM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


The second reason, is that this person has hurt you monumentally, and I would like to offer that it will give you a great deal of pleasure to confuse, mystify and freak her the hell out with your calm and adult behaviour. Looking hurt (as you no doubt actually are) only gives her the satisfaction of knowing that you care. Of course you do, but she doesn't deserve to know that.

It's not about who deserves what. He is hurt. Why try to fake emotions at this time? This kind of behavior will only drive you further apart. There is no shame in expressing pain and sadness at this time. Be true to yourself and your family, anonymous.
posted by Fairchild at 4:44 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


My advice would be simple: get the best lawyer you can, and then do exactly what they tell you. Ignore all the advice to talk to the therapist with your wife and lay out all the facts - you need that slightly less than a hole in the head. IF the lawyer tells you to go to the therapist - fine. If not, then don't. What you do, is all up to the lawyer at this point.

As to patching up with your wife, and maybe she doesn't really mean it - bunk. Here's why: her "true" intentions are immaterial. What matters is only one thing: this is a person you can never, ever trust, period, end of story. In fact, advice to the contrary is laughable for the single very good reason, is that you already tried that advice. You tried working it out with her, honestly. What - did - she - do - in - response? Drum roll - she betrayed you again. Stick a fork in this marriage, it's done.

From here on, it's lawyers first, and lawyers last. Sorry for your grief, and good luck!
posted by VikingSword at 4:49 PM on May 19, 2009 [13 favorites]


It seems like anonymous wishes to keep his family together and loves his wife.

I don't see that anywhere in his post. Frankly, the next time he writes a check out to the architect for "services rendered", he's likely to lose it.

My advice is like almost everyone else's advice: Lawyer, right now.

If in the unlikely event you choose to give this relationship another try, you can always do that... after the lawyer. Heck, even after a divorce. Right now, a lawyer's needed.

And Nthing the advice to get your loan agreement with your parents in writing... right after the lawyer. In some states, debts and assets are divided 50/50, there is no alimony (mentioned upthread), etc. You need a lawyer, in your state, to talk to you about the implications in your case.
posted by Houstonian at 4:53 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]



Just remember: Whatever you do, and whatever your wife does, you still have to coparent with her for the next decade or so. I don't know how it is in your state, but in my state, when it comes to custody, it's often the case that the parent who can best facilitate the other parent's relationship with the kids wins.

Definitely talk to a lawyer. Do it soon. When you talk to the lawyer, ask about the possibility of having your hard drive imaged by a forensic computer expert. That way, if she pulls any dirty tricks later, you've got a record of what she's been doing online with the architect.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:05 PM on May 19, 2009


So you did the kinda bad thing of installing monitoring software. Save your records somewhere that she can not access. After you tell her she will purge everything. Don't spill the beans with the marriage counselor. You have no chance of saving this if she won't come clean and admit it. If she doesn't then just hire a lawyer and be done with it. Sometimes life sucks.
posted by caddis at 5:06 PM on May 19, 2009


Calling a lawyer could potentially put you in a spot of foolish pride and defiance instead of in a place of communicating with your wife.

Dear OP. I am a lawyer. I cannot recommend any course of action less than "talking it over" with your wife. She continues to abuse your trust. She plans on hurting you financially to boot. This, after she has confessed to an emotional affair and stated she would not do it again. I must recommend seeking indepedent legal advice immediately. If things workout, fine--she never need know. But she is hurting you. The excuses provided by some posters for her continued abusive behavior do not give you any reason to not protect your financial interests.

(I am not your lawyer--I am not giving you legal advice but recommending that you seek competent legal advice from a professional in your jurisdiction.)
posted by Ironmouth at 5:39 PM on May 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Don't go down without a fight ... this is your family and it's better you start talking with love and healing in mind instead of calling a lawyer.

