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Probably heading for separation, advice


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Hi there


I'm new to this site, and am currently in a tense home situation, this is a lengthy post so I apologize in advance


I have been with my common law wife and her 2 daughters for 5 years now, we bought a place together about 6 months ago, but right now things are really on the rocks. first some background on her. Long story short she was raised in a physically and mentally abusive household, left home at 13 and has tumultuous years on the streets. At 18 she married a very angry, controlling guy, stayed with him for 12 years, left him, got together with a me about a year later. She has Crohns disease and is in pain a lot of the . Our oldest is 13 and this coming of age has brought up a lot of painful memories for my wife - she has never sought counseling for her past.


we are currently on the brink of breaking up - here are the concerns initiated by her and my rebuttals


She is feeling VERY overwhelmed with the kids and me and....everything and needs space. I get that completely and have tried to help it. In our last place which was quite small, she said she just wanted a place in the house that was just hers - I cleaned out all my stuff form one side of the closet, bought her some tupperware bins etc to give her that space - she forgets stuff like this SO easily. Now sometimes I don't know that she needs space - the other day she went upstairs and I followed her up - which has always been welcomed before she goes to work - so she was fairly * * * * * y with me for it, but all she had to do was let me know and I'd have stayed downstairs doing my own thing.


She feels like she isn't herself anymore but part of "us". I get that and it saddens me. I want her to feel like her own woman and have tried to support her going out and seeing friends, going back to school,,,whatever she needs. I've tried and tried and it doesn't seem to be good enough.


She feels I am needy and possessive, I dote on her WAY too much and am all over her when she has been out with her friends which makes her feel guilty - Ok I TOTALLY understand if my level of doting is overwhelming, I am exceedingly attentive to her, frequently offering foot rub, tea, whatever, however the reasons behind this is that I know the life she has come from and want to give her the best I can now. This isn't from some sort of puppy neediness, I don't "need" her, I love her and choose her. She came from a marriage where she would get screamed at for not having the dishes done so I insist upon doing pretty much all the work in the house for this and because she has crohns disease.


She has admitted to me before that she has trouble with reading into things so much and she is absolutely right. Over the years she has misread so many of my words and actions in a negative fashion.


As far as being all over her when she comes home - yep it's true, however her understanding of the source is inaccurate. I'm not sitting at home all paranoid wondering about what shes doing at all. In her last marriage she literally wasn't allowed out. A big welcome is my way of saying "look its ok that you went out - no hard feelings, welcome home". I'm not a jealous possessive guy in the least, she said she might take a trip to see a friend in New York in the summer and the first words out of my mouth were "wow, cool". The feelings of neediness and possessiveness JUST AREN'T THERE and it's frustrating being continually told they are. In any case I have toned my doting and affection when she comes home down massively - I just needed to know that's all.


I have to work on my communication - this is true I am not good at voicing my concerns, but the times I have they have never been received well by her, and I don't mean in the sense that she doesn't agree and I'm mad. I mean if she brings something up and I start to say "now hold on I don't think that's accurate" she gets angrier for myself trying to make it all about me and it just exacerbates the situation. She wants me to communicate more, but it's like I'm not allowed to have an opinion.


