Midlife Crisis or Divorce?
October 30, 2014 3:59 PM   Subscribe

I am in the middle of a bad case of midlife crisis which has nearly killed my marriage. I know I am not well, but I also know that I was an unhappy husband for quite a while. How can I tell the two apart? how can you make a rational decision about your life when you know you aren't rational? I am hoping some here have been in this mess before...

I am 40, male, happy at work (relatively) but unhappy at my 15-year marriage for the last few years. A few months ago, I faced a crisis at work (I own my business) which made me reconsider several of my life choices; worst of all, it brought to a head my marriage problems which drove me into a midlife crisis and yes, predictably, into an affair with a much younger employee. You can guess the rest, it's cliche-ed to a fault. I am separated now, not in the other relationship, but still in love.

My business is successful and what I've been wanting to do for most of my life; but getting here I had to prioritize work ahead of my marriage for years now. I know my wife has felt neglected for a long time, despite my trying to make a rational case for my priorities and although she lived through some (very) hard times with me to get there which I thought would make her understand.

I am not trying to make excuses for myself: I've messed this up and by quite a bit. But I've also felt that I have become a much different person than the one I was at my wedding and so has my wife. We dont enjoy the same things, we dont have the same values or much else in common other than adoring our two kids. I love her because of what we've been through but I cant imagine growing old next to her.

We're actively trying to reconcile and that feels like the right thing to do, but it still doesn't feel like what it's best for me, where I should go from here. I know I am depressed, I know I am still in love/lust with the other woman, I know I can't make rational choices. And at the same time my wife's patience is (naturally) running out. How can I trust myself at this point? how do you get out of this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (27 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
it still doesn't feel like what it's best for me

From your own account you have a successful business that makes you happy that was achieved by neglecting your wife (and children, assuming by how little they are even mentioned) and having her endure hardships in order to achieve this success. Then you blame her for not having much in common with you as you were off having fun with your young employee (which from here looks like sexual harassment as her employment depended on keeping you happy).

I think you need to stop thinking about yourself and take responsibility for your life and the choices you have made and put your wife and children first for a change.

You should also be in therapy to learn some insights about your behaviour before you mess up the rest of your life making dysfunctional decisions. Where did you get the depressed label? Are you in active therapy/medication/exercise/meditation to combat it or is it a self-labor to rationalise your choices?
posted by saucysault at 4:18 PM on October 30, 2014 [34 favorites]

You don't get out of this. You fix this. You have to live with your choices-and unfortunately so does everyone else. You need to make this right with your wife (if she allows you to) in whatever way works for her. You need to make extra, extra sure you treat the employee right (oh boy do you ever) and fair.

Your wife spent years raising your children and sacrificing and working hard to make your life free enough to grow your business. Now you get to pay that back. Love isn't a feeling, it isn't a state of mind, it is a VERB, it implies action, not a steady state. It takes work and that means devoting yourself to your wife (and thereby your kids) to build a life with her and them. It is time to buck up, steady and carry on with your end of the social contract with your wife (and children) and make finding happiness and fulfillment there, not in the arms of some other relationship (and holy shit not from one of your employees).

Notice I put the relationship with her first-because if you want to be part of your kids life and give them a loving home it means getting right by your wife and falling in love with her again. You can't give them anything nearly as valuable as being a loving father/husband is.
posted by bartonlong at 4:30 PM on October 30, 2014 [11 favorites]

The passivity and excuse-making here is pretty impressive:

I know I am not well...

...which drove me into a midlife crisis and yes, predictably, into an affair with a much younger employee...

... but getting here I had to prioritize work ahead of my marriage for years now...

.... A few months ago, I faced a crisis at work (I own my business) which made me reconsider several of my life choices; worst of all, it brought to a head my marriage problems...

I know I am depressed, I know I am still in love/lust with the other woman, I know I can't make rational choices.

