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'I was tricked into granting my wife permission to have an affair.' AITA? UPDATED 3X

'I was tricked into granting my wife permission to have an affair.' AITA? UPDATED 3X


"Was I tricked into granting my wife permission to sleep around? What now?"

I'm a 30 year old male and have been married to my wife (age 29) for 8 years. We dated for a little over a year prior to that and were friends for about three years before that. We have a 17 month old daughter that has me tourniquet-wrapped around her little finger already. Let me preface all of this by saying that I really love my wife.

I would characterize our relationship and marriage up until the last few weeks as as epic. This is a hard story to tell. About two months ago I had an odd/surprising conversation with my wife.

We were sitting on the couch after having gotten the little one to bed and eaten dinner (including a couple of glasses of wine mind you) when she brought up the subject of monogamy and having an open/semi-open relationship. This was a long and unexpected conversation but the gist of it and concluding agreed-upon points ended up being:

-we felt our love for each other was stronger than ever and iron-clad

-we felt our relationship had reached the point where it transcended traditional monogamy norms / that either person could potentially have sex with someone else and that it wouldn’t impact the core foundation of our relationship or our love

-we agreed that if circumstances ever arose where someone wanted to have the experience of having sex with someone else it would be allowed as long as it did not interfere with time spent with each-other, with our child, and did not take away emotional capacity for each other

-if it was to ever happen you had to be completely honest and safe about it / no sneaking around we both have veto power at any time over a specific person, circumstance, or the whole idea altogether (or so I thought?... read on)

Keep in mind that nothing like this has every come up before in 8 years of marriage and 12+ years of knowing each other. At the time I remember feeling a little dumbfounded that I was actually having this conversation and amazed that these words were coming out of our mouths and that my wife had initiated the whole thing...

I had several girlfriends before meeting my wife but she was the first woman I ever had sex with. She, on the other hand, was sexually active young and with multiple partners. At that moment, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been handed a golden ticket. I was raised in a very southern baptist home and brainwashed with a ton of abstinence bullsh!t (proud escapee of the church-matrix going on 10 years now);

so I must admit that I had carried around a small bit of regret that I had missed out on my opportunity to “play the field” sexually in college and that I would never have that opportunity again. I had just been given a free pass to do something about that should I so choose without any consequence at all! I walked away from that conversation with a new respect for our marriage and how cool we both were.

...flash forward to the next day, I wake up and shake off the cobwebs and have one of those “WTF just happened?” moments. My stomach felt like it was made of lead. In my gut I felt like all of this was wrong and I needed to undo it - but I didn’t want to speak up just yet.

I remembered back to all the church camp programming of my youth and wondered if it was just doubt from that bubbling up to the surface. I decided to take a couple of days to process all this information and really think hard about it. We both lead very busy lives so I figured I had some time to assimilate this before taking any action...oops

About a week (less?) after our conversation my wife comes home from “going out to get some work done at a coffee shop.” She’s acting very strange/nervous when she gets home and I start to feel very strange an nervous as a result. I ask her who was there with her and she tells me (it was a guy friend of a friend, Mr. X, that we both know and had met about two months prior).

I was a little shocked to learn that she had acted on our “agreement” so quickly. Here is where our version of events diverges significantly. I say that at that point I made it clear that I was not as comfortable with this whole thing as I had thought I would be initially and that I wanted to take it all back.

I asked if anything had already happened and she responded no, but that it probably was going that way and she was attracted to him and vice versa. I made it clear (I thought) that I didn’t like this guy she went to go see and didn’t want her to see him again. She assured me that everything was okay and said repeatedly “you don’t have anything to worry about anything between me and X.,”

which I took to mean as confirmation that the whole idea was scrapped, or at the very least - she won’t be hooking up with X. That night I mentally breathed a sigh of relief and felt like I/we had dodged a bullet. I had basically come to the conclusion independently of this event that our marriage was too important to me to take a risk on damaging it.

I felt 99% certain that our marriage could continue to function without any significant disruption or guilt/anger/jealousy if one of us slept with someone else - but the potential damage of that 1% chance was too great a risk to take. In other words, our marriage was great, so why risk it?

