Bourgeois Malaise vs Divorce: You Decide!
October 3, 2006 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Should I get divorced? Me 30, Her 33. No kids, joint income ~160K, a house together, have been together for 8 years and a good sex life. The problem? I don't love her. *Weep*

I have read many of the previous questions regarding divorce on AskMeFi but none of them seemed to fit my predicament.

My common law wife came to Canada from Europe to be with me about 6 years ago. We were completely, madly, ridiculously in love while we lived in Europe but gradually I feel like I have fallen out of love.

The problems as I see it are that I prefer social activities while she prefers non-social activities. In fact, she doesn't really like very many people at all and has a tough time making close friends (many of my friends' wives seem to have this problem as well?). Moreover, she has an all-consuming passion in horseback riding and I do not share this passion or have a similar one. She rides her horse (a pricey habit at $600+/month plus the initial cost of the horse) almost every day for 3 to 4 hours after work and on weekends. I resent all that money going to a hobby with no joint benefit (she then lacks money to do other things like vacation) but the time apart is even more damaging.

I come home, generally prepare dinner and wait for her. I'm not a complete loser so generally twice a week, I have team sports but not nearly as often, for as long or for as much money as her hobby. Moreover, we miss many social occasions out of town because of her horse commitments. I talked very frankly to her about how damaging her being away except for 2 hours at night was being to our relationship. In fact, I basically had to threathen divorce but she agreed to reduce her horse-riding to 4 times a week. She feels her hobby defines her as a person and will never quit it even if we have children. I have tried her hobby and find it distasteful, joyless and lacking the social interaction I prefer. Also recognizing that a hobby of my own would be the ideal counter-weight, I have explored different avenues but lack a car to get to them or just find them uninteresting. Yes, yes, I know only boring people get bored but there you are.

My job is really easy and lucrative but often boring. I have a medium sized group of friends but not ones (in the city where we live now) who I just hang out on weeknights with. But even if I had a great set of friends, I still would feel that we spend little time together. All social activities are organized by me and after we are coming back from a party she asks me if I'm happy (read grateful) that she came. I react by saying she should say thanks for me setting up something social to do.

She says she loves me all the time when we're alone and loves public displays of affection. I generally reciprocate but I think she knows something is up because she said once that she thinks I am playing games with her heart. After 8 years, our sex life is not red-hot but it is very satisfactory.

I've gently suggested marriage counselling but she doesn't think there is a problem. Plus, all the counselling in the world is not going to make me fall in love or change her personality.

The problem is that every time we talk about kids I feel uneasy inside. I want to have kids but question how I feel about her. Although we're engaged, she doesn't take any lead in leaving the planning of the wedding. Basically leaving it to me. I, of course, procrastinate.

Dammit! Am I just suffering from "bourgeois malaise" or what? My mom thinks I should get divorced and my dad thinks it is the story of my life that nothing is ever good enough for me. Should I get divorced?
posted by FastGorilla to Human Relations (58 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You said at the end that you are engaged and planning a wedding. You also ask if you should get divorced.

I guess my silly question is: Are you married?
posted by flarbuse at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2006

honestly if you truely do not love her, she is not able to see the difficulties and/or seek help in jointly overcomming them, then yes.
Easy to say, hard to do, but the longer it goes the harder it will be.
posted by edgeways at 1:00 PM on October 3, 2006

who knows? many men get nervous when faced with the prospect of getting married and/or having children. that, in itself, may not be a pointer that you should leave her. maybe think a little into the future: would you be happy if she were the mother of your child? the horse-riding sounds not good, and her intransigence over it, and inability to see that it doesn't help the relationship, is a poor sign. but on the other hand, this exclusive passion of hers could well be a reaction to flaws in the relationship as she sees them. your mother's opinion? well, i don't think parents, unless they live under your bed, are best qualified to judge their children's relationships; i'd take your parents' views with a pinch of salt: after all, you want to make this big decision yourself, right? finally, if you're going to do it, then in all fairness to her, do it quickly.
posted by londongeezer at 1:08 PM on October 3, 2006

"I've gently suggested marriage counselling but she doesn't think there is a problem"

Have you tried strongly suggested it? Let her know that you feel there there is a problem and she's not seeing it?
posted by drstein at 1:09 PM on October 3, 2006

Response by poster: flarbuse: I am common law married so getting a divorce is pretty similar in Canada. We are engaged to be formally married.
posted by FastGorilla at 1:09 PM on October 3, 2006

Its already over: she divorced you for the horse.
posted by ChasFile at 1:10 PM on October 3, 2006 [2 favorites]

Not true. Explain to her why you are leaving, and then.... leave. Explain further that if she wants you back and is willing to give you and your relationship together priority over the horse, you can talk. But only do this if you are prepared to walk away.

