How to deal with a cheating spouse?
March 22, 2012 10:22 AM   Subscribe

My spouse has been having an emotional affair at best and sleeping with an ex at the worst and I'm 6 months pregnant, what in the world do I do?

My husband has been texting, skyping and emailing at least 2 other women since January exchanging flirtatious messages and possibly pictures. Between the texts/emails I've downloaded off of his phone and the messages I've seen on skype, I know for certain he is having an emotional affair. I also know that in January while he was away he contacted 2 exes and one of the aforementioned women when he was drunk and bored.

I got the inclination to look through his phone because he's been throwing up some major red flags lately. Texting late at night, not being intimate when things were previously stellar (I chalked this up to pregnancy at first, but it looks like I was being generous.), and the fact that one women, lets call her J had a falling out with her boyfriend and he contacted me.

J's boyfriend nearly broke up with J (2+year relationship) because he felt her relationship with my husband was inappropriate. Because I work full time I didn't realize how much time they were spending together until J's boyfriend contacted me and let me know. I then confirmed on my end by checking my husbands skype log, and it's not good; hours of messages, admissions of mutual attraction, lots of flirting. I know before we were married we used to naked skype all the time, so the fact that he's skype calling her does not look good.

In addition to J, there's E. E is an old friend, married with a child and a self professed chronic cheater. They also late night text, stay in contact via social media, and the content of their messages is much the same but with much more damning evidence. All of her skype messages are cleared every night but on his phone there are texts talking about what a tease she is and how he's going to have to get her to stop that (in a flirtatious way, not a "I'm married stop this" sort of way.").

I think the only reason he hasn't slept with these two women is distance, J is about an hour away and E recently moved to the opposite coast.

The other women he's contacted (his ex's) are very close so he may be carrying on a physical relationship with one of them and just deleting all of the messages, I have no way of knowing. My husband has a very high sex drive so it's hard for me to believe that he's not getting it from somewhere, since he hasn't been sleeping with me.

I know I was snooping, I don't feel bad about it at all. When we got married we said we wouldn't keep anything from one another, so he knows my phone PW and I know his, I just don't think he ever thought I would go looking. Before we were married he was on a dating site while we were dating ostensibly "just talking to girls when I'm bored", and we set a firm limit that it was inappropriate and he said it wouldn't happen again, so there's a small history to all of this.

Other pertinent information: I'm the main bread winner and can afford to live on my own, he cannot afford to live on his own if I ask him to leave. I want to ask him to leave, but I'm trying to remain very calm until I figure out a plan. I have no idea how to confront him, I have all of the evidence on my laptop and I don't know how to say it. I am so ashamed, I never thought this would happen and I feel like an idiot for not seeing it coming. I'm worried about my marriage falling apart after only a year and feel like I've failed as a wife.

Throwaway email address:
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (76 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

You're going to need help when baby comes, so make sure that your mom or sister or whatever can come and help.

Someone else will give details - but collect evidence.

Find a good divorce attorney NOW.
posted by k8t at 10:26 AM on March 22, 2012 [17 favorites]

I'm sorry.

I'm the main bread winner and can afford to live on my own, he cannot afford to live on his own if I ask him to leave.

Not your problem.

I want to ask him to leave, but I'm trying to remain very calm until I figure out a plan. I have no idea how to confront him, I have all of the evidence on my laptop and I don't know how to say it.

What if you just show it to him?

I am so ashamed, I never thought this would happen and I feel like an idiot for not seeing it coming.

You're not an idiot.

I'm worried about my marriage falling apart after only a year and feel like I've failed as a wife.

You did not fail. Your husband did.
posted by sugarbomb at 10:27 AM on March 22, 2012 [124 favorites]

...he cannot afford to live on his own if I ask him to leave.

Perhaps he can go sleep in any of the numerous beds he seemed to have made for himself.

Please don't be ashamed for feel dumb or blame yourself in any way. You didn't do anything wrong, this isn't your fault, and you don't need to get down on yourself because he was good at covering his tracks, at least for a while. You haven't failed as a wife, he has failed as a husband.
posted by griphus at 10:27 AM on March 22, 2012 [133 favorites]

I am so ashamed, I never thought this would happen and I feel like an idiot for not seeing it coming. I'm worried about my marriage falling apart after only a year and feel like I've failed as a wife.

Please be kind to yourself. You're not a failure as a wife, you shouldn't punish yourself for trusting your husband, and you've done nothing shameful.
posted by gauche at 10:28 AM on March 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

Get your ducks in a row legally.

If you don't want to reconcile, then yes, seek the advice of a divorce attorney who can give you practical advice on how to proceed.

Confronting him will be easy once you are able to get out the first line. That's the hard part. "I know you've been cheating on me and I want you to move out." He'll likely deny it. The conversation will go from there and will continue as long as you both keep talking. Be prepared to not get any answers that may give you "closure".

You didn't fail as a wife. He cheated on you. That's not your failing. It's his failing for not saying he wasn't being fulfilled if that's indeed what was going on. He failed you and the marriage as a husband.
posted by inturnaround at 10:31 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Honestly, the first thing I'd do is take a look at your financial situation and make sure he can't clean you out if/when you confront him. Is his name on the bank account(s)? I would quietly consult a divorce attorney -- not because you're filing for divorce right now, but to understand what might happen if that occurs, and what your rights/obligations are. I'd start seeing a therapist to deal with the emotions, and I'd also confide in a single other person -- best friend, sister, mother, etc -- to let some of these emotions out in a safe way. I'd continue to collect evidence.

