I'm married. I left. Intellectually I think this is a mistake. I KNOW I'm being selfish and short-sighted. That doesn't change how I feel right now though. I could really use some perspective. Some advice. Let me bore you with my story.....
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (76 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Ahh yes, another relationship question. Despite the tone below I really am struggling and could use a fresh perspective. So, so many details below.
On preview, this is a novel, I tried to pare down the content, but this is what is left. Most of it is spacing. I don't know if I would read it, but I hope you do. I could use a hand.
My wife and I:
Late 20's/Early 30's. Very successful and satisfied professionally. Married for 5 years, together 2 years prior to that. No kids. Until 4 months ago, very happy.
The past 6 months WE:
1) Sold our first house and moved into a big, beautiful, new house (with a big, beautiful, new mortgage…well within my means, but definitely more substantial).
2) Began seriously trying to have children, unsuccessful but promising, although moving towards pretty invasive procedures.
3) Have been fighting a lot for the past few months, not related to having children or money or anything, but related to my not including her as much in my life lately, and a general suspicion about my faithfulness.
4) In couples counseling.
In the past 6 months I:
1) Befriended a charming, beautiful girl, who I, of course, became very interested in being with romantically. Fine…call it a crush. Nothing happens beyond flirting.
2) Left a good, but boring and frustrating, job to take an exciting, new job. Similar compensation, slightly more risk, slightly less stability.
3) Left home. Ahh, here it is. At first there was a house that needed house-sitting for a week, a convenient way to get some room. Then a business trip. Now…..I don't know when/if I'm going back. Been out of the house a little less than 4 weeks now.
4) Am in individual therapy for the first time in my life. I feel like it's been productive.
A bit more background:
The baby thing: This was something I always thought I wanted. We've always talked about it. Always…white picket fence, kids, you know the picture. Whether we could conceive or adopt really didn't matter to me. Of course conceiving was difficult, and my wife was taking drugs to help. I don't believe they resulted in any serious mood-swings, but I could be wrong.
The fighting thing: I've been more social with people that she doesn't know. This is new for us. Since we first met I brought her into my social circle and we've always been there together. She makes no bones about wanting to be included in this new group. I feel that this new group is brought together by something very specific, and it's all very insider talk. Bottom line, though, is that I didn't want to include her. It involves maybe 2 happy hours (a long hour…runs late into the night) every 3 weeks. Maybe there were 6-7 total. My crush is, of course, a part of it (another part of why I don't want to include my wife). My wife suspects infidelity. Suspects and suspects and suspects. Can you blame her? She's obviously picking up on something with me. There is none, but not for lack of thinking about it.
Our marriage: We are extremely, extremely close, as couples go. We do everything together, spend 90% of our free time together. By choice. It's how we were. I really never minded. A point of note is that several years back she left me. Woke up one morning and decided that she didn’t love me anymore. Moved out, didn't want to work on it, didn't want anything. Came back to reconcile a couple of months later. A painful 6 months to a year followed but she spent a lot of time in individual therapy, we spent time in couples therapy, and I really believe we ended up being stronger than ever.
The crush: Started off as just friends. Flirty though. I begin to talk to her a lot (emails, that sort of thing) and began to really want to spend time with her in an increasingly "not-appropriate-while-married" kind of way. It's definitely mutual. Nothing long term, probably no scenario where there's a future, but that doesn't make me not want it.
The separation: I just wanted to leave. To make it easier to plan to spend actual time with the crush? To stop fighting with my wife? Because I wanted out? Because it was easy? I'm sure yes to all those things. Did I have a plan? No. Intellectually, did I think I was going back home? Yes. Emotionally, did I want to go back home? No.
My wife: Crushed. Devastated. Painfully obvious that I'm ruining her life. Desperately wants this to work. I'm going to put the flippant tone aside for a second. Hurting her is killing me.
Where the situation stands:
I'm out of the house. I'm talking to my wife, but making no illusions about my ambivalence (except I'm not telling her that there's another woman involved in my decision to leave). I'm talking to the crush. I'm walking a very thin, very selfish line. One step in either direction and I lose the other. Losing the girl, that would not be pleasant but we would both be ok. I just don't want to do that. Losing my wife is going to emotionally devastate her, putting her through that is going to devastate me. I cannot begin to imagine it. I'm so disappointed in myself. When I lay it out like that, I can't believe this is a decision I'm having so much trouble making.
I get what this looks like. I get it. What an obvious 1/3rd life crisis. Began to achieve what I felt I had been working towards in life, facing increasing responsibility, took a new job, made some new friends, more and more tied down, a perceived encroachment of my freedom. Intellectually, of course I should go back to my wife while I still can and stop being selfish. Intellectually, I think it's better-than-even-money that I'll forever regret leaving my wife. Intellectually I should renegotiate the terms of my relationship with my wife, allowing for more freedom, and working through our problems.
But that doesn’t change how I feel. What if I did go back now? Does this just stop? Does this come up again in a few years? Do I hold lingering resentment or bitterness? Could I bring CHILDREN into this situation now? Plus, I WANT to be with my crush. I'm crazy about her. It's fun. Being able to see the situation objectively doesn't override the way I'm actually feeling.
What is evident though is that I need to do something. Not doing anything is ultimately making this worse for all parties, and is arguably the most selfish thing of all.
Is it possible I'm just different now and leaving and exploring new thing is the right decision for me? Or am I ruining my entire life for something that I won't feel in a month's time. Or, god help me, are both true?