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Marriage imploding but I desperately want it to survive

(154 Posts)
Deflatedhusband Fri 28-Oct-16 17:39:24

First time on MN. A married dad (early 40s, 3DC - 11, 8, 5) who has known DW for 15 years and been married for 13.

The punchline is on Sunday evening she told me she was desperately unhappy in the marriage and wanted out. It came as a complete shock to me in some ways but in hindsight we had been having a very tough time in recent years.

Marriage has become functional, basically all about the kids, no romance. We both love each other dearly (I certainly love her and I think she still loves me) but she says there is an emotional void and she doesn't think the marriage can ever meet it. She said she had been suicidal frequently in recent months. She has suffered from
Depression but she said the suicidial thoughts were more driven by the emptiness and loneliness.

I fee awful. I feel that I have let her down massively and have been blind to her needs. I think (and she has said so) that I am a hard working, reliable husband and loving dad but I have clearly fallen well short on the emotional support for DW and I am devastated that I have let her get to such a state. She has repressed a lot in recent years and now it has spilled out.

One added complication is that it appears now that she has developed an intense online relationship with a man in another country (where she is from originally). We share the same computer and on Monday evening I logged on to check my email and her account was open. I casually looked at it as I was shutting the page and there were loads of email of a very graphic detail from a man I had never heard of before.

I was stunned and quickly scanned some of them to find pretty much pornographic language of what they wanted to do to each other and it sounded like they had been sexting etc.

My wife is a refined Cambridge postgrad and this guy appears to be a very working class tattooed chap. Someone I would have never expected her to go for. But I guess I have let her emotional tank run dry and this guy is filling it.

She also had booked a flight to go see him.

After I pulled myself together late on Monday I asked her if there was anyone else and she completely denied it. I then asked her about this guy (naming him). She was pretty unrepentant and said she had met him online and he was filling a void but she would never actually want to be with him.

Up until this point she and I have known each other's password and pins - that has now all changed. At least she has changed hers. I know they are still in contact and that is killing me, even though I brought this on myself by my failure as a husband.

I asked her if she would do marriage counselling and she said she would so hopefully we can pull back from the each. She has cancelled the flight (I think) which is something.

The thing is I really love her and I am devastated I have let her down. I want us to work and repair, even if it takes a long time. I don't know where she is at. She had always been a little dubous when it comes to the compete truth. I am not sure if the counselling is just a ploy to give her time to sort out leaving.

I really hope it isn't. We are still in the same house, things are surprisingly civil and cordial, and the kids have no idea.

I am not sure why I am here really. I have nowhere to turn I suppose. Does anyone have any advice?

Thanks for listening.

adora1 Fri 28-Oct-16 17:57:10

I'd not be a doormat though OP, she's effectively been having an emotional affair with another man behind your back, that's sneaky and nasty, regardless of depression of any other excuse.

If she really loved you would she not be investing in the marriage, but instead she's looking elsewhere, she doesn't even seem sorry.

I don't know the full story but it takes two to make it work, is she really willing?

To go as far as booking a flight to go see him means there's feelings there, I'd have gone ape shit in your position, I think you are giving her far too much control here.

TheSparrowhawk Fri 28-Oct-16 17:58:46

It might be worth clicking 'report' on your OP and asking them to remove your name as the post is quite identifying.

It sounds like your wife is not mentally well but that doesn't mean that for one second you should put up with being treated so incredibly badly by her.

Why do you want the marriage to survive?

fiorentina Fri 28-Oct-16 17:59:39

I'd suggest the counselling will be purely to help facilitate a separation. She has checked out emotionally from your relationship and whether that leads to anything with the other guy or not she has made it clear she wants the relationship to end. Don't be messed around, take steps to plan for your future not let her lead it.

fiorentina Fri 28-Oct-16 18:00:48

I'm not sure I'd agree she sounds mentally unwell either, she sounds like she knows what she does and doesn't want.

