An iPhone, an iPad and some illicit texts and I knew my 17 year marriage was over. It just took longer than I thought because my ex was and remains incapable of making any decisions.
I suppose I should start at the beginning, though where the beginning is can be debated. I looked at old therapy notes and about nine months before I caught him in a physical and emotional affair with a much younger co-worker, I knew there was something wrong. He was spending at least one weekend a month out of town with “buddies” skiing, biking, camping, etc. Due to my limited mobility (I have multiple sclerosis) I figured he should have his fun. He also traveled extensively for work and was very absent from family life.
I was seeing a therapist on my own trying to sort things out but didn’t see any progress. For years we had an “autonomous marriage” where he worked, traveled for work and did his own thing on the weekend. I did everything else. Ran the household and was the “alpha parent” to our two children. I worked part time and I managed the household funds (and boy did THAT skill come in useful as we headed for divorce). I did not want an autonomous marriage but that’s what I got.
My ex took one of our children (I’ll call him Monkey) out of town for a camping trip. While on the trip he met up with The Other Woman. Monkey met her too because later on he was able to identify her in pictures my ex had left on the family computer. While on the trip my ex had some sort of epiphany and/or mental breakdown and fell madly in love with The Other Woman.
A week or two after the trip he was acting strangely. Furtively writing in his notebook. Sneaking away with his phone. Folding laundry–yup there go the alarm bells. I was playing a game on his iPad when their texts started popping up. I won’t reveal them verbatim except they were the mushy, can’t wait to see you, I’m pining away for you and LET’S PLAN A VACATION TOGETHER!! WTF!!
I ran upstairs to grab the phone from him and he hid it away from me like a horny teenager that has just been busted with Penthouse Forum. At the time he honestly didn’t see anything wrong with pursuing his relationship with the other woman and staying married to me. And we don’t live in Utah so bigamy was out of the question. I think what he really wanted was me to run the home, keep things on track and leave him free to pursue his wild, passionate, crazy in love relationship. I had a problem with that. He didn’t.
And so it was a summer of verbal and emotional abuse from him. I could barely walk (thank you MS for showing up at a VERY inconvenient time) and was in constant pain. I lost most of the use of my left arm and leg. And at that exact moment, when I could barely walk across a room, he informed me that he could only be happy doing the following things: hiking, camping, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, going on adventures, having wild sex in public places…If I couldn’t live up to the standards of the other woman then he wanted nothing to do with me. I was ugly, unattractive, a crappy mother, he never loved me and wanted to “blow up” our marriage so he could, as he said, “get to do what I want and be with whomever I want.”
He would sneak off to see the other woman under the guise of work. When he was home he spewed hate and venom at me. I moved into the guest bedroom. I withdrew money from a joint savings account and put it in my own name just in case the kids and I had to move out because he wasn’t showing any signs of leaving. He continued to verbally abuse me, even in front of a marriage counselor we were seeing.
I was ashamed and embarrassed. I isolated myself because of that shame. I began to believe all the hateful things he said about me. Only a few close friends and our siblings knew what was going on. To their credit our siblings and mutual friends encouraged him to go back to counseling and fix the marriage, because a divorce was not the answer.
But he wouldn’t commit to staying and he wouldn’t commit to leaving. It was the worst of both worlds. Our house was toxic.
So I made the decision for him. A few months into his ongoing affair he decided to go to the movies at 5:00. Alone. To a local indie movie theater that only features one movie. He thought he had turned off the GPS locator on his iPhone but hadn’t. I tracked his movements away from the movie theater towards the town where the other woman lived. And I took a screen shot of him at her house at midnight.
The next morning he told me he wanted to go to marriage counseling. So I quizzed him on the movie. How was it? Comedy, drama, romance, thriller? Feature any actors I knew? He squirmed with each question. Once I was satisfied he was sufficiently uncomfortable I showed him the screen shot of him at the other woman’s home and said the magic, liberating words, “Pack your crap and get the hell out of my house. Now.” And he did.