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Did you leave your long marriage with sneaking desire for someone (as yet unknown) new ...

(37 Posts)
HaggisBurger Wed 07-Oct-20 14:49:34

Posted before about ongoing issues and uncertainty about whether to stay in my long marriage. Issues with my DH that are about his inability to meet my needs / how different we are in world view etc. But he’s essentially kind, trying hard to save the marriage and certainly not abusive etc.

A close friend said I should only leave if I am happy to be on my own for the rest of my life ...

Intellectually I know that’s true. I have just no idea id I’s meet someone new etc etc. I’m slim,
attractive, intelligent, funny & live in a large City - BUT I’m in my late 40s, don’t drink alcohol which can be off-putting to some men, maybe a lot of men ...and there seem to be infinite number of attractive single women in their 40s & 50s of higher calibre than the equivalent men 🤷‍♀️

Reading the OLD threads here puts the fear of God info me TBH - but I’d be very unlikely to meet someone new organically. But then as asides on threads on here about sexually arid marriages posters often refer to their long former marriages with men not interested in sex and their new, life transforming , hot chemistry LTRs.

But I guess what I’m saying is that in some ways, life with my husband might just about be better than being on my own tbh. So really what I am asking you for is a crystal ball 😬😬

I guess thoughts from anyone who did leave a “not great but not awful” marriage and ended up regretting it due the realities of single life.

Or the opposite too 🤞🏼

OP’s posts: |
AmICrazyorWhat2 Wed 07-Oct-20 14:56:55

Do you mind being on your own if you don’t meet anyone?

I’m a similar age and happily married, but if my relationship did end, I honestly wouldn’t be too bothered about finding a new partner. If I met someone, great, but it’s not a priority. I think I’d be content with my friends and family.

Fear of being alone isn’t a good reason to stay in an unhappy relationship though. It’s not fair on you or your DH. He could meet someone who really wants to be with him.

HaggisBurger Wed 07-Oct-20 14:59:08

You’re right - fear of being alone isn’t a good enough reason nor fair on him. That’s what I’m trying to work through. I guess I can’t imagine being on my own though that’s what I should be content to do.

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User166777 Wed 07-Oct-20 15:31:48

Have you exhausted efforts to improve the marriage. It sounds like you have both put some work into this? This is what I would suggest first but if you have tried that and the feelings still aren't there....

From what you say you want a relationship?. So it is a gamble to leave and end up alone..... Only you can decide if it's a gamble worth taking.

I think of it like this. (This situation was years ago, not now) My life with my husband was 6/10, potentially I considered it possible to get that to 7/10 without much work. Living alone would be a 4/10, maybe building up to a 7/10 with work ... To potentially meet a new man who will probably end up after the first year landing at around a 7/10.... So I would be equally as happy in each scenario.

So I decided to stay and put the work into me and improve my life that way. It really has worked out well ...

I am capable of overthinking though and I do love my husband.... You have to work out what's right for you.

022828MAN Wed 07-Oct-20 15:36:15

I think of it like this. (This situation was years ago, not now) My life with my husband was 6/10, potentially I considered it possible to get that to 7/10 without much work. Living alone would be a 4/10, maybe building up to a 7/10 with work ... To potentially meet a new man who will probably end up after the first year landing at around a 7/10.... So I would be equally as happy in each scenario.

I really like this... I think so often as humans we think things could be better and base a lot of rash decisions based on that assumption. But I think if you're in a happy relationship then it's unlikely, obviously this would be different if you're genuinely miserable and it's unlikely to change.
A bird in the hand and all that!

NewYearHere20 Wed 07-Oct-20 15:48:35

I left my husband about 4 years ago. Our life wasn't awful, but part of the reason I wanted to leave was how our intimate life was. I've since learned he was sexually coersive although at the time I didn't label it as such.
So as a result of that - I initially didn't want another man anywhere near me. I believed I was "dead from the waist down" and it was the last thing on my mind.
Since then partly after encouragement from friends I tried on-line dating. I've now been dating a lovely guy for about 7 months and its bloody wonderful!
The point is - you don't know what might happen. I would say don't leave your marriage with the hope of finding someone better. Leave if your current partner isn't making you happy. If you're genuinely un-happy that is reason enough to leave - you don't have to justify leaving. Try reading Too Good to leave Too Bad to stay. It may help you clarify your thoughts.

