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Really conflicted on life's next steps. Any advice?


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Hi all. I posted here years ago and it was actually amazing because it helped work some things out, gave me a bit of a reality check and set me down a path of trying to make things better. And it did make things better. I can't find the thread but basically my starting point was me asking how I get through a marriage without real love. And through the comments, I realised I needed to work on myself and actually try to be a better husband. I had a big open conversation with my wife and we started a process and things between us got much better. That was quite a number of years ago... and things are still better than they were. But after some time, I could see it didn't quite really fix what was at the core and going through the years has given me more clarity on it and now I don't know what to do.

I'm late 40s. My wife is amazing. She is kind, funny and wonderful. We make a fantastic team. We're strong together. You know when people say they married their best friend? That's me. We have kids. We're not terrible parents. So everything looks pretty wonderful from the outside and, largely they are. We're like fantastic roommates.

But when I came to this forum initially, it's because I felt a huge dark hole. Something missing. And it was consuming me. It was a lack of love but, in a way, it was unknowable. I felt like ending my marriage many times but, with life actually being okay, that seemed nuts - end it for what? To chase some unknowable thing and hope my life would get better? Probably die alone somewhere after a life of regrets.

So I put my focus on fixing things. On actually seeing what I have and making it better. I did a lot of work on myself and our relationship (honestly, a lot of problems were down to me and I needed to acknowledge that). And we got along much better through that process. It strengthened all those things that were working. 

That hole never quite went away. It has been growing. When so much of my life is actually pretty good, this hole torments me. The reality is that the love I have for my wife is not enough. I love her as a friend and a room mate. And now with some time and a long process of working through things, I think I have come to the realisation that what I thought was love right at the start was in fact the high that came with the feeling of being loved. It's not the same thing. But like I said, that hole was unknowable to me - I couldn't even chase some fantasy if I didn't know what it was.

Well, a couple of months ago I met someone. And I have fallen for her in a big way. Totally unexpectedly. And nothing has happened, I haven't cheated on my wife (I never have, and never have been tempted until now because we came pretty close recently - I guess that's emotional cheating in a way?), but my emotions are almost shocking me - I'm not used to not quite having control of my emotions. And this literally has not happened in more than 20 years. I haven't met someone who makes me feel this way. Maybe ever. Which is incredibly weird to say in my late 40s. That has to be unusual, right?

And here's the thing - that dark hole, that black unknowable hole is starting to light up. It is now knowable. It's now not some thing that might not exist. It does exist. It's a real thing that can be filled with light. It scares me. Scares me because I'm not even seriously considering leaving my wife specifically for this person (I have no idea what would happen there) - it's more the idea that I now know this exists. But it took me decades to find someone who can make me feel this way and, if it's not her, will it take decades more to find it again?

When I was trying to make my marriage better I remember reading Esther Perel talk about how we expect everything from a partner these days and it's too much. And I can really feel that now. As an everyday life and parenting partner, I already have that in my wife. But I feel like I'm missing the most important thing. I have been missing it for my entire marriage. I know it can't be found there - I have tried for some years now. And now I finally know that it can be found elsewhere. And I don't know what to do with that information. I have no idea.

Option 1 is to try to end my marriage. Throw everything away that works, with all the devastation that could cause to my kids. Essentially start my life again with no guarantee that anything would ever work out. I already know just how many aspects of my life would get so much more difficult. It still seems nuts to do that. Option 2 is to just suck it up and continue and I don't know if I can do that any more. I have a life that works and a tormented soul. Should anyone just pretend their way through life like that? 

I don't really see any other options. At least not ones that I have tried to work through over the last few years. I do know for sure that, even though my relationship with my wife can always be improved, what's missing will be never be there.

It saddens me that I feel like I have been dealing with this for as long as my kids have been alive. I have felt broken and, honestly, in ways I was and that needed work and that's ongoing. But it's that sense that things were incomplete, that something was missing and now the knowledge that, yep, something really was missing and I can almost reach out and touch it.

What do I do with that? 