Then think on things for a few days. You will make it through this. You will survive this. It may be shitty and awful, but you will survive.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:32 AM on March 22, 2012 [50 favorites]

Also, if you're going to get a divorce attorney, wait until after you talk to attorney before confronting him. You don't want to say or do or show him anything that's going to make the divorce harder on you, from a legal perspective.
posted by griphus at 10:33 AM on March 22, 2012 [33 favorites]

It's like... the epitome of pathetic for a man to cheat on his pregnant wife who is also providing for him- and possibly with multiple women. No one will be on his side. Rejoice in your superior moral footing- whatever battles you face, you'll have the upper hand.
posted by MangyCarface at 10:34 AM on March 22, 2012 [66 favorites]

Start documenting things NOW. If you do not, you might end up paying him alimony.

And do not beat yourself up - you did nothing wrong. There is no reason for you to feel ashamed or like an "idiot"
posted by Flood at 10:35 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

He will likely freak out and accuse you of snooping or whatever. It does not matter. You know what you know. You cannot turn back that clock anymore than he can un-do his lack of faithfulness. Get that divorce attorney and figure out support structures for yourself and your baby.

He was resourceful enough to pull this shit off for this long. He'll be resourceful enough to carry on with his life, which is no longer your responsibility.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:35 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Seconding the documentation.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:36 AM on March 22, 2012

I am glad you don't feel bad about shouldn't. You did not fail in any way as far as I am concerned.

Definitely see a divorce lawyer before you do anything else. You can change your mind about a divorce at any time in the process if you choose to do so, but discussing your options and making a plan with a legal counselor should be your first step (even before you confront him if you can wait). This is not only for your protection, but for your child's.

I am so sorry this happened to you.
posted by murrey at 10:36 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

I agree that you should start coming up with a plan. Finding help and support with the baby and obtaining a good attorney soon are both very important, like k8t pointed out. You're going to have child custody, and child support things to think about, and you'll want to ensure the terms of these things come as close as they can to meeting your needs as possible. Getting an attorney right away will help you do this, and believe me, you want to do this, because it will have a profound effect on the next 18 years of your life at the least (and, really, beyond that if you have a terrible child custody situation, as this will affect your child too).

Getting the lawyer and making sure you have support in place to help raise your kid are not irrevocable steps, and you can still decide to stay married if that's an option you're considering.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:37 AM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is heartbreaking, you poor kid. It's just unconscionable. You'll get great advice here, I'll just say: Everything you describe is not "emotional cheating". It's actual cheating. Don't fool yourself.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:43 AM on March 22, 2012 [12 favorites]

I'm so, so incredibly sorry.

You need to talk to a divorce lawyer before your husband knows what you've seen.

You also need to talk to your OB/GYN. There are STDs that your doctor needs to know about so that they can treat you effectively and prevent harm to your baby. They do test for them but usually in earlier pregnancy and so you need another test if you've been intimate at all.

It's never good timing, of course, but this might be the best timing possible. . I get the impression that if he'd managed to put himself in the position of being an otherwise unemployed caretaker there is a much better chance that you'd have custody or alimony issues. Now, not so much.

Don't be too hard on yourself, and good luck.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:43 AM on March 22, 2012 [29 favorites]

For what it's worth, you sound like you have an incredible head on your shoulders. You are calm and rational, and you are going to make an amazing mother! He/She will be lucky to have such a strong and smart woman to be his/her role model in life.

As for the situation at hand, consult a divorce attorney to get all the legal stuff clear in your mind, and then kick him to the curb. I think the best way to do this is to blind side him, since he seems like the type of person who will try to emotionally manipulate you into letting him stay. You said he can not support himself without your help? This is a huge incentive for him to try everything he can to stay. DON'T LET HIM!

I agree with the above people who say you should consult an attorney now. That way YOU will have all the information you need to make rational and clear decisions while he'll be stuck having to rely on his emotions.

Kick him, and spend the next few months getting ready for your baby.

Once again, you sound like an amazing, smart, logical, and strong person. You will get through this, and you and your baby will be better off. Better you know now than when you have a newborn to take care of. Or a toddler. Or two toddlers. etc.
posted by katypickle at 10:48 AM on March 22, 2012 [19 favorites]

Second the documenting everything, and make an initial contact w/ divorce atty.

I'd also counsel you not to do anything rash, and resist the urge to reflexively DTMFA. That might be the right decision, ultimately, but you should consider all your options now.

Obviously, you need to confront him with what you know and hear him out. Don't apologize for the snooping. See how he reacts: does he apologize and show genuine emotion? Does he seem fearful about losing you? Or is he defensive and combative? That will tell you a lot about what to do next.

Think about whether counseling is something you'd want to do. Ask yourself if the marriage is salvageable... if you think you might be able to forgive him in time.

It's worth noting that one of the women is on another coast, while the other is more than an hour away. Perhaps he thinks of his inappropriate behavior as a fantasy. Guys can do crazy things when their wives are pregnant (see Anthony Weiner, for instance).

None of this is to excuse your husband's awful, selfish and hurtful behavior. But if you think there might be a chance that you could possibly want to save your marriage, it might be worthwhile to consider couples therapy as an option.
posted by BobbyVan at 10:53 AM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Great advice so far! I guess the first step is to figure out what you want to do at this point. Therapy and good friends/family who will not judge you as you navigate this could be exactly what you need right now.

1. You are not responsible for him. He is, and has to deal with the consequences of his behavior. He can find his own place to crash.
2. Document everything. Talk to people who have been through this. (Feel free to send me an email and I can give you more specifics).
3. If your company has a program that offers ANY employee assistance, use it (legal, financial, therapy, etc). Many services offer free consultations, and that hour/half hour can give you lots of info and help.
4. There will be a lot of guilty feelings, remind yourself that you are only responsible for taking the very best care of yourself and your baby. That is your job right now.
posted by retrofitted at 11:12 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Others have made good comments for you. I look here only at the money. When I left my home and wife, after a long but not good marriage, I went to the bank account and took out 50%--we both worked. But you need to make sure that if he leaves, he does not first empty an entire joint account.
posted by Postroad at 11:15 AM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

Lawyer up, document everything. Don't say anything to your husband until you talk to a lawyer.
posted by empath at 11:23 AM on March 22, 2012 [5 favorites]

You said you share passwords. Change your passwords on everything, particularly your laptop, your email and social network accounts, and anything financial that is solely in your name. Don't lock him out of anything to which he is entitled to access.