It would be great if that’s where the story ended. I wish I could rewind to that night and say explicitly “NO, I am NOT okay with this arrangement. I was not thinking clearly when I agreed to that and I am quite happy staying in a traditional monogamous relationship - but thanks for the offer.”

Last night I found out in a roundabout way that my wife’s take on that last conversation was completely different from mine. She says that when she said “you don’t have anything to worry about between me and X” what she meant was that it was going to continue, but would have no impact on her love for me our the continuing day-to-day of our marriage.

She’s been sleeping with him for at least a couple of weeks / since some time after the last talk on the subject. I could not bring myself to ask the particulars so I don’t know how many times exactly. Not sure I want to.

Rewinding the whole series of events I can’t help but wonder if this is all an elaborate (masterful?!) way of getting me to authorize an affair. After all, there was little opportunity for me to sleep with anyone else - all of my time is spent at my office or at home. My wife, on the other hand, has three days a week at home by herself working as a freelance copywriter.

And the timing of the whole thing is more than suspect. She claims adamantly that this is not the case and that the speed at which she took advantage of our “agreement” was purely coincidental.

Today I was a complete wreck and completely worthless at work. I feel betrayed and utterly hollow. I went home for a while and talked to my wife for a bit. I asked her what she would do if I said I wanted this all to end, go back to the way things were before all of this happened, and her not see X ever again.” Her response: “well... I guess I wouldn’t really have a choice... I mean I guess, but I wouldn’t like it...”

I am really at a loss as to what to do now. I am having a hard time figuring out to what extent I have a right to be upset about this. Can I even consider this an affair/cheating? Is this just a mis-communication of epic proportions? Am I just being a stupid baby because “she went first” and I should just buck up and hold on to my golden ticket? Halp.

TL;DR: Wife and I agreed to an open relationship - she brought it up. I changed my mind and thought I made that clear but her take was different. Now she is sleeping with some other guy and seems resistant to changing things. What now?

He later shared three updates on the situation.

First update:

Thanks all for the comments so far. It’s cathartic writing this out. Here are some updates and comments/clarifications. Seems to be pretty clear consensus that communication sucked on this. I don’t disagree and I greatly regret not using a high degree of specificity in our first conversation and especially on the follow-up one when I really started to freak out.

Honestly I thought at the time that such specificity wasn’t necessary - not because I didn’t think clear rules of engagement in an “open” relationship are important, but because this whole thing came as such a surprise that it has really disarmed me in a lot of ways. I assumed (incorrectly and stupidly) that she must feel as weird and wrong about the whole thing as I did.

Definitely learned my lesson on that... there will be no gray area or wishy-washiness on the topic going forward. I can say with 99.9% certainty that my wife was not screwing this guy prior to our initial discussion. She didn’t even meet him until a month or two prior to that and had little chance to interact with him.

She swears adamantly that nothing happened between them physically until after it was “cleared.” However, she DID admit last night that she had thought about it (busted?). I can also so with 99.99% certainty that my wife has never cheated on me with anyone from the start of our relationship up to this point - you’re just going to have take my word for it on that.

Although I wonder now after our last talk how much of that stems from in-opportunity and unfavorable logistics vs desire...

We talked again last night. Here’s the highlights / lowlights:

She refuses to characterize this as cheating or any wrong-doing on her part and basically says that this is what we agreed on and I’m just freaking out because “it was always going to be hard on whoever went 2nd and that person was bound to have 2nd thoughts.”

She apologized for the “miscommunication” on our 2nd talk and says if she would have thought that what I meant was I wasn’t OK with the whole thing she wouldn’t have gone through with it. She claims she really thought I had OK’d the whole thing.

Me at one point: “I don’t want to share you!” Her: “How is that your choice? You don’t own me.” I asked her to tell me if she required this kind of lifestyle to be happy going forward - was this something wanted/needed or if she was just feeling particularly experimental/horny lately and it snowballed out of control? I asked a lot of blunt questions on this topic and got a new version of the truth.

She claims her desire for a more open relationship has been building for some time / perhaps years, but she just recently felt like I would be agreeable to the idea. She adamantly claims that this has nothing to do with inadequacy of me emotionally or sexually.