Apologies for my ramble. But really, the last time I came here for advice, I can't tell you how much it helped, even though I'm coming back with a bad outcome - I needed to hear what people said even though I didn't like hearing some it and I needed to go through the process. I absolutely had to work on me and had to give my marriage the best shot I could. So I guess I'm hoping that some of your words or advice might help give me some clarity now. Especially as I'm clouded in emotions that I honestly don't quite understand now. 

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If you really dig into why you have crushed on this woman, what can you identify as the reasons? 
 

Chemistry with other people might be a bit ethereal but crushes are good and specific, there will be something there that you see in her that you have been missing and needing. Intellectual conversation? Being desired? Touch? Is she really good at something you want to be good at? What does she inspire you to improve about yourself? 
 

I’m not so convinced that you need her to fill that dark hole in you but I do think there’ll be information from this crush that tells you what you need to improve in yourself/add to your life. 
 

As for your marriage. I think maybe we all shot ourselves in the feet when we made the switch to marrying for love. I’m sure you know this, long term love is the act of choosing your partner and continuing to choose them. Maybe your love feeling for your wife has faded. In that case you should either try and find it again (remember what it felt like the first time you ever kissed her) or end the relationship. (But if you care for her at all end it and be single for at least a year). 
 

You’re in a sticky wicket, I wish you clarity. 

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Have you sought individual therapy?

28 minutes ago, Greg40s said:

So everything looks pretty wonderful from the outside and, largely they are. We're like fantastic roommates.

This is the problem. Is there no physical intimacy anymore? Do you both make efforts for each other to light up your day? Is there any passion left? Or are you merely going through the routine?

I'd really suggest individual therapy. It'll help you see why you feel this emptiness and where it comes from. If you choose to end the marriage, it'll help you avoid falling in the same situation again.

And, if you've been feeling like this for years and contemplating ending your marriage, then in my opinion you should. Instead of burying how you feel about this and pretend it's all good. As for The kids, they want to be with happy parents and showing them parents who live like roommates is not a healthy example. There's a high chance that this is normalized in them and that they'll sadly repeat the same pattern. So for their sake too, you need to follow your happiness and set your wife free to follow her happiness too.

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Posted (edited)
27 minutes ago, 1a1a said:

If you really dig into why you have crushed on this woman, what can you identify as the reasons? 

Okay, that's a tricky question to answer because, honestly, I'm not sure. She's very pretty. She's really interesting, doing very cool stuff. I love to listen to her, just hearing her talk. She's got a very cool edge. She's very close to my age and so I think we relate to each other and yet there is this youthful energy there. There are so many ways in which I think she's amazing. 

But I don't know if any of that, or even getting into more specifics, would quite answer the question. I've met plenty of beautiful women over the years. Plenty of incredibly interesting people will all sorts of cool stuff going on in their lives. I have met women who have seemed keen on me and, for at least brief moments, gave me that feeling of being desired. And yet not one of them ever lit this fire. They haven't burrowed under my skin somehow. Not even a hint - or at least nothing coming close to this. And I honestly don't know how or why it has happened now with this one person. 

It's one of the big things here that makes me uncomfortable because I don't feel like I have a complete understanding of what's happening here. Rationality isn't quite coming into that part. However, the rationality of the journey I have been on up to this point is showing me where this fits. Even without this going any further than it has, it is already filling a space that has been empty for decades. 

 

DarkCh0c0, yeah, those things are really what I did and went through over the last few years. If I could find the old thread, I'd have an exact timeline but I'm guessing it was about 4-5 years ago (Edit - actually I just found the thread and it was only 3 years ago). We really tried to ignite passion, improve all of that and, like I say, we did. It worked. Things got way better. But ultimately, it just didn't fix the core of the problem. Now, there is physical intimacy but not much again - honestly that's my fault. I feel less comfort about it now. I mean, on a basic level, I want sex but I find it harder and harder to connect. 

Edited by Greg40s
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58 minutes ago, Greg40s said:

I'm late 40s. My wife is amazing.  We have kids. We're like fantastic roommates.

Sorry this is happening. Sounds like you are in the rut in the marriage. 

And a bit of midlife crisis and fear of missing out.

It's exciting and flattering to do what you're doing with this lady, but how realistic is it that you'll ditch your dull boring spouse and ride off into the sunset together like reinvigorated teens and live happily ever after with this lady?