She has been dissatisfied w/ our sex life for a long long time. When we first got together she said she didn't believe in monogamy but would always be faithful to me. Recently she has revealed this to be a tremendous sacrifice and wants an open relationship. This is frustrating for many reasons, #1 being that years ago I asked why I was always the one initiating intimacy and she replied she has had bad experiences and it's hard for her sometimes. At that point I said "ok, no problem, we go at your pace and your call" and accepted a low-level sex life with her - somewhat conflicting with wanting multiple partners thats for sure. Over the years I have tried being spontaneous with sex or suggesting we try this that and the other thing and have always met with zero motivation from her. She has low self esteem regarding her body and I have tried SO HARD to make her feel good about herself for as long as I've known her. The fact that despite my efforts she sees non monogamy as a solution before counseling really hurts me. Another * * * * * in this armor is that about 4 years ago she found a not form my ex - I had missed it when I was clearing out all my 'ex" related stuff. Anyway it gave details into my sex life with my ex which was indeed a bit more than missionary vanilla stuff and she has had a hang up on it ever since. I SO wish I had found that note and tossed it but she read it and feels inadequate. I understand to a certain point but this is: 1 - actions in a long dead relationship, 2 - you found it 4 years ago, how can you not be over it, and 3 - not necessarily my thing, if my partner wanted me to dress her up like a baby because it got her off, I absolutely would, but would get nothing out of it. I did it for her and I don't sit here wishing that you would do it too, because it just isn't my thing. She has always had trouble with the fact that my ex is a stripper - let me clarify that that is what ENDED our relationship - she began stripping unbeknownst to me (said she was out w/ friends but was actually stripping). I was never with her as a stripper and I don't sit here wishing my current partner would peel off a Gstring while hanging from a pole. Add to this that we haven't deeply kissed in ages because of breathing/anxiety issues on her part and I can't do much with her breasts because they are crazy ticklish our sex life hasn't been great. Its so frustrating because I have tried to be understanding of her past and it's effects as well as her disease which makes sex impossible sometimes because of the pain. I always saw myself as the really understanding hubby doing the right thing and now I see so many mixed messages from her as I look back over the years. I asked her what she wanted to change up for the bedroom and she said 'non monogamy". I have no what she wants - I thought I was doing the right thing regarding her past trauma * * * ?


I have been really cranky with our youngest - totally true and I've apologized to her and made a massive change. I have been really snippy at her - more than cranky, really mean snippy. I can't justify it, but I literally do EVERYTHING in the house, dishes, laundry, cooking, most of the childcare and I'm tired and stressed. I do all this for her because she has Crohns and has a really terrible history of being treated badly.


She feels I am childish because I pout - I don't know about pout, but like everyone I get cranky and may well do the dishes while looking cranky. Why is it ok for her to make caveman face and sit on the couch if she's cranky and not me? Again it's like I'm not allowed to have an opinion or feelings. Don't most wives laugh at their husbands for that?


Finances - this is a big issue, when we first decide to move in together I was in school and she carried the majority of the financial load. I gave a set amount a month that we agreed upon, and never once failed to follow through and gave more if I could. My work in the school district has been somewhat tough on us, my hours have gone up and down over time, I've been threatened with being bumped due to budget cuts etc, it's quite stressful. Last summer I didn't have enough hours to collect EI in the summer and she is frustrated that I didn't properly prepare for that. Through saving up and selling my stuff on ebay I made my mortgage payments for the summer (I pay mortgage plus extra) so regardless of not getting EI I totally did my part. She complains that she had to cash out RRSPs for us to get by, she did it but I insisted she didn't have to as I had the $$. She did anyway and is really resentful of me over finances. I did have an oops in the fall, I didn't plan for the lag in pay with starting up in the schools and she had to help out big time with the mortgage payment - totally my oversight and my fault. She complains that when my hours were dropped I didn't take steps to make anything better....this has happened twice and both times I had a part time job up and running within a month, how is this not making things better?


She makes me feel like a sponge and I'm not. I sold a lot of my stuff on ebay to pay off 2 of our retail credit cards and her strata fines - all totalling over $2000 - these are not the acts of a sponge.


In any case she feels the $$ situation between us is unequal and has a lot of resentment. I should mention I cover the new mortgage now which is just shy of $2000 a month.


I feel very very taken for granted, here's an example - in the summer she complained that I never offered to rub her feet anymore. OK I was packing up our ENTIRE apartment myself for us to move, I was moving furniture in 100 degree weather and was tired however I STILL rubbed her back minimum of 4 nights a week because it was locking up a lot. She also complained I was trying to push her away because I kept putting a pillow between us in bed. The pillow was there to support my arm rubbing her back many many nights and I would rub it till I fell asleep..... I can't win...