Back up your documentation. Maybe copy it to a flash drive, then mail the flash drive to somebody undeniably on your side, like your parents or a sibling. Encrypt it if you'd prefer they not access it. Or you could put the drive in a brand new safe deposit box.
posted by postel's law at 11:29 AM on March 22, 2012 [30 favorites]

I would just like to say that while I'm sure your husband has lovely and charming qualities, I would not want to be married to him and it's OK if you don't want to be, either. Yours won't be the first marriage to end after a year, and you won't be the first pregnant woman to file. Please do not wait until this baby is born to discover he's still a cheat, you're now exhausted and overwrought by motherhood, and you're in the same boat but it's 3x worse now.

Gather your paperwork: assets, debts, home, car, insurance. Get a lawyer. Make a plan. You can protect your portion of shared assets and exit very quickly, just so you know.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:39 AM on March 22, 2012 [28 favorites]

You did nothing wrong. He did. He is a bad person. Now that you know that, if you don't get him out of your life, then you will be doing something wrong.

Get him out now. If you wait, if he lives with you and baby for at least a year, then he can claim he has a bond with the child and can get more visitation. The less time he spends with the child, the better. Baby doesn't need to be around a parasitic, lying cheat. For your child's sake, get rid of him now.

Consult a lawyer today, without telling him what you are doing. Your best bet is to blindside him. Pack him up and change the locks while he is out.

Ideally, you would throw him out and then not be at home when he discovers the locks changed and the key and address to the storage unit that is holding his stuff (pay only the first month's rent). Try to find a safe place to stay for a week or two until things settle down.

He will not change. He will only find more clever ways to not be caught. End it now. Document everything because he will most likely fight for custody hoping you will have to pay him child support.
posted by myselfasme at 11:45 AM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

For ongoing support from people who have been there, check out

Count me among those who are really, really sorry to hear that you're in this situation.
posted by Sublimity at 12:03 PM on March 22, 2012

Pack him up and change the locks while he is out.

You should consult an attorney before doing something like this.
posted by Tarumba at 12:07 PM on March 22, 2012 [9 favorites]

I mean: I rushed to post that without reading the previous answers, because I got such a sense of emergency from your post. I'm sure you've already been advised to just "get out". So-- get a lawyer and do it today. Get whatever you need to lined up legally. It's up to you if you confront your husband and give him another chance (assuming he wants one), but know that he will likely continue this behaviour. If it's like this now, imagine where you will be when the baby arrives. Leave him, or kick him out, and get your life organized to care for the baby. Good luck.
posted by jokeefe at 12:12 PM on March 22, 2012

He is a bad person. Now that you know that, if you don't get him out of your life, then you will be doing something wrong.

This is not helpful. He has done something incredibly hurtful, inappropriate, and wrong, and the OP needs to figure out what to do about it. She does not need to believe he is a bad person, and she certainly doesn't have a moral imperative to "get him out of [her] life."

Document what you've found, and consult an attorney before confronting him. Examine all of your options, and be kind to yourself--give yourself some space to think about what outcome you really want. If you have a therapist, it would be a good idea to make an appointment. If you don't, consider whether you'd like to seek out a therapist or if perhaps there's some other nonjudgmental person you could confide in--not a family member who's going to immediately say, "You MUST leave him!" but someone who can listen and be there for you while you sort out what you want to do.

It would not be wrong to pursue a divorce, and it would not be wrong to pursue reconciliation. Only you can decide what the best and healthiest choice is, based on your circumstances, your preferences, and your judgment. You may consider this an insurmountable betrayal, and that would be valid. You may decide--based on his reaction when you confront him as well as your own feelings--that this is a betrayal you are willing to try to heal, and that would also be valid. You are not a failure as a wife if this ends in divorce, and you are not a fool if you try to rebuild the marriage.
posted by Meg_Murry at 12:13 PM on March 22, 2012 [31 favorites]

You don't know if there's extramarital sex, you don't even know if there's cybersex. All you know is there's flirting happening -- virtually -- with women living some distance away (in tandem with no action at home).

You remember his on-line performance ... why did you two stop that if it's a valid expression of modern (in)fidelity?

There's some wisdom in not enabling bored spouses, so why don't you and he discuss his dealing radically with his boredom before you radically change his marital status and your locks, unless there really is no love to be lost.
posted by de at 12:30 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's some wisdom in not enabling bored spouses, so why don't you and he discuss his dealing radically with his boredom before you radically change his marital status and your locks, unless there really is no love to be lost.

Because his "boredom" is happening while she's pregnant. That's why.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:45 PM on March 22, 2012 [23 favorites]

and feel like I've failed as a wife.

Nope. He failed in his role as a husband. No way you could have known. You made the best decisions you could at the time. There really was love there when you made your previous choices.

Don't internalise and take what the internet says with a grain of salt (including this advice). You need the advice of family, friends, and perhaps an objective professional.
posted by nickrussell at 12:47 PM on March 22, 2012

> Because his "boredom" is happening while she's pregnant. That's why.

I see. I figured it was borne of sitting around at home while OP was out earning a living. OP will know; she made mention of his casual use of dating sites (pre-pregnancy).
posted by de at 1:09 PM on March 22, 2012

I've been in almost exactly the same situation as the OP minus the marriage part, and that I found out about the affair after the baby was already born. Most of the comments are really good. Definitely separate your finances, change your passwords, find a lawyer.

