Haeogruvb Posted June 30, 2017 Share Posted June 30, 2017 Hi. I've never done this sort of thing before, but I have such a huge problem at the heart of my otherwise fantastic life that I feel the need to start asking for help. And I feel the need to tell the story of my marriage, which I have never fully told to anyone before. I hope this is a good place to do it. It's a long and complex story, to be sure, but I'm told I'm good at writing those. It's also not a typical relationship tale, so my hope is that you'll find it diverting enough that its length will not offend. J and I have been together for over 15 years — five as friends, then five dating, and now over five married. We're both solvent professionals, have a beautiful home and a wonderful daughter. We have always held practically identical worldviews on the vast majority of topics, and share many common interests that we enjoy spending our time together on. Our sex life is somewhat intermittent, but not terrible by any means. There's never been any physical abuse or infidelity between us. I grew up in a highly dysfunctional household, no alcohol or drugs but with constant bickering and screaming anyway, along with a handful of police interventions and emergency room visits. Still have the scars, as does my father. I never really got the chance to become a good person when I was a kid, but once I was an adult I made it my life's goal. I embarked on half a decade of weekly therapy with a good psychologist a few years after growing up, and slowly learned how to be something akin to a normal, stable human being. Along the way I learned to swallow my pride, among many other things, and now have a very amicable (if a little distant) relationship with my parents. I'm on excellent terms with both of my siblings. J and her girlfriend S had been my best friends for years, but we had eventually drifted apart, largely because I had found J to be too overbearing and offensive to put up with any more. About a year later, J contacted me, heartbroken because S, who had recently moved to a different part of the country, had broken up with her. I started spending time with her again, trying to console her and help her put her life back together. J started hitting on me during this time, clearly a rebound effect. I considered this inappropriate and resisted J's advances, but because I was attracted to her I also never asked her to stop. This combination did nothing but intensify her resolve. Eight months later, I finally gave in. We were getting along great, I was falling in love with her and was ready for a change in my life, which I knew she would bring, by force if she had to. J told S about our relationship almost immediately, and then told me that S was okay with it. This was a lie. As it turned, J was still with S, and had been hiding this fact from me the whole time. What J led me to believe was a budding relationship was actually an affair. Though her true relationship was long-distance and very much on the rocks, J had surreptitiously continued it for the better part a year. Her situation with S deteriorating rapidly over her continuing infidelities, J finally admitted the truth to me one night, more than a month after we started sharing a bed. This revelation was nothing short of devastating to me. The three of us had been extremely close for almost the entire time we'd known each other, inseparable for years on end. I had practically lived with them, gone on countless road trips with them, contributed designs for their wedding rings. That I should be a source of damage to a relationship I had spent so much time supporting — celebrating even — was more than I could bear. What followed is something I've not spoken of to anyone in over a decade. I went into a fugue state, barely able to speak or move for close to an hour. J took advantage of me sexually during this time, apparently thinking it was what I needed from her. I found this appalling, but I felt completely disconnected from my body and unable to do anything about it. When I failed to react, she got frustrated and rolled away. After about ten minutes I managed get up and found my voice, but all I could say, dazed and leaning against her nightstand in the dark, was to ask how this had happened, that it was like all the goodness and light had drained from the world. J, shocked, asked me what was going on. When I was unable to answer, she asked if she had just raped me. A moment she observed, quietly, that it was the kind of question that if it had to be asked, then one already knew the answer. I started to leave but J was desperate for me to forgive her right the on the spot. She offered to do anything, to break up with S and to get together with me for real, to be my girlfriend for real. I should have broken it off immediately and then tried to find some way to apologize to S, but in deep pain and still in love, I accepted J's offer. The next day, recovered, she took me shopping for some new clothes. Afterwards, she casually asked me never to speak of it again to anyone, apparently trying to buy my silence concerning the accidental rape with blue jeans and some nice shirts. I agreed, if only because it wasn't something I wanted to talk about to anyone anyway. J eventually worked up the courage to formally break up with S. And for a few, short wonderful months, J and I were getting along again. We were in the bliss of a new relationship, this