What to do after you open Pandora's box?
September 3, 2009 8:34 AM   Subscribe

My husband is cheating on me and has been for at least two years. He doesn't know I found out. Now what?

I've had suspicions for a long time, but nothing concrete that I could point to and say, "See!" It was just uneasy feelings. We used to share a computer and one time I found a lot of gay porn links in the history while trying to recover a tab had accidentally closed. I talked to him about it, but he said he had misclicked, and like I said, I had nothing really concrete to point to.

A couple days ago he was in the bedroom on his lap top, it was late, and he came out kind of in a rush and asked if I wanted one of those iced coffee drinks from Wendy's because he wanted a frosty shake. I said sure and he went off. He was gone a long time. Longer than would be normal, so I texted where are you? He texted back that he had gone a whole town over to the Starbucks. It seemed odd to me because he had just scolded me about money and Starbucks by us is way more expensive than Wendy's. But Starbucks was closed and he was going with his first choice, and he'd get me coffee at Wawa. I reminded him he said Wendy's and he got flustered and said he was getting a milkshake from Wawa.

It just felt off and I shouldn't have done it, I know, but I went to the bedroom and opened his lap top. It was on and his gmail account was up. He was exchanging e-mail with someone from craigslist, and they were discussing some meet up place with glory holes and stuff. My husband was telling him he'd been going for at least 2 years and was happy there.

I was off by the time he got home and he handed me the coffee. He didn't even have a milkshake himself. It was weird.

The next day I ran his email name through google and he had used his e-mail name as his user name for a website where you advertise for quick hookups.

I don't know what to do. We have a young son together. I'm a stay at home mom and haven't worked in over 5 years. I have no money because my husband has always said he works for the money so it's his, and I get only what I need. So I feel really helpless. I know this is going on, but so what? I don't seem to be in a position to do anything.

I'm embarrassed and scared, and my chest hurts all the time thinking about this. I haven't told anyone in my family because there's so much going on right now like weddings and stuff and I don't want to ruin anything, and a lot of them thought I was too young to marry and would be very much I-told-you-so.

What should I do next? Who should I talk to besides him? I don't want to continue this marriage.

ifeelsostupid@gmail.com if you have advice too long for a comment.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (67 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Get back online and take screen captures of the incriminating evidence you found. Then, take copies of any financial records. Then, ask friends in your area for advice for a good divorce atty in your area. Tell them you are asking for a friend. Don't volunteer what's going on with you yet.

Whatever you do, don't tell your husband what you are doing until you've gotten a lawyer's advice.

I'm not sure what state you live in, but in NY where I'm from, it's all community property in marriage. Even if he THINKS its his money, a judge would split it down the middle, at least, and you would continue to get 17% of his gross income as child support. But GO TO A LAWYER. And be as secretive as you can until after you have gotten a good lawyer's advice.

Good luck. I'm so sorry that you are going through this. You should also--I hate to say this--get yourself screened for STDs. What a terrible guy.

And don't tell your family yet, but when you do, I hope that they are more compassionate than you imagine them being. Getting married young has nothing to do with it; this guy sounds like he turned into a first-class jerk.
posted by tk at 8:45 AM on September 3, 2009 [46 favorites]

Whatever else you decide to do, get tested for STDs as soon as practicable.
posted by onshi at 8:45 AM on September 3, 2009 [13 favorites]

I found out abotu a partner cheating on me in the same way, after swearing blind that he wasn't despite mounting evidence. So I sympathise.

It sounds like your husband is bi or gay, if that helps, so it's unlikely to be your 'fault'. But that's not the issue (although if he is utterly gay, you aren't going to be married in anything other than the legal sense), the issue is that he is lying to you. And another issue, for me, is that he seems very domineering and may well know that you don't have many options if you wanted to end things (I wonder - does he have something to gain from hiding his sexuality from public view?). Do you have friends you and your son can stay with for a while while you get some space to think? There may be someone sympathetic in your family even with other things going on.
posted by mippy at 8:46 AM on September 3, 2009

I have no money because my husband has always said he works for the money so it's his, and I get only what I need.

You need to talk to a lawyer. Given that you have been out of the workforce for a while and your husband seems to keep a stranglehold on the family finances, you need to get your head on straight about your financial and legal situation.

There will also very likely be low- or no-cost counseling services at practically any university in your area. (Low-cost being anywhere from $2/session to $10-per-$10,000 in annual income/session.) You clearly feel unequipped to begin discussing this with your family, so it would make sense to get some help and support before you dive in and tell potentially-unsupportive relatives and friends.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I am so sorry for all of this. First of all, snooping wasnt the best idea, but better then not knowing. Just print out the emails, take the kid, leave the emails on the table and a note sayiing what you want. Just check into an hotel, call a good friend who you trust, and explain what you just told us. Proceed from there
posted by wheelieman at 8:49 AM on September 3, 2009

Do you have friends you and your son can stay with for a while while you get some space to think? There may be someone sympathetic in your family even with other things going on.

Came in here to say this, exactly. The situation may seem hopeless for you right now, but it sounds like you have friends and family that love you and hopefully can take you in for a little bit.

In most states, divorce proceedings will not leave you penniless. You HAVE been employed for 5 years as the mother to a child and the wife to a breadwinner. You have to believe that will count for something.