My sister-in-law posed a similar ultimatum to her boyfriend who spent more time with the band he was with than he did with here (and due to ethnic considerations, she did not fit easily into the band crowd- long story). They broke up. He came back to her and gave up the band for her.

They have two kids together. He still plays in several bands for extra money, but they are no longer the focus of his life; she and the family are.

So, it can work. But it will take quite a wakeup call. But you need to be determined to deliver it.
posted by Doohickie at 1:18 PM on October 3, 2006

Make your decision early - before anything slips and kids arrive.

If you are this uneasy now. Kids complicate things. The last thing you want to be, is trapped in a loveless marriage with the added responsibility of children.

Sure - you can get divorced later - even with kids, but frankly that is more irresponsible than simply moving on.

You know you two aren't a good fit now - why do you think it will get better? Instead, it has gotten worse, correct?
posted by jkaczor at 1:25 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

I've had similar feelings recently, but I came to the conclusion that I was really, at the heart of it, just bored and looking to make a change. And the easiest changes to make are usually the bad ones.
posted by lekvar at 1:36 PM on October 3, 2006

I think you've already said it yourself...

You don't love this woman anymore. When you think about having children with her you feel uneasy inside.

Get a divorce.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:37 PM on October 3, 2006

Your current relationship is painful to you. Divorce is also very painful. You see a need for counseling; she doesn't. Clearly, the help of a trained professional can help you both, even if only to help you decide together what your future will be. Get to counseling; if she refuses to go, do it for yourself. I bet you'll be happier and healthier for it.

Best wishes.
posted by rdauphin at 1:38 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

You shouldn't give an ultimatum unless you mean it... sounds like you would mean it.
posted by amtho at 1:40 PM on October 3, 2006

The grass is always greener, especially in a far-off empty field. You can never change other people, so if it is truly "all her fault" and she does not relate to your desires for more time together and joint activities then I'd imagine you have the right idea to look at separation.

However, it sounds to me like you could use some of your own time consuming hobbies that would alleviate some of the pressure you feel from the lopsided nature of the situation. You've already discovered one here by participating in communication exercises with anonymous individuals, for example. My point is, there are smaller changes that you can make that could help drill down to the lower levels of communication failure by reinforcing your conception of your lifestyle and how it fits with hers, or does not. 8 years is a large chunk of your life; if you are truly comfortable with leaving that all behind so bet it. I think there is very little any of us could say that would persuade you one way or another, you know what needs to happen.
posted by prostyle at 2:08 PM on October 3, 2006

Well, I'll go against the grain and suggest that your dad might be right and that you should perhaps see about adjusting your attitudes.

In any of these "SHOULD I LEAVE MY SCHMOOPY" posts, we get one person's description of what the other is doing, slanted strongly enough that inevitably people suggest leaving the walking nightmare that the other person is described as. But here, in your own description of the situation, you manage come off as the bad guy, as far as I can see. That's a feat.

Your spouse has a hobby you're not inherently interested in. This is called "real life." Any couple will share some interests, but unless you're clones of each other you're going to have some that differ. Not every spouse has a hobby that's time-consuming, but that's just your time to do stuff that she doesn't want to do.

Your spouse spends money on her hobby so she can't afford to go on vacation. This seems dumb. Why does she have to pay her share? Everybody ponying up their own dough is how roommates and acquaintances live, not how people who are partners in life live. And, yes, I know that there are perfectly functional couples who keep their finances separated, but it still seems screwy when it's actually limiting your activities.

Your spouse's horse stuff prevents you from doing other things. Why? Are you surgically attached to each other? Man up and tell her that you prefer not to join her this weekend, so long as you're there for the events that really matter to her. For that matter, why on earth does she have to come with you to parties and such that she might not enjoy?

