My wife had cybersex with someone else. What should I do?
May 30, 2009 9:43 AM   Subscribe

My wife had cybersex with someone else. What should I do?

Unbeknownst to me, my wife has been having cybersex with random people on Yoville, an avatar-driven chat room thing. I don't have a Yoville account, nor do I want one. I don't feel like I have the time. She and I have been married for about three years. We have two little kids, both of whom take up the rest of my time when I am not at work. She stays home during the day and goes to community college a couple nights a week. She complains about not having a social life and goes out three or four times a month with girl friends to eat, see movies, go to shows. She says that I don't take her out enough. When I do take her out, it's not good enough. A couple days later she will complain about something I said or didn't say during the date. A couple days after that she will start asking to go out again and saying we never go out.

Things have actually been good between us lately. We had a rough patch through the winter and seemed to have survived it together for the better. About a week ago she bought some weed from a classmate. Last weekend she told me she was smoking weed late at night. Tuesday night she went out with a friend to see a movie after I got home from work. She came home at 11 and turned on the TV. I asked her to come to bed. She said she wasn't tired and slept on the couch. Wednesday morning I found a log on our computer of her Yoville chats. She has been inviting men into locked rooms and masturbating with them.

I was surprised. My wife is a very jealous person. If I don't come straight home from work she accuses me of f-ing someone else. If I'm unhappy with something she has done and I am critical of her she accuses me of f-ing someone else. If she calls me and I let it go to voicemail she accuses me of f-ing someone else.

She is obsessed with infidelity. Her ex-boyfriend apparently cheated on her and for doing so deserves to burn in hell. Her father cheated on her mother and caused them to be divorced. Early in our marriage, my wife told me she would kill me if there was someone else besides her. This was on a night when I was working late, or took too long at the grocery store, I can't remember.

On our son's first birthday, I went to the store to pick up his cake. I bought some picnic chairs and charcoal while I was there. It took about an hour. She accused me of seeing someone else.

We went to marriage counseling for a while and one of the things I complained about was constantly being accused of cheating. It is not normal. I have not ever cheated on her. Her dad told me that her mother did the same thing to him, for seventeen years, accused him of cheating on her. Then he did.

I have no desire to cheat on my wife. One wife, one woman and all of the struggle and problems that go along with a relationship are enough for me.

If we didn't have kids, things would be different. Clearly. But this is not a thought experiment. This is real life. What I think is best for the kids and her and me is that we find a way to stay together and take care of each other as best we can. I would rather make this work than see each of us live broken for the rest of our lives.

I see people with young children who live apart angry at each other. It looks like an awful alternative to the struggling, little family we have now.

So, things have been going well and for the last couple months my wife hasn't been accusing me, as much, of cheating on her.

Wednesday morning as I'm on my way out the door, wondering why she didn't sleep in the bed with me, I check the computer to see if she was up late screwing around on the internet. The browsing history in Safari was gone. She knows how to use the Private Browsing feature. Instead of doing that, she used Clear History.

She hadn't covered all of her tracks. I could see that she was, again, searching for her ex-boyfriend. She had done the same thing a couple months ago. I asked her about it and she first lied, then apologized. This, by her own admission, was a mistake; a violation of her own moral code.

Being the moral relativist that I am, I can only hope that each person holds themselves accountable for the mistakes they have made, as they define them. As I find someone whose sense of right and wrong agrees with mine, I begin to trust that person.

I don't know that searching for your ex-boyfriend on myspace is axiomatically right or wrong, or neither. It's probably neither. But in my wife's mind, it is wrong. She knows it and she tried to cover her tracks after doing it, again.

I can't even use myspace because my wife scours the pages of my friends and gets angry with me if another female has pictures of me on their page. Our first fight was about pictures of me on someone else's myspace page. Pictures that were taken and posted long before she had even met me. She harassed my friend until she deleted the pictures. These were pictures of me and her with arms around each other's shoulders. Harmless stuff, I thought. She didn't agree. I quit using myspace.

