Another all-nighter unfortunately--I couldn't sleep with my mind racing from last night. I suspect I'll need to take some actual drugs today so I can be functional for the coming work week.
I re-read my post from last night and I wasn't very clear at all, but there's a lot to dig into in the posts from toota and Mamabear, so I'll do my best to clarify in the process of responding.
What if Mrs. S in all honesty had asked for D at the end of November 2021 (with the unmentioned intention of bedding The Sherriff of Bangkok when ink was dry on the dotted lines). Would you still, considering the state of the marriage at that time and your (quasi non-existent) sex life stick it out for the kids and memories of a marriage, or would you have sought out separation for your own sense of self, seeing that your 17 year relationship had withered to a naught?
I'd have thought she was insane to bring D to the table without ever first raising an issue with me to discuss. On my end, sex was an issue, but it was really the only thing of significance in my mind and I attempted to discuss it with her all the time. For her, all her anger and resentments were bottled up and I had no idea they were issues, so if she wanted to D on those grounds because she was so unhappy, it would have come entirely out of left field for me: not one talk, no counseling, nothing--just gone. It would have felt like an act of war on our family and I would have needed to understand WTF was happening.
Now, let's say her response was simply that she fell for someone else and wanted to monkey branch to a relationship with him; that she had been unhappy for a long time and the marriage couldn't be saved in her view. Well ok, that would have sucked horribly, but it would have been the end. It'd have been her choice to leave and I'd have mentally moved on by now hopefully.
And she could say the same thing now and it would end the marriage immediately, but she wants to R, so it's on me to either attempt R with her or walk and that's where I've been.
I think your views on sex and partnership would benefit from a deep dive with your IC. No, someone should never have sex they aren’t wholly enthusiastic about. They shouldn’t feel badly about not wanting sex or not wanting to "offer a hand." Things start to feel coercive really fast when there’s a sense of obligation. YOU shouldn’t do sexual things for your wife when you’re not in the mood. Adults in true partnership respect each other’s no’s and "I don’t feel like it" and figure out other ways to be intimate (or use their own hand… or toy).
My point is that I've never felt coerced, I felt like it was always an opportunity to show generosity and love for my partner. She's my wife--I want her to be happy--so giving 10 minutes of my time to make her feel good feels great. So after spending my entire adult relationship in a negative sex life, this appears to be a valid time to examine my future. And I understand mileage may vary and not everyone will share my view--and that's ok. I'm just sharing how I view my partner and how I'd like my partner to view me.
Affairs obviously mess with healthy sexual relationships because of the "you owe me because you did X with AP"… which has always struck me as a sure fire way to further damage a marriage. I sure don’t want my partner doing sexual things with me out of guilt, obligation, or evening of a score. But this seems to be something many male BS’s feel entitled to, like they’re reclaiming some property or sense of masculinity. If you step back and look at it, it’s really just toxic and gross.
We disagree here, but again, that's ok. I think she does owe me. But again, that's somewhat separate from my point--which is that I want her to want to be generous and loving sexually. I don't want to be in a toxic relationship where she owes me sex whenever I want it--that's not a marriage I'm interested in. Again, these are my terms, so they don't have to be universal. Both you and my wife can agree to disagree with me and that's ok. I just need her to tell me exactly what she wants so I can make an informed decision on my future.
The problem for you may be that you and your wife currently don’t have any other ways to be intimate, so sex is holding it together. I disagree with your MC that you shouldn’t stop having sex all together— it clouds your judgment, makes you prone to rug sweeping behaviors, and gives you both a false sense of intimacy… which falls away the second you start to try to engage meaningfully, which just leads to further disillusionment.
Doc, so many of your posts include:
She did X. It was wrong and messed up because Y.
We talked. I was so calm and patient and explained to her why she was wrong, what she needs to do different, and how she should be moving forward.
She apologized and agreed.
Rinse and repeat.
But here’s the thing. Your wife has been clear she is LOST. She doesn’t know how to adult. She has no idea who she is. She may lie because X or spend money because Y but she’s also only 2 months into this journey and I don’t believe for a second she’s tackled her whys. She just yesses you because maybe you are right, but also you feeling like she might know her why makes you feel better for a few hours or days after these talks.
You can talk to her and she can lose her shit and then write you a nice apology, but damn,
this woman doesn’t have a sense of self, so none of this will stick (as you’re seeing).
The reason many of us have recommended separating is because it lets you both work on your own selves. She can’t fuck things up with you constantly if you’re not there. And if she’s not constantly in the talk/lie/get defensive/agree with whatever you tell her about why she’s doing it/apologize cycle then maybe she’ll have some space to DO THE ACTUAL WORK she needs to do.
And then again, maybe she won’t. But what you’re doing isn’t working. You’re in a vicious cycle and it’s spiraling.
Along the same lines, please stop marriage counseling. I said this in your first thread and others have said it too. It’s not helping. It’s simply a pile on to why your wife sucks, additional lectures about why she’s a failure, and additional things she needs to do to save the marriage. The marriage can’t be a patient until she’s in a better place with some sense of who she is as an adult moving through the world. A sense of self one cannot make lasting and meaningful changes to their behavior.
You’d like her behavior to change and for her insight to follow. Sometimes this works, for sure. This is very very very clearly not working for your wife. She need intense therapy (EFT or Somatic Experiencing or EMDR) to even get to a place where marriage therapy has a chance to work.
And to R, you’d have to be willing to wait for this work to happen. And to back off. Like, actually back off, and be quiet and not push your narratives and be open to hearing hers as she does the work. You’d have to examine your analytical and dominate nature and truly understand the positives and challenges you yourself bring into relationships. To this point, you’ve been unwilling to do that and seem to think your marriage is over if you separate. I don’t think that’s true, it’s all in the framing of the separation and I challenge you to look at your own belief systems about that. Distance only = done if you both make it that way.
Now, to be clear, you obviously don’t owe her a thing. A separation would be sad and hard for you on top of the affair trauma. If you don’t want that added trauma or work of a separation, so be it.
I think the reason you’re starting to get push back in your thread is because you’re talking to a bunch of people with extensive knowledge of this journey you’re on. We’ve made similar decisions and lived the consequences. And we’re starting to watch you do the same thing over and over and over and then wonder why the results are the same. We care about you and it’s painful to watch you dig your heels in and continue on your analytic, dominant, "I’ll fix her", heels dug in approach to R when it’s clearly not working. We just want to help you see it differently and move forward to healing yourself, with the hopes your marriage can eventually be saved too, if that’s what you end up wanting.
Your advice is to stop having sex, separate and stop going to MC. I don't think it's bad advice. I think that advice taken all together is better than a la carte, and maybe that's the road I take. I agree that the path I'm on is unproductive.
I'm unsure what to actually do though if I take that path. Do I file for D? Do I sell the house? Or do I ask her to move out and stay here with the kids temporarily?
And then once we do any of that, we have to tell everyone what's happening--keep in mind, my father and sister, who I am VERY close with, still don't know about the A. And that's purely because I think it worsens odds at R without any benefit. With your advice, all of that comes to the sunlight, so I need to make sure we have a locked in plan should we move that direction.
I'm getting close to it though, so perhaps those discussions begin soon.