Bucket of Cold Water

Recently I received a stinging rebuke to one of my posts. Ok, maybe it wasn’t stinging, but it was real. It was from my favorite critic, Spaghetti Sam, who writes a great blog over at https://arewestillhavingspaghetti.wordpress.com/ . She writes about her struggles due to the infidelity of her soon-to-be-ex-husband. The fallout is hard to believe, and I encourage you to check it out.

Today I wanted to review the key points Sam brought up:

——

Sam: I applaud you for wanting to do right by your wife. I’ll leave off that pesky clause about cheating on her.

Ryan: Granted. I cannot go back and undo what has been done. But I can take control of my future.

Sam: I do have a question for you, though. You talk about not abandoning your kids. Not abandoning her financially. Paying your support. Not draining bank accounts. I think the whole “I want to treat her with respect” train has already passed by but kudos to you for not wanting to drag her any further through the mud. What happens though if upon finding out what you’ve done your wife doesn’t want to play ball?

Ryan: I’ll start here. First, I do acknowledge that it is the worst kind of disrespect – to cheat on my wife. I know this. That train has left, but that doesn’t give me the right to disrespect her any more. What I’m really referring to is if the marriage dissolves I do not want to become a jerk who continues to make choices that make her life worse.

Now if she chooses not to play ball, and she well could, then I will have to live with the consequences of my actions. But that does not mean giving up. That does not mean adondoning my children or my respect for her.

Have you read Glennon Doyle’s blog, momastery? I read her most recent book too. Her husband was in the same boat. She was not playing ball with him. But he stuck with it. He was there for her and for the kids. Over and over he kept showing up. No matter what happens I’m there for her and the kids. Even if she chooses to cut me out.

The other side of this is that I know my wife very well. She will say horrible things at first, and then calm down and become reasonable. She does not want her children not to know their father. There is a chance she would do something crazy, but I think it’s very small. She knows I’m a great father, and would want to keep that going even if she hates my guts. She has had to live through this with her own father.

Sam: What happens if your kids, who I know are very very young at this point, find out one day what happened between you and their mom and they no longer want anything to do with you? Are you still going to do your best to do right by them?

Ryan: Absolutely. It would be a long time before they found out and understood anyway. By that point we would have already formed whatever bond we were going to have post divorce. I know that during the teenage years thoughts of anger toward your parents for any perceived slight can form. I had them for my own parents. All I can do is prepare my children for such a thing, and be there for them when it happens. I will ALWAYS be there for my children. ALWAYS. It’s the one thing my mother showed me was important. Even if you don’t do the right thing or don’t even know what the right thing is – you be there for your children.

Sam: I don’t ask these questions to be a raging bitch. I think it’s one thing to believe you’ll co-parent well with her, you’ll never leave your kids behind, you’ll treat the ex-wife/their mother with respect, you’ll be friends and everything will be fine- you’ll just be going home with someone else. It’s another thing when the shit has finally hit the fan and she’s pissed off beyond belief. She’s not cooperating over anything. She refuses to co-parent with you, tells you you can do whatever the hell you want and she’ll do the same. She won’t sit with you at ball games or recitals or high school graduations. She tells everyone, and I do mean everyone, what you and your mistress did. Maybe she sues for sole custody and you see your kids every other weekend. Maybe she ends up getting a settlement that leaves you financially destitute. And then your kids get mad at you and won’t talk to you. You are no longer the wonderful daddy who can do no wrong. You’re the father that cheated on their mother and broke up their home. Maybe they even turn against your mistress and refuse to see you if she’s around. 

Ryan: Whew! Deep breath… You don’t paint a pretty picture. It’s quite possible any or all if those things could happen. These are the reasons, in fact, that I really want to take a break to consider things.

The fact is I have already cheated. It’s just a matter of how to move forward. Some of the things you talk about are definitely worth considering, but at this point there is nothing I can do about the past. I can’t go back in time.