I look a little more deeply in the history on our computer and I am shocked. Chat logs of her talking about sex on Yoville with random men. It was like that scene in a movie where the horizontal and the vertical sway back and forth and blur. I couldn't believe it. Here she is asleep in our house and I'm in the kitchen reading what she was writing that night she stayed up smoking weed. Asking some guy if he likes oral sex.

I keep reading. The log goes back for months. Beginning at the end of March onward, on multiple occasions, she had cybersex with random men. The meetings appeared random, but she would maintain cyber contact with them. One guy stopped responding, but she would leave notes on his cyber door asking him how he was doing.

This situation is so unique and bizarre to me, I have no idea what to do. No background experience to draw upon for guidance. No one I know to whom I feel I can turn for advice. It's embarrassing for me, and in the context of our lives together, just plain weird.

That being said, these trysts seem to have remained online and not progressed into IRL affairs. But I don't know. The sight of what I have seen has spread uncertainty throughout my mind as I think about my relationship with my wife. If this is possible, what isn't?

Wednesday night she came home high and drunk from school and started badgering me about why I was being so quiet. She knows something is wrong. I have not told her what I found. I have been a bit withdrawn for a couple days.

Please help me understand this situation and advise me as to what best I should do.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Get a divorce lawyer and begin planning to leave. Your wife is a train wreck in every sense of the word.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:49 AM on May 30, 2009 [59 favorites]

You want out of this marriage. out out out. It sounds as if her jealousy is a cover for her own infidelity, but regardless this person is trouble on wheels.
You've already tried marriage counseling, obviously this hasn't helped. Get a divorce lawyer and be prepared for a long and bitter fight over the kids.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:53 AM on May 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

I would rather make this work than see each of us live broken for the rest of our lives.

Those two things may not be compatible. It may very well be better for you both if you leave, and possibly better for the children too.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:54 AM on May 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

Excuse me if this is too harsh but your wife sounds nuts. I don't understand why anyone would stay in such a situation. Take i.g's advice: pack up your bags and run as far away from this woman as possible.
posted by azarbayejani at 9:56 AM on May 30, 2009

I definitely agree with the above answers: you need to get out of this marriage. Make sure you have incidents carefully documented (more detail that just what is here on each specific incident), especially the drinking and drug use, so you can get custody of your kids. They can't be in an environment like this any longer.
posted by snugglebunny at 9:56 AM on May 30, 2009 [5 favorites]

You both need help, and the marriage counselor is a good idea, but your wife needs help with a capital H, the kind that a person gets alone and often, ideally. Aside from exhibiting every desperate housewife symptom in the book, she is actively undermining your life together and seems to have symptoms of depression.
posted by hermitosis at 9:58 AM on May 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

Your wife needs some kind of therapy, but she may be resistant. It sounds as if she has serious issues, and is not dealing with them well (drugs, booze, cybersex are very short-term feel-better bandaids that will lead to deeper problems in the long run).

Why did you stop going to marriage counselling? Would she be willing to try again?

She is obviously not being a good partner to you now, and you have to think about whether or not this could change in the future. If she does not change, you will be in for a long and unhappy time together.

Separation may not be a worse solution than being a 'struggling little family'. How good a mother is she? She seems to be very self-absorbed and putting her own needs and desires ahead of her husband and children, anyway. (Which is fine in healthy moderation, I am not suggesting married mothers consistently place themselves last in their priorities.)
posted by Savannah at 10:00 AM on May 30, 2009

As a child of divorce, I have to say that my parents decision to divorce was one of the best decisions they made. Really, sometimes divorce is the best solution. Sounds like the same for you.
posted by melissam at 10:02 AM on May 30, 2009 [22 favorites]

You do realize she is projecting her own (cyber) behavior on you, right? She is accusing you of cheating....because she thinks you are like her.

She needs her own counselor. This woman is obviously deeply troubled. Good on you for wanting to do what it takes to try to save this marriage. It may or may not be possible, but no matter what, this behavior on her part needs to be addressed.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:03 AM on May 30, 2009 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't go right for a lawyer just yet, since it sounds like you're just bewildered and not actually angry. (Unless you feel that your children are in danger or are being neglected, which you didn't mention as a problem.)

