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When did you know your marriage was doomed?
My daughter Tina came to me one day and said, we need to talk. She had been out with friends. We live in the outer suburbs and they had gone into the main city downtown for dinner with her boyfriend on a double date.
They had finished their meal when my daughter sees her mom, my wife Michelle, dolled-up for the evening with a well-dressed man about our age.

[Image: trumpjr.jpg?w=620]

Tina had the presence of mind to get a photo but asked her girlfriend's boyfriend to get a closer shot by walking past them with the video running on the phone.
By the time he crossed past them, Michelle was seated with one hand clasped with his across the table.
The look in her eyes was the same hunger I recall she had with me when we first met. I thought we had a healthy, loving marriage. Clearly, I was mistaken, and I was reeling.
"What are we going to do?" Tina asks.
"We aren’t doing anything. Let’s take it slow. Act like neither of us saw it. You're about to go back to college. Don't worry about it. You're covered."
"What's your plan?"

I shared what I planned to do. I had resisted a job offer for a new and important position at a firm I really liked, where two people I once worked with were now employees and I would get to work with them again, but Michelle had just started a good job in the city and it would be disruptive to make this job change now. Too much stress.
But now I was rethinking it, pretty hard.
Tina confessed she followed Michelle's lover across and down the street to his offices. He was a leasing manager for many downtown properties, one of which was Michelle's office building. Not hard to connect the dots here.
I felt like I needed to do something in Tina’s direction since this would be a huge impact and I didn’t want to leave her feeling alone.
Where Tina went to college - four hours away, was sprawled but modern, with lots of nice places to live within an hour or less of the college. I could lease an apartment for a few years, be nearer to her than I am now, she wouldn’t have to travel so far to make a visit to me, and the new job had regular travel. I wasn't looking forward to getting back on the road - I'd spent a few years already as a road warrior and didn't miss it, but the potential money was like picking fruit off trees, and I could increase my lot considerably.
Without Michelle.
I sent Tina back to college and planned my exit, and set all this in motion over the following two weeks. Michelle could not have been more oblivious. She was glowing with joy every day, and our S*x life went through the roof.
I went to see a counselor when all this was over with, and he told me the increase in S*x from a cheater is a natural thing. It comes from several factors.

First, her libido is running like a locomotive so she needs more release.
Second, there's this factor in cheating of the exhilaration of "getting away with it" that heightens the experience. The science behind it is kind of tricky, but basically, it heightens the experience like a drug, so that S*x with me would/could never match it.
So another factor of the increased S*x is confirmation - she wants to know that the S*x with the lover is truly better, and she's doing a comparative analysis. Not quite as scientific as that, but she's trying to see if sparks are still there, and true to form, the science of cheating will tell her - yep - her lover is a better experience. Maybe not better S*x, but the exhilaration factor of cheating rests solely between his legs, not mine.
What my counselor also said, was that if we get a divorce, the cheating factor would go away and the exhilaration with it, and their S*x would become plain S*x. A carriage to a pumpkin - I liked it.
He also said the cheater wants to use their spouse like a practice dummy - check out new moves and techniques, perfect them with the spouse, who will be patient with them, and present them as practiced skills to their lover.

Yet another factor is their desire to be with their new love and say goodbye to their spouse, so every sexual interlude with their spouse is treated like it was their last, because the risk of getting caught was so high, it may well be their last - when they get caught, so they are having one episode after another of "goodbye S*x" with their spouse, no different than a one-night stand, where the participants get as much as they can out of it because there won't be later.
Except the cheated-on spouse doesn't know it's goodbye-S*x. In my case, if I didn't know about her cheating, I would have thought our S*x life was better than ever. Physically it truly was - but emotionally and mentally - it was very dark.
Another factor is gaslighting - she wants to throw me off the scent. She left late one evening to go comfort a friend, and when I challenged her on it, she accused me of cheating.
Say what?
This was a shocker and it was all I could do not to confront her with what I knew.
I found out later that cheaters use this accusatory platform as a smokescreen. They want to throw-off the accuser, make me introspect and wonder what I'm doing wrong, and my attention is moved off of her. All the symptoms were right in front of my face, but I didn't recognize them.

