Quick background. Married for 18 years, with a 16 year old daughter (a great kid). I recently turned 45. BS and my relationship has always been a bit unequal, she seems to have loved me much more than I her. Early on I considered calling off the wedding, and shortly afterwards the marriage, because I was concerned I did not love her enough. Then our kid was born. Not sure if I grew to love her or was just consumed with raising our kid. I never had an A, EA or otherwise, while we raised our kid. I traveled a lot with guys who fooled around and they asked why I didn’t fool around. I said, “I could see fooling around on my wife, but I could never see fooling around on our kid.” Not sure if this was the truth or I just said it to shut them up (it worked).
About a year ago things changed. Maybe it was our kid getting close to leaving home or me getting close to 45. I had one fling on a trip, and a couple close calls. Then the A started about 4 months ago. The A started out of town and OW lives on the other coast, though we have met occasionally, and she and I knew it would never be permanent. DDay was a couple weeks ago. I broke it off with OW after BS found out about A. BS has been seriously hurt by the A, and I feel terrible.
Now the confusing part. When BS heard the details she kicked me out of the house and said she wanted a D. What shocked me was my reaction – I was relieved, I felt like it freed me. Not to see the OW, but generally. After about a week away, BS asked me to come back and talk and I went to IC in advance. I talked at IC mainly about how to plan for possible D. Not to stop the D, but about how to fight enough to make feel BS feel good, about how talk to our kid (who was away), and about how to split smoothly.
BS did not want a D but an R. She definitely wants to stay together. I have played the loving and remorseful husband and have tried to do what I can to work with her. I want to make things better for BS, but otherwise my heart does feel in it. I am currently ambivalent at best about keeping the marriage together, though I know a D would be hard on us and our kid.
On the other hand, I realize that relief at a possible D and the lack of feeling might be a defense mechanism or rationalization. Anyone have experience with this?
IMO, if this isn't cleared up in your head quickly you should let your wife go. How unfair it is for her to be in a M where she isn't loved the way she should be. It isn't good for your daughter either, as much as you think you're doing her a favor by staying.
"That's the thing about pain, it demands to be felt."
I plan to give this a short bit of time to make sure my feelings for OW are not infecting my thoughts about BS and to see if there is some potential to stay
Living authentically and with positive intention can do wonders. Keep being honest and living truthfully and kindly and you'll figure it out. Good luck.
I have played the loving and remorseful husband and have tried to do what I can to work with her. I want to make things better for BS, but otherwise my heart does feel in it.
Stop playing parts. You have been uncertain about the M since before you got into it. IMHO this may be contributing to your ambivalence.
I was concerned I did not love her enough.
This is most likely a projection. There is a good chance that you were really feeling that she did not love the real you enough. Which is most likely the case if you have only been playing the part for the duration of your M
So down to my questions.
1.you considered calling off the wedding, why didn't you?
2. you considered getting an annulment, why did't you?
3. have you ever loved her?
4. have you told her the complete truth? not holding anything back?
1. you are a couple weeks out from DDay, this is way too soon to tell anything. give it at least 4-6 months of NC with the AP. Make sure your head is clear. And that you make a thoughtful decision. This is going to be one of the biggest decisions of your life.
2. You were excited about the thought of D. totally normal reaction to not wanting to take accountability for your actions and the destruction that they have caused.
3. You want to make things better for your BS, but your heart currently isn't in it. I can promise you that if that continues, the only way to make things better for your BS would be to D and to do it amicably. Why would the best thing for your BS be for you to "Put on a show" No the best for her is to be fully loved, and if after much time you cannot give that to her. Than you should set her free to get that somewhere else.
4. You need to fix what is broken in you. Fix what made this okay for you. Because staying with your BS or moving on doesn't matter there. You have to make yourself a safe partner.
5. the statistics are such that 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. So leaving for an AP does not look like good odds. remember anybody that would not hold your M with your BS sacred. Would not hold a M sacred with you. And if you are thinking you will not be a statistic, the reality is you stepped out. So you are already a statistic.
6. Your ambivalence does sound like a defense mechanism to me. A way to make it not hurt as bad if your BS decides to go that way.
"If you don't eat the elephant in one bite, it might trample you while chewing"
ME: WH HER: BS (holesinmybucket)
no stop sign = BS always welcome
I do not PM with women
I want to suggest a couple of books to you, actually by the same author, Mira Kirschenbaum. She is not universally beloved here on SI for reasons that will be clear in a moment, but as far as I know these two books are the only ones really on the following subjects. The writing is really accessible and the tone is compassionate, but also holds people accountable. Might be helpful to you.
First is When Good People Have Affairs. This one is pretty controversial on SI. While the author does not condone infidelity, she does acknowledge that the motivations behind straying can be illuminating about inward struggles that the wayward is facing, and so the experience can be used for self-examination. She does not advocate reconciliation in all cases and she advocates remaining married without disclosure in some circumstances, which are the most controversial points. But it's the only book I know of that systematically goes through motivations for infidelity almost like a diagnostic manual, and gives the wayward a framework for figuring out whether to leave or stay, whether to disclose or not.
The next one is Too Good To Leave, Too Bad To Stay. This again is kind of in diagnostic manual format, examining dynamics in the marriage and offering thoughts on what kinds of things are strong indicators that splitting up is best and what kinds of things indicate that rebuilding is possible if both partners put in the work.
Hope this helps. Please do stay and write as much as you'd like.
An interviewer once asked me if I could sum up everything I know about psychology in ten words or less. I said, "Hell, I can do it in two words: People cope." --Mira Kirshenbaum