Is it still your business even though I left?
January 24, 2013 8:47 AM   Subscribe

I split up with my wife a couple of months ago, and have been doing really well since then. Recently I've been feeling a little bit like she's been stalking me on social media, and today I've woken up to messages asking me why I'm in contact with someone from my past. How do I handle this? (I've tried to anonymise this as best I can)

  • About 18 months ago, I realised that I was in, or at least close to, an emotional affair with a dear friend. I cut off contact with them (explaining why) and told my wife, saying that I thought we needed to get counselling to move forward. My wife refused counselling and told me that she forgave me the EA.
  • Over the next 12 months, things got worse and worse between us. The arguments that we'd been having before my EA continued and intensified. The distance between us, which is part of what I now realise had lead me to seek comfort elsewhere, grew and grew. I kept trying to get us into counselling, but my wife continued to refuse, saying that counselling was just a nice way for me to break up with her.
  • After an incident in November where she punched me in the face, I left. I packed up most of my things and moved into an apartment.
  • My leaving seemed to trigger a huge change in my wife. She started getting counselling, as I'd been asking her to do, for her anger issues. She also agreed to go to couples counselling (we're on a waiting list). I am still living away from her, and have felt so much happier since I left that I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that I don't want to go back. I haven't yet told my wife thisI'm waiting for the counselling sessions because I don't feel safe doing it face to face on my own. My wife still holds hope that we'll get back together, but I'm more and more sure that that would only happen if I put all my feelings in a box and tried to ignore them.
  • I realised a few weeks back that my wife has created accounts on all the social media platforms I use and has started following me on them: Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and so on. None of these were things that she was interested in before we separated. I felt a little freaked out at first, feeling rather like I was being stalkedindeed, she sent me an email saying "Please don't think I'm stalking you"but I realised it was more that she wanted to connect with me in a way that she couldn't any more.
  • A couple of weeks ago I started following the Tumblr of an artist whose work I liked. There was no identifying information on it, no avatar, just their artwork (it was a relatively new account). This week I saw that the avatar had changedit was my friend with whom I'd had the EA and with whom I hadn't spoken since. This left me in a quandary: I'd 'liked' her work on Tumblr, and I was following her, but I'd promised my wife that I wouldn't talk to her any more. I decided to sleep on the matter before deciding what to do.
  • I woke to a text message from my wife asking whether I'd been lying to her about not being in touch with my friend; saying that she was confused.
Where do I go from here, MeFi? Do I cut off all contact again? That seems morally right but would make me unhappy - on the other hand, not cutting off contact would cause my wife pain and would make this separation a lot more painful than it was (it's true that all breakups suck, but I'd functioned really well through all the horrors of it until this point, which leaves me feeling just as wobbly and unsure as I did on the day I left).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (45 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
In my eyes, if someone punches you in the face they lose the right to try to tell you what is okay for you to do with your life. The artist is not the one you should be cutting off contact with.
posted by something something at 8:53 AM on January 24, 2013 [40 favorites]

but I'd promised my wife that I wouldn't talk to her any more.

But wasn't that when you were still trying to work things out with her? There's a statute of limitations on how long another person can call the shots in your life. It ends when the relationship is over.

Your wife refused counseling and punched you in the face. You are separated and heading toward divorce. Your relationship is over.

If I were you, I would do your best to ignore your wife's irrational demands and keep on keepin' on living your life in the way you see fit. Use your first (and presumably last) counseling session with your wife to explain that you are ready to end the marriage and to set healthy boundaries moving forward.

I'm sorry you're having to deal with this.
posted by phunniemee at 8:55 AM on January 24, 2013 [21 favorites]

If your wife is operating under the impression that you want to repair the marriage, and you don't, you need to tell her that. If you don't feel safe doing that until you meet with the counselor, you should at least cut off contact and tell her that you do not want to communicate outside of the sessions that are planned for (whenever, but give a date). Then hold strong, and lock up all your social media accounts.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:56 AM on January 24, 2013 [38 favorites]

The Tumblr thing is the equivalent of being seated next to this friend at a restaurant. Your wife "walked in" on you sitting there next to her, even though you hadn't spoken to her or meant to be sitting there, but you hadn't jumped right up and asked for a different table, either. So what do you do?

