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Did I Make A Mistake In Marrying Him? Please Help!

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I am hoping someone can help me.


I have been married for almost 4 years, and have been with my husband for 8 years. I have always sensed (even before our wedding) that I was making a mistake and marrying the wrong person. He is a good man, he always tells me he loves me, does thoughtful little things for me and has always treated me well. We met when I was 29, married when I was 33. Before him, I had never had a long term relationship, and had not really dated much. When I turned 29 I started thinking about getting maried and staring a family, and met him shortly thereafter.


I feel like at the time we got married, I saw a friend and someone who could be a good husband and father (we have 2 babies under 2 now, and he is a good father). However I just can't shake the feeling that something is wrong. It comes and goes. I feel like I have never been in love with him, and have never felt physical attraction to him. We have now only had sex 1 time in 13 months (I know this is in part because we have 2 small babies but it just isn't right for both of us).


Things have been particularly hard for us lately because he can't seem to keep a job, and now we have 2 small children to support. He is currently unemployed again, and is in a really dark place emotionally. The same thing happened last year when I was pregnant with our 2nd child. I have tried to be the strong one telling him everything is going to be okay (when I was / am terrified myself)- always trying to support him when I felt I had no support myself. I feel like I am always trying to boost him and raise him up but don't feel he does the same for me. I know that the last couple of years have been tough on him professionally and know that as his wife it is my job to hold him up in these tough times, but it doesn't seem to let up. I have never thought of myself as someone who would bail when things get tough, I know that marriage is full of good and not so good times, but he always seems to be having a crisis and I am exhausted. I often feel like I am the only adult in this relationship.


I feel like he was not sure he wanted to marry me and I kind of pushed him into it. But now he says things like "I don't know what I'd ever do if you left me". There is a part of me that wonders if he means that, he would never leave me because he would not want to look like "the bad guy". I sometimes feel like he's testing the water with me when he says things like that.


I wonder if I am just restless because I feel like I never had a chance to have romance and make wonderful mistakes when I was in my 20's before I settled down. I wonder if I reallly did make a mistake when I was married. Regardless I know it is my own fault. I just don't know what to do.


Please any thoughts would be helpful. Brutal honesty please- I know this is my fault

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This may not be the most relevant question here, but I find myself wondering...why is it that you didn't date much nor have any long-term relationships in your 20s? Perhaps whatever led you to be less active romantically in your 20s are now cropping up and making you uncomfortable in your marriage. Which would mean it isn't so much that you married the wrong person, but more that you have some unresolved issues with committing or long term relationships in general. It's one thing to feel like it's the right time to get married and start a family. It's quite another to be truly ready for that step.


Another thought: without more detail, I almost feel like this is sort of a case of "GIGS" (as they say) coming on later in life as well...i.e. I went through a similar thought process with my first long term boyfriend at 20, but if I hadn't started dating so early I might have felt it during my first long term relationship, even if it was in my 30s...

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Hi DN, thanks for responding...


Yes, our vows were the usual ones. I did mean them when I took them. I have always honored them and continue to honor them. I had serious reservations before the wedding, but chalked them up to normal jitters, thinking things would get better once I adjusted to married life. Those "off" feelings go up and down, but have never gone away entirely. I know it's normal to feel so much frustration when things are hard and you need to be the strong one for so long and I know that's my job as his wife to be that for him. But even when things are going along okay I can't shake the feeling....

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Hi Open,

You’re marriage sounds pretty normal to me. We married folks all stumble along. We have successes and failures. It’s not perfect.


Happy marriages are earned. Tell your husband how you feel about his man/child stuff. Expect change and give him time to change. Be stern if you must. (Buy Gary’s Smalley’s “For better or best” It may help you understand him.

It's very hard on a man when loses his job.


Love… Okay, if you can find a robot man otherwise given time every man on earth will let you down in that department sooner or later.

If you were compatible before marriage than that's it…He's the one.


Think about respect instead. He has let you down, (poor communicator?), which in turn is making you lose respect for him.


Tell him.

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Hi Taking the Blame,

Thank you... the question of why I didn't date much could be a relevant one I guess. I experienced childhood sexual abuse and spent a lot of my twenties dealing with that as it cropped up in my life, during the time most people would be experimenting with relationships, I was afraid to. I consider myself lucky to have found someone who would accept me the way I am though I feel I kind of walked through life blindly for a lot of it.

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Hi Lester,


Thanks for your advice...it makes sense. That is a perspective I hadn't thought of and now that I think of it, I have lost respect for him through this. His "childishness" obviously is something that comes out worse when times are rough. I have a tendency to allow myself 5 minutes to cry about something and then I work to fix it, he can dwell and dwell on things and not "man up" like I expect / hope he would. I know losing a job is hard on a man, especially with children to support, and I don't want to kick him while he's down by hitting him with this now... but I do think when the smoke clears here we need to talk about his man / child stuff.