Some of the comments made my blood boil, and give the OP excellent mind-fuck-fodder, and I have a couple things to say about that.

All you know is there's flirting happening -- virtually -- with women living some distance away (in tandem with no action at home)

Well, for many people, that level of "flirting" itself (when the wife is pregnant, no less) would be a dealbreaker. It's definitely horrifically inappropriate. Also, the OP pretty clearly indicates that the lack of action lately is his choice, not hers ("I chalked this up to pregnancy at first, but it looks like I was being generous.")

Another person points out, less harshly: Perhaps he thinks of his inappropriate behavior as a fantasy. Guys can do crazy things when their wives are pregnant.

This is true. I heard the "it was just a fantasy, so I didn't believe it was cheating," and "I felt more comfortable expressing myself sexually with X because I didn't have to see her/live with her/etc" lines about 150 thousand times, over the course of a year and a half, with two different counselors and many tearful conversations. (I stayed. I do not recommend that you do so.)

And yeah, all that was true. I believe it. People can be amazingly good at compartmentalizing their sexuality and their morals. But you know what? That doesn't make it less wrong. An explanation is not a justification; and it does not reflect on anything you necessarily did or did not do as a wife. Please please tattoo this on your brain however possible: it is soooo important. Fantasy or not, bored or not, acting on fantasy is 100% choice; and the minute there is a living breathing human being actively involved in that without your consent (as part of a purportedly monogamous couple), you absolutely positively DO NOT have to sympathize with it. You do not have to try to understand why he had the "need" to look elsewhere. You do NOT NOT NOT have to beat yourself up over being a failure as a wife because your husband got "bored" of you while you were pregnant. That is not your fault. Write it on a sticky note, write it on your arm, write it in a journal, repeat it like a mantra.

I know that on some level you know this, and many people will tell you this, but the mind does funny things; and some people (including your husband, I can guarantee) will plant thoughts in your head that will absolutely destroy you if you allow yourself to believe them.

That said... if you decide now or at some other point to reconcile with this guy, that is your choice and your prerogative. But please, for the love of all things good and honest, do not do it because you feel bad. You have no reason to feel bad.
posted by celtalitha at 1:24 PM on March 22, 2012 [18 favorites]

I also wanted to say that some states don't allow you to get a divorce while you are pregnant. That would be a question for an attorney.

Also, to reiterate what someone above said-- make sure he can't clean out your joint bank accounts if he has access. Perhaps open a separate one in your name only and have your income direct deposited. Just in case he does something terrible while he still can.
posted by katypickle at 1:31 PM on March 22, 2012

You don't know if there's extramarital sex, you don't even know if there's cybersex.

Well, he may not have actually put his P in someone else's V, but that's not the only -- or even necessarily the most hurtful -- way one can betray a spouse.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:43 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

A lot of posters have given you some very excellent advice on how to proceed in the event that you would like a divorce, and if that is where you're interested, I'd definitely point you there.

But I would like to second that, unless there is more information, you do not know if he was cheating on you. You know that he was flirting with other women-what does that mean? "You're such a tease" could mean anything. It doesn't mean "sexual tease."

Sometimes when people are going through a lot of stress, they like to turn to their exes.
Have you ruled this out as a possibility?

Or, could you post some examples so we could see what you're talking about and give better advice?
posted by corb at 1:59 PM on March 22, 2012

From the OP:
I asked my husband if he did anything I should get an STD test for and asked him to be very honest since this could possibly affect our child and he said yes. He didn't elaborate and I didn't ask him to.

In regards to his current boredom he's supposed to be a super busy student that's much too busy to work since it's his senior year, but I've since come to find out he's failing two classes and has been skipping multiple classes a week. This was discovered after reading a few emails he left on our shared desktop computer.

I don't know whether or not this can be fixed. Has anyone ever attempted to fix something like this before? Where did you start? Thank you for all of the responses so far.
posted by jessamyn at 2:14 PM on March 22, 2012

What is there to fix? He's not providing for your kids, probably won't be able to. He's living off of your money. Just dump the loser and get on with your life while you're still young.
posted by empath at 2:16 PM on March 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

Since your update OP, I really suggest that you find an attorney to talk about your options with NOW. Make sure that all of your finances are in your name only. Determine if your mom/sister/someone can come stay with you when the baby comes. Call your ObGyn about STD tests.

His behavior is not okay in the least.

Metafilter sends you lots of <3s.
posted by k8t at 2:19 PM on March 22, 2012 [15 favorites]

Now you withdraw supporting his lifestyle and discuss where he goes next. Good on you for asking him.
posted by de at 2:20 PM on March 22, 2012

So, this dude -- who has been living off your dime, and spending it fucking instead of going to school -- decided he was bored with his pregnant wife and did something for which his pregnant wife now needs to get an STD test. There's so many damn violations of trust there I don't even know where to begin counting.

Trying to fix this means that guy that I just described above will be the Primary Male Role Model in your child's life. Any boy you have will grow up learning to emulate him. Any girl you have will learn what women are worth in the world by way of his view of them.

You sure you want to fix this?
posted by griphus at 2:21 PM on March 22, 2012 [20 favorites]

Oh, Christ, spending it fucking around. In the figurative sense. Sorry, OP, I don't want to rub salt in the wound.
posted by griphus at 2:21 PM on March 22, 2012

You say that you're the primary earner, right?

Your first priority, no matter what happens, is to make sure that this guy can't clean you out financially if he sense you're onto him. I'm not sure what side of the coast you're on, but if there's still time call your banks up and make sure only your name is on all accounts. Ensure that he can't go withdrawing money at ANY branch. If you can't do this today, please do this the first thing tomorrow.

Next, you'll want to print out copies of all of your evidence, before he comes home. Again, if he senses you're onto him, he could very well try and erase as much as he can like, tomorrow. Put them somewhere safe, then call a lawyer.