Tell your wife that you didn't realize the artist was the same person, you just found out this week, and you're unfollowing her. And then do it. Maybe apologize for not doing it more quickly.
Tell your wife that you are no longer interested in reconciling.
posted by Etrigan at 8:56 AM on January 24, 2013 [13 favorites]

Your wife is being inappropriate and is crossing your boundaries. She is trying like hell to control you. She has no right whatsoever to do this.

You can do whatever you want to here -- whatever makes you most comfortable.

Also, block her on any social platform where she knows your account name and where blocking is an option. In your situation I'd be making friends-only posts for the duration as well.
posted by pie ninja at 8:57 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Right now you are separated from your wife. You are not divorced. Only you can decide how much you are responsible to agreements you have made with her. You seem to think you won't be getting back together, which is fine, you feel what you feel, but you haven't really talked it out with her yet. So, she's thinking "Hey we had an agreement and now I am confused by his actions" (that I am seeing because I'm following him around) and is probably also beign controlling and weird about things. You're focusing on the following around, which seems fine, but you also need to focus on what your agreements are with your wife.

- If you feel you need to uphold the "I will not be in contact with the EA person" agreement, then do so, now that you have full information
- If you feel like that agreement has been invalidated since you are seriously considering divorce then continue to follow the woman on Tumblr and make a plan to tell your wife about the divorce

You are not, to my mind, responsible to the feelings of someone who used violence against you, especially not more than you are responsible to your own feelings. That said there are some loose ends here that should be on the way to getting tied up. If you are divorcing your wife you do not need to maintain a promise about the EA situation if you don't want to, however you should either be upfront about it or decide that your wife is no longer someone you have a responsibility towards.

If it were me and this was looking like a messy divorce, I'd say unfollow the EA for harmony's sake in the short term and deal with the divorce cleanly. You have a long life ahead of you free from whatever bad interactions you had with your wife. Alternately, it's totally okay to just say "I don't care what she thinks" about your wife and keep living your life but then you have to be prepared to steel yourself, potentially, for more hassle and grief from your soon-to-be-ex.
posted by jessamyn at 8:58 AM on January 24, 2013 [9 favorites]

You know the mystery artist is someone whose presence in your life complicated things. Be a man of your word and disconnect with her. It's just an art tumblr, there's plenty more where that came from.

Not that your wife has any business following you around online, and I'd certainly respond to the text saying that. But you gave your word that in your marriage you would end contact with this person, and you're still married. Finish what you have going on with your wife, whether that means divorce or reconciliation or whatever, and then you can do whatever you want. Life is simpler and much more pleasant when you end a thing before beginning another.
posted by headnsouth at 9:03 AM on January 24, 2013 [17 favorites]

Just be careful with the divorce talk. She's not going to take it well. I feel that the moment you tell her you want to have a divorce, you need to be prepared to start the process. It would not be a bad idea to discuss with a divorce mediator or attorney before raising the issue with your wife.
posted by Mister_A at 9:05 AM on January 24, 2013 [10 favorites]

Life is simpler and much more pleasant when you end a thing before beginning another.

This is so, so true, but he is following the person on Tumblr, not trying to get in her pants.
posted by phunniemee at 9:06 AM on January 24, 2013 [7 favorites]

You do have the advantage of already being physically separated, though.
posted by Mister_A at 9:06 AM on January 24, 2013

I don't think you did anything wrong here (apart from the emotional affair, but that was a long time ago). You ended the affair, tried to work things out with your wife, she refused counselling and punched you in the face(!), and now you're separated and you don't want to go back anymore. She, on the other hand, is desperately trying to get you back. She's finally seeking counselling and trying to connect with you through social media, and sees that you are in contact (innocently, though she doesn't know that) with the friend.

I think you're being quite generous to her, understanding why she is following you, etc.

There are a few things.

