Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Mid Life or Over?(129 Posts)
My husband of 15 years has closed down over the last 8 months - we have had moments of happiness, have been intimate (although this stopped a month ago) have tried to keep talking, he just says he is evaluating his life and everything in it. We have 2 lovely children, a nice life, nothing too fancy.. just a nice life, with good friends and close family. We have always been a very sociable couple and he has tried to keep this going although it is getting harder and harder for me to be with him around friends as I miss the closeness we shared. I have felt the distance growing and now a couple of weeks ago he told me that he thinks he wants to move on, says he can start to see how it might be without me, starting over with somebody else (he has promised me there isnt anybody else and I do believe him). He says we both deserve happiness which of course we do, but I am devastated as I have tried to support him over the last 8 months by just being there and I feel he hasn't given our marraige a fair chance. When he told me, I suggested two options, either we talk seriously about what he's going to do and how we are going to split up, or I asked him to reconsider and just see if there was any possibility of second chances. He knows how much I love him, feels guilty at the pain he is causing. Despite these words, he is still here. He said he knows he needs to make the decision, but he is now talking to me about things we are doing in May and June, still kissing me goodbye albeit briefly in the morning, still giving me the odd cuddle in bed. I am so, so confused. Is this him trying to see if he can give it a chance still, or is it him trying to make me feel less sad by just being nice whilst he is here? I know you will say I have to talk to him, but I'm scared to push him and that talking further will just mean the end. For the sake of our relationship and our family, if this is just a MLC I am of course prepared to wait longer. If he is thinking about leaving still, then I know he needs to go and I need to be strong. Interested in what people think, perhaps people that have been there - thank you so much in advance x
OP - i am so sorry to hear all this. What about you though? What about you having time/space/opportunity to think?! Not all up to him, try and take back some power.
I do think it sounds like there is someone else despite his inevitable protests, sorry, but all the signs are there. Be prepared, take stock. Is there. rL friend or someone you could talk to/stay with?
I'd actually be very, very surprised if there isn't someone else. I know he's said there isn't, but that seems to be par for the course unless confronted with evidence. I'm not saying that to hurt you, but I think you need to be prepared for finding that he's 'met someone' within a very short space of time should you decide to go your separate ways.
Regardless of whether there's a third person, I would ask him to leave while he thinks about it. It's simply not on for him to be giving you mixed signals like this and you will never have the space you need to work out how you feel about this and what you want to do next while you're sharing a house.
I'm sorry you're going through this.
I'm sorry you are going through this.
I've been in the same situation, a few years ago - in fact so similar I could have written your post at the time! Especially the line about deserving happiness, which he kept repeating almost as if he was trying to believe it.
It turned out to be an OW. Sorry, I think that is probably what is happening.
It's the 'starting over with someone else' line that gives it away IMO.
People who genuinely want to leave a marriage because they are unhappy in it and unfulfilled in life in general, don't picture their future with someone else before they've even left the person they're currently with. All they can think about is being 'free'.
So sorry kitty, you are in a horrible position. This is classic affair behaviour and the chances that this is anything other than OW are very slim. She is most likely married, and he is hedging his bets around her leaving, hence the lack of decisive action at the moment. It's very cruel. He will no way admit it - he will leave, if it comes to it, and quickly 'meet' new partner. I would keep quiet for a short while, watch and listen, and look for hard evidence. Is he protective of his phone? Keen to go out alone at weekends/evenings? Check his car for another phone. The other option is to put a stop to it and say if he's not commmitted, it's over. That will make him shit a brick. Good luck x
"For the sake of our relationship and our family, if this is just a MLC I am of course prepared to wait longer"
All waiting does is keep the power in his hands. You're like the poor buggers in the Colosseum waiting for the thumbs-up or thumbs-down from the emperor. I'm afraid I agree with others that it sounds like there is someone else already waiting in the wings. Tell him to make his mind up off-site therefore..... take the initiative.
I know it's been a huge shock and wake-up call but tonight please tell him you think it's a good idea for you both to get some space. So would he move out for a while. This is no way signals you are 'giving up on your marriage' or 'forcing the issue' or 'breaking up the family'. Where does it say you have to put up and shut up and let him call the shots?
He could be genuine, he could be truthful when he says there is no-one else. In which case he won't mind you asking him for space to let you think. He... feels guilty at the pain he is causing how does he show this? Withdrawing from you gradually is often a sign of a partner shutting up shop, distancing himself.
If he has met someone - a colleague, a mutual friend - he won't rock the domestic boat by admitting it right away. Being super-nice to you assuages any residual guilt he feels. You could turn into superwoman and he'd lap it up but still claim to be unhappy. By making plans for May or June it reassures you and gives you hope to cling onto. Last thing he wants is to have you cry or make a scene or show any need for him. He could be a monumental prick and still not want to look like the bad guy. As said above, it's cruel, it gives you false hope, the cards are stacked against you if you don't know what the root cause is.