The important thing to do right now is to make sure you and your child are safe.
posted by muddgirl at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nthing what others have said and adding that this totally sucks and I can only imagine how hard it must be. Definitely get some support for yourse;lf - someone who makes your welfare (and that of your child's) their focus.

(Gives you a hug. I know it sucks.)
posted by Mysticalchick at 8:51 AM on September 3, 2009

This is no time for your family to say "I told you so." Ask someone - parents, sibiling, close friend - if you can stay with them for a little bit. Make sure it is a place where you (and your son, if you take him) will be safe and secure.

Is there anyone you feel comfortable asking for a loan from? Parents? Friends? Something that will help you secure legal counsel and childcare while you look for a job? You will need some money to get legal proceedings started, and it is much easier to look for jobs and go to interviews if you have (at the very least) a babysitter on call.

Make these arrangements before you talk to him. As previously suggested, make sure that you have copies of his indiscretions - screenshots, printouts, whatever you think might be relevant - to show to your lawyer.

And yes, get screened for STDs.
posted by honeybee413 at 8:52 AM on September 3, 2009

Whatever else you decide to do, get tested for STDs as soon as practicable.

This is what I came in to say.

I'll add, though, that what tk says about divorce law is generally true. You will be entitled to child support and possibly spousal support as well.

Also, its possible -- although not likely -- that this won't end in divorce. There is a blog called A Room of Mama's Own which is written by a woman whose husband is a Sex Addict. (She also has an autistic son.) The story of how she discovered her husband was a sex addict sounds both like and unlike yours, but the reason why I'm linking it here is that they went to therapy and he confessed and they have remained together. I'm also linking to her blog so you can feel a little less alone .... believe it or not, you are not the only woman who has gone through this. Please don't feel ashamed. His behavior is not about you.
posted by anastasiav at 8:54 AM on September 3, 2009 [11 favorites]

Whatever you do don't feel guilty. The "I Told You So" only works if the person it is said to has made a mistake. You have a son who you love and who loves you, so no mistake there - it is HIM who made the mistake.

So don't fear the recriminations. In fact, as far as you can, have no fear. Just do what you need to do, and be as strong as you can. You'll come out of this wiser and freer.

Good luck x
posted by greenish at 8:55 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

take the kid, leave the emails on the table and a note sayiing what you want.

I've seen husbands in this type of situation turn fairly vindictive when confronted. Given the OP's husband's controlling nature when it comes to money, I would not be surprised if he made the situation extremely unpleasant in the time between her confronting him and the terms of a divorce being ironed out. This is why I think it's imperative to speak with a lawyer before making any decisions, unless the OP has savings or access to money the husband isn't aware of. You need to arm yourself with information because your husband will think he has the upper hand here.

OP, please consider speaking to someone at a free legal advice clinic in your area (or finding an attorney for a consultation if you think that's an option for you financially) before you confront your husband.
posted by Meg_Murry at 8:59 AM on September 3, 2009 [31 favorites]

Not only is he cheating on you, but he seems to be doing it in an especially skanky fashion.

Get tested.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 9:00 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

my husband has always said he works for the money so it's his

Boy, is this about to change.

Whatever you do, don't tip your hand until you have gathered some evidence. Whatever you tell your husband, do not tell him about the existence or whereabouts of said evidence.

Once you have your evidence, leave. Talk to him over the phone, not in person and especially not in your home. He sounds like a fairly controlling person, and you do not want to put yourself in a situation where you can be bullied, guilted, or cajoled into confusion.

And yes, please do get tested right away. For everything.
posted by hermitosis at 9:01 AM on September 3, 2009 [47 favorites]

I went to the bedroom and opened his lap top. It was on and his gmail account was up.

Lots of good advice in this thread already, so I just want to add... that sounds like the behavior of a man who wants to get caught.

Who doesn't even close the window?
posted by rokusan at 9:02 AM on September 3, 2009

Hoo boy...

So sorry that he's put you in this situation. It sucks. There's not other way to put it.

Firstly: Do not internalize this. You are not at fault here. You have done nothing wrong. You are not stupid, nor are you to blame.

Reading this, my one thought is: this reeks of an intentionally botched effort. Is it possible he wanted to tell you and this was some sort of passive way of doing so? If he's been carrying on for two years it seems like he'd be more sneaky about covering his tracks. This way he's forcing you to make the initial move.

I could be wrong though. Maybe he's just gotten cavalier and he thinks he can't be caught at this point.

He could be gay and closeted, or he could just be bi and looking for action on the side. Either way you can be sure that this will not be his last time, regardless of what promises he makes. If he's been carrying on behind your back for this long you can be sure he will do so again in the future.

You need to DTMFA. It sucks, but that's what needs to happen. Get your ducks in a row first, because having the conversation with him will inexorably set events in motion.

If you're married and have a kid, you can at least count on getting some child support from him to help you transition.

Beyond that, reach out to your family. Yes, it's embarrassing and yes they very well might be thinking "told you so" but if they're decent they will help you through this. This sort of emergency is why family exists.

And I'll close with what is probably the most trite, but also the most true cliche ever: Time heals all wounds. You're certainly in for a rough patch for a while, but it will get better. There will be a day in the future where you'll look back at this and it won't hurt as badly. You just need to focus on that and take this one step at a time.
posted by reticulatedspline at 9:03 AM on September 3, 2009

First, you are not stupid. I learned a while back that the hurt people do to you in romantic matters don't really have anything to do with who you are.