Are your kids grow? How much financial damage would a divorce do to you?

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5 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Sorry this is happening. Sounds like you are in the rut in the marriage. 

And a bit of midlife crisis and fear of missing out.

I should be very clear on the timeline here. My marriage problems became apparent very early on - we're talking 15 years ago. It has been in waves since then and then really came to a head around 4-5 years ago, at which point I figured it was done but, because actual life stuff was working, I just had to dig deep and get through life somehow in a marriage that I felt had no love (I realised later that wasn't quite the right word way to put it). It was 3 years ago that I really made a serious effort to fix it. And things got way better over that next year. But like I have said, it became apparent that the core of the problem remained. Which is really unfortunate.

I guess I'm giving you the timeline to point out that this isn't just a thing that's happening now. And it's not about meeting this woman either - that has just been like a piece of the puzzle I was missing up to now. 

As for my kids, they are teens. And financial damage, I don't even know. I can see the effects being devastating in so many ways. And of course as you say, I don't expect to ride off into the sunset with this woman I've met. Like I said in my first post, I'm not seriously considering doing that. It's more what this experience is showing to me and the part of the previously-incomplete picture that it is now filling in. 

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Have you sought therapy or was all what you've done diy?

What does your wife think of the relationship? Is she okay with it as it?

Seems like it's a loveless marriage, and usually once love is gone, there's no way back/undoing it.

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Serious question: Why did you marry your wife? 

It sounds like the desire for her as a romantic partner has never really been there (correct me if I am wrong, of course) So I am curious to hear why got married to her. 

57 minutes ago, Greg40s said:

She's very close to my age and so I think we relate to each other and yet there is this youthful energy there

Interesting comment. How old is your wife? 

58 minutes ago, Greg40s said:

I don't feel like I have a complete understanding of what's happening here

I think it's actually quite simple, albeit hard to admit: you and your wife are more friends than romantic partners. You don't appear to have those feelings for her. And now you have met someone who sparks desire in you, which you don't have for your wife. 

What is your wife's take on the state of your marriage? 

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I too respect and admire Esther Perel and love her podcast so much. I get it.  I've been married over 10 years to someone I was engaged to twice -in late 90s and again in 2008 (we married in 2008).  You really have dug deep to assume that you weren't ever in love with her.  Are you sure about that? Or are you twisting it to fit your narrative now which would justify you throwing in the towel, not going let's say to individual therapy and/or marital therapy? I have friends whose parents divorced when they were teens (truth be told I wanted my parents to divorce when I was a teen but they did not) - and it really messed with them even though they weren't so "young". Such formative years.  Life changing and so often not in a good way so please please put your all into reinvigorating a spark.  

I would understand if you said honestly you settled back then -that it was because like "ok she'll do, she's right on paper, why not" but you know that's not true - you didn't lie to yourself -you were really really into her.  My husband and I are also stuck in the doldrums a bit after a few years of pandemic, virtual schooling, stresses we never imagined and our son is 13. And yes a romantic life is darn hard when your child is around 24/7 and then nearly so.  But my love for him has deepened and grown. 

My irritation with his habits/quirks has also deepened at times because I really do need more physical space from the world given how cooped up we've been - but my belief in "us" and in the original reasons we got back together, in that love, I can call that to the forefront of my mind and un-doldrum.  You're having a hard time with that because you're telling yourself the initial foundation was a sham.  I respect your feelings and also ask you for the good of your marriage to challenge them.  Good luck. 

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4 minutes ago, DarkCh0c0 said:

Have you sought therapy or was all what you've done diy?

I went to therapy at that time 3 years ago for maybe half a year but it was just me and not couple's therapy. Some people here had advice that I probably had my own stuff to work through and I think they were largely right. Regardless of everything else, I needed to be a better person for my wife and that required some of my own work, I guess. 

As for my wife, I remember bringing this up at the time but my wife has a massive blind spot when it comes to our marriage. And this kept coming up during that year we were working through a lot of things. She is an eternal optimist and will almost always assume things are great. So almost every conversation would be a surprise to her, even if it followed a similar conversation a few days before. That definitely became a barrier eventually. 