If I fess up about what happened then all of this may come true regardless of whether I ever see Meredith again or not. Wife may jump straight to an angry divorce and end everything even if I’m willing to work it out. But telling the truth is the right thing to do, right? I don’t know. Maybe not.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that all the things you mentioned may happen, but they may all happen because of what I did not because of what I will do. No matter where things go I will be respectful to Wife, and I will be there for my kids in the future.

For my children, their father is fallible. As tough as that can be sometimes to imagine when growing up eventually they will need to know that about me. I hope that they remember me as a good father and don’t grow to resent me or Meredith, but it’s quite possible they will. The one thing I fear most is losing my kids.

In fact if I do end up with Meredith they may end up hating her simply for being her. Or they may end up hating their step-dad who I have no control over. That’s a scary thought. I had an evil step-mother growing up and I don’t wish that on my kids.

For the record, I don’t think you’re a raging bitch. You are living much of what you are describing could happen. That’s good experience, and why I’m listening.

Sam: It’s easy to envision this peaceful future where you two go on to be friends, co-parenting right along with your mistress, one big happy blended family. You know why? Because SHE didn’t do anything to YOU. She didn’t cheat and break your heart. She hasn’t already replaced you. It might work out the way you imagine. Sometimes it does. Not often. I certainly wouldn’t bet on it. More than likely things are going to be tense and rocky and very unfriendly.

Ryan: To be honest I don’t envision a peaceful future. At least not right off. I think it is something we would have to grow toward. It will be very hard at first. Time heals all wounds. I would hope that within a few years things would start to get better. She will probably always feel some anger and resentment toward me and those feelings would not be without merit. But it is how she decides to act on them.

You’re right, she didn’t do this to me so it’s easier for me to think about an alternate future. In fact I don’t know how I would have felt if she had been the one to have an affair. I can’t go back to before. I’m sure I would have been angry and scared. I do not know what actions I would have taken. I certainly know that I would appreciate her kindness rather than derision during the process.

Also, she hasn’t been in my shoes. There are reasons this affair was so enticing. There are reasons that despite my best efforts I couldn’t resist it. I didn’t plan on getting stuck in an unfulfilling marriage. I never expected to be put down and 2nd guessed on everything. I never expected that my wife’s enjoyment of sex would stay dramatically low for decades. She talks a good game, but her walk doesn’t match up.

I know what I did was wrong, but that doesn’t make her completely innocent. She should listen to her husband. He has needs and desires too.

Sam: I have no clue what goes on in [my soon-to-be ex]’s head but I do know that in the beginning he tried being friendly, tried acting like nothing had happened. He still wanted us to “develop a new relationship based upon us being happy for one another”. I think it’s quite possible that if the kids hadn’t been pissed off at him for throwing this tsunami in their laps only a year after moving them away from their friends he might have made more of an effort to stay in contact with them. I think that their refusal to have anything to do with him made him dig in his heels and reject them. Then again, I’ve come to believe he’s just a disordered asshole so it probably wouldn’t have mattered what we did.

So the real question is can you still stand by your convictions when things aren’t going the way you planned?

Ryan: It sounds like he didn’t try hard enough. He seems to have moved out and moved on rather quickly. Building the trust back could take years. I really can’t relate to what your ex did. Abandoning his family. Not giving them any support. From a choice that HE made. Your ex is teaching me plenty of lessons. I will give him that.

They say in war all the plans change after the first shot is fired. I’m trying to keep that in mind. My plans are broad and vague at this point because once things start happening it’s hard to say where it will go. I may still decide to just stay married and keep everything under the rug.

Sam I thank you for your critique. I have this feeling that we will never quite see eye to eye, but I thoroughly enjoy your views. I also have a lot of sympathy for what you are going through. I hope in answering your questions you can see that we (those who have cheated) are not all the same. Maybe you can see into the gray area. Just as I know you are not the scorned woman you describe above either. You took the high road many times and showed compassion even when it wasn’t in your best interest.