The counselor also told me people don't want to believe such things about people they love, so the mind deceives itself - in other words - people are deceived because they want to be lied to. They also want to be deceived because the truth is too painful
In S*x, Michelle would have a quivering orgasm, many times more than one, and I thought she was happy with our S*x life. But I can't count how many times she would - after S*x - cuddle with me for a few minutes, harden her voice, and spend ten or more minutes in a whining dissertation on "everything wrong with me" - not the S*x part - practically everything else.
I thought it was some weird effect of coming down off the orgasm. It was a lot worse than that.
I learned that - a woman wants to feel close before she has S*x - and a man has S*x to feel close. In other words, S*x is how a man shows affection to his wife. If he's not showing his affection in S*x, where does he show affection at all?

But Michelle, in giving me that speech, she was giving me the S*x but denying me the afterglow of affection. Whether this was deliberate, or an instinctive effect of her mind not wanting to let anyone but Tom give her affection - the outcome is the same.
I learned also that when a woman is doing this - I suppose a man has a version of it, too - she isn't expressing love for her husband through S*x - she's expressing contempt. Here he's doing all he can to please her, and in her heart she wants it to come from her lover, not her husband. S*x reduces to duty. This is why she had no conscience about lambasting me right after S*x - it didn't mean anything to her - at least - it was a physical release but not the mental/emotional connection. It really was like a serialized one-night stand for her. With her husband.
Back to the story. I had squared away a new place to live, accepted the new position and would start within a couple of weeks, and so far Michelle knew nothing about it, as far as I knew.
It gets weird.
So I get this email from her with the subject "Please don't leave me"
Well, this is interesting. She knows that I know? Did Tina tell her?
And when I pop it open, it starts out with a desperate plea for us to stay together. It was essentially an abbreviated diary of all the things we'd done together during and since college, and various sexual interludes with more romantic meaning to her. With each diary entry, she expressed her deep affection, and "didn't this mean something to you?"

Problem was, I wasn't all that far into the diary before I realized something was off. Dates were wrong. Places were wrong. Some places I'd never been to. Experiences I'd never had. Like she was living a parallel life in an alternative universe.
I went back to the top and re-read it in this context. It started out "when we met that day at the coffee shop" - but I had been introduced to her by a friend on the intramural fields. Not a coffee shop. Who was this intended for?
Time for a little FBI work. I discovered some interesting things about her lover Tom. He went to the same University as she and I (we met in college) and the years of attendance overlapped. He graduated before either of us and received his masters at the same college. It means he stayed around after graduation. Near her.
She spoke of their first night together after a spontaneous meeting at a coffee shop across the street from the campus. I recalled the time frame - our first big fight. We were apart for a week and got back together. Apparently, that's when her relationship with Tom started, and she had kept it in the shadows ever since. His LinkedIn profile showed he had lived within the same locale as us all our married life.

I still recall when we moved to our current home, halfway across the country, Michelle was depressed for months. She would have "episodes of happy" - and according to the diary, these were times when Tom flew out to visit as he was making arrangements to follow her to this area. Her depression wasn't from missing friends in our former locale, but from longing for him.
Learning all this had me in a total funk. Hard to describe.
And she's smart and clearly diabolical. It got a lot worse. Tina is our only child. After I read the following, I had a paternity test done, and she's definitely my daughter. So there's that.
Michelle and I had a ton of problems getting pregnant. We went from one infertility specialist to another. She would come back from the doc's office and say they were starting a new protocol for this or that. Being as aggressive as possible. They had both of us on drugs to boost our fertility and after five years of this, Tina popped out. We didn't expect to have any more children as Tina was hard enough to pull off
But all this time, Michelle had been jumping in the hay with Tom and was using birth control to avoid pregnancy. In her diary, she essentially confessed to faking all the trips to the doctor as a smokescreen. When the pill stopped working for her - she had a bunch of side effects - she got pregnant with one of his kids, and aborted it.

I would find out later she aborted five babies, and every one of them was conceived on boundaries of us having S*x. But because she was also having S*x with Tom, she could not be sure who the father was, and didn't want a kid in our house as living, breathing evidence of an affair.
I asked her later if any of these kids could have been one of ours, and she said she didn't know, but aborted it anyway. There were ways to find out of course, but she didn't bother with it.
I think back to all the times we prayed together for children, and even the evenings she would sit in a chair and howl in tears for not being able to have a baby - all the while she was flushing our "family" down the toilet. Literally throwing our children in the trash.
This wasn't completely evident in the email I was reading, but enough was there to raise the questions I needed to ask. And I did, over the time since the divorce.

