I've been separated from my wife for over six months. During that time I got involved with someone else, but now I'm thinking about going back to my wife. Please tell me I'm not making a mistake.
posted by quoth_the_raven to Human Relations (53 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I’m making a decision in a very difficult situation, and would appreciate at least someone telling me I’m doing the right thing.
I’ve been married to my wife for 11 years, and we’ve known each other for 16. We’ve now been separated for almost six months. We live near each other, and I see my eight year old daughter a few times a week, including one weekend night and day. My daughter seems to have adjusted very well, and very quickly - in fact recently telling me that she likes having two houses, and having the undivided attention of each parent. We are good, attentive parents, and give her plenty of love and attention. However I find myself missing her quite a bit, and I worry about the long term impact on her should the separation become permanent.
The separation was my choice, but we each had our parts to play in the events leading up to it. For years I felt there was something missing, even before we were married, but I mistakenly did not seek counseling or do the necessary introspection to find out what it was. Only now that I’ve had therapy, and have stepped back from the big picture, can I see that what was missing was a feeling of being desired and wanted - particularly in a physical way. She has a history of abuse, and often pulls away when I want to cuddle or snuggle. There are many sexual compatibility issues, but that’s just part of a larger physical affection cycle, where constant rejection has made me feel unwanted and even alone at times. We haven’t even “made out” since before we got married!
On the other hand, in every other way things are very good. We’ve always had a best friends relationship, and we care for each other very well in practical and tangible ways. I feel like she “has my back” and we have similar tastes and interests in activities, and generally share a common view on life and how to live it. The only other issue on her part is a tendency to be controlling and defensive, which is an expression of insecurities. She’s been in therapy for a while, though I don’t know how much she’s worked on that.
I certainly have my issues as well, and I can easily point to where I went wrong. I have inherited some codependent tendencies from my mother, and don’t react well to anger. I have preferred to bottle up my pain and suffer in silence than rock the boat. I’ve recently changed quite a bit in that regard, thanks to a year of therapy - but in my marriage it led to me not being able to tell her specifically what I needed, except in an unhealthy, passive aggressive sort of way. I’m not proud of this, and have done everything I can to avoid that sort of behavior in the future. Over the last few years, as I became unhappier, I finally started telling her what was going on with me - but it was too little, too late. She felt that my expectations were unrealistic, and told me that “we’re not teenagers anymore”.
I felt the situation was irretrievable, and that she would never change - and I had no right to expect her to change if she didn’t want to. I had the choice of either accepting her as she is, remaining unhappy in the relationship or “working” on it, or leaving it. I chose the latter, and we moved apart. We are originally from the US, but the country we moved to three years ago, and are still in, only allows divorce after two years of separation.
After living on my own for a few months, I became involved with a woman who I had known for about a year prior as a friend only. Now this is where a lot of you will be rolling your eyes and preparing your “cognitive dissonance” speeches. Yes all the normal cliches apply, but damn if they aren’t true! I’ve been dating her for almost five months and she is nourishing me in ways my wife never did; she is sexually uninhibited, easy going, uncontrolling, and makes it very plain that she wants and desires me in a way I’ve never experienced. To the “grass is never greener” crowd - yes of course she has her issues, everyone does. And no I don’t know what a future with her would hold - I can only extrapolate from what I know. Every relationship is a risk after all. If this sounds preemptive, it’s because I’ve read all the stories and have heard all the responses and judgments to this.
Which brings me to my conclusion. Despite all this, I still feel compelled to break up with her and go back to my wife. My wife does not know I am dating someone else - she has never asked, and I have never told. Ultimately the way I am approaching this situation is far different than how I would approach it if I didn’t have a child. The problem is that my wife has, on multiple occasions, threatened to leave this country, and move back to the US with my daughter. I would be compelled to follow them, leaving behind my career and the best job I’ve ever had. No doubt I could exert some legal rights, but I have no wish to rake my daughter over the coals with a battle over where to live, or over the fact that I dated someone else. My wife only remains here in the hope that we will go into counseling and work things out.
The woman I’m dating knows this situation and is scared to death I will go back to my wife - and her fears are justified. She doesn’t want to be the other woman, and doesn’t want to be a mistress - she wants me exclusively and long term. And that’s what I would want from her as well if I were to decide never to go back to my wife. She hates being a secret (and I hate having one), but if my wife finds out then I am certain she will leave the country, which isn't in the best interests of my daughter. I'm basically buying time.
But I am scared to death of what may happen to my daughter if I don’t try to reconcile with my wife. And a big part of me misses being a happy family - even if it’s not all “happy”.
This situation cannot endure, and any course of action will have consequences and leave me with regrets. Despite that, it seems that what I must do is leave this woman I’m dating, for good, and try to work things out with my wife - for the sake of my daughter. But maybe there’s a chance we can make things better than they’ve ever been. And if not, at least I tried - right? I have no illusions that it will be easy, particularly now when the bar has been raised - which means I might feel resentful. Ah therapy, here I come again...
I was about to break up with my girlfriend, until I decided to post here first.
I’d love to hear from anyone who has real experience with such a situation. If you haven’t been in a long term monogamous relationship, please refrain from judgments outside your experience. I’ve heard them all, and have already beaten myself up over getting into this situation more than you can possibly know. Thanks a million for reading all this!