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8 thoughts on “Bucket of Cold Water

  1. I am just starting the divorce process. The number two headache/worry behind telling my kids (20 and 17) and how they will react, is the fear of the unknown. For me, I don’t fret so much over how my children will feel about me — I will always be their father — I fret about being able to provide for them in the years to come. With that worry comes the hope that I will have more control over my life and finances, able to put enough away even though that will be done a little at a time.

    I liked this blog. The entries about your cheating sometimes make me wince at times. I see you making mistakes and it makes me want to sit down to talk them through with you. In a way, putting this stuff out on a blog is a way of doing that. Sam has apparently been making her winces known. I’m glad you are listening!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting that I worry more about my relationship with my children. I know finances often take a big hit with divorce and mine would as well, but I don’t think it would be enough to cause more fallout. Unless I manage to lose my job too.

      What made you wince? That caught my eye. Sam has been very honest. As have some others. It’s good to hear. I’m not heartless. If you’d rather drop my a line you can try my contact page.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Finance, in my opinion, are something that we can adjust to and get back in order. I have male divorced friends who assure me of that and who have been divorced long enough to confirm that finances really are the minor concern in a divorce. Relationships, especially family relationships and children, are the most difficult to recover. But even that is possible. Your relationship (and mine also) will always be different because you are losing the time when you were there to be their father, in a house with them and their mother. They learn a different type of dynamic about marriage. The younger the child, the more critical.

        I winced because I saw a young father caught up in a fantasy and an affair. It had nothing to do with you being heartless. An affair is most often a deception and so temporary that it steals reality from you. For me, because it did happen to me temporarily, it was a sign that I had given up on my marriage. I hated that, tried to go back to how I felt emotionally and spiritually before the affair happened, found that I could not go back. I try to live a life that honors my commitment to God, so the sin and selfishness of an affair was difficult for me to reconcile and it felt like I had placed a wall of shame between myself and God. I could not pray honestly. Most of my prayers stopped at “God, I….”. I think I winced because I could see you diving into a mistake that would change you, make it nearly impossible to try with your wife any more.

        I wish you the best. Keep writing. I will read and am sincerely interested in seeing how everything turns out for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No one can tell the future. You could done a monk’s cloak tonight and your kids could still hate you for something else down the road. Or could end up having terrible problems despite your pouring your soul into monogamy and doing the right things by them. There’s no way to predict what would happen if you are busted or if you divorce due to the affair. Perhaps your wife will whisper poison in their ears, maybe she won’t. Maybe they will hate you, maybe they’ll be lenient in their judgment.

    I grew up best friends with a girl whose father was busted in an affair. He divorced his wife and married the mistress. Yes the mistress was the object of great scorn and ridicule but my friend’s relationship with her father remained intact. She has half siblings from that second marriage.

    There are so many variables to consider: personality, the degree and quality of your children’s attachment to you, your wife’s potential behavior and attitude, everyone’s financial state and quality of life, etc etc.

    But, in summation, this only proves all the more starkly why if you choose to continue your affair, do everything within your power not to get busted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No offense but I have started to view you as the devil on one shoulder to Sam’s angel on the other. Makes me smile.

      I really agree with your line about there being so many variables to consider. There are so many factors and so little research into outcomes of those variables. Statistically it would reduce the number of things for my children to hate me for if I stay married, but other than that there are a lot of unknown variables. I’m sure some of the negative outcomes would occur. But which ones and how bad? Are there ways to combat them or turn them into positives? I don’t know. I am choosing not to continue the affair, but that still does not mean I know what my future holds.

      Interesting, another example of an affair ending in marriage. I’m told repeatedly those never work.

      Like

  3. Awww, shucks! I feel famous. I probably could have parsed that whole response down to that last line.

    You are right; CF did not try at.all. He lived in the house with us for six months after his affair was common knowledge. He chose not to interact with his kids because they were pissed at him. He had one conversation with our son and asked him once if he needed a ride to school. Aside from that he never bothered to stick his head in his room, to go down to our daughter’s room, to ask them to dinner, to offer to pick them up… nothing. Then he turned around and moved out of the state he drug us to only a year and a half prior, without saying a single word to either of them. Besides, now he can claim to be a victim. That mean ol’ wife of his poisoned them against him! He’s so sad!

