Hey guys, happy to have found this forum. I have a strong need to talk, so I will. I hope doing so will just make me little less frustrated and a little more at ease with things. Sorry for the enormous wall of text.
I'm married and we have 3 kids together. Been together for nearly 20 years. We always gamed together, it was something that connected us and we were generally pretty good, although we sometimes can get on each other's nerves as well from being together too much. However, for the past year, we've been in serious trouble. Covid put us together 24/7 and it did us no good, and I had been struggling with motivation and basically been living on autopilot for some years already (poorly motivated to do anything beyond day-to-day activities). She has always had self esteem issues and I did nothing to validate her. You could say the ingredients for trouble were all in place I guess. Then we got into a group of players that was pretty active on discord, so we joined discord voice chat too. I always had some reservations about discord due to a past experience with her. Quickly she got drawn into talking daily on discord, and superficially it all seemed a lot of fun. However, I was noticing that she was pulling away from all things real life and prioritizing online life above all else (including feeding our children!).
I tried to reach out but could not get a response. I noticed she started locking her computer when she walked away. I confronted her and she admitted a guy had been trying to escalate, but said she blocked him. I like to think I took this well and tried to move forward in a positive way, but asked her to refrain from spending so much time online. However, in the days after, it became clear that this was unacceptable to her. Hurt and suspicious, I checked discord on her phone when she was in the shower and found out that she had been courting a relationship with another guy. This had gotten really intense. If the guy had allowed it, she would have jumped on a plane to see him, no doubt. I flipped out and confronted both, caused a scene. The guy immediately backed out (or maybe he had already backed out around the same time, I cannot know for sure). She was still so hung up on him though. I did not take it well. I forced her to choose, me or talking to him. She chose me but it killed her spirit, I've never seen her look sadder in my life. She did not last one day before it became clear she would be attempting to be with him behind my back anyway. She said things to him like that he would forever secretly be her hero, which I read through violating her trust and checking her phone once more. She has lied a lot about the extent of the relationship (that it's only an online thing, that she would never send a picture, that it was completely non-sexual).
I caved and we sort of agreed that this relationship would have to run its course and then we'd see if there was still an "us". Problem is, the guy was avoiding her and she could get no closure. As I distanced myself from it all (left that group of players and tried to form a new social circle in the game), she abused the freedom to increase her voice chat time by a huge amount, and crossed new boundaries (spending hours at a time in 1-on-1 calls rather than in a group context, which we never did because of the associated risks). I was trying to give her space (honest) but I am terrible at it, frustration, pain and anger always got the best of me and I made a scene every few days, trying to emotionally manipulate her into feeling remorse even.
This circus has now gone on for nearly 6 months and in that time, she has built up her online life into something that dominates every free minute. She wakes up and checks discord to read the chat she missed while sleeping. She checks discord between finishing work and coming home. She has made numerous new friends and invited them to discord servers I left, and if no one is online, she will go look for new friends to play with. I hear her laugh and sing upstairs (I moved into a different room to avoid being confronted with it non-stop), on some weekend days she will spend more than 16h behind the computer (cutting into her sleep to do it) and it drives me crazy. She is an extreme attention seeker online, but it only works with guys. Any woman showing up in the circle, she will push away immediately.
She is not completely cold to me, on some days she will throw me a bone. Sometimes we hug, sometimes we have sex, which is confusing but such a release for me as it allows me to be intimate without any reservation. But anytime I try to have a serious talk about her behavior and how it is making my idea of a long-term future with her impossible, she shuts it down and goes back to the computer. She will be mad and she does not hear what I say. She is still talking daily with the guy she cheated on me with, sometimes 1-on-1 (though she will deny it I'm sure). She refuses to give up that social circle. She has painstakingly minimized the fallout in her online life by not letting anyone know that I (who was also friends with some of these guys) am hurting and that the home situation is a mess. She will attack me anytime I talk to one of them, which admittedly I have done to get some validation for myself and maybe also out of spite, to try and burst the balloon.
I am quite a mess. I manage to get the kids clothed and the fridge mostly stocked everyday but I am way behind on work and just sent my employer a mail that my marriage is failing and I can't concentrate right now, which will surely reduce my career chances in the future. I cry behind the wheel of my car almost every day. I wake up looking forward only to the moment when she will be asleep again so I don't have to worry about what she is doing. I still make a scene every few days and threathen to walk out, which I genuinely feel I am close to (went to look at an appartment today) but it's complicated because of the kids. I sometimes go immediately back to bed after dropping off the kids and just lay there tearing up for hours. I eat maybe 4 or 5 real meals a week.
I am relieved to find this website, even if it does not hold much good news on the outcome. It explains to me why the beautiful person that I still love so much, can be so mean and careless and contintue to do things that destroy me and will eventually destroy her. I also seem to be codependent, showing some of the behaviors listed.
I don't know how I will proceed. I will try and stop enabling her, but I have a lot of internal resistance. I WANT to be the guy who gets the kids ready for school. It's the only thing I manage to do right now. I really don't feel I have the discipline in me to make that journey to "detach with love". I lose myself in self-pity. I think of extreme things. Like deleting my account in that game, destroying my only hobby and a decade of work I put into it. I often drive recklessly and think about what it would be like to wrap my car around a tree at 100mph. I think about my funeral and cry. I picture myself grabbing my clothes from the shelf as I move out and wonder if my wife will allow herself to be sad about it. Sometimes I will hug my youngest daughter and randomly start crying. I'm crying right now.
Thanks for listening.