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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
He doesn't respect you at all, OP.
I hope the tide is turning for you emotionally, as you suggest, and you are realising how little he really thinks of you.
Take back some power. Honestly it's degrading for you to play along with happy families over the weekend when he has explicitly stated to you that another woman matters more than you and he won't be challenged about it.
I do understand it's fucking horrible and hard and you probably still can't really believe it, and you don't want to. Sympathies and strength to you, woman.
Absolutely not all men and women are the same as their gender socialisations prescribe.
And yes, lots of people think twice about their connection to a spouse once they meet someone else they are attracted to. It is however, in my experience rare for a man to leave or threaten to when there has only been an unconsumated attraction for someone else. I have however known men to leave marriages that were openly abusive and unhappy, without there being anyone else involved at all.
But not marriages like the OP's describing. Not at all. Nor have I ever encountered a man who was in a reasonably content relationship leave simply because he felt a mere spark or an attraction for someone else. Something more than that has always happened, although they might claim otherwise.
Would a man leave their marriage then? Even if they had no one to go to? Would a connection to another woman have made them question themselves? Even if nothing came of that attraction? Would he still leave?
I find that really difficult to answer. Not all men are the same. Not all women are the same.
Charbon, I understand what you are saying, I was meaning maybe some men think twice about their marriage if they are attracted to another woman and even though nothing physical may have happened there was a connection.
Would they leave their marriage then? Would it make them think"oh maybe I have been unhappy and I could find someone else who I have more in common with?" They may not have realised that they were unhappy but maybe being attracted to someone else brought it to the forefront of their minds? And they are thinking of things that annoy them about their partner? Just a thought.
There are real differences between men and women in this respect; not biological but because of socialisation and culture. Men have traditionally been socialised to value sex as being high up in the pecking order of relationship 'needs' whereas (unfortunately) women are socialised to place sex low in the pecking order.
Because in a depressingly high number of relationships, women still do most of the childcare and domestic work men will often only leave relationships if there is another woman to assume that workload, or can provide the means through earnings for someone else to do it all. But many of them will not leave until they are assured of a good sex life with a compatible partner and so it is rare for a man to leave for a woman when there has been no physical contact at all. However, this isn't always penetrative sex - but usually sex in some form has taken place before they will risk leaving.
If we take out the pain and emotions of these decisions for just a moment and look at this logically, it makes sense from a rational decision-making point of view. Sexual compatibility is important for most romantic relationships and it hardly makes any sense to sacrifice so much for something that's an unknown quantity.
Is that true? Do men never leave their marriages unless it has become physical? maybe they find that by even "fancying" and becoming close to someone else it makes them doubt their marriage. it may make them think of things in their marriage that annoy and frustrate them, and build it out of proportion. ie my wife can't work but this other woman can, and look what she can achieve. A high earner who has built all this up on her own.
I think men take many things at face value. They are stimulated by the visual and it makes them think again about what they do have at home, and they can think the grass is greener the other side.
I don't know the answer sweetheart but I do know it is painful, only you can decide whether to sit it out and wait or to take the bull by the horns.
I also think it's very likely that this affair pre-dated your husband's confusion about his marriage. When did the person who was close to him die? Bereavement is a real trigger factor for an affair.
This doesn't sound to me as though he fell out of love with you and then started an affair. It sounds more as though something started to burgeon with the friend and that gradually, more boundaries got broken. As they've been friends for a long time, I'd set the clock from around the time of the bereavement and think back to occasions he met up with or had contact with this friend around this time and in the weeks or months following.
When someone is bereaved, there are often feelings of complete helplessness. So individuals are often especially attracted to needy characters with problems in their own lives, who they can 'save' or help. Affairs also often have the effect of making people feel 'alive' and full of adrenaline and after a bereavement, these feelings are especially intoxicating because they reinforce Life and Vital Signs.
But if you've ever seen any of my posts on this, infidelity never happens in a vacuum. I expect your husband has always a been a bit selfish but you've probably overlooked it because of his other qualities. I'm wondering for example whether he has ever put this hobby he shares with the friend, before family events either in terms of time or budget?
I don't get the sense that you want proof beyond all reasonable doubt, because if you did then the most normal things to have done would have been to verify things for yourself. If you don't want to covertly snoop then I'd suggest asking your husband to show you his phone bills for the past year and his phone/laptop now, before he's had the chance to delete anything. If he's telling the truth about this being a friendship only, he should have nothing to hide. If he won't then I think you've got your answer and I'd personally be amazed if this affair hasn't been going on for at least 8 months. But affairs have very distinct stages and don't just start when something physical has happened.