time a real one. Our happiness was not to last. S refused to speak to me again for years over the betrayal, even as J patched things up with her and continued a very active (but I believe genuinely platonic) friendship. Because of S's hatred of me for "stealing her girlfriend" (which J was only too happy to allow her to believe), I was expected to be pretend to be elsewhere during J's long spur-of-the-moment phone calls with her, which were at first heart-wrenching (J putting S on speakerphone whenever S started weeping) but eventually just casual. Even long after J and I had moved in together, I had to disappear entirely whenever S was in town. This constant reminder of the misdeeds which had forged our union was deeply painful for me, but when I asked J to bring it to an end she responded with hostility. Thus did our relationship begin to erode, right from the very start. I was a few years into my therapy at when J and I hooked up, and doing well. The last thing I wanted in the world then was another relationship of constant bickering and screaming, but I had known little else up to then. Even the endless fighting I'd witnessed for years between J and S (which was almost always J's fault) had seemed relatively tame to me, and J in any case now seemed much better than she had been before. I thought I knew was I was getting into, and that I could handle it. I was wrong. Once the honeymoon period faded, J's attitude towards me soon became even more overtly hostile than it had been with S, and the relationship would have probably ended quickly had she not deliberately gone off birth control in order to get pregnant (without telling me), six months after we got together. Still caring about her as I did, I could hardly ask her to get an abortion — she'd already had one in a much earlier relationship and she had described it as the single most traumatic event of her life. But neither could I fathom subjecting an innocent child to being raised by her alone. So I stayed. And I kept staying. And I'm still staying now. For the first eight years of our relationship (dating then marriage), J was verbally abusive, condescending, overtly controlling and critical of my every act. Early on she started throw my things away (including valuable antiques and family heirlooms) while I wasn't around, for no other reason than that she didn't "need" them and that they were taking up too much space. She would speak ill of me to everyone we knew, both in front of me and when I wasn't around. She got into huge fights herself with all of my existing friends from the start, until after just a couple of years I literally didn't have any left. I avoided making any new ones for five long years after that. I would ultimately win every hours-long conflict with her through stubborn reason and the hard-earned endurance for such things that my childhood had granted me. Once exhausted, she'd she'd see the error of her ways and apologize sincerely, but then she'd be yelling at me again (frequently about the exact same things) a day or two later. To be sure, I had to make plenty of apologies of my own during this time — having been trained from birth to fight back when attacked, I did not typically maintain my composure, though thanks to my therapy I nearly always recovered it. There were many lines that I drew for myself, and did not cross even when enraged at her. As you can well imagine, however, the fact that our kid spent the most formative years of her life watching her parents yell at each other just as mine had (and often trying to stop them, just as I had) is one of my deepest regrets in life. At J's insistence, I chose to give up my existing career to go to college full time during the first three years we were together, taking summer classes to graduate early. She used her superior financial position in those circumstances to try to dominate me on a daily basis, berating me on multiple occasions for using too much toilet paper in the bathroom and for purchasing coffee for myself while out on errands, to cite just a couple of examples. She justified this by repeatedly claiming that we were "poor," though between her income as a scientist and my numerous part-time jobs we were firmly in the middle class. J wanted me to become a teacher, in part because her mother had suggested it, having seen that I was good with children. I told J repeatedly that had no interest in such a career, but for half my college career she kept pushing me towards it anyway, to no avail. She made it very clear that I wasn't doing college the way she wanted me to. She constantly complained about the time I had to put in for school, going so far as to compare it to an "affair" to a neighbor on one occasion, even though it was what she herself had demanded of me and something I was succeeding at greatly. Even that very success was a source of ire for her — she insisted repeatedly that straight A's, academic awards and college presidencies were not necessary things to have. (These achievements ultimately led to me getting the kind of job that most people would give their left arm for.) Acknowledging that my studies were if nothing else starting to shift more of the burden of parenting on her, I took to doing my schoolwork throughout the night while she and our daughter slept. This did have the effect of easing her attacks, but not for long. She treated our daughter a bit better, but not by much. She