It has been about a year and a half since we talked about our relationship because I felt like I was hurting her each time, even when things needed to be said and actually they were helping overall. When I started to realise that core things were still always there, the pain of having the difficult conversations became too much - I felt like I was opening wounds each time for her. The problem with that now is that eternal optimism - in the absense of me telling her I'm not in a good place about our marriage, I'm willing to bet she has no idea. 

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4 minutes ago, Greg40s said:

As for my wife, I remember bringing this up at the time but my wife has a massive blind spot when it comes to our marriage. And this kept coming up during that year we were working through a lot of things. She is an eternal optimist and will almost always assume things are great. So almost every conversation would be a surprise to her, even if it followed a similar conversation a few days before. That definitely became a barrier eventually. 

Do you go to a place of worship where a minister or rabbi or whomever could be a mediator in this sort of conversation -so she can't worm away from what you shared and talked about.  Nothing to do with being an optimist -she's playing games and in denial  - an optimistic mindset type person may say "I am really sorry you are hurting.  That sounds upsetting/frustrating.  Do you want my input?" And then if so an optimistic type who doesn't go to "uh oh the sky is going to fall in or my ceiling since I saw a mold spot" might say "sometimes when I feel hopeless I [insert exercise, counting blessings, starting the steps towards making it better even if you don't feel like it].

  I am not an optimist but pretend to be one for my son.  Last night he was really upset about a video game and he said "can we please not do the Three Good Things tonight??" I said - when you're feeling so negative that is precisely the time to do the three good things and count blessings.  So I made him.  I didn't make him look on the bright side or dismiss his frustration - I asked him to notice small things - clean sheets on his bed, father's day coming the next day, the butterscotch pudding I made.  Dismissing or "forgetting" someone's concerns is not optimistic.  And it's not nice.  It's a communication issue and I think it can be worked on.

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6 minutes ago, MissCanuck said:

Serious question: Why did you marry your wife? 

It sounds like the desire for her as a romantic partner has never really been there (correct me if I am wrong, of course) So I am curious to hear why got married to her. 

Interesting comment. How old is your wife? 

I think it's actually quite simple, albeit hard to admit: you and your wife are more friends than romantic partners. You don't appear to have those feelings for her. And now you have met someone who sparks desire in you, which you don't have for your wife. 

What is your wife's take on the state of your marriage? 

This is going to sound terrible but I didn't want to get married. I never even proposed (I know, it's fairly monstrous). I got married basically at a very dark time in my life. I was in a pretty deep depression and I was seeing a therapist and she recommended that we go as a couple, even though I was the one with the problem. And through that, a lot of conversations about marriage came up and, essentially, it became something I agreed to. Not unwillingly at all. But it's not something I ever pushed for. 

As for how old my wife is, she's a couple of years older than me but, really, the age difference between her and this woman I have now met isn't all that much. But the energy is very different. 

And like you probably saw in my other reply, I think my wife probably thinks our marriage is solid. She loves me. I know that. She always has. That makes it harder sometimes. I often wish that she would have an affair or dump me or just somehow take the choice out of my hands. 

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2 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

Nothing to do with being an optimist -she's playing games and in denial

This is an interesting comment. I don't know if she's playing games. She's a very genuine person. In denial? Yes, probably. It's definitely a big communication issue because it makes things very emotional every time. I think a lot of the last conversations we had ended with me apologising for even bringing things up. 

We don't really have a sort of natural mediator but I have been considering a couple's counsellor. Not because I think they'd fix something but because they might help manage that conversation. 

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1 minute ago, Greg40s said:

This is going to sound terrible but I didn't want to get married. I never even proposed (I know, it's fairly monstrous)

I suspected you might say something like that. 

Your posts make it pretty clear you did not get married for the right reasons, and you were not into her the way a man committing for a lifetime should be. You're not a monster, but you can see why this doesn't work in the long run. 

You can't manufacture feelings or a spark that just weren't there to begin with. You've been trying to for the last few years, it seems, but it hasn't worked. I wouldn't expect it to work now, either. 

Sometimes it is better to walk away than to force yourself to stay in an unhappy and unfulfilling situation, and continue trying to shove a sqaure peg into a round hole. 

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So you didn't want to get married.