This lawyer says meet with a lawyer now! Even if you go for low cost local services (check local law schools or battered women's organizations (they will have a referral for you even if you aren't being physically abused). Check with any local social services group for women.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:05 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]

anonymous: I'm a stay at home mom and haven't worked in over 5 years. I have no money because my husband has always said he works for the money so it's his, and I get only what I need.

Do you have a joint bank account?

If so, then 1) Speak to a lawyer, 2) Empty the bank account, 3) Throw him out of the house by changing the locks.

Most divorce lawyers will let you do 1 for free until you complete 2 and can advise you on 3. But you really, really need professional advice here. Lawyer up and keep quiet about it until you have a plan. Do not leave your marital home.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:05 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]

Document, document, document. Screenshots of emails, printout bank statements online (assuming you have any access), Document his comings and goings. Get any evidence you can before you leave, because he will likely hide it well after you go.

I've had three close friends go through this in the past 6 months and they were in very similar situations. Some things that will really help:

1.) Call a women's shelter and ask them if they have resources/support for women in your situation. Even if you have friends/family to stay with, you will need support from others who have been in your situation.

2.) You're in a great (sorry) situation for a pro-bono attorney. Call the bar association in your state and tell them your financial situation and that you need a pro-bono attorney. All three of my friends were able to get free legal representation this way.

3.) Does he give you a credit card/bank card for grocery shopping? My friends would regularly get cash back when making purchases so that their husbands wouldn't notice anything weird on the account. It'll just look like a regular shopping trip.

4.) Just so you know, child support in my state is 33% of the gross income, and you will likely get spousal support since you are a SAHM.

I was not married but I've been through a REALLY nasty custody case and I helped my friends get back on their feet (they each stayed here in transition) so I'm familiar with this kind of thing. If you need any help/support/suggestions, you can mefimail me. Good luck, you can do this.
posted by Lullen at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [28 favorites]

Please don't feel ashamed. His behavior is not about you.

What anastasiav said. You are not the first woman to go through this, and it really doesn't have anything to do with you. You have a son, so you need to make sure that you are okay so that you can continue to be there for him. Making sure you are okay means both seeing a lawyer and getting yourself tested. I know that this can all seem overwhelming and it may be tempting to pull the covers over your head and wish it would go away, but it won't.

This sucks, but it will get better. You still have a lot of life ahead of you, and please believe us when we say you deserve much better than this.
posted by ambrosia at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

Don't feel ashamed and don't keep his behaviour a secret. YOU have done nothing to deserve being lied to. Contrary to wheelieman DON'T leave the matrimonial home or let him know you know until you have talked to a lawyer. Go to someone you trust and unburden yourself and ask their advice. This is overwhelming and shocking and he has had five years to wear you down about your "place" in the relationship so it would probably be better for you to only do what your lawyers/close friends/therapist tell you to do until you are feeling healthier.

This is a long process and you have a few really rough months ahead of you but at the end you WILL have a life you control, happiness on your own terms and no more lies in your life. I wish you the best; you are strong enough to get to the other side.
posted by saucysault at 9:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]

First you need to consider what this really means to you; I.E. do you want to try and repair this relationship, or do you want to get out of it. Don't consider your kid right now; there's many children of parents who stayed miserably together, "for the kids." who just wished that their parents split. If you won't be able to be happy with this man, don't stay with him for the kid's sake. Only stay with him if that's what you want.

Regardless, get some STD testing.

I'll say that it being "his money" while you're making the sacrifice to be a SAHM doesn't make this guy seem like a keeper. I don't consider myself a keeper, yet I go out of the way to let our kids know that the money I earn at work is both Mom's and my money. She makes sacrifices to make the functioning of the family significantly better and we're a partnership. We make joint household decisions, and we each have personal spending allowances.

If you want to stay together, then obviously confront him and get enroled in couples therapy and stop reading this comment here.

If you're done with him, use your family network. Arrange to be able to get out of the house at a moment's notice, don't cohabitate with a male friend. Get a lawyer, listen to the advice. Yes, it won't be fun to rain on someone's parade, but if you've got family/friends, this is the time that you'll need them. Start considering career/job options.

Get a lawyer.

Seriously, get a lawyer; they'll be able to advise whether or not you should collect more evidence, move out immediately, etc. I'm sure that google will turn up people in Pennsylvania (I assume from the wawa part) who will be willing to at least give you an initial consultation at no cost, and the biggest mistake that I've seen numerous people make during a divorce is to not immediately get a lawyer. Every time that I've seen they eventually have to get a lawyer; save your self the trouble and from making potentially costly mistakes and get one now.

You can't afford to not see a lawyer even if you have nothing but the shirt on your back right now.
posted by nobeagle at 9:11 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

Yes, you should keep all the evidence in a safe place. Outside the house if necessary. Definitely seek legal counsel. If you are worried you don't have enough money for an attorney look into legal aid clinics in your area, especially at any local law schools. Or try contacting some family law attorneys and ask if you can get a consultation and pay your bills after you start getting support money from your (soon to be ex) husband.

Don't move out of the house until you have talked with an attorney. In some places "abandoning" the marital residence can affect the spousal support you may receive in the future.

I'm sorry this happened to you. It's not your fault, and I really hope you can find some supportive friends and family members to help you through this tough time.