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Are you sure the childhood sexual abuse doesn't have anything to do with not having sex in 13 months? I know you had two babies, but still, even so, most couples would do things that were intimate even if it wasn't full penetration. have you ever been to counseling for it? It may just be an illusion that most people are sexually free in their 20s or you missed out - not everyone has that. Maybe it is in the way of fully feeling intimate, etc. with your husband. BTW, marriage is about a "we" and if one falls down, the other keeps going. Unless he has been unemployed his whole life - some people just go through a rough patch of a few years. I don't necessarily think its about "manning up" if he is trying to find work and is just not successful. Maybe it involves a different career, but he has to select one on his own.

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Hi Abitbroken,

I have never been to counseling for it, but felt I had successfully dealt with it. I am realizing that it is not sex but intimacy that is the issue, and I will try to work on that.


I understand that in a marriage one person often holds up the other one when they are down. I just feel like I've been the buoy for most of our marriage. He's lost 3 jobs in his field in 4 years, and it's been a combination of circumstances beyond his control, and his own professional skills. He is rethinking if he is doing the right thing and I know only he can know for sure. When I said "man up" I meant he is constantly looking for reassurance and validation in every aspect of his life. I think this might even be part of the reason he loses jobs because he tends to need a lot of hand-holding for everything and can come off as high maintenance.

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Hi Taking the Blame,

Thank you... the question of why I didn't date much could be a relevant one I guess. I experienced childhood sexual abuse and spent a lot of my twenties dealing with that as it cropped up in my life, during the time most people would be experimenting with relationships, I was afraid to. I consider myself lucky to have found someone who would accept me the way I am though I feel I kind of walked through life blindly for a lot of it.


Ahh. Understood. I am sorry you had to go through that, and I don't have any experience in that area, so I am hesitant to pass along advice in light of your answer to my question. However, you say later on in this thread, in response to abitbroken, that you have never been to counseling for your childhood experiences and that you felt you had dealt with it successfully. I would think you might want to give counseling or therapy a try in that case, because perhaps you never did deal with this issue successfully, and it may be that it continues to interfere with your ability to have a happy, committed long-term relationship/marriage with someone. I think it's at last worth a shot before you try to determine by yourself whether or not you married the right person.

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If you are using phrases like "man-up" or "man-child" it is probably no use trying any longer. He needs someone who is unconditionally supportive and who doesn't use such emasculating terms and you need a man who is the old-fashioned 'strong-silent' type who is totally self-reliant and never needs anything from anyone.

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If you are using phrases like "man-up" or "man-child" it is probably no use trying any longer. He needs someone who is unconditionally supportive and who doesn't use such emasculating terms and you need a man who is the old-fashioned 'strong-silent' type who is totally self-reliant and never needs anything from anyone.


I think you may be misunderstanding. I need someone who gives support as much as they receive it. I understand marriages are almost never 50/50 and that one person needs to pull more weight when the other can't. The "self-reliant strong silent type who never needs anything from anyone" could be describing the way I deal with things, which I know isn't the best way. I did not mean to be insulting using those terms, however these seem to be the roles we revert to when dealing with a problem.

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Openwindow, it sounds like you've got yourself a good guy and a normal marriage that exists under some challenging but temporary circumstances. You may also be yearning for greener pastures since you didn't date when you were younger. As someone who did date in her twenties, I think you'd be sorely disappointed to leave what you have for what you see as fun and freedom. It really isn't all it's cracked up to be. Take a look at the dating forum here.


Honestly, everything you describe sounds like a fear of intimacy is a major problem for you and it is causing you to feel very restless. Even your problem solving skills (self-reliant, never need anything from anyone) sound that way. I'm sorry if that's an incorrect assumption and I don't mean to invalidate your feelings, but your current circumstances lead me to believe that this may be a long-standing issue that is surfacing and causing you to distance yourself.


Maybe you did truly deal with the abuse in your past, but it may be that some negative emotions or fears are re-surfacing. I don't think that effects from bad experiences in someone's past can ever be considered to be cured, they become part of who you are and will pop up again throughout your life. All you can do is to teach yourself (normally with some professional help) to detect when they've arrived and deal with them separately from what is reality.


Would it hurt to try out some individual counseling with someone who specializes in the effects of abuse? Sometimes you need someone with emotional distance and training to help you see what might really be going on with you.

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Read the Five Love Languages. Some people need physical touch,some need words of encouragement, some need acts of service, quality time, or gifts to either feel love or that's how they express love to their partner. He seems to need words of encouragement from his spouse. That seems to be his language. It doesn't mean that you have to "do" things for him. Once in awhile, compliment him. Tell him that he looks handsome today, especially if he got up and got himself pulled together instead of looking like he is hanging around the house. Tell him that you believe in him or have faith in him. When he puts up a picture frame, tell him it looks great. Sometimes when people need to feel encouraged, we try to play counselor instead of just doing little things throughout the day to make them feel encouraged if we genuinely believe those things.


by the way, it is a tough time for a lot of people. Some jobs are going overseas. Some industries are hiring like crazy, but they are in the medical field or with new technology. If he is being left behind, then he needs to acquire new skills. I know some folks who have had liberal-arts type of jobs work now in a battery factory. I know folks who have went into business for themselves. Or maybe they are unemployed. If he has been in one field the whole time, he may see it as part of his identity. He feels emasculated enough not towing the line. Remember, its about a "we".