You're in a loveless marriage. You've tried and nothing is working. I can definitely say you can throw the towel in here and divorce. This is not getting better as you see.

Better free yourself and be a good example to your kids. Once you'll heal, you'll be able to seek an actual romantic partner.

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13 minutes ago, Greg40s said:

 I was in a pretty deep depression and I was seeing a therapist and she recommended that we go as a couple, even though I was the one with the problem.

You seem to have insight that your untreated depression is a factor in this. Get to a physician for an evaluation of your physical and mental health. Get some tests done.

Ask for a referral to a qualified therapist where you can privately and confidentially discuss what's bothering you.

Your wife is "in denial" because you are coasting along complacently, daydreaming about a better life elsewhere. While some attention from a woman may be a bandaid for now,  it won't fix internal issues or your unhappy marriage.

But again you have insight into the fact that you two are just co-parenting as roommates and you feel stuck. Skip marriage therapy and rule out physical problems and talk to someone privately.

Marriage therapy will be a sham and if neither of you can speak candidly, you'll be back in the same boat of quiet desperation just coasting along in a rut. Just where you started.

Edited by Wiseman2
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8 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

You seem to have insight that your untreated depression is a factor in this. Get to a physician for an evaluation of your physical and mental health. Get some tests done.

Oh it wasn't untreated. I was working through that at the time and it was partly situational. I spent a number of years on anti-depressants. Came off them and things were much better for a good while. When a second bout came, it was way easier to catch the warning signs so was able to get help for that too. And that actually didn't last long at all. Since then, I have been very vigilant about that. I don't know if I'd think that's a factor now, although it's always something I have to look out for. 

As for the other stuff and the other replies, I'm reading replies that feel right. But they terrify me. That's really the huge thing here. I'm afraid of the disruption. The effects. The idea of essentially starting again. How it would work. Where I would go. What it would do to my kids. What it would look like to others (which is something I probably shouldn't worry about but I think about it). All the regrets I might have later. But then I think about the idea of staying like this and I can't see how I can do that either. 

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5 hours ago, Greg40s said:

But it took me decades to find someone who can make me feel this way and, if it's not her, will it take decades more to find it again?

This ^^^ is fear.

What you're feeling is a crush and while it might be rare and has taken you decades to find, remember you were married for decades. 

So while you married someone you never crushed on, it doesn't mean you wouldn't have had other crushes or that you would not have more in the future... if you were in the best space to feel them. 

You've been unfulfilled in this marriage.  Isn't it time to find out if she (your wife) is also unfulfilled? And if there is a way to work together to keep what works, friendship & co-parenting, but let each other go to see what else life has to offer? 

Don't make it about the other woman because frankly, it's not. You're in a non romantic marriage. That is a problem. 

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7 minutes ago, Lambert said:

Don't make it about the other woman because frankly, it's not. You're in a non romantic marriage. That is a problem. 

Thank you. I do get this. Meeting someone else was really just like the final piece of a puzzle that I have been wrestling with for so long. There are no end of reasons why it wouldn't work out with her anyway. It's the fact that it happened that I feel is important - because it hasn't before. 

And you're right about the fear too. I'm feeling fear everywhere I look in this situation, to be honest. 

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8 hours ago, Greg40s said:

That hole never quite went away. It has been growing. When so much of my life is actually pretty good, this hole torments me. The reality is that the love I have for my wife is not enough. I love her as a friend and a room mate.

Yes, as you mentioned... you're like fantastic roommates.

 

8 hours ago, Greg40s said:

I haven't met someone who makes me feel this way. Maybe ever. Which is incredibly weird to say in my late 40s. That has to be unusual, right?

No, is not unusual...lol.  Can happen at any age.

But.. has only been a couple of months. Is very new! So you're presently in the 'honeymoon phase'.

 

8 hours ago, Greg40s said:

Option 1 is to try to end my marriage. Throw everything away that works, with all the devastation that could cause to my kids. Essentially start my life again with no guarantee that anything would ever work out.

First off, you do NOT stay together ' for the kids'.. kids learn to accept. Look at alll the other broken families. Kids learn to adjust like everyone needs to.. they just need to understand it is not their fault & continue to see their parents support & love.

