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I have been with my wife for 9 years, married for 5, and we have two small children, aged 5 and 3. However I have been unhappy in the marriage for a long time and I feel like I want to end it with her. We get on well and in some ways I really enjoy our time together. But romantically there has been nothing there from my perspective for a long time - while I think she is very attractive, I don't feel at all attracted to her (if that makes sense) - I dread us being intimate, and when we are I can't wait for it to be over. I feel that I want and need to be single, meet other people and have new experiences.

 

We actually separated for 2 months last year because I wanted to enter a relationship with someone else - that didn't work out and in the end we reconciled in November last year, but from my perspective it was more for the kids benefit and hers than my own because I felt so awful about it. I promised myself that I would give things a good try for at least a year, and it's been 9 months and I feel like every day is harder and harder, I have knots in my stomach because I feel awful about things but I just can't help but feel this way. I feel completely trapped by my situation - I want to minimise any pain but I don't know how that's possible given what I feel like I need to do. I'm also worried about things from a practical point of view - money, mortgage etc.

 

I will always be prominent in my kids' lives - I had them stay with me 3-4 nights a week when we separated before and would want the same again - but the impact on them is perhaps what worries me most of all (especially my 3-year-old, as he is on the autism spectrum and not communicating very well as it is) and adds significantly to my guilt.

 

Any advice on how I might proceed would be so welcome. Thank you!

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Ok move out, get an attorney and be prepared to live in a small apt, see your kids according to custody agreements, pay lots of child support and possibly alimony, lose at least half of all your assets, etc. Talk to a lawyer. Separated is a whole lot different than divorced.

I feel that I want and need to be single, meet other people and have new experiences.
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You were attracted to her when you met her 9 years ago and up to at least until 5 years ago when you chose her to be your wife. So what caused the attraction to end? Does she focus all her attention on the kids and none on you? Have you allowed yourself to emotionally cross boundaries, entering emotional affairs for the excitement? (Obviously you have, hence your 2 month break to be with the woman willing to cheat with you.) Have you both gotten lazy about keeping the spark alive, therefore losing an emotional connection?

 

We have no idea what your issues are. What I would say is that since you have children, you two should at least try marital counseling to see if things could improve. You owe that much to your family. If, after giving that a minimum of a year's try, and putting full effort into your behavior and homework, if you're still not feeling it, then at least you can say you gave it your best shot before throwing in the towel.

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I'm going to leave this here. This is by Cheryl Strayed, author and former advice columnist.

 

“Go, even though you love him.

Go, even though he is kind and faithful and dear to you.

Go, even though he's your best friend and you're his.

Go, even though you can't imagine your life without him.

Go, even though he adores you and your leaving will devastate him.

Go, even though your friends will be disappointed or surprised or pissed off or all three.

Go, even though you once said you would stay.

Go, even though you're afraid of being alone.

Go, even though you're sure no one will ever love you as well as he does.

Go, even though there is nowhere to go.

Go, even though you don't know exactly why you can't stay.

Go, because you want to.

Because wanting to leave is enough.”

 

― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar

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We have no idea what your issues are.

 

Thank you for your reply. I get that I was brief and detail was lacking - apologies, I was trying to summarise for readability purposes. To answer your questions, I previously allowed myself to cross emotional boundaries, leading to the new (albeit brief) relationship. When we reconciled I made a promise to myself that I would not do that again so that I could focus on making things work without outside influences or distractions. Re the spark, we both agreed, when we reconciled, that we had both been complacent in terms of the spark and agreed that we would work on it together. We did to a point but before long I started to feel as described above - that deep down I didn't have that romantic/physical spark for her any more. I feel like I've really tried but I can't get it back and can't force it.

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Ok move out, get an attorney and be prepared to live in a small apt, see your kids according to custody agreements, pay lots of child support and possibly alimony, lose at least half of all your assets, etc. Talk to a lawyer. Separated is a whole lot different than divorced.

 

Thank you - I appreciate your reply. I would be willing to accept the legal and financial ramifications if it came to it, as I certainly wouldn't want her or the kids to be detrimented in that sense, based on my feelings and actions.

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I would encourage you to speak to a family therapist who has experience dealing with separations. It will be pertinent to keep communication open and as healthy as possible with your wife as you two navigate this new phase - particularly as it relates to your child with special needs.

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Thank you sarahjay. It's poignant and to some extent reflects how I feel. I get that I am potentially giving up so much and that is what makes me not want to do it in so many ways. Though I feel like I will be living a lie unless I do. Hence my confusion. Thank you again :)

 

You're welcome. I wish you the best! Glad it resonated with you.