Protect your money and your evidence. Then take care of yourself. I'm so sorry this is happening to you.
posted by Ashen at 2:22 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Sorry, I'm going to be less diplomatic. This is clearly not an isolated incident--this is who he is. Do you need this in your life, compromising your stability and that of your baby? Probably not. Don't rush to "work it out" with this guy. Really, there are few things lower than these kinds of self-absorbed shenanigans. Working it out successfully requires that both parties show understanding of ancd dedication to the best interests of the family and both partners--clearly, that isn't true for him. I'd chalk this up to a "thank goodness it happened in the first year" bullet dodged and leave this man without wasting too many tears or any more time. (Or any more of your money.) Fixing a relationship and being a family takes a level of mutual commitment that this guy (sorry) doesn't seem to have.

Everyone is so right--document, change your personal passwords, call a lawyer. Call the lawyer today. Everything else will fall into place from there. Put yourself first--he sure as hell is.
posted by anonnymoose at 2:22 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

*if he senses you're onto him. Gahh. I cannot type.
posted by Ashen at 2:23 PM on March 22, 2012

Don't worry about fixing your marriage right now. Do not. Worry about your physical health and health of your baby. This amount of stress is straight up No Good. Do all the practical, lawyerly, self-protective things (including the STD test) folks have said to do and make a plan to live apart. You don't have to worry about the relationship until you are strong and clear enough to do so.

You have to find your Mama Lion autopilot, girl. It is your obligation to stay healthy. Get clear, then worry about what to do with this fucker.
posted by thinkpiece at 2:27 PM on March 22, 2012 [6 favorites]

Yeah, you need to call a lawyer instead of reading metafilter, then as soon as you get off the phone with the lawyer, you are probably going to need to change passwords on all your bank accounts, etc (though don't do anything without talking to a lawyer first). There should be a divorce lawyer you can talk to right now. Go through the phone book and start dialing until you get one.
posted by empath at 2:33 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think it's worthwhile for you to consider whether this can be reconciled or not, but when you do consider this, put aside the panic you might be feeling about having and raising the baby on your own.

I also think it will be worthwhile to consider it because after you decide that you're going to end this relationship, you'll be able to look back and know that you didn't freak out and act rashly, but actually considered--and then rejected--reconciliation.

Challenge yourself to consider under what circumstances you could ever trust him again. Really. When I imagine potentially reconcilable situations involving infidelity, I imagine things like: drunken, stupid one night flings; long-term relationship that has suffered but is still worth salvaging; episodes of chemical dependency that are addressed by getting sober...but never in a million years would I add to that list "serial cheating with multiple partners during the first year of marriage when the other partner is pregnant."

Anyway, think of your future self in ten years--what choice will make you better off?

Good luck.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:34 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you want to fix it? If so, why?

I'm usually the first one to start beating the "infidelity is only a deal-breaker if you decide it is" drum. But this guy sounds like a huge asshole. His disregard for your health, and your baby's health, is chilling. It's hard to see any real reason to fix this - your time would be better spent finding someone else who won't behave this way.
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:39 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Marriage is important and should be fought for.

But this is not a marriage. He is not your spouse. He is an immature, selfish child.

Your child does not deserve to grow up in a house where his/her father treats his/her mother in the way you're being treated. It's a violation of trust and the marriage covenant at the deepest level.

You have the right to decide whether you want to try for reconciliation or not. I would suggest at least starting the divorce paperwork and getting him out of your house (obviously consult a lawyer to make sure that's not going to screw you over in some way). Then wait to do the final divorce decree after your child is born. You don't need to be dealing with the legal BS of a divorce when you should be focusing on baby.

It also gives him some time to prove himself, if that's what he wants to do. If he can man up and support you and act like a husband once he sees what's at stake, then you could consider reconciliation. If he can't, you have your answer and should finish the divorce. And if you're going to go this route (and I'm not saying you should, just that you could), set a list of steps he would have to take to earn your trust. Get your community involved as much as you can to help support you and evaluate how much effort he's actually putting in. You shouldn't be walking through this alone.

I really feel for you. Feel free to memail me if you want someone to talk to about all this. I'm praying for you and your baby.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:29 PM on March 22, 2012 [4 favorites]

I don't know whether or not this can be fixed. Has anyone ever attempted to fix something like this before? Where did you start? Thank you for all of the responses so far.

Honestly, no, I do not believe this can be fixed. He has lied to you. He has been physically unfaithful. He is goofing off academically at a critical time for your family, and failing in his responsibility to you and your baby. He has treated you with enormous disregard and been completely selfish here. I don't know why you would want to salvage this, or why you would want to spend the time you should look forward to spending with your brand new, perfect infant in therapy with your enormous fuckup of a husband.

But if you do, you do. I am a huge fan of the Surviving Infidelity forum mentioned above, and would suggest you follow the advice there, carefully - no contact, 180, the whole thing. I would consult them on the forum about separation; it is normally not suggested if reconciliation is the goal, but in your case, I don't think I could stomach labour and delivery and post-partum with this man who had so badly let me down when I really needed him. Regardless of what you ultimately decide, please see a lawyer now so you actually, fully understand all of your options and obligations here, and how you to protect yourself and your infant against all outcomes.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:41 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Heck, maybe it can be fixed. Maybe he has a crayon up his nose and once that's removed he'll be wonderful. But that is not important right now. Right now, you need to be in survival mode for the worst case scenario. As almost everyone has advised, lawyer up, document, protect your assets, make sure your health is a priority, and get emotional support. Preferably sensible, logical, help you with checklists and make you and eat and listen when you talk and let you be when you don't want to talk kind of support.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:13 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Please see a reputable lawyer to get a full picture of all of your options. It is not an inevitable step to a divorce just for having a consultation or two. But you owe it to yourself and the child who you are carrying to protect yourself as much as possible. Ask about the legal ramifications for divorcing now versus after the baby is born and related child custody issues. Ask about how to best protect your assets now and in the future should you stay married (ask this both for yourself and your child since your husband doesn't seem to be a strong candidate for being sound financial provider). For example, you can ask about a post-marital agreement that separates your assets if you do not have a prenup and do stay married. Ask about everything you can think of and ask the lawyer if you are missing any options.

