Did you ever feel like everything in your relationship was fine—only to discover that it wasn't? How do you save a marriage when you find out that everything wasn't what you thought it was and that your partner is unsatisfied?
Jamie from Burbank, CA writes:
“I texted my wife from a new phone telling her I was a secret admirer and wanted to hook up. I asked her if she wanted to meet up and she said in an hour. I guess I set myself up, but we have been married 10 years so I was sure I would get a different response because we seem to have a good thing going. I now have a sick feeling in my gut. I work A LOT on the road and am worried about what goes on when I'm gone. I love my wife and wish I never did what I did today but it's done now. I fessed up that it was me who texted her and made a real mess now. I can really use some advice now. I hope she's not tired of this relationship. We have two girls and don't want this to end. Thanks for your time.”
I'm sorry to hear about your troubles! From what you said, ‘We don't want this to end,' it seems like you're at least on the same page as far as your goal to save the marriage—and that's a start.
One thing which I notice is that you did set this whole thing up, and considering that you say you expected a different response, I do think you should ask yourself why you did it in the first place. If you truly had faith in your wife's fidelity, you wouldn't have thought to set up a test at all. You must have had some nagging doubt, some unconscious feeling that something was awry. I also think you should keep in mind that your wife responded to the message—but you will never know if she would have followed through or not. She might have very well changed her mind and realized that she didn't want to go through with the meeting. Or if she had met the fictional secret admirer, she might still not have ended up betraying your trust.
All of that said, it seems to me that while you have been happy in your relationship, your wife feels that something is missing—and since you say you are away a lot, perhaps that something is you. Even though you are working to support your family, families need emotional support as much as financial support. It may also be something else, though, something specific; perhaps there is some gap in your wife's life which is unfulfilled by your marriage at present. The only way to find out what that might be is to ask her about it—without anger and without judgment.
Since you did realize something was wrong when you set your wife up, are you able to think of anything specific now that you are looking at it on a conscious level? And if so, is it something about her, or something about you?
I don't think that what happened necessarily spells disaster for your marriage since you both still want to fix this. I do think that you have both broken some faith with each other, but there's no reason this damage should be irreparable. Fessing up may have made a mess of things, but at least it demonstrated good faith on your part, and now that the issue is in the open you have a chance to fix it. You may also want to think about marriage counseling. Sometimes it's hard to fix a problem when you are too close to it, and the perspective of someone who isn't invested in the situation can help you see it with fresh eyes. You may also both find it easier to talk to a marriage counselor about your situation than just each other. A counselor won't solve your problem for you, but will instead help you to solve it together. It's a new year, a good time for renewal, so good luck!