I've got some issues: marriage, affair, etc.
May 11, 2017 9:53 PM Subscribe
So far this year, the following has occurred, and I'm reeling. I'm trying to figure out what to do next in terms of my marriage and my life. I feel like I'm basically going through this.
1. I've been with my spouse for a decade (more than half of that married).Given all of the above, I'm feeling, well, a lot of life stress, but especially the following.
2. My spouse developed serious chronic health problems several years ago.
3. We've owned our house for almost a year. I pay for almost everything.
4. I've been seeing a therapist for more than a year, largely discussing our issues.
5. I started couples therapy with my spouse a couple months ago (they previously refused).
6. I had a several-month online emotional affair that my affair partner ended last month.
7. A once-abusive parent, whose finances I manage, went into hospice several months ago.
8. I got promoted this spring.
9. I got diagnosed with PCOS this spring.
1. Sadness and betrayal: I spent time traveling recently trying to work through my feelings about my spouse and my former affair partner. I'm at a point where I'm almost past mourning my marriage (we've fought just about once a month on average the entire time we've been together, and more often lately). I came home prepared to work on things, and almost immediately my spouse attacked me verbally, so that hurts. But the pain of the affair ending is also so fresh (my affair partner sadly cut me off in favor of seeing someone who lived closer and was more available). Traveling helped that some, except that I'd initially planned to meet the affair partner in person during my travels, which didn't happen. It was bittersweet being there without them. I wasn't looking for an affair when it started, but it felt really good and inspiring while it lasted—I know everyone says this about their affair partner, but our connection was magical, deeply intellectual and full of unexpected coincidences and shared cultural references. I miss it.I've read a ton of AskMe threads on this sort of situation, I've talked this over with my therapist, but I nonetheless find myself seeking the counsel of the hive mind. Here's what I'm wondering.
2. Guilt: Even with things between me and my spouse being this toxic, and even given that I feel like I've been emotionally abused for years and that my spouse has taken and taken from me for years without giving me much of anything positive back (I suspect they have borderline personality disorder), I find it hard to feel OK about the notion of leaving when they're sick in such an ongoing and unpredictable fashion. (To be clear, after reading many AskMe questions about this, I've chosen not to disclose the emotional affair—there aren't any potential benefits that outweigh the pain it will cause.) I know that what we're facing now is far from uncommon—a huge proportion of marriages in which the spouses deal with illness or affairs don't make it.
3. Restlessness: I find myself wanting to separate and move to one of the cities I traveled to recently. (I can work from anywhere.) I can afford both that and the mortgage for a while, so the money isn't an issue. I'm trying to read the tea leaves on my own desires here, and I think there's some aspect of wanting to bury myself in all the hardest things I can think of at once, some aspect of wanting to escape, and some aspect of wanting to just be free and start over while I still have time. There's probably also some aspect of wanting to move closer to where my former affair partner is, even though they're currently unavailable. My spouse was the one who initially broached the subject of separation, after we fought over my promotion. They have broached separation and divorce many times over the years, though, and have never followed through.
4. Arousal: I'm in my early thirties, and I'm feeling this all the time. I noticed so many hot young people in my travels. It's been nearly 3 years since my spouse and I were intimate, and they refuse to try to address that until they feel more emotional closeness from me. This is apparently contingent upon my making improvements to our living space so we can do more together. I'm just getting sick of waiting, and all the conditions start to feel arbitrary. I don't feel wanted by my spouse. My spouse, for their part, says they feel like I've been distant since they got sick. That's true to some degree—becoming a caregiver, being the sole provider at times, and dealing with that emotionally has been hard—but I think I have been much more present and we've had more good times since then than they're willing to acknowledge. I do tend to draw inward and focus on my work when we're not getting along, which my spouse says is an issue in terms of not knowing when to even try to approach me, much less be intimate with me. I get that their own body issues related to illness affect this too. But still, it's been a long time, and that plus the body issues that go along with PCOS and the fact that my affair partner withdrew from me are all leaving me feeling bereft and without an outlet for these feelings.
5. Desire for children: Again, I'm in my early thirties, and this has hit me fairly hard recently. My spouse recently suggested they weren't sure they wanted to have biological children, given their age (they're a decade older) and their health issues. With the PCOS diagnosis, I'm going to have to get my fertility evaluated, but I very much want to have my own kids. I'm just not sure (and haven't been sure for a long time) that I want to raise kids with my current spouse and have them grow up with such deep emotional issues (such as BPD) in the mix. My spouse's physical condition isn't as much of an issue for me in and of itself, as I knew that could end up being a factor with the age difference, but the fact that my spouse doesn't behave positively toward me on top of the physical and emotional issues they face is a major problem. And they don't seem willing to work on their emotional issues beyond paying lip service to them as a mea culpa.
6. Anxiety: They say getting promoted can be as stressful as getting divorced, and I may well be going through both at once. Add to that all the other things happening in my life, and it's no wonder I feel anxious, right? I'm trying to eat well, exercise (especially because of the PCOS diagnosis), pursue hobbies, schedule doctor's appointments, go to therapy regularly, talk to friends, go to meetups, etc. I stayed with friends recently while I was traveling and it felt really refreshing. But now that I'm home again, here with my spouse, I feel such intense anxiety and trepidation. I feel afraid of every possible outcome. I felt anxiety while I was traveling, too, but I was able to work through it better.
1. I'm not convinced that couples therapy is actually going to address the issues between me and my spouse and make this any better, and that's not necessarily even why I'm doing it. Should I just end this? How much due diligence is enough in a situation like this? How much did you do?Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read through this and provide thoughts or feedback!
2. For anyone who's gone through this, how did you deal with the pain of losing your affair partner? (Please, if your answer only includes judgment for having an affair in the first place, refrain from answering this. I've read the usual AskMe recommendations, including Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay and When Good People Have Affairs.) How do you stop hoping for something that may never be?
3. If my spouse and I do separate, should I go ahead and try to live and work in another city where I have more friends for a few months? I've already scouted a sublet with a friend of a friend in one city, so I have options—should I take them up on this?
4. If you separated and moved to another city or area during that time, how did you address the subject if it came up with colleagues?
5. How did you stay focused at work and on what matters when you went through something like this? I find myself looping through anxious checking behaviors on sites I frequent, tormenting myself thinking about the former affair partner, and I know that's not healthy. Being out of town helped break this habit a bit, as it disrupted all my routines, but now that I'm back it's come back with a vengeance. Note that I am already in therapy and don't want to take drugs for this.
6. What else should I be considering here? What else should I be doing? This is long enough already, but any information missing that feels like it might sway things?