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I don't know how to begin to say it.(61 Posts)
I don't love my wife. I respect and admire and like her - she's an incredible person, and any sensible man should be thankful to have her, but apparently I'm not sensible because I don't love her.
We've been together 12 years, married 10. Two DCs, 8 and 6, who - needless to say - are the reason it's still a marriage and not an ex-marriage.
Like a lot of these stories, it begins with sex, and a mismatch in drives. Hers was always lower, and although her perception is that we used to be at it like knives, we weren't. Maybe for the first few weeks. After that, we settled into a pattern that I'd associate with 20 years of marriage: 2, 3 times a week. That lasted a little while, but dwindled fast to once a week, then once a fortnight. Then the DCs came along and it tells you everything you need to know that I am certain where and when DS (second child) was conceived.
While all this dwindling was going on, I tried and tried and was rejected and rejected. It was humiliating, and caused a lot of resentment. Both of us, to be honest, were embarrassed to confront it, embarrassed to ask for what we wanted in bed, embarrassed to say "I'm not in the mood". Sex between us shrivelled and died. It's probably more than a year since we last attempted it, and that was a disaster. After years of feeling resentment and humiliation, I became the one to reject her. I wanted sex - want sex - but I don't want it with her. I quite simply am not attracted to her - the years of near-drought killed my desire for her. I actually don't blame her for it - we were both to blame, our inability to talk it through or get help before it was too late.
But now I don't want help. I want to be free. What began as sexual dysfunction spread and turned malignant. We don't row, we don't abuse each other - we simply exist under the same roof. The kids wouldn't necessarily be aware there's a problem, but we have no friends in common, no interests in common. The DCs are all that unites us. And they're great - happy, healthy, hilarious, intelligent little miracles. I adore them, and look forward to every second I spend with them, and have a wonderful time when I do. But it's always better if it's them with their mum, or them with me. Not both. "Family time" always has that underlying tension, at least for me.
Despite my respect and regard for my wife, I can't help misdirecting my feelings sometimes. I do find myself blaming her - although I certainly don't express it intentionally. (I'm suffering from quite acute depression, which I'm getting help for, but I'm certain the marriage difficulties are a cause, not an effect, of my MH problems.) Anyway, when I'm down, a symptom is anger. I'm not an angry person, and I don't shout or scream, and I've never used my fists on another human being, let alone in a relationship. I just go cold, and sarcastic, and freeze right up. I feel myself doing it and try not to, but it's so hard not to make my sadness come out as anger. She doesn't deserve it, and I do try my hardest to be nice. This doesn't happen often, but it's becoming more frequent, and I don't want to be that person. I hate myself when I freeze up on her, and that makes it all worse.
So we're both so unhappy, and we know that The Conversation, when it comes, will be the end of us. So we're not having The Conversation. We're desperately avoiding all conflict because we both know the dam will burst when we do.
And I know it's coming, but all I want is to minimise the damage for the children and for both of us. I think she still loves me, and is terrified. And part of me wants to do what a husband does - put my arms around her and make it all OK and reassure her. But I've got no reassurance to give: she may love me, but my love for her is gone. And The Conversation is coming and I'm so scared.
How can I have it in the most blame-free, kindest way possible? Is there a way to do this without cruelty? There isn't, is there? Oh god, I never wanted to be cruel to her.
Is a discreet open relationship not an option? If she refuses to have sex and it's been a year, you either split or have sex with other people.
I wouldn't have put up with no sex or intimacy for a year so you've done well.
This is cruel. You're both playing a game that nobody can win, and you're getting more angry as a result. Your wife is probably getting more upset and frustrated. Hopefully your children have not realised but kids are perceptive so they probably know something is wrong.
You can't avoid a bad conversation by not having it. If you don't love your wife and you don't want to be with her, you need to tell her and work out where you go from here. You have to both move on or the anger and resentment and frustration will continue to grow.
The sex is almost irrelevant now, you don't want to fix it, you don't want to have sex with her, you don't love her. Leave that out. Just start a conversation and let her know that you don't love her and you want to separate, in the calmest way possible for the children.
You can't avoid hurting her, especially not if she still loves you. You want different things and someone has to lose. Right now you're both losing, though, and you're dragging it out.
I think you need to sit her down and tell her what you've told us. Sooner rather than later for her sake and your children's. Mismatched sex drives can be a huge problem in a relationship. Looking at it from your wife's point of view, there's nothing worse than being hassled for sex.
Man up and have the conversation. You say you aren't abusing each other, but then go one to say you are cold and sarcastic towards your wife. You say how much you respect her but then say you're angry with her and resent her. I don't have any sympathy tbh.
Fugghetaboutit - I'm sure she'd love to have sex. I no longer want to, with her. That side of things has died for me - once I would've initiated but years of either being knocked back or it being very perfunctory just switched something off in my brain.