Don't do any laundry or packing or worry about fixing a meal before he goes. You may have to fake keeping calm and composed but tears or pleading won't work. Initially this can be explained to the DCs as Dad needs to work away a while. Of course he can arrange to see DCs when he wants and start as you mean to go on, remain civil.
Thank you everybody for your replies and for taking the time to think about my situation.
I have of course thought that there must be somebody else because his actions of shutting down all lead me to think that (sadly it's the only thing that makes actual sense to me).. although he hasn't spent any unusual time away from us at all and I haven't noticed a difference in the way he is (i.e. appearance, clothes, movements, etc) He has been very down and sad a lot of the time. That's why I have given him the benefit of the doubt (and of course I haven't wanted to 100% believe anything else).
Since we had this conversation and I suggested that we may have to face the fact its over and sort out logistics re house/children etc. he has changed his behaviour and seems like he's reaching out to me but yes of course that may be out of guilt at what he's done to our marraige/family. I guess that's why its so confusing because again of course I want to believe him. He's a good man and has been through a lot of heartache over the last few years and I struggle to think that he has suddenly turned into a lying cheat.. But I'm sure those of you who have been through this (and I'm sorry to hear so many have) would have only said the same about their men at the time.
I know in my heart that I've got to take back the power and tell him to leave while he sorts his head out. But if there isn't another woman, or he's taken a bite and now isn't sure, I feel I am giving up on our marraige and causing untold problems for our children.. he is very stubborn. If he goes, even if he thinks he's made a mistake he's unlikely to come back.
It's so awful when you are trying to make sense of things and they don't add up kitty. But if he tells his partner, over a period of time, that he is not sure of the relationship and is thinking about starting a new life alone, then out on his arse is where he should expect to find himself. If he then realises that this is not what he wants at all, he has the option to try and persuade you that he was wrong and that the two of you could work things out. And to work at that. So what if he's stubborn? That's really degrading to you when you say he's unlikely to come back even if he's wrong. A lot of your thinking is centred around him - his needs and what he will/won't do. What about you? What about your needs and how you deserve to be treated? Let him worry about making it up to you if he changes his mind. You deserve more than this. x
I have been there before and it was OW even though I couldn't see how he could have found the time to have an affair.
Many affairs on conducted online or at work or during work hours (think fake conferences/training and half days).
My only advice is to take control and tell him that he has to go now - loss is the only thing that motivates cheaters and they will quickly realise what they are losing and often will beg to come back.
Please do not be the second option - he is hanging on in case things don't work out with OW and if he does decide to stay with you it will be because you are his back up plan.
Kitty - you wouldn't be the one causing the upheaval, he would! Please see that! Don't allow him to blame you somehow for any of this which he has initiated.
Kitty, I'm so sorry but he's the one who's given up on your marriage. A person who feels dissatisfied, but still loves their partner and would like things to work, does something about that. Yours, sadly, has already checked out of his marriage - and this is all you need to know
I agree there is nearly always someone else when this happens. At least he hasn't insulted you by pretending to do the counselling, romantic breaks and so forth, forcing you through the misery of false hope and eventual humiliation. Please show yourself the same respect.
However much you may want to avoid facing facts, the very best thing you can do for yourself now is surround yourself with people who do love you - talk as much as you need to - and start living independently, with enthusiasm.
Ironically, this is also the strategy most likely to win an 'absenting' partner back - but it only works when you do it for real. By then, you may well have fallen in love with your new life, so it's a win either way.
Gather good people around you! All the best.
I was in your situation this time last year. Another woman never crossed my mind as my husband didn't keep strange hours etc. however there was a young colleague at work who had her own car and lived ten mins from the office and train station - so leaving early and long lunches were perfectly possible without me suspecting. I blamed MLC so tried everything to help him.looking back now I wish I had kicked him out straight away. Instead he put me through hell for months trying to decide what he should do. I didn't know about MN then. Wish I had - would have saved me many hours of crying wondering what was up etc. Once he finally left he moved in with the girl immediately. Him 45 her 26. She is welcome to the over weight, no money, no ambition, sack of potatoes!
Sorry OP but it really does sound as if there is another woman. It could be an emotional affair, it could be that he's infatuated with someone else and nothing has happened yet, or it could be a full-blown affair conducted in his lunch breaks.
He's told you he's envisaging his life without you, that you might both be happier. He's causing you pain, doubt, sadness.
He's being cruel and unbelievably selfish.
Ask him to move out. Either he will come to his senses or he will move straight towards the OW.
Agonising and trying to be understanding and letting him walk all over you will do you no favours.
It really isn't down to you causing issues. This is all coming from him.
And if he is too stubborn to save your marriage if you ask him to leave, then again you have your answer : a selfish man who prioritises his own pride and needs over the needs of his family.
OP I WISH I'd told mine to go when I had the opportunity. If I had I honestly believe he'd have come to his senses instead of
shagging around having a MLC.
