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Can I ask about love?

(40 Posts)
PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 14:27:29

I just want to ask what people believe about love in their marriage and how they see it.

This is because I am working through being separated from my H and making the decision to divorce him, even though I still love him very much.

My H is not the best looking man, nor the strongest, nor the most impressive but I just loved him absolutely. I don't want to make this longer than necessary but I loved him in all the ways you can and I have never felt more happy that I was during our marriage. He was just "the one" if that is a simple way to explain it.

We had a great marriage and a great life, but I think throughout it he was to some degree pretending to be what he thought I wanted to please me. With hindsight I am not sure how much of my marriage was real.

He had a breakdown a couple of years ago, got severe depression and he just changed completely. He left me unexpectedly, said he didn't love me and wanted a divorce. After that, while I was in complete shock and desperate to repair my marriage, he became cold, nasty, verbally abusive. He started to be cruel to me - narcissistic behavior, gaslighting, cruelty and he wouldn't talk about it at all- he was just gone.

I was devastated as I said, but after a year of begging and getting no result, I moved away and built a new life and went NC with the ex. I pretended in my he was dead as it was the only way I could cope with it. I'm still sad, still miss him, still love him though.

I made a thread a while ago asking if I should take H back, as he is better now, sorry and thinks he made a mistake. I got varying answers but I decided really that it was too little, too late and I felt that despite being better he had not worked through the parts of himself that led to the breakdown in the first place. He wouldn't talk about it at the time, and so I feel like the window we had to talk about it and fix it is gone.

He's a good man, but very selfish, conflict avoidant, people pleasing, weak and prone to run away rather than deal with things. He doesn't really see any of those things about himself, and I don't think he has the capability to learn and grow from this. He is sort of like a big kid emotionally. I think that in combination with depression was what made him treat me so badly.

My current BF ticks all the boxes. I find him very attractive, he has a good job, he is looking to settle down and thinks I am the right woman. He is intelligent, thoughtful, funny, we have heaps in common, he is emotionally intelligent, analytic, kind and I think he would be a great Dad and I want kids. He's been amazingly supportive to me and accepts my grief and I feel like he is a wonderful person.

I can't understand why I don't love him?

I'm so scared of waking up an old lady, having spent my life with the easy or safe option instead of with the person I truly, deeply loved, however flawed that person is.

Deep down I believe my H is the sort of person who would let me down again, who would lie to me to keep the peace, who would have an affair - because he's just like that. He covers up being Mr Nice Guy with actually being a person with little emotional maturity. He's a coward really.

It annoys me that I still love him so much.

Do we choose, even subconsciously who we love?

If I "learn" to love someone else, will it make me as happy to the extent I once felt happy with H?

Do we sometimes have to make the choice not to be with the one we love the most because they are just no good for us?

I'm so scared of regrets, but I feel like my H won't be the husband / father that I deserve and I feel like he will let me down. Maybe not for a few years, but surely later on down the line. I think it's just who he is....

Sorry this is so long. If any of the wise people here have any insight,I just want to let go and feel happy about it instead of this constant feeling that I am in the wrong life.

dadwood Tue 02-Dec-14 14:53:35

Hi PaisleySheets

I have an idea, which certainly applies to me, although I am not sure if it applies to you.

I have always been drawn, possibly subconsciously, to women who need support, lots of emotional support. I think my self worth is generally not very high and I know I have something to offer them, that is, I know that they will need me.

In actual fact I have broken the programming now and have a DW who doesn't need unusual amounts of emotional support, she just needs a steady calm partner who listens and does his fair share in life.

I think what I had is called co-dependency, or maybe rescue-complex

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 14:59:44

Thanks Dadwood. I have explored all this in detail. With my counsellor asking me what "the pull" was.

I honestly don't think there was one.

During the relationship and marriage I believed him to be immensely strong emotionally, I believed him to be incredibly loyal and dependable, I believed him to be unusually moralistic and I thought very highly of him as a person.

After his breakdown, he showed himself to be the opposite of most of those things, but for whatever reason, I loved him just the same.

I don't think I am co-dependent. Maybe was in the marriage (loved him looking after me admittedly), but I am stronger now, independent and don't "need" anyone and yet every single day I miss him and wish he could share the day with me.

It aggravates me, because I am not sure quite how to switch that off. The thought of loving him that way forever is depressing. I want to have a baby, but keep thinking how bittersweet it will all be.

Maybe that's just life though?!

cailindana Tue 02-Dec-14 14:59:55

I agree with Dadwood. I think many people are attracted to others who are essentially bad news because they see some need in them that they want to fill, or because they are replicating some dysfunctional relationship they had in the past.

What was your parents' relationship like?

dadwood Tue 02-Dec-14 15:01:09

cont.. Coincidentally, I feel that I needed emotional support and understanding when I was a child and young adult and didn't get it easily. maybe the unusual level of support is the emotional currency I understand and want to give to others and receive myself.

