Had Mindless not told me on ultimate d-day, I would never have known about his chat room hook-ups. I was aware of his porn use, though only to an exceptionally limited degree. The limited amount to which I was aware, I chalked up to typical male interest in porn. I did not think of it as a gateway drug and had no idea that it had gone to the level of excessive viewing, masturbation to porn, chat rooms and chat room hook-ups. I thought most of his non-school, computer time was being spent playing Civilization. He loved that game. When my work hours weren’t busy, we did it together. When they were he did it on his own, or at least that is what I thought he was doing.
During my busy season, I was working around 70 hours a week to support us while he attended graduate school full-time. We had decided it best for him to not take a paid job, so he could focus on school and get it done sooner than later. Also, this would allow him to assist a professor with a research paper and do an internship within his field of study. He did finish his degree within 18 months, graduating with a near perfect GPA. I thought he was working toward our mutual goals with little time for anything but a little down time playing Civ now and again, spending time with me and his compulsive need to keep everything tidy and in its place.
Within two weeks of finishing his schooling, he had a job. It was in the same field as before he got his degree. A job for which his degree was meaningless. “We” just spent $600/credit hour for him to get this graduate degree. He assured me the job was temporary, to have something paid while he explored more relevant options. It made enough sense. Soon, he was traveling about twice/month. Sometimes, a female co-worker from another department was assigned to go with him on these trips. The company provided membership to a local gym for its employees. So, he would go to this gym each day after work. Soon a “friendship” developed between his co-worker and himself. They were traveling together about once/month, going to the same gym at the same time and often ate lunch together as well. I was not pleased by this at all. He assured me they were “just friends,” I was “overreacting.”
I questioned him about what he would talk about with his co-worker. He would tell me it was all superficial, she wasn’t even attractive, they just spoke about work and exercise. She wanted his help figuring out how to make the most of her exercise routine. They had to sometimes travel together for work. Sometimes they would just grab a quick lunch at the same time, together. I believed he couldn’t lie to me, that he was incapable of lying to me. I believed I meant something to him. I believed that all of my hard work and sacrifices to put him through graduate school meant something to him. We were working toward our goals together. We were working toward making a bright future together. I was living with blinders on.
Our apartment had just redone the entire gym facility, it was beautiful, it was state of the art. I asked him to stop going to the company gym and come join me at home for workouts instead. He refused, explaining he had his workout routine figured out perfectly and did not want to disrupt his routine. This did not raise a huge red flag to me because I knew Mindless was very routine oriented, very disciplined, organized and methodical about his life. This was the man who arranged our books by the dewey-decimal system for goodness sakes. Still, I was feeling lonely and homesick since he had started this job and was disappointed that his routine appeared to be more important to him than I did.
I did start telling him, if he was going to be doing the same type of job as he did back home, we should just go home OR he should get a job in his field of study. He agreed. We started working to make either of those occur when he was offered an overseas job that was a perfect fit with his graduate studies. HIs last day at his current job would be three months from when the overseas job was accepted. I was elated and so proud of him. I was telling all my co-workers about his new job and how excited we were and how proud of him I was. All the while, it turns out, he rarely spoke of me to anyone. They knew he was married, but expressing pride in me, in us, expressing love for our life together was just not something he ever did.