You need to get back into marriage counseling to address the jealousy/trust issues between you. She needs some private counseling to learn how to cope with her feelings in constructive ways (eg. not smoking, drinking, cybersex or going into jealous rages).

It sounds like you're both really young, and she's having a seriously difficult time with the responsibilities of adulthood. It happens, but a neutral third party calling her out on her childish behavior ought to help. And if it doesn't, then you won't feel guilty that you didn't try your best to make it work.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 10:05 AM on May 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

Different people would look at this in different ways:

A.) Your wife is committing an act of infidelity, which will inevitability lead to physical adultery which puts you and your children at risk. Save all of her logs, show them to a divorce lawyer. Get out now.

B.) Your wife has a kinky hobby which she keeps to herself. You can live with it. In fact, you may even be able to embrace it. Or you may arrive at a point where she no longer feels the needs to live out this fantasy.

Those are simplistic responses, but you get the idea of the range here.

A few other points of consideration, mostly anecdotal, but possibly useful:

- Something is missing in the relationship. Your wife clearly has misconceptions about your relationship. She feels like you're no fun, that you're letting her down. At the same time this feeling so overrides her views that she feels like she has "no life" despite the fact that she very obviously has friends and an active social life.

- Something is wrong with your wife. Maybe she's just immature. Perhaps she is so alienated from you that she feels that living this double life is fine... whatever it is, you need to get to the bottom of it. I don't think you can do that without confrontation and counseling. In other words: a lot of hard work.

- Your wife accuses you of cheating because she herself feels guilty. In practice, this type of accusing is a form of confession. In other words, the accusers are often the guilty party.

As things sit right now, you're unhappy, you're hurt, and your relationship is moving toward self-destruction. You can salvage it. Or you can move on.

I really feel for you, pal. Hang in there, put your kids first, and things will be ok no matter what happens.
posted by wfrgms at 10:07 AM on May 30, 2009 [7 favorites]

Goodness gracious. It's telling of our society when so many people tell you to just blindly quit working at it and get the hell out straight away.

You can't know if something is fixable if you don't give it the college try. It sounds like she needs therapy. Not marriage therapy - that comes later - but good, honest counseling. The problem with that is, she needs to admit there's a problem that she wants to resolve.

If you're prepared to leave anyway but still want to attempt a fix, I'd say try and very calmly bring all of your discoveries and worries up. Total honesty. No violence, shouting, or whatever. Let her hear it and let her stew, sulk, or whatever she wants to do. But say you do want to fix it, you love her (if true) and you think you can all get over it if everyone works at it. That is, stress it's not a "let's just agree to stop here and now" sort of issue.

If, after that, she'll go to therapy and deal with her demons, you're headed the right way. If not, then give up and leave.
posted by wackybrit at 10:12 AM on May 30, 2009 [4 favorites]

I see people with young children who live apart angry at each other. It looks like an awful alternative to the struggling, little family we have now.

There are plenty of families with divorced parents that are in way better shape emotionally than yours - you're clearly miserable and freaked-out and put upon and accused of cheating, all the while being cheated on and repeatedly lied to. And I'm sure your children will start to notice, if they haven't already. You can't hide this from them forever.

Your wife needs professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist, and you need professional help from a divorce lawyer. Good luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:14 AM on May 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

I was 6 when my parents got divorced. When the told me my response was "It's about time."

Being around parents who are unhappy around each other is far worse then splitting time between 2 parents.
posted by Mick at 10:21 AM on May 30, 2009 [17 favorites]

the problem here is not the cybersex exactly, but the pervasive hiding and dishonesty. and then accusing you of same. wfrgms is right.
posted by RedEmma at 10:22 AM on May 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

She is very, very, very unhappy. You don't make her happy. Her kids don't make her happy. She doesn't know what to try, so she's just trying whatever. Whether or not you divorce her, you need to put yourself and your kids somewhere where she can't inflict damage out of sheer boredom and unhappiness.
posted by hermitosis at 10:23 AM on May 30, 2009 [8 favorites]

No one I know to whom I feel I can turn for advice.