This led to troubled relationships with people I could not repair.

dadwood Tue 02-Dec-14 15:01:49

x post with you two!

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 15:03:37

Sorry Cailindana, I cross posted there, but as I said, I think before all this he was seemingly the perfect husband and the opposite of bad news. It's only in the light of all that happened that I realise he's bad news - and yet still love him.

My parents had a dreadful marriage. My Dad was loud, angry, verbally abusive and I picked a man who was the total opposite.

We ever fought, ever. I see now that was largely unhealthy and as I said I am concerned he was telling me what I wanted to hear. All this is conjecture of course, because I was forced after his abandonment to unravel all of this without his participation. He refused to speak about it.

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 15:05:20

the last thing I wanted was a man with problems or emotional issues! Just to be clear on that. It's just when they unfolded, it didn't change my feelings for him. But it did make me see he was not a good choice.

Pandora37 Tue 02-Dec-14 16:10:01

I seem to attract troubled men, with my last boyfriend I had no idea he was troubled at first so I was into him just the same. Even when he opened up to me, he was the one who brought it up mostly but it didn't define our relationship in any way. I have no idea why this is as my parents have a very happy marriage and have been together since the stone age. The only thing is I'm slightly troubled myself and have depression so I guess it's a case of like attracting like.

I think you'll always love your husband but that doesn't mean you should be with him and that's something you'll have to come to terms with over time. How long have you been with your new boyfriend? Just because someone ticks all the boxes, doesn't mean they're right for you. I don't think love is rational like that. That said, my last boyfriend I was very unsure about to start with and felt similarly to you about him and I eventually loved him more than anything after deciding that I wanted to give our relationship my best shot. I wouldn't say I learnt to love him as it wasn't as calculated as that, it was just a bit of a slow burner.

I do however think that it will be impossible for you to love your boyfriend when you're in love with someone else and lusting after the life you had. That isn't really fair on him and I think you need to come to a decision about whether you want to put the past behind you and give things a go with him or that you're just not emotionally ready for a new relationship, which to be honest it sounds like you're not. Maybe neither man is right for you.

I think when intense relationships end the love feeling can be stronger than ever, even when they've done bad things or been unkind to us. It sounds like you realise deep down that your relationship will never work. Yes, you'll be with someone you love but at what price? You'll constantly be walking on eggshells, scared that he'll suddenly decide one day that he doesn't love you again. I don't believe that there's only one person out there that can make us happy or that all romantic relationships have the strength behind them to last a lifetime. You had an amazing relationship with someone you loved and it didn't work out. It's really sad but you can be happy again with someone else or even on your own. Some time alone to properly grieve for your marriage might be a good idea. It is very, very hard walking away from someone you love, especially when you know they have a lot of problems but sometimes unfortunately it is for the best.

HazleNutt Tue 02-Dec-14 16:16:56

you write that 'I think before all this he was seemingly the perfect husband', that you were happy, he was the one - only natural that you want this back. Even if rationally you understand it's not going to happen.

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 16:53:29

I never thought about the possibility that some other types of love might be more of a slow burner but end up just as fulfilling.

I've never been attracted to troubled men. More the opposite, boy next door "good egg" type but for whatever reason the obvious weaknesses in my H made me love him only the more. I just see now that those weaknesses will make for an unhappy life, as you say treading on eggshells and wondering what the next crisis that will cause him to behave like a twat.

I thought he was perfect, but I think people can be wonderful people but just prone to disregarding others. I think his psyche wrestles with the way he thinks he is versus who he actually is. He tends to lie to tell people what they want to hear (not just to me to everyone) and his self esteem is really low. I know i am sad looking back that if he'd come to me THEN and talked about this that we would have come through it better and stronger but he made a choice that almost destroyed me and ripped lives apart. I just can't see him ever having he deep courage and strength it will take to deconstruct and rebuild himself.

Deep down though, I guess i hope he will. I guess I hope there's a way and I am still emotionally invested in the past.

The new boyfriend has been on the scene since August-ish. I know that's not very much time, but I knew I wnated to marry H within about two weeks.

overslept Tue 02-Dec-14 17:15:00

OP I could have almost written your post with regards to my ex and him suddenly changing. We were together for 5 years, in the end it turned to bickering and he became obsessed by finances (we were early 20's with no DC or real responsibility yet he would blow up if I spend even £10 more than he thought I should have on something and yes we could afford it!) He was a gentle, kind, vulnerable, sweet person when I first met him. By the end he was aloof, cold, self obsessed, could say very hurtful things and literally cared about nobody except himself. We split up and decided to remain friends as much as possible. He had previously told me I was not strong enough, that I would end up calling him in tears begging for him back confused. I didn't call at all and when he realised I was 100% serious about us being over he panicked. He didn't care until it hit him one night, then he wanted to change, be who he was etc. I knew this would never be the case. I know what you mean as well OP when you sat it is as if you feel they are dead when they change that much. It is a real grieving process and I felt like I did my grieving while the man he turned into was still around. When I looked at my ex I used to feel as if he just looked like somebody I used to know.