1 - Do you want to be in touch with this friend? You owe her an explanation, either way. (Again, I don't think you've done anything wrong, but you really do owe her this explanation. "I saw your work on tumblr and I thought it was lovely. I didn't know it was you until you changed icons! I have separated from ex, and I hope you are doing well." Or the same, but ending with "Because I am still married to ex, I don't feel right following you, but I hope you are doing well." Something like.)
2 - Does your wife know that you do not intend to get back together with her no matter what happens? You should tell her this. You should also explain that you followed friend not knowing she was friend, and you have since unfollowed her OR that since you are separated and heading towards divorce, you don't feel the need to unfollow her.

But point 2 is, I think, the important one: does your wife knows you don't intend to reconcile, that this separation is just the lead up to an inevitable divorce, or does she think that you will get back together because you've never said otherwise?
posted by jeather at 9:06 AM on January 24, 2013

I would Unfollow your old friend. For now.

I would unfriend your wife on every possible social media. At this point, during your separation, it's not a good idea for her to be weighing in on all your doings.

Here's an email that I'd send her, "I am unfollowing X on Tumblr, as I had followed her unintentionally, without knowing it was she. I am also unfriending you on all of my social media sites because I'm not comfortable with you having all of this access in my life. I am getting a lot of clarity during our separation, but unless we need to get together to do our taxes, I would prefer to get some distance in order to really understand what I want out of our relationship, or if in fact, I want to continue our relationship. I hope you understand and will respect my decision."

Now, notice that there's a bit of, "the cat's on the roof," about that message. That's not accidental. You need to start making noises about the possibility that you may not be reconsiling.

While in a perfect world, I think you should file for divorce and have your wife served, since that's what you want, I suppose nice people would agree that some conversation beforehand would be appropriate.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:07 AM on January 24, 2013 [23 favorites]

If you are planning on divorcing (which I think is a good idea), you should probably talk this over with a divorce lawyer, especially if you are not in a no-fault divorce state. Contact with the artist has the possibility of costing you financially in the divorce.
posted by jaguar at 9:08 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

"I split up with my wife a couple of months ago"
"She also agreed to go to couples counselling (we're on a waiting list)."

One of these things is not like the other. You need to make a decision to either:

(a) pursue counseling/reconciliation in good faith--in which case your still-wife has a valid interest in your social media activities in general, and especially in your (you must admit extremely suspicious-looking) interactions with the woman you had the EA with;
(b) admit to her that you can no longer see any future to the relationship, stop all actions that hint that getting back together is a possibility, and let both of you move on with your lives.

Of course your wife is confused. In your head you're broken up with her, but in her head there's been a series of crises that you are both trying to fix. You are both going to experience pain and unhappiness during the divorce process; there's no way to prevent that. "The only way out is through." But the sooner you *get* through that, the sooner you can move toward the happier future that is behind your feeling of relief you experience when you think about not going back.

In most cases this is the sort of information that you should share in person. But if you are worried about that due to her history of domestic violence, I think you're completely justified in telling her over the phone or in an e-mail. But waiting to tell her in a marriage counselor's office when you're on a waiting list and she thinks you're on that waiting list so the two of you can work on your marriage is just wrong.
posted by drlith at 9:11 AM on January 24, 2013 [22 favorites]

You should be up-front with your wife, don't string her along waiting for counselling. You've already decided you don't want to get back together so have the decency to tell her. You do not have to tell her face-to-face. You are not a jerk for breaking up with someone over the phone or email after they've physically assaulted you. There is no point waiting for counselling (and taking an appointment that another couple might better use) if you're doing it just to break up with her in person.
posted by missmagenta at 9:15 AM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

Where do I go from here, MeFi? Do I cut off all contact again?

Hell yes.
posted by zippy at 9:20 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

The nature of your relationship with your wife seems to be one of her controlling you and you escaping. Chance are your EA was an escape in this same dynamic.

That said, it's not about right and wrong (well it is, but that won't really help you in the long run) but about how that came to be the theme of your relationship. Was it also the theme of your courtship? Are you usually more comfortable being pursued than pursuing? How have your other relationships conformed (or not) to this dynamic?
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:20 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I should have continued on the "hell yes, cut of contact" advice.