And, as always, I am not your attorney and this is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of an attorney in your area before you take any action.
posted by JennyK at 9:12 AM on September 3, 2009 [8 favorites]

Since there are some conflicting responses, I'm going to chime in supporting talking to a lawyer before anything else. Because this:

I have no money because my husband has always said he works for the money so it's his, and I get only what I need.

is not ok. It's a symptom of your husband having serious control issues. That alone shows that there's a complete lack of respect and acknowledgment of you as an equal partner in this marriage. The fact that you may (at least temporarily) lose everything means that you need to prepare for the divorce as best you can before you confront him.

1. Document everything you can. 2. Talk to a lawyer. 3. Get support from family/friends and move the hell out. 4. Confront your husband.

And maybe 0. should be "get tested for STDs" as long as you can do it on the down-low without your husband finding out.
posted by Tooty McTootsalot at 9:18 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry you're going through this.

Lots of good advice in this thread. Also, please remember, the deeper you get into this, the less rational your husband may act. He may say or do things that completely take you off-guard. Please be prepared for that. If he's gay or bi, but doesn't want certain people to know, he may very well freak out when confronted with the evidence.

Build a good support system. There are many online, as well.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:18 AM on September 3, 2009

And maybe 0. should be "get tested for STDs" as long as you can do it on the down-low without your husband finding out.

Any doc will do it as part of a routine GYN checkup if requested, so that shouldn't trigger any alerts via insurance paperwork.

Best of luck to you, OP.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:35 AM on September 3, 2009

Planned Parenthood will also have free or low cost STD testing
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:51 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

My Dad did this to my Mom. Well, actually she found out about his being gay when she got diagnosed with an STD. She handled the situation extremely poorly and that's what caused my extremely messed up childhood - not the situation but her reaction to it. You sound like you have a better head on your shoulders than she did, thank goodness, because the most important thing you can do right now, as hard as it's going to be, is stay strong for your son.

I wouldn't think you can fix this marriage and it will probably be easier on you and your son if you make a clean break. You're going to be extremely tempted to confront your husband about this. For goodness sakes, DO NOT DO THIS. Instead, pick a family member or a close friend and confide what's going on. You say you don't want to upset your family at a time like this - well, let them worry about how to handle this just as you're having to. You and your son are absolutely important enough to have their attention now when you need it, regardless of what else is going on.

Gather your evidence and go to a lawyer as soon as you possibly can, preferable tomorrow instead of waiting out the weekend when you'll have too many opportunities to spill the beans. Don't worry about the money problems as any court will be very sympathetic towards you and you'll do fine out of this as far as that goes. Maybe you'll want to go back to school and get some training in a job you'd enjoy - you should be able to do this.

Good luck. My family turned out pretty much ok in the end but it would have been so, so much better for all involved if my mother could have acted like an adult when she found herself in your situation instead of falling to pieces completely. PM me if you want to talk about this further.
posted by hazyjane at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

It's all been said before, but for emphasis:

1. Get screened for STDs.
2. Document, document, document.
3. Get a lawyer. Learn about your legal options and financial recourse.
4. Talk with your family and friends.
5. Confront your husband and kick him out.

Any doc will do it as part of a routine GYN checkup if requested, so that shouldn't trigger any alerts via insurance paperwork.

Really, really not true. My own insurance itemizes reimbursement forms, showing exactly what percent of exactly which procedures it is covering -- and since it doesn't cover STD testing, that's there loud and clear. For private testing, go to a county health clinic (which won't turn you away for inability to pay) or Planned Parenthood and pay cash, cash you've saved up from getting cash back at the grocery store (can be done with checks or credit cards or ATM cards).
posted by amelioration at 9:55 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]

I am so sorry for all of this. First of all, snooping wasnt the best idea, but better then not knowing. Just print out the emails, take the kid, leave the emails on the table and a note sayiing what you want. Just check into an hotel, call a good friend who you trust, and explain what you just told us. Proceed from there
posted by wheelieman at 8:49 AM on September 3

The above is terrible advice and should not be followed unless you want to lose your child and die bankrupt. Snooping when you had a good goddamn reason may very well have saved your life.

You have been working for many years - stay-at-home mom is a job just like any other. Document everything. Don't tell your husband you know anything. Do not talk to anyone except your lawyer. Get a good one with whatever money you can scrounge together, beg, borrow, or steal. Your husband has put your life at risk and he has lied to you for years. He is the enemy. Do not let him get away with this.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:57 AM on September 3, 2009 [52 favorites]

If you live near a GLBTQ center you'll be able to find free STD testing resources. For instance, the Washington West Project in Philly does free HIV testing with instant results from a pin prick test, and free testing for a full screen of STDs that takes about two weeks to return, both can be done anonymously. You might want to Google search for these resources on a computer your husband does not have access to.
posted by The Straightener at 10:03 AM on September 3, 2009


1) getting tested (even if you haven't had sex with him much/at all during this time period -- you don't mention this, but given his behavior, it seems likely that you might not have; I'm sorry but if it was happening for two years, it may have been happening for much longer)

2) speaking to a lawyer
3) documenting this.

Also if at all possible to do so without arousing suspicion, speak to a neutral third party like a therapist or counselor. Friends and family will certainly be there for you and sympathetic but, if at all possible, it seems like someone on your side with some distance would be helpful.