Call the marriage counselor you saw before. Or a different one. The one you originally saw would be best because he/she knows your wife.

Any one of her actions might be excusable taken singly and out of context, but altogether they seem extremely destructive to you, her, and ultimately the kids. She's suffering and she has no idea what to do with it, so her accusations and her cheating and her drug use are her mindlessly flailing about in agony*. You're suffering and you have no idea what to do about it, but at least you're being mindful. Your kids are going to suffer sooner or later. Regardless of whether they know what cybersex is, they will know there is some sort of issue.

The credo I live by is "reduce suffering." First, your own, then your loved ones. Talking to someone IRL will help you accept your feelings. It's perfectly reasonable to be furious, hurt, betrayed, confused. Then you can evaluate how to reduce their suffering. You may not ultimately be able to do anything about your wife's self-inflicted pain, but you can certainly do something for your kids.

* I am not excusing any of her behavior. I am saying that people are rarely intentionally evil, and even without knowing her, I am still confident that her behavior is an expression of deep, deep pain, and thus she elicits compassion in me. So, of course, do you.
posted by desjardins at 10:27 AM on May 30, 2009 [16 favorites]

Two little kids, she was smoking weed, and you were not aware? I agree with 'train wreck' from that alone. Not anti-pot here, but that's very wrong. Really not kosher for Mom to get high and not give the other parent a say in whether or not that's cool.
posted by kmennie at 10:36 AM on May 30, 2009

Keep a close eye on your money and make sure you're in control of it. You don't need her buying hotel rooms or paying her divorce lawyer behind your back. Buy large purchases for the kids directly. Pay the community college directly. Don't be a creep who forces her to account for every penny but both of you should know where your money is going.

Stop looking at her chat logs. Stop going on her computer. You don't need to hurt yourself in that way. Just assume she is doing the worst and try to let it go. And looking up her old boyfriend is not the worst. Everyone does that.

Take yourself to something spiritually or emotionally enriching that doesn't involve her. Church, therapy, fishing, a movie.

Rebuild neglected friendships. Call friends on your lunch break or invite them over so she has no cause for suspicion.

Bond with the kids. Build a relationship with them as much as you can. Know their favorite stuffed animal's name. Take them more than you have been and give her more time alone. Being a full-time mother of small kids sucks in a lot of ways and if you take the pressure off of her it will help her cope. It will also help prevent alienation in the event that you do divorce.

Encourage her to go out with her friends or take more community college courses. You seem to be resentful of her going out considering that she doesn't really work, but staying home with a baby and a toddler is work and she should have outlets for socialization and intellectual stimulation. It will reduce her need for attention from random strangers online.

posted by kathrineg at 10:50 AM on May 30, 2009

This is not a situation that marriage counseling can fix. In order for it to work, from what I understand, you must have two, mature people with a desire to understand and really work at fixing the problems in your marriage. Your wife does not sound mature AT ALL.
Get out, get yourself some counseling. Let this woman go mess up her own life. I'm almost positive that's where she's headed.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 10:54 AM on May 30, 2009 [3 favorites]

Give her the opportunity to go into individual therapy. It does seem like the accusations of cheating are getting better and she is being honest with you about some things (the weed) that she could be hiding.

Don't believe her dad's sob story about being driven into infidelity.
posted by kathrineg at 10:54 AM on May 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

The phrase "she came home high and drunk from school and started badgering me" is a huge red flag for me. It's not the substances, it's how you use them. If she's getting high to the point of being drunk and then bringing that loss of self-control home only to tie into you for seeming upset... She's irresponsibly using recreational drugs. She's emotionally antagonistic. She doesn't trust you after how many years? All of this behavior communicates to me a massive lack of respect for you and esteem for you. Any one of these things can destroy a marriage and you can't fix this stuff by yourself. Your wife has to meet you at the table. A marriage can't function without mutual respect and you can't hold up one end of the marriage for the rest of your life all by yourself. It is not self-centered for you to begin thinking about how to rescue yourself and your son; it is responsible.

