I Caught My Husband Flirting With Six Women Online—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek, I recently caught my husband texting, emailing, and talking to six different women.

First, he told me it was their ‘job,’ even though he didn’t pay them, to boost his ego whenever and for how long he needed them. After going to counseling, he changed it to saying it’s just a game he plays with them and unfortunately I was caught in the middle.

Then he wanted to go to a weekend marriage counseling and said he was going to stop.

So I contacted a few of the women to see if he had been emailing or texting and they all said yes.

Woman Catches Husband Flirting
Stock image shows an unhappy woman and husband. A Newsweek reader has found her husband messaging multiple women and now he wants to divorce.
GlobalStock / Ridofranz/Getty Images

On Christmas Day I asked him if he had been texting or emailing any women and he said no, so I showed him the responses from the women. I said now you are also lying to me. He asked for a divorce but somehow I am the bad person.

I believe he has NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) and is also bipolar. I found out he lied about being with the Talking Heads, lied about his past, lied about having money.

It has been one thing after another trying to get him to go through with a divorce he asked for. He is representing himself, no lawyer, and he does not file the correct forms, he’s missed deadlines and it costs me money.

He is irrational, now he’s saying he wants items he left in the home over two months ago.

Audri, Florida

Newsweek’s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

Having an Experienced Attorney Who Knows the Court System Is Key

Robin Lalley, principal and managing attorney of Sodoma Law.

Dear reader,

More often than not, when someone chooses to represent themselves in their divorce proceedings, not only are they usually unhappy with the end result, but the road to that result can be more frustrating and difficult than it needs to be for everyone involved.

In many cases, the best course of action is for the spouse who has hired an attorney to utilize said attorney to push the case forward, using any non-compliance with the rules to their advantage.

In cases such as this, having an experienced attorney is key, since they know the ins and outs of the court system at a granular level. The unrepresented opposing party does not, leaving a large margin for error.

For example, in similar cases, I’ve seen unrepresented parties file incorrect forms, which can have both small and very large consequences, such as limiting the amount of evidence you’re allowed to contribute at the final trial.

In addition, judges do not like to have their time wasted, so showing up unprepared or without the proper paperwork is not just frowned upon, but it will likely put you at a disadvantage.

This is especially true if the judge suspects the actions are intentional. More than once I have seen a client awarded attorney’s fees as part of their final divorce decree due to this exact type of behavior.

Another option people should consider if they find themselves in this situation, are considering taking the unrepresented approach themselves, or even if both parties are represented by attorneys, is mediation.

A mediator’s role is to help parties settle their case by resolving the issues by consent, which means both parties come to a mutual agreement.

Using an alternative dispute resolution like mediation is often a time saver and a money saver. More importantly, it gives parties more control over making decisions about the issues that matter most. Parties won’t get this same allowance should their case be litigated in court, where a judge will ultimately decide who gets what.

Often, once a difficult opposing party realizes that their actions will not only cost them money but will likely negatively impact the outcome of the case, they are more willing to work together towards a resolution.

Last but certainly not least, something I remind all my clients is that divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. Even in the cases that seem the simplest, there isn’t anything easy about divorce.

The good news is that you are not alone, and you do not have to face this journey alone either.

Surround yourself with a strong support team both in your personal life and professional life, consult an experienced attorney on best next steps, and remember—even on the days when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still there.

Making Progress Has to Start With the Truth

Andrea Hipps, certified divorce coach and author, who helps people navigate every stage of divorce, from early emotional struggles to long-term rebuilding.

Dear reader,

Living through betrayal and deceit in an intimate relationship is incredibly difficult, and I applaud your intentional pursuit of the truth despite your partner’s deflection.

All progress begins with telling yourself the truth, and from your description, it sounds as though an additional truth to consider is that your soon to be former partner may fall into the category of a High Conflict Person (HCP).

HCPs are identified by four characteristics: all or nothing thinking, unmanaged emotions, overuse of blaming, and extreme behaviors. You’ve likely already noticed that the straightforward and rational way that you use to communicate with others in your life simply does not work with your HCP.

Consider working with a coach to start learning an HCP-sensitive communication style so that you can protect your own mental health. You’ll also manage better if you can adopt a long-haul perspective.

HCPs usually don’t make the road easier or shorter, and your approach will need to include strategies that support your emotional experience given that you’ll likely be in this challenge for some time to come.

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