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older man/younger bride


unhappybride
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At 36 years old, after wasting five years with the wrong man, I met someone new and am finally a bride. I was just married one month ago to who I thought was the love of my life. It is the first marriage for both of us and we've been together for just over a year. He is kind, considerate, hard working, good looking, extremely intelligent, funny, masculine, stable and sexy. He is eleven years older than me and tells me he loves me constantly. Both he and I have good corporate jobs though, with the age difference, he makes much more than I do.

 

Here is the problem... since I was seventeen years old, I have always been in long-term relationships that, for some reason, never led to marriage (which is pretty common in New York City). He, however, has never been in a real relationship at all. Since his early teens, he has lived an unrelenting pattern of chasing and falling for women that he could not have. Women who were out of his league - models, starlets, the most beautiful girls in school who had boyfriends. He has had very little success and, as a result, at age 47, has had little sexual or relationship experience. I am the longest, most intense relationship he has ever had.

 

When I met him, he was a shy, intense computer geek who was overweight but still tall and attractive. There were red flags in his behavior from the beginning but I ignored them. I have wanted a family for awhile and he had so many great qualities. Plus, he seemed to adore me. From the beginning, he was persistent in pushing toward a serious relationship. He told me he loved me often and proposed fairly early on with a big diamond ring. I couldn't believe I had found such a great guy. I felt blessed beyond belief. I still do... to some extent.

 

We live together and are attached at the hip when we both get home from work. We have sex every night and are aiming for pregnancy. He is my best friend. But, now that he has me, he sometimes acts like he doesn't really want me anymore. One of his traits is that he has no internal filter - he tells me everything that is on his mind. It is just the way he is. And, every three or four weeks, ever since our engagement six months ago, he develops an intense crush on a strange, new woman and muses, almost unconsciously, on the possibility of breaking up.

 

I am always so shocked with pain, it usually takes me a day or two to cry about it and a few more days to get over it. When he sees that I am hurt, his attention turns to reassuring me and he promptly forgets (I think) about the other woman. This is becoming a pattern. Things will be absolutely wonderful - and then he will swing his emotional mallet and conk me on the head. He once spent two minutes chatting innocuously with a pretty, 25 year old on the elevator and spent the whole next three days in fantasy-land with her. I know when he is in fantasy-land because he grows distant from me and seems to look for faults, as though searching for reasons to break up with me. A 25 year age difference does not deter him. He does not realize that he has no chance in hell with these women. That is the pattern he has spent his whole life living - and, four weeks into the marriage, he has started integrating this pattern back into our cozy home. My best friend thinks I should just divorce him.

 

Things are further complicated by some additional facts which I don't dare tell my friends. Both he and I are high achievers who come from fairly dysfunctional, upper middle class, Northeastern families. We are both well-read liberals who care about politics, art, literature and culture. I am the dark-haired, olive skinned, multi-racial child of immigrants. I have always been considered a beauty but, growing up in a tony, white neighborhood, always felt a teeny bit alienated and, I guess, developed some self-esteem issues as a result. He comes from a white, red-state family and, much as they try to hide it, some of his relatives are - I can't deny it - a little bit racist. He tries so hard to be an open-minded, good, noble soul... but has he just been too deeply programmed by his past? Does he keep falling for these other women because I am not "white" enough? Because I am not elusive enough? Because I am not young enough? He is so fascinated by women in their 20s and is almost misogynistic toward women who are in their 30s and older (I am an exception for some reason, perhaps because I look young). Is that what is going on here? Am I making too much of this?

 

Some people might think that I should "stick with my own kind" but that is hard to do. From the cradle, I have spent my entire life in the company of middle class, left-leaning white people. I am used to being the exotic flower in a field of white lilies. I don't really know any guys of "my kind" and, since I am multi-racial and multi-ethnic, don't identify at all with any one immigrant community.

 

He is really so wonderful in so many ways. He is trying so hard to make things work out. But, the more time he spends with me, the stronger he gets and I am afraid that he will one day do what he seems to want to do - leave me for someone he REALLY likes. For health reasons, he has started a diet. I cook for him three times a day. He has learned how to make love because he has been practising with me and the sex is only getting better and better. The few times we have had arguments about his infatuations, he became despondent and worried that I might dump him and did everything imaginable to win my heart back. He went to a grade school for troubled boys and, every time he messes things up between us (remember - he has no internal filter - he says whatever passes through his head), he becomes that same little troubled boy, trying his hardest to be his best. He has been in therapy for years and he wants very much to be a husband, a father and have a normal life.

 

I love him very much but I am afraid of what lies ahead. We are trying to have a baby now and I am afraid that, one day, he will feel strong and confident enough to act on one of these infatuations and leave me. Should I listen to my friends and bolt before it's too late? Is he addicted to the chase and the emotional highs he finds in his fantasyland? Or is he just having trouble adjusting to married life, having been a bachelor for so long? Maybe he just needs time to shake old, hard to break habits. Maybe I am being too sensitive. Maybe men think these thoughts all the time but don't act on them and my husband just never learned to keep these thoughts to himself.