    As far as affairs ending in successful marriages, well of course sometimes that happens. Sometimes people win the lottery, too. I wouldn’t count on it for financial stability but people DO become millionaires. Likewise, some people have an affair and marry their affair partner. Sometimes, most of the time according to the statistics, it doesn’t work out. Other times they remain married. Sometimes those that remain married really are happy. And sometimes they present a wonderful facade to the outside world but those who know them best know either one or both of them are miserable. Sometimes the cheating continues right along with the marriage. Staying together doesn’t necessarily mean they’re happy.

    As for this <<<>> Come on! You had many choices- counseling, talking, separating. Being unhappy and/or unsatisfied does not give you a green light to have an affair. If you had been asking for a raise at work and your boss didn’t oblige would you feel okay with embezzling from the company? Didn’t think so. You’d probably start looking for another job.

    Finally, I know this will probably shock you but I’m not completely sure that I would advise telling her about the affair. On the one hand, I think she deserves to know the truth and be able to choose what she wants to do knowing all the facts. On the other hand, if you truly want to save your marriage and recommit to her then telling her will only hurt her. On the third hand, as Troubledtide advised, you better not get caught because if she ever finds out…. her whole life from the point of your affair is going to feel like a lie. Not to mention, what if you decide ten years down the road that she isn’t what you want after all? What if she will never measure up to your ideal vision? You end up divorced anyway and she has wasted all of those years with someone who didn’t appreciate her the way she should have been. Then again, you know your wife best. Maybe she would prefer not knowing. Ignorance is bliss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! I’m glad you feel famous.

      I honestly cannot believe your ex-husband. He is a piece of work. I give you a lot of credit for what you’ve gone through, and the additional work and pain he has caused. You showed up, picked up the pieces and took care of your family.

      Yes I know ending up with Mistress is a long shot. Being really happy with her and how things turn out will be an even longer one. I’m taking time now to see if I even want to consider it. But be careful with those statistics. Most are hard to find actual research behind them.

      As to you BS callout, yes all of those things are true. I could have and should have done all of those. Having an affair was not the solution. I didn’t set out with the intention of doing that. It sort of happened before I was aware. And it also highlighted to me the extent of the other problems which I wasn’t too sure about. I’m not great at processing feelings and emotions. Unfortunately it took something very extreme to help me consider it.

      I will reserve what I tell Wife for a future date. I also hope I don’t get caught. Each day it is getting less likely as we are no longer communicating.

      Thanks as always for your frank responses!

      Like

      1. I’m not sure what kind of statistics you’re looking for. Even leaving a spouse for an affair partner is only about 10% likely. Do you think there is one tailor made for you? You are correct that it is difficult to find accurate ones, but the ones out there don’t make it look promising. And while they might not have clear statistics on affair partners marrying they do have statistics on success rates for 1st and 2nd and 3rd marriages.

        1st marriages fail at the rate of about 50%. Naturally, there are things you can do to up those odds- don’t marry until age 25 or later, make good money, be college educated. Those only up your odds though; it doesn’t guarantee anything. I was 25, 2 months shy of my 26th birthday. There were no prior children. No prior marriages (obviously). We were both college educated and we lived in the top 3-5% income bracket. We’re still getting divorced.

        2nd marriages fail at a rate of 75%. I’m sure there are things that sway it in your favor so that you’re in that lucky 25%. My guess would be 2nd marriages where the first marriage wasn’t long term and/or there were no children would probably be the most successful. I would also guess that multiple exes, prior children on one or both sides, anger and betrayal issues, not co-parenting well with one or both of the exes, paying alimony, child support payments, and constant trips back to court would probably be some of the factors that play into a second divorce.

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