I completely understand asking whether this can be fixed. If something like this had happened to me when I was 6 months pregnant, I know that, like you, it would have crossed my mind to try to fix things. It would have been terrifying to suddenly have to face single parenting when I had always envisioned a happy family situation. At a minimum, I would insist on the post-marital agreement I discussed above to protect myself and my child financially. If he refused to do that, I would divorce him immediately. Next ...

(insert long, long pause here because that is what just happened)

...I am so sorry, I can't see what anyone could do to salvage this marriage. I just sat here for 10 minutes trying to imagine a scenario past the post-marital agreement and I couldn't see anything but divorce. It's just that when I put myself in your shoes, I can't envision how I could ever forgive or trust someone who put the physical health of my child in danger, let alone my emotional and physical health at the time when I needed them the most. I can't even conjure a situation where you are so wretched a shrew so as to warrant such loathsome behavior in return from your husband.

You deserve so much better than what you have been given. I hope you find peace and happiness.
posted by murrey at 4:17 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

Holy God!

My mother cheated on my father before I was born. They decided to "fix it". Guess what happend? 20 years of her sleeping with progressively more and more men while my father struggled to hold togeather some semblance of a stable life for me.

One of his greatest regrets is not divorcing her the minute I was born. He hates himself for putting me through a life where my parent had no trust, love, or ability to show me what a healthy relationship looks like.

This isn't a "oops he cheated once and will stop and you guys will work so hard to repair this for your child" situation. He is sleeping around while your are pregnant with his child, possibly with multiple women. Did he cry? Beg for your forgiveness? Tell you it was a one time thing and that he would do anything to fix this? Did he come to you on his own and tell you? Would he have continued to hide it hoping that you would never find out?

He is not sorry he is cheating, he is sorry that he wasn't sneaky enough and got caught

I bet he will once you kick him out he will cry, but not because he is actually sorry.

A home where the husband is that selfish and where the wife can no longer trust him is NOT a good environment for a child.
posted by Shouraku at 4:56 PM on March 22, 2012 [11 favorites]

Having been that type of guy (and let's face it, I still have those tendencies), I say there's no way to change his behavior. Your only choice now is this:

A) Accept that he will always want to cheat but stay with him regardless
B) Dump him

That's about it.
posted by tacodave at 5:04 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't know whether or not this can be fixed. Has anyone ever attempted to fix something like this before? Where did you start?

I've tried to fix a lot of relationships. I've fixed things where what was missing was my sympathy, e.g., where I was annoyed by something and came to understand and love it. But I've never "fixed" who someone was. People are complicated beings. There's a really complicated set of variables inside him leading him to act this way. You have a pattern of deception and lies here. There's no way for you to make that livable by fixing your own sympathy level. He would have to want to change. I don't know if you could even trust him if he claimed he wanted to. Only you know what life would be like if you asked him to leave, but I doubt this man will be a source of stability and support in your life.
posted by salvia at 5:10 PM on March 22, 2012

Sure it can be fixed. It can be fixed if he fixes it. This would involve him immediately coming clean, seeking out a therapist, going to 12-step meetings, consulting with religious leaders if that's your thing, moving into a friend's house until the baby is born, stapling himself into a chastity belt, or whatever it is that you think he needs to do in order to regain your trust. He has to do this unreservedly, on his own, entirely internally motivated, and he needs to start it today.

Absent that? No. It cannot be fixed. And certainly I would not spend any time waiting around to see if he is going to effect this sea change; if he needs you to give him time and make it easy for him, then he's not really interested in doing it. So I would act quickly and decisively to protect yourself and your child, and let him deal with his own bullshit in whichever fashion he deems most appropriate.
posted by KathrynT at 5:11 PM on March 22, 2012 [16 favorites]

Upthread, I was arguing for caution. I take that back! This is clearly not the time for it. You need to get out.

He is cheating on you now, when he should be most focused on you.
It is not going to get better.

If you leave him now, your child may never have to know what a terrible relationship looks like.
posted by corb at 5:16 PM on March 22, 2012

Fix this? You really, really, really are not responsible for finding the answer to this question. He is.

I don't know what kind of vows you wrote to each other, but I imagine it was some variation of promising to support one another through sickness and health, for better or worse. He has completely failed you. He's supposed to help you lighten your load, not make it heavier. It is, I hear, amazingly difficult to be a first time parent. I know it is incredibly hard to learn to trust someone again. If you choose to try to maintain this marriage, you will be trying to do both at once. He brought this burden on you; there's nothing you could have done to deserve this.

He has broken the fundamental rules that hold your relationship together. You are no longer responsible for helping him fix his mistakes. You don't have to fix anything, if you don't want to. You get to dictate how much of him you want in your life, and how you want him to treat you. You have that right, and you should use it. Set boundaries, and enforce them.
posted by sockomatic at 5:30 PM on March 22, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't know whether or not this can be fixed. Has anyone ever attempted to fix something like this before?

OP, I was married to a chronic cheater. I spent five years (!) trying to fix it, before having the epiphany that "fixing" that relationship was not a "win" for me, it was a "lose."

He has shown you what his pattern is. If you don't want to live with that pattern of behavior, don't!

Please believe me when I say that this is not about you. Your husband's failures are all about him, and in no way reflect on your qualities as a spouse. Chronic cheaters are looking to fill an empty hole and there is no way you can be held responsible for that.

