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My marriage is perfect, and I can't take it anymore


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I'm going to try and make this as concise as I can. I normally hate talking to anyone about this stuff, but I feel like I'm going to fall apart if I don't start talking to someone. Trying to find a counselor right now, but in the meantime maybe you good people will have some insight. My disclaimer here is that I know I'm a p.o.s. and I shouldn't feel any of this; but I do, so I'm trying to figure out how to handle it.


I married my wife, M, 5 years ago. We have a 2.5 year old and another one on the way. It's been a very long, rough road for us. She and I are very different, in most ways. We do have similar goals in life, but that's about where it stops. Why did we get married? There were probably a few reasons, but I think the biggest for me was that I wanted to be in a committed relationship, and I liked the idea of my wife--I probably wasn't ready for the reality of her. She's a really amazing woman, and I don't have a bad thing to say about her, but the differences in personality, interests, world-views, etc. have just made it really hard.

Having said that, about 6 months ago, we had some communications breakthroughs, and things were really looking up. The last 6 months were probably the best of our marriage, and I thought we had finally cleared the worst of it.


Then I had a dream. In this dream, I was at a family event with an ex-girlfriend from 10 years ago. Nothing really happened in the dream; I was just there, and she was there, but I had this overwhelming sense of belonging and peace. To give some context, I don't really believe in soulmates, but if there were such a thing, this girl would be mine. I've never felt so in-harmony with anyone like I did with her when we were together. Our breakup was super messy, and I've never truly gotten over it, but I always figured moving forward with other relationships, getting married, etc. would eventually push her out of my heart.


It has worked periodically. I would gradually start to forget about her, focus on the present, and I would feel ok. And then a dream or memory would come to me and wreck me for months. I figured that my marriage was really rocky, and it was natural to long for old loves--I figured that my real problem was with my marriage; I just had to get that sorted and then everything would fall into place. I would be happy, forget the girl, ride off into the sunset with my family. And for the last 6 months it was working, and then I had that stupid dream.


Only this time there is a difference. My marriage is actually really good these days. We finally understand how to communicate, when to give each other space, when to apologize, when to ask for help, etc. etc. I honestly can't point to a single reason why I should be unhappy in my marriage, but the sense of peace and belonging that I felt just dreaming about my ex made me take a hard look at myself. Why don't I feel peace and belonging in my happy marriage? It's really hard to say for certain, but my current theory is that because my wife and I look at life and the world so differently, I have slowly started to shut down the deepest parts of myself because I know she won't ever "get" them. I've really tried to open up that side of me, but it's really like talking to a wall. My wife isn't dumb or anything; she just can't see things the way I see them sometimes. That wouldn't be a big deal if it were casual or inconsequential stuff, but it's what makes me who I am, the reasons I do what I do--she just doesn't get it. But my ex did. Somehow she always got it.


My ex and I have had some contact over the years (even during my marriage)--in some ways there was an emotional affair for a little while, but I really backed off because I knew fixing my marriage was the right course of action, and I just needed to get over this girl. That was 3 years ago. Anyways, every time we talked, it was like I was speaking my native language for the first time in a long time. I bring this up to say that I'm not just daydreaming about a girl from a decade ago who probably doesn't remember me--it's more than a pipe dream.


So I guess the conundrum is that I've lost all hope. It was like a punch in the stomach when I realized that even at the peak of my marriage, when I really truly feel like we've made progress and it's going to work out, I realize that I feel like a stranger in my home, like there is a big, deeper part of me that my wife won't ever understand or even know that she doesn't understand. And there's this other woman out there who does understand, and we could be happy together. But of course, doing that would wreck my family, hurt my amazing wife, hurt my children. Probably hurt me in many ways. On the other hand, staying in my marriage, always feeling isolated--it's already changed me in many ways that I don't like, and I'm afraid I will become bitter and mean. That would be equally awful for everyone.