However, confronting him when your financial situation is as perilous as it seems it may be and when you are still so emotionally raw, does not seem like a good idea. You have no idea how he will respond, and it seems that his ability to lie (even when it comes to things like getting coffee) can get convoluted when he's backed in a corner. Even if you confront him with all the evidence you've described, it is likely that he will deny, deny, deny. Someone in this situation who does not want the reality of his situation to come to light can very possibly pretend that the reality he has been trying to present is the only reality -- even going so far that they can start to believe the lies themselves. You should not have to deal with this until you are safe and secure.

I am sorry for your situation, and I pray for the very best resolution possible for your and your child.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:05 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

that sounds like the behavior of a man who wants to get caught.

Possibly, or of a man who feels entitled and invulnerable.

nthing that you get a lawyer before you reveal anything to him. And don't leave your home because that can be construed legally (IANAL) as abandonment.
posted by Obscure Reference at 10:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

He sounds like quite a dick. The money is not just his. Legally, since you are married, you should be entitled to 50% of the money. Definitely get legal advice and gather all the evidence you can. You need to get out of this relationship. You'll be better for it, especially in the long run.
posted by Eastgate at 10:06 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

You have Wawa near you so I am going to assume you are in Phila, PA or South to Central NJ regions. Here are some Legal Clinics to contact:

Temple University

University of Pennsylvania

Rutgers - Camden

Womanspace is an organization to aid women who are dealing with physical or emotional abuse situations and they have a network of shelters. They opperate in the Mercer Cty. NJ area (but I believe they extend ther services outside of the Cty. as well). They are a great source if you feel that your situation is / was abusive.

For STD testing: Planned Parenthood is likely no more than 10 minutes away from you in this area. This link is to the "finder" widget on their website.

Anecdotal advice - Do NOT take your child and leave your marital residence unless advised to do so by a lawyer. I've heard crazy things like the other parent trying to say that the fleeing parent was "kidnapping" the child.

If you are in NJ - you will get child support and almost certainly alimony if you are a stay at home mom. The alimony (monthly money you get from the breadwinning spouse in a divorce) should help you for long enough to get on your feet and get your own apartment / job / situation settled.

You are very right in not wanting to put up with this deception of faith anymore. My sympathies to you and best wishes!
posted by WeekendJen at 10:29 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

Oh and just for future peace of mind - this again applies to NJ - some county colleges have programs and reduced rates for what they call "women in transition" which basically applies to new divorcees, women exiting abusive relationships, and women who have been suddenly widdowed. They offer workshops that offer different coping skills and you can also be trained to work in some practical field (usually medical related - nursing, sonography , x-ray, etc.)

Just wanted to add that so you know that in addition to the friends and family that will support you in this time, there is also public programs to help in areas where friends and family are sometimes not too versed.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:36 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

One additional bit of advice: Although you may want to confide in your friends and family, you should do all of your documenting FIRST. This is going to be pretty sensational gossip fodder for some people and they may not all keep their mouths shut. Get the documentation you need before doing anything that may result in your husband being tipped off.
posted by HotToddy at 10:37 AM on September 3, 2009 [17 favorites]

everything tk said in the very first comment. great advice.

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:40 AM on September 3, 2009

Hang on.. if my wife were cheating on me with some lesbian encounters, lying about it, and I found out, I wouldn't be kicking her ass out of the house, stealing all the money and "DTMFA." It's easy to say at the time that you don't want to continue the marriage, but that's not what marriage about.. it's a contract where you persevere and try to solve problems before just running away.

The post doesn't really go into any detail about what the relationship is like generally. Who knows if the husband is actually gettting any or not? Who knows if this is a happy relationship generally or not? Only the OP knows that and I'd advise the OP not to overreact and follow all of this horrible "get a lawyer" crap most of you are pulling out. As soon as she does that, the marriage is screwed and lives are (even more) ruined. Think first, act second.
posted by wackybrit at 10:51 AM on September 3, 2009

This is tragic.

Other advice--documentation, lawyerlawyerlawyer, keep your mouth shut--has been more than adequately given.

But please. I beg you. Go get screened for all STIs now--including an HIV test--and again in 3-6 months to cover your window period for HIV infection. This is, of course, assuming that you and your husband have been sexually active in the past two years. Most men-married-to-women who are having gay sex on the side (without permission, I mean) do not use protection while doing so; using protection means admitting that it's actually sex, and also requires forethought--more admission, less ability to rationalise away the sex as an 'impulsive' thing. This article on Wikipedia, while subject to the usual disclaimers about Wikipedia's reliability (particularly with regards to controversial sexual subjects), would serve as a useful introduction to the concept and help you understand why you need to take charge of your sexual health here.

Assuming your husband is either gay or bisexual, you need to understand that none of this is your fault. You will probably blame yourself--if only I were more of a woman to him, you'll probably think--but you must not. He made these choices, he decided to lie to you, and there is absolutely nothing you could have done to change it.

My email is in my profile if you want to talk.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2009 [14 favorites]

but that's not what marriage about.. it's a contract where you persevere and try to solve problems before just running away.

Two years of cheating is a bit more than 'persevere'. Particularly when it appears that their sexual orientations are largely or wholly incompatible.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:02 AM on September 3, 2009 [12 favorites]

Who knows if the husband is actually gettting any or not? Who knows if this is a happy relationship generally or not? Only the OP knows that and I'd advise the OP not to overreact and follow all of this horrible "get a lawyer" crap most of you are pulling out.