Fairchild is right, Put the pride aside, preserve your family.
posted by MiffyCLB at 5:46 PM on May 19, 2009


Skip the therapy session tomorrow-- as someone above wrote, feign illness or indisposal if need be.

Don't run the risk of saying or doing something that makes her suspicious that you know.

And let me nth above all the advice about setting up records, consulting a lawyer, etc.

Basically, you want all your ducks in a row before there's any sort of confrontation.
posted by darth_tedious at 5:52 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]



Fairchild is right, Put the pride aside, preserve your family.


Fairchild is not right. You don't have a family. You have yourself and a woman who is scheming to ruin your financial (and quite possibly emotional) future and innocent children stuck in the middle. She has already proven to be *highly* untrustworthy. Seek counsel from a lawyer on how to proceed before she further ruins both your and your children's lives.
posted by torquemaniac at 5:59 PM on May 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Photographic evidence of the affair would help seal the deal but don't do this yourself. The lawyer that you are going to hire yesterday may have suggestions.

And I am also in the camp that, even if she isn't as stone cold as her emails indicate, she is a person who can't be trusted and you are better off with her out of your life.
posted by Foam Pants at 6:00 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fairchild is right, Put the pride aside, preserve your family.

Everybody saying to forget a lawyer and bring this up in therapy is giving terrible, terrible, terrible, and dangerous advicel. Like incompetently bad.

Look at it this way, OP: You can always bring it up in therapy once you are lawyered up and the lawyer vets what you are going to say... and you don't have to mention the lawyer. In fact you shouldn't.

There is no downside to hiring a lawyer except the cost. If things magically get better your wife never need know that you had a lawyer. The downside of following terrible advice to NOT get a lawyer cannot be overstated. You could lose your home. You could lose your money. You could lose your KIDS for gods sake.

Get a lawyer. If you want to try to work on things at that point, do it after having preserved the evidence of whats going on by giving the evidence to your lawyer and having the lawyer vet whatever you want to say to your wife. The potential downsides to not lawyering up at this point are insanely bigger than the potential downsides to lawyering up and not telling your wife that you lawyered up unless it becomes necessary.
posted by Justinian at 6:27 PM on May 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


Uh, this house business is obviously going to blow up, but so might the logging software. My only advice is this: lawyer the fuck up now. Getting a competent divorce lawyer who has navigated this kind of mess before to tell you how to best protect your financial interests is the first and most important step. Lawyer up before doing anything else.
posted by paultopia at 6:51 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It isn't too tough to determine if someone has been logging you on your computer. Lawyer now before she figures it out and beats you to the punch.
Also, if you're going for custody you may want to pick a female lawyer, to help offset any "mom always gets the kids" prejudice you may encounter from older judges.

(and as said by others, ignore the "work it out" advice. There are people who will tell you to work it out no matter what happens. You could come in here and say she had a gun to your head and made you watch while she killed and ate a puppy and someone would come in saying "you MUST SAVE YOUR FAMMMMILLLLEEE!" Seriously, she is setting up concrete plans to fuck you and even your parents over. There is no fixing it with someone that deranged. Get away from this psycho!)
posted by Kellydamnit at 7:00 PM on May 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fairchild is right, Put the pride aside, preserve your family.

Dear OP: this is going to hurt, but there is no family here. The person who is supposed to be preserving the family, is your wife who cannot stop cheating.

One other word. Once this comes out, and his wife finds out, your wife is going to be dropped like a hot potato. Your wife will be left all alone. She will beg you again and again to get back with you, will talk about doing things for the "sake of the children." Don't give in. She is a person who cannot put her family first. She may even echo some of the comments up above and talk about how it was a grey area and some of the problems were your fault. Don't buy it. Whatever the problems were between you, the solution is never to lie to your spouse. Ever. Therapy, separation, divorce, all are acceptable ways of dealing with such problems. But going back on a promise, lying and cheating are not acceptable ways of dealing with these problems, especially when children are involved. Her example will affect them. You never have to be the victim.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:28 PM on May 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


don't forget to remove ask.metafilter from your browsing history!
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:44 PM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just another voice in the please, please, lawyer up first! camp. If she truly is confused and wants to work it out, that will come out and she'll have plenty of time to realize how terrible she was and how important it is to raise her kids with you, but you should absolutely be rational and dispassionate about this, at least until you've been educated on the most rational course of action by someone whose job it is to unemotionally look out for your best interests.
posted by aydeejones at 8:03 PM on May 19, 2009