I'm so sorry.
posted by mindsound at 11:02 AM on May 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

And people advocating divorce or separation because she is irresponsible, self-absorbed, crazy, immature, a train wreck--

They are not even school age, she is their primary caregiver, and the likelihood of dad getting primary or sole custody is slim. Think about that while you advocate that he run as far away as he can as fast as he can. They will be left alone with her. It's easy to say DTMFA but the real practical result of that will be him "dumping" his kids.
posted by kathrineg at 11:02 AM on May 30, 2009 [4 favorites]

I agree with Savannah. IMHO your wife is insecure and has trust issues that are not about you. The cyber thing seems.. somewhat beside the point. But people can change. Is she willing to work on these issues for her own sake and the family's? If you bring this up and encourage her to work on them, will she find a way to make it.. poisonous, and reject any help you offer?

One guy stopped responding, but she would leave notes on his cyber door asking him how he was doing.
Maybe I'm wrong but it seems like a lot of her behavior is basically narcissistic and controlling. It's about messing with people's heads in order to get attention & insisting that people do exactly what she wants, because she's insecure. So over and over she's like "you're f-ing someone else" and what she's really saying is "Something/someone else is taking up your time instead of ME."

So I don't know, no one here can know - maybe she can change. If she can't or won't, that's a miserable environment for the children, to grow up around all this drama. What I worry about is, what happens when they get older and she's flying into rages because the children are taking up some of your time and attention, or because they're doing what they want some of the time instead of behaving exactly as she wants 24-7?
posted by citron at 11:03 AM on May 30, 2009

There is not a pressing need to decide your future of your marriage right away, especially while dealing with the initial shock.

There are different approaches from infidelity experts regarding how to handle this, but you are not alone. Try the forums Marriage Builders, Chat Cheaters, Surviving Infidelity.

If you can get away to a bookstore (or if your kids are young enough to not know what you're reading), there are great books available. A variety of different sources will help you decide which approach fits you and your marriage.

It takes two people to make a broken marriage work. You can help create an environment in which she can choose to change, but ultimately she will need to make the decision to work on the marriage.

We hear more about people divorcing due to infidelity than we hear about couples who survive it because the latter is a very private, painful, lonely, and long struggle. It can be done, even in situations that seem hopeless.

I'm sorry that such a painful thing has happened to you. While your wife certainly sounds like therapy would help, please keep your needs in mind. You may find that speaking with a professional is beneficial. Your wife will probably be on the defensive and unable (at first) to provide compassion and contrition that you might need to heal and forgive.
posted by degrees_of_freedom at 11:17 AM on May 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

Two possiblities:
a) Kids grow up in a fucked up household, mom's having substance abuse, fidelity and trust issues, dad is feeling underappreciated, unhappy, as though his hands are tied behind his back. Kids are going to grow up and realize their parents' relationship is fucked up but still have only this as an example of an adult relationship. Kids grow up resenting you, resenting your wife, resenting themselves and just generally there's a good chance they won't grow up too happy.

b) Kids grow up in a fucked up household (see: above) until only a very young age, and the rest of their childhood and adolescence see two seperate people living happier, calmer lives and possibly even in real, functional relationships.

I would choose b. I know my parents did and I'm thankful for that, although they chose it when one of my brothers was already 30 and he was resentful they didn't do it earlier. Needless to say, his relationship with them = pretty crappy.

Sorry to be painting such a bleak picture, but seriously, you would be making a huge mistake to raise kids in such an unhappy, disfunctional household. It's not fair to them.
posted by alona at 11:28 AM on May 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

"Make sure you have incidents carefully documented (more detail that just what is here on each specific incident), especially the drinking and drug use, so you can get custody of your kids."

