Medic, we have incoming!

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. (c) Annie Lane

I’m not proud of this, but I can totally relate to this guy’s anger. This is exactly how I’d react in the same situation (to my best guess). However, objectively, I can tell that he’s doing everything wrong. So he needs to get a grip posthaste. He’s got one chance to do right by his kids through this situation, and he’s already blown that chance to smithereens. But hey, it’s never too late. Maybe the kids are completely destroyed by this yet. We can hope.

I’m guessing that if he’d returned the cellphone to his wife, she wouldn’t have pulled a knife on him. What made him think he had the right to keep her cellphone?! Also, the kids should’ve been kept in the dark about the infidelity unless or until it would’ve had therapeutic value (for them, not their dad) to be told the truth. But telling them in order to cause a knife-wielding scene was the wrong thing to do by far. I’m appalled.

It’s not best for the kids. It’s his anger talking. He’s irate. He’s on the warpath. He’s told his kids’ principal that their mom’s a cheater. He kicked his wife out of the house and then had the gall to wonder who she wound up spending the night with. Um, I’m sorry, but if you evict someone, that person is entitled to seek shelter wherever they can find it.

I found Annie Lane’s advice to be lacking in context and rather blasé, once again. She sympathized with him without pointing out that he’s handled this all wrong so far.

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.

That statement about dissociative disorder is so hostile as to be poisonous. Yeah, multiple personalities, I’m sure that’s it. [Eyeroll.] The therapist is trying to say, “Can you quit bashing your wife with pejorative diagnoses? We need to focus on more important things like your sons and your out-of-control anger,” but he’s not hearing it. (To clarify, I don’t remotely look down on people with dissociative disorders. I’m incredibly dissociative myself. But I can tell that he’s using it as an insult and a tool of disrespect.)

I can totally relate to his anger, so I’m wondering what would be helpful to me in this situation… hmm… thinking… It’s a fine line between being sympathetic (“Your wife’s horrible!”) and being openly honest (“Dude, your kids should come first here”), and I was just talking to a friend about that whole concept. Should we feed this guy’s need for sympathy, or should we slap some sense into him? If I were his friend, I’d try to do both. Like, “Your wife’s behavior was so, so wrong, but you’ve got to prioritize your kids right now. You’ve got the whole rest of your life to process the anger, and the last thing you want to do is go off the deep end and do something you’ll regret. You’ve got to get it together.”

I feel awful just thinking about how much damage he’s done to his sons in the span of one month. That’s not pretty. It’s just awful. If he keeps it up, he’s going to get his stupid self arrested. For starters, he never should’ve withheld his wife’s cellphone from her and harassed her to the point that she grabbed a knife. If he cares about anyone beyond himself, he’d better get it together, like, yesterday.

6 thoughts on “Medic, we have incoming!

  1. It’s strange how when people can’t understand someone else’s behaviour, they often leap to the conclusion that they person must be mentally ill. Mentally ill is not the best explanation for asshole behaviour.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree! I’d wager anything he’s leaping to that conclusion to sound derogatory. I bet he doesn’t really think she has multiple personalities. It’s like he’s so angry that he wants to put her down, so he’s using it as an insult.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Multiple personality disorder… yeah, I also don’t think he has any idea about what it is. Just needed some derogatory, but a bit fancy-sounding (to make it feel even more derogatory) term to make himself feel better.
    While obviously his wife sounds horrible and threatening him with a knife is not justifiable even if he took her cell phone (which I agree with you was totally wrong), I have a feeling that, in the end, it’s him who caused more trauma to the children in the end than her. It’s not the way to talk to your children about divorce the way he did it. Even the way he phrased it, that he “informed” them about the whole thing, screams that it’s all wrong and it seems to me like he totally didn’t take his sons’ feelings into account, that their perspective on this is different, even just because they’re children. I feel for him, but I feel for these poor things even more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree!! He’d better get a grip really soon!! What a mess!! I feel so sorry for his kids that there aren’t words. I feel sorry for him, too, but he’s got to put his feelings aside for the moment and have a wakeup call of sorts. Like, if you have kids, you’ve got to be in the mindset that if anything goes majorly wrong, the kids’ needs have to come first. I’m thinking parents should ingrain such beliefs into their minds so they’re prepared for just about anything life can throw at them, ya know?

      Liked by 1 person

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