Still adamantly claims that her love for me has not changed. Points to examples of her behavior the past month and how things have actually been better between us.

Admits that this is likely a pattern of behavior for her. Says she doubts she can change it but was hoping she could find a safe outlet for it with me. When asked why all of this is just coming up now after 7 years of marriage she stated that she had been growing steadily uneasy for the last few years but she kept blaming it on other things / stresses of life, stresses of having a baby, etc.

Says that if it came down to a choice she would go back to strict monogamy. However, says she would not be happy and not sure if sustainable.

Keeps saying that she thinks this is what I really want too, that I’m just scared, and that if I give it some time I’ll calm down and come around. Points out that in our initial conversation I was agreeable and that if I was truly against the idea I would have said so from the start. [not sure how right she is but this is a hard one for me to argue against :-/ ]

I’m still confused as hell. On the one hand I do feel like my wife has manipulated this situation to her advantage and I feel played. On the other hand, if this really is what she wants and needs should I not take some solace in the fact that she did attempt to get me on board? I now feel like I only have two choices.

1) I can try out this open relationship thing and see if I can really handle having multiple sexual partners but still maintain a “normal” family life at the end of the day. 2) Pre-emptive lawyer strike without warning.

From what she has said it doesn’t sound like a return to the way things were would work out. She claims I’m the most important thing in her life and said she would do it if that’s what I wanted but then in the very next breath says she wouldn’t be happy and that’s not what she wants.

I guess this is the classic “someone must sacrifice” scenario that married folks constantly face - I just never thought the sacrifice someone would have to make would be their overall happiness and the stakes would be the marriage itself -.-

Life really sucks today.

Second update:

I've been putting off replying with an update because I really don't have anything positive to add and it's all just too depressing... -.-Anyway, here goes - I will try to not make it a novella this time but no guarantees.We are still together and I haven't taken any steps toward divorce other than implying that I'm running out of options and that's my final one.

I have had a few more discussions with my wife since my last update. Every time we talk there is a new version of the truth - new revelations about her motivation to do this, when her desire to be with other people began, etc.

The latest version is she’s “always been this way” but was able to keep it under wraps and ignore it for most of our marriage but the last 1-2 years she has felt “trapped and not alive” [the notion of this pisses me off, more on that later] and so that plus the general stresses of life was the catalyst that led to the current state of things. Some other factoids and realizations on my part:

It appears that she really did think that I had “cleared” her going forward with her relationship. She seems most concerned with that more than anything - dispelling the notion that this was born out of decpetion. It’s either she really did think I “OK’d” the whole thing or she is so messed up mentally that she has convinced herself that this is the truth.

Still emphasizes that nothing is changed between us from her perspective and that she still loves me and wants to be with me (mainly me / “primary” me to use a poly term) indefinitely. Keeps saying [paraphrasing] “if you would try it you would see it’s no big deal and you would know there is nothing to worry about.

”Recognizes that she realized/realizes that this is hurting me but keeps on anyway. Basically I guess she thinks I’ll get over it?Almost two weeks ago now after my last update I put to paper everything I had been feeling and everything I wanted so that there could be no misunderstanding or misinterpretation of my feelings and intent. I ended by stating that I wanted just three things to happen:

1.) Our "open/poly/whatever-the-hell-this is" ends. 2.) We enter into marriage counseling ASAP 3.) All contact with X ends.

I left the letter downstairs and left the house for a while because I didn’t want to be there when she read it. When I got back there was about a 30 minute silence with her just sitting there. We finally started talking and long story short she agreed that she couldn’t discount the possibility that she was having an early midlife crisis, but she needed time to think. I said OK to that.

My parents were coming into town the next day for a four day visit (great timing!) so for the next four days I had to put on my happy face and pretend everything was honky-dory.

After my parents went back home we re-discussed everything and long story short, this is the conversation where I learned that she really didn’t think that I didn’t know what was going on and thought that I was okay with it [again if this is not the truth, she really believes it is]. She revealed that she had broken it off with X the day after receiving the letter.