Just wanted to second this advice. Whatever else happens, start keeping a journal of her infidelity and irresponsibility. Courts, from what I hear, like to see a documented pattern of behavior like this, and will take it into account when determining custody. I'm not saying you must divorce your wife. It sounds like you don't really want that; that's fine, there is a lot to work through and try out first before you get to that point. But she's being irresponsible now. Document her now. You never know. Wouldn't it be a shame if after everything she put you through, she ended up walking out the door (or kicking you out of your own home) with your kids?
posted by malapropist at 11:50 AM on May 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

I can't tell you what to do. But I can tell you that staying together "for the kids" is not a good reason. My parents had a horrible relationship my whole life - fortunately no screaming fights or abuse or anything, but they just never got along - and finally divorced when I was 21. It was awful.

I asked my dad why they didn't get divorced earlier and he said "I thought it would be hard for you." I would have so much rather have had my parents living separately and actually being *happy* instead of living in my miserable household. Kids are pretty resilient. I had a lot of friends with divorced parents - and often those parents were remarried and very happy. Having lived my whole life in the middle of my parents' tension, I feel like I have no model for healthy relationships.
posted by radioamy at 12:27 PM on May 30, 2009

What I think is best for the kids and her and me is that we find a way to stay together and take care of each other as best we can. I would rather make this work than see each of us live broken for the rest of our lives.

I understand where you are coming from with the above statement, but I also want you to look at what disfunctionality her parents may have created in her by staying together. She is repeating a cycle. Leaving her might break that cycle. Staying together with real therapy may break it as well. Getting her real help would be the best of all worlds, but it might not be possible.

Your children are learning what a relationship is through both of your actions right now. And they are going to emulate it, be it when they grow up. Right now your daughter has already learned to never trust a man, your son has learned to be berated (or two daughters, or two sons...). Neither of which is based on truth, but you are presenting it to them as if it is.

And I would recommend you getting therapy for yourself first, as you might want to look at why you have tolerated this kind of aggression towards you in the first place.
posted by Vaike at 12:43 PM on May 30, 2009

I haven't had time to read all of the responses- no matter what you do, and I do hope she can get help and you can heal and stay togrther, but no matter what- you must RIGHT NOW obtain photographic proof of the weed, and her smoking if at all possible, and save a log of the internet activity. You have to protect yourself if this goes to divorce. Whatever you do from this point on- do not smoke any pot or get in any angry arguments with her. And see this thread.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 12:48 PM on May 30, 2009

I suggest you see a therapist. This is not a good situation. I am concerned about the welfare for your children.
posted by fifilaru at 1:10 PM on May 30, 2009

There are a lot of DTMFAs and a lot of statements regarding therapy. I don't think therapy is a bad idea at all, but first you have to get her there.

If you want to keep the marriage in tact, if you're not ready to DTMFA then I'd say that the thing to do isn't yet go commando-style and start gathering covert evidence to use against her in court. Instead, I would say it's tome for some harsh honesty with her. Tell her "Hey, I know all of this. Now it's time for a serious talk about what's what."

There's a lot of talk about the unhealthy situation for the children but since I don't know you, I don't know if the weed is out of bounds or not, I don't know if the children's welfare is jeopardized or not, all of that is for you to judge and determine what the next steps are. But if there is no danger to the kids, if you want to save the relationship, then it's time to lay the cards on the table, let her know she's caught, and perhaps use it as a bit of leverage to force her to go to therapy with you.
posted by arniec at 1:51 PM on May 30, 2009

You need a two-pronged approach.

You need a divorce.

You need therapy. There are clearly underlying issues in your psychology that have made you willing to put up with this. Those issues will drive you to a similar second wife if you don't sort them out.

People who are obsessed with their partner cheating often turn out to be cheating. Projection is a deadly force.
posted by jefficator at 2:12 PM on May 30, 2009

Can you see a therapist yourself, or a close friend who is good at listening? Divorce strikes me as the best option, too, but I doubt you'll be able to make up your mind on the strength of our recommendations. I think you could benefit from having a discreet and structured space to think out loud and plan your next move.
posted by limon at 2:59 PM on May 30, 2009

Oh, I'm so sorry.