Why are you so determined to frame this as your life making inexorable decisions for you? Maybe it's time to start taking responsibility for your choices.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 4:32 PM on October 30, 2014 [56 favorites]

It's such a cop-out to say "you need therapy", but - you need to find a therapist you can talk to. Additionally, if you're having trouble "maintaining", you may wish to consider getting a Rx of some kind of mild anti-anxiety med.

I'm sure you already know this on some level, but - you have to make this decision on your own. Nobody can make it for you. And you wouldn't want anyone to do it for you.

This is just me: when I came to a similar junction in life, I looked to my kids. They were happy, healthy, smart, not doing drugs or getting into trouble with the law, etc. You'll get people telling you you shouldn't stay together "for the kids", and you'll get people who will tell you that you should stay together for the kids. In my situation, I felt like - even after several years of marital issues - the kids were doing great, so getting a divorce would be a gamble. I stayed with my wife and worked on the marriage. I've never regretted it.

(Conversely, if my kids had been showing signs of turning into juvenile delinquents, I would have left her).

A few things at random:

- Don't start drinking. Just don't.

- If you stay with your wife, it's probably not going to be easy. This is when you discover what people really mean by "a relationship takes work". The thing to focus on is that things will be better down the road.

- Face it now: you aren't going to end up with this younger woman. Get over her.

- Keep your business shit together. I don't know your financial status, but if you're not wealthy, you don't need unemployment right now, on top of all this other stuff.

- If you want to keep the marriage together, at some point you and your wife will need to learn to forgive. This might take awhile.

- If there's any 'trick' to this stuff, it's simply to endure. Just make it through the day, and repeat.

Good luck with this. And again: you need a therapist, somebody you can talk to.
posted by doctor tough love at 4:34 PM on October 30, 2014 [10 favorites]

You spent 15 years building a solid business. Go spend 24 months building a solid marriage. Get into couples therapy for the pair of you and individual therapy immediately. You owe that much (and Jesus fuck, so much more) to your wife and your kids. And it is so much cheaper and so much less painful than divorce.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:38 PM on October 30, 2014 [23 favorites]

I think you should divorce this lady and let her find someone who loves her. There's nothing wrong with that.
posted by bleep at 4:40 PM on October 30, 2014 [9 favorites]

You need to think long and hard about what it is you want.

Do you want to end your marriage? Spend some time thinking about what that would look like. Imagine your life, all the parts of it, without your wife by your side. You will see your kids less. Your kids will see you less. You may never have another long-term relationship. A lot of people will think you are a heel for leaving your wife. Flesh out the worst case scenario in your mind - how does it feel?

Where is your wife in all this? Is she willing to reconcile too? Her reaction to your affair is strangely absent in your description.

In any case, forget about the other woman and do what you can to make that right with her as your employee (which is where your responsibility is).

There is no one here who can tell you what the right answer is to your next steps. People have faced similar crises and gone in different directions. The only way to get to the next step is to spend some serious time reflecting on your life without the distraction of an affair.
posted by pantarei70 at 4:42 PM on October 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know people for whom divorce made them both happier, so I was prepared to say that.

But your situation is complicated by the affair. Affairs are just so intoxicating. Don't trust yourself. It's like how heroin addicts stop eating. Who wants to cook a nourishing lunch when you can float in a pain free cloud? Get well and good detoxed before you make a decision. In the meantime, get yourself used to work and discomfort again by doing nice things for your family, needed repairs around the home, etc. Get grounded.
posted by salvia at 4:55 PM on October 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

When you divorce - and I bet you'll divorce - remember that you owe your wife financially, big time. You're acting out a cliche - dude gets married, wife goes through the hard times while he makes a success, there's finally some money and he's out the door to seek a younger partner...who "understands" him better and fits in better with the new lifestyle. And the frequent result is that the wife - who missed out on lots of career opportunities while raising the kids - gets shafted financially and her ex resents every penny he has to fork over in child support. Your wife is in a worse place now because you married her. She has set aside earning potential and retirement savings potential because she's been putting time into raising the kids and keeping house, even if she's been working full time. And she'll probably be a de facto single mom for a while, right, since I bet she'll be the primary custodial parent.