Re: No guarantees that anything would ever work out?  Are you expecting instant success? Or just fear being on your own?  Yeah, I;ve been there a few times.. on my own.  I managed 😉 

8 hours ago, Greg40s said:

It saddens me that I feel like I have been dealing with this for as long as my kids have been alive. I have felt broken and, honestly, in ways I was and that needed work and that's ongoing. But it's that sense that things were incomplete, that something was missing

Okay, so now you've come to a realization... You've never felt okay.. then is time to admit this and deal with it?

BUT, I suggest you do not run into another woman's arms.  Not at this point.  Because it's been a 'long term' relationship you need to go thru the process of 'mourning', accepting it is done now, healing - all before getting involved again ( if you do just jump into something 'new & exciting', will most likely be a rebound & they hurt! 😞 

 

So, now that you have come to some realizations... is maybe time to face them. I know you've delved deep into all of this and you know what you feel.

Is maybe time to look at renting yourself an apt to go to for a while.. then have a good heart to heart talk with your wife... and kids.  Then look into your divorce process.

Yeah, this all needs to be done.  I do feel, once it has been done, you will feel some grief, but will also feel some relief. I know I did.

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Yes it’s possible to have intense feelings for someone other than your wife.

It’s nobody’s fault really. But just because something feels good doesn’t mean you should go ahead with it.

Friday evening I received a text message that said “Love you ♥️ “ from a woman that just had her wedding earlier that day.

Out of a scale from 1 to 100 I am attracted to this person 1000…

It hurts but I know what the right thing is and that’s not to be involved with this person, so I keep my distance…

So yes, you can have very intense feelings for somebody to the point you feel they are your “soulmate” but if you can justify following emotions while causing pain to other people and destroying their lives, well then there’s no limit…

I think if you are strong enough in character you can walk away no matter how tough it is. 

A guy I know is married to a great girl but is obsessed with his coworker. He can’t help it and said it’s like an addiction. He even rented a studio beside the office so they could meet up during lunch and hookup and she just had a baby and suspects the child is actually his…crazy stuff. 

Edited by mical
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Hi Greg,

 

I’m so sorry you have wrestled with this for so long. The fact you have lived with this and kept face is actually a testament to your strength, strength it seems you don’t know you have!

 

Marriage and children - wow, not for the faint of heart. Even when you are madly in love and jumping each other’s bones daily and weekly, life and children throw major curve balls at you and it’s hard enough when things are solid and generally amazing in a romantic relationship. Add to the fact, something major is missing for you - you just have a perfect storm there for misery. I can understand how this has dragged you down for so long.

 

I can also see how your wife could be quite unaware of this. I have seen what seems to be this dynamic in other people before as well! Someone is blissfully ignorant and chugging along and their wants and needs do not match the other half of the couple, who is desperate and silently crying out for help and connection and just to be understood on a deep level by the other - but there is a void there; that the other one has no clue about. I think it is possible, and can be a reason why a couple don’t emotionally connect. You can be best friends but just, lacking in that deep undercurrent of soul mate understanding and acceptance which often leads hand in hand with romance and passionate love.

 

I have been with my husband for 15 years, we have three children. Your story reminds me of something my husband told me. Before he met me, he had come out of a 7 year relationship with his ex girlfriend. He once told me, the sex had been non existent for at least a year before he broke up with her. When he did, she was completely shocked. She was devastated. He said they always were, and always had been, best friends, and he confused that with what a good relationship was. They did get on amazingly. And I think her expectations for a relationship were more aligned with perfect friendship. And she wasn’t that bothered about intimacy, so the lack of it never worried her and she never thought it a problem. You can see how two people can sleep in the same bed but be so far apart, seeing a situation completely differently. A total disconnect, even though, surface level, everyone says wow, you two make such a cute couple!

 

I am sorry I don’t have any solid answers for you Greg. As parents, we often and rightly put our children first and always, but sometimes this is to our personal detriment. You are also a man with his own life and dreams and needs separate to your family and wife. In an ideal world, your dreams and wants and desires should align. They do not.