She was quite clear in the original post:

I don't want to continue this marriage.
posted by The Straightener at 11:17 AM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]

Only the OP knows that and I'd advise the OP not to overreact and follow all of this horrible "get a lawyer" crap most of you are pulling out. As soon as she does that, the marriage is screwed and lives are (even more) ruined. Think first, act second.
posted by wackybrit at 10:51 AM on September 3

You have posted before thinking. Here is what you failed to read:

"What should I do next? Who should I talk to besides him? I don't want to continue this marriage." Please re-read the question before telling the rest of us how to answer.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:34 AM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

DarlingBri's advice here is questionable at at best.

If this guy is anything at all like me, taking communal money (that he seems to, wrongly or not, think is his) and locking him out of the house will escalate the problem far beyond where it is currently. Any reasonable person knows how to break into their own house, and I imagine that someone who gets put in this position if far beyond reasonable at this point. In my case, the harder it is for me to get in that house, the more angry and rageful I am going to be when I get in. Maybe he is different, but if someone, anyone, took my hard-earned money and my home (let's just assume that I "believe" that they are mine), I am going to flip out on a monumental scale.

Please, for everyone's sake, do not do this!

-Document evidence
-Get legal counsel
-Get your biznas checked out

After you do these things, make another post. Anything beyond that right now will be pre-emptive action without sufficient information. If you need to get out of the situation, go "stay with family" (maybe to check in on an ill relative) for a while, take some money and the kid for the trip.
posted by milqman at 11:45 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

Nthing the previous advice, and I can't stress enough the need to get an attorney.

If I read you correctly, you've essentially be "taken care of" by your husband. That means you're not likely to have a good grasp of all the household finances. A lawyer is vital to help you get full disclosure of the common assets of the marriage. You're entitled to subpeona certain records from the opposing party, and a lawyer can help you through that processs. The lawyer will know how to take your husband's deposition to "discover" what it is that needs to be discovered. In short, a lawyer can protect your rights and help you get a fair divorce.

Also, after you get a lawyer, consider doing the following:

1. Get your own cell phone account.

2. Get a credit card in your name only.

3. Get a Post Office Box or some other place where you can receive mail without the possibility of your husband intercepting your private communications, including letters from your divorce lawyer.

4. Open a bank account in your name only.

5. Get your own e-mail account.

6. Separate and remove (or photocopy) important papers.

7. Take photos of personal property in the marital home (in case something of yours comes up missing later)

Run the above list by your attorney first, of course, as every divorce case is unique. But often it's best to start separating your own financial and material possessions from your husband as soon as it's feasible.

Good luck, dear.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:48 AM on September 3, 2009 [7 favorites]

Mostly great advice above. Lawyer. STD test. Get some support.

I just wanted to add that the shame of the "I told you so's" has kept many a woman in abusive relationships. Myself included. Don't let that stop you, please. Those that would say, "I told you so" will be able to crow to themselves about helping you get away, too.

Detach emotionally from him. Be strong for you and your kiddo. You are not alone, even if he and the situation makes you feel that way. You will come out on the other side, I promise.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 11:49 AM on September 3, 2009

You and your son are absolutely important enough to have their attention now when you need it, regardless of what else is going on.

Please pay attention to this.

People love you. They really do. You matter enough for their help.

Follow the advice in the first post, by tk. And reach out to people.
posted by Ms. Saint at 11:51 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

all of this horrible "get a lawyer" crap

One of the great things about speaking to a lawyer (and a therapist), as opposed to friends and family, in this type of situation, is that you can get your bearings after a shock (finding out your husband has been cheating on you for two years) and determine your rights before any confrontation happens or any decisions are made.

Whereas family and friends will form opinions and have expectations and make demands regarding your next steps (if Wackybrit is your friend, you'll hear all about your obligation to persevere; if I'm your friend, you'll probably hear all about how you really ought to just DTMFA), a lawyer simply lays out your rights and options. Speaking with a lawyer does not obligate you to take any particular course of action.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:52 AM on September 3, 2009 [15 favorites]

Make sure your ID documents are in a safe place, as well as your child's ID documents. Take them to your mother's house. If you don't have those, you can't do anything financial, so they are really, really important.
posted by kathrineg at 11:53 AM on September 3, 2009 [4 favorites]

I think the hardest thing is going to be sitting tight until you see a lawyer, who will hopefully tell you what kind of information you need to build an airtight case to get support, as well as how to leave, etc. Information is really your friend here.

No one's mentioned this, but there are information capture software you can install on his machine that would get you his email password. From there, you can forward to yourself all his incriminating emails and info. Just that one email saying he's been going to that spot for two years could really do it.

I am so sorry. This is not your fault.
posted by xammerboy at 12:17 PM on September 3, 2009

This must be awful for you. Identify any supportive friends and/or family, and make sure you have someplace safe to go, and somebody to count on. Every state has resources for people who can't afford a lawyer, so look in the traditional phone book in the section on community resources, for legal aid. You do need legal help, but may not be able to pay for it. Also see if what resources are there for domestic violence. Women's shelters are usually really connected to community resources for women.

Of course you should be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Again, there should be a public health resource in the phone book.

You don't say how you feel about him. You're not stupid. Some men take a long time to understand their sexuality, and obviously he's got some sorting out to do. You are likely to be sharing parenting with this man for quite a few years, so be as calm as you can. No matter what his beliefs are, you generally have a right to half the marital assets, and he will have the obligation to provide support for your child, as as will you, when you get back on your feet and are able to work. Take care of your child, take care of yourself. Good luck.
posted by theora55 at 12:17 PM on September 3, 2009

Used to work for a lawyer who handled some very very nasty divorces -- nthing the advice to get copies of EVERY financial document, etc you can get your hands on and store them somewhere he can't get to...
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:19 PM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]

The post doesn't really go into any detail about what the relationship is like generally.