Like I said, I know I'm a horrible person, a worthless husband. Feel free to reiterate that. But if you have any other thoughts, those could be helpful too. Thanks either way.

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You are living in a fantasy world. You don't know that your ex is your soul mate, because frankly, she isn't the same person you knew years ago.

You keep running back to this fantasy when either you have problems in your marriage or get complacent. But it doesn't mean it's real, or could ever be real.

For all you know, you could run back to this ex and it could be far worse than things are now. This ex might not be able to work through problems with you or might not be anything like you remember.

You are making it all up because it's easier to believe in a fantasy than to live with reality.


Marriage is hard at times. It can be work. It is not all roses and sunshine. But this woman you have married has proven her commitment to you and has proven her longevity and loyalty.

That means something and that needs to be respected.

It is more than wrong to keep bringing up this ex. If she was so great, you should have stayed with her but you didn't, because as you said, it got messy. And for all you know, it could have gotten whole lot messier and she might not have been anything that you're thinking she was/is.

Let go of the past.


You have a wife who is trying to make a life with you, and you have a child who deserves a family.

There is no perfection. We all have differences, that's reality. But you fell in love with this woman, and married her, and created a baby together for some reason. You need to focus on those reasons now and stop betraying her with these fantasies.

Your child and your wife deserve your full attention . If you feel you need marriage counselling, then go to marriage counselling, but this is your family now, you need to do everything you can to make it work.

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Your ex being so perfect is all in your mind. If she was really that compatible you wouldn't have broken up. Thinking that she would be better is a fantasy. Let go of that for a start. If she was really right, you would have got together a long time ago. As for your wife it sounds like you focus on things that are missing rather than the wonderful things you DO have. Familiarity breeds contempt in any relationship and what keeps it going is acceptance of their imperfections and appreciation for the things that they DO provide. I think that trying to fulfil all your emotional needs through one person is placing an unfair amount of responsibility on them. Family and same sex friends along with hobbies can be used as alternative outlets. Appreciation about what you DO have, focus on the strong points and choosing what you do have over fantasy are keys. Any relationship takes work after the first few years.

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It's just you cheating

Stop the silly excuses.


What to do:

1. Dump the 'all pretty on the outside, dead and rotted on the inside', home wrecker.

2. Tell your wife about your cheating, and start enjoying a real woman, instead of nightmare.

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I see things a bit differently than the other posters, because I have been through something similar.

Ironically, the fact that a person is amazing, nice and makes a wonderful partner is not enough. This is a reality hard to accept, because it doesn't really make sense. And yet, yes, somebody can be wonderful on the paper and yet be so different from us that we get no fulfillment out of being with him/her. I understand what you mean, OP. If your wife is too different from you it becomes a matter of compatibility, and no matter how hard you try to fix it, in my opinion compatibility is not something one can fix - it's either there or it isn't. In your case, it isn't.


I also believe in certain people having a certain affinity towards one another, a certain bond that can't be explained, I don't know if I should call it 'soul mate' but yeah, there are people out there we just click with, whether we want it or not, whether it makes sense or not. It is not a guarantee that we will (or should) end up with these people, and that's the tragedy of it all.


You are in a very tough position, because too many people stand to get hurt if you follow your heart. But if you don't, then you're not happy. And just because in theory you *should* be happy because you have all the necessary conditions for that to be the case, it doesn't mean you are. In fact, you aren't.


What would you do if your ex didn't exist? Or if she existed, but you lost touch with her 10 years ago never to hear from her again? What is your ex thinking now, what is her situation, would she be willing to be with you again, had you gotten a divorce? If so, maybe it would be for the best to split with your wife and pursue something with your ex. Your wife, being such a great woman, deserves a man who is into her fully and who appreciates everything she has to offer, someone who is on the same page as her; let's face it, you're not it. You also deserve to be happy, and clearly you're not. But as long as you keep lingering in this not-so-happy situation, neither one of you will have a chance at living a life the way it should be lived.