ButIbeingpoor Fri 28-Oct-16 18:09:30

I agree with Adora. This online relationship is cheating. Cheating within a marriage is bad form.
All relationships can go through a bad patch. Children, work, home all get in the way of the kissy kissy hearts and romance of a marriage but (feck me) booking flights to visit an allegedly tattooed Adonis?
Maybe your marriage is doomed, maybe it can be salvaged. In your position I would:
Talk to her. Establish if she wants the marriage to survive.
Arrange marriage counselling.
Agree that you must have total honesty and transparency. This means knowing her passwords.
Best of luck, (RL name removed by MNHQ)

Hotwaterbottle1 Fri 28-Oct-16 18:11:04

I'm afraid I am in a similar situation and I've emotionally checked out, once it's at that stage there is small hope of going back. My exh was emotionally detached and it's almost impossible to go back with the fear nothing will change.

alvinp Fri 28-Oct-16 18:12:17

Hi there, I'm sorry to say it doesn't look good. Even as I started reading I was thinking there's someone else involved.

All I can say at this point is don't beat yourself up. You sound like you're blaming yourself but that's not constructive at this point. Try and retain some dignity and look after yourself. Get legal advice and sort finances out. And talk to her, don't beg and don't apologise (unless there is something we don't know that you should be apologising for.)

Think about your children and arrangements for them. If she's checked out there's not much you can do to stop that so look after yourself and your kids.

Deflatedhusband Fri 28-Oct-16 18:22:47

Thank you for all the speedy replies. I very much appreciate them.

I just can't believe I am in this position. We have a lovely little family. I have never even thought once about cheating on her. I don't go out drinking with the lads, I help around the house and with homeworks, I think I a pretty reliable member of the family. Where I clearly fall short is in romance and providing emotional support. My DW really needs this and I worry I can never give it.

You are right that I shouldn't be a doormat but I don't want to force her away when she is so fragile. I am hoping the counselling - if we get there - can help claw things back.

Hotwaterbottle1 Fri 28-Oct-16 18:35:54

My exh was also the model husband, everyone thought he was wonderful.

For a woman emotional support is so important. The lack killed our marriage. I felt unwanted, lonely, no self esteem, drove me to a breakdown, anti depressants. I'm so sorry, you cannot underestimate the effect it has. Helping round the house & with the kids could be done by a cleaner and nanny.

Hotwaterbottle1 Fri 28-Oct-16 18:37:16

I gave my ex chance after chance. He did nothing. He is now heartbroken I have ended it.

My advice is step up NOW, right now and if she pushes you away gently keep trying.

growapear Fri 28-Oct-16 18:43:01

Terrible advice from Hotwaterbottle1 - the idea you forced her into this other mans arms is utter BS, you should not prostrate yourself in front of her while she is jetting of to shag another man, whatever you have or haven't done in the relationship is not even half as bad as that.

AnotherEmma Fri 28-Oct-16 18:53:27

"She had always been a little dubous when it comes to the compete truth. I am not sure if the counselling is just a ploy to give her time to sort out leaving."

This says it all, really. If she is not honest with you, you can't fully trust her, and that's not a strong foundation for a healthy relationship.

Her story doesn't really add up. If she has been suicidally depressed, it just doesn't make sense that she would book a plane ticket to meet someone she's been having an online flirtation with. A suicidal person just wouldn't have the drive to do something like that.

I think she is using the classic "script" that unfaithful people use - she is trying to blame you for her emotional affair. If she needed more emotional support from you, she could have asked for it. If she was unhappy on the relationship, she could have discussed it with you and tried to fix things instead of lining up someone else.

My advice to you is the same that I'd give to a woman in your situation. Don't let her blame you for everything and treat you like shit. Don't let her get away with being a dishonest cheat (emotional affairs are cheating in my book). Don't do the "pick me" dance.

You sound like a decent guy and you don't deserve this shit.


