Lovely husband versus different life with friend – what to do?

(719 Posts)
KormasABitch Tue 20-Jul-21 13:33:15

Apologies for the long post, I will try not to dripfeed.

I have a lovely husband, let’s call him Pete. We’ve been together almost a decade. He’s devoted to me, endlessly kind; nothing is too much trouble. A few years ago, we moved to a country where, unfortunately, he can’t get work (I’m OK as I work online). We’re planning to move elsewhere. In the meantime, he does all the shopping and cooking, chops wood for the fire, etc. We get on brilliantly and have none of the irritations I associate even with close friendships. We have the same tastes in music, films etc and often enjoy lovely weekends away doing things together like hiking or cycling. We never get bored with each other’s company.

Pete’s quite a bit younger than me, which hasn’t worried us over the years because as far as we’re concerned, being incredibly compatible is so lucky that it outweighs everything. However, one snag is our difference in life experience. He’s used to renting a place, and I’m not sure he’ll ever be what I’d call a responsible home owner. General maintenance etc doesn’t seem to occur to him, and I don’t want to be a nag, but find the overall neglect depressing when I’m so busy. He covers the basics, but anything else is a bit like pushing water uphill.

None of this might have mattered had it not been for life throwing me a curve ball.

My oldest friend, “John” (we’ve known each other 20-odd years), got divorced a couple of years ago. I helped him through the emotional process. We’ve always been close (despite him living in another country), but I suppose that brought us a bit closer for a while. I never thought much of it when he left his wife, but over the past couple of years we have exchanged friendly (not flirtatious!) messages and sometimes I find myself pining for the kind of life I could have with him. Over the years, we’ve had some great adventures together (when married to other people, so we never acknowledged or acted on the chemistry that was there), we have a good laugh, we understand each other well, and we have the same values. Pete, for example, can’t be bothered with family and I wish he made more effort to know my parents, who won’t be around for much longer; whereas I know John would connect well.

I am approaching retirement age and financial security has become more important to me than it once was. I hate to admit it, but combining forces with someone who has worked as hard as me is also appealing.

This is all churning round and round in my head, and I feel ridiculous. I don’t want to discuss it with anyone IRL, but would appreciate any input here. I hate feeling even a smidgen of disloyalty to Pete, because I adore him. It feels as though my priorities in life might be shifting somewhat, but maybe I’m just doing that “grass greener” thing and should just STFU.

OP’s posts: |
again2020 Tue 20-Jul-21 14:03:11

Do you have children with your husband? If you're older and don't mention it I presume you either don't or they are grown up?

It sounds like you and your friend have more in common. To be honest if you don't have these ties and you have strong feelings for your friend I'd be honest and end your marriage. Tread carefully though.

Shoxfordian Tue 20-Jul-21 14:06:17

Is this John even an option romantically?

If you really love your husband then you wouldn’t even be considering it

sunshinesupermum Tue 20-Jul-21 14:09:41

Sounds like 'the grass is definitely greener' to me. You are seeing the good things in your old friend that the husband you profess to love doesn't have. If you were living with him you could find things to be different and you are not as compatible as you seem to think you might be.

I have just read an amazing book which was published this week called The Paper Palace which essentially is about your dilemma!

thistimelastweek Tue 20-Jul-21 14:10:27

Team Pete. Tried and true whereas I haven't read anything to think that you have a real shot at a future with John.

Baberuthie Tue 20-Jul-21 14:14:24

Has John made a move up? Is he testing the water with you? Is this about financial security and freedom with someone.more your own age in retirement? I think you have a seven year itch and you need to tread carefully or risk being alone...

somersault Tue 20-Jul-21 14:14:26

I agree, I would stick with Pete. It sounds like a great relationship in many ways and there is always going to be compromise in relationships.

I also wonder if this is a case of the grass being greener. You know what it's like to be friends with John but not to be in a relationship with him. I personally wouldn't throw away a relationship with someone like Pete for that.

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PersonaNonGarter Tue 20-Jul-21 14:17:02

This is such a greener grass post, OP.

You are happier than you realise right now.

Cowbells Tue 20-Jul-21 14:17:23

Sounds like you barely know John. How people are on outings, weekends away, in social situations bears almost no relation to what they are like to live with day to day. What are his values? How did he treat his ex wife?

In your fantasy of course he's ideal. He willingly shares his wealth with you so you both reap the benefits. What if he is stingy or overly cautious or decides to rip through the lot of it, secure that he can fall back on your money? What if he slumps into old age and expects you to fuss over him like a nursemaid?