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I'm curious. If you've been unhappy with her for years- Why did you choose to have ANOTHER child with her??

 

I want to give you a little dose of reality here as someone who has been there- You will struggle to have time to date as a single father with two little kids, one of whom is special needs, especially if as you claim, you want to still have them with you most of the time. This only gets harder as a single parent, not easier. Your time will get eaten up on things that weren't there before, like transporting them back and forth to their mother's place. Divorce makes parenting MUCH more complicated AND time consuming.

 

Not to mention that a lot of single women will not dig dating a man with two little kids. Most women are going to wonder why you split from your wife when you basically have 2 little babies together. And that's just with casual dating. IMVHO, it will be even harder to find a woman who is willing to get serious with a man who is getting divorced with 2 little kids. Aside from the aforementioned wondering, it is asking a LOT of woman to take care of two little babies (one of whom is special needs) that are not her own. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it is challenging. I can tell you as a stepmom that struggled with taking on OLDER children (one of whom has special needs) and loving my husband enormously. To be 100% honest, even with as much as I loved him, if the kids had been younger, I don't think I could have done it. Most women want to have a say in raising little kids and if they feel like they can't, it's incredibly challenging when dealing with divorced parents- often a jealous mother who doesn't want anyone else "mothering" her babies (that I frankly understand to a degree) and having no rights of your own.

 

I mean- do what you gotta do. But I can tell you from my own experience- that dating is NOT going to be what you seem to imagine it will be. Take it form a divorcee- dating will NOT be the same as it was pre-marriage and you can't expect it to be. Even saying the D-word to potential dates is scary and that's before even mentioning kids, much less LITTLE kids. And parenting after divorce is VERY hard, even if the BEST of circumstances. Being separated is not the same. It's a whole other ball of wax. Trust me on this. Even if you aren't married to your current wife- she will always be your children's mother. It's not like you will EVER be 100% free from her. She is still going to be an ongoing presence in your daily life. In some ways, in order to co-parent, you will have to talk to her MORE and spend MORE time with her than you currently do. Then you have the issues of: co-parenting, getting along, opinions and conflicts, jealousy and the list goes on and on.

 

I don't condone staying in unhappy marriages. I just think you should know the reality that awaits you has it's own set of challenges that you should be prepared for. It will not be a "freeing" and "carefree" as you imagine. And that's BEFORE even considering going back to dating, which is enormously complicated post divorce, especially post divorce with little kids.

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It sounds like you are so stressed out that you are seeking escapes. Marriage and family therapy may help you.

we have two small children, aged 5 and 3. my 3-year-old, as he is on the autism spectrum and not communicating very well.
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You can trade this in for something new, but there will always be an issue. Relationships are not without issues.

 

So go ahead and trade this issue in for another issue. You'll find yourself in the same situation.

 

Marriages take work. I don't see where you really worked on this. If you did, you didn't share it. Marriage counseling, dates, etc.

 

You are no different (to a degree) than the next. 5 years in and two small children are the unsexiest along with the most challenging time of any marriage. You aren't feelin' it? Or things just got to real? That's your reason?

 

At the very least do everything you can before you blow up this family unit. That way, when you marry the second time, possibly have another child, trying to blend this family while still financially supporting your previous one, dealing with ex's on both sides, you'll look back, doing a face palm wondering what the heck you were thinking. You wont look back with regret and shame that you didn't at least try.

 

You are still distracted by the high you felt from your previous indiscretion and measuring your marriage based on that. Unless you want to spend the rest of your life chasing after that high (that doesn't last) I suggest you give this marriage everything you got before you decide to end it. Your kids deserve it.

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I have a bunch to say. But before you jump on the defensive, I am seeing a few things here based on what you are detailing and not detailing. How was your parents relationship? Are they still married? Are they happy? I feel that your complacency and turning outside of the marriage is based on what you've seen from your parents.

 

After 9 years together, a spark doesn't just happen. An emotional, intimate connection doesn't just happen. You need to date (WITHOUT THE KIDS), do things together, plan overnight trips, take the initiative to make plans.

 

What about do not not find attractive about your wife? Has she chose raising your kids over career? Has she put on 50 lbs, but no time to exercise? Do you help around the house or with the kids, like really help? Not like she nags you until you do it kind of help?

 

To be so honest here, you will find this with any woman you wind up. All your issues don't disappear with another woman. They will always be there at the end of the day unless you address them yourself. Cuz the common denominator is you. Noticed how you had a grass is greener on the other side moment, and it still didn't make you happy? When you are unhappy and don't love yourself, it's pretty hard to be happy around and love someone else.

 

I think you need to really figure out what exactly about your wife you are unhappy with, and where you are copable in this marriage.