DreamyParentoid Fri 28-Oct-16 19:04:01

Good luck! I think you sound like you're doing lots of good things, but do you know what she really wants from her life? What are her dreams telling her? What does she dream of doing or being? Is there some massive life change that she feels like she can't make with you around, but if you knew it you'd want to help with? Maybe it would be a real shift in your awareness that she doesn't believe you could make, but you'd actually want to if you understood? I'm not saying you should have to change and it might be she has already emotionally left, but you could really learn from it as much as possible before she goes... then either miracles might happen, or you've sorted what it is in your character that contributed towards this happening. What is your history with your mum... women? Do you need to move into your 'power' both as a man and also in your relationship with your deep femininity? Don't think you can go too wrong by diving in deep to your stuck places right now smile Good luck again x

Hotwaterbottle1 Fri 28-Oct-16 19:07:36

I never said he forced her into another mans arms? I was telling him how lack of emotional support made me feel and that if my exh had tried we would not be divorcing.

carmenta Fri 28-Oct-16 19:12:05

Will you be able to trust her again even if you do manage to reconnect emotionally? She's having an emotional affair, and she's hidden it from you. I don't think I could trust my partner again after that, and trust is essential in a relationship.

Deflatedhusband Fri 28-Oct-16 19:18:24

I can see Hotwarerbottle how that would be the case. I felt I tried but I came up short.

I grew up with three brothers, no sisters and went to an all boys' school and studied engineering at uni. We met as postgrads (she was doing social sciences). We were very different but she blew me off my feet.

I never really dated much before her and don't regard myself as a romantic. I always buy flowers, presents for birthdays and take her out to dinner for anniversaries and other occasions but I probably am a bit sexually and emotionally shy (repressed?).

I fear I will never meet her needs. It isn't for the want of trying though.

Can I trust her? I don't know. I want to but this last week has been shattering.

Truckingalong Fri 28-Oct-16 19:30:31

You do not 'help' around the house. It is your house and your joint responsibility to do housework etc.

Deflatedhusband Fri 28-Oct-16 19:43:31

Perhaps there is a better verb than help but I feel I pull my weight there. Perhaps you can offer me a better word.

I work 40 hours a week as an engineer while my wife is stay at home (her choice). We also have a cleaner who comes in twice a week. I make dinners, tidy the kitchen, put on laundry, help the kids with homework, do the taxi service to party. I view that as help.

But to be honest, my "help" around the house has never been an issue. It's my lack of emotional support that has caused the problem - not my willingness to help around our home.

Hotwaterbottle1 Fri 28-Oct-16 19:47:16

Its not so much romance, its little things, caring & thinking.

growapear Fri 28-Oct-16 19:51:19

I wouldn't get distracted by the idea that you not doing as much housework as your wife is any way to blame for her having at the least an emotional affair. Sadly it sounds to me like a fair amount of her rhetoric is self justification, was she suicidal before or after she was telling this guy how much she wanted to f* him ?

I'm sorry OP, but what would you say to a friend who told you this story ? Would you be blaming him for it ? Is she still planning on taking that flight btw ?

winkywinkola Fri 28-Oct-16 19:52:51

Well she needs to start specific about the lack of support in her life.

What exactly does she want from you?

Pin it down and don't let her be vague. Otherwise you'll go mad trying to fulfill her vague needs and never making the mark.

It's great that you want to save your marriage. She has however betrayed you terribly with this bloke. Does she understand the enormity of her betrayal? There is no excuse for that whatsoever.

Perhaps it would be better if she moved out for a while?

growapear Fri 28-Oct-16 19:53:38

For a woman emotional support is so important. The lack killed our marriage.

Women are not cyborgs, this is uselessly generic advice.

Deflatedhusband Fri 28-Oct-16 19:53:46

She says she isn't. But I don't really know. It's next week and she has lined up someone to looks after the kids on school runs apparently.

I guess that will be a big revelation if she goes.

Hotwaterbottle1 Fri 28-Oct-16 20:02:54

Ok I'm off, I'm only trying to help, not in a good place & don't need people like grow putting me down

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