Chapter 1 - D-day
January 2002. My wife and our son had gone to her parents for the weekend. After work on Friday night, I went to see Lord of the Rings. Near the end of the movie, I suddenly came to the realization that my wife was cheating on me. I don't think it was anything on screen that made me see what I had not yet seen, but there was just a moment when all of the clues came together in my subconscious mind, and I was as sure of it as anything.
We had been having serious trouble for over a year. Really, longer than that, but I had only been clued into the situtation for a little over a year.
After our son was born, my wife suffered post-partem depression and had a bugger of a time. I didn't know what it was or how to support her and did a piss-poor job of whatever feeble attempts I mustered up. We started drifting, and while I felt it, I didn't realize the extent of the problem. So one day she tells me she is not sure that she wants to stay married, but she denies being involved with anyone. We start marriage counseling and individual counseling, and all of 2001 was up and down. I would think things would be getting better, then it was clear that it was not. There was so much I didn't know, but I knew my marriage was in trouble and in very real danger of collapsing. I just didn't know why.
In that theater, watching Lord of the Rings, all the snide comments, the missing time, the avoidance, the evasiveness, all came together. I had been in denial, when the truth had been staring me right in the face. I went home and tore the house apart, because I knew with her packrat instincts there would be evidence. I found it - a large envelope with cards, notes, ticket stubs, and photos. She was so busted.
I just sat there on the side of the bed, shaking and crying, looking at the mementos. It may have been a minute, it may have been a half-hour. It was near midnight by then I think. I put everything back in the envelope and stomped down to the basement to get a suitcase. I was going to pack her stuff, I guess, which is rediculous because her shoes alone would require a U-Haul.
About half-way down the stairs, I realized that my family's future depended on how we handled these next few hours and days. God spoke to me that night, although I did not recognize it as his voice. While I believe that adultery is a legitimate reason for divorce in God's eyes, that doesn't mean it has to be. My focus immediately turned from kicking her out, to fighting for my family.
I had to handle this right, but with strength. No begging.
I knew I needed the goods. The first thing I did was figure out who it was. The photos, taken during a hike, told me nothing - I didn't recognize the guy, and there was no one I knew about in her life that made me suspicious. So I found cell phone records, got on the web site for a list of names of people in her department at work, and went through the white pages until I found a match. The other man has been identified.
Next, thinking like the lawyer I am, I prepared for the worst case scenario. I can ask her to end it with dickwad and give us a chance, but she might not want to. I needed evidence if I was going to prove adultery in court. Now it's 2 or 3 in the morning, I know I'm not thinking straight, but I thought what I really needed was to copy all the crap I had found. So I went to the office and copied every scrap.
Back home, and now I wait until morning so I can call her. The plan is to tell her I was sick, to see if she could leave our son at her parents for the day and come home to give me a hand. The goal was to get her alone but not to raise her suspicions until she got home. I started praying that I would be level headed, that I could contain my anger, and that she would agree to end the affair and work toward reconciliation. I prayed the rest of the night, begging God to help me not blow it. I wanted to hit her, to scream, to call her a whore, but I knew she had to see that very morning that reconciliation was possible, that forgiveness was possible.
Seven o'clock, I call, tell her what I had planned, and she sounds concerned. Says she will leave as soon as she got dressed. So I knew I had about an hour to wait.
I found our counselor's number at home, called him and told him my plan, which was to tell her that I knew about the affair, that I wanted to work it out, but that she had to end it right then, that very minute. The counselor convinced me that, while an ultimatum was perfectly appropriate, there was nothing wrong with a little more time, so 24 hours.
I got a shower, got dressed, hid the spare car keys (don't ask why, I don't know -- it made sense to me at the time), and wait for her to drive up.