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I disagree with "wanting to leave is enough". We all have our moments, our days, our phases (no I never wanted to "leave leave' meaning I wanted to leave for an evening, a few hours, when I was upset -and one time I did and went of all places to the local gay bookstore lol - and have I ever wanted to leave my child when things were really tough and I was exhausted? No, not "forever" but if someone told me they wanted to leave "forever" after a really hard day I wouldn't say "oh then you have to leave it means it's over). My late father I believe wanted to leave this Earth -he was suicidal - and he did not commit suicide in part because my mom was there to support and help him - but no, wanting to commit suicide didn't mean he should.

 

And in a marriage with children it's worth exploring the root of things, because "wanting" can be caused by so many things. And it may be that the wanting ends up being enough and you need to separate. I cannot imagine being your wife right now knowing that a short while ago you were with someone else - and wanting to be with you intimately/sexually. And i know you said you're not attracted to her anymore but I believe it takes two -that if the vibe and energy in the house is where one person wonders when the other shoe is going to drop, when the clothes are going to drop off of you -with another woman -I cannot imagine it's an environment primed for intimacy of any sort. Please try counseling.

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Soooo....you cheated on your wife and manipulated her into a separation so you can go test drive your new life with the side chic. Since that didn't work out so well, you came crawling back to "work" on your marriage, but you are still a cheater and still looking to justify that and shifting blame onto your wife for your marriage not working. So so cheater textbook 101.

 

So, do your wife and kids a huge favor and go ahead and divorce. Agree to a healthy settlement, pay your child support, pay alimony and otherwise go fck whoever you want. Enjoy your freedom and leave your family out of your disordered ways. Your wife deserves at least that much from you since you can't do any better. It's a situation where everyone will be better off. Drop the "good dad" act too while you are at it. Good fathers don't go cheating on their children's mothers. You aren't fooling anyone with your bs. You aren't trapped, you are a very bad liar.

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Soooo....you cheated on your wife and manipulated her into a separation so you can go test drive your new life with the side chic. Since that didn't work out so well, you came crawling back to "work" on your marriage, but you are still a cheater and still looking to justify that and shifting blame onto your wife for your marriage not working. So so cheater textbook 101.

 

So, do your wife and kids a huge favor and go ahead and divorce. Agree to a healthy settlement, pay your child support, pay alimony and otherwise go fck whoever you want. Enjoy your freedom and leave your family out of your disordered ways. Your wife deserves at least that much from you since you can't do any better. It's a situation where everyone will be better off. Drop the "good dad" act too while you are at it. Good fathers don't go cheating on their children's mothers. You aren't fooling anyone with your bs. You aren't trapped, you are a very bad liar.

 

Agree with all of this!

 

You are a crap husband and father.

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Soooo....you cheated on your wife and manipulated her into a separation so you can go test drive your new life with the side chic. Since that didn't work out so well, you came crawling back to "work" on your marriage, but you are still a cheater and still looking to justify that and shifting blame onto your wife for your marriage not working. So so cheater textbook 101.

 

So, do your wife and kids a huge favor and go ahead and divorce. Agree to a healthy settlement, pay your child support, pay alimony and otherwise go fck whoever you want. Enjoy your freedom and leave your family out of your disordered ways. Your wife deserves at least that much from you since you can't do any better. It's a situation where everyone will be better off. Drop the "good dad" act too while you are at it. Good fathers don't go cheating on their children's mothers. You aren't fooling anyone with your bs. You aren't trapped, you are a very bad liar.

 

You know what, you are right and I'm sorry I didn't see this perspective and this side as clearly as you put it. I started to go there but needed to go further as you did.

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Reinvent articulated it very well in post #12 and Wiseman headlined it. I agree with the other members also along the lines of learning to recognize where you went wrong and asking yourself what you want out of your marriage and whether you are willing to put the work into it.

 

When I first married my husband it was fine. What we didn't realize were cracks in the marriage and we uncovered issues together that were previously not apparent in the relationship at all in the years prior to the marriage. It was not easy and I think all marriages or long term relationships are a work in progress. There is no shame in saying that it's a lot of work and it's not easy to keep the construct or idea of marriage and that level of commitment high and very much alive betweeen two dynamic people living their own lives. Add a child into the mix and it can become confusing quickly or weigh/influence ideas about marriage heavily while negating individual thoughts or feelings. It's important to recognize and develop your own feelings and ideas on what marriage means to you.