would berate her for the slightest infraction from practically the moment I cut the umbilical cord. Once when our child was one year old, I heard J threaten to smash her against the wall if she didn't cease some offensive activity. On another occasion she snapped at her for almost stepping on J's shoe lying on the kitchen floor. I would always intervene, but the hostilities would never end. I learned around this time from a friend of the family that J was considering getting pregnant again, against my will, in the same manner that she had done before. The friend talked her out of it, calling it a violation of my reproductive rights. J later confessed as much to me of her own accord. On the day of our marriage, my bride-to-be showed up at the house a couple of hours before the wedding and screamed at me in front of all my friends and family, because I had forgotten to give our daughter a nap. In the first solo conversation we'd had face-to-face in half a decade, S and I finally buried the hatchet later that evening, at the reception. I told her part of the story of how J and I had really gotten together, sparing her the worst of it. Married herself now, S had had a few drinks and was pretty emotional over the wedding, but I think she understood. We're still not really friends anymore, but we get along perfectly fine now on the rare occasions that we see each other. Her wife and her are still together, and now have two kids of their own. Eight years in, things were at an all-time low with J. I had started my legal career the year before and was now making considerably more than she herself was, but J still took every opportunity to lambast me for spending money on anything at all, even though our finances could hardly have been in better shape. I did all the work on getting a mortgage for our first house (an bona fide dream home) while she was in Spain with a couple of friends, marathon shopping during the day and calling me at night to rip into me about how immature I was for finally getting the tattoo I'd been planning for the past year, to commemorate my recent achievements. I heard later that she was complaining the whole time to her friends that I was somehow "forcing" her to buy a home that she hated, which (having seen the house) they both found ridiculous. By a few months later hostilities were at a peak. I told my wife than I needed some space, and I started sleeping on a futon in my study. I was not myself hostile about it, and indeed went out of my way to treat her with respect and kindness during this time, but that backfired and drove her off the deep end altogether. After about ten days of this she took my daughter to a luxury hotel in another state against my will, claiming she needed "space." There was no recent direct conflict that precipitated this — it was simply to get back at me for sleeping apart form her. She picked a fight with me from the very start about it via text message. She went with a good mutual friend, C (one of her Spain trip companions), in whom I had reluctantly confided concerning our marital woes a few months before. C, a divorcee who had recently been through a lot of heartbreak, was having a very difficult moment with her ex, whom she was going to this hotel to have a hard talk with. C knew nothing of J's motives at the onset — she indeed thought J was tagging along to be supportive in a time of need, and to let their kids play together at the attached water park. Instead, J abandoned C to try to deal with her ex and all three kids at the same time, while J prosecuted her fight with me. J took a hard situation for C and turned it into a disaster by negligently dumping our dirty laundry all over it, for no other reason than to punish me. C sharply intervened with J afterwards, read the texts, and condemned J's behavior. Over the course of a long conversation shortly thereafter, she managed to finally open J's eyes to the fact that C (and many other people we knew) would give nearly anything to have the life J so thoroughly took for granted. According to J, it was at this time that J realized that she was on the verge of losing me, and that life would be much, much harder for her without me. Her personality appeared to change overnight. The shift was so sudden that I can still pin down the exact date that it happened — April 8, 2015. Suddenly J was kind to me, warm, tolerant, respectful, deferential even. She went out of her way to do nice things for me and expressed no objections to any of the multitude of things I did that would have always provoked criticism from her in the past, however unjustified that criticism might have been. And she stayed that way. At first I was overjoyed. It was like a genie had come down out of the sky and granted my heart's desire. For close to a year I was floating on a cloud. After a while, though, the fog of constant stress finally gone from my brain, I came to understand three important facts: First and foremost, while J has changed her behavior towards me, she is still treating our daughter the same as she always did, though still not as bad as she treated me. I'm still constantly having to intervene and calmly tell J to back off and tone it down. I had to ask her yet again to stop calling our kid an "A**h***" as recently as yesterday. She listens respectfully and acknowledges my concerns constructively, but still hasn't managed to actually do anything about it. Second, J