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Love Letters

He never told me he was unhappy


Q:

Dear Meredith:

My divorce is almost final but I'm still haunted. In the process of the divorce, I found out that my husband of over 20 years cheated incessantly -- mostly online affairs, but some one-night stands, and finally a lengthy affair. He's with the woman with whom he had the affair, and they constantly talk about how evil I was. I heard from a woman he'd been dangling since 1995 that he told her that I was a hoarder and that I had mental problems. I don't understand this because at no point did he intimate that there was anything wrong.

I responded badly when I found out about the last woman, when she sent me an email that chronicled their affair and announced their engagement.

He then continued to jerk my chain for several months, but then I found out that he'd been seeing Ms. Last-one all along, and I responded again, badly.

So here I am with the question: How could I not know? How was I supposed to know he hated me? Why do these women blame me? Should I blame myself?

I am confused. I keep thinking of the man who said my "smile stopped his heart" and "I love you so very much," even on the night before I caught him with Ms. Last-one the last time. I'm trying to figure out how that person can be the same man who brought women into our home and told them I withheld sex as punishment (he never touched me unless he wanted sex and I was tired of being the initiator).

But ... he's immediately in a relationship and I'm alone. I'm afraid of men -- I get this -- but why is it that everyone sees him as the "good guy" and me as the Evil Ex?

We're done, and the only reason it lingers is because I'm afraid of myself, of my bad reactions, and that all the negative things I've heard about myself from his lovers are true.

– Evil Ex, Medford

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A: The only people who see you as the evil ex are his mistresses. That's who we're talking about, right? It does not matter what these women think of you. They're just trying to justify their horrible behavior.

You could benefit from therapy (it's a must after this mess) and from staying close to people who are on your side or new to your life. Please block these mistresses from email, Facebook, etc., and focus on communicating with people who make you feel strong. Talk to your therapist about how you processed the news and develop a plan for moving forward.

You asked why you didn't know that this was happening. The truth is, some people are just good at lying. Some people can lead a double life without thinking twice about it. But not everybody does, and eventually, you will be ready to try to trust someone again. For now, give yourself time to let go, and begin creating a life for yourself that keeps you too busy to dwell.

Readers? Should she care what these people think of her? Why didn't the husband simply tell her how he felt? What can she do to move past this? Should she have known about the affairs?

– Meredith