Fidelity and grief

I have ADHD and am dealing with the bereavement of both of my parents dying... Cancer... 2016 and 2018... My wife couldn't handle the effect of my ADHD with my grief which caused severe anxiety and depression... I can't really say I blame her. I was a nightmare. She has endometriosis so sex happens little and when I does to be honest it's pretty mediocre. She moved out... Then I did. I slept with someone else and so did she and then within 3 months we were back together. I didn't tell her who it was I slept with and she has big issues with this person...

The person in question and I used to be "friends with benefits"... So she really hates her. Actually, I slept with the person in question twice... I told her I slept with a girl once after I got home to find she had moved out and left her wedding ring and taken mine... I didn't want to lie to her but I knew ultimately it didn't matter who it was... but she wouldn't see it that way. My wife also slept with someone else in our time apart... She had moved back into our old house at this point... I know it shouldn't make me jealous but it does... I love her with all my heart and she has been honest with me... I have been partly lying... About who it was and how many times... But it STILL makes me jealous. Is it possible to recover from this? I can't leave her as I love her too much... How do I shake the jealousy... Sometimes I think the fact I still have a partial secret should make it easier... But it doesn't. :(

There’s a cliche that goes around that it’s the people who are most paranoid about their partners cheating who are most likely to cheat. I don’t know how based this is in reality, but I do think there is a kernel of truth in it in that when we know we have done something wrong ourselves and we have feelings about it and we can’t or won’t be honest with our partners about it, that will likely affect the relationship.

At its core, your relationship foundation is cracked and challenged and it has been for awhile. Even before you broke up or had any of these understandable issues with grief and losing your parents, if you had told me that you had a wife who hated someone purely because you had a “friends with benefits” relationship with them, I would say this illustrated an issue that should have been addressed.

It makes me wonder if there is more about this person that’s not being discussed and if there are other issues about her that make your wife worried and therefore more jealous of her — maybe things you’re not wanting to acknowledge? Either way, you don’t feel capable of telling her the full truth because you’re worried about the consequences and it makes sense that your brain would wonder if the same is true for her.

Not to mention, you’ve struggled with, as you described, your sex life being mediocre for whatever reasons and it stands to reason you would wonder if this other person she slept with didn’t have those problems. You blame yourself a lot here and don’t give yourself much compassion. While it may absolutely be difficult for your wife to handle, having two parents die within 2 years of each other and then also struggling with something like ADHD in a society not built on respecting, understanding or accommodating neurodiversity… well, none of these things were your fault. Give yourself a break.

It is possible for you all to recover from this, but you have to be able to trust one another. You have to be able to be fully honest with one another. I’m not sure if this is a situation where you’re avoiding being honest with your wife because you struggle to cope with her being unhappy and you want to avoid confrontation or if she discourages you from being honest because she doesn’t want to provide further emotional support — but either way, the secrets have to stop.

My suggestion is that you both consider seeing a polyamory friendly and disability aware therapist who also knows a bit about grief. You need something of an air clear and an intense discussion of what happened between the two of you that caused you to separate, what happened during your separation where you can be totally honest, and what, other than a fear of being alone, that has brought you back together and then you can decide where to go from here.

Unfortunately, the sooner you accept that there may be a situation where you both need to separate. It’s very possible for two people to love and care for each other very much but still not be compatible in what they want. It sounds to me that there are issues surrounding how you coped with your grief that can be addressed rather than an incompatibility but there will be consequences for dishonesty and trust has to be rebuilt. It’s possible but it will take some time.

Find a therapist who can provide a neutral ground and space to discuss what actually happened, work it out between you two, and see how you can rebuild your foundation together.

I hope this helps and good luck!

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