Get out and get far away. Your wife is seriously in unhealthy stalking behavior here.
posted by zippy at 9:21 AM on January 24, 2013

Your story sounds false. Sorry.

What you are doing is gaslighting your ex. Rip the band aid, already!

She's following you online? Then cease all online activities until things are more formalized. Your ex is unstable. You've been posting here about her for months. What's going on isn't a mystery anymore.

Right now, you are being less than responsible. You already know the situation you are in.

Don't respond to your wife, but DO stop following this person on Tumblr. Then, get off the Internet entirely for a while. Talk to a lawyer and move forward.

See a lawyer. Inform your wife you are seeking a divorce. Move on with your life.

Delaying things is unkind and is extending the dramaz.

Were I you, I would close or abandon every online presence I have for a few months. Down the road I would create all new accounts on social media and start over.

Remove your soon to be ex's temptation or opportunity to stalk you in the future.

Make a clean break.
posted by jbenben at 9:23 AM on January 24, 2013 [25 favorites]

I just want to put in a (probably minor) point that it's very difficult to see who someone is following on Tumblr, unless they have a specific layout on their own Tumblr which lists the people they are following. It's also impossible to see what someone else has liked unless they reblog it (or unless you are doing some seriously in-depth stalking) -- unlike many social media platforms, you don't have any access to someone's personal profile (their queued posts/follower counts etc).

Anon, you might have reblogged something from your friend, but if you didn't, consider the idea that it isn't this specific incident that your wife is referring to.
posted by fight or flight at 9:24 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

This Tumblr quandary appears to be a very small issue in a much larger dynamic between you and your wife. There is a lot of thoughtful advice in this thread, some that I agree with and some I don't, but what I would add is that I think you should keep this small issue in perspective. However you deal with it—unfollow the Tumblr or don't; tell your wife the truth in plain terms or stonewall or lie—I would suggest that you take a breath and make sure you are treating this issue as a minor speed bump on what is apparently a long, winding road.

I'm sorry for your troubles. Good luck.
posted by cribcage at 9:26 AM on January 24, 2013

If the genders here were reversed, the advice would be very different overall, and I'm not sure why it should be milder in this case. Your former partner, lover, and friend has punched you in the face. Dead stop. She is dangerous, has hints of controlling behavior, and doesn't care about your well-being to the point of physical violence. The relationship is over. Don't speak to her at all (or heavens no, go to counseling!)I until you have consulted with a lawyer, and I wouldn't, even after that. Protect yourself. If you didn't file a police report before, consider doing one now. This could get uglier, fast.
posted by agregoli at 9:30 AM on January 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

You need a restraining order and a lawyer.
posted by discopolo at 9:31 AM on January 24, 2013 [3 favorites]

Something is weird here. Am I the only person who thinks the art blog is actually the OP's wife trying to trap him somehow? The timing of things seems odd to me.

In any case, whatever is really going on here is sort of beside the point. The blog is a distraction.

OP, if you are certain you want to break it off you do not have to wait. Do it by phone or email if you do not feel safe doing it face to face. Your wife lost the courtesy of a face to face breakup when she hit you. That said, I would not prolong the waiting process - breakups of marriages are hard hard hard; dragging it out makes it even harder.

Best of luck to you.
posted by sockermom at 9:33 AM on January 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

Either you are still in a relationship (that needs work) or you are splitting up. Couple's counseling is not for people who are splitting up. If you have decided not to go back, you need to tell her that, no matter how you tell her, and you need to file for divorce, and you need to not continue the illusion that you are in a relationship with her. She's not behaving at all appropriately even for a continuing relationship, but you need to end things, cut her off, and move on with your life. Where moving on with your life includes making your own decisions about who you talk to, not relying on her wants or needs.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:34 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

Your wife has become physically violent, is stalking you online, and is attempting to control you. Please consider your own safety first. I suggest you consult with a good divorce lawyer. Get their advice on how to conduct yourself, what to document, what the process would be like if you filed, whether/how/when to communicate with your wife.