Telling my family was incredibly hard. It took me weeks to come to grips with telling them, and I actually found that telling a friend of the family first helped me find the words to say. But I found, as I daresay you will, that family rallied around me and really came to my support. But until you open your mouth and tell them what is happening, they can't help.

Also: consider some counseling. I spent a few months going twice a week to someone specialized in grief/divorce counseling, and it was invaluable.
posted by ambrosia at 5:37 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go to the bank, put a freeze on any accounts you have together (like savings), put a hold on the credit cards, and anything else that needs financial lockdown. Put anything small of value in a safe deposit box. Get someone you trust to come stay with you for a while, and have them present when you kick him out.

As someone who has been through a divorce, things will certainly get petty. Especially since he's on the financial short end of the stick. Contact a lawyer. Have someone you trust help you with all of this, since right now this is all going to be hard to go through by yourself.

I agree with Ambrosia - it's amazing the amount of support that people will give you, you have but to ask. You won't be alone through this.
posted by lizbunny at 6:05 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

I hope you don't need to hear this some more, but just in case, I'll join in.

This is not your fault.

His choices are not your fault, his reasons are not your fault, his lies are not your fault.

And his welfare is not your responsibility. Your obligations here are to the physical and emotional welfare of yourself and this baby.

Please, get your laptop and all the evidence you have to a safe place. Make sure your phone, credit cards, Social Security card, passport, birth certificate, lease/mortgage documents, insurance paperwork, etc. are safe - make photocopies of anything that belongs to both of you, and get the rest out. Change all your passwords, including the ones at work.

Call a lawyer (if you haven't already, it's probably too late to do this tonight - do it tomorrow.) Confide in someone - a priest, a counselor, your sister, etc. Get yourself some mental and physical space, and be kind to yourself.

Realistically, you will probably want to sleep somewhere else for a while. Hotel, with friends, something. You probably can't kick him out, but you don't have to be in the same space he's in.

Finally, please recognize that a marriage - any relationship - requires effort on both sides. And saving a marriage requires the same thing. I can't help but notice that you keep saying you want to save this situation, but your description of his behavior gives no sign that he wants to save it. His choices have been entirely self-centered and short-sighted - he's putting pleasure and impulse ahead of the physical, emotional, social, and financial well-being of all three of you, and he is totally unrepentant.

And you aren't responsible for making that change, because it's completely not in your power to do it.
posted by SMPA at 6:30 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

A practical suggestion: set up a new email account for yourself and send copies of all of your evidence to it, and maybe also to a trusted friend's email. I hope for your sake that you have nearby friends and family who will support you emotionally through the next few months. If you don't, please reach out to old friends or even consider writing to some of us here. Many of us, myself included, can offer you virtual friendship. Also, if you can, find a doula to help you with your pregnancy and birth, and, as others have suggested, a therapist.

At the very least, you need to take a break from your husband, you need to focus on yourself and the baby, on being healthy, on feeling safe. He may change but it's not going to be overnight, be strong and don't let him try to convince you that he should stay.
posted by mareli at 7:04 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

You can't change any other person's behaviour, only your own. He will most likely continue to cheat

Probably the only way you can save this relationship is to change yourself, or your expectations of this relationship. Can you change how you feel about his cheating? Are you OK with him jeopardizing your and your baby's health?

On a practical note, do you have access to his student privileges? Most schools have a free legal aid service, and you could at least get a consultation.
posted by annsunny at 7:57 PM on March 22, 2012

The man is a scrub and a cheater. The ONLY reason anyone might keep him around is because he's the baby's father. Don't be tempted to stay with him because he's the baby's father. He'd probably slack off on babysitting and keep on texting hotties. He doesn't sound like he'll be much of one.

Don't feel bad about throwing this trash out, he'll be shacked up with one of those women within 24 hours, I'd bet.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:57 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, sweetheart.

He crossed a line that could potentially hurt your baby. I understand the empulse to try to fix things- and no one will think badly of you if you decide to try- but that isn't an easy thing to come back from. You need to get tested. Regardless of how small the risk was or seemed to be to be to him- he risked his child.

What's going to fix that?
posted by Blisterlips at 8:13 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I know that when you are a rational person, as you appear to be, it is very easy to talk yourself into things. Like staying in a miserable situation because you could make it work.

Please take a deep breath, close your eyes and ask yourself if you want to put yourself and your child through trying to "fix" this marriage. Go with your gut. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's actually something that takes great courage and strength to do. Once you know your answer don't be afraid to stand up for it. Only you know what you need to do for your own sanity.

My heart goes out to you.
posted by the pink tree at 9:06 PM on March 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes. It can be fixed. If you want it to be fixed. But it is pretty much up to him to do a huge self awareness awakening and fix it. He seems to be self destructing everything in his world and needs to reverse that severely and immediately to make it work.
posted by Vaike at 10:14 PM on March 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you confronted him before talking to an attorney or securing your assets. Too bad. Rectify this asap.

NO. This can not be fixed unless you want to live with a serial cheater. This guy will never ever be faithful.


Because if he can't support you through your pregnancy and be an upstanding guy, then exactly when do you expect he'll turn into a man who is someone you deserve??

(HINT - Especially if he gets away with this now, since it seems like you want to give him a "second chance," the answer = NEVER. Men like this do not grow up, and the do not suddenly change and fly right. They just get better at hiding their tracks.)
posted by jbenben at 10:14 PM on March 22, 2012 [7 favorites]

To take a different stance on this: It sounds like his sexual boundaries and your sexual boundaries do not match up. This is something that for sure should have been discussed before marriage and probably before getting pregnant.

The lack of disclosure and betrayal of trust is most worrisome. But to basically call him a monster? I'm not sure that fits, although I am sure that your emotions (and the sympathetic emotions of our fellow MeFites) lead us in that direction. Going outside the agreed-upon bounds of sexual expression is usually a symptom of something else, rather than a "well, he's a man-child and cannot be trusted with his own penis, by definition"

It may be that he doesn't end up being the sexual match for you. It may be that when things calm down, you can get into some serious couples counseling and figure out a new agreement. It may be that the agreement is divorce.

