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My wife [29F] and I [30M] have just started on a break and I am struggling

Uduchukwu Darlington

Aug. 11, 2019

TL;DR - My wife asked for a break, I came back the same night to see her with another man. I freaked out in the worst way and now I feel like I've lost any chance to fix our relationship despite wanting to. Already had to move out 80% of my stuff.
Not too long ago, my wife of almost 3 years (11 year total relationship) came home and asked me to sit down for a talk. She told me that she felt really confused and unsure of her life and that she came to question everything including our relationship. This all caught me by complete surprise. I kind of asked "does this mean you want a break" expecting the answer to be no. When she said yes I started to lose my composure and quickly got up and started hastily packing a bag. We ended up having at each other as I made my way to the door. At one point she offered for me to just stay downstairs during this, but I refused.
Before I walked out I asked her if she was doing this because there was someone else. Something that I had never thought was an issue with my wife. She took a pause and then said she was indeed attracted to someone else. At that point I had really lost any sense and just made for the car. She came out after me asking if that changes anything and I said I didn't know.
Fast forward a few hours after I called some friends to calm me down and situated myself at a hotel I got this paranoid feeling that I wanted to check on her. Earlier in day I had drove by the house once but didn't go in. Then in the evening I decided to drive back home. I didn't see any other cars in the driveway so I walked up to the front door. As I approached I could see through the window that she was on the couch with someone else. I rang the door bell and saw her turn to look at me through the window with complete shock on her face.
From this point forward it gets a little fuzzy for me. I was panicked and I think I kept asking her why she was doing this and what was going on. She said she felt she needed to do something for herself for a change. That this person understands what she is going through and listens to her. I asked to go inside to get something but went straight to where I keep my handgun. As I was loading it and putting on my holster she came into the room and asked me what I was doing. I don't think I had any intention of hurting her, maybe I wanted to scare the guy off. But she blocked the door and kept me from leaving with the gun. I just kept saying I wanted to take this with me. I even gestured the barrel towards myself at one point (this is really my lowest point). She ends up talking me down and I ask her to send the guy off and I'll put the gun away. She sends him away and comes back and we try talking but the conversation goes no where.
I try to apologize the next morning but realize that I screwed up too badly. I take myself to therapy during the week for the first time in my wife. I think it helps me get a better sense of things. But when I ask her if she is interested in doing couples counseling she tells me, while she is happy I am doing therapy she is exhausted from all the work she put into our relationship and any of this sounds draining. She adds that she felt she was unfair at first but then realized that so many issues in our relationship was never addressed and she felt I was disinterested in listening to her all those times. She had tried to change but felt that the list of things that were never resolved was way longer than the list of things we ever found compromise on. I try to plead with her to consider it and acknowledge all the mistakes I've made with her, but she says she's just emotionally exhausted. Especially after word got out about things and she was confronted by her family about things. I call her up on the phone cause I am so panicked to talk but she sounds just as angry. She brings up promises I made years ago to do therapy and all the things I screwed up. She insists on wanting to see other people during the break. I acquiesce and just beg essentially for a chance to reconcile. She doesn't say much to that besides maybe leaving a door open to me.
On the weekend I go by the house when she's out to pick up more of my things and I leave my set of house keys. We have a short conversation over the phone that afternoon where I agree to give her as much time and space as she wants and won't bother or question her. That I want to take this time to figure out what happened to us and figure out how I can change. Lastly that she doesn't need to worry about me doing anything reckless anymore. I can hear her tearing up a bit over the phone, but she doesn't say too much besides what she's been up to the last few days and a few logistical items.
It's been a week since I've heard anything from her. I am trying my very best to keep my promise of not bothering her but even one of my therapists feels that might be the wrong idea. I just can't tell what her state of mind is anymore. I am afraid that if I push too soon she'll back away. I am also afraid she can forget me and move on to this other person already.
During a group therapy session I felt really conflicted for the first time about all of this. As I retold the events, people seemed to say "you're wife did a fucked up thing". I ended up in this weird position where I tried to defend her and say she felt confused about things, was always a good person, I would gladly take her back if she asked. Then someone made the point that she was feeling confused because she was in two relationships at the same time. That was the first time I realized that this was weeks in the making at least. Since then I have bounced between despair and anger about our relationship. I feel like she might just tell me that she doesn't want me anymore and I've failed as her husband. At the same time I feel like I deserve an apology from her about things too, but I think that'll just drive her away more.
The thing is though I still just want a chance to try and fix things. I feel like therapy is starting to help me process and hopefully help me change. I've been reading relationship and self-help books and listening to podcasts to understand how things got to where they were. I'm trying so hard still to prepare to fix something, but I don't even know if I'll get that chance.
I have been trying to take care of myself (no crazy rash thoughts here). I'm going to individual and group therapy regularly. I started going on walks and exercising to help pass the time and clear my head. I guess another good thing to come out of this is that it has forced me to talk to people I work with and my family (rarely spoke in the past). I've realized that so many people care about you. So many people have offered just to listen or take me to dinner or deal with my messy emotions. In a strange way, this has altered this perception I had that no one really wants to deal with you because they have their own stuff to worry about that. But this is still been a very difficult few days and I have no idea what I can do or what to expect.
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