I also suggest individual counseling for you, to deal with the immediate issues. You can analyze patterns once you've got yourself clear of the crisis. Mainly you will need support to stick with a difficult course of action in a dangerous situation.

My gut tells me that things will escalate before they resolve. Please be prepared.
posted by expialidocious at 9:37 AM on January 24, 2013 [6 favorites]

Mod note: Folks, constructive help please. Leave your own baggage at home.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:50 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm not saying that your wife's behavior is okay (it's not), but if she's volatile and upset and unsure of whether or not you two are going to get back together or not, it might explain some of her erratic behavior (for total clarity: explain the behavior, not forgive the behavior).

You are afraid to tell her that it's really over, but... it's really over. She needs to know now so that you can set real boundaries and keep them. Don't wait for a counselor. If you need a counselor of your own to get the strength to get moving, find someone who is available today.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:51 AM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

From your wife's point of view, she is within her rights to ask you these kinds of questions because you are still married and she thinks you're getting back together. You wrote your story in such a way that it makes you look very sympathetic and I'm sure your wife is not perfect and may even be terrible, but you are also not perfect and may even be terrible. How do I reach this conclusion? Well, you're a guy who had an emotional affair, left his wife, and blamed her for it. Yeah, she's a gal who punched you in the face- never, ever okay- but even before that you were shirking responsibilty for your own actions, in my reading. Two wrongs don't make a right. Your wife is awful, don't follow her example. Do the right thing and end your marriage now. No more stalling, no more shirking.
posted by quincunx at 10:00 AM on January 24, 2013 [8 favorites]

I honestly don't understand why you're even considering getting back together with someone who struck you. Or, if you're not considering getting back together with her, why you haven't made that clear.

As for the whole Tumblr thing, your story doesn't add up. Unless you and your wife and this other person are all involved in a tightly knit fandom, I don't see how your wife would have found out that you were following other person. And if what you're saying is how it went down, consider the possibility that the other person created an incognito account hoping you'd follow it.

I would block both your wife and the other person and take a break from the fandom you're all involved with (if tbat's the case) and figure out what you want to do (hint: get a divorce from physically abusive and boundary-ignoring partner).
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:00 AM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

You don't need a counselor to tell your wife that you aren't getting back together - you need a lawyer. There's no sense delaying what needs to happen. Go lawyer up, and then have your attorney send her the divorce papers. Normally, I'd say that it's not ok to divorce someone that way, but your wife punched you in the face, so she loses the right to be treated like a person.

Her behavior w/r/t this friend of yours actually makes perfect sense, because she thinks you guys are trying to work things out. It's time to rip off the band-aid and tell her that you aren't. Since you fear for your safety when she finds out (which, by the way, is an excellent sign that getting back together should be off the table) it should be done via an intermediary. In this case, a lawyer.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:09 AM on January 24, 2013 [5 favorites]

The problem is that there are two versions of reality here. Yours, which is closer to being the real one, and your wife's, which isn't, because she's missing information.

Your version of reality is the one you've laid out above. I have no reason to think you're lying or exaggerating.

Your wife's version of reality is one in which she believes that the two of you are in a very low place but are working on reconciling and rebuilding your relationship after her anger and general shittiness torpedoed it.

So in her version of reality, it's alarm-worthy that you're back in contact with this friend.

It's going to suck, it's going to be painful and it's going to make a big mess in the short term, but you need to come clean with your wife that it's over. Weird things like this are going to keep happening as long as she thinks you're getting back together and you know you're not. And though she's done terrible things, unforgivable things, and as hard as it will be for her now, it will be even harder when she realizes you've been lying to her and letting her have hope when you knew it was hopeless.

Talk to an attorney and tell them what you've told us.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:16 AM on January 24, 2013 [10 favorites]

Tell your wife you want a divorce. Dragging things out isn't going to end well. It doesn't seem like it's going to end well as it is, but telling her sooner is the lesser of two evils. You're not helping either of you by extending things on and on and on. By not doing things quickly, you're feeding into the cycle of drama.