She's certainly not refusing at this point - she initiated the last time (a year ago) and I panicked. It felt wrong, I couldn't make myself do it. All the attraction has gone and it felt like touching my sister or something.
So sorry to read this. Why have you never discussed counselling together? Though it seems too late now. I would just try to to be as gentle as possible. Don't blame. I can understand how her sexual rejection of you can be so damaging but it's both your faults for not confronting it sooner. Maybe suggest a trial separation first. I wish you well.
2legit, you do understand that things aren't black and white, right? And that it's possible to sometimes behave atypically and feel awful about it? And that behaving coldly occasionally to someone isn't necessarily abuse? Have you never been cold to anyone when you felt sad? Get a bit of nuance, FFS.
I suppose it was inevitable that, being a bloke, someone would try to cast me as the villain. There are no villains here, it's just sadness. But thanks for your lack of sympathy. You're a gem.
Thank you, Lucy. I know what I have to do - it's just a matter of time. Sometimes people just need to articulate what they're feeling for their own sanity - I suppose this thread is that. I can't talk to anyone about it other than her, and I'm scared of the conversation. Manning up is coming, but it's just... scary.
Have been there with a bf years ago. I grew to find him so sexually unattractive.. endured the sex....he made me go off him in that way because he wanted sex too often. it was resentment made me go off him.
Just take a deep breath and tell her. Maybe sort out a few things first. Would be torture to be under same roof
I was about to post something helpful, but then you spat your dummy out...
Dont sugar coat it.... rip the plaster off.
Sorry, pocket, I didn't spit my dummy so much as get narked with someone putting the boot in without apparently having read my OP properly. I'd appreciate some wisdom if you feel like sharing. But obviously not if you don't want to.
Ps no no no to counselling....
when i went off that bf, in that way, nothing could have made me feel attracted to him again. It would have been like being counselled in to finding a sibling attractive.. it would have felt so wrong and sick.
I meet that bf out and about sometimes and he thinks he knows why other relationships since him failed! Ie, that i hate sex bless him.
I've asked MN to delete the thread, on reflection. A mistake. I should've just written it all down without posting it online.
Dear anchor - thank you for that post. I missed it first time around. Really appreciate it.
Ps2 i think the good news is that after delivering the shocking news and digesting it, facing change and diing all the practical tasks, after that, i think it is easier because there's no sex-bonding element to the broken couple.
Honesty and courage to make changes... reassure her that there wont be an ugly battle as it isnt necessary.
Well before they take it, here's my brief advice.
Go to a solicitor yourself this week and ask them about how things would be if you split. What financials you can expect, etc. Think about how you would want to arrange contact/residence for the Dc - would you be able to do 50/50, or would it be EOW - if so how much maintenance would you need to pay - etc.
Then try to get both DC out of the house for at least an evening, preferably an overnight, so you can both talk things through and if you get upset, the DC aren't there to see it. I think you just need to be very direct and honest - don't hedge your bets talking about a trial separation or try to let her down gently, it sounds like you're both making each other unhappy so it's best to just get it over with.
Try to approach things as parents who are not going to live together any more, but are going to co-parent still. Keep your children's needs and welfare in the forefront of all your conversations and plans. That will give your DC the solid foundation of still knowing that their mum and dad have their best interested at heart.
Thank you, sionnach. The last thing I want is rancour and a big fight. She can have the house, AFAIC. She can have the savings, as long as I've got enough to put a deposit on a rental somewhere. I'll put my share in on a monthly basis - we earn about the same (both good salaries) and I've got no interest in anything but doing the absolute right thing by her and the children.
Far better to have the conversation now, before either one of you ends up in an affair situation. It seems beyond hope.
It will hurt like hell but living with that unhappiness is hell for both of you anyway.
Good point anchor. No point saying icouldnt have sex with u as well as i dont love you and i want to separate. Given the second part, no need to say the first part.
Thank you, pocket. We're in a decent place, financially - her salary can service the mortgage twice over (as can mine). I can get by on probably 2 thirds of what I earn once rent is factored in - she can have the rest. Like I say - we have identical salaries. I want to do the right thing.
I will do as you suggest. I don't want to have the conversation with the children around.
Very very sad and something that happens in so many marriages when nothing is wrong other than the couple not being right for each other.
I think it'd do you well to look at how to separate fairly and with as little friction as possible, although some will be inevitable.
Best of luck for the future and don't let the twats on here drag you down
When I split with my first husband apart from a handful of unpleasant events in the last 15 years tbh we've co-parented well. It doesn't have to be nasty.
From a practical point of view I'd keep the marital home as a joint asset until the youngest in their early twenties unless one of you meets someone else and can afford to buy the other out type of thing. You negotiate mortgage payments and maintenance on the house in addition to CM.
Don't let guilt at calling it a day on the relationship let you make unwise long term financial decisions.
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