In the meantime, is he remorseful for breaking your trust?

This is, after all, the man you fell in love with and married and you're pregnant with his child. We are all imperfect beings, that does not mean that your entire life up until this point has been a lie. It means mistakes were made, communication was not had (not your fault, nor necessarily his...its just what happened), and boundaries were not respected.

Just my $0.02, as someone less inclined toward the "he's a demon and you're a saint" reaction here. We all struggle.
posted by softlord at 8:05 AM on March 23, 2012

Start with an STD test.

Do you actually want to fix this? You seem to have backed away from leaving, in the face of his admission of doing something wrong, towards reconciliation, which I'm finding kind of odd. I've never been through anything of this magnitude before but anecdotally, it couldn't be fixed between my parents.

But I personally think the internet is the last place you need to be right now.
posted by sm1tten at 9:07 AM on March 23, 2012

Lots of good advice. I have a fantasy that the only thing you say to him is "it's over. I want you to leave. The only conversations we're going to have from now on concern our child. I'm looking forward to you being a MUCH MUCH better father than you are a husband. I am VERY disappointed in you."

No need to argue about what a jerk he's been. He will never authentically understand what a jerk he's been. But to tell him that he has been disappointing is just the right amount of indisputablly justified condescension that he deserves. If he tries to blame you and say he was unhappy in the relationship, you can say "I'd believe that if you had come to ME about it, but since you only talked to other women, instead of me, it just doesn't hold water."

If he brings up the child, the message should always be that being a good father is the only kind of redemption available to him and he should put all of his energies into it. Getting back together with him for the sake of your son isn't on the table. But you can reiterate that you will do everything in your power to support his role as a loving, responsible, awesome dad.

This does two things -- it increases the chances that he'll be a loving awesome dad, and it let's him know that if he's scheming to get back together, his only route to doing so is to be an awesome loving dad. And he can't pretend You're blocking him from being a good dad. Because you will support any of his good dad efforts.
posted by vitabellosi at 10:18 AM on March 23, 2012 [5 favorites]

[Folks: stop it. I know this pushes people's buttons but if you are not answering the question take stuff to email/MeMail. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:28 AM on March 23, 2012

In response to your question: I don't know about fixing it but it seems like that would have to start with both of you agreeing that you desire to fix it and are committed to fixing it. If he is not interested in engaging in rebuilding what is been broken, then there is only so much you can do.

Conversation and agreeing on a path forward are things that you could *both* do now. At the same time, there is the work that you are doing on your own end to keep yourself safe and emotionally strong. It could help to figure out what you will accept in terms of a relationship so that when he responds to you, you can say to yourself, "He has said this... based on my priorities, my response is going to be this."

Best wishes to you and I am so sorry that this has happened to you. This is not your fault.
posted by ramenopres at 9:44 AM on March 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to say that I've been there, and everything turned out ok. My husband had an affair that came to light when I was pregnant. We tried therapy, I worked hard to repair, but decided to kick him out when my daughter was almost 3-figured better then than when she was 12. I was fortunate to be able to support myself, which was such a benefit.

I don't regret it for a minute. There were hard times, but my daughter, who turns 15 next week!!!!, is just fine. Her dad and I are amicable, and he's a great dad-he's jut a crummy husband. I'm happily remarried to someone who suits me so much better. He married the woman with whom he had his affair-and man, she's welcome to him. He's boring and self-absorbed, and in some ways I thank them for doing me the favor of ending it all. Life is good now, and I think it will be for you, too.
posted by purenitrous at 8:17 PM on March 24, 2012 [4 favorites]

I was married once. It was pretty miserable. For a while I thought it was my fault, and I worked really hard to try to "fix it". I spent a lot of time & money in counseling, and learned some great stuff. I learned how to set boundaries, what I would & would not tolerate, etc. And I started enforcing the boundaries. My counselor told me that either it would get better (spouse would start respecting my boundaries), or it would get worse (spouse would try to break me down & get things to return to "normal").

Things got worse. And then way worse. But I got stronger. And eventually decided I had done all I could, and it was never going to get better. So I left.

I left him 9 years ago, when my baby was not-quite 2 years old & have not looked back. I love my son. We have a great life. I regret nothing...

But... I sure wish I hadn't spent so much time trying to fix something that wasn't really fixable. My feeling from your post is that cheating is not something you're willing to accept. If that's true, then maybe consider just NOT spending a bunch of time and breaking your heart trying to "fix it"... and just go live your life. A life where you don't have to worry about your partner cheating on you. While you're pregnant, even.

Loving, tender, trusting relationships exist. I tell you this because when I was in my marriage, I had kind of lost faith in that. Almost, like, lost the concept that this kind of thing even existed. But it does exist, so I mention it in case you have forgotten it, like I did. There are people who live together that just... love each other. They treat each other kindly and wouldn't dream of doing the kinds of things your husband is doing. You can have a loving, caring relationship. You can also live happily, just you & your child. Both are better than what you're now experiencing. (I wish I had known *how* much better my life would be after I walked away.)

Whatever you decide, just know that you can have a great life, you & your kiddo. My son & I have so much fun. I have a career. He goes to school. We live in our little place together & we love it. We play Mario Kart after school sometimes. Or he reads & I play music. Then we have dinner together. It's awesome. You and your child can have a great life together too. And you can do it without all the anxiety & difficulty of living with someone you can't trust.

Good luck.
posted by eleyna at 1:09 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dump him but make sure you has to take responsibility for the kid. Very sorry to hear of this, you deserve better.
posted by pakora1 at 3:12 PM on October 14, 2012

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