Plus, of course, you've wasted her time because she's believed that you were in it for the long haul. Who knows if she'll find someone to grow old with, since she won't have her own business and will have kids to raise, all in a culture that devalues women generally and middle-aged women in particular?

You owe her big time, so don't fight the divorce settlement - make her as whole as you can financially, taking into consideration all she's put aside for you.
posted by Frowner at 4:57 PM on October 30, 2014 [141 favorites]

I mentioned recently in another thread that I am huge skeptic about the whole practice of psychology, but mrs. straw and I recently began some couples therapy, and even though both of us come out of the session doing meta de-briefings ("So when he did X he was clearly looking for reaction Y"), the process is actually helping us separate out the feelings and reactions we have to what we do from the facts of the situation.

This is super helpful for us, even as we're aware of some of the meta games, if only because we're too close to the problem to see it ourselves. Individual therapy may also be useful.

You're talking about divorce. So there's one option. Clearly you're someone driven by your work, divorce will have some impact on your earnings, on your work, list those impacts out. As Frowner suggests, you owe your wife (probably largely because there were communications and expectations that weren't happening). This won't be a cheap option, but it will also give you a starting point for...

Make a second list: What you want your life to look like. How much time do you spend with your primary partner (whether that's your wife, or someone else)? How much time with your kids? How much with your job? Be honest here, one of my regrets of the past decade or so that I'm restructuring is that I didn't spend as much time with the bits of my profession that I really enjoy as I'd like. How often do you want to have sex? What and when do you want to eat?

Total up those numbers. Readjust because there are only 168 hours in a week and realistically you can't go more than 3 or 4 times a day.

With the help of a therapist (yes, I'm a skeptic, but...) you can then go back to your wife and say "I'd like to try again, but we haven't been communicating our respective needs well, and here's what I'd like out of life. What do you need?"

Because it's quite possible that her list is actually meshes quite well with yours, but your communication has been crap and you haven't been able to share this with her. But you've got nothing to lose (or, you've got divorce as your other prospect), so you can start with a realistic assessment of divorce as one of your options, and figure out what woul dbe better.
posted by straw at 5:09 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just to clarify - we don't know the wife's situation . Maybe she worked two jobs to fund the business. Maybe she was a SAM.

You should have started counseling a few year ago, when you realized you were unhappy. End the affair and seek therapy

A professional can help you and your wife figure out what's next.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 5:11 PM on October 30, 2014

I love her because of what we've been through but I cant imagine growing old next to her.

Ouch. As someone who proposed to his wife by saying "let's grow old together," this really tears at me.

You said it yourself, you love her more for what you've been through together than for who she is (or was, for that matter). You can't change her, so you have to change yourself to someone who can stay with her. Are you ready to do this?
posted by infinitewindow at 5:34 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, try to not frame the question to yourself as choosing between your wife and the younger employee. The question is: Stay or leave? Then after you end the relationship, if that's what you do, you need to give yourself at least 6 months but preferably a year before you get involved with anyone else. This is very serious business. If you don't take time to process, understand, and recover from your previous relationships, you just bounce from one impulse to the next and you end up never finding what you want.

The younger employee personifies everything your wife is not, in your limited view.

You think alike -- because you're in the same business! She's interesting -- because you don't have to deal with reality with her! She's exciting -- because the time she spends with you is very limited so she can focus all of her attention on you while you're together! You feel alive with her -- because she doesn't have to bring up boring topics like whether you can afford a new car or the kids' tuition!
posted by janey47 at 5:48 PM on October 30, 2014 [12 favorites]

Yeah... If you've neglected your wife as much as you say and the situation indicates then no - you don't know her very well, if at all. You're basing the decision on assumptions about who she's become. (Who she is right now may be out of necessity... I bet she's in survival mode and has been for a while. With more support from you, she may be free to be someone more compatible with you too.)