Having said that, I'd have also come to MY senses and I'd have refused to have him back instead of wasting years ..
I'm much, much happier now btw. And he's still middle aged.
I am so grateful for everybody's comments (even though they are causing me more heartache!) I know it makes sense to tell him to leave.
He still says he loves me, finds me attractive, blah blah blah I guess but as "garlyconi" says .."A person who feels dissatisfied, but still loves their partner and would like things to work, does something about that" Im just not sure he's doing anything about it..
I'm sorry to hear so many people have gone through similar times and that it hasn't worked out with their partners. For those who have found new love and happiness, I'm so pleased for you. It all feels a long, scary journey I'm afraid but I guess you were once where I am now.
I know those of you who are following this thread are probably rolling their eyes up at my stupidity... I'm just not sure I'm strong enough at the moment.. but when will I ever be I ask myself..
Kitty- don't think anyone's thinking you're stupid, honestly! we've all been there some time or another which is why we want to help.
Personally, I'm thinking "you poor love"
and "what an arse of a dh!"
tell him to go
whether there is OW or not (and I suspect there is) you need to make him experience what he might be losing
your self respect will thank you for it...that must have taken a battering over the last 8 months as you cling on to someone who is halfway out the door
give him that push, it will clarify the situation once and for all
this limbo only benefits one person and that is him....not you and not the kids
be aware this "unsureness" he is feeling could well be because he hasn't got his soft landing lined up just yet, but when he does it is likely he will just walk out that door with no further explanation required (in his mind....because you have allowed him to vacillate for so long)
man up, lady x
no eye rolling kitty, you're not stupid, you'll suss this out x
You might find reading the thirty years thread helps you to decide how to deal with situation. It might even help you find the courage to break the cycle now. I can only only say that it will become harder and you may become weaker if you continue living with a man who has 'checked out'
Having someone stay with you, possibly out of guilt, probably not out of love, is utterly corrosive.
OP, so sorry to hear you are going through this. I am not saying this to hurt you but I agree with the other posters here.
Both I and my sister went through this with our respective partners (except neither of us married but living together) within about a year of each other.
The pattern was the same. Both of us asked our distant OHs "Is there someone else?" Both denied it. Hers told her he thought their relationship had "just run its course". Mine looked me right in the eye as he denied having an affair!
Neither of us found out that an OW was the real reason until much, much later - years in my case.
But the ladies on here who said your DH may change his mind when you start to take control are so right!! At the moment your DH has got control and there is no imminent threat of you ending it. But once you start to take your power back you might see a different response.
I know a woman who had an affair with an OM and her DH found out. He was very hard: made her move out to a dingy little flat while he stayed at home with their kids and refused to have anything to do with her - in the short term.
It was this that proved to be her wake up call. She is now reunited with her DH and says it was his toughness and decisiveness that made her realise her mistake. It gave her the fright of her life.
Your DH is not frightened, he's comfortable. Which isn't good for you. You need to shake things up.
Anyway, if he wants to bugger off, pack his bags for him and show him the door... maybe even laugh and give him a wave as he leaves. Why? Because nine times out of ten they come crawling back - but only when they think you are strong and have moved on and NEVER when they see you upset and desperate.
Both mine and my sister's exes did indeed come crawling back. Happily, we'd both met someone better.
Good luck OP. And hugs x x
Others on here have said it but you need to take control.
If he's unsure make him realise what he's missing.
At the moment he's dragging through this emotional turmoil for his own benefit, if he doesn't know then make him leave... Take control!!!
Loss and change are among life's greatest motivators, whereas staying with an ambivalent partner ranks as one the most depression-inducing demotivators in life. From your husband's point of view, complacency and the belief that he will always have a safety net in you is also a big demotivator to working on the relationship or making an irreversible choice between two people.
If it's an affair (and I agree this is most likely) and you bring it out into the open, very often what happens is that the unfaithful party suddenly has to face the loss of a trusting spouse, especially if that spouse takes her time coming to any decision to try again and communicates that the relationship is over. The loss of control of events will transfer from you to your husband whereas at the moment you are powerless and unsighted. This often causes the affair to end and a straying partner to re-commit to winning his spouse back over a period of time.
If your covert enquiries fail to uncover an affair, insisting on a separation is still the best long-term measure for rescuing the relationship because of the motivational powers of loss. It is also the kindest thing to do for your own emotional health because I'd imagine your self-esteem is very low and taking control of this situation in any form will give that a much needed boost and your psyche a shot of adrenaline as you adapt to changed circumstances and a new way of living.
I don't think you're stupid at all. I was, as you say, where you are now.
I knew that telling him to leave to give me some much needed perspective, which can only be achieved through taking time out, was an option. But I was too ready to believe him.
As I said, Kitty I really regret not doing that when I had the opportunity. No one can tell you what to do but many of us have been there and I truly believe that if he means what he says he will be totally honest AND THEN give you the time you need to consider your options.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now »
Already registered? Log in with:
Please login first.