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Marriage advice needed - do I stay or do I go?

(169 Posts)
Gutwrenching Mon 20-Jul-20 12:47:25

Hi all, I'm here desperately seeking advice, apologies in advance for the essay!

My wife and I have been married 11 years, together for 15. We have built a beautiful home together and have many happy memories. She has always been there for me and is a wonderful person, and I've never never really considered anything other than us growing old together, until now.

After some lengthy introspection, I have admitted to myself that our marriage isn't working. We don't have children (we are 39 and 40), but I really do want them, and I have done for a long time. When people ask why we don't have children I have told them that its not the right time, or that we've been trying but its just not happened, but the reality is that we just don't have enough sex and our communication so has been so poor that we just haven't ever properly discussed it.

The lack of sex is mostly my fault, and I have been aware of the problem for a couple of years. I tried to fix this myself, but for whatever reason I haven't been able to (I'm just not sexually attracted to her anymore. I find myself staying up late to avoid sex, only making the effort to have sex at the right time of the month, and when we do have sex I feel uncomfortable initiating it. In all honesty, I find myself preferring to masturbate and fantasize about other women. Whilst I haven't cheated on my wife, I have looked around a bit over the last couple of years and started to think about what life could be like). I also find that I don't make any effort to be affectionate to her (buying flowers, sending nice texts) and I think that these things should come naturally, if I'm in the right relationship. I finally opened up to her about all of this, and she said she was aware of the problem but she thought I was happy enough with our marriage, so she didn't say anything. We've since tried to make an effort together, but for me nothing is changing, despite the fact I can see she is making a real effort.

I'm starting to think that if I am going to be able to have the life I crave, the right thing to do is move on. I also feel as though me moving on is the right thing to do for her - because she deserves someone who truly adores her for who she is, and who makes her happy (whilst she says she is happy in the marriage, I know this isn't truly the case - even though she won't admit it. She feels as though I prefer spending time with my friends and not with her and often asks why I ever got married, she has complained that her life is rubbish when she's been upset, she misses the affectionate small touches, she gets anxious and jealous when I go away with work etc).

But there's a few things holding me back. Selfishly, I worry whether I'll ever find anyone who loves me unreservedly like she does, and whether I'll ever again find the companionship that we enjoy. I'm also put off by the thought of leaving my home, which I love and which we renovated together and I always considered would be my 'forever home'. But most importantly, I'm worried about her. When I left and told her I wanted a break she was absolutely devastated and I can't bear to see the pain I'm causing. She mentioned that if I'd have said this a few years ago she'd have still had time to meet someone else and have a family with them, but at 40 she is now at a point where it is too late for her to do that. I worry that if I stay with her it may be just delaying the inevitable and we'll end up resenting each other, but I feel though as if I leave I'm completely ruining her whole life. I don't know what to do sad

OP’s posts: |
SandyY2K Mon 20-Jul-20 13:05:22

I also feel as though me moving on is the right thing to do for her
I agree with this.

In relation to having kids...time is ticking on for her and her fertility is declining.

If you're not attracted to her and don't want to have sex with her, let her go... so that is she so ways kids she has a bit of a chance with someone else.

You've really wasted her time, but if she wanted kids and I was her, I would have left you by now.

Vodkacranberryplease Mon 20-Jul-20 13:09:38

You have to do this right now. Shes right about you stopping her from having a family - but at the moment its about 60-70%. Leave it another three years & its 90%.

Do it for her. No one should live like this & you have to be brave & do the right thing. Now. Right now. She will get over the devastation as long as you do not let her think theres any hope.

Stay & you are being selfish, but even worse ruining her life. For what? A house you can redecorate elsewhere? The sake of having someone who worships you? She wouldnt if she knew that was the only reason you stayed.

I had a friend who finally left her procrastinating boyfriend at around 42 & moved far away. She met someone else - but had to use donor eggs. They are very happy, but hes gone on to have a baby. Dont fuck up her chances for your own reasons.