And I can't imagine how you could possibly deal with a horsey woman for more than five minutes without noticing that the horse world is intensely social. Hell, it's social to a fault, with lots of gossipping and politicking and all that fun.

Anyway, I would look at yourself to start figuring out why being with a woman who's not dependent upon and subservient to you, who's not just a dim reflection of you, doesn't make you happy. Doesn't mean you won't split up. Maybe you will, and maybe you should if your interests and styles of living really are that divergent.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:11 PM on October 3, 2006 [14 favorites]

She spends 5% of your combined income on her hobby, and unless she bought a top-drawer warmblood I imagine she spent no more than a month's income on the initial purchase of the horse...less than a lot of people (me included) spend on their hobbies. You also mention a lack of a car as a debilitating factor in your not getting out more.

I understand your feelings about the time spent away, but the money issues seem like something that exist as a problem more in your mind's eye than they do in reality, and are a distraction. You can buy a car for $1000 (three day's pay) that will get you around. So the money and the car are excuses, not actual problems.

Very rare are the couples who spend every waking moment passionately involved with each other. To me that sounds horrible, but both my wife and I are "alone" people.

You sound like you have no life outside of her--a bit suffocating (to me, anyway). But if that's who you are and she is who she is, I suggest moving on. Good luck to you all the same.

(Apologies if this posts twice, I think I blew out the TRS-80)
posted by maxwelton at 2:13 PM on October 3, 2006

The only thing you two seem to share in common is history. You don't have similar interests, and it seems like you are the only one searching for common ground.

Don't stay in a relationship because you have already invested so much time into it. Find someone who makes you happy(ier).
posted by necessitas at 2:13 PM on October 3, 2006

It may be more a matter of redirecting your priorities to meet each other's needs rather than a lack of love. Frankly, the amount of time she spends riding seems excessive and to the extent it leaves you feeling left out it pretty much is. These things usually go both ways. Before deciding to give up on the relationship some frank talk with each other is probably in order.
posted by caddis at 2:16 PM on October 3, 2006

Joining the "get a divorce train" here. As far as I've been able to discern, a marriage counselor's bag of tricks does not include a magic wand with which to make a spouse fall back in love with his partner. If you're not in love with her, and there's not even a seed of love remaining on which you can reconstruct your relationship, your marriage is over -- if not legally, certainly in every other sense. Don't prolong the pain for you or for her.

Get a divorce. Leave her the horse.
posted by hazelshade at 2:18 PM on October 3, 2006

She sounds like an ISTP. Please read some of the ISTP profiles and see if they ring a bell with you.

Mainly your conflict is that she is a deep introvert and you are not. Her spending those hours apart from you or lacking social activities is not a problem for her; she does not need social companionship in the same way that you do. Parties are difficult for her; when you attend them together, you are doing the easiest thing in the world for you while she is doing something quite difficult for her. It's important for you to realize this.

Try a few things. First, realize that it's okay if you spend time without her - out with your friends, whatever, especially if she is doing horse-things. Second, do make clear to her that she has to attend a certain number of major social functions with you, even if it costs her some horse-time (do your best to schedule these in advance so that she can adjust her horse-riding accordingly).

And finally, figure out what you're really unhappy about. Are you unhappy with her, or are you unhappy because you're bored, your friends don't live nearby, and you want her to entertain you? The second one can be cured rather easily if you stop putting it on her and take charge of your boredom yourself. If your friends are in another town, maybe you need a cheap car to go visit them.
posted by jellicle at 2:18 PM on October 3, 2006

If you truly want to leave her, do it before you are legally married and there are children involved. You will be in a real predicament then.

It seems that you are jealous of her horse hobby. Instead of begrudging her for her time with the horses, why not look at it in a more positive light? She has a passion for something. That certainly makes her more interesting. What if she were sitting on her duff all day watching soap operas? It sounds like she is willing to compromise how much time she spends with the horses, and has cut back. Maybe she would be willing to cut back a bit more.

Was your common-law wife always introverted, or less social than you? Did she always spend a lot of time with her horses? If so, you knew what you were getting yourself into. Maybe in the beginning you didn't notice as much. Eight years later it is glaringly obvious that you are much more social than she is, and you are feeling neglegted.

