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Marriage not great and now infatuated(24 Posts)
Name changed for the usual reasons.
Over the last year I've had the growing realisation that my marriage is not that great and now, not unrelated to that, I'm having to deal with an infatuation that has completely floored me and I don't know how to cope with it. Sorry in advance for the long post, but I didn't want to drip feed and just need to get it all out.
I've been married 10 years and my husband has changed a lot in the last 5 from being a caring, affectionate, positive person, to someone who barely touches me and only opens his mouth to moan. For the last 6 years he's had a drinking problem. Basically he was a functioning alcoholic. I asked him so many times to stop and seek help. He in turn made lots of promises to do so, but broke them all. To protect my own mental health, I dealt with this by choosing to stop caring about the drinking and basically emotionally disengaged from him. I realise now just how damaging that has been for our marriage, but at the time I was in survival mode (we had our DC during this period and I struggled with motherhood). It never occurred to me to leave the marriage or seek help, partly because my husband is basically a good person and I kept waiting to get the 'old him' back and also because any discussion of the state of our marriage would result in a complete over-reaction and 'oh we might as well get divorced then' type comments, basically shutting down any discussion, and yes, in retrospect, I do realise how emotionally manipulative that is.
The last 12 months have been really difficult. DH finally admitted he had a drinking problem and became sober (obviously a great achievement), but it became apparent that the drinking was masking a lot of issues and he's since struggled with depression. He's been put on various meds which have left him exhausted and unable to coparent for most of the year. I work full time and have spent most weekends over the last year looking after our DC on my own as DH has been unable to. This is on top of already doing more than my share of parenting due to his drinking. I've felt more and more isolated, and feel like I'm a single parent a lot of the time. I don't get any of my emotional needs met by my DH, as he is so absorbed in his own issues. I've also had to deal with my own significant health issues this year. My DH tells me how 'strong' I am for coping with all of this, when there are so many times where all I've needed is to be looked after and he's just not been there for me.
I've supported DH through his issues and keep hoping things will get better, but he takes no joy in life. Every conversation is about how tired he feels or moaning about work. I know it's completely unsympathetic and depression is obviously a serious illness, but after all the years of dealing with his drinking, and now dealing with this, I'm so sick of his problems. I feel tired and stressed too, but I have to keep going, because if I don't no one else will pick up the slack. Basically I feel like I don't have a husband anymore, that the man I fell in love with has gone. The upshot of the last 5 years is I am emotionally independent of him - he needs me more than I need him - I love him, but am not in love with him, I don't fancy him and our sex life is virtually non existent (his choice).
The crazy thing is I'm only just realising that this is not a good or healthy marriage. I've been on survival/coping mode for so long, that I've just dealt with and adapted to all of this crap and it's become our normal. At the same time, going through the most challenging 12 months of my life has made me a stronger, more confident person. I actually feel pretty good about myself! Part of this is coming out of the 'mum tunnel' and regaining my identity again. I'm doing well at work, I feel attractive again and have time to take care over my appearance, And then every night I come home to a miserable DH and the realisation that my marriage has slipped so far from what I want it to be.
I'm going to have an honest discussion with DH about all of this over the Xmas break.
I want to establish open, honest communication again and try to rebuild our marriage. The next few months are going to be make or break for us and I'm ok with that.
The issue that I'm really struggling to cope with in the midst of this is the attraction I have to another man. A relationship with him would be completely inappropriate for many reasons (aside from my being married!) but he's warm, attentive and makes me feel good about myself, all the things that my husband fails to do. The attraction is mutual and, if I wanted to, I think he'd be open to taking it further. I know that nothing can or should happen, but I just can't get him out of my head. I feel like an obsessed teenager. On a good day I just enjoy the attention, on a bad day it leaves me anxious and depressed as nothing can come of it and it just reminds me of what's lacking in my marriage. I was thinking earlier that he's such a nice guy I can't imagine him getting through the Xmas/New Year party season without meeting someone, and I burst into tears that it can't be me. Rationally I know so much of this is projection and reflective of my marriage, but I can't seem to switch the feelings off. I'm really struggling to deal with these emotions on top of everything else that's going on. At the same time, I know if nothing happens between us his interest will eventually fizzle away, and I don't know how I'll cope with that either.