IME men especially never leave their marriages or threaten to, unless an affair has become physical. So I'd judge that this affair was emotional in nature for a long time and that sexual activity of some sort has taken place within the last 3 months.
Sounds like you are starting to make the emotional break from him and that he is coming to the end of your tolerance levels.
Believe me if I knew beyond reasonable doubt that they were having an affair I would kick him out this afternoon. I'm not scared of finding out.. I would rather know as painful as that would be.
Mrsminiversecharlady I think you're right, it doesn't matter.. He has dug his heels in and chosen their friendship over me and that is what is wrong. If he's not having an affair, in his head he knows that's wrong but won't be told what to do and that is also wrong because my feelings aren't being taken into account. This makes me very angry it really does and I'm not just sweeping this under the carpet like people think.
What is good from here is that I have a weekend like we've had this weekend where we've had a nice time with friends, spent time together, hes been quite close to me and I start to hope and feel closer to him.. Then this chat thread slaps me again to waking up to what is going on whether its an affair or not.. And then I feel empowered to do something.. Take myself away from him and be stronger.
I hate what he's doing.. Affair or confusion or end of marriage.. It would be easy to think he's having an affair and that's what's caused this but he could have just fallen out of love with me regardless and that's something I have to face up to. Despite all this I'm still very torn but I know I can't take much more of this surreal existence.
He is such a stubborn bloke he will cut his nose off to spite his face - I'm not sure I can be bothered with it all for much longer.. I'm getting tired and to tell you the truth a bit bored..
Personally, I don't think it really matters all that much whether he is actually having a physical relationship with her or not. The point is that this 'friendship' is damaging your marriage and yet, from what you've said, he is not prepared to put you and your marriage first and stop seeing her. That, in itself, would be a dealbreaker for me. He had made a choice at some level as to what or who is more important in his life, and it would appear to be her and their friendship/relationship.
kitty, I know you don't want to check his phone and start down the route of snooping, but at some point I think you have to establish the truth.
You can't rely on him to be completely honest with you - it sounds very dog eat dog, but he is putting his own interests above yours and so you can only rely on yourself now. The best way to look after yourself is from a position of full knowledge about the life you are choosing.
I think that if you just take his word for it and don't look for yourself, you will one day be out of this fog and having a nagging doubt that what happened with ow was far more than he ever let on.
I really do think you are playing this wrong. No man is worth keeping at all costs - he has to want you more that he wants anybody else. He has to see you as someone he could lose and he has to come to a clear decision that you are the one for him. All the time he has this cosy arrangement, whereby he gets everything and fears nothing, he he is not choosing you.
MN helped me to see the wood for the trees too. It wasn't fun and it wasn't nice. There were some very harsh comments. But the thread I made helped me to see that there were OW, after five years of denial.
It took me three years to start checking up on him, and even then the evidence seemed thin. However, he was all right.
I learned that:
Men don't detach and question their marriage unless there is OW
Finding out is almost always preceded by months of detachment
Detachment dates to just after they started
They will always find a way
They justify their behaviour by questioning the marriage
No man can be won round by patience and tolerance where OW are concerned, but most can be won round by a change of tactics, where you take the control right away from them and make plans to divorce yourself. If they don't at that stage, they never would have stayed long term, and were just biding their time.
I also think, OP, that your H is having an affair with this woman. Now he has detached, he almost feels justified in his head.
Take back control: it is the only chance you have to save it, odd as that seems.
As someone has already said upthread the strategy you have adopted never works - even if he does come back to you, he will have lost respect for you as he will know you are willing to accept this behavior, and that there is nothing to stop him from cheating again.
Empower yourself, somehow
I would speak to a solicitor, it's nothing final, but you say you've been married for 4 years, not that long, I would be interested to know where I will stand financially if we did split.
And 8 months is a long time to be confused, he should be moving one way or the other by now, surely.
I don't 'do' soft-pedalling and neither can I empathise with the OP's take on this, so I'm not going to pretend that I do.
I'm never rude to posters, just straight-talking. I never want to kick anyone but I do want posters like this to wake up to the truth.
Leavenheath that's harsh, you know how to kick a woman when she'd down. fwiw I kind of agree with you, put perhaps a little empathy here.
OP, fighting for your marriage is ok, an affair or just an infatuation, whatever it may be, doesn't have to be the end. I do have a caveat to that though, and it is an important one. The running has to come from him. If he isn't chasing after you, desperate to keep you, doing everything within his power to show you he is committed and faithful and SORRY, then it won't work. No matter how much you want it to work it won't. Because his heart won't be in it, and eventually his head will be turned again and you will be back to square one, only this time even more broken.