I have an introverted husband. He doesn't like to socialize and I do all of our social planning. I have come to grips with the fact that my husband will never be a social butterfly. He isn't going to make exciting plans every weekend, nor will I have these fabulous dinner parties that I have always envisioned. I am fine with this, and I like our life, but I used to have a real problem with his introverted ways. I know now that it was my own immaturity and controlling ways. I didn't have perspective on what was truly important.

It sounds like your wife is being a good sport when it comes to socializing. She comes along doesn't she? Is she socially inept, or can she have a good time and carry on a conversation? If she can enjoy herself, there shouldn't be a problem. It sounds like you want more attention from her, even though you state that you have fallen out of love. Maybe you have built up a wall of resentment over her hobby and her inability to think of you and make plans.

The reality is that you will probably always be the social planner in this relationship. In the big scheme of things, this is a very minor problem, if not a problem at all. Lots of women would kill for partners who take the initiative in making plans. Women are always complaining that their men don't ask them out on dates. Your wife doesn't seem to think anything is wrong with the relationship, but you do, hence the suggestion of counseling. She probably doesn't think much is wrong because she is enjoying herself, all the while you want her to be something that she isn't. From experience I can tell you it's a very immature way to think and get upset over.

I wouldn't consider leaving your mate just because she is less social than you, and has a passion for horses. If you truly don't love her, that is another thing. I would do some more soul searching, and talk with her. Maybe the two of you need to get back to where you were at the start of your relationship. Maybe spend more time together alone as a couple. Good luck.
posted by LoriFLA at 2:20 PM on October 3, 2006

am I the only one who thinks you need a steamy affair with someone younger?

alas, a divorce is what I would suggest but it's a long and painful process, not to mention costly. think twice whether this is a temporary issue or whether it's over and act accordingly.

and have an affair, just for a few weeks.
feel the jolt of passion again and then consider whether you will ever have a chance to get it back with her.
posted by krautland at 2:26 PM on October 3, 2006

Wow, krautland, that's immature.

If you're going to try someone new, at least have the balls to break up with your SO first.
posted by agregoli at 2:37 PM on October 3, 2006

I don't know if you should go or if you should stay, but what about asking the question a different way. Instead of asking, "should we split up?", try asking "why shouldn't we split up?" If you don't come up with something decent, well then, go.

However, there's some points here you should consider before entering a new relationship. Often, I believe, we're drawn to people who are different than us, who have skills and strengths that are unlike our own. This makes sense because it makes a partnership stronger, but it also makes it difficult to get on with our partner who thinks so very differently than we do. It's entirely possible that you will go through all the heartache and financial distress of breaking up, and then end up with someone very similar to your current partner.

I've been told that love isn't a feeling, it's an action. So when you tell me you don't love your wife, I don't hear that your relationship is over because there's no chemistry, I hear that you are choosing not to invest a certain amount of caring (however justified that might be - and I can categorically say that I would never partner someone who belongs to the pony-set for the reasons you've described and many more). You might justifiably say that your wife doesn't love you, she loves her horse - that is, her actions involve spending more time caring for the equine than the husband.

So what should you do? You have basically 3 options. Decide it's over, take action.
Decide that it's not over, take action.
Decide you need professional help to decide if it's over, take action.
posted by b33j at 2:39 PM on October 3, 2006

Oh also, you were very young when you married/partnered. It's not uncommon to change significantly during the period you mentioned (22-30) to make it difficult to continue with the same person, if you are not both actively trying to keep the marriage on track.
posted by b33j at 2:42 PM on October 3, 2006

My job is really easy and lucrative but often boring.

Please tell me more.

Joking aside, did the horseback thing start before or after you got together? Also, in your situation I would probably try to find myself some sort of hobby/business enterprise/steamy affair.
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 2:47 PM on October 3, 2006

You make $160k/yr combined. Buy a late-model used toyota.

Go places in it.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 2:53 PM on October 3, 2006 [3 favorites]

All social activities are organized by me and after we are coming back from a party she asks me if I'm happy (read grateful) that she came. I react by saying she should say thanks for me setting up something social to do.

I'm not sure I've got much to say on the fundamental question, but I think this is a good example of a miscommunication that points to a need for counseling. For introverted persons (such as myself) a party can be a lot of work and stress; it sounds like she's going along to make you happy, not because she's grateful to you for setting up something social. If she's like many introverts I know, she'd have been happier sitting at home reading a book.