This was a pivotal exchange for me because I realized:She really didn’t think or wasn’t able to accept that she had done anything fundamentally wrong.She wasn’t going to change - if she did it would only be out of fear of losing her daughter or the safety and love of our family; she would resent me for it at least.

She really does believe that this isn’t as big a deal as I make it out to be and that if I would go along with it I’d agree after trying it myself. There were a few moments where was half a breath away from saying “screw you, we’re done;” but in the end I ended up basically saying OK to the whole thing again -.- Serious lack of balls you say? Maybe, but that’s not what I was feeling at the time.

Here’s the thing that makes this all suck so bad. I love my daughter to death and I love my life with my family (when my wife is not out sleeping with some hipster d-bag). I don’t want that to end. Less for me and more for my daughter.

I can honestly say that if my daughter did not exist I would now probably be posting about how my divorce filings were going and how I was going to try and get the majority of our assets due to the circumstances.

But I don’t want my daughter to grow up having to split time between two parents and wondering why she doesn’t live with a normal family. I did not grow up like that - my wife did (which is another thing that pisses me off... her parents had a nasty divorce and it scarred her, you would think she would be less apt to destroy our marriage).

My folks are still married and have been for nearly 40 years now. I want that for my children, even if it’s a huge sacrifice on my part. The really sick thing is I wonder if my wife doesn’t realize this and is using that fact against me. She knows that I’m the kind of person who is quick to forgive, slow to place blame, and generally tries to make everyone around me feel better.

Is she using that against me either consciously or unconsciously? Maybe. But what can I do? I kind of feel like JFK would have felt if the Soviets had suddenly landed an invasion force on the eastern seaboard. The joint chiefs would have immediately screamed for an all-out nuclear strike, but that would have meant ending everything.

Is it worth “winning” and protecting yourself in principle at the cost of everything? These are the questions I have been wrestling with.I started all of this by saying that I love my wife. That's still true. For the last 8 years she has been my best friend. You would probably think from reading all of this that there must have been something fundamentally wrong with our relationship but I honestly can’t pinpoint anything.

We had the normal stresses of life and parenting, but nothing earth shattering. We live a comfortable life (not rich but definitely not poor), we always made time for each other and shared interests and activities, sex was great (her words, not just mine), my wife works a flexible job from home and has always had the freedom to pursue any interest, hobby, or friendship (non-sexual up until now) that she wanted.

We waited for 6 years before trying for kids and only when we both decided it was OK (really I wanted kids more than she did though - maybe this has something to do with things...?). I suppose that the suddenness of all of this is one of the things that has made me slow to act and resistant to labeling her a cheating heartless whore and just moving on - it just doesn’t add up to me.

Why would someone who has it all risk everything like this? The only answers I can come up with is either she REALLY DOES want this and this really is what would make her happy OR she is really messed up mentally and needs help. I am not sure what to do with either of those scenarios. It doesn’t help that from her perspective it may seem like I'm flip-flopping and can't make up my mind what I want.

Thus far I’ve “agreed” in principle to the idea of a semi-open relationship and gone back on it twice. My agreement is always reluctant though and only when it comes down to a choice between surrender or divorce. The ramifications of pulling the trigger on divorce after 8 years is a lot to bear. It would be easier if it was only the two of us that had to deal with the fallout.

I’m still bouncing between numbness, anger, depression, and occasional “life is OK.” Mostly numbness lately. I have had some really low moments the past couple weeks. Sleep is not going well. I don’t have much of an outlet for any of this - only one friend I feel comfortable sharing all of this with - so I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.

TL;DR: Sh!t is still messed up. I am slow to act because while the current situation sucks, I think getting divorced would suck more.

Last Update:

Shortly after posting my last update I finally gave an ultimatum of sorts to my wife. I told her plainly that things could not continue on this way and that if she didn’t stop seeing her “boyfriend” and enter into some marriage therapy immediately then it was over. She agreed. She seemed to have a very “meh” attitude about the whole thing.

When asked she would say that she wanted to work out our differences and fix our relationship but only if I directly asked the question, and even then she seemed to be annoyed more than anything. Her attitude towards me in our day-to-day interactions became extremely cold from that point on. Basically all signs of affection ceased.