Things may not work out with your ex, but that's always a cr*p shoot anyways. It's a risk you will have to take, should you pursue this avenue. There are no guarantees, and you know it. So you have to weigh the pros and cons of each option you have, and go with the one that feels right to you. It's a horrible position to be in, especially when nice people stand to get hurt. I know you feel guilty, and that only adds to your confusion and anxiety. I can't tell you to do this or that, because I don't know what's the best thing to do either. I guess I just wanted to say that you're not a bad person, and that this type of situations happen, you are not the only one this has happened to.


Good luck, take your time to really think about things and let us know how it goes.

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In the beggining relationships are usually a dream sounds like your ex stung you bad and now you want to go back to someone who really didn't stick it out with you..Not sure how you are really contemplating her again..I'm betting you will be dropped again or end up hurt again.

Sounds to me that your wife is an awesome woman..so awesome that you felt safe enough to have children with but you aren't thinking straight..you are cutting yourself a bad deal here so think over what.yoy are doing. Marriage has its ups.downs thats life no one is perfect so you need to put.your energy into developing your relationship and realise that you dodged the bullet.from.your ex so don't go back..

If things were that bad at home I would understand but it sounds to me that you have a good woman and that is a rare.find..

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It was a dream and not reality.


Not all marriages should be saved and many were begun for all the wrong reasons. Leave your fantasy girl out of this because she has nothing to do with the way you are thinking. Find a good therapist and dig deep into your unhappiness and see what you find. I would bet if you married your ex you would find something wrong with her after a time and be thinking about some other fantasy woman that could MAKE you happy.


This isn't about your ex or your wife, this is about you. If after you have figured yourself out you still feel the marriage is not healthy then do your wife a favor and start the process of ending it in the most caring and loving way possible.


During this time you should have zero contact with your emotional affair.


Reality can NEVER complete with fantasy.



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  • 4 weeks later...

No relationship is perfect. It sounds like you need to REALLY THINK about what you want. I'm sure your ex has definitely moved on by now. If your feeling lost you NEED to talk to your wife because if your thinking about all this and leaving her over a dream she deserves to know

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Emotional affairs are a powerful thing. Fantasies can go on for years and years, and you build up the person in your mind and believe they are really the one. The truth is, you don't know if they are. They could be terrible communicators, you could just be lusting after them, and if you ever do get together chances are they're not gonna be as great as you built them up to be. Also remember, you can't connect on every level with everyone, so you have to choose what's more important to you- fun or love and family. You have a committed woman who is open and willing to grow with you and support you and your beautiful family.

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I see things a bit differently than the other posters, because I have been through something similar.

Ironically, the fact that a person is amazing, nice and makes a wonderful partner is not enough. This is a reality hard to accept, because it doesn't really make sense. And yet, yes, somebody can be wonderful on the paper and yet be so different from us that we get no fulfillment out of being with him/her. I understand what you mean, OP. If your wife is too different from you it becomes a matter of compatibility, and no matter how hard you try to fix it, in my opinion compatibility is not something one can fix - it's either there or it isn't. In your case, it isn't.


I would be with you if you were talking about a new relationship, but this is a marriage he wholeheartedly committed to - a woman he exchanged vows with. His wife is not a product where if he doesn't get a certain fulfillment level, he takes her back to the store. We have to feel fulfillment in ourselves - not from another person. He finally put the time into his marriage and he and his wife are communicating very well and have a lovely child with another on the way. Marriage is work - its not just about who makes us feel fulfilled/strokes our ego at the moment. and you bring that sense of fulfillment to your spouse, as they do to you. And people who have some things that are different or opposite bring that as a benefit to the marriage.


I wish you the best and think that you need to cut off your ex in every way possible. Even if she is not doing the contacting - disconnect from her on social media, etc, don't seek her out - face all obstacles and challenges in life with your wife instead of running away into a fantasy. you have built a life with your wife - you didn't with your ex. that counts for something

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