All the counselling in the world may not make you fall in love, but it'd certainly make you understand each other better, which seems to be the main sticking point here. If she doesn't think there is a problem, you need to make it clear to her that there is.
posted by fermion at 2:53 PM on October 3, 2006

So far there are two suggestions for having an affair. Come back to reality people. Having an affair is a bad, bad idea--unless you want to think even more poorly of yourself.
posted by LoriFLA at 2:55 PM on October 3, 2006

I've gently suggested marriage counselling but she doesn't think there is a problem.

In fact, there is a problem. But you haven't determined what it is. Is there some reason why you would not seek the help of a professional? Go to counselling. Maybe even without your mate at first.

Plus, all the counselling in the world is not going to make me fall in love or change her personality.

Six years ago you liked her personality just fine. That "falling" feeling never lasts (though a deeper passion can gradually take its place). Nor is it clear that the issue now is her personality rather than some behaviors -- hers or yours -- that might indeed be modified for the better. But don't believe me. Ask a counselor.
posted by Dave 9 at 2:58 PM on October 3, 2006

A few thoughts.

Love is, in large part, a choice you make. Maybe this is the rough patch in the middle of an amazing marriage. Are you willing to love her through that rough patch? In good times and bad?

It sounds like you guys express your love differently and are also on opposite ends of the introvert-extrovert scale. She needs time alone with her horse in order to relax and stay sane -- that serenity (which you find joyless) is the sweet spot of her day. Some of us are built that way. You, on the other hand, relax in a group setting, a situation which she probably enjoys to some extent but finds ultimately tiring and not as energizing and calming as she finds her time with her horse. Now, you need that time together. You take it as a measure of how much she loves you. She clearly doesn't work that way because she expresses affection with you and is happy with her time alone with her horse, and sees no problem with the relationship. It's not a problem for her. It's a problem for you, and that should be enough to make it a problem for her. Thing is, as much as you fail to understand her hobby, she may fail to understand your need for more time together.

Maybe it's not that you don't love her anymore. Maybe you've hit a point like so many long-distance couples do where you just don't feel like you know the person that well anymore and you doubt your feelings.

And there are other things going on in your life right now. You're trying to plan a wedding without much help. You're in a job you find boring. You don't get to see your friends as much as you'd like. You're not a happy camper. I'd try working on that and seeing how a happier FastGorilla feels about his marriage.

So yeah, work on other factors, and talk to your wife as seriously as you did here so that she's fully aware that she has both a horse and a husband to care for, lest either one of them goes out to pasture.
posted by heatherann at 3:06 PM on October 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

Most couples drift together and apart many, many times in the course of a long relationship, and often one or both will deeply involve him/herself in another activity, sometimes to the point of perseveration or obsession and sometimes accompanied by other symptoms of depression. Sometimes people feel bored, hemmed in, unable to concentrate, and generally ill-fitted and out of sorts. This happens to everyone eventually.

But knowing that doesn't mean you can't or don't have to do anything about it. You just can't make her do anything. You can tell her how you feel, you can seek counseling yourself in order to help you get your thoughts aligned so you can figure out what you want to do next. That would at least be a productive use of your time, and would send a pretty strong message about the extent of your dissatisfaction.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:13 PM on October 3, 2006

I've gently suggested marriage counselling but she doesn't think there is a problem. Plus, all the counselling in the world is not going to make me fall in love or change her personality.

Quit fucking around about being clear about your position. My read off your tone and stories here is that you're disguising from her the real state of your feelings about your relationship. after we are coming back from a party she asks me if I'm happy (read grateful) that she came. I react by saying she should say thanks for me setting up something social to do" is not a dialog - that's two people talking past each other telling each other how they should feel. I don't even know what to assume gently suggested marriage counselling translates into in real conversation. I generally reciprocate but I think she knows something is up because she said once that she thinks I am playing games with her heart quite frankly makes me start to think of you as the bad guy here rather than the woman who'd rather spend time with a horse than you.

Shooting from the hip, admittedly armed with very little information, I'm inclined to wonder if she spends so much time out of the house because she's increasingly uneasy with you because she doesn't think you communicate honestly with her. Which, from what you've told us, you don't.