Conversation other than directly initiated and sustained by me ceased. Things as simple as a reassuring touch on the arm or a peck on the cheek as I leave for work ended. She would reciprocate if I hugged her but there was a tenseness and general sense of unease about it all. She seems to wear an aura of “I’m here because I have to be.”

We’ve done 7 weeks of therapy - 5 together and two sessions separate. The therapy itself has been a mixed bag. Mostly the sessions revolved around “how did we get here” - what broke down in our relationship and how to fix that and make it not happen again. Of course, most of this appears to be my fault, at least according to my wife.

In my couple of previous posts I talked about how her story of why this was happening and what her real intentions/wants were kept changing. In therapy it became completely about my failings in our marriage. Her spin on things was that she had been unhappy for some time because I’m constantly depressed or in a bad mood because I’m stuck in a job situation I hate.

Some background there - I have been working corporate 9-5 type jobs since I graduated college in 2003 - software related. They are definitely not my passion in life and I’ve been seeking a way out of the corporate rat trap for some time. It’s true this has made me really unhappy at times in the past, but not constantly depressed and/or irritable - it was an occasional state of mind that could last for a few days,

max was a few months in my previous job which I came to truly loathe for a variety of reasons. She would get really defensive and hostile when I pointed out in therapy that my job provides us the stability to live comfortably and provide for our family (she works freelance for much less money, unpredictable income stream, and no benefits).

She also claimed that I spent too much time on other hobbies and that we grew apart. I took major issue with this - I was always pretty careful about time that I spent alone or with other friends and there was rarely a week that went by that the majority of my non-work time was spent away from home and/or not with my wife. The ratio had definitely changed over the last couple of years -

I picked up some hobbies that she was not interested in - but overall I felt like we had sustained a high level of interaction beyond incidental day-to-day contact. We spent time together at home, went out together, went on dates - everything you would expect from a healthy relationship.

There were times (if I was depressed especially) where I would withdraw and mostly want to be by myself - that’s just how I am I guess. In everything she pointed out - being depressed about my job, spending less time with her, being emotionally withdrawn or unavailable - there was always an element of truth to it and this made it difficult to argue. The best lies are the ones that are part true I guess.

Some of what she said was true partially, or had been true at one time, but it was always exaggerated and blown way out of proportion. Nothing she came up with could explain the breakdown of the last six months. However, when I tried to refute or contradict anything she said or steer the conversation/therapy in the direction of

“let’s talk about why you gave up on our marriage, became deceitful, and are now in denial that you did anything wrong or have anything to fix” she would become nearly irate. She did not want to hear it and would not / has not owned up to anything really. “See?! This is what you do! You just argue with me!” is what I got.

At the beginning of the first session the therapist wanted to know was what was the status of her relationship with Mr X was. Her verbatim reply - “Well that’s definitely on hold.” Notice it was not “it’s over,” it was “it’s on hold.” She is a clever wordsmith and she definitely chose those words intentionally. I did not point it out or pursue it at the time, just logged it away in the back of my mind... more on that later.

It became clear by the end of the third session that the only way I was going to make any headway was focusing mostly on “what went wrong” aspect and how I had failed. We talked a lot about my being “stuck” in a career rut and what I could do to fix that or have a more positive outlook about that.

We talked a lot about communicating better, making time to air grievances and not letting emotions simmer. We talked about communicating things clearly and not sugarcoating or being passive aggressive.

All good things. I was hoping that if I would take on more of the responsibility load for all of this that she would warmup to the idea of reconciliation and eventually she would herself voluntarily admit that she was (at least) as much at fault as I and had things that she needed to change. Hey, maybe I’d even get a heartfelt apology! One can dream.

But things at home were not getting any better. They were not getting worse, per say, but she was cold and robotic in everything. There was no conversation initiated by her other than what was absolutely required and if I tried to talk about things she became very irritable very quickly. I would ask “You do want things to get better right?” I wouldn’t get a yes response.

Not a no response either, but a non-committal politician’s answer. “Well I’m going to therapy with you right?” and sometimes just an “I don’t know how I feel, I just need some time to go through the motions.” OK, I can handle that - this has been a traumatic ride so that makes sense I guess. Maybe I’m rushing things and expecting too much too quickly?