Get to know her again - you owe her that before deciding whether or not you want to stay or leave. If you want to be dating someone, date HER. You only have everything to gain.

Being an adult is about doing what's RIGHT. Sometimes it's not about you.
posted by jrobin276 at 6:33 PM on October 30, 2014 [7 favorites]

This might be the kind of situation in which you have to do the thing you know is right rather than the thing that feels right. Consider what your values are, and behave in line with them.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 7:00 PM on October 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

You get out of this by telling your wife that you want a divorce. I feel differently than many of the posters that say you should make it work. I went through something similar - my husband I were "growing apart" for many years, shared interests disappeared, he grew distant. He was wishy washy about being together, I could tell that his heart wasn't in the relationship but he thought that it should be. It sucked for a really long time. I kept telling him we should divorce because he couldn't commit, and in the end that's what we did.

I can't comment on how your wife is feeling, but the worst feeling in the world is knowing that someone has fallen out of love with you but they won't admit it and don't have the guts to end it. I'm much happier single than in a relationship knowing that the other half isn't fully into it. Granted, I don't have kids so there are some differences - but I don't believe you should be in a relationship just because of inertia. Do her a favor and let her go and let her move on with her emotions and her life.
posted by canda at 8:04 PM on October 30, 2014 [12 favorites]

If I were your wife, you wouldn't be doing me any favors by trying to buck up and "fall in love" with me again, turn away from the temptation of a sweet, young thing, and bite your lip but grow old with me regardless of how that makes you feel. Yuk - doesn't sound like any bargain to me.

You've lived a life that put your efforts into your work - so does the breadwinner in most every family. Building a successful business is a tremendous undertaking and it speaks to your perseverance that you've managed it, but you're now a businessman way more than a husband or father - is that right? You're actually married to your business - it's time to be honest and cut your wife and children loose. It would be unfair to her to keep her hanging on, hoping to get the husband she married back. And I agree that you owe her financial security even after the children are grown and gone because she's given up her own opportunity to become financially secure by backing you up all these years; you owe her dearly, and the kids, too.

Try to keep it civil - the kids will be fine if you do. And BTW - they've figured out more than you think they have.
posted by aryma at 12:08 AM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

I've been thinking a lot about the kind of advice that comes up on AskMeFi lately. I've read this website every day for more than a year now, and I've only recently started thinking about the way it's affected my own relationship and view of romantic love. The joke is that people here are always like, "The tiniest thing is wrong with him? DTMFA!" which is strange, because the most palpable and influential attitude I've seen is the one reflected above, which comes out most fiercely when it comes to any question that touches on cheating:

Love is difficult. Love is work. Love is endurance. Love is sticking it out. Love isn't limerence. Love isn't attraction. Love is about living with your choices. Love is about taking responsibility. Love is about white-knuckling it through the bad times. Love is about commitment, and therefore, the only ethical decision is to stick by your partner and live by your values no matter what; no matter how little you want to, or how unhappy it makes you, because good people don't abandon their marriages, especially not for other people.

And it makes sense. I believe a lot of it. It's persuasive. And certainly, if I imagine my partner on this website, if he were considering an affair or leaving me, it's exactly what I'd want him to hear: that he's *bad* for considering cheating; that there is a right and a wrong answer to these questions, that an entire community would judge him if he left me. Being on AskMe is sort of like living in a small town in which, when someone behaves badly, the entire community can rise up in censure to protect the injured party when somebody steps out of line.