It occurred to me that this email wasn't sent to me intentionally. Duh.
Why would she beg me not to leave her, and give a dissertation of points - any of which would be a good reason to leave her? At the end of it, the email said, "Please call me, Tom, I'm desperate."
Ohhhhhhh. This wasn't intended for me at all. She made a mistake. And may have already discovered it, and in damage control even now.
For some odd reason. Help me. Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're our only hope --- came to mind. I needed alcohol - or maybe something stronger.
So I copied the email contents to a Word document and set it back to "unread" as though I hadn't seen it.
Michelle arrived at the house within an hour of sending the email. I greeted her cheerfully but normally. I didn't want anything in my behavior to tip her on my knowledge. Apparently, it worked, or she was too upset to care, or too upset to notice at all.
When she bounded into the room, I closed the email application. This was to make it look like I hadn't seen anything yet today. I was playing the deception game, too. So weird.
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She was breathless and jittery. She said she forgot her laptop and was just in-and-out of the house, how is your day, and all that. So here was her veiled reason for coming back to the house. Was she really there to attempt deleting or intercepting her email?
I was at our home office, and she was standing at the office door with her laptop against her chest, but her eyes were bloodshot and her whole being was on fire with anxiety.
She bade farewell and then acted like she “just remembered” something. Did I have the recipe she used for a dish she made some months back? She recalled I looked it up for her and sent it.
I vaguely recalled this. Her cleverness in being able to dredge this up from the past - as a veiled excuse to look at my devices - was so cunning I was impressed first and disturbed later.
I recall the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end when she asked. Now that I knew she was using the request to deceive me, it was all I could do to keep my self-control.
She asked for my phone and I slid it across the desk without looking up. I watched her in my peripheral vision - her anxiety escalated and she sighed. She used a subtle move to swipe and delete.
You didn't delete anything, did you?
This startled her. She maintained the character, but she was about to pop. Said she didn't "find" what she was looking for.
Maybe it's on your laptop?
Wow. She made it sound so smooth - no wonder I didn’t have a clue about any of this. But it was like an out-of-body experience - me looking on to myself and her - and seeing her for what she was. Spine-tingling.

I told her I was in the middle of something and couldn't stop right now, but she begged. I told her to wait for a minute while I wrapped up a test. I stretched this moment for as long as I could. It was like a drug, watching her in so much stress, wondering if any moment I would pop open the email.
Our plumber's name is Ted. We had a problem with the shower last week and he squared it away. I could not resist the next dialog.
"Tom called."
She shuddered.
"Looking for you," I say.
I glanced up - her face was pale like she was about to red-out from the stress.
"Wanted to know if the shower was working fine for us."
She jolted again. "What?"
"The shower - he fixed last week."
She stared at me. "You mean Ted?"
"Ted, right. The Plumber. It's what I said."
"No, you said-"
I didn't look up. It was as though she had a thousand rules in her head about never uttering "that name" in my presence.
I told her my test was complete - and slid the laptop to the desk corner. She spun it to face her and after a few seconds, sighed again.
I asked her if she found it. She said no, but maybe she could find it somewhere else. She was visibly relaxed now, as though all the anxiety had rushed from her head. Still the deceiver, she said, I sent you an email earlier today, did you get it?
I said no, what was it about? She said it was missing attachments, so just toss it and she would send a full copy later. She knew I would not remember it unless she mentioned it again - using my habits against me to weave more lies. What a piece of work.
But this is what I wanted - I didn't want her to know that I know. I have more time to prepare an exit now.
I checked the phone and laptop email - her message was gone - she had deleted them, but I still had the text in that Word file.
And I also know Tom has decided to move on, and she's not happy about it. The timing of all this could not be better. She's essentially been a lying witch for our entire marriage, and I didn't want her to ride off into the sunset with Tom.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I wanted her and Tom together. Tom would be stuck with her. This was revenge at its finest.

Once my exit strategy was complete, I had divorce papers in-hand, everything squared-away to jump into my new life. My attorney had already greased-the-skids with the courts based on Michelle's email. She would get next to nothing. All I had to do was close it.
I cut a deal with a real-estate agent through my attorney to sell our house to a buyer, with the condition that we would have a month to move out after closing. They told me Michelle would have to participate in the closing, but she would get whatever size check was part of the divorce settlement - which was minimal. I didn't want the house on the market until the divorce was underway and the decree signed. No yard signs to tip my advantage.
I also thought it would be best to include Tina on this final closure event since she already knew.
I scheduled lunch with Michelle downtown and made a reservation at the same restaurant where Tina had caught her and Tom. I paid the owner an extra tip to have us seated at the same booth-table where Michelle and Tom had sat. The big moment came, and we went into the restaurant, and Michelle didn't seem concerned at all.
I had my iPad mini with me and set it to record video on its camera, and set it on its side at the end of the table. I wanted a memento of the whole event.