Gutwrenching Mon 20-Jul-20 13:33:41

Thank you for these messages. Just to add a bit of context, I have tried to get her pregnant and in the past any attempt to start a discussion about having a family has come from me. Early in our marriage when I wanted to try, she is the one who said she wasn't ready, and when I asked a couple of years ago whether she thought we would ever have children, she said 'probably not now'. We have tended to have sex while she was ovulating (I tracked it and made sure, without us really discussing it. I even bought her ovulation sticks, which she never really bought into), but it just never happened. I genuinely felt as though she wasn't bothered about having children. Its only really when I said about leaving she broke down and told me she really did. Our communication has been so poor, I wish I could go back and do things differently sad

OP’s posts: |
Thereisalight7 Mon 20-Jul-20 13:45:10

How convenient of you to realise you need to leave now after 15 years in time for you to still be a young enough father and meet someone new and have children yet likely too late for her. Well done.

Lozzerbmc Mon 20-Jul-20 14:01:20

You should definitely end the marriage its selfish to continue when you dont want to. Re children she doesnt sound too bothered as i think she’s be much more proactive if she really wanted them? . A sad post really, but best to move on.

Gutwrenching Mon 20-Jul-20 14:06:33

Thereisalight7

How convenient of you to realise you need to leave now after 15 years in time for you to still be a young enough father and meet someone new and have children yet likely too late for her. Well done.

Well yes, this is how I feel about myself. Although someone else saying it makes me feel a little defensive and that its a little unfair. But I'm glad you mention it, because it has helped me see things a little differently. I have desperately wanted to start a family ever since we got married, but there was always a reason she wasn't ready.

I don't know why the sexual attraction has gone, because my wife is still an attractive woman. In part I think its because for me trying to conceive was something I'd wanted for so long that I'd began to see sex as a means to an end. Something we were doing to make a baby, rather than for pleasure. And when it never happened I started to just think 'whats the point'.

I'm the one who asked her to track her cycle (which she never did). I'm the one who made sure we always tried to make sure we had sex at the right time of the month, even if we weren't doing so the rest of the month (earlier this year we had a heart to heart about how much I wanted children and that I didn't think we'd made enough effort. For the next three consecutive months I tried to initiate sex when I knew she was ovulating, but she said no). I'm the one who had a fertility test two years ago, something she has never done.

As I mention in a earlier post, I was generally resigned to the idea that she didn't want children, and two years ago she told me she didn't think we'd ever have them now. This may have also played a role in why I've lost those feelings of attraction. I was actually quite shocked when I said I wanted to leave when she broke down about how she really had wanted a family

I guess my questions now are, can I ever get back the feelings of

OP’s posts: |
GrantI Mon 20-Jul-20 14:21:47

I think the previous post is being incredibly harsh. I read this and though ... wow, I could have written that word for word. Even to the point of buying the house, sweating every weekend making it ours. I can't offer advice, but all I can say is that I fully sympathize with you. In my personal circumstance its driven me into the ground, I've been diagnosed with depression and I'm now finding its making me physically ill. As your name suggests its literally gut wrenching - the hurt, the love, the pain and the anguish.

As with you communication has been poor - it was never discussed, we just got on with life and assumed we would have kids at one point without either one of us actually talking about it. I admit that I buried my head in the sand.

But what I would say is that the previous poster is wrong in the sense that relationships are joint - there is no evidence here that she actively set about ensuring you had the best possible chances of conceiving. If she really did want it why did she not say anything or do anything. I'm in the same boat .. now I've said I am unhappy she said that all along she wanted a family.

Have you thought about suggesting she has eggs frozen now, so that if the time came at some point in the future then she has the option be it with or without you.

Gutwrenching Mon 20-Jul-20 14:27:24

Lozzerbmc

You should definitely end the marriage its selfish to continue when you dont want to. Re children she doesnt sound too bothered as i think she’s be much more proactive if she really wanted them? . A sad post really, but best to move on.

Re children she doesn't sound too bothered as i think she’s be much more proactive if she really wanted them?

This is what I thought until recently. But now I realize she did want to start a family, but was too afraid of failing (she felt that if she 'really tried' and it didn't happen, then she'd have failed. She hoped it would just happen, and that it would be easier to accept it not happening if she never made a big deal of trying).

To be honest, this is her all over. Afraid of failure, afraid of change, stuck in her comfort zone. She says the reason she fell in love with me is that she knows this about herself, but that I used challenge her and took her out of her comfort zone. But over the years she become reluctant to allow me to do that - and I guess I have started to resent her for holding me back because she's so resistant to change/trying something new. A few years ago I was offered jobs in the US and Australia. I wanted to go and tried to persuade her, but we didn't because she didn't want to move. I'm probably at a point professionally where that chance has gone for me now. Even silly things like I always wanted a dog, but she'd never let me get one.

