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How can I sort the big mess in my head out?(18 Posts)
I am not sure if I want to be married any more, but am finding it impossible to think clearly about the situation and to make a decision about what would be the best, most decent thing to do. It is literally driving me mad and I would appreciate any advice or insights you might be able to give me. This may be long, but I need to get it all down to try to make sense of it.
I met DH at 23. He is 14 years my senior. At the time, we were both working in the same industry (although not together) and met at a professional event. He was living with his partner of eight years. We began an emotional affair which continued for about six months (some kissing, hand holding etc, but no sex). We would meet once a week or so for dinner. I was not really physically attracted to him, but I WAS strongly attracted to him in many other ways - we had great conversation, huge amounts in common, he was funny and warm. It is a terrible cliche, I realise, but he was also somewhat of a father figure to me. He has never been controlling or anything like that, but he provided a lot of emotional support to me at a difficult time in my life, and had a real Mr fIx It attitude - any problem I had he would step in and help, and I suppose I must have needed or craved that at that stage, who knows. He had a very happy, settled life as a child whereas I had a very unstable, difficult upbringing and a violent, abusive father - so perhaps that means something, I dont know?
Anyway, after six months he came clean to his partner and they separated. I am not and have never been proud of the fact I was the OW. It sounds lame, I understand, but it is also something DH feels guilty about to this day.
We then began a relationship in earnest, and were dating (although not living together) happily for three years when I accidentally became pregnant. He was supportive and we decided to make a go of things. We have now been together for twelve years, are married, own a home together and have two children aged eight and four years. I am 35, he is nearly 50.
Essentially, we get on well. We still have lots in common, have fun times together and manage to run our home and family together fairly happily even through difficult times (a severely disabled child, multiple miscarriages, a major depressive episode for me and a brief separation several years ago).
However, I am deeply unhappy. I feel trapped and suffocated by domestic and family life. We live in a large house in a nice suburb of London and are reliant on DH's sizeable income to fund our lifestyle. I have been working part-time in unsatisfying 'mum jobs' for years (although I am highly qualified and experienced), but am now starting to get my career back together and a future where I have a fulfilling career and am financially independent looks possible for the first time in a decade.
We still have an active sex life, but it is really a testimony to our mutually high sex drives. I am not attracted to him and at times find him repulsive. I love him dearly as almost an older brother (I know how wrong that sounds) and as the most terrific father to our children....but when I imagine my future playing out with him forever, it makes me feel so...I dont know, OLD and hopeless. These are all MY issues, I realise. I just dont know what to do for the best.
I dream of us separating, me buying a smaller flat of my own and us sharing care of the children. I know how utterly selfish and barmy this sounds. I feel like I have never had the chance to be an independent woman, to stand on my own two feet. Or maybe I am just teying to relive a youth that is gone?
God I sound pathetic I know. I eill be back in a bit. TIA.
I don't think it sounds selfish and barmy. I don't think you should stay with someone who repulses you.
I think your DH deserves the chance to find someone who isn't repulsed by him actually. You should consider the possibility that you would be doing him a favour by ending the relationship.
It would seem barmy and selfish of you to stay, tbh, under the circumstances that you describe. Feeling trapped, hopeless, repulsed, unsatisfied and suffocated.
If my DH was feeling these things i'd hope he'd have the good grace to let me know, so that i could go and find someone who loved me the way i wanted to be loved. Sorry.
I don't think it's selfish or barmy. A lot of the things we find appealing at 23 aren't all that great once you reach 35+. As you mature, your needs and tastes change. If you'll forgive the observation, you sound like you've drifted and sleepwalked to where you are now rather than make too many conscious decisions about the relationship. Maybe you felt obliged to be with him after being the OW. Maybe he felt obliged to be with you because of the pregnancy. Rather than carry on in the same way which would only be to compound the mistake, do something to correct it.
You mention you had a brief separation years'ago and I wonder what provoked it and why you got back together. Did you have children already at that point? What made you return? I don't think it is selfish or barmy to question how things are in any relationship. Nobody should tolerate feeling trapped or stuck in a rut. Time to discuss this with your DH.
I know splitting as a couple with dependents is different to going separate ways when childfree and you have to ensure the family's stability but some couples do manage shared parenting very well when divorced if it comes to that.
I think the fact that you were having an illicit affair probably made him a bit more alluring than if he'd just been a single bloke. I think you possibly pretended to yourself at the time that the only reason you wouldn't sleep with him was because he was in a relationship, when the truth was you just didn't fancy him enough. So you probably overplayed your own morals. In fact if you'd had any, you would have steered clear of having any sort of affair.
If you find your husband repulsive, you need to end this misery and be honest with him.
I'd be interested though in what's tipped you over the edge now. Someone else on the scene is there?
