Dear Annie: Many years ago, I was in the U.S. military. I was sent to Southeast Asia and served three six-month tours. On my last tour, I suspected my wife had an affair, but I had no proof. While I was in training for a job after I was released from active duty, I heard that my wife had spent the night with one of the men from the base. I confronted her, but she lied to me; her good friend eventually told me the truth. I believe she was faithful to me after that for maybe 15 years. But our relationship was strained. There was passion, but there was always that element of distrust.
One day, I returned from a business trip in the middle of the night two days early and went to the lower-level guest room to sleep. That morning, the phone rang. I picked it up, and she was on the phone with a man. I heard him describing things he wanted to do to her that night. I went to her bedroom and told her what I had heard. She repented. I forgave again.
Five years later, I bought us a house in another state. I had to go back to our home state every other month for two to three weeks for business. We had a suite on the second level and rented it to a single man. One time, I returned early and found him coming out of my bedroom in my robe. That was all I could take. I filed for legal separation and moved back to our home state.
After five years of legal separation, I met a widow who was a bit younger than I was and asked my ex to file for divorce. We had been married for more than 40 years. I knew she couldn’t support herself, so I gave her several thousand dollars a month and all the cash investments I had.
My second wife and I have been together now for more than 15 years. She insists I have no communication with my ex. It has been very hard to persuade the ex to not communicate. We had a son, who is now deceased. His children, my grandchildren, do not know the truth. They blame me for the divorce. I have not told them all the sordid details and probably never will. They do not care to have a relationship with me.
I write this in hopes that someone who has experienced a similar case of dishonor will recognize the situation and get counseling for the wayward spouse and himself or herself to salvage their family and their relationship. – Still in Misery in Missouri
Dear Still in Misery: Thank you for being so vulnerable in sharing this to help others. But it’s not too late to help yourself. I would encourage you to take a more proactive – rather than reactive – role in your relationships and life.
For instance, it does sound as if it is wise for you to keep your distance from your ex-wife, as toxic relationships have a way of retaining their potency long after their end. However, if you don’t talk to her, it should be because you recognize it’s healthiest for you not to, not because your current wife forbids it.
Also, if your grandchildren are adults now, you might try writing them letters expressing your side of the story. No sordid details are needed. Just tell them that things aren’t so cut-and-dried as they seem and that you wish you could be closer to them. You’ve got nothing to lose by saying that much.
Lastly, I hope you yourself are currently in counseling, as there is understandably a lot of emotional scar tissue from everything that’s happened. Perhaps you and your wife could go together.
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