Being a part of this community that's all in such fierce agreement about the right way to behave feels so good, in theory, that I forgot that all of my lived experience has actually taught me the opposite: my parent raised me in a tight-knit community. They fell out of love. And then they stayed together, goddamnit, because it was the right thing to do and they had kids and they didn't want their friends to judge them and they'd made a commitment and they were good people. And so for ten years, they showed up to sports events and ate dinner together and stewed in their own sadness and loneliness as every single bit of joy drained out of all our lives and it was a living hell I wouldn't wish on another person, not ever.

I don't believe that love is an ethical issue. I don't believe that only bad people have affairs. I don't believe that you owe it to your kids to stay with your wife. I think you owe it to your wife to be kind. I think you owe it to her not to blame her for your unhappiness, or to turn her into the villain so that it's easier for you to leave. I believe you owe it to her to be honest, and not to delude yourself about the pain that leaving her may cause her or your children - but you should recognize that the pain ending the marriage will cause is not the only type of pain. I believe you owe it to her to talk to her, to listen to what she has to say, even when it's hard and makes you see things about yourself you'd rather not see. And I believe you owe it to your marriage to consider the possibility that it's fixable, and that the fact that you've had the affair doesn't mean it has to end.

If you decide to save your marriage, it will happen not out of sheer willpower, or because you've beaten yourself into a state of such self-loathing you're willing to sacrifice everything you actually want in favor of the things you think you should. It will happen because you've found a way to want it again, to love your wife again, to love your family again, to love your life again. And that won't happen via guilt and obligation and shame. It will happen through gentleness and forgiveness and the ability to imagine being happy in the life you have.

Good luck.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 5:53 AM on October 31, 2014 [42 favorites]

You've asked how to make this decision when you aren't thinking rationally. My suggestion is to be clear to yourself about your biases: right now, I bet a divorce and a new life looks easier. It looks easier because it is a tabula rasa -- you can imagine the post-divorce life however you want, without limitations.

But it won't actually be like that. You will never be 'free' of your current wife if you want to have a relationship with your kids.

So, imagine the worst case scenario for the divorce -- estrangement, or constant fighting about custody and access issues, about splitting the assets, about who is paying for the damn ballet lessons you didn't want Susy to have in the first place, and that private school tuition when you thought the local public school was just fine.

Then, imagine the best case scenario for staying together -- you've grown apart, but unless one of you has joined a new strict religious cult, can you grow back toward each other? Is there such a fundamental rift in your values that you can't even stand to be with this person? If not, think about how you can take an interest in your wife's new interests and try to make room in your world for her to see the new version of you, and to love each for those new differences.

Concentrate on those thought experiments for a bit, so that you don't end up in a situation where you are selecting the information that confirms the fantasy of the new life (i.e. fix your confirmation bias). Then see how you feel.
posted by girlpublisher at 6:08 AM on October 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Go to couples therapy with an open mind. Listen to your wife and what she wants from you. By your own account, you've been using your wife to support you while growing your business. You don't have a marriage, you have a business relationship. It seems that the business is what's most important to you.

If I were your wife I'd be mighty resentful of you, the business and the lady you had an affair with. Not only that, but think of this. Your wife owns and is entitled to half of your business. Don't you think?

She made it possible for you to HAVE that business. Now that it's prosperous, she gets to share in the spoils. So if you're thinking divorce, also think of her getting her half of the proceeds, while sipping a Mai Tai in Hawaii with her new love. Because guess what, if you divorce her, she's moving onto someone better.

It's been about you and your business for so long, you don't seem to be able to appreciate what others have done for you, and done without for your benefit. It may be that your wife is completely over the whole thing.

You're no gift to her as you are today. You're in love with someone else, and you've been having it all your own way for years now. So if you think you might reconsile, what are you willing to do for HER?