I agree 100% with what was said about individual counseling. "dealing with it" is one thing but sometimes when we "deal with it" we merely create a coping mechanism to protect ourselves. Someone with a fear of intimacy might naturally feel uncomfortable when someone else is expressing vulnerability, opening up and expressing raw emotions. Instead of connecting with that, you are hoping he just sucks it up. perhaps you just merely "sucked it up". But I do think that you need some guidance, here.

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Dear Openwindow,


Your name here says it all. You're looking out that window, looking at the greener lawns, the hope and possibilities, and your window is open right now, letting in some fresh air, fresh perspectives.


I am so sorry to hear about the troubles your husband is having with his employment. People cope with that many ways. So many people define themselves by their jobs. Think about it...when someone meets you, they ask what you do for a living. It's a horrible time.


You are really describing three problems. The first is that you find yourself in the difficult position of needing to be the quarterback and the cheerleader at the same time that you are dealing with two babies. I've had two under two and know how hard that is even without the other stresses. This is your time to be the grownup and you are doing it. I am glad you are here, talking to people. I hope you feel support here. You never know what the future holds - some day you could be in a situation where you are the one needing help because of a health problem, unemployment, or something worse. You described your husband originally as a very supportive person. If the tables were turned, do you think he'd have stepped up? He probably would have. It is just your turn. You can do this. Just don't lose yourself in it. Talk to him, scream to us.


The second is the unbelievable stress that two babies bring to even a very strong and passion-filled marriage. Time will heal this, too. It is going to be hard for a year or so more, and then having two that close together will be such a blessing. I am saying this as one who just watched her oldest finish his first year of college and her second about to graduate high school. I love how close in age they are and so do they. They will play with each other, take some pressure off of you eventually. It WILL get better. For now, get those cheesy matching outfits, take lots of photos and savor every single moment. It goes by faster than you can imagine.


The third is the most vexing. Eventually, your husband will find a job or crash and burn...there is a resolution to that. Your children will grow up. But what you are describing about not being sure you should have married your husband and not feeling that passion and breathlessness and butterflies... I know that very well. You could have been describing me. All I can tell you is that 24 years later I still am not in love, I still look out the window and wish I had what I see in other couples. It haunts me.


But let's get a few things straight. You did not make a mistake getting married. You made a choice and it was the right one at the time. You have learned a lot about yourself and you are gaining a strength you didn't know you could have. You have two children. They are not a mistake. This was right because it is what it is.


Now is not the time to dwell on whether or not you can try to fall in love with your husband or any of that. Now is time to be a mom and a wife. There are a lot of things you can do to help the situation - find time for yourself, find someone to watch the babies while you spend alone time with your husband, even just a walk in the park. Seriously consider counseling.


In a while, when the crisis of children and employment are more resolved, come to terms with what you need to do for yourself. You will know the answer, but you may or may not have the courage to go act on it. Don't stare too long out the window. Other men may try to climb in. You may lean out a little too far. There is a lot to lose. But above all, when the time is right, be honest with yourself. I wish I had done that for myself a long time ago.


I am saying all this as a person struggling with similar problems. I just re-read my posts from 4 years ago, when I was writing about the same problems I have now. The difference is, back then I was only peering through the window, trying to clean the dust and dirt to see myself more clearly. Eventually, I did lean out too far. It is a lot more complicated now, and the guilt is unbearable.


Most people here are going to put you in the "selfish * * * * * who doesn't appreciate or deserve the gifts she has" box or the "you just need to try harder and rekindle the spark" box...that's the spark you never had, not the spark you once had and lost. But you know yourself and you know the truth. There is something valid in every post here.


Don't use this as a way to validate your thinking one way or another. You are probably here just to let it out where you can be anonymous. Do that.


Hang in there. You CAN handle this.

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Marriage is definitely give and take, no argument there. There should never be a scorecard, I will agree with that as well. And I will agree with tankgirls view of people placing you in a box. Because thats part of what happens here. We've all had a similar problem be it on the giving or recieving end and therefore tend to compartmentalize people.

I,myself sympathize with your situation. While I have trouble understanding it fully having never doubted my marriage, I sympathize. There comes a point in every aspect of our lives where we second guess choices we've made, be it a job or financial decision or even should I really have eaten Thai food last night. We all do it.

As for your husband, would you want him to be a shoulder for you to lean on if you were going through a tough time? No matter how long? I agree you cant be all things to him all the time but it is your job as his wife to reassure him and help him to get through whatever he is going through no matter how long. He shouldnt drag it out any longer than necessary but still. Just as he would do for you.

It is possible to want what you've got. It takes work on both of your parts but it will work if you try. I believe that finding the reason you married him in the first place is where you will start to find the "spark" to ignite your fires for him, and he for you.

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