I'm a good honest man. I draw for her, make her cards, advent calendars - heck I made her a guitar once. I get her flowers a minimum of once a month, I'm loving to the kids and I try really hard to make sure she doesn't have to lift a finger (maybe thats the problem). I am by NO means perfect, but I try hard to be the best spouse I can. She says she wants a man, not a maid, and I get that to a certain point however: If I don't do it, chances are it won't get done, and a household of 4 has to be kept up on, and also my heart really is in the right place here, I know her past and want to be good to her.



So in any case, why am I posting this....well, I wonder if this is the right place for me. I am a VERY dedicated man in terms of family in marriage, I believe in working through things and loving my wife even if I don't like her at times. However I can't not consider the following:


I can't take away her past, and I realize now that I don't think I can make up for it either. She has never sought counseling for any of her past abuse.


I can't give her the single life she never had (unless I am gone)


I can only say "no really, it's ok with me if you go out' so many times - I'm tired of my words not being taken at face value. Will she ever accept that I'm not possessive?


She has dealt me some heavy damage regarding our intimacy and as well as unreasonable as I think it is I don't feel she will ever get over that note from my ex


I really question her commitment to making a marriage work


Those feelings of worry she always felt I had when she went out are now there - and she put them there. They were never there before.


So in any case, I am very willing to work on this, but at the same time I see a boatload of red flags popping up here. Again I am not blameless in this, but at the same time I feel she is being unreasonable on a lot of levels. I always saw myself as I good man trying to take care of my wife with a past and chronic pain as best I could. I never imagined trying so hard to be good to her would backfire in such a massive way.


What say you? Am I being unreasonable at all? Bring on the 3rd party opinions lol.


Thanks a lot



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I also had another questions. I gave my wife a letter stating my side of the story and we have yet to talk about it - it's been about a week and a half. She said she wants to address it when she feels better (crohns, sinus and eye infection). At the same time, we are sleeping separately and not interacting much at all, and the longer this goes on the more damaging it will be to us. Should I push to talk about it, or leave it be for now. I'm not sure if she'll ever feel up to par.


Thanks much



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That's quite a post. To be perfectly honest with you, you sound like your are majorly p-whipped. I'm not beating up on you, but you are a martyr and a caretaker. Read some books on self-esteem and boundaries. We teach people how to treat us. If you let her * * * * all over you, what does that say about you? You've got to stop feeling sorry for her and tippy-toeing around this woman. I don't think she likes being this way, but I think you are contributing to her abusive behavior by not standing up.

Go to the library and find some books on self-esteem and healthy relationships. You are not her mother or caretaker. This is why she doesn't want to have sex with you, because she wants a man who will put his foot down. A man with balls. I know this sounds like harsh medicine, but really the only hope is for YOU to change, it won't be easy, but if she realizes you're not a doormat, she may have to act civilized. Good luck.

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Hey thanks a lot, I agree with a lot of what you say. Incidentally we actually talked this morning shortly after I'd posted this and she mentioned that she's seen my confidence go down and down over the years. I'm not sure why, but I'm looking into branching out and trying new things and we'll see how we go from there. I think I've been p-whipped too and that's not healthy for either of us. Either way after our talk this morning I'm feeling a lot better now and am ok either way it goes. I won't lose the kids in my life(which is the main thing to me) and I'll either come out with a stronger relationship or a good friend.


Thanks for your honesty, I appreciate that kind of advice the most.



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This is coming from a guy who acted the same way in my 1st marriage. The school of hard knocks buddy. You have to look after #1 or you can't be there for #2-her...You sound like a great guy. Hang in there...and be strong.

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Thanks man


I am actually at quite a pivotal point right now. We did talk a few days ago and I'm not happy with how it went. She was angry that I thought she was a broken woman and didn't take responsibility for anything or address any of my concerns regarding the relationship. It was really focused on me needing to change this, this and this, She says she would like to see it work, and she loves me but is not "in love" with me. That happens, fair enough.


She wants to go back to ground zero for dating, meaning that we would be essentially roommates and I can see what she's up to on fridays or whatever and try dating again, she wishes to date other people too.