So get therapy for yourself to understand what it is you think you're missing in life. Communicate with your wife. And be prepared to share your business, but not your life with your wife, because that's a very real possibility.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:09 AM on October 31, 2014 [3 favorites]

The way you are wording everything as out of control makes me think you've already made the decision to leave, now you are trying to justify it by getting the approval of people on the internet. If you leave, be kind to your wife, you owe her that much, this is not her fault.
posted by wwax at 9:16 AM on October 31, 2014 [2 favorites]

avoid the affair partner.

the rest time, transparency and hard work will do.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Don't fake yourself into loving you wife because it is the "right" thing to do. That's awful for her adn I bet she can smell it a mile away so it would be less painful to just divorce insteak of see such fakery from you for years.

But be aware that once you divorce, you're still going to have a bit of the "wherever you go, there you are" phenomenon where whatever is so missing from your life will still be missing, you will still be unhappy, and still have burdens to bear.

I think you should get divorced adn get yourself sorted out.
posted by WeekendJen at 10:00 AM on October 31, 2014

I'm really sorry that you are suffering this way and that your wife is suffering this way. You are not the first couple I've heard of in your situation and you won't be the last.

Your question reads as particularly breathless and terrified, but kind of archly so. It's almost as if every time you come close to accepting responsibility in your own narrative of your behavior, you give over to this poetic, flailing-on-the-rocks-of-the-shores-of-life view of what is really a very mundane series of choices you made that landed you in this mess. The first piece of counsel that I offer you, then, is to stop giving over to the romance and torridness of The Affair and get down to the business of looking at your actions in the bright light of day. You devoted yourself to achievement, neglected your marriage, allowed that neglect to become status quo, and then chose to get involved sexually with someone younger that you work with. You did all those things and these are the emotional consequences of your choices.

Do you label this a midlife crisis and go back to your marriage or do you get a divorce? I don't know. Is that the real question? Is it enough to just consign all of these things you've done over to the "MIDLIFE CRISIS" bin, as if, in doing so, you can just skip over the real work of repairing the trust you've lost with your wife and get back to the business of being married? And what about your wife's feelings? What if she doesn't want to take you back? Have you considered that you're not the only one here who gets to have an opinion on that? The reason I ask is because the way you're looking at this says to me that you're used to being the one who makes all the decisions about the viability of the relationship. And I think that's a huge mistake if you think you can put aside all of the heart-fluttery, loin-tingly-ness of The Affair and just sit in a room with your wife and try to put your marriage back together under a new set of terms. Because if that is something you really think you want to do - and I mean really, not because you fear dying alone, or because your ego needs salving because you got dumped by this younger woman, or because you feel naked without the cloak of your years-long relationship around yourself now - then I think you're going to have to go into that room more willing to listen than to talk. After all, your wife got dumped and she's likely to have some feelings about that. And you need to face that she has that right. It might be that she has stuffed a lot of her feelings over the years because she knew her place in the pecking order of your life and having that message hammered home so thoroughly has now given her a new perspective on your marriage.

Personally, my feelings about infidelity have changed over time. I now feel that, for people of a certain age, it's purely about fear of mortality, mourning the loss of youth and the potent life force most of us feel in our youth, and a desire to experience great feeling once or twice again before we die. That can mean sexual feeling, sure. It can mean the feeling of newness and unexpectedness in a new partner. It can also just mean you're tired of your relationship as it exists and wish for it to be revitalized in some salient way. But whatever it's about, screwing somebody else in an attempt to escape from having to look realistically at yourself is destined to fail. And if you're still hanging on to a spouse while having sex with someone else, it has everything to do with you and what you want and nothing to do with the wants and needs of the other people involved. It's just selfish and dishonest whatever your reasons for doing it.