Are you going to pursue your career possibilities? You may find that some of the frustration you feel will disappear if you have something else to fulfil you. You may also find that career a lot harder to nurture as a single parent, which is something worth thinking about. You don't need to feel 'old and hopeless' about your life generally, even if you feel that about your relationship. It's allowable to lead a life outside of the relationship and children, regardless of how happily married, or otherwise, you are. Most people couldn't sustain a marriage without some form of life outside it. Be wary of thinking your marriage is dull because it's not offering you a fulfilled life all by itself. Very few actually do.
However, if you're really that unhappy and have reached the point where your H 'repulses' you, then divorce (or having a mutually agreed non-sexual marriage) is your only option I think. There are few things worse than being trapped and suffocated in a relationship - particularly to someone who seems so 'worthy' in all other respects. It can colour your ability to enjoy any other part of life.
Your post sounds as though you've given this a great deal of thought and developed quite a lot of insight into why you and your H ended up together, so you probably already have a good idea whether the successful career would be enough to alter the balance of your marriage. I suspect it wouldn't be.
Just remember that as long as you don't do anything on a whim, and you handle the breakup with decency and fairness, it's ok to leave for whatever reason you like - no one else has to understand or agree with it, including your H.
Another man caught your eye ?
A younger one, perchance ?
You should leave your husband before you do anything about that, and even if there isn't another fancy for you it would be kinder to let your husband find someone who appreciates all of him, not just his crust-earning and fixing skills
Thank you for all your replies.
There is nobody else. I am not having an affair and have never been unfaithful to him. However, I do often find myself attracted to other men (have never even come close to acting on it) which in itself worries me. I constantly fantasise about sex with someone else, also, I am ashamed to admit.
Our separation years ago came after the birth of our first child. I had PND and was dreadfully unhappy. We were living in Dh's house (my name wasnt on the mortgage), I felt very insecure and miserable, I was bored on maternity leave and felt unsupported by DH, who was still out there in his very active career and life. However, we went to Relate and I had counselling separately and things seemed to resolve. In the eight years since, we married, bought a house together and when our second child was born Things couldnt have been more different - no OND, DH utterly supportive and wonderful.
I feel such terrible guilt about my feelings, to be honest.
The other thing I should say is that DH has no idea I feel any of this. It would come as a terrible shock to him. That makes me feel just awful, to think of the hurt I might cause him.
I should also add something else - sorry to dripfeed. DH recently confessed to me that during the time we were spearated years ago he had sex with several other women, including a brief relationship with someone. I know it was years ago and we were 'on a break' but it came as a terrible shock to me and has affected how I feel about sex with him, as stupid as that sounds...
I think this is something that often happens when a younger woman marries an older man. You've outgrown him. This isn't a crime, but as he sounds a nice enough bloke, be as kind and as fair as you can when ending the relationship.
Why did the 'several other women' confession come as a shock when that's the way you met?
You'll carry on feeling guilty, OP, i think, until you do something about it. You've been very honest. The fantasising about sex with other men is something i started doing in a previous relationship. It's partly the thing which convinced me to end it. It's not a good way to live
About him having sex with other women while on a break from you - what did you do during this time? Did you have sex with anyone else?
I'm sorry you feel like this - it's horrible to feel so mixed up and confused.
Did you feel repulsed by him before you found out about him having sex with other women when you were 'on a break' and what were the 'rules' of this 'break'?
Perhaps you feel it's time you got a turn at the "sex with other people" since he did it, and in fact both of you have a bit of history with playing away ?
Tbh though, if he repulses you, it's finished isn't it ?
You said he 'recently confessed' to dabbling while you were on a break.
What caused this bit of belated incontinence?
Do you think maybe he's worked out that you only have sexual feelings for him when there's the spectre of other women involved?
If so, I wonder whether this is an elaborate bluff on his part and it's not true?
A lot depends on when you stopped 'seeing' him while having sex and started having it just to sate your libido.
Thanks for further replies.
Cogito - it came as a shock because he just blurted it out in the middle of quite an intense conversation about the past and things we wish we could change etc. We have had counselling and have oth been brutally honest with each other about things, but it seems we both still have secrets...
Chipping - sex has at times in our relationship been great, but I can't lie, I have never felt fully sexually attracted to him, really. That feeling got worse after his confession, though, definitely. I dont even know why - I cant really analyse it at the moment. For years I have put my lack of sexual feeling for him to one side, because other things - our children, our home and work etc - have been more important.
AF - that isnt how I feel at all.
Beth - I dont think he is bluffing or that its some twisted sex game to make me fancy him. We split up for about four months back then. Things were very bad and it looked likely we wouldnt get back together. He went on a bit of a sad, middle aged man rampage I think - got pissed a lot, had a couple of one night stands etc. I am not defending or judging, just stating what I think happened.
Thanks to the poster who PMed me too. Your insight was very helpful indeed.
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