I posted on here when my DH had an affair and got such unbalanced vitriol, lectures about flogging the dead horse that was my marriage that I ran away, licked my wounds, name changed, and disappeared for a while. However, reading between the lines of some very poisonous comments I did learn that the only way to save my marriage was to walk away from it. My DH and I spent days and days talking, real heart to heart stuff, clearing years of misunderstandings, getting to know each other again... but it wasn't until I walked away that we actually solved the problems and made it work. Close off the options, and start communicating from a level playing field.
He is on a journey finding out if the OW really wants him and will be a soft place to land if he jumps out of your marriage. If she gives him enough reassurance, he'll go. And he doesn't want to be hassled or challenged about it, or his feelings, by you whilst he's on that journey.
Your journey currently involves making life nice and comfy for him while he sees how the land lies with the OW. And trying not to feel too crap. And trying to imagine that it'll all go away.
You won't let yourself down by snooping - he's already made it clear that there is an OW - whether they've had sex or he's just besotted or somewhere in between.
Empower yourself, somehow.
So really what you're saying is that you're in denial?
You don't want to find that this is an affair, because then you'd be forced to do something and leave the marriage?
Not facing up to it, doesn't mean it isn't happening you know.
I don't see how anyone can help you here then. It's so startlingly obvious that he's been having an affair for the past 8 months, but you don't want to acknowledge that.
Even if this burns itself out like many affairs do, he will never respect you again. Whereas you'd have a fighting chance of saving this marriage if you blew the lid off it all and took away his safety.
OW's husband is too far away - they don't live local, about 3 hours away - I don't want to talk to him - wouldnt want to put him through what I'm going through... and no I haven't - I don't go down his phone -we've always kept our phones private. Once I start snooping around, I would feel I have let myself down. If i'm going to believe him, I have to believe him. If I don't, I have to get him to go.
What does OW's husband/partner make of this?
Have you checked your husband's phone bills/phone itself?
Hi there ladies..
Schmaltzingmatilda: I do respect him but I'm not sure about trust.. some days I do trust him and really still believe in him and worry about him and some days I doubt, think he's a selfish b and caught up thinking about himself.. He has been the only man that I've ever put my trust in after a very dodgy start to relationships with my family and my first boyfriends etc. so it makes it all the harder.
Leavenheath: They are always with other people when they go out. It's a social event that they enjoy with others.. I know that they could well be meeting up during the day etc. but I don't think so and there has never been any evidence of this. I do think that in the last couple of months though this might have changed.
SecretJewel: We've been together for 15 years, married for 4. You are right, he is evaluating his life and he has definitely had his head turned. I don't trust her as far as I can throw her. Yes, he has betrayed me and I am not sure whether I can get over this. Trouble is if he did stay and we worked this through, I'm not sure he would end the friendshp and this would just make it very difficult indeed.
Worcestershiresauce: I'm glad it worked out for you and your hubby. I hope it continues to. I am putting myself first now, have been making plans with the children/family etc. and he is currently coming along.
JustinBsMum: He won't go for counselling at the moment but I think me making an appointment for Relate and going even if he doesn't want to is a really good idea.
I am not being clingy and am not crying or anything like that... I just get up and get on with it each day. Weekends are the hardest because we are together and we still spend a lot of time together on our own. He still comes home from work every day and we enjoy our evenings athough it's tainted with sadness for me. We laugh together still, most people wouldn't see the difference.. But as I've said before, I find it so hard when i see him go to put his arm around me in bed and he pulls it back, he walked up to me today while we were out with friends and where normally he would pull me in for a cuddle he just stopped 3 inches from me. It then becomes awkward. I do really believe that he just doesn't want to feel the good because it confuses him as he believes there are so many things wrong and all he can see are the negatives. We used to go away very often, overnight hotels, dinner, walks etc. We used to connect the minute we got in the car together. But when he looks back, he says we were running away from reality - I don't understand why thats distorted in his mind..
Thank you for all your posts - even the ones that are uncomfortable to read, they give me different perspectives if they're fair and respectful. He has always been a decent man and I have had an awful lot of respect for him. I know he is going through a tough time.. he knows I am too.. At the end of the day, I will keep my self respect and at the moment I am fighting for my marragie - if I have to ask him to leave I will. He has said an awful lot of things that I can't forget in my head.. it may be too late.. But we are both on a journey of sorts.. I have to see it as that.
I disagree secretjewel, I make no assumptions, but I have read a lot of threads that all start off with 'he has told me there is no one else and I believe him', move onto 'there is someone, but it's not physical', and end with 'I'm devastated..... etc'. Men are in the main cowards and find a new port before leaving the old. I'd love it to be otherwise but it rarely is.
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