No marriage is perfect. It's often the case that one half of a couple notices things that niggle them and the other is oblivious. That can actually be a good thing - a balancing act.

Pete is not a go-getter. If you really can't stand that then it becomes a deal-breaker. But given you haven't even had a date with your old friend and you are creating a teenage crush of perfection on him, I'd say either stop it and focus on your marriage or split up and ask John out. But don't assume it will be ideal.

DrMorbius Tue 20-Jul-21 14:22:34

Pete sounds like a glorified pet.
He can't mean that much to you, if you want to dump him for a bloke who seems like a passing friend at best.
We’ve always been close (despite him living in another country), but I suppose that brought us a bit closer for a while. I never thought much of it when he left his wife, but over the past couple of years we have exchanged friendly (not flirtatious!) messages.
That hardly sounds like the start of Love Story.

Guavafish Tue 20-Jul-21 14:27:47

Grass is greener.

If you’re worried about finances then could you move to a country where Pete can work?

John is not for you… he is just a friend

Umberellatheweatha Tue 20-Jul-21 14:28:06

The fact that you are treating your husband as if he is an option rather than a commitment you made in your marriage vows is worrying. You are not a single woman.

It might well be that it's time to leave Pete.

All this time you've stayed friends with a man you know you have 'chemistry' with. Which in itself, isn't on. It was playing with fire and if I was your husband and knew that you harboured these feelings towards someone you claimed was a friend all this time, I would feel...betrayed.

I dont think you should necessarily stay with your husband. But you need to work out why you are treating him like an option. And as for other guy...you've never known him.as a partner, he could be an awful one. That's if he was even interested in pursuing that with you. So I wouldnt leave your husband for him. It's the wrong reason.

Wavingwillowtree Tue 20-Jul-21 14:28:26

Is John even available?

AlternativePerspective Tue 20-Jul-21 14:30:58

Imagine if Pete were to read this post. He would be well within his rights to end the marriage.

If a poster posted here that they’d read somewhere that their other half was wondering whether to dump them in favour of a friend the unanimous verdict would be for them to ltb.

At the end of the day John isn’t any more than a friend, unless you’ve been having an emotional affair all this time and you’re just testing the waters here. But it’s entirely possible, likely even that he doesn’t have any feelings for you other than friendship, so you could ditch Pete and John might actually not be interested in which case the friendship would be over as well and you would be on your own.

TBH if you stay with Pete then you can no longer be friends with John. It’s really not fair on your husband to stay friends with a man you were considering leaving him for.

Bryonyshcmyony Tue 20-Jul-21 14:31:47

Why did you move to a country where he can't get work? Why cant he get work? He sounds as though he is being supported by you and sometimes that can feel a tiny bit unattractive. Chopping wood and cooking is what anyone has to do to survive tbh! It's hardly brain surgery.

KormasABitch Tue 20-Jul-21 14:32:18

PersonaNonGarter

This is such a greener grass post, OP.

You are happier than you realise right now.

This is what I keep telling myself. It's easy to take for granted how well we get along and how golden Pete is. The trouble is that John is also that rare species, a golden man.

Thanks so much for the other replies! flowers

@again2020, no, I never had kids. My first marriage was to someone who wouldn't allow them, and then I was too old. John's kids (now young adults) really like me. The opportunity to be an almost-mum to them (obviously never coming near taking the place of the original and best!), and potentially heal some of the pain of his split from their mum, might add to the appeal.

@Shoxfordian, "If you really love your husband then you wouldn’t even be considering it" -- I know. But I suppose I love them both. I always have, and always will.

@sunshinesupermum Guess what book I'm reading next 😋

@Baberuthie
"Has John made a move up? Is he testing the water with you? Is this about financial security and freedom with someone more your own age in retirement?"
No testing the water. No move up. John and I did once joke, in the past, that in an alternative universe we'd be blissfully happily married. So I know the idea is not just in my head. He's finding his feet post divorce.

@Cowbells
"Sounds like you barely know John. How people are on outings, weekends away, in social situations bears almost no relation to what they are like to live with day to day. What are his values? How did he treat his ex wife?"
I kind of lived with him day to day for 6 weeks at one point, and we've done camping/diving trips etc together over the years. I have a pretty good idea of who he is. He was very kind to his wife. They just grew apart. He was very very young when she got pregnant, and then he stuck with her through four pregnancies, supported her and the family brilliantly, and now the kids are grown up.

I think this is a classic case of someone else representing the things that are missing from a particular relationship. The trouble is that the things that are missing (financial security, family ties, freedom to work a bit less hard) are more important to me now than they used to be.

