Vail Man-to-Man: He thinks his wife is cheating, and she denies it
Vail, CO Colorado
I wish there was someone else to ask, but I really have no one I can trust with this. We have been married for several years and have two beautiful children. My wife is a terrific mother and I love her dearly. But I am afraid she has been having an affair. In fact, I know she has. I have seen e-mails and phone bills. Though I have confronted her with my suspicions and the facts, she completely denies it. I go back and forth between feeling angry for what she is doing, and feeling like an idiot for being paranoid. She has another business trip coming up and I have seen the most recent e-mails between her and a colleague. It is so obvious. What do I do?
Am I Paranoid?
To take liberties with an old adage, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean your wife isn’t cheating on you.
The fundamental issue here is, perhaps, your inability to trust your gut. Trusting one’s gut is really what this men’s work is ultimately all about. Once we clear away the crap that keeps us from listening to our truth, hearing that little voice within or trusting our instincts, our choices become painfully obvious. I say painfully because sometimes, as in your case, being clear might mean having to make painful choices.
Maybe that’s why so many men choose to not trust their guts. That’s right, I said choose. We have an amazing ability to tune out, numb out, get confused, not care, etc., when the circumstances of our lives are unpleasant. This behavior usually begins when we’re kids and we have to navigate treacherous familial waters. We figure out how to survive. But what worked then no longer serves us today.
Your marriage is obviously in trouble. Either she is having an affair, you think it’s possible she’s having an affair, she’s lying, or you simply don’t trust her. However you look at it, your relationship is on the fritz.
You have a few choices here. If it’s intolerable for you to live with a woman who you are convinced is having an affair, then contact a lawyer and begin the difficult process of divorce. I don’t think anyone could fault you for that. You have kids, so please make sure you are certain.
Another option is to let her know the current situation is intolerable, and that in order to consider remaining in the relationship, you’ll both have to seek counseling. Maybe she will, and maybe she won’t.
Here’s a third option. Don’t confront your wife again, yet. Do some work on you. You mentioned that you have no one else to trust with this info. That’s not good. Go find a male counselor, someone who really impresses you at your first meeting and seems like the kind of guy who can father you. And look for a men’s group in your area. You need men in your life who can help you through your doubt so you can figure out how you really feel and what to do about it.
The uncertainty you’re demonstrating around this issue is probably showing up in all parts of your life. I suspect that the man you want to be is, among other attributes, clear, confident and decisive. Imagine how you’d show up as a father and husband if you were that man.
Because you haven’t trusted your gut, you’ve made a whole slew of decisions that have created the life you see before you. Once you build that muscle and find yourself on solid ground, you’ll be ready to take some action. That’ll probably include figuring out the best way to handle your relationship.
However you decide to proceed, focus on being the best man you can be throughout the process. You’ll benefit your kids by providing them with a solid role model, and yourself by being proud of the way you worked through this difficult situation.
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