 

I feel, sometimes, so confused and hurt. I approach the mirror in the morning with questions in my eyes. What does he see? Am I not attractive to him anymore? Maybe he's "just not that into me." As the pattern in the relationship emerges, his constant "I love yous" seem increasingly hollow.

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I think most people have fantasies about other people but they remain exactly that. I don't understand why he feels the need to take it so far and also to tell you about it.

 

It is possible that he would cheat but somehow I doubt it - I think he is just so used to fantasising he finds it difficult to draw the line. It is also possible the racial issue is a problem but I somehow doubt that too.

 

What I certainly have no doubt about is that you need to talk about this to him and ask him why he behaves like that. If he cannot reassure you then I think couples counselling is probably needed and it may be that he needs some counselling on his own to deal with the issue.

 

You are certainly right to be concerned but I would suggest you do not give up on him until you can learn more about the reasons.

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I agree with DN. I think it would be a bit premature to bolt immediately, but at the same time if you want this marriage to work it's time to start doing some talking with him. Couples counseling would be a definite, and if he has been in therapy for years then I think he should find a new therapist - whoever he is seeing right now clearly isn't working for him.

 

Another thought - I would strongly suggest that you postpone having a baby until you get these problems worked out with your husband. I understand if you are concerned with your age and your biological clock, perhaps you should speak to your doctor about how long it can wait. But in the present situation, I don't think it would be healthy to have a baby complicate the situation and possibly face growing up in a broken home because your fears are realized and your husband leaves you for one of his ill conceived fantasies.

 

At present it seems like you are going back and forth with him. He says something extremely stupid and disrespectful about his desires for another woman, hurting you in the process. You become upset, he tries to reassure you. The cycle then repeats itself sometime later. Hopefully if you tell him you want to postpone having a child until you two get your issues worked out, he will realize how close he is to losing you if he doesn't get his act cleaned up and it will be the incentive he needs for real change if he loves you and wants to keep you.

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I don't like the way this post sounds, something irked me about his behavior.

 

He seems the type to always want what he can't have. That concerns me. He desires the women who he can chase and when he has them, he isn't an intrigued.

 

The one thing I really noticed is that you are trying to conceive, if you have hesitations about him, shouldn't you wait to conceive. A child could sure complicate things if he did stray. Can you go on birth control for now?

 

I don't find it acceptable that he was chatting up that 25yr old woman, that's not right for him to hit on her when he is married to you.

 

Have you thought of getting marriage counseling?

 

My ex is like your husband, he was 40something (don't know his age because he lied), I am 25, and he was always hitting on younger girls than me saying they have a hot body, and such. I have taken great care of my body and look youthful, so it bothers me a great deal so I can understand why this bothers you.

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Thank you all so much for your very helpful input! We have been trying to have a child but stopped last Thursday when he told me (after sex) about the girl in the elevator (and mused in an indirect way about divorce and about the three wives that his uncle had). I didn't sleep that night and, the next day, called in sick to work. We usually go away every weekend to his house in the country but I told him, for once, I wanted to be alone and that he should go himself so I could do some thinking. I stayed in the apartment in the city. I only realized that this could become a real problem this past weekend. In the past, when it happened, I just got upset and let it pass.

 

We talked a lot over the phone this weekend. He knows he has a problem. That is why he is in therapy. I guess this is why he hasn't had relationships in the past - the women dumped him early on when they detected his problems. He told me that he hadn't been able to get women in the past because they were all crazy like his mother and that I was the first "nice girl" he had gone after. I finally realized yesterday that the problem (in the past) wasn't the other women - the problem had been him. "You do things that make women run away from you." I said, and he finally realized that this is true.

 

I am not ready to give up on him though. My South American mother told me I had to stick it out, that he was such a good man in so many ways, and that I had to give him a chance to adjust. He's changed a lot in small ways for the better since I first met him (on his own initiative - I didn't have to ask him to change at all). I think, though, that we are going to hold off a few months on the baby making attempts. My mother thinks I shouldn't really talk to him anymore about it though because he will take it as nagging and I agree with her (he started to indicate his exasperation with the topic last night). I have to just let it lie and wait and see. If it happens again in a serious way, I plan to seek couples therapy.

 

Thanks again for your input. It helped me so much! Feel free to post more replies, please! (especially appreciate input from guys since you have a different perspective). It is really so helpful and I am really grateful!

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Good that he's in therapy. And - some men can be a bit unrealistic about their real chances. That girl in the elevator is NOT interested in him, but he doesn't think about that. Your guy has a LOT of growing up to do, and it's going to need something tougher than warm-fuzzy NYC talk-therapy.

 

He reminds me of how my xH used to be. Gosh, I wish X would answer forum posts like this (he doesn't do the on-line discussion thing at all) b/c I bet the best answers would come from men who've been there and changed.

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