 

Some of us have access to long term marriages or memories of marriages in our childhood or amongst elders where we have witnessed two people working things out consistently. Others have not been so lucky. My husband and I come from different backgrounds so his problem-solving approaches are different from mine. Tattoobunnie touched on some good points. Try and be willing to recognize where your strengths come from and where your weaknesses also originate. It might also be helpful to develop your ideas about what a marriage means.

 

I read an old(er) article on National Affairs the other day regarding two different marriage models that have evolved through the 60s to present. I managed to find a link. You can browse through it here if you have time. https://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-evolution-of-divorce. The article is called Evolution of Divorce by Brad Wilcox and it was published in the Fall 2009 issue but it's still very interesting in terms of the history of marriage and divorce, the causes, the effects of divorce and how children of divorce are affected by the dissolution of marriage. It also touches on common law marriages or cohabitation.

 

I have not always been a strong proponent of marriage and I didn't come built with all the answers. I had to create my own ideas of what it means and, at times, encourage more discussions within my own marriage on what it should or could be to our family. In other words, we had to develop our ideas. It didn't come naturally. And I felt I had to test it against different ideas of what I felt was right or wrong, comfortable or uncomfortable, doable or not doable over time.

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We did to a point but before long I started to feel as described above - that deep down I didn't have that romantic/physical spark for her any more. I feel like I've really tried but I can't get it back and can't force it.

 

Reading this makes my heart break for your wife. There's nothing more romantic than when a woman gives her heart to a man to protect and treasure (she did this when she married you). I realize you are not attracted to her like you used to be, but instead of allowing your feelings to conclude that you "can't get it back" why not at the very least do marriage counseling so you can discuss these feelings in a neutral environment so that a third party can help BOTH of you deal with this.

 

She is the mother of your children, she trusted her heart to you, she even had patience and forgiveness for you when you explored a separation to pursue a new relationship. This woman clearly loves you, and I'm sure has struggle with her attraction to you during and probably after that separation phase.

 

I don't know, I guess I have a hard time relating. Maybe you should read up on men regretting their divorce and leaving their wife to pursue "happiness". There are many people who regret divorce and realize what they had was what they set out to look for, only to return and see their wife has remarried and moved on.

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I'm curious. If you've been unhappy with her for years- Why did you choose to have ANOTHER child with her??

 

Thanks for your reply. I didn't feel that way when we had our second child. I've been gradually feeling this way more and more over the last couple of years.

 

I appreciate your other advice too - by no means do I think things will be easy, straightforward or carefree. I came onto this forum for advice because I wanted perspectives such as yours. By no means am I proud of how I feel or happy about it - I just want to work out what the best thing is to do, and how to do it.

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Marriages take work. I don't see where you really worked on this. If you did, you didn't share it. Marriage counseling, dates, etc.

 

As mentioned in a previous post, I didn't write my whole relationship history in my original post for ease of reading for people like yourself - appreciate that some detail was missing. Marriage counselling has not yet been tried (we discussed it when we reconciled but never arranged it). I/we have put a lot of time into each other - dates, days out without the kids, nights away without the kids. We talk a lot about how we feel, open up to each other about a lot and have a close relationship. I can't hand on heart say I've tried everything - as I say, we haven't yet tried counselling, and I have tried to arrange counselling for myself to help me to get a handle on things, but there are huge waiting lists and/or it is prohibitively expensive. This is why I have come onto this forum, as I desperately wanted some advice from others.

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I have a bunch to say. But before you jump on the defensive, I am seeing a few things here based on what you are detailing and not detailing. How was your parents relationship? Are they still married? Are they happy? I feel that your complacency and turning outside of the marriage is based on what you've seen from your parents.

 

After 9 years together, a spark doesn't just happen. An emotional, intimate connection doesn't just happen. You need to date (WITHOUT THE KIDS), do things together, plan overnight trips, take the initiative to make plans.

 

What about do not not find attractive about your wife? Has she chose raising your kids over career? Has she put on 50 lbs, but no time to exercise? Do you help around the house or with the kids, like really help? Not like she nags you until you do it kind of help?

 

I've responded to the first point in another reply - aside from counselling (individual or couple), I/we have done lots to strengthen our connection. Dates, days/nights away, making time for each other, listening to and caring for each other.

 

In terms of your second point - this is the problem I have, she may have put on a little weight or whatever, but I do still think she is attractive, beautiful in fact, but I don't feel attracted to her - I want to and I wish I did and could but I can't force it. I proactively help around the house with keeping things clean and tidy, doing things with the kids (all four of us or taking them out so that my wife has a break).

 

In terms of your last point - yes, clearly the issue is with me and I don't for a minute blame my wife for anything. She is amazing, beautiful, kind and thoughtful, everything that a man would want in a wife. I hate myself for feeling the way I do but I can't help it.

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