I don't think you should go back to him. He will never be who he was and you will never be able to see him the way you used to either. Better to have good memories from early in your marriage and leave it at that.

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 17:54:24

Mine only changed after he left. Everything was as always before that, so I guess I never experienced the slow breakdown of the marriage which makes it possible to move in knowing it was for the best or the marriage was damaged. I went from perfection to hell overnight. It was hard to understand or live with, but I've spent two years in therapy and thinking and analysing and I think I understand sort of. I don't think he does though.

Twinklestein Tue 02-Dec-14 17:54:33

It's very difficult to give your heart to your new man when you're still processing your feelings for your ex.

Some people can love two people at once, but it sounds like you're struggling with holding them both in your head.

Once your ex starts to recede and the attachment starts to fade, then you'll have more room to expand your feelings for your new man.

You did absolutely the right thing with your ex, but your heart needs time to catch up with your head.

dadwood Tue 02-Dec-14 17:55:13

PaisleySheets I have another idea: Is it possible you are still attached to H because your relationship with him was traumatic and you don't have the closure you need to let go and move on?

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 18:15:41

Dadwood, I am not sure.

No, I don't think I ever got closure, in so much as a simple conversation where he was honest about why he was doing what he was doing. Even now he says he was severely depressed and he think this is a carte blanche explanation for it all. Explain to me why everyone else with depression doesn't leave their wife. I don't think he even knows HOW to have an honest conversation like that. Some people are wonderful in good times but useless in bad IYKWIM. He's one of those, no question. As much as I love him, looking back, he has run from every hard situation in his life and I think he always will. Always the path of least resistance.

Yes, it was incredibly traumatic. I feel deeply betrayed and have difficulties letting anyone close to me. Strangely this does not just extend to romantic relationships. I even got paranoid my parents didn't like me after what he did. It shook the foundations of everything I thought was most solid.

I think "closure" in a sense though is going to come from within because there is not and will never be any explanation that satisfies what I went through. Beyond "he was a screwed up man".

I am not sure how to fully get there. How to let go of the ghost that I carry around with me. I get so angry inside because he shat all over me and yet there's a duality there in my heart and mind of the man I THOUGHT he was and love and miss so much.

I wish I'd experienced that time of him being distant, or "off" or the sex life dwindling or the feeling something was amiss or even arguing and not getting on because at least I would have a pathway in my brain for things going wrong. When someone just leaves it's incredibly hard to make sense of it.

Twinklestein, i know I am making the right choice, I do know that, but I just want to feel happier about it. I want to give this new man a chance. I want my heart to let go of the old and make way for someone I could love just as much who won't crap all over me when times get tough.

Maybe time is what it takes. I just feel like one of those people who you hear about who "never got over it".

Brodicea Tue 02-Dec-14 18:25:59

I had a similar experience with me ExDH. One day he just left me, turned really nasty and cold and offered no explanation. We had loved each other very much and been incredibly close. Further down the road I could see how our relationship could never work (codependent, overly a claustrophobic child / mother dynamic), and found out he had cheated on me a number of times during our relationship and had basically left me for someone at work.

However years later, although I was in another OK-ish relationship I really missed him. Like pining for him. I would think about holding him, the fabrics of his clothes. I cried my heart out to songs like 'Baby's coming back to me' by Jarvis Cocker!

I realised after a few meet ups once my other relationship failed, that I didn't miss him. I missed the OLD him not who he was now. Now I have a great marriage and seldom think of him, but I think a bit of me will always love that person I met back then. I still feel a pang when I see a corduroy hat. It doesn't impact on my relationship now though, I've changed, he's changed and now I have the love that really suits me.

I guess what I'm saying is that maybe you do love the old him. He doesn't exist now. But also that's OK and you will be able to move on. Maybe the guy your with now just doesn't cut the mustard, so it's hard to see them as different but equal loves?

Brodicea Tue 02-Dec-14 18:27:16

BTW my ex offered depression as a reason - I put the pieces together later and had facts verified by friends.

dadwood Tue 02-Dec-14 18:29:11

PaisleySheets I have always got love confused with attachment

I wonder if there is a difference and if there is, then whether the love can go and the attachment carry on or vice-versa. Maybe I'm making it all up, but you just got me thinking, because I am asking you questions which I believe are about attachment and your OP title asks about love.