OP’s posts: |
BigDecisionsLittleTime Mon 20-Jul-20 14:47:53

All sounds a bit sad and unfullfilling OP. And TBH she sounds at best a bit controlling and worst quite manipulative, regarding dogs, jobs and now claiming she does want children but wouldn't have sex while ovulating.

PP idea to offer her to freeze her eggs seems a good idea, although she may not be responsive to that of course. Sounds like trying to conceive was driven by you too so I wouldn't feel too guilty about taking her fertile years, she has to take some responsibility for that too.

Move on, for both your sakes.

Don't let the house be an obstacle, I'm sure you can find a new house and make it a home. Get the dog you wanted, it's a lovely way to meet people if you move to a new area too.

Good luck OP.
Life is short and for living.

Gutwrenching Mon 20-Jul-20 15:09:27

BigDecisionsLittleTime

All sounds a bit sad and unfullfilling OP. And TBH she sounds at best a bit controlling and worst quite manipulative, regarding dogs, jobs and now claiming she does want children but wouldn't have sex while ovulating.

PP idea to offer her to freeze her eggs seems a good idea, although she may not be responsive to that of course. Sounds like trying to conceive was driven by you too so I wouldn't feel too guilty about taking her fertile years, she has to take some responsibility for that too.

Move on, for both your sakes.

Don't let the house be an obstacle, I'm sure you can find a new house and make it a home. Get the dog you wanted, it's a lovely way to meet people if you move to a new area too.

Good luck OP.
Life is short and for living.

Thanks for these comments. I had never really considered her to be manipulative or controlling, but I must admit I had started to feel like I was a child in a parent-child type relationship (always having to ask and get permission if I really wanted something - and normally being told no!). I know in a marriage you have to compromise, but I do think I did most of the compromising. Interestingly last time we spoke she apologized for being an 'absolute dickhead' (in her words), told me that on reflection she realized she had taken me for granted and that she just thought I would never leave her.

But I do still love her (even if I'm not 'in love' with her - apologies for the cliche), and care about her an awful lot, I really want nothing more than for her to be happy and have a great life. I am genuinely concerned that I'll always feel this guilt if things don't work out for her, and that I'll never be able to be truly happy myself because of it. Part of me thinks (hopes) now everything is out in the open we may be able to start again and things could be different, but I think deep down I know that's not the case and that it is just delaying the inevitable and making things worse.

OP’s posts: |
GrantI Mon 20-Jul-20 17:56:50

Again, I can relate to every single thing you say. Especially the mother-child element. You said that the lack of sex is your fault, and that you tried to fix it. In what way? I think the NHS website states that couples need to have been trying (sex every couple of days) for two years to be considered for IVF. When I read that I realised just how much my relationship would have to change to get there. Does she realise this
/
Regarding the guilt aspect - have you ever wondered what would have happened if you hadn't have said anything? Can you envisage what would have played out over the coming years. I'm guessing another two or three years would have past with nothing said? And then it would have been too late. So why feel guilty - actually, you may have actually given her the chance rather than taken it away... Doing nothing is sometimes worse.

Gutwrenching Mon 20-Jul-20 21:32:15

GrantI

Again, I can relate to every single thing you say. Especially the mother-child element. You said that the lack of sex is your fault, and that you tried to fix it. In what way? I think the NHS website states that couples need to have been trying (sex every couple of days) for two years to be considered for IVF. When I read that I realised just how much my relationship would have to change to get there. Does she realise this
/
Regarding the guilt aspect - have you ever wondered what would have happened if you hadn't have said anything? Can you envisage what would have played out over the coming years. I'm guessing another two or three years would have past with nothing said? And then it would have been too late. So why feel guilty - actually, you may have actually given her the chance rather than taken it away... Doing nothing is sometimes worse.

I'm so sorry you are going through the same thing. It is truly heartbreaking. I never thought this would be us.

OP’s posts: |
Gutwrenching Mon 20-Jul-20 21:35:47

When I say I have tried to change it, I suppose I just knew I had to make a conscious effort to be more affectionate, and to force the issue of intimacy, even if I didn't feel particularly aroused. I thought if we could get back in a routine/habit then it would start to come naturally again. It didn't.

OP’s posts: |
FindingNeverland1 Mon 20-Jul-20 21:44:36

Urgh. You should have let her go a long time ago so she had a chance to fulfil her dreams of being a mother. No doubt she stayed with you out of love, comfort and loyalty.