Everyone has said to keep records, but what you also need is a diary that shows pattern of behaviour, unexplained absences, long meeting with the architect, neglect of the children, etc. Courts seem to believe diaries. I am sorry you are in this situation, and can only say that the 'get a lawyer - now' and 'protect the children' are the best advice. Oh, and do get your parents $ protected. And, btw, get a divorce lawyer, don't call the person who does your real estate as s/he will get trounced by someone who knows family law backwards.
posted by x46 at 8:17 PM on May 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Everyone has said to keep records, but what you also need is a diary that shows pattern of behaviour, unexplained absences, long meeting with the architect, neglect of the children, etc. Courts seem to believe diaries.

This is an excellent, excellent point.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:41 PM on May 19, 2009


anonymous: here are my choices. This is what I need advice on:

a) Counter-act. without her knowing, rent a place, move out. Basically tell her: You finish the house. you pay for it. see if you can make it. (I know she wont have the money). She *might* have to sell it as-it-is, hoping that someone else will finish it. Sue her for divorce. I am already renting a house right now, so the kids are not left homeless or anything.

b) continue to play dumb-ass...finish the house. then she'll want to divorce, and we fight for the house to be sold and split in court. risky. If I succed, I use that money to buy a house for the kids. I just feel like even after the whole cheating thing, she wants to rip me off with the house, for which we both worked for it, and even me much more, and then I am stuck with a debt to my father! Does she care about that? dont think so.


Take it from someone who is now going through a divorce himself (albeit not as entangled as yours probably will be): you don't want either of these things to happen. b is a long shot, and a... a is mean-spirited, and even though she has been mean-spirited to you by doing all of this, if you want to make peace it'll be good for you to try to do good by everyone involved.

But your finances are too complex for a bunch of strangers to sort it out over the internet. I know that you feel too numb right now to fumble through important business dealings and make big choices like this, but you have to make a careful and thoughtful decision; thankfully, we have people in our society who by occupation help people in business and legal matters which they cannot completely resolve for themselves; they're called lawyers. You need to talk to your lawyer now; if you don't have a lawyer, call the closest friend you have and see if they have one they can recommend.

Also, and this is a very important: a lawyer will help you see things from a perspective that looks to your own benefit in a healthy way. The easiest mistake to make during a divorce is the mistake that your soon-to-be ex-wife appears to be about to make: the mistake of yielding to bitterness and trying to lash out and hurt the person you're separating from. Many, many divorces end with both people doing things 'to the other person' out of anger and hurt that turn out to be just self-destructive in the long run. A lawyer can help you walk that very difficult line which suddenly appears when you try for the first time in a long while to look to your own interests ahead of hers while remaining a civilized person. That is particularly difficult while she is lashing out-- and it appears that she is apt to.

So please, I adjure you: be careful here. She has been planning ahead of you; you're at risk of falling prey to her plans against you, which you can't know fully just by reading emails. What's more, I don't know you, but I know human nature; you are going to be sorely tempted to talk to her about all of this, to spill your guts and confront her. Don't do that until you have your own plans in place. It won't be fun to go through all of this; it'll be painful, it'll be difficult, and you have to get some things straightened out before you do. Most importantly, you must cancel your mutual appointment with a therapist tomorrow until you can talk to your lawyer. If you go to the therapist, it will take will power you shouldn't have to expend and karma you don't want to waste to lie a little bit more and pretend you don't know anything. Again, cancel the therapist, talk to a lawyer and plan, and then see the therapist alone and decide how to confront her. That's an order that will lead to your being able to set up a personal and financial support network before the shit hits the fan.