Practically, I've tried not seeing him as often (I can't completely avoid him, so just not actively seeking him out), and not engaging in any more chat than necessary, but I still feel the same way about him.
Does anyone have any experience/strategies for coping with this? I'm just so confused and upset right now, I honestly don't know what to do for the best
End your marriage. You're clearly not happy and OM is just a temporary distraction from that.
That's not a marriage and you can't stay with him out of guilt.
do not start a relationship with the man you are attracted to yet, if you do so now it will be full of problems and issues around unresolved guilt and mistrust. If that relationship is meant to be you can resume it once you are separated from your current partner if that is what you both decide is best.
So you must cut contact with object of attraction and raise all issues with your partner now - decide together if it can be saved and if not then separate. Do everything clean, clear and straight up and you will find the right way through this.
Have a hug also as it sounds like it's been a miserable time for you.
"I'm going to have an honest discussion with DH about all of this over the Xmas break.
I want to establish open, honest communication again"
If this is true, you need to go completely NC with this other man right now.
Are you up for that? Because you can't rebuild a relationship which you are half out of already.
Perhaps better to end both relationships, and live singly for a while and then forge a new relationship based on the real you, not the reaction-to-current-state-of-marriage you.
It is a crush that happened because, as you noted, I have you things you were missing but it is 90% your own imagination and craving. You seem to be doing the right things with distancing yourself.
As for your marriage, it doesn't seem to be in a good state but it sounds like you do want to give fixing it a go. But be prepared for him asking you if there is someone else. Will you tell him or deny it?
What would you feel of the roles were reversed? We can't tell you to stay or leave but we can remind you that cheating won't help. Keep keeping away.
The infatuation this sounds horrid but you have to focus on remembering that it is jsut a rush of emotions and not real truthful ones.
Does your husband go to AA?
I do hope so. It's the most (blindingly) obvious step. They also (lovingly) wouldn't put up with his shit.
Because it's the flip side of the same coin from what I can see. No wonder your eye has wandered.
I think all the issues with your husband would make any man seem like a wonderful alternative.
Sort out things with your husband, one way or the other, and then only if you're free, look at starting another relationship.
This crush is not the response. It is a symptom.
Your mind is seeking an escape and this guy is it.
You have to solutions: You end your marriage now. You are really unhappy.
You are prepare to work hard and endure tiredness to work toward your DH getting better. Have you got a common dream or small project that could bring you back together?
If you are to split with your DH, this new guy would f* up the possibility of an amicable split, which can mean years of suffering for you and the DCs.
It is not an easy way out unfortunately.
Staying is tough too. In any case we are here for support
End the marriage and you can be free to pursue or find an available single man to have a relationship with.
An affair will just add to your problems and I think you have enough on your plate as it is.
I totally understand how you detached from your DH. He killed the love you had for him. That's on him, but an affair would be on you.
Thank you so much for your replies (and for working your way through my long, rambling post). I had an early night and woke up to such great advice!
I do want to try and make my marriage work, but I don't think DH honestly realises how far things have slipped and having that conversation with him is going to be a real shock to his system. I have indulged him for too long for fear of triggering his depression and a relapse into drinking and that needs to change. He does go to counselling Springy (not AA) but I think all that talking about him and his emotions just reinforces his self-absorption!
Comoneileen there are some changes/new projects coming up in the new year that could help bring us together more. If not, I agree I need to end this, as life is to short to be unhappy. I'm not at the 'leave' point yet - I think I'm still in shock at realising just how bad things have got and, for myself, need to work through that some more and give him one last chance before I make a decision.
The other guy is definitely a response to the state of my marriage and it's made me realise just how unloved and unwanted I've been feeling to even have engaged with it. I honestly couldn't see me doing anything about it, but what someone in a happy marriage wouldn't indulge in (or would just write off as harmless flirting) has taken on this huge emotional significance for me. I agree NC is the way to go. Unfortunately that's not completely possible, but I can minimise contact as much as possible, not indulge in conversations, smiles, looks etc, and basically just tell him that this has to stop. He's a nice guy and I genuinely don't want to mess him around and only want good things for him etc, so that's what I'm going to focus on. Actually, just writing/admitting to how much the situation with him is messing with my head and reading your replies is making me feel much more in control of that side of things. It needs to stop and I'm going to make sure it does.