For me this is not cool, in a marriage or marriage like situation I believe in working hard on your challenges, and seeing others is no solution to anything. I am actually thinking about breaking up with her - here's why:


I don't believe going off on a dating/screwing free for all will help anything regarding repairing a relationship


Again my concerns aren't being heard - and this is at such a turning point in the relationship


She can't get her mind past knowing too much about my ex and I's bedroom activities - to the point of not being comfortable voicing her own fantasies. We may just be sexually incompatible and that's not good. She has shown unwillingness to work past this mindset every step of the way.


She says that she has never been able to commit to me in her mind 100% - always something holding her back. This isn't wrong, but if she's felt like this thru our happiest and most romantic times, that just isn't good long term.


I am by no means blameless in this, but I'm still the only one taking positive steps to remedy the situation and that's not ok.


I feel like I'm the only one willing to work on this. I'm working at changing my habits and stuff and she.....will be dating?..... this seems like the ultimate p-whipped scenario to me. Breaks combined with dating work for some people, but it would be a real compromise for me, no dice.


We have talked and agreed that I wouldn't lose the kids in my life which is a big relief. I'm thinkin it may be time to move on, be me for a while and eventually find another great gal.


Opinions? ideas? anyone?

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OMG...First of all, a part of a closet and Tupperware containers aren't a space. It is space, but not A space. I could go on, but I'm going to just cut to the chase.


Denial. I read a great article about a man who told his wife he wanted a divorce and she just pretended it never happened. She and the kids went about their lives as if he wasn't part of it. He could come and go as he pleased, the wife took care of everything. It was as if he wasn't part of the family, but he was in the house. It went on for months. She gave him all the space he wanted. He slept on the sofa. She made no demands, didn't complain, just lived as his roommate. If he wanted out, he was going to have to do the work to make it happen. He never did.


One night while they were having dinner, he suddenly said, "I was thinking that it might be nice if we went to the Grand Canyon this summer instead of to the ocean" or something to that effect. He was back.


Is it possible she was really talking about dating you, not others? I think she's looking for romance. Can you give it to her? Not the canned, Hollywood variety, but real honest to God romance...taking walks together, rubbing her feet when you're watching a movie together? Have you ever read her a book? (A lover once read me Griffin and Sabine - it was such a romantic thing.)


It is not at all uncommon for women who have been abused to begin to suffer sexual dysfunction in their thirties and forties, despite never having had any before. It's a crucial time in a woman's life. Hormones are changing, children become a certain age. If you lived in the Seattle area, I'd recommend my gynecologist, who is so good at recogizing these issues and helping patients find the right therapist and hormone balance.


Sometimes a relationship just needs a hero. She needs to hear that you love her and you're not giving up on her. Trust me...I've known lots of people who tried an open relationship. None of them are together now. Not one.

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Hi thanks a lot


No she's made it very clear that she wants to date other people. She can only have so much "love" and she wants to "f**k" - a very frustrating scenario seeing as she is entirely unwilling to share any of her fantasies with me so I can make it happen. I've tried for years to introduce new things, ideas, be sponteanious all to no avail.


I am a hugely romantic fella - she's more of the guy in our relationship. I get her flowers a minimum of once a month, I cook for her - candlelit dinners etc, rub her back a lot, praise her in copious amounts and do my best to love her. I make little illustrated books for her about our cool memories etc etc. There's no lack of romance here on my end.


I've made it very clear I believe in us, in her and the kids, but the effort here is extremely one sided - mine. I think I'm going to air my frustrations with the situation, and suggest we try for a month - we'll do whatever she wants in the bedroom - what have we got to lose - and we'll see if she thinks it can work. If she refuses, I think it's done, this isn't a marriage I can save alone.


Thanks, take care



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I think the PROBLEM is you've been doing whatever SHE wants for TOOOOO long..and she lost respect and attraction for you..and she thinks she wants a bad boy who will just f*** her silly. This may be fun for awhile until she figures out he's a creep. It sounds like she is bound and determined to jump into the field...If I were you..I would maybe experiment with saying.."go ahead," and act like you're fine with it. Other than that..marriage counseling sounds like it's in order. My guess is she wouldn't go for it......