HaggisBurger Wed 07-Oct-20 18:22:18

Thanks @NewYearHere20 - I’m so glad to hear you’ve found happiness especially having endured sexual coercion flowers

I don’t know there is just a part of me that thinks at some stage, in the future, there would be a lightbulb moment of “wow - this is truly what an intimate and loving relationship is like” ...

I’ve read Too good to leave ... and using that criteria I should go, according to the book.

OP’s posts: |
Dery Wed 07-Oct-20 18:56:35

"there is just a part of me that thinks at some stage, in the future, there would be a lightbulb moment of “wow - this is truly what an intimate and loving relationship is like” ..."

And you might have such a moment in the future. My mum met the love of her life in her mid-50s a few years after the breakdown of her 30+ year marriage because of my dad's infidelity.

But you might not have any such moment. As you've accepted, there are no guarantees. You may leave your H and remain single for the rest of your life or, at least, not achieve the lightbulb moment you refer to above.

The fact that you are considering ending your relationship with the goal of finding another does make you more vulnerable to disappointment than if you were ending your relationship because it was no longer right for you. I love my H and have no plans to leave (we got together when we were a bit older in any case) and like a PP said, if our relationship did end, I don't anticipate looking for another.

All that said, based on what you have said, I'm inclined to think you should go for it. Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is your one shot. You clearly don't warm to the prospect of a lifetime with your H. And you are approaching this with great integrity - you're not waiting for an "exit affair". You are considering now whether you should leave so that you are free to pursue relationships with other men if they are available to have. I think the fact that you are so attracted by the idea of pursuing a relationship with another man probably does mean you need to leave your relationship and at least create the possibility for that happening in a way which shows honesty and integrity.

PamDemic Wed 07-Oct-20 19:06:26

Life on your own is infinitely better than being in a mediocre relationship. Infinitely.

I love being on my own. I enjoy (online) dating. I love being in a (lovely) relationship. It's all good. It's all better than being in a rubbish relationship.

user1481840227 Wed 07-Oct-20 19:10:47

Lots of people settle...but I think that's why a lot of people end up cheating too.

For example you could decide to stay with your husband and settle for this life, you said you feel like you'd be unlikely to meet someone organically but let's say you carry on with this relationship as it is...and in a couple of years you do happen to meet someone organically at a hobby or something...next thing you have a little spring in your step and you're putting a bit more effort into your appearance and so on, enjoying a bit of flirtation and start fantasising about them and maybe one thing leads to another....because you allow it to happen....because it feels really good...and you've missed it after you thought you had come to terms that you wouldn't happen again.

OR a similar thing could happen with your husband! He could meet someone too without intending for it to happen!

NotaWickedStepMum55 Wed 07-Oct-20 19:31:45

Before I share, I would ask, do you have children?

For me, I was married 28 years to a kind (if boring, self centered) man, who would do anything I wanted. I was always of the opinion that you could talk yourself out of love, but also talk yourself back in.

I talked myself out, left said husband, and managed to almost wreck my relationship with my teenagers (due to new relationship).

I honestly don't know, now, why I did it ( probably married too young, at 22).

My husband had both teenagers living with him, something I am so jealous of.

So, fast forward, 14 years, I now have a reasonable relationship with my children, due to their good nature, but not the one my other friends have with their children. And I can't do anything about it...

Regret, guilt and shame are horrible emotions to have to live with for the rest of one's life, but that is now my lot

So, in conclusion, I would say - no children, follow your heart. With them, be very careful in your choice of replacement, be strong and put them first, for a while.

HaggisBurger Wed 07-Oct-20 20:21:52

@NotaWickedStepMum55 - yes I do have children - teenagers too. Your post resonated with me (and scared me too). I worry awfully about damaging them / my relationship with them. Mind you if I didn’t have kids no way would I have stayed this long anyway. Do you mind me asking what in particular lead your new relationship to cause that amount of damage? Was that why they loved only with their Dad. I’m glad things are a little better now but that sounds really really hard.

I get what you’re saying about talking oneself out of love. I worry that’s what I’m doing.

@user1481840227 yes I guess it does feel like settling - and I guess there is always a risk that one or other of us might be susceptible to an affair in the future. To be honest though the thought of someone taking my DH off my hands due to an affair feels quite appealing. Perhaps the reality would be much much different. But I don’t feel jealous or sad when I think of him with someone else which is worrying.

