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Ready to end the marriage but feel really guilty!

(6 Posts)
DoveyGirl Tue 05-Apr-16 02:56:02

Will try to summarize best I can but after 20 years there’s a lot of water under the bridge. I appreciate any advice or thoughts you may have on my situation, as I’m feeling very insecure a lot of the time due to the gravity of what I’m considering.

Bottom line is that I realized over the last few months that I’ve simply fallen out of love. That we got together in the first place was kind of a fluke; that we got married and stayed married almost 20 years is pretty incredulous. We were raised in similar backgrounds but our personalities and interests are quite different. I was a preppy sort of girl and he was a hippie. We both have a great sense of humor, like most of the same foods, generally don’t care about sports, and have similar religious views.

On the other hand…he is very passionate about politics, is technologically challenged, and has worked in blue collar jobs all his adult life. I have an engineering degree and a successful career, spend much of my time on a computer, and don’t give a shit about political issues. He was a stay-at-home dad for 10 years during the time our son was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and was going through therapy.

Before and after that time, DH was a bartender. For the 3 years immediately preceding the stay at home period, he owned a bar. During that time he became prone to tirades. Ever since then, he tends to go off unreasonably whenever he feels pressured, slighted, or frustrated. For the last 3 years he has worked in a factory job that he absolutely hates. He has a great work ethic and is one of the most conscientious and focused employees there (I know because I work there and helped him get the job) but he’s beyond miserable. He has severe dyslexia which has caused him self-esteem issues. Over the years I’ve tried to encourage him to go back to school and pursue an actual career path, even taking him to the local community college for open houses and career nights, but he never has gotten past the collecting of brochures. He took and passed a real estate course right after we got married but decided that wasn’t his “thing” before it came time to take the licensing test.

When we first met DH was one of the biggest social butterflies I had ever met. I was a tagalong who was quite introverted and totally captivated by his charm. In the last 10 years he has really pushed back from socializing, and when we do go out with friends or to parties, he’s always the first to ask to leave (even unreasonably so). When we have friends over he gives me the stink eye when he’s ready to go to bed regardless of what fun is being had.

I was raised in a home with a alcoholic, domineering father. We didn’t discuss feelings and I never learned anything about healthy relationships or dealing with conflict. The basic rules were to do as I was told and if I didn’t agree, shut up and deal with it. My mom was very stoic throughout her life. Though she was independent and assertive after her divorce from my father, while they were married she put up with a lot of bullshit. Once my husband started showing his angry side, I retreated into my shell as I had done my whole life. I didn’t like to argue so it was just easier to go along with things even if they weren’t fair or I didn’t agree. I’ve settled for SO LONG.

In the last few years I have really tried to “find myself”, getting involved in activities such as civic groups, book club, women’s circle at church, and group classes at the gym. I’ve developed a great network of friends in all these areas in addition to having great friends at and outside of work. It has gotten to the point where I pretty much just tell him when and where I’m going; there’s never a conflict because he rarely leaves the house and I’m in charge of the social calendar anyway.

He blames everything on his current job but things have been on a steady decline for a while; the current job has just made it happen much more quickly, lately. He does some yard work but mostly complains about how tired he is. He does have a bit of overtime and often works 56-hour weeks, but I easily work that and then some (I work a lot from home at night). I’ve frankly grown tired of what feels like being his handmaid. I do all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, bill paying, event planning, and so on. He can’t ever seem to remember anything so I constantly have to remind him what’s going on on any given day, week, etc. If I act the slightest bit annoyed he whines about being tired, mentally drained from work and lack of sleep, etc.

He also has hoarding tendencies and rarely starts most of the projects we identify around the house, much less completes them. We have a basement full of useless crap he has purchased, collected from his days in the bar, or picked from his parents’ castoff items. We also have moldy ceilings from an uninstalled bathroom fan and flaking ceilings from several areas of roof leaks. I suggest we have professionals to come make the repairs, and he says no because he can do these things himself. Yet he never does, and I worry that we will be facing much more costly repairs if the problems fester.

All that to say, as we’ve grown older we’ve grown much farther apart than ever. Our son will graduate from high school in a little more than a year, and is at the age where he’s away from the house more and more due to trips and school activities. I can see the empty nest on the horizon and being in it with DH makes me cringe. I’ve never been a huge s*x fiend, and it only got less interesting to me after our son was born. It has been a point of contention over the years and I finally just decided to allow it to happen on a regular basis to keep him quiet. Sometimes it’s enjoyable but mostly I just count the seconds until it’s over.

I told him a few weeks ago that I am unhappy and there are some things that need to change that I’m not willing to negotiate. I started with the top 2 things, one of them being a contentious family situation that he refuses to let go and that has seen him act very ugly towards his mom. The other situation I don’t feel comfortable talking about here but is something I asked him not to do and he was doing anyway.

He was initially completely shocked that I expressed any sort of dissatisfaction. He promised to stop them both and while I’ve seen some progress in the positive direction, he still has a long way to go. He has stopped with the constant tirades and is making an effort to be more helpful around the house. Unfortunately, he has mistaken my saying I’m unhappy as my needing his constant attention. Nothing could be further from the truth! He’s constantly telling me he loves me and stops to kiss me every time he walks by. This makes me cringe even more. In between all this he keeps talking about how hard he’s trying and wants me to reassure him.