This is absolutely right:
* . She mentioned that if I'd have said this a few years ago she'd have still had time to meet someone else and have a family with them, but at 40 she is now at a point where it is too late for her to do that.*

I hope she finds a happy life for herself. With fertility treatment possibly, if she still wants to be a mum and maybe go it alone. Wishing her all the best.

AIMD Mon 20-Jul-20 21:56:32

I feel for you both. It sounds like you been sleep walking through your relationship and lack of communication has led to some massive gaps in what you both thought the other wanted.

It doesn’t sound like there is much marriage to save to be honest.

Sorry to sound harsh but do you think she really wants to keep the relationship going, or do you think she’s just reluctant for life to change when she’s someone who likes to stick to what is comfortable and familiar?

It would be just as sad for you to stay with someone who was only floating along in a relationship with you out of habit than for her to have to move on from you splitting up.

I understand your feelings about the house, but honestly what point is a nice house if you are living an unfulfilling life with someone you aren’t in love with?!

Marshmallowmom Tue 21-Jul-20 00:44:07

Sorry but to me your masturbating so much ( and let me guess use of porn) is likely a huge contributor to the lack of attraction to your wife . If porn has any part of your life then you need to take a big look at the research showing how it reduces attraction.
As for the other issues yeah I agree it sounds convenient that you suddenly want children but putting that aside let me ask you this . Seeing as you say you fantasise about other women so much . If you were to meet a woman who was much younger And attractive to you and you felt the same positives of conversation etc that you do with your wife do you think you would be happy to stay with her even if she couldnt have children ?
If your answer is yes which I’m guess it might be then it’s more about lust and you not directing your sexual attention in the right direction with wanting children being a ‘convenient reason’
If you wouldnt consider a long term commitment with a hot twenty five year old who couldn’t have children then this will show your true motives
I know you may think you know your true reasons but sometimes people lie even to themselves
If it’s more about the lust for another younger woman the you are almost guaranteed to be unhappy once that’s satisfied
Either way your partner deserves more. I just think you need to take a deep hard look at yourself and why you really want this . Does that mean stay if it’s about lust ? No she’s still deserves better than a man who doesn’t desire her and is thinking of others . There will be plenty of men willing to fill your place and be happy .

IceCreamSummer20 Tue 21-Jul-20 00:51:38

I also agree, the maturbating to other sexy woman is a habit that is massively detrimental to your sex life with your wife. Physically you have now trained yourself to get off to a very different thing that loving partner sex, and your wife cannot compete nearly 40.

Honestly? I think you are looking to alleviate the guilt. You do need to leave, and right now really for your wife to have a chance of children with another. If you love her, leave her and properly break with a clean split as she will then have the opportunity to meet someone and have kids in her early 40s.

FreddoFrogAddict Tue 21-Jul-20 01:45:08

Life is for living. If you want children, want to travel and try new experiences, want a dog, you need to leave this relationship. You may be comfortable, and change is always scary, but you have potentially 40 more years of life ahead of you. What will you have to look back on if you carry on as you are? A nice house?

My sister is like your wife; paralysed by fear of failure. She's actually very intelligent and capable, but now, aged 61, she lives a very sad and lonely life with our mother. She even says she doesn't live, she exists.

It's not selfish to want more out of life, it's natural, and if your wants and needs are incompatible then, painful as it is, you need to part ways.

Gutwrenching Tue 21-Jul-20 06:14:00

Marshmallowmom

Sorry but to me your masturbating so much ( and let me guess use of porn) is likely a huge contributor to the lack of attraction to your wife . If porn has any part of your life then you need to take a big look at the research showing how it reduces attraction.
As for the other issues yeah I agree it sounds convenient that you suddenly want children but putting that aside let me ask you this . Seeing as you say you fantasise about other women so much . If you were to meet a woman who was much younger And attractive to you and you felt the same positives of conversation etc that you do with your wife do you think you would be happy to stay with her even if she couldnt have children ?
If your answer is yes which I’m guess it might be then it’s more about lust and you not directing your sexual attention in the right direction with wanting children being a ‘convenient reason’
If you wouldnt consider a long term commitment with a hot twenty five year old who couldn’t have children then this will show your true motives
I know you may think you know your true reasons but sometimes people lie even to themselves
If it’s more about the lust for another younger woman the you are almost guaranteed to be unhappy once that’s satisfied
Either way your partner deserves more. I just think you need to take a deep hard look at yourself and why you really want this . Does that mean stay if it’s about lust ? No she’s still deserves better than a man who doesn’t desire her and is thinking of others . There will be plenty of men willing to fill your place and be happy .