Also, block your wife on all forms of social media once you've told her you want a divorce. Cut things off with her as much as possible, as quickly as possible. The break needs to be clean. If you're staying then stay, but if you're going then just go.

Regarding this person hitting you, I'd be pressing charges were I in your shoes, not just getting a divorce. Choosing to live with someone who physically harms you is you putting yourself in harm's way. Consider whether or not you want to do that.
posted by Solomon at 10:28 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

jaguar: "especially if you are not in a no-fault divorce state."

Since 2010 every (US) state is a no-fault divorce state.

posted by dd42 at 11:10 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Yes, your wife's behaviour would be totally unreasonable if she knew your marriage was over, but she doesn't know that.

I can't understand how, of all the thousands and thousands of tumblr users, you coincidentally ended up following the one person you told your wife you'd cease contact with. The odds against that must be incredibly high. I have to ask: is it true that you had no idea of this person's identity when you started following them, and the reason you freaked out when they changed their avatar was that you suddenly recognised then? Or was it because you did know it was them and the avatar change blew your cover?

Because the other way it's plausible that you started unwittingly following her, is that your wife created a honey trap account, and populated it with original posts and not reblogs of this woman's artwork, that is verifiably hers??? And none of which you recognised from your prior acquaintance with the artist? And then obtained a photo of this person to turn into their avatar, but after a long interval so you wouldn't at first realize it was them? Because if your wife did all that, then this really is a case of "stalking" and not "following her husband's publicly viewable social media accounts during a separation which might end in reconciliation as far as she knows".

The first of these things is menacingly crazy, the second one isn't. For your safety you need to think about which it is.
posted by tel3path at 11:15 AM on January 24, 2013 [15 favorites]

I like Ruthless Bunny's advice, except I would download copies of any and all things legal and financial before putting out hints about not reconciling.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:17 AM on January 24, 2013

1. Contact a divorce lawyer and file for divorce, now. Don't drag it out any more.
2. Block your wife on everything, and do not respond to any emails, phone calls, whatever. Communicate only through your lawyer.
3. Cancel the counseling --- you have no intention of getting back together, so why bother? --- and notify her you have filed for divorce. Depending on her reaction, consider a restraining order. (And yes, she is stalking you.)
posted by easily confused at 11:39 AM on January 24, 2013 [4 favorites]

Simply stated you want to divorce your wife who has a history of physical abuse, anger control problems and stalking behaviors. Get yourself a lawyer and a therapist. Secure your personal finances. Cut off contact with your wife.

It's a red herring, but there is something hinky here - in all the world of tumblrs you just happened to follow the person you had a relationship with? It's either a coincidence of lottery winner proportion or your wife faked the tumbr or something. Whatever happened there it's not the real issue. Disengage from that entirely. Don't rebound with the woman with whom you had the emotional affair. I'd be surprised if she's as appealing to you once you've been through some therapy and refine what you need in a partner.
posted by 26.2 at 11:51 AM on January 24, 2013 [2 favorites]

Cancel the counseling --- you have no intention of getting back together, so why bother?

As a dissenting opinion – if you have kids, the couples counseling even going into divorce can be a really good thing, because you'd have to deal with the other parent anyway, so having a place to work stuff out so that you can communicate decently can be really good.

Counseling is not always about reconciling and making the marriage work. Fundamentally, it's about the two of you understanding your relationship and communicating about it in a safe way, whatever shape it's going to take (divorce or not).

But if you don't need to interact with and make decisions with your current spouse post-divorce, then I would agree there may not be any benefit to further counseling.
posted by zippy at 11:54 AM on January 24, 2013

My leaving seemed to trigger a huge change in my wife.

Not really, as she seems to be either cyberstalking you and/or deliberately baiting you by creating a fake Tumblr account (maybe?).

"Please don't think I'm stalking you"

Is what either really honest people say or very manipulative people say in order to get you to think that you're blowing things out of proportion. Upon which they start doing all kinds of wacky things.

Conventional wisdom suggests that you really shouldn't be in contact with the person who you had the EA with - but then conventional wisdom suggests you don't punch your spouse in the face.