I started seeing a therapist a month ago, and he has been wonderful. He sees how miserable I am and has been focused on helping me take care of myself first. Unfortunately he has been out of town the last few weeks so I’m laying low at home as to not rock the boat without support. I have asked my husband to see a counselor and offered to help hook him up. He wants to see my same guy and is open to going to talk to him together as well. This is great, but I’m really becoming quite depressed as I think about the fact that I’m not really interested in him anymore and it seems futile to focus on changing behavior when in my mind it won’t matter in the end. I’m very confident that I’ll be OK on my own and in fact content as a clam. Though I’ve done a lot of crying at work and in my therapist office, when I interact with DH now I’m cool and collected like he has never seen before. Once I make up my mind, I make up my mind and I’m ready to move on. I’ve even been looking at real estate in hopes of one day finding a house that’s perfect for me instead of one that he talks me into buying for whatever reason. I know it’s very premature but it helps me wrap my head around the whole idea.

The most telling thing for me is the feedback I’ve gotten from my friends, with whom I’ve shared varying levels of details. My very best friend got the most details, and when I told her she responded with “I’ve been waiting for this phone call for years”. My 2 other closest friends have also been very supportive. I’ve shared small bits with other less close friends (along the lines of “I’m having a midlife crisis”), and their responses have all been unanimously in favor of me doing what I need to in order to be happy.

Even with his flaws, I feel incredibly guilty about the idea of ending the marriage. It literally consumes my thoughts most of my waking moments. He is a 50 year old man but it is a very different world than it was when we first married. I take care of the majority of our family affairs, such as finances, food, and events. He does contribute financially but it’s all arranged by me. And at the same time this is one of my points of contention. I have spent so many years doing this that he takes it for granted. He hasn’t arranged ANYTHING in years. The only exceptions to this that I recall were 2 cross-country road trips he took with our son back when he was SAHD. Even then, I had to help book all the pre-arranged hotel stops and consult with him nightly on the phone to plan driving routes and ad hoc hotels.

I know this sounds conceited but I worry about him and that he will never recover from this. That it will be like he was dumped out of a time machine and just can’t deal with the reality of the world today. He’s always dreamed of retiring in the mountains where his extended family lives, and pursuing some sort of self-sustaining business. Whether he finds the wherewithal to do this, remains to be seen. Thankfully he has his mother for financial support. I’ve had guarded conversations with her recently about my unhappiness and the fact that there’s the potential for a split. She expressed her support for whatever decision I make (she knows him all too well), I know at the end of the day she will always be his mom and choose him first. Which is good because he’ll need that.

angelicjen Tue 05-Apr-16 03:24:59

It sounds like you've made up your mind and just need to get it over with now. Like ripping off a plaster (or band aid, think you're American?) it won't be as bad as you think. Of course you're worried about him but he will be ok. He has a steep learning curve ahead of him but he is an adult, he will manage. In fact, it will do him good, he sounds a bit of a drip.
Good luck and enjoy your new life. You deserve to be happy.

8FencingWire Tue 05-Apr-16 06:53:02

I could have written your post, OP.
One thing you need to know, from my experience, is that he will be fine. He'll find somebody else (his mum?) to take care of him.
It's shocking to see how capable they became one of a sudden and how well and easily they can look after themselves without one iota of consideration towards others/their children.

HandyWoman Tue 05-Apr-16 07:19:57

You're well ready to go, OP.... Your DH is an adult. Adults all have a responsibility to look after themselves. Just as you are doing.

Go for it.

Good luck.

Enjoy this next phase of your life!

pippistrelle Tue 05-Apr-16 08:13:31

Hmmm. You told him a few weeks ago that you weren't happy and that some things have to change. He changes the things you ask, but not exactly in the way that you want. Telling him you're leaving immediately anyway seems kind of harsh to me. But then, leaving someone is harsh.

It might be too late for your relationship, but would you consider some sort of couples counselling? You acknowledge many positive attributes about him, he says he loves you, so it's not like there's nothing to build on. It might not get your relationship back on track but it will enable you both to be sure that you did all you could.

DoveyGirl Tue 05-Apr-16 13:54:57

Thanks to all for your kind words and insight. DH left home when he was 17 and lived a pretty nomadic life for 10 years until we started dating. On our first weekend away, he showed up at my door with a toothbrush and a pair of underwear. Now when we travel he loads up the whole back of the car with all his "stuff". He didn't even have a checking account until we bought our first house together. As a bartender he lived a cash-only life. It will be very hard as the world has changed so much in the last 20+ years and I've handled everything for him in that time. I know he'll figure it out because he's a smart guy, but I suspect he will be very resentful along the way.

pippistrelle I am arranging for him to see the same counselor as I have been. This was his request; I asked if he wanted someone else and he said no. He is also open to the idea of seeing the counselor together (counselor has also strongly recommended this). Counselor has been on holiday the last few weeks and I will be on business travel next week, so it will have to wait until I return. I will try to get DH set up for his first visit in the meantime. I will be interested to see how it turns out; our first attempt at couples counseling (about 15 years ago) was not very beneficial and we stopped going after a few visits. It was just a bad match then. This time I have found someone who I really click with so I'm hopeful that no matter what happens, we'll get through this with as positive an experience as possible. We have a very sensitive teenage son to consider in this, and no matter what I want him to feel safe and secure.

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