I am still paying the price of an emotional affair when my marriage was collapsing.
All the best to you!
Thanks comon. Sorry to hear about your situation.
Counselling will only feed the very level of self-absorption /self-pity/resentment that courses through an addict. Many of us have ' good ' reason to be afflicted with the above BUT indulging in all that is disastrous to an addict.
AA delivers a tremendously life -affirming, healthy message, specifically designed to counteract the disastrous, self -indulgent characteristics of addict behaviour. AA is also free and available every single day.
Have you been to Al-anon? Do.
That's not to say there isn't a place for counselling - but only once the characteristic self-obsession has been wrestled, on a daily basis!, under control. Without that discipline (rigidly!) in place, counselling becomes enabling. He may not be actually drinking but he looks to be what is commonly referred to as a dry drunk re addict behaviour firmly in place, sucking the life out of everything and everyone.
It's not harmless, it's dicey, you are right, keep away from OM and make a final go with your marriage, then, if you feel it's futile, you can then be free to engage with any man you want.
We could all go off and have affair when feeling neglected, it's a choice.
I do understand though that you have a shit marriage right now and walking away is perfectly acceptable. It takes two and your OH sounds completely disconnected.
Hi ConfusedandFreaking out. I could have chosen your new name and I could have posted under exactly the same title!
I haven't posted on here for three years but came to peruse the relationship pages for the first time in the hope of advice for the situation I have found myself in and I came across your post.
I am in a very similar situation. My 10 year marriage has been dormant for want of a better word for a long time now and whilst I am not happy I am not totally miserable - just a bit numb. I've learnt to find my own happiness and whilst its not ideal, I don't want to put the children through divorce - it's just not come to that.
A few months ago I met a someone by chance and had that clichéd thunderbolt moment that you see in films. I never believe it existed. The attraction was mutual and we were both completely floored by it. Nothing ever happened other than a cup of coffee and some prolonged intense and intimate (not sexual, just very very honest) texting. I made it clear I could not have an affair and he, although single, is very honourable and did not feel good about even being in touch. It was incredible bittersweet at the time. I wanted to stay in touch on a platonic romance level but he has been unable to stating that it's too heartbreaking for him. This has of course intensified my feelings to the point that I spend much of the day daydreaming about him.
I just cannot stop thinking about him.
His decision to drop contact a month ago has been absolutely heartbreaking. It's been like a break up and of course that's a shock after 10 years of marriage - I had forgotten how raw all of those feelings are.
The advice on here is all the sensible stuff - keep the two things separate, deal with your marriage first then if you decide to leave, only then can you pursue this new interest
I sometimes feel otherwise though I know it's wrong. I think if I now had the chance I would probably follow through though I don't know where it would stop. I cannot bear to think of the next 40 years with no love and affection. I'm so very lonely in my marriage. My husband is not a bad man at all and we've been through some difficult things together. In fact he is essentially a very good man but is not very kind to me. We probably should not have got married as we are very different. It just so happened that when we met we were both looking to settle down and ticked most of each others boxes. I thought best friend was something I could manage without and I'm regretting that now
I'm not sure why I'm posting to be honest as I don't have any advice but I wanted you to know that I really really understand your situation and the emotional turmoil you are having to deal with. And of course it's a bit of an outlet for me. This is not the kind of thing you can just sit with a friend and chat about over an hour long coffee!
Springy that's a really fascinating insight into counselling and the differences between that and AA. DH definitely fits the 'dry drunk' description. He's now taken to overeating instead of drinking, which he won't address because he's too stressed to do anything about it. I'll definitely look into Al Anon - I didn't know it existed.