 

You need to make the tough call of, what is now important. Can anything be fixed? It seems as if you have truly tried and forced yourself and had all the conversations. Love can be difficult but, it shouldn’t be THAT hard, all the time. I am so sorry, because I can feel the turmoil of your situation and your urge to try and keep things right and settled. You need to be happy though. Your children, I am sure, would want you to be happy. They would want happiness for themselves? 
 

You need to have a sit down with your wife. I think it’s fair that she knows exactly how you feel. She is after all your best friend. She might surprise you and tell you she knows. She might be oblivious. 
 

Therapy wouldn’t hurt but, my gut feeling is it would be more of a benefit to navigate maybe, a period of separation, or, advice on how to separate in the most civil way for your children. 
 

Could she agree to a type of “break?” Or, a period of space? Is there any way you can get away for a weekend alone? Try to evaluate, figure out what you really want without any other pressures? See how you feel being without her? Are you elated? Relieved? It might be quite telling. You don’t have to divorce straight away. So many couples end up deciding they are going to carry on living under the same roof but just acknowledge the marriage is over and maybe choose a time that seems right to then go ahead and make legal proceedings?

 

I am also not saying what you have can never be brought back but, the thing that stood out most to me is when you said, you never wanted to marry her in the first place? As someone else said, so telling OP. I am so sorry but, I just think that is where your answer lies.

 

Similar stories sometimes help give me comfort, to know I am not alone. You might also appreciate this in a way, forgive me if it is no help. You are not the first or the last man to do this. My own father in law was pressured into getting engaged and married by my mother in law. He was 19, she was 24. Their marriage has never been right or that happy. They tolerate each other at best, bicker and argue with venom and blame each other and resent. They have been married 50 years now. My father in law recently confessed 15 years ago his wife told him, it’s over, no sex ever again. From then on they have slept in separate bedrooms. From the outside looking in, it’s just another older couple who lost the spark. But after living with them whilst we sold our house and him starting to confide in me (which was actually quite awkward), I realised knuckling down and not wanting to rock the boat has made him completely miserable and full of regrets. 
 

He told me at his age, it’s too late for divorce, he couldn’t get anyone new anyway, everyone knows them as a couple and he couldn’t afford to re-buy a place of his own again. He was probably telling himself this 20 years ago, even after their two kids had then left the nest.

 

This is all food for thought. This is your life, you only have one. I understand deeply, the issue of your children, your wives feelings, the unknown. All your history. So many other factors we will never know here. But you have to try to look into your future, your next 3 years, the 3 years after that. What do they look like if you carry on?

 

I wish you all the best. I’m sorry I can’t be solidly more help. This is your life. You share it with others, but… self sacrifice, prolonged, in the end, if this is what you are doing, helps no one. Not anyone dear to you or yourself. 
 

Tell your wife how you feel. Tell her you love her. Tell her, everything. You’re not in love with her. 
 

After the shock, my husbands ex girlfriend, she came back to him and said, I know really, all along, it never felt like I knew it should. They both ended up being so, so much happier as friends, in the end. 
 

You are stronger than you know! I think you know yourself and what you want and need.

 

All the best,

 

x

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Sorry to go on…

 

If this is any consolation, I doubled checked with my husband about his ex and he told me yes, it was one of the hardest decisions he ever made (and he didn’t have children, and wasn’t married), so, it’s real tough OP.

 

He also added that once he had acknowledged how he really felt and knew the truth, he also couldn’t live a lie. 

 

My sympathies and best wishes. I hope you figure out what’s best for you, your wife and family.

 

x

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Your wife does deserve to know you’re not interested in her and there’s someone else. It’ll give her a chance to also make the decision to leave you because you’re not faithful to the marriage. This isn’t solely your decision to make and I think it’s appalling if you believe all of this is up to you. You’re toying with a number of lives including your wife’s being swept up by a romance that you say wouldn’t work out either way. Isn’t it pointless then? What good was that romance other than to throw you into another round of depression?

If I were in your shoes I’d see a fleet of doctors immediately to reassess moods and these feelings of confusion and despair in general. I feel sorry for your wife most of all as she’s not part of this conversation while you may be thinking you get to make all the decisions such as whether to end your marriage. She deserves to know and either put you both out of your misery or make the decision you can’t seem to make.

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