Thanks @Dery yes it will be a gamble if that’s what I end up doing. Like @PamDemic says, I do hope that life on my own would be better than this relationship and that I would choose to be on my own rather than settle again.

OP’s posts: |
Rgy3250999 Wed 07-Oct-20 20:51:20

Whilst I hope that the lady above continues to have a great relationship, I would say 9 months in, it should feel good. I have known family and friends to have what seemed happy relationships for years and then a decade or so in and they’re divorcing. Long term relationships when you have children are really hard. Don’t underestimate the strain on another relationship when you eventually live together, you have gone past the stage of being on best behaviour and life’s stresses creep back in.

Statistically, second marriages are even more likely to fail than firsts, so I really don’t think you’re guaranteed happiness by leaving. Navigating step families, blended families and potentially animosity from exes and it’s not so rosy.

I had an affair because I was so unhappy so I know how that feels but equally, my children adore their father and it would kill them and him to split. I have been trying to view things differently and see what a wonderful team we can be and have spoken to him about trying to make more of an effort and we are definitely happier than we were. I do believe that it’s possible to rekindle things and even try new things, if you talk openly with each other and both want to work at it.

NotaWickedStepMum55 Wed 07-Oct-20 20:55:03

My daughter (14 at the time) was jealous of my new partner, and he was of her. Because I had little experience of men, apart from my husband, I didn't know how to react to his insecurities and I let him dictate how I dealt with my daughter. For fear of 'losing' him. I didn't put my children first, and I will bitterly, bitterly regret that.

So, my advice would be (now I know), to put them first. Until they are older. A good new man would accept and understand. My man would have accepted this, I just didn't realise he would have. Put the foot down and keep it down.

You can put yourself AND your children first.

ravenmum Wed 07-Oct-20 21:53:46

there is just a part of me that thinks at some stage, in the future, there would be a lightbulb moment of “wow - this is truly what an intimate and loving relationship is like” ...
I can't say I've had a lightbulb moment, and I don't even live with my "new" bf of 3.5 years - but I've certainly realised some things I was missing with my exh. The new bf is emotionally intelligent and genuinely considerate. I feel lucky to have experienced that in a relationship. But I've also appreciated being alone, too - it felt like finding the old me again, before I got married.

On the other hand, by breaking up with my ex, I gave up a home I liked and a family life, and won't get it back. No more big family events; we won't plan for the kids' weddings or any grandchildren's births together. No more talking about what we did 20 years ago. I'm worse off financially - didn't have a high-flying lifestyle with my ex but it was a lot more comfortable. And if something had happened to me - disability, illness - I always imagined my exh taking care of me in some way, as you do with a spouse of many years. That backup plan has gone; even if I settled down with the new bf, it still doesn't feel right to rely on someone you only met so late. I don't know how long it takes for that feeling to go away.

My marriage ended because of my exh's affair, so I didn't have to make the same decision as you. But for a few years before that, I did daydream sometimes about leaving, as he loved his work more than his family. I stayed, to see if things would get better. Staying is a decision you can regret too.

Techway Wed 07-Oct-20 23:09:31

@User166777, has given a thoughtful analysis.

Mid 40s are often a time for crisis and I think it is important to factor in the downsides of divorce just in case the grass appears greener. I would not advocate divorce unless you are 100% sure because
1. You will be poorer. Living as a single person is more expensive than sharing with another adult. Most couples need to downsize the family home. Pensions are split so it is likely both parties have to rebuild pension pots or work longer.
2. The children's lives are disrupted. Telling my dc that we were separting was the hardest thing I have ever done. They were so distressed and fearful. They survived and healed but it still haunts me.
3. You lose Christmas, weekends, birthdays and other occasions as you move to alternative child arrangements. You do get used to it but the first few years are tough.
4. Many of the men available will have issues, maybe different to your dh but they will also irritate/be annoying after a few years. Men don't seem to improve with age!!
5. You will no longer have shared memories even if amicable with your Ex you have to practice boundaries.
6. Your family & friends will have to take sides so you are likely to lose some relationships.
7. Men tend to move on quickly so your children are likely to have a step mum figure.
8. You maybe single, alone or lonely. That depends on how you feel about single life. I personally don't have an issue but I miss male company.

I left because my marriage was abusive but it has taken years to get through the change. I have put my children first but that has come at some cost to me. I am now able to focus on me but the pool of men is definitely not as positive and I would prefer to stay single than settle.