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I think the PROBLEM is you've been doing whatever SHE wants for TOOOOO long..and she lost respect and attraction for you..and she thinks she wants a bad boy who will just f*** her silly. This may be fun for awhile until she figures out he's a creep. It sounds like she is bound and determined to jump into the field...If I were you..I would maybe experiment with saying.."go ahead," and act like you're fine with it. Other than that..marriage counseling sounds like it's in order. My guess is she wouldn't go for it......


Yeah I think it's a combo of an enabler and one who is easily enabled but doesn't want to be enabled. I seem more like a mother (or I did at least) than a husband, but still it came from a good place, and I wish she'd see that. Ah well, we'll keep trucking along and see what happens

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Well....wish me luck


Tonight I'm going to talk with her and suggest that we take the month of March to really make a concentrated effort to heal and work together to become stronger, let go of a few barriers and try out what she wants in the bedroom etc etc.


If she still insists on embarking on dating and seeing other people then I'm jumping ship.


I feel so frustrated right now, when I go into a long term relationship like this I go in with the mindset of loving someone thru the times that I may not like them, or whatever other tough stuff comes ones way. If she was to get into a car accident and be brain damaged I'd take care of her - feed, change, whatever and above all honor her. It really stings that she doesn't seem to have anything close to the same outlook, and the fact that she can be willing to pursue the avenue of other relationships at the expense of her spouse and best friends feelings as well as the possibility of reconciliation - not only for us, but for us as a family makes me feel terrible and puts her in a different light to me.


As well, this is definitely one time to not be a doormat, again - I'm not blameless in this but I've worked really hard to treat her like gold in our time together and I don't deserve this


What it's come down to is logic/realization of the situation vs my sense of responsibility and love for her and logic has won the battle.


That aside I started Judo class to get out more, and try something different, and it's been hard (I'm not exactly a natural lol) but it's a good place to be, and I like the whole sound body sound mind mentality.


Thanks for your responses, we'll see how this goes



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I would check the rules in your state about common law marriages. The rules for common law are not just living together but living as husband and wife in all ways except the piece of paper for a certain amount of time. If you do qualify as common law in your state (it is just cohabitation), than there might be considerations for when you split things up, if you split. There might be the ability to see the children that you will be entitled to or not or the way that existing bills or property is handled.


That being said, I find it very telling that there was never a marriage. It is none of my business why and sometimes there are very valid reasons why two people don't marry that have nothing to do with emotionally issues. It just seems overall that she wasn't "in it" to begin with and now its easy to just tell you she wants to change the terms of the relationship.


I think that her feeling stifled is not merely physical space but other issues. If she wants her own space - don't clear out a closet but clear out a room or sitting area not to be a bedroom but a place to read or go and think I think you should stop doting on her. It is easy when someone has a medical condition to get into that. I am wondering if time away might be good for you both. I would also look up some information on codependency. You or you both may fall into that definition and it might be helpful to use the information for some healing.

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  • 2 months later...

I agree you sound like a nice guy


Here's a few thoughts I had...I'm currently separated...I have a thread running of my journal.


1st - you seem to do things because of the disease and other reasons....and not for her or for yourself...


2nd- I agree with the p comment -


To get her back she is going to have to change and she has to WANT to change or the same things will happen over and over again. I see that YOU want to change, but as my counsiler stated...it only takes 1 to separate.


I'd say to her, I want to see this relationship work....I see a lot of good in our relationship and I see the bad. I'm willing to work on my part and the things I've failed on, but I can not do this alone. If you are not willing to work on this and be willing to change this isn't going to work.'


And start getting yourself mentally ready for a separation so that you are not destroyed when it happens. THAT'S THE BIGGEST THING...is getting yourself mentally prepped.


Try, but know it's a 2 way street and IMO she's being unreasonable...but it doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things....


There are 3 Billion people in the world...if it's not her...you'll find another...again you sound like a nice guy.

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