has repeatedly stated that it was her fear of being alone that at last allowed her to appreciate that I was a positive force I was in her life. I am not of the opinion that fear can truly effect positive change, and indeed she has recently commented to me that on the inside she's still very much the same as she's always been — she just knows now that mistreating me isn't something that she can get away with. And finally, at some point during the years and years of constant abuse she hurled at both me and my kid, I stopped being in love with J. Over two years later, that's still where we are. Mind you, things are dramatically better than they were — I have friends again, I'm hardly ever stressed, I've lost weight in a good way and have a stable and genuinely happy family. My daughter is smart, witty and kind, and very much the light of my life. And J has an active and pleasant social life, not getting into conflicts with others anywhere near as much as she used to. Everything is better than it has ever been, for all of us. It's a thing I never dared hope was possible, the single greatest event that has ever happened to us. But I don't love my wife. I do respect her, and admire the progress she has made, so much like my own earlier in my life. I'm still attracted to her physically, much of the time. I'm very concerned for her well-being. I like her, even, now more than ever. But I don't love her. I haven't for many years and I'm quite sure I never will again. I'm pretty sure I don't want to love her again. And I don't like living with her either. I care about her a great deal, but were it not for our daughter I would have filed for divorce ages ago. But I haven't told J that. Every other problem of consequence that I've had with her I've articulated to her very well, but never this one. That's not just because it would hurt her a lot, the idea of which by itself pains me tremendously. It's not just because having divorced parents would be hard on our child. Those things are both horrible, but by themselves they're at least survivable. It's because if I tell her that, this amazing state of being I fought so hard to achieve for all of us (and that she's fought for too) simply shatters. Two years ago, a couple of weeks after after J's revelation about my positive (or at least "anti-negative") role in her life, she received a surprise diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder after a sleep study. It explained a lot. It basically means she spends most of her time being terrified of nearly everything, internally obsessing over all the imagined hardships that any and all events in the present might cause in the future. This fear gets internalized and comes out as unreasoning anger. It's a condition that's nothing short of disabling. I've been telling myself for eight years (somewhat ridiculously) that as soon as my kid grows up and moves out, I'm out the door as well. But that date is still a decade away, at best. I'll be well on my way to old and grey by then. And in the meantime I'm just acting, playing the role of a loving husband when in truth all that I really am is a good friend, and a caring father. And the thing is, she can't tell that I'm pretending! Not one bit. Like both of my siblings, I have a strong facility for acting, and this is a role I've had many long years to perfect. Any discrepancies J notices, she just chalks up to her condition, which already had her thinking the worst of me in every way she could imagine since practically the day we hooked up. I could dispel the illusion with four words at any moment, and it would catch her utterly off guard, to terrible effect. It's a strange kind of innocence, but there it is, and for all that she's put me through I still don't want to do that to her, not only for her own sake (she can't help her disability, after all) but because of what she would do to us. One thing that's always topped her list of "most terrifying things ever" is the prospect of my breaking up with her, a terror which you will note ultimately enabled her transformation in attitude. She would confide towards the end of every third argument that she assumed the whole time that I was about to break up with her. She still does that today, on the very rare occasions that we still get into it. If I were to so much as suggest a temporary separation, J would absolutely lose her mind. All bloody hell would break loose as her only enduring motivation for civility evaporated. It would be ugly again, and this time it would not get better. My daughter would be in the crossfire for the rest of her childhood and then some. This great (and so far successful) experiment of a functional, stable family would end, and be replaced with wretched misery. I'm living a lie, to be sure, but it has been the most beneficial lie ever told. Things may not be perfect but because of this one lie my wife is happy, my daughter's happy, and my own life is truly good for the first time since it began. It's nearly everything I've ever wanted — the best kid a parent could hope for, dream house, dream job, the universal admiration of my peers and colleagues and the respect of my spouse. We're talking about expanding the home, to build a great and beautiful new master bedroom with a million-dollar view. We're talking about adopting. But I don't love my wife. So what do I do? Link to comment
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