I'm not sure that Tumblr is your friend's, so maintaining contact that way is difficult to have an opinion on. I would be inclined to keep it in order to work out whether it actually is your friend or your wife.

Now, unlike some of the other responses, if you're in any way in contact with your friend beyond that, I would be inclined to not stop that contact, purely on the basis that you're separated, this is your friend, your wife punched you in the face, and is now attempting to control you even though you are no longer in her physical space (I mean, the reason one leaves an abusive relationship is in order to escape the controlling and manipulation, right? It's just now we have social media/tech that allows that to extend beyond the physical space). At this point, it really is none of your wife's business. But I would agree that you need to really take a lot of this offline - and if you are still in contact with your friend, you (unfortunately) need to consider her personal safety in this situation as well.
posted by heyjude at 2:27 PM on January 24, 2013 [1 favorite]

You made a promise to cut off contact.
The contact was unintentional.
Your wife doesn't know you intend to end the marriage.

I'd message wife saying "I didn't realize it was Pat because the account had a generic name. I expect to maintain contact with Pat on facebook/tumbler. We can discuss this with Counselor when we meet." You should get a therapist immediately, and have therapist help you plan making your decision/ breaking the news to your wife. Do document all accounts and financial details; don't try to hide money. You're going to need a lawyer, start looking.
posted by theora55 at 8:48 PM on January 24, 2013

Hi, OP. I think you should go no-contact again. You don't owe her any sort of explanation for accidentally following your friend on Tumblr, because explaining it to her would validate her belief that it is her business.

You say your wife has changed a lot since you left, but this suggests otherwise: she created accounts to follow you on all of the social media sites you frequent, she knew that you'd probably feel uncomfortable with it, so she promised not to cross your boundaries ("I swear I'm not stalking you!")... and then she almost immediately proceeded to cross them.

I also wonder if there's any point in going to the couples' counseling sessions that you and she have scheduled; even if you think that the presence of a neutral third party is going to embolden you to tell your wife that you have definitely decided to end the marriage, it seems likely that your wife will make the session about her own feelings before you get the chance to tell her. This is a pretty common pattern when you're trying to leave a relationship with an abusive person: while you're still committed to making the relationship work, s/he will refuse to go to therapy, but once you've left and are clearly in the process of moving on, s/he will GLADLY attend counseling sessions so that s/he can act like the person who is trying SO HARD to keep your family together and make you out to be the cold, heartless person who doesn't care about the marriage anymore.
posted by Pizzarina Sbarro at 3:07 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

She is still your wife. She is hoping that you guys will get back together and is making real/conscious changes (couples counseling, anger therapy etc) for that to happen & be successful. For all you know, she did set up accounts to be closer/stay in touch (towards the same end) since you guys don't share the same roof anymore. Now she sees this person back in your life when you are not being in hers. I guess, all I'm trying to say is that she has reasons to feel insecure and ask you for a clarification for her confusion.

I think you should tell her right away if things have changed since you both last agreed to work through this.
posted by asra at 2:13 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]

If the genders here were reversed, the advice would be very different overall, and I'm not sure why it should be milder in this case. Your former partner, lover, and friend has punched you in the face. Dead stop. She is dangerous, has hints of controlling behavior, and doesn't care about your well-being to the point of physical violence.

This is true, true, true. But when writing my own response I realized that I was holding back because the account of this situation is extremely confusing, and at least two major parts of the narrative are self-contradictory or just implausible. I am still kind of confused about what's going on. If your wife hit you in the face and you are leaving her, you need to 1) get your legal & financial affairs in order, 2) tell her you ARE leaving her, and then 3) disappear yourself, get a restraining order, whatever else you need to do. It's common for abuse victims to linger and mince and make excuses and if that's the reason your account seems blurry, the best advice is to stop doing that and take decisive action for your safety.
posted by stoneandstar at 7:58 PM on January 25, 2013

You've made up your mind, you are happier away from her. You need to articulate this and move forward with your life. Stop fearing her. Get some pepper spray or CPL if you fear for your safety.
posted by OneHermit at 1:35 AM on January 26, 2013

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