That said, if you want then from your perspective leaving sooner is better, 40s rather than 50s, from your children's perspective they might want it to be much later, perhaps when they have left home.

LilyWater Thu 08-Oct-20 00:04:15

Techway

**@User166777**, has given a thoughtful analysis.

Mid 40s are often a time for crisis and I think it is important to factor in the downsides of divorce just in case the grass appears greener. I would not advocate divorce unless you are 100% sure because
1. You will be poorer. Living as a single person is more expensive than sharing with another adult. Most couples need to downsize the family home. Pensions are split so it is likely both parties have to rebuild pension pots or work longer.
2. The children's lives are disrupted. Telling my dc that we were separting was the hardest thing I have ever done. They were so distressed and fearful. They survived and healed but it still haunts me.
3. You lose Christmas, weekends, birthdays and other occasions as you move to alternative child arrangements. You do get used to it but the first few years are tough.
4. Many of the men available will have issues, maybe different to your dh but they will also irritate/be annoying after a few years. Men don't seem to improve with age!!
5. You will no longer have shared memories even if amicable with your Ex you have to practice boundaries.
6. Your family & friends will have to take sides so you are likely to lose some relationships.
7. Men tend to move on quickly so your children are likely to have a step mum figure.
8. You maybe single, alone or lonely. That depends on how you feel about single life. I personally don't have an issue but I miss male company.

I left because my marriage was abusive but it has taken years to get through the change. I have put my children first but that has come at some cost to me. I am now able to focus on me but the pool of men is definitely not as positive and I would prefer to stay single than settle.

That said, if you want then from your perspective leaving sooner is better, 40s rather than 50s, from your children's perspective they might want it to be much later, perhaps when they have left home.

The points outlined in this post are so true and is not one people readily consider as they naturally imagine all the fantasised good things about leaving vs all the negatives of their current family set up.

The grass a lot of the time is simply not greener. After a certain age when most are settled down, if a man is great company, decent looking, kind, loving, fully pulling his own weight at home with kids and housework, chances are he would still be married in the first place! Think about it. The second marriage divorce rates speak for themselves and cohabitation splits will be even higher.

Of course the honeymoon period of a relationship is fun and amazing...it's the same for everyone (including the previous poster's 7 month relationship) but it doesn't mean it will last long term. You're actually very likely to find yourself in exactly the same situation (or potentially worse) down the line if you divorced your husband, alongside inflicting a broken home on your teenagers.

You mentioned your husband is kind and that counts for an unbelievable amount. Kindness in men (i.e. NOT charm or charisma which can dissipate during difficult times) is like gold dust. I would be going down the counselling route and also making sure you have proper sustained couple time together doing fun things without the kids. Successful long term relationships take patience and sacrifice for each other (which is true love).

HaggisBurger Thu 08-Oct-20 08:45:43

@LilyWater @ravenmum @User166777 these are all really useful reminders of the actual realities of divorce - and the pool of men available in ones late 40s. DH and I met at college so have entirely entwined group of friends (mainly all still from our college days in Dundee).
It’s so hard. We have been making progress with marriage therapy - but I still feel that the driving force behind all of that is me. And I feel desperate for him to take control. His passivity to our problems has been a major issue.

Yes he is largely kind (tho there are elements of his behaviour - an increasing rigidity and also selfishness that results in less kindness). What I am struggling to do is to get myself 100% back invested into the marriage. I am one foot in and one foot out and it feels like that’s never going to change. I am also slightly weary of thinking and trying and working on it.

Thanks to everyone’s really considered and helpful posts 🙏🏼

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Misty9 Thu 08-Oct-20 23:03:10

This has been a really interesting, and slightly anxiety provoking, thread to read. I ended my marriage nearly 2 years ago now and, if I'm honest, partly because I hoped I'd find someone who could actually make me feel loved. Exh is autistic and I ended up feeling like I was disappearing, such was the extent to which I felt unseen in the marriage. I agonised for years over what to do, although my dc are younger than yours, both still being in primary school. It's sad to read it echoed here that it really does negatively affect the children in a split - but the alternative was not healthy either and the dynamic is much improved since we split. What the pp listed about all the things you lose by not being together is so true - but it got to the point where I was so unhappy, and exh was so unable/unwilling to change, that I couldn't see any other way.