Twinklestein Tue 02-Dec-14 18:32:26

I feel deeply betrayed and have difficulties letting anyone close to me. Strangely this does not just extend to romantic relationships.

But it does though doesn't it, because you're not letting this new man close to you - you're not letting him in. You're sort of nominally in a new relationship but you're keeping him at arm's length.

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 18:44:01

Thanks Brodicea, I think your post really resonated there. I will always love the OLD him, will always feel a pang, because whoever that person was, he was it for me. who he became, I frankly hated and have no respect for.

Dadwood, I also confused the diferrence, but I think when you separate yourself for so long the attachment fades naturally. I think I am ow attached to new things. What lingers there is that wish to tell him about my day, hear his advice, watch his face from the other end of the sofa when we're watching TV.

I think the "love" for me went obviously beyond those emotions but was also about a dedication to a life together, to a joint future, joint growth, sharing it all, being committed. I think that was where he fell short. For him all the emotions were there...in that he thought I was adorable, wanted to kiss me and spend time with me and he loved me in that sense but the deeper level where the commitment was there I think can only come between TWO healthy people -and he never was that.

No doubt he was absolutely horrifically depressed, no doubt about it because after he left his life caved in around him. He was signed off work, he lost heaps of weight and barely went out of the house for 18 months but I don't think he has ever got to the real rout of that, nor ever will he, so without that I think he remains the unhealthy person he was before.

Incapable of truly loving another person, because that comes from a diferrent place to wanting to kiss and cuddle them.

I can definitely imagine the "verb" of love coming to me on such a deep level again. Choosing a man who ticks all the boxes and committing completely to being a team and raising a family but that extra something that my xH had....I can't imagine ever having that again.

I just hope I am wrong because that would be very sad.

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 18:45:48

And Brodicea he did now have anyone else, but knowing H, if he HAD he would have handled it the same way. Saying nothing, hiding it, then running away with no explanation - because he was a coward.

THIS is why I won't take him back -because I know deep down when those inevitable hard times come, he will let me down because he doesn't have the chops.

Quitelikely Tue 02-Dec-14 19:01:02

I have seen this situation occur on MN a few times in this past year. Where amazing, wonderful husbands, fathers have just completely changed overnight and basically acted the same way as your dh.

I do actually believe him when he says it was depression. That and the pressure of keeping up the Mr Lovely act just catches up doesn't it.

I don't think you have to do anything. I think time is your healer here and the only thing that is going to ease your trauma.

I even feel a tad sorry for your ex but like you say he could have discussed it with you before he went off the rails. Too little too late. I suppose the trust is gone from your perspective and you don't really want to live your life wondering when's next time.

I think you and he might always love one another.

PaisleySheets Tue 02-Dec-14 19:28:40

I believe him too QuiteLikely, I know he'd not have left or wanted to leave had he not been depressed and completely believe that. I think you are 100% on the money and the Mr Lovely act was too hard when he was depressed.

It doesn't really change the choice he made though, and nothing in him has actually changed. He's still not got the strength to dig up the issues which got him to where he is. He'd just go right back to the Mr Lovely act because he's not depressed anymore and he can handle it - but I don't want to be married to Mr Lovely. I want him to be himself and he can't / won't do that.

It took me a while for that lightbulb moment to hit because at first, or for a long time I just could not understand why at his lowest moment he didn't want my love and support - but he didn't see me that way. He loved me from a distance where he did not / could not be "real". He couldn't have grumpy days, he couldn't argue with me when he didn't agree with me, he couldn't show me the warts and all version and so at the lowest ebb being married was a burden rather than a support.

I'm so sad he didn't see that, but I DID try. I sent letters, I came to visit him, I tried to ask him to go to counselling, I read up on depression. I did everything I possibly could and all he wanted me to do was go away.

I feel really sorry for him too, but I can't change any of it. Yes, the trust is gone because I will be wondering every single day if today is the day he's going to leave and he's done nothing to change the fundamentals aside from healing from his depression.

To me, those times when the waters were choppy should have been when we battened down the hatches and showed what marriage REALLY meant. We were supposed to be a team through thick and thin and he cut me out of my marriage like a cancer.

Yes, I do think I will always love him. That's the part that just makes me so sad. I just can't trust him.

Brodicea Tue 02-Dec-14 20:06:10

Give it time. I too considered getting back together after a few years. But the overwhelming feeling was that I just couldn't trust him. I felt so guilty too, even though he was the one who rejected me.

When I met my current DH though, I remember just thinking 'yes'. So although a bit of me will always love the Ex of the past, I've never doubted this relationship. The one I had in between was different - I loved being with the inbetweener because he was SO different to the Ex, but we never connected on the same level and that ground me down. If you don't feel 'it' for this chap, maybe he isn't the right one, or it's just too raw still? remember just because it may have been years, you might not still be over it.

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