Christ Tipkin I'm so sorry that you're going through this too. I'm reading your post on the train and trying not to burst into tears. That's heartbreaking and I really feel for you. You're being so strong, I completely get that feeling of being in a dormant marriage and suddenly having those feelings you'd forgotten about (good and bad) thrown at you. It is like a break up and I agree it feels so unfair because (once again) we're the ones making the sacrifices and doing 'the right thing' whilst our DH's carry on oblivious. There's a part of me that feels after all the shit I've been through I deserve some happiness and why should I deny myself that for someone who just doesn't seem to care. I know it's bigger than that - there's a marriage and DC at stake - and NC is the right thing to do both in theory and in practice, but it is hard, especially when you get so little back in return with no guarantee that things will change. Have you tried talking to your DH about how unhappy you are? Would he be interested in trying to address your issues? I do hope that things get better for you soon, but I can completely understand how stopping the relationship developing has opened up a whole new world of 'what ifs'. Big hugs to you and thank you for sharing and letting me know I'm not the only one in this situation.
Being an alcoholic is very much like having an affair, just the mistress comes in a bottle. You have my sympathy.
Also, it seems - as in the case of my 'D'H to have permanently changed his personality. He's been going to AA for a year, but life is just the same as when he was drinking - except he's not - if that makes sense.
Personally, it stinks, but then that's life!
Confused and Tipkin sorry you have been going through such a shit time. Just want to say you are not alone. I am married to a largely good man but have felt very neglected and let down by some of the things he has done over the years (inc at the beginning meeting people over the Internet for sex) and end up feeling v lonely a lot of the time. We are prob together cos we have a child (who was a complete surprise) and wed got to the stage in life where we wanted to settle down. We too have been together for around 10 years but there has been another (married) man in my life for nearly the past 20 years. We worked together, got drunk at a conference, slept together, agreed to stay as friends, had sex at the Christmas party, I left the company and worked in another city, he left the country with his wife. They moved back after a couple of years and don't know how but we ended up in touch again. Over the intervening years we've been just mates, people who text v explicit pics to each other, people who grab a drunken snog, having a very long emotional affair as his relationship with his wife moved to separate bedrooms, to full blown affair. We are currently NC (again) to try and sort relationships out (but deleted his number and blocked him so many times). Long ramble but try not to go down this route co quite frankly it's a fucking nightmare. We've relied on each other for so long to get through some v tough times and hate the thought of him not in my life but it would completely destroy my child to see his dad every other weekend etc
Although - or perhaps - I'm an addict myself I have a low tolerance for addict behaviour. I'm feeling pretty enraged he is dragging you down with him, with all the wretchedness that entrails for you, bcs he won't face his shit.
So now he's stuffing his face. There are 12 step groups for that, too. But he won't deal with it bcs poor pity him can't cope. Meanwhile, you're hung out to dry while he crouches over his poor self.
So far, so bog standard addict. Tiresome, frankly - and nothing special about it. Particularly as the right, wholesome, life-affirming, life-giving (for all!) treatment is out there ; every single day, for free.
Perhaps it might help to view addiction as a big fat toddler that holds everyone to ransom, demanding to be fed, putting up a major stink to be knelt before and appeased. For what? Misery upon misery. For all.
AA - Or any 12 step programme - is designed to put that toddler where it belongs. It's a great (awesome) programme. It's up to the addict to work it.
(Most addicts are overjoyed to be free of the despot toddler. The choice is between the life-sucking - in every sense - substance /lover or Life in all its fulness with things in their proper place)
To be fair, addiction is a disease. Pander to it and you're dead - if not physically then definitely emotionally etc. To quote the big book, it is cunning, baffling and powerful.
Talking of which, get a copy of the AA big book
and look the other way at the To Wives chapter for both of you.
The tenets of eg AA effectively, resoundingly successfully, outwit the cunning, baffling, powerful, life-sucking despot toddler.
Life is SO SO SHORT to be unhappy OP
If you will forever wonder what if, what is stopping you leaving your DH? And then eventually seeing this man to see where it takes you?
I know it's easier said than done but if you're not happy, you need to make steps to leave
Springy thanks for your insights into addiction. It is scarily accurate to my situation. The toddler analogy is very true. Also makes me feel much better about being fed up with his behaviour, rather than guilty about no longer being a supportive spouse and sucking it up. He really needs to get into a 12 step programme doesn't he?
Looby I know I'm being really wet about this. You're right, I'm not happy, but I feel I/we need to try to mend things before giving up. I need to feel we'd tried in order to feel happy about leaving, if that makes sense.
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