Feeling lost and need a listening ear
24 August 2020 at 1:41 pm #43201
Hi. I’m in an abyss and need help. I am 41 and have been married for 20 years. My husband is 57 and we have a 10 year old child. Our marriage was the result of a beautiful love story but we have always had a rocky relationship. During the first 10 years we realised we were different and had different outlooks on life, our hobbies didn’t match etc, we had arguments regularly but our love was strong and kept us going. Then our child came and a whole new phase begun. My husband stopped seeing me as a woman, he dedicated all his time to our son. I lost a parent at the same time, became depressed and lost interest in many things. My husband didn’t support me emotionally at all during that time. He was always there for our child and supported us financially but there was no “us” anymore. I tried to communicate with him but was always pushed away. I begged him for another child but he categorically refused despite us both agreeing to have 2 kids when we decided to get married. We continued drifting apart as the years went by and I stayed for the sake of our child. We haven’t had sex in 8 years and that has become the norm for us. I guess I just learned to suppress my feelings and needs and went with the motions. Neither of us has ever cheated on the other. Then in the last 3 years or so I decided to focus on my career and my personal development. I got a degree and a promotion at work. I started a couple of hobbies and my social life started to thrive again. Our relationship at home has always been peaceful and respectful. No arguments especially in front of our son. He supported me in my career development etc but that was all. We became like good friends living under the same roof (not the same bed) and raising a lovely and happy child. Then few weeks ago he decided to invite me out without our child (first time in 10 years) and said he wanted to talk about us. He told me our son has been asking questions about us such as why we never kiss or hold hands and that these questions have prompted him to have an “awakening” and realise that life was passing him by. I started to feel relief and waited for him to say that he wanted a divorce but instead said that his feelings for me have never changed and he still loves me in the same way he did when we first met. I looked at him in utter disbelief expecting him to burst out laughing and tell me it’s a joke but no, he carried on saying how foolish he has been all those years, that he has had proposals from other women but always dismissed them because in his heart I was the only one. He then asked me if I felt the same way and could we turn the page and start all over!! I felt sick and made a huge effort not to cry in public. He kept pressuring me and asking me to be honest so I told him no, I don’t feel the same way anymore. In fact I haven’t felt anything in years and I have grown to enjoy my own company. I long for the moments when I can be alone or when I have to travel for work or with friends. He said he noticed that I have become happier since I developed new hobbies and said I was living in a mirage and soon those so called friends will not be here anymore and I will get bored of my hobbies. I tried to explain that my hobbies are not a substitute to our failed marriage but rather a mechanism that help me cope. Through them I rediscovered myself and I feel happier again. I may be without a man’s affection (his affection) but I realise there’s more to life than romantic love. He has now given me an ultimatum, to accept to go back to how we were (including sleeping in the same bed and having sex) or divorcing. I can’t bear the thought of being physically intimate with him but I have never thought of divorce in practical terms. I have no family or network support where I live and I’m feeling completely lost. I think divorce is capable of destroying our child’s stability and self-esteem. I have no idea where to start, what my rights are and I’m just afraid he might seek revenge somehow. I feel so disappointed in him for being so selfish and not giving me time to think things through when I have stayed by his side all these years. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.24 August 2020 at 2:00 pm #43203
From the male point of view I would say your husband is a practical thinking, strait forward man. I don’t think your fear of revenge is founded. He doesn’t strike me as a man with a hidden agenda from what you write. He just wants to know where you stand, if you are likely to make an effort to save the marriage or if it’s best to ride the dragon and get divorced. I think he wants to get on with life and your son is in a bad position anyway. it is either two unhappy parents or divorce. Either way you will have to mitigate the impact on him. Don’t know which one is easier.
Those are my thoughts. This is a very complicated situation and I would not like to be in your shoes. But I think you can trust your husband.24 August 2020 at 5:29 pm #43209
sirtobi thank you so much for taking the time to read and reply. You are probably right that he doesn’t have an agenda and may not seek revenge. He is a good person at heart and a great father and I never doubted his love and devotion to our son but I know from old arguments that he can be hostile and manipulative when he doesn’t get his way but that hasn’t happened in a long long time so let’s hope you are right and we both put our kid’s interests before our own.24 August 2020 at 9:20 pm #43210
I guess it will be a bumpy ride with a lot of emotions surfacing, You will probably have sex, we did, during separation, it’s not uncommon. You will see where you end up. I wish you all the best and hope for both of you, even if you end up separate in the end, the family bond is still strong enough to let you function as parents. Good luck.26 August 2020 at 12:30 am #43233
Hi….I was in an incredibly similar situation to yours…I also had the ultimatum and despite trying with counselling to re-ignite things sexually, it was never going to be possible as those feelings just weren’t there for me. I don’t blame him for giving the ultimatum, there’s no reason my ex should life in a situation he was unhappy with. We stayed together for the children and because we were good friends but that was never going to be enough forever, especially as our children got older and less demanding of our time. I was terrified when we split up (we weren’t married but had been together a long time…2 children, a mortgage etc)…mostly I was worried about the impact on my children……but….the important bit…..I got through it, my kids see us both lots and we are still good friends so that’s great for them and there has been no bad effects…if anything they are happier (they pick up on more than you think even when there isn’t the obvious shouting at each other etc..as your son clearly already has by asking questions)…..nearly 2 years on and he has a new partner, I have a new partner and us splitting up was 100% the best option….there may be a few tough times ahead but when it’s done you will look back and wonder how you did it for so long!!! Im not promising everything will work perfectly (I feel very lucky it has for me)…but it’s certainly possible and the situation you are in isn’t going to enable you, your husband or your child to be happy. I suggest you read ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’…it’s a game changer!!!26 August 2020 at 12:14 pm #43244
Me and my ex split up because there was no happiness there. Although we both had feelings still to a degree, we both knew we weren’t right for each other but we plan on raising our son by being civil and amicable parents. We put our child over whatever feelings we had left, because neither of us wanted him to think that you simply settled into being unhappy and that it was normal in relationships to not be loving and affectionate. Plus, we both wanted a chance at being happy ourselves. We didn’t want to be with a person we felt stuck with after our child grew older and left, looking back thinking we wasted our lives with someone we didn’t really want to be with. It was better to cut our loses, realise we were not going to be a happy couple, and make the most of our lives. You only have 1. So, why not try and find someone you want to spend it with!
Just because you would be divorced, doesn’t mean you both can’t make great parents. Sometimes, it is actually better for the child knowing that they don’t have to settle for someone they don’t want to be with and showing bravery and strength in not settling for less than what would make you happy.
I personally think follow your heart. If you don’t feel the same way and actually felt relief thinking you were going to split, then that is the best option for you and him in my opinion. It gives him and you a chance of being happy with other people one day and with your son noticing the lack of affection, he is clearly aware that your relationship is not romantic, so I’m thinking he probably won’t be surprised by the idea of you getting divorced. If you do decide to split, just make it very clear to him that you will both continue being his parents and dedicated to him. He’s at the age where he is more likely to understand.