I said something about it being a nice restaurant, and had she ever been here? She said a couple of times, for lunch. Tina shows up and slides into the booth next to her, blocking her from being able to just slide out and walk away.
Michelle is startled and asked where she came from - why aren't you at school?
Perfect timing.
Tina whips-out her phone and says I remember this booth. I saw you in it a few weeks ago. Michelle stared at her. Tina played the video and Michelle froze.
I slid a printed copy of the email-to-Tom across the table. "I finally received that email you were asking about."
"Let me out!" She writhed - you know - like a snake.
Tina didn't move. No, Mom, this is an important meeting for all of us. You have to stay put.
Michelle was about to object when I slid the divorce papers across the table. I told her the house goes on the market tomorrow, and you'll get the portion allocated here.
Her eyes narrowed and she completely changed her demeanor. In fact - her personality. Into someone, I'd never met. Downright spooky.

I later described this to my counselor and he wasn't surprised. He said she's been wearing a mask all this time and it's been undone. She has the freedom to be herself now.
And the version sitting before me, I never would have married.
I told her about the paternity test. Even though Tina was in college, and not really a part of custody issues, Tina didn't want to have anything to do with her.
I presented two court orders for her to have no contact with either of us, more than a restraining order. We could approach her, but she could not approach us and would have to remove herself from a place where she encountered us - and not enter a place if she knew we were there.
I also gave her permission to coordinate her coming to the house to get her things. Police officers would have to be present so don't call on your way over - schedule a week in advance at least.
"I'll fight this."

I told her, I hope you do - in fact, I'm looking forward to it. The courts have a lot of precedent on this, so it will be futile. But you'll burn up whatever money you would've received, and a lot more, you will lose and walk away with even less than if you just signed it and walked away. I want you to beat your head against an expensive wall and walk away with less. Go for it.
I had an appointment with Tom one hour after our lunch meeting. Tina came with me. The appointment was for a different name, so he would not be tipped off. Tina came into his office first and he chatted with her like they were old friends. Quite the charmer.
I walked into the office and his whole body seemed to stiffen and get jittery. He was suddenly at a loss for words. He knew who I was, even though I should not know him.
I produced Michelle's email and slid it across the counter to him. "I know everything."
He set his jaw, and his jaw muscle throbbed. He stared at it. "What now?"

I explained what had just happened in the restaurant, and Tom confessed he had called it off with Michelle for good, but they had gotten back together since they always do.
I told him I came by to say “she’s all yours”. I pointed to Tina and said, and the paternity test says —-she’s all mine.
His face sank.
What was this? Had Michelle told him that Tina was his? That’s a twist - banging the wife of another man while he’s raising your daughter and putting her through school - heckuva deal.
Tina had heard enough - and I could not imagine what staying longer would accomplish. I wished I hadn't come at all.
Once the smoke cleared, Michelle moved in with Tom. She was plainly wearing the same mask she wore with me but was practiced at wearing it. No telling where Tom would end up in all this.
They deserve each other.
I finally found the peace to write about and discuss all this - a counselor definitely helped. I have nothing to be ashamed of except that I spent too much time with someone who didn't love me - but she had me fooled, and how else was I supposed to know? I thought she was happy.
[Image: wuraola-ogunwusi-evicted-from-ile-ife-palace.jpg]
I see all the "lists" on this thread of signs to watch out for. Michelle didn't have any of those. She was smart enough to cover her tracks and wicked enough to control her conscience, and the day she got caught was a coincidence since Tina wasn't due back from college until the day after Tina saw her in the restaurant.
It occurred to me that any woman could come out to a forum like this and read all the bogus lists of “what cheating wives do” and do her best to avoid that behavior - to keep her husband fooled.
I'm with a great lady now. I waited to find someone who was genuine, and we're taking it slow. Not sure I'll ever marry again. After all, the marrying-thing is to raise a family. I'm past the age where this would amount to anything. Who wants to be in their sixties when their kid is graduating high school?
Tina and I have a great relationship - she's met a guy who clearly cares for her, and I don't see much of Michelle in her. Maybe she's naturally rebelling against her mother's ways?
Tina will graduate this year with honors and already has job offers lined up (Thank you, Mr. Trump). So I worry less about her.

Tina and I got together with the attorney and had a formal invitation sent to Michelle, on legal paper, inviting her to Tina's graduation, and the permission to call or email for purposes of logistics and coordination around the event.

Thanks for reading. Glad I got it off my chest.
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