And you will get through this. Sincerely, you will. You won't be married to her anymore, but you'll be alive, and you'll be yourself.

Life sucks.

Sometimes, yes. But you'll find that it's better than being dead; and sometimes, it can be somewhat pleasant. Don't worry; those times will happen again soon.
posted by koeselitz at 8:42 PM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure emotionally anyone can keep this bottled up. You may want to fake a family emergency of some kind, leave for a week, talk to a lawyer, and get everything you need to in order. Otherwise, you might spill the beans, and I do not think that would be in your self interest. Remember you are protecting everything you have in life and beyond that your children and parent's money...
posted by xammerboy at 9:14 PM on May 19, 2009


Definitely don't go to that therapy appointment! You're likely to feel emotionally raw enough in there to spill the beans that you know about the affair. The fact that you know and she doesn't know you know is your advantage - don't lose that!!
posted by hazyjane at 10:29 PM on May 19, 2009


There have been many excellent points maid as to why you must hire a lawyer immediately. Here's one more.

She wants the house, she wants the kids, she wants the architect, she wants your money. She and the architect have clearly been planning this for months. Unless she is profoundly stupid, she has already lined up a lawyer for herself. You're behind the curve in more ways than one.
posted by tzikeh at 11:07 PM on May 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Good gods, what a heart-wrenching story, anon. I'm so sorry you're going through this.

Your story hits close to home for me. Though I have no kids, I survived a divorce situation that was remarkably similar otherwise - ex's affair and deceit, lying, betrayal upon betrayal, dream home remodel which had to be abandoned, loan from folks - and it cost me dearly (financially and emotionally). I have three pieces of hard-won advice for you.

1) Get thee to a lawyer immediately. Seriously. Don't delay. There is a great deal at stake here, and obtaining good legal counsel should be your number one priority. Ask lots of questions, make sure you understand everything you're told, and do your own research to follow up on any advice you're given. Be an informed client.

2) If that loan from your parents is not in writing, get it down in writing pronto.

3) Getting yourself away from that tenuous and stressful living situation will go a long way toward helping you think clearly.

I wish you all the luck in the world, anon. You're going to need it. You sound like you've got your wits about you, though. You'll make it through this. Do what you need to do, and don't forget to take good care of yourself.
posted by velvet winter at 11:46 PM on May 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


In our modern societies, we avail ourselves of lawyers to avoid beating each other to death with axe handles. I suggest you get one or the other.
posted by klangklangston at 12:42 AM on May 20, 2009


After the lawyer and after making copies of all the data, make another set of copies. Before you talk with your wife, get a hold of the scumbag architects wife and give her a set. Then talk with your wife.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:08 AM on May 20, 2009


One more thing, keep your chin up Bucko, you got kids and they need you.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:10 AM on May 20, 2009


Make sure your lawyer is hot so you can start an emotional affair with her. It'll be a double kick in the guts.

Seriously, you're at war. Take charge now. Speed, surprise, maintenance of momentum. You need to steamroll her. Don't give her a moment to breathe. The first she should hear about this is a big-arsed pile of papers covered in legal stamps. This is your whole life you're talking about - all of your money, all of your parents' money, your kids. Her plans to screw you over demonstrate the worst kind of bad faith, and the courts won't smile on her at all.

Is there some architect professional code of conduct thing he's breached? If so, sue him for everything he has once you've sorted out the missus.

I really feel for you, man. Too bad I don't know where you are, because you need a beer and I'm buying.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:41 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Man, I'm sorry this is happening to you.

