Dear Annie: I found out a month ago that my wife has been sleeping with a plethora of men that she's met on a dating app. Her profile says she's single and that she also has a college degree, neither of which is true. She told me she is in love with another man. After I spoke to the man's wife, who did not know, she explained that her husband had cheated on her before and was living in their basement. She also said they have five children together and just declared bankruptcy. My wife was serious when she told me she was madly in love with him, missed him and wanted a future with this man. A future?
I uncovered her indiscretions about a month ago when I found all of the evidence on her cellphone. That night, I asked her to leave, and she did. I thought she was going to her parent's house, but I'm not sure where she went that night. I think she had a lot of options.
We have two sons, ages 12 and 14. I informed them that their mother had been cheating on me and that we are getting a divorce. In front of the kids, she pulled a butcher knife on me and threatened me because she wanted her phone. My 14-year-old son had to disarm her.
I was completely blindsided by everything that has happened. The boys live with me because of continuity in their lives and school. I have gotten them therapy as well as confided with their principal to see the school psychologist. My grieving emotions swing between anger and depression. I am praying I finally reach acceptance.
She pretends everything is OK in front of the boys. She took them out to dinner last week and asked if I wanted to join them. I declined because I didn't want to confuse the boys more. After being with her for 20 years and 12 years of marriage, the last thing I said to her before she left was, "I have no idea who you are."
I have been doing good by my sons, but I can see the depression on their faces. I don't know anyone who has experienced something this crazy, and I, too, am getting therapy.
How do I get past all of this? How do I stay strong to get through my divorce, and most importantly, how do I make sure my sons will be OK?
Does she have a multiple personality disorder? My therapist told me to stop trying to understand craziness. She said that we don't even understand crazy — we only recognize it.
Help! What do I need to do to bring normalcy back to me and my sons and get to that acceptance stage where whatever and whoever she is becomes indifferent and irrelevant to me? — Crushed Spirit
Dear Crushed Spirit: You certainly have been through trauma, and it takes time to heal from traumas. You're taking some important steps in getting support for you and your sons. Your therapist is correct in pointing out that you can't fully understand why your wife did what she did, but you can understand yourself and how you respond to the situation. Be kind and patient with yourself and your sons. Don't expect to get to the acceptance stage right away; just know that it will take time.
You are grieving the loss of your marriage. While there might not be people who have your exact situation, there are divorce support groups for fathers. I would suggest you look up a local support group.
I am so sorry that you are going through this, but you sound like an amazing father and a good person. It won't be right away, but if each day you work on your grief and trauma, then, before you know it, you and your sons will be feeling good again and experiencing joy. The is one of those situations where it is worth reminding yourself, each day, that life is a cinch by the inch and hard by the yard.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]
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