Thanks for this. Plenty to think about, but one or two bits I also think are a bit unfair. I don’t suddenly want children, I always have done. I tried to push the issue at the start of our marriage but she put it off saying we weren’t ready. Also, I think you are correct about masturbating affecting attraction, but don’t conflate ‘I feel like I would rather’ with ‘I do this loads’. They’re entirely different, and I can’t remember the last time I looked at porn. I actually thing the deterioration in attraction is more likely due to starting to see sex as something to do to make a baby, rather than something for pleasure. When it didn’t happen for so long, it started to feel like a chore and I began to wonder ‘what’s the point’. Finally, there’s no chance I’d get in a relationship now with someone who didn’t want children, and also not with someone much younger . If they couldn’t have children? I guess the same as I’ve said about my current marriage. If we had a proper go at it, tried everything and it didn’t work then I could live with it. Failing due to a lack of sex, lack of trying, is what is killing me

OP’s posts: |
PurrBox Tue 21-Jul-20 06:36:12

People are trying to see you as a male stereotype and they keep failing. You don't write like a male stereotype; you don't act like one; you don't seem to be one.

Marshmallowmom Tue 21-Jul-20 06:44:02

Thanks gutwtenching for your replies to those questions . Just a couple more things to consider . I understand you think that some things were a little unfair and fair enough if you always wanted children , however you say you always wanted children and you also say that failure due to a lack of sexual lack of trying is what’s killing you . Both these things are things that relate to communication and it appears that this is the main issue . It still appears that you have chosen to direct your energy outward Instead of towards your partner both sexually and communication wise in terms of wanting a child/ren . It would seem you can hardly blame the fact you have no children on your partner , considering it’s been largely a choice to have little sex as in your words you’d rather masterbate.
Do you see what I’m saying here , your argument is circular . I am unhappy and have no children because we don’t communicate and do t have much sex but - I don’t want to have much sex and have given up trying to communicate - therefore we have no children and I am unhappy

No relationships , with children or without will be happy when one or both partners turns outwardly whether that is in terms of communication or sexuality .
Of course communication is a two ways street but you definitely could have said to her that you require her to attend counselling to continue the marriage
I’m not trying to be hard on yoy here , only to say that you were by your own admission 50 percent responsible for the failure to communicate about children and it seems much more culpable i. The failure to have sex. You can’t create a situation that destroys any closeness and ability to create the life together that you want the. Be shocked when that manifests
How will this be different I. Your next relationship when you have tendencies to turn outwards rather than towards your partner. Our partners are mirrors that reflect back to us what we are.

Marshmallowmom Tue 21-Jul-20 06:45:45

It’s not about stereotypes . It’s about humanity . I’d say the exact same to a woman who turned outwards sexually and did not discuss her needs with her husband
We all create our own realities

ivfdreaming Tue 21-Jul-20 06:48:52

As for the other issues yeah I agree it sounds convenient that you suddenly want children

@marshmallowmom someone hasn't been reading the thread properly. The OP clearly stated he was the one who wanted children and tried to initiate the conversation several times over the years

And as for freezing eggs at 40 that is a laughable suggestion from people who don't understand fertility treatment. She needs to freeze embryos not eggs as eggs have a poor survival rate and she's not likely to get many at her age in any event. And what's the point - so she can transfer them when she's 43 or 45? What point is she considered ready??

OP you either need to have a serious discussion about ending the relationship or if sex and the lack of it is a barrier to having children but you both want them then look at paying privately for IVF

She's coasting through her late 30s early 40s until she can really use the excuse that she's too old to bear children and then where does that leave you

If you're desperate to start a family you'd be snapped up quickly on one of the many dating sites where it's more usual that men on there swerve any long term commitment family raising ideals

user1493413286 Tue 21-Jul-20 06:53:56

I think you know the answer; it might feel ok now but how will you feel in ten years about your life if nothing has changed.
There’s still time for you to meet someone else and have children. It is different for her in terms of having children but it sounds like if you continue how you are then you’re not going to have children with her anyway and she has to take equal responsibility in not addressing the issue with you too.

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