Here's my take on what I'm guessing the deal is: she's bored and miserable and feels like life has passed her by, she's trapped and home alone with small dreams and small aspirations, and she's probably exhausted and feels sweaty and irritable and crappy and unattractive all the time. Some women can't handle being stay at home moms; I'd suck at it, for instance, and I give all credit to women who can -- but I cannot. Frankly, it sounds like maybe she can't either.

I am not saying this to justify what she's doing, I think it's cheating, almost as bad as doing it physically. But it isn't doing it physically. Her worst crime, relationship-wise, is not telling you all of the things in paragraph one. Real intimacy requires occasional disclosure of such things. She can't expect your relationship to change, or her lifestyle to change, without involving you.

I'm sorry this is happening. I think you can save your marriage. But I think you have to confront her, and I think she needs to be startled into taking some kind of real life action instead of bullshit dicking around in chatrooms.

I don't think it's your fault, it sounds to me like she has growing up to do, if she wants to do it. It kind of depends on who she is, deep down, whether she too wants to work on saving the marriage too and no one can know that but her. If you can forgive her for what is really, some serious bullshit, and she can really confront what's making her do something that's fundamentally ridiculous, you have a shot at saving your marriage. I don't think this is categorically a DTMFA type situation, personally, but I think it's clearly a crossroads.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:27 PM on May 30, 2009 [2 favorites]

How old is she? How old are you? Some of this sounds like you're married to someone who hasn't yet grown up, but you know much more of her than we do. Smoking weed at night, going out and getting drunk with friends: these don't sound like marriage-breakers, but something to address now and plan for the future.

"Cyber" infidelity is another odd thing: maybe it's a kink of hers, maybe it's an outlet for a hang-up from her father and mother. Maybe she thinks all men will cheat. Or maybe she wants some risky behavior and enjoys the forbidden nature of it, without actually making physical contact. If it's a kink thing, maybe you two can play with that, if you feel comfortable with it.

As others have said, these issues go be your marriage. They are issues for her to get past. Maybe you can be a part of that recovery, maybe not. Read up, talk to counselors, and try talking to your wife.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:34 PM on May 30, 2009

If you do decide to discuss this with her, and you believe there's any chance of it getting heated (on either side), please try to do it when the kids aren't around to witness it. Drop them off at a babysitter's or daycare or something. That shit is damaging, even if you think they're too young to know what's going on.
posted by granted at 5:05 PM on May 30, 2009

Definitely a tragic situation. I'm so sorry. I agree with what someone above said that it may be a projecting issue -- she believes you are not trustworthy and so does the same in response to what she THINKS you are doing. That said, it sounds like her lack of trust is so pervasive as to be a severe problem that she needs true professional help to address.

Beyond that though, you said she came home the other night drunk and high. Is that new behavior for her? If so, it sounds like she is really in a lot of trouble if she's started resorting to self-destructive and risky behaviors.
posted by davidnc at 5:06 PM on May 30, 2009

You are showing amazing restraint by bringing this to Metafilter first instead of her. The fact that you're playing your cards close to your chest like this is kind of an indicator of your personality--I think most people would have just went ballistic immediately after finding the evidence. Are you kind of a analytical guy..? You have not told us how your sex life is with your wife--but I am guessing that it is not all that satisfactory? Is any of that because you aren't passionate for her anymore? Is she overweight? Do you let her know that you think she is desirable? Is she desirable? You don't really have to answer me---These are just things that occur to me when I hear that someone is looking up their old boyfriend and having cybersex when there is a perfectly good real man in the next room. She is feeling unloved and unwanted and unattractive. Does that have anything to do with how you treat her?

People who constantly accuse others of infidelity are usually engaging in infidelity. It would not surprise me in the least if your wife's infidelity has been IRL.

