Open Marriage after an Affair?
This is a long story so bear with me. I’m really lost as to what to do. My wife has been having an affair for the past two years. We live overseas. She is from Country X. I am an American. We have been married 11 years. Her reason for the affair and for wanting to get out of the marriage is that I was not meeting her emotional needs from the day (and maybe earlier) of the wedding. We married, I took her from her country (this was NOT a mail order bride situation) back to the U.S. after a month. I did not support her well enough emotionally after this happened and that caused her to severely lose her confidence to the point where she was suicidal. I was not comfortable with being in a marriage, although I did want to marry her. I was not comfortable with starting a career. I was not comfortable with marrying a brown girl from developing country X. I wasn’t ashamed exactly but I did not make her confident in my love for her. I admit freely that these are true statements and in our trying to settle things I have admitted that to her. However, I was not a monster and I saw that she was becoming very depressed and self-conscious and paranoid. I tried my best to help her but my solutions (go see a psych, be more active, take meds) were all inappropriate for the type of person she is—that is, very stubborn and somewhat closed minded. She had a tiny affair after being married a year and told me but was very upset. After 3 years we had our first child. After 5 years we had a second child and then moved back overseas (to developing country Y) for me to work but not to her country. We lived in an American community and she was very, very, very scared and self-conscious around Americans. It drove her more crazy. After that first 2 yr assignment overseas I went to a dangerous country (call it country Z) where she could not come. She moved back to her country with our children and I went to that country for a one year tour. She visited me in country Z and I visited her in her country X and, actually, our marriage had improved a great deal. While in her country she met a fellow countryman and began an affair near the end of my one year tour about two years ago. She did not tell me about the affair. After the one year tour we moved to yet another country (country A) for a two year tour. Country A is right next to her country. The affair continued when she went home to visit. After nine months during which time her very poor mental health persisted, in January 2011, she told me about the affair leaving out many details. I was crushed. She was sorry and promised to end it. But, in order for her to get back her mental health she said she needed to move back home again with our children. I agreed because I felt that her mental health was the most important thing for us. The affair continued although she did not tell me that. In December 2011, while visiting her, she told me she needed to never see me again or have anything to do with Americans. Her boyfriend called once and I overheard a conversation. She did not apologize or make any promises after that. Soon after my new assignment came in—to her country. I did this to be back with children and her and try to fix things. She seemed to want that. I moved to her country about 2 weeks ago. We moved in together. The children know nothing although they know her bf as a family friend. She tried to feel comfortable with me but could not and we had a big blow out argument during which she admitted everything and admitted that she loved this other man, she loved him more than she ever loved me, he loves her more than I did, that our marriage was worthless—even all the good memories we have, particularly with our two children—because of how I damaged her mental health, that there’s no way we can fix it because of the bad memories. However, she wants to live together during this four year assignment for the sake of the children and because divorce is very, very socially bad in her culture. Her plan is to leave each other after four years and then maybe marry her bf. The problem with that is again this would be very bad in her culture. Also, he’s 25 and she’s 36. He has nothing, no education or money. He’s kind of a sensitive, fixer-upper type. She would like to continue seeing him but I am no longer her husband. I am right now just trying to cope. She’s just trying to let me down easy but at this point cares about me very little so is doing it rather coldly and amicably at the same time.
The thing is, she’s not entirely wrong. I was not loving enough. This and being in a foreign culture caused her to go nearly insane. But I feel she’s wrong that there was no value in our marriage and she doesn’t see that even though I wasn’t loving enough, I WAS loving in my way. I feel like she broke a promise and that I deserved better since I was in all other ways a good husband. Her response to that would be that I broke it first by not treating her right. Fair enough but she did not communicate well enough her needs. Some of that can be blamed on language but not all of it….
Now I don’t know what to do. Is she right? Am I wrong? Can this be fixed? Should I want it to be fixed? Should we stay together for the kids? If so, how can I handle four years of living together with her having a bf? How can she? How can the bf? I really don’t want a divorce but as the days go by I feel more and more contempt for. Thinking how stupid this all is. That we could have worked things out. That her bf may do a better job of meeting her emotional needs but he should have done the right thing and not gotten involved.