Almost everyone else has said 'Get a Lawyer'. Yes, you need to do so. Even if you are not sure that you want the divorce, you need to begin laying the groundwork for it, even if it's simply from a standpoint of self-defense. One poster mentioned that unless she is stupid, she already has a lawyer. That may or may not be true---I suspect that it isn't--but you must operate on the assumption that it is.

If you want custody of your children, start with Dad's Divorce. Google 'Fathers Rights' and set aside some reading time. This should be part of your initial discussion with any potential lawyer.

And yes, as everyone else has said, Put Your Poker Face On.
posted by spirit72 at 6:23 AM on May 20, 2009


I am thinking any of the above replies who say "put your anger behind you, put your family first" didn't read the whole post...

YES, it's good advice to not tear down your soon-to-be-ex-wife in front of your children. Don't let them know what's going on in regards to the betrayals, etc. Your wife is evil, manipulative, and selfish, but your children need to find that out on their own, not from you.

But for the rest of it...don't fall for the trap of trying to salvage this marriage. She will tell you whatever it takes to get you to finish that house and then do what she wants anyway. You've seen her true colors through your spying...get thee to a lawyer I say again, and prepare for war.
posted by arniec at 6:37 AM on May 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


I agree with everyone who says to get a lawyer now. And I agree that your wife is completely, utterly in the wrong.

I just want to emphasize that the tone of a lot of this advice is really aggressive (although I don't disagree with the content). And while you want to protect your rights, never ever lose sight of the fact that ugly divorces are hell for children. In my parents' divorce, one of them was completely, utterly wrong, but I didn't know about it until I was in my late 20's. That should be your goal. Your kids should not see you tearing her down and should not see you engaging in ugly legal tactics. The line between ugly and protecting yourself will not always be easy to draw, but you need try very hard to draw it. Divorces can end up being vicious battles about minutiae because people are working out their anger and betrayal, and situations like that don't help anyone but the lawyers.
posted by Mavri at 8:24 AM on May 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Find out if you live in an "alienation of affection" state. You may gain significant leverage in your dealings with your wife if her lover is threatened with the possibility of a huge civil settlement, not to mention the complications if his wife finds out about this. As a matter of fact, just the possibility of his wife doing to him what yours may be trying to do to you may give you a ton of negotiating room. Good luck.
posted by dinger at 10:15 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Joyce Carol Oates once said life is like boxing. The last thing the ref tells the pugilists: protect yourself at all times.

There are aggressive tones expressed... as opposed to what, the life equivalent of standing with your arms at your side while Mike Tyson in his prime is swinging at your head?

I think most of us would rather be knocked out in the ring than take the max losses you're facing.

There is a line between aggressive and mean-spirited, cruel.

With the latter, that approach is often counterproductive and one that produces regrets.

With the former, as trainer Freddie Roach said a few months ago of a then-upcoming match featuring one of his fighters, Manny Pacquiao, "When the bell rings, it's full go."

There's the bell.
posted by ambient2 at 11:00 AM on May 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Find out if you live in an "alienation of affection" state. You may gain significant leverage in your dealings with your wife if her lover is threatened with the possibility of a huge civil settlement, not to mention the complications if his wife finds out about this. As a matter of fact, just the possibility of his wife doing to him what yours may be trying to do to you may give you a ton of negotiating room.

This is useful, but also potentially dangerous in how you use it. You must NEVER EVER coach any of the above as blackmail. As in "give me X or I'll do Y". Bad.

What you want to do is go along with the regular proceedings, and then if your state is an alienation of affection state, once you're in to the "regular" divorce just have your lawyer contact her lawyer looking for some information you might need on the architect (even if you already have it) in order to get the alienation of affection suit rolling properly. What this will do is cause your (ex)wife to potentially cough up anything she was thinking of using as a concession if things got bad, if she really does care about this bozo.

Doing it this way, through two levels of lawyers, any concessions are documented as being your (ex)wife's idea and there's no splashback on you.
posted by barc0001 at 11:19 PM on May 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


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