When Andrea’s friend said she thought Andrea’s spouse was cheating, she couldn’t believe it. She knew the marriage was in deep trouble: he was restricting her access to money, they were fighting, there was no intimacy and his behavior was just plain odd. Truly, he was so difficult to live with, Andrea just couldn’t imagine another woman wanting to cheat with him. Here’s Andrea:
When my friend told me she thought he was having an affair I said,
“He’s just so unpleasant, no one would want to have an affair with this man. He’s not nice, he’s not fun, he’s not supportive. He’s mean, he’s stingy. He’s not going to shell out money for somebody else, he doesn’t even spend money on his own family.”
She told me to start looking around. So I started looking in his pockets and I found this pair of women’s underwear in his raincoat, this trench coat:
“Oh my God, it’s women’s underwear.”
“It is, these things are giant! Who’s he having an affair with?”
“How big are they?”
“These things are big enough to fit him!”
I’m pulling them out and I’m looking at them and when you think of someone having an affair, you think of a size two thong, you’re thinking of someone little.
He had told me he wanted to do his own laundry, he didn’t want me to do it any longer so that told me I had to look in his laundry. Of course, I found more women’s underwear in there, in his sock drawer, and then I found some in his guitar case. It was like hiding women’s underwear everywhere. It was like a joke. I really didn’t care except I really didn’t want the kids to come across any of it,
Like I said, we hadn’t been having sex for years by this point and it really didn’t make any difference to me. In the back of my mind what I was trying to navigate was how long could I stay in this marriage and get something out of it for my kids? I’m obviously not getting anything out of it, but how long can I stay and get something out of it for my kids? At what point does it stop giving them something and start taking something away because it’s damaging for them to see that their mom and dad have an unhealthy relationship?
Things were escalating. He was always really angry and he would storm out of the house and slam the door with incredible force. He was yelling at the kids, just about anything. He got into it with my daughter who was eight at the time, about how much toothpaste she had used, and I seriously thought I was going to have to call the police. He looked like he was going to hit her and I stepped in between the two of them. Then he started in on me about “why don’t you be a mother and teach her how to put toothpaste on her toothbrush?” It was just ridiculous.
Another time he slammed me up against the wall and when that happened, my eight-year-old was home at the time but she didn’t see it. She heard him and when we went and picked up her sister, she told her sister what happened and I said,
“OK, we’re getting near the end here. This just can’t go on much longer.”
Immediately after that there was an incident where he came in the kitchen and my daughter said something to him about my computer not working which I had told him. He argued that it did work and I said,
“My computer crashes every night, but you’re not here at night, are you? So you wouldn’t know that, would you?”
He laid into me. “You are so fucking stupid, do you know what a fucking asshole you sound like? Listen to your mother, do you hear what that bitch sounds like? Don’t you ever…”
This just went on and on until all three of us were shaking from sobbing and I thought,
“I can’t do this. This is insane. We’ve crossed the line, no one should have to live like this. This is ridiculous.”
I’m thinking “I’ve got to get out of here. When can I leave? How can I leave? Can I wait until summer? Can I make it to Christmas?” I told my dad what was going on and my dad said I needed to hire a private investigator which we did.
Shortly after that the PI called called me and said,
“I have your information for you. I probably should tell you this in person.”
I said to the PI, “It really doesn’t matter. I know what’s going on, my husband’s been doing this for a while. He’s having an affair, I know who she is, I know how old she is, I know what she does, I know where she lives.”
He said, “It’s actually a little bigger than that. He’s a crossdresser”.
The Divorce Coach Says
The violent interactions that Andrea describes here cast a much different, darker shadow over the topic of infidelity for me and the tone of Andrea’s story shifted dramatically. She was right, they had crossed the line and personal safety always takes precedence over marriage vows. It’s so black and white to see that from the outside but I hope that Andrea’s story gives a glimpse of how difficult it can be to confront when you are the victim. She had no access to money and that makes it very difficult to escape. I’m guessing Andrea was also used to finding ways to avoid to conflict, ways to keep her husband from losing his temper, working around his control. Breaking through that intimidation takes courage.
If you are in this situation, please know that violence is never acceptable. I urge you to find help. Start by looking for a women’s shelter but consider doing this using a public computer maybe at your local library or a friend’s, just in case your spouse is monitoring your computer usage. Be careful about which phone you use to call, again in case your husband is monitoring phone records.
My recent guest, Lisa also had a sexless marriage and discovered after twenty-two years that her husband had had a previous relationship with a man. He wasn’t violent but he did harass her relentlessly until she moved out of state. Nancy is another guest whose marriage held little intimacy. She also discovered her husband was a cross-dresser but not violent – she had a very different approach for dealing with his fetish.
Andrea was surprised by the PI findings – that her husband was a crossdresser had not occurred to her. In my next post, Andrea’s story continues with how she reacted to the news and how she found the courage to leave.