I would always advocate trying everything first, counselling alone, together. Everything. But ultimately I accepted that my needs were as important as others and I needed to feel peace of mind. I've got that now. Yes the dc have been affected, yes it's a pain having their possessions split between two homes. But exh is much happier and has finally realised he can't do marriage (I'm his 2nd) and I feel like me again. I will feel eternally guilty about the kids having to bear the consequences of our choices, and I've resolved not to blend families with anyone in the future.

Have I found someone else? Yes, I'm in a new relationship and it's a revelation to feel accepted and heard. Who knows if it will last long term, and yes dating in your late 30s/40s is pretty dire for all the reasons already mentioned. So I would agree with your friend - only leave if you feel you can't carry on as you are, and be prepared to be single. You're never really free again once you've had kids imo. I will always put them first and my partner has kids too, so the logistics aren't ideal. Ideally I'd have had children with the right person in the first place. But if wishes were horses...

Good luck, and flowers. It's a horrible limbo to live with, I know.

ravenmum Fri 09-Oct-20 09:31:55

It doesn't have to be a disaster with the kids. We took it in turns to move out, so to speak - I stayed in the family house for the first few years, with exh moving into a little flat; then I moved into a flat and he took over the house permanently, as his family could afford to help him keep it. So the kids got a bit of both of us.

Of course they are also affected in the long term by the fact that you no longer do things as a family, which is a shame. And obviously it's stressful when you break up. But so is living in a home with people who are not happy together, or where the underlying dissatisfaction ends in an affair. Staying is not automatically best for the kids, it's worth weighing up.

HaggisBurger Fri 09-Oct-20 13:45:05

Thanks @Misty9 for your thoughtful post. It sounds like it was the right decision for you even though it’s been hard. My DH is (undiagnosed, but we have family members with ASD on his side) probably on the upper end of the spectrum and it does impact most definitely. Your case sounds much much harder. I am glad that overall both you and your ex have benefited. I’m sure like all parents you worry about the impact on your kids. But as @ravenmum says it’s not always in the kids best interests for parents to stay together even if might express that sometimes.

Sounds like it comes down to a balancing act - the good being outweighed by the bad ..,,

OP’s posts: |
Misty9 Fri 09-Oct-20 15:07:10

@HaggisBurger thank you for your kind words. Exh is also very highly functioning and, on paper, it was the dream life. He pulled his weight with the kids and life admin, we were comfortably off, we had a lovely home etc, he was kind and patient. But he just can't connect emotionally to people and, for various reasons of my own upbringing, I vitally need that connection. And withered away without it. Anyway, enough rambling about me... Yes it is indeed a weighing up of good and bad. Have you written a list of pros and cons to staying and splitting? I did, and it was pretty accurate. But don't forget to rate how much importance each of those factors holds too, it's not just about how many there are.

Good luck whatever you decide flowers

Weetabixandcrumpets Fri 09-Oct-20 20:40:15

What an interesting thread.

I left a 20 year marriage and have shared custody of my 14 yo ds.
My STBX is not a bad man and we had many great memories, but he does have an alcohol problem and is very controlling. That said, he wanted to give me and the kids everything we wanted.

Was I right to leave? Probably, he was a danger to me at times. Was it right for the kids? No.

I am definitely poor, haunted with guilt and memories of the scenes of distress and pleading and I sometimes find myself feeling very tired and wondering what on earth I am doing. The other day it was cold and rainy and I was alone in a small, rented flat, with the heating off (cost), knowing they were toasty and warm at the old house, the dog would be snoozing in front of the fire and I should be there making the place smell of scones and looking after my son. It was a bad moment.

I have a new man in my life and he is absolutely wonderful. No alcohol problem, understands all my responsibilities and completely appreciates the kids should come first. I will not be introducing him to DS until a long way down the line.

I need to get rid of the ghosts of my past to fully appreciate the opportunities of my future. I wish STBX would meet someone lovely, to take the responsibility off my shoulders.

myrtlehuckingfuge Fri 09-Oct-20 23:30:36

As someone said above, leaving with the goal of finding another may set you up for a disappointment. Entirely right that you are thinking this out now without resorting to an exit affair (V bad ending especially if there are kids involved--trust is required for good co-parenting). However, married was for many years 3/10 for me and single life, especially since current conditions are not that conducive to meeting someone, is more like 8 or 9/10. It's lovely looking out as mistress of all you survey, so to speak. I am looking to someone, if they come- I can definitely survive and thrive if they don't--to add to my life not complete it.

WeakandWobbly Fri 09-Oct-20 23:44:34

Placemarking for tomorrow

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