Once you can look at what you've done honestly you can begin to reflect on why you made these choices. And then you can look at why you're unhappy. And then you can figure out whether or not you're unhappiness is irrevocably linked with your marriage. And then you can choose whether or not you want to divorce your wife. But you cannot proceed with clarity until you get real with yourself and accept responsibility for blowing up your life.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 10:58 AM on October 31, 2014 [11 favorites]

To clarify: my advice is not to stay with your wife because your empty values doom you to a loveless sham of a marriage. My advice is to do what you believe you should do, what you would advise someone else to do, and do that even if you have OVERWHELMING PANTS FEELINGS that are telling you otherwise. If you believe that making your marriage work is one of your primary jobs, then go ahead and do that job, even if it makes your pants sad. And by work, I don't mean grim, joyless lovemaking - I mean, make it good. Give it everything you have, at least.

If you don't believe that is your job in life, then figure out what your good and difficult work is, and do that work instead.

If you decide that your avocation is sleeping with your employees, sleep on it and reexamine.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:38 PM on October 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am you 3 years down the road. It will get better. Memail me.
posted by disconnect at 1:21 PM on October 31, 2014

I am not trying to make excuses for myself: I've messed this up and by quite a bit. But I've also felt that I have become a much different person than the one I was at my wedding and so has my wife. We dont enjoy the same things, we dont have the same values or much else in common other than adoring our two kids. I love her because of what we've been through but I cant imagine growing old next to her.

Sorry to be harsh, but it's better to have an honest enemy than a dishonest friend... you should stop blaming everything around you for the situation you are in. You absolutely are making excuses for yourself. I am only basing this off of what you said, but it appears that you didn't provide her/the marriage/the children with the time, care, and support you should have, instead pouring it into your business. It's commendable that you wanted your business to succeed, but you never mentioned that you were working your arse off for your family. I often hear disgrunted men who are working overtime to support and care for their wife and children, and the wife is not supportive or understanding, and that leads to marital problems...that doesn't appear to be the case here, you sound quite selfish actually. Did you expect her to just remain unchanged and stagnent with having to take care of the kids and watch her husband be distant, and then involved in an affair? We as women smell infidelity a mile away, and can tell when something is off, so I am sure she had some sense that it was coming. She sounds pretty patient and level headed, and not to mention supportive- all those traits run out with time and lack of support from the other. As in love with you as she may be, losing someone emotionally is hard to get back and she probably has lost you emotionally a long time ago. I think you need to leave this woman and let her find someone who WANTS to grow old with her. Don't waste any more of her time, it's not fair...you said it yourself, you can't see yourself growing old with her- if you loved her you would want her happy, and why does anyone deserve to be with someone who doesn't want to be a part of their future? That's pretty harsh and if anyone ever said that to me I would be devestated but I would know that is the end and that I needed to find a different path for myself.

I'm not sure her part in this, so I am not saying she may not have played a part but come on, I see this so many times, and this is why marriage doesn't mean as much as it did years ago...it's easier to blame others, get a divorce, start over, than to look at yourself in the mirror and take a stand. You say you need therapy; do you THINK you need it or do you want it? Or is it something you have been told will "help"? Unless you see there is something "not right" about you or something you aren't happy with and WANT to change, therapy will do nothing for you. Seems to me you are doing just fine, business succeeding, an affair with someone you are in love with- the problem lies with your morals and knowing you are doing something wrong. I don't see any reference to anything you feel you have done wrong, or that needs to change, so what would you exactly be going to therapy for?

You cannot blame your wife or your marriage for growing apart- it sounds to me like you spent a lot of time growing your business and not a lot of time growing the bond between your wife and children. Marriage/relationshpis take work from both parties equally, why is that such a foreign concept to some? Women are strong and will stand by to support our men but eventually we just stop caring if we aren't getting much other than financial support from it (this goes for men and women). From a women's perspective, if we have felt we have stood by so much and supported our man, through the dark/tough/hard times yet he hasn't done much to help the relationship/marriage (and went off and had an affair after we have done nothing but support), yes we will start to put a wall up and become distant/"different"- its called self protection/preservation. It's natural, and she is probably trying to protect her children and just focus her time and energy on them at this point.
posted by DMVgirl at 5:18 AM on November 4, 2014

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