I realise I sound like a wanker.

OP’s posts: |
Baberuthie Tue 20-Jul-21 14:38:05

I hope karma isnt a bitch kormaisabitch.

I do get it though. We can have strong feelings for different people, we are not robots. Pete does sound a bit like an easygoing pet and you sound very much like the alpha in the marriage. Ive know alpha women with a similar marriage who then want something different, to be taken care of. Could this be it?

AlternativePerspective Tue 20-Jul-21 14:41:01

John's kids (now young adults) really like me. The opportunity to be an almost-mum to them (obviously never coming near taking the place of the original and best!), and potentially heal some of the pain of his split from their mum, might add to the appeal.

Oh dear. OP this is a fantasy. John’s kids are adults. They’re not going to be interested in having you as an “almost mum,” they don’t need another mother figure at their age.

You’ve very clearly built this relationship on a fantasy and you are almost certainly going to get hurt here.

I do think you should end your marriage, because your husband deserves to be with someone who loves him, which it’s very clear you don’t. So either way I think your marriage is over.

But you need to let this idea of John go, and tbh if he’s a decent human being he won’t want to be any part of your marriage breakup.

Shallysally Tue 20-Jul-21 14:41:17

OP, you don’t sound like a wanker. It’s ok to consider your future, and think about what is going on in your relationship. Lots of people have these wobbles!

For what it’s worth, I would put John from my mind. I think you need to address the issues in your current relationship. It isn’t about Pete not being good enough so I’ll try things out with John.

I’m guessing that Pete is not aware of how you are feeling? I think you need to sit down with him and have a chat. Be honest, but not brutal!

sunshinesupermum Tue 20-Jul-21 14:43:54

KormasABitch Ha! It is as excellent read I promise you.

I actually do understand how easy it is to love two people at the same time for different reasons. I've been in that situation. Over 10 years on I can say that the grass isn't greener just different, more of a meadow with wild grass than a mown lawn.

Comedycook Tue 20-Jul-21 14:45:07

Ok so from what you've written, John sounds like the obvious choice. But look at him objectively...what are his negative points? You've listed Pete's, what about John's. No one is perfect.

KormasABitch Tue 20-Jul-21 14:46:17

Baberuthie

I hope karma isnt a bitch kormaisabitch.

I do get it though. We can have strong feelings for different people, we are not robots. Pete does sound a bit like an easygoing pet and you sound very much like the alpha in the marriage. Ive know alpha women with a similar marriage who then want something different, to be taken care of. Could this be it?

I think you've hit the nail on the head there, @Baberuthie, thank you. I have always always been the one taking care of the bloke. In the back of my head, I think I struggle with the idea that no one has ever "cared enough" to take care of me.

My first husband was very high maintenance -- worked hard, but didn't drive or cook or do anything really to help me, so it was an entirely one-way process of caretaking. My next relationships after our split were with men who were more fun, but basically parasites.

Pete is the first man to demonstrate love, caring for me "properly" -- but I suppose it's that concrete "taking care of" -- the idea that it would be nice for him to be pulling his weight economically too. And John represents, I suppose, more of an "adult" -- someone more like my brothers and my dad, in terms of life priorities. Aaagghh.

OP’s posts: |
gillysSong Tue 20-Jul-21 14:48:19

So you are coming up to retirement age and have only been married 10 years?
Is this a repetition of what has happened with past partners/ dh's.
Sometimes people get fed up with what they have for something different, then realise it wasn't such a good deal.
Did this happen with Pete?

HaveringWavering Tue 20-Jul-21 14:50:53

He was very very young when she got pregnant, and then he stuck with her through four pregnancies, supported her and the family brilliantly, and now the kids are grown up.

OP, he didn’t “stick with her through 4 pregnancies” or “support her and the family”. They had four children TOGETHER.

I appreciate that this isn’t particularly relevant to your current dilemma but it’s kind of telling that your perspective of John is that he was some sort of reluctant passenger in his marriage, only staying out of duty.

Why did you and Pete move to a country where he couldn’t work?

KormasABitch Tue 20-Jul-21 14:51:18

Comedycook

Ok so from what you've written, John sounds like the obvious choice. But look at him objectively...what are his negative points? You've listed Pete's, what about John's. No one is perfect.

He likes football, which bores me stiff.

He has lower quality control than Pete in terms of films, books, music (sorry if this sounds shallow)!

He watches telly, we don't.

He is quite horny. I mean, he notices attractive women. That's not to say he's a cheat; but Pete doesn't give a shit about that sort of thing.

OP’s posts: |

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