I think that this:

"I have no money because my husband has always said he works for the money so it's his, and I get only what I need."

along with the fact that he's been cheating on her for two years in a really unsafe fashion tells us everything we need to know about this relationship. He's not worth her time.

OP, I wish you the very best in dealing with this.
posted by hought20 at 12:38 PM on September 3, 2009 [6 favorites]

Lots of great advice in this thread about getting tested for STDs, speaking to a lawyer (secretly) and, very importantly, documenting what you've told us.

At least two people have given some bad advice, though:

3) Throw him out of the house by changing the locks.

This is quite possibly illegal. Don't do this.
posted by Justinian at 1:09 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Folks have already hit on a lot of things, but I just want to add that you should take care of yourself. You mentioned having chest pain and I know from experience you are feeling the effects of stress. The pain, both emotional and physical, can be so scary. Please be sure to take care of yourself for both you and your son. I have never been in a situation like this one, but you might consider a therapist and/or talking to your doctor after you having taken some of the measures mentioned above, i.e. documentation, etc.

Best wishes - you are in my thoughts.
posted by Coyote at the Dog Show at 1:24 PM on September 3, 2009

One last thing, you may hit some lean times after you leave your husband and before you get some kind of ongoing financial support legally arranged. I also noted the Wawa reference, so since you are in the general region if you need help accessing social services to make ends meet in the interim you can contact me and I will gladly assist you in locating resources for you and your child.
posted by The Straightener at 1:28 PM on September 3, 2009 [9 favorites]

Apart from being a cheater, he seems like a sick son-of-a-bitch. Maybe a sex-addict in the truest form; getting off on totally anonymous sex acts that, I assume, don't even reveal the identity of the participants. If you did want to attempt some sort of salvage, which you don't, the one thing you could hang your hat on was that he was not having an emotional and physical affair (a ala Mark Sanford). There is no "other woman" or "other man"...it's just body parts. Then again (reading what I wrote after I typed it) it seems even worse...

Gloryholes? I guess I'm naive; I thought that was some fabricated porn fetish that didn't exist in real life.
posted by teg4rvn at 1:48 PM on September 3, 2009

Assuming your husband is either gay or bisexual, you need to understand that none of this is your fault.
posted by stet at 1:55 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Oh, honey, I am so sorry....

1. Lawyer. Talk to one.
2. Don't leave your home. You did nothing wrong. (Unless for some reason you suspect you aren't safe there. You will know the answer to this more than any of us would. Safety trumps everything.)
3. After you get your ducks in a row, don't worry about the "I told you so's. " You are going to need help and support and that is what family and friends are for.

And repeat this to yourself a million times and then some:
This is NOT your fault!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:16 PM on September 3, 2009

Lots of great advice above. Some people have promoted sharing your situation with family or friends.

I'm worried you probably don't yet know who in your social/family circle you could trust with this information. Some people aren't going to understand. Some people might accidentally or deliberately undermine you as you seek an appropriate resolution. Some people might not keep secrets all that well. There could be A LOT of drama and betrayal on top of what you've just learned about your husband. Be wise in your next few steps.

I feel strongly that you should keep your own counsel and immediately search out a therapist or organization that can provide a reliable support system.

If you share your situation with a clinician at Planned Parenthood, they almost certainly will put you in touch with organizations and therapists who help people in your situation. Your lawyer (as per every answer above, you've already gotten one - right??) can also recommend therapists.

Once you document the infidelity, get professional support, and finally execute the plan your professional support has helped you devise.... you might find you don't want to share publicly the particulars of your (ex) husband's predilections. And why should you? Aside from the few people who really care for your well-being, the details of your break-up will only serve as salacious gossip.

Take the high road as the break-up unfolds. Your son will thank you.

Additionally, some folks have pointed out that your husband is an experienced liar. I want to nth that.

Optimus Chyme really hit it on the nose - your husband has put your life at risk with his actions.

Your husband might behave honorably towards you once he is informed you know his secrets. He might even find himself relieved and grateful. But most likely, based on what you already know, there isn't much hope of this happy outcome. Be prepared.

At the very least, your husband could likely attempt to smear you in the court of public opinion. I would expect he will be IN TERROR once he knows his (many) secrets may become exposed to friends, family, and colleagues. Again, please take the high road and be prepared for the worst.

With a good team in place, you will get through this. In fact, I hope it turns into the best opportunity you've ever had. Now you can become independent, find a career you enjoy, raise your son in a loving household, and find a true partner to share your life with.

I know finding out the awful truth was truly awful, but so many many things in your life are about to change for the utmost benefit of you and your son.

(And I think it is amazing so many people on this thread who live in your area have offered you direct assistance. Wow. Just, wow.)

Good Luck.
posted by jbenben at 2:31 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]

I emailed the poster at her throwaway account to ask her approximate location, so folks might give more location-specific advice. She says:
I'm in New Jersey along the Middlesex-Monmouth boarder.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:34 PM on September 3, 2009

I haven't read all of the above comments, so I apologize if someone has already said this, but I just wanted to add this:

Do not feel guilty about the snooping.