Rewind to the first therapy session - “’s definitely on hold.” Mentally picture a rage comic that zooms in on “on hold.” Ya. So about three weeks into therapy I couldn’t stand being paranoid about this anymore. I had noticed that she had begun keeping a vice-like death grip on her phone. It never left her side and this was not like her.

Also I bumped into her notebook one day stirring it to life and I notice it’s now password protected. Gee, I wonder if there is something going on here? After what’s happened so far I didn’t trust her to tell me the truth if asked directly; so I did what any good geek given no other choice would do - I got into her email via the server

(she forgot that her domain and attached email was set up and is maintained by me... whoops!). Lo and behold she is still talking to Mr X and has been all this time on a near daily basis. There was no smoking gun in there “Hey let’s meet up and have sex yur husband is teh dumbz LOL!” but the general tone of the emails was more than just exchanging links to funny cat videos.

“I love you’s” exchanged and evidence that she is talking to X about “how things are going” as far as our marriage goes. Queue overwhelming rage and sadness. The worst part was I couldn’t come right out and confront her about it. Although I feel it was justified, I did get into her personal email without her knowledge and I would rather have her incriminate herself.

I managed to work it into conversation a week later “So I notice that you’ve been really protective of your phone. Also, it’s been bugging me that you said ‘it’s on hold’ with regards to Mr X in therapy. Are you still talking to him?” After some stammering she replied that he was still in contact with her, but it was just him sending her random links to random news articles.

She said she was guarding her phone because she was worried I’d see a text message from him pop up and think the wrong thing. I knew that this was, at best, an extreme exaggeration of the truth but I did not let on.

I brought this up towards the end of our next therapy session. The therapist seemed mildly surprised. My wife’s response when I started to bring it up was to roll her eyes “Oh here we go...” We didn’t get much past that because we ran out of time. Outside of the therapists office it was back to her cold robotic nature. She did not bring it up and when I tried she got defensive and angry.

“That’s all this is about to you isn’t it?!” I dropped it. I’ve continued to monitor her email and still haven’t found anything incriminating to indicate that she’s having a physical relationship with this person, but it’s obviously possible. I cannot see her sent messages and I know a lot of this is going on by text or FB which I don’t have access to; so I’m only seeing a partial picture of what’s going on when I’m away.

It’s also possible (I guess?) that she thinks it okay to continue a platonic relationship with this person and she sees exchanging of “hey whats up how have you been bla bla” emails as innocuous. This could just be me going out of my way to make excuses for her... something I seem to have a habit of doing.

So there you have it. My wife still has a relationship with the D-bag, even though she knows I’m not cool with that. It may be platonic in nature but I really don’t know. She doesn’t seem to be very interested in patching things up or making things better. When backed into a corner she will claim she does, but only if asked directly and even then it’s often a vague answer.

The only happiness she ever shows is when we’re playing together with our daughter. I feel like I have done everything I could do. I still cling to threads of hope - but maybe it’s time to let go? Is there any hope at all of saving this at this point? She still says “I love you” but only in response when I say it, and my own “I love you’s” are sounding more and more hollow.

Has anyone here ever been in a relationship this far gone with someone who clearly is not in love with you anymore and is actively deceiving/hurting you and been able to save it? Thank you, for reading.

TL;DR: Wife agreed to therapy but it does not appear to be helping. She is cold and dismissive of me. Found out three weeks into therapy via computer skilz0rz that she is still in daily communication with Mr X. Give up / lawyer up?

WTF ANOTHER UPDATE: Well I guess I don't need to fret over what to do any more. Just found out that she is/has been still sleeping with the derptard. Really sad actually... email from her mom telling her that she needs to stop sleeping with X and worrying that she's going to get an STD (he sleeps around apparently), pass it to me, and then lose her daughter.

Guess I also have to go get tested now and accelerate legal stuff. Life sucks. :( I guess I made a really bad choice eight years ago - either that or an alien parasite is inhabiting and controlling my wife's body. I wish the latter could be true as I could probably figure out a solution to that but I can't travel back in time.

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