I applaud you for considering salvaging the situation..but I fear she no longer digs you at all. She is engaging in passive aggressive behavior so that you will get rid of her. My suggestion..she really needs to know that you are no milquetoast and that you need a separation. Then go out and meet some new people. Share some joint custody of the youngsters but couch it as "trial". In the end you might find out that she loves you a lot and she is willing to begin respecting you again. For whatever reason...she has lost respect for you. You either get it back or ditch her. A trial separation would give you the time and distance you need to see things clearer.
posted by naplesyellow at 5:38 PM on May 30, 2009

You're enabling an immature person to be immature. You're in an adult-child relationship. You can't fix her but you don't have to suffer by allowing her pettiness to control your life. Tell her to shut the hell up when she accuses you of cheating. Stop enabling her.

Your wife has her priorities all out of whack. She is miserable, unhappy, and childish. She is unhappy because she is such a lost, spoiled child. She has a lot of growing up to do.
posted by Fairchild at 6:03 PM on May 30, 2009

Isn't there an old saying - something like: "No one looks under beds, unless they've been under one themselves?"

Maybe you can save the marriage; but would you really want your kids to grow up with a mother like that as an example? You seem like a good person. Sometimes divorce spares everyone's sanity and cuts the true horrors to a finite, fixable minimum. Consider sole custody of your children for their sake. Someday they (and their spouses) will thank you.
posted by Cookbooks and Chaos at 6:47 PM on May 30, 2009

Another child of divorced parents chiming in here: best thing that ever happened to me was when my parents got divorced. Kids pick up on shit, they know when their parents aren't happy and when things aren't working. Don't have that be the reason you don't get out if that's how things turn out.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:00 PM on May 30, 2009

I really think that it would be in your children's best interest to split up and for you to try to get at least most of the custody of them. She seems very selfish and extremely paranoid. You said that she got that way from her own mother, so I would be concerned as to how that rubs off on your kids. She's also very irresponsible.

I know that you want to stay together for the kids, but I know a lot of kids who are very, very thankful that their parents divorced, and even more kids who think their childhoods may have been much less stressful had their parents split up (myself included, often). The fighting and the tension in the home is usually worse than having to deal with divorced parents.
posted by ishotjr at 7:44 PM on May 30, 2009

It sounds like an agonizing situation for all parties. Here are my thoughts:

1. Before you go forward, you need to decide what you want to do. Do you want to stay married to this woman or not?

2. I don't think we're getting the full picture here (and obviously, we never do.) Be careful that you're not wrapping yourself in the flag of parenthood. It does sound like you're a great father, but it doesn't sound like that's what's up for debate here.

3. Your wife is obviously unhappy with you, hence the 'acting out.' If I had to guess, she doesn't feel like she gets enough love, affection, and attention from you. On some level she might have even wanted to get caught. How often do you go out on dates? When was the last time you planned something different and special, courted her like you did when you started dating? A lot of people become resentful when, after marriage, there aren't any dates or romantic moments and it becomes all about the kids and the daily grind.

4. Find out what she wants from you -- I'm guessing she needs more wooing, romance and spontenaety once in a while -- and make a deal with her so she'll give up her vices.

5. If she hasn't actually exchanged bodily fluids with anyone, this can be repaired. Typing is not having an affair. It's unacceptable, but all is not lost.

6. Stop snooping. We're all tempted to do it. But the problem with snooping is it gives you information you can't use. You're now burdened by all this information you found out by snooping on her. It sounds like there were other indicators -- weed smoking, going out lots with her friends, etc. Use the information that's right in front of your eyes -- and have a serious talk with her about what's going on.

Good luck!
posted by Flying Squirrel at 2:10 AM on June 1, 2009

Your wife is obviously unhappy with you, hence the 'acting out.' If I had to guess, she doesn't feel like she gets enough love, affection, and attention from you. On some level she might have even wanted to get caught. How often do you go out on dates? When was the last time you planned something different and special, courted her like you did when you started dating? A lot of people become resentful when, after marriage, there aren't any dates or romantic moments and it becomes all about the kids and the daily grind.

There are ways to deal with this other than acting like a child, cheating, lying about it, and constantly accusing your partner of cheating. Stop blaming the victim.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:20 AM on June 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

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