If you and your husband have had sex in the last 2 years, what he is doing could potentially give you a very serious illness. He is risking your life. No, you didn't know this before you snooped, but given the severity of his mistake, you should not and must not feel guilty. He has done this horrible thing; not you.

Just as an addendum, I want to point out that I am not criticizing him for his sexuality, only his choice to have risky sex with strangers. This is inexcusable, no matter your orientation, and especially if you claim to be monogamous.
posted by pecanpies at 3:05 PM on September 3, 2009

The sadness just drips from your words - God, I'm so sorry to read this.
Many people have given great advice. To clarify, here's what NOT to do:

1) Do not throw him out
2) Do not confront him before getting advice from a lawyer
3) I recommend that you do not tell a friend. I know it would help to have someone to talk to, but I have personally witnessed a bad situation get a lot worse by a "trusted friend" who couldn't keep a juicy bit of gossip to her damn self. This is your future. Speak with a councilor or therapist, not your buddies.

I didn't see this mentioned, but you may want to conduct your investigation away from your son. Don't let him see you making copies of things, taking photos, checking daddy's e-mail, etc. You don't say how old the kiddo is, but little ones tend to gabber on about any old thing. Don't act weird around your child, but try to shelter him from anything you do that may be out of the ordinary.
posted by caveat at 3:27 PM on September 3, 2009

I'm so sorry. I think you know what you have to do - lawyer up, move out, divorce him.

I just wanted to come in here to say: I know another family this happened to, except it happened three times and the wife took him back each time. And he swore it was over, and he would never do it again, and then he went right back to it.

When I say it had happened three times, I mean she found concrete evidence three times, but really how many partners had he had in those years of anonymous hookups? Hundreds, certainly. And part of this was during the peak of the AIDS epidemic in the US. (I don't know her status, since this is a friend's mom.) All while swearing to her, explicitly, I'm not doing that, I would never do that to you.

They were married for 25 years, with three adult kids, by the time she finally had had enough and threw him out. Horrible. His kids hate him for the years and years of bald-faced lying. His wife feels like she gave up her youth to him; if she had thrown him out when she first discovered this, she would have been able to date and remarry in her 30s.

This is kind of a worst-case scenario I'm describing. What I mean is just this: it's an awful situation now, but it will only get worse if you don't end it now. Forget anybody who would give you any crap about "I told you so" - screw that, who cares what they think. (Plus they will probably be proud of you for standing up for yourself.) Have the courage to gut it out, stick to your guns, and don't accept any half-measures. This kind of lying is not ok, and it doesn't get better. Especially with his "I work for my money" self-serving baloney. Get a lawyer and cut this jerk loose. You have much better times ahead without him.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:01 PM on September 3, 2009

A few links that may help:

Legal Service of New Jersey -- call their hotline for free legal advice and referrals: 1-888-LSNJ-LAW. They also have many resources online, such as Divorce in New Jersey: A Self Help Guide.

For other local resources, try calling 2-1-1 -- they should be able to direct you to other community resources that can provide more directed resources and help.
posted by susanvance at 7:42 AM on September 4, 2009

Yes, you should get an STI test. BUT.

You're handling a lot right now. You need to grieve your relationship, figure out how to move out and support your kid, hope for support from your family/friends, deal with backlash from your husband when he realises he's caught... it's a terribly stressful time for you right now. If it were me, adding a potential diagnosis of HIV on top of that would be way too much to handle right now.

If you think it would be too, it is OKAY to wait 6 months, get the other stuff figured out a bit, and THEN get tested. You are allowed to determine how much you can handle right now.

I work at an HIV agency and getting diagnosed is a huge roller-coaster of emotions and decisions to make. As much as it is better to be diagnosed earlier, a few months won't have a huge impact on HIV, but they could have a huge impact on your mental health.

As for the other steps, talk to a lawyer and a women's centre. They will be able to point you in the right direction and provide you the support you need.

I'm so sorry you're going through this.
posted by heatherann at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2009

Man, this is a bad situation. But, there is hope.

First, you have to start making plans to find somewhere else to live with the kid. Call your family and trusted friends, and see if anyone can let you crash for a little while.

Second, use deception against him. See if you can gain access to the bank account and take money out at semi-regular intervals. This will help with a deposit on an apartment and a divorce lawyer. Also, depending on where you are, you may qualify for legal aid. Call your local bar association. I'd also see if your family might be able to float you some dough.

Third, start looking for a job ASAP. You write extremely well, so I'm assuming you've got an education and a degree. See if you can find office work or something similar. Go on the interviews and take the best job you can get for now.

Move out, and then serve the slime with divorce papers.

Also, document all you can from now on. Write down his comings and goings. Be detailed. This will come in handy if your story is ever called into question.

Good luck!
posted by reenum at 1:32 PM on September 4, 2009

wheelieman, that's a damn high ladder you're calling down judgment from when you wrote:
First of all, snooping wasnt the best idea, but better then not knowing.

Her controlling, manipulative, lying, cheating SOB of a husband won't let her have access to her own money (since 50% of everything he ever earns is by all rights property of his stay-at-home spouse).

Snooping in his laptop is the moral equivalent of fact-checking his stories, in this case. If he weren't so contemptible, I would agree with you - but her husband is a jackass of the first order. And snooping was the best idea she's ever had - it may save her life.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:34 PM on September 8, 2009 [3 favorites]

« Older Keywords for the Finance industry?   |   On the history of the use of "X" as a surname... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.