Sit down, say "I'm not happy and I don't feel like we're making any progress towards fixing that just on our own. I've made an appointment with a marriage counselor on X at Y time." Then go, even if she won't. You won't be the first person that counselor has seen without their partner there. If you're not able to look her in the eye and say "I have a problem with the way things are" then definitely make that appointment and go.

Unless you're really just here asking a group of random strangers for permission to pull the ripcord. In which case, you don't need it - you're an adult and you can do what you want. Either way, quit jerking her around. If you've checked out mentally then you should stop phoning it in. Hell, just being up-front with her about your discontent would be a greater courtesy. However if you really had genuine affection for her once and acknowledge that there's other problem areas in your life I'd suggest that your issue is more one of not being happy with her personality and behavior. Since you've both turned out to be unable to negotiate satisfactory behavior from each other on your own why not get some assistance?
posted by phearlez at 3:18 PM on October 3, 2006 [2 favorites]

I've gently suggested marriage counselling but she doesn't think there is a problem.

Look her in the eye and say "This marriage is not working for me, and I would like to see a marriage counselor together." If she still doesn't think there is a problem, divorce her and don't look back. (I speak from personal experience here)

Plus, all the counselling in the world is not going to make me fall in love or change her personality.

That's probably just as well, as neither of those are the point of counselling. The point of a counsellor would be to help you two meet and actually communicate about issues rather than snarking at each other.

For what it's worth, there does seem to be a classic introvert/extrovert split going on with the social activities. You may find this article of use in reawakening your compassion for her.

In the end you two may have grown irreperably apart, but it's probably better to reach that conclusion through solid communication rather than frustrated misunderstanding.
posted by tkolar at 3:38 PM on October 3, 2006

This seems like the classic seven-year itch problem that many couples go through. Things get a little dull, a bit routine, the passion seems to be fading. You don't think you are "in love" anymore. You think about moving on to something more exciting.

Well, guess what? You are experiencing real life. Real life, and real relationships, can get dull, predictable and boring.

Real realtionships take work and committment. Perhaps you just aren't ready for this type of relationship at this stage of your life.

This is the point where you need to act like a grown-up and tackle your problems, even if it means counseling without her, to figure out what is going on with you.

If you don't figure out your issues now, and you do move on to another relationship, you are almost guaranteed to encounter the same problems in the future.
posted by socrateaser at 3:41 PM on October 3, 2006

You, together, make $160k a year and a $600/month horseriding habit and not having a second car is a problem for you? Seriously, you need to take a closer inspection of your budget.

This is not a comment on "you should work this out and stay together", but those two excuses just don't wash.

However, for what it's worth, my instict is that your dad is correct.
posted by Kickstart70 at 3:48 PM on October 3, 2006

Go see a marraige counselor. They will help you work through these problems and determine whether there is anythign left to salvage.

If necessary, give her an ultimatum, that she either tries counselling with you, or you're leaving.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:00 PM on October 3, 2006

Go to a couples retreat. These are less like therapy and more like a weekend vacation with various activities that are aimed at encouraging couples to explore ways to connect honestly to each other.

They are perfect for situations like yours where it's likely that you all have love for each other hidden under crusts of passive aggressiveness. The retreat format can help you find and reconnect with that love, or they'll help make it clear that the love is gone and you've grown too far apart.

You don't say where you are in Canada, so I can't recommend one in particular, but they're all over the place now, so watch out for charletons. One of the most famous of these is at the Gottman Institute in Seattle. It looks like they've also certified people to do these in other locations, so maybe there's one near you. Dr. Gottman is a very well respected couples researcher/therapist. I've also seen these things at places like Esalen, if you're feeling adventurous.

Don't give up too quickly on this relationship. Figure out what all your frustrations and resentments are actually about and see if you can save your marriage.
posted by jasper411 at 4:00 PM on October 3, 2006

Well. There's horseriding and then there's serious horseriding. If your SO is riding that often for that long, there's probably a goal. Is she showing? Is she working on some goal, like a certain level of jumping or dressage? If so, then it's slightly more than hobby: it's a sport and you have to practice a lot to get to whatever point is your goal and then a fair amount to stay there.

Like a lot of people above said, you're not joined at the hip. You have plenty of things you can do. Yes, if you're committed you should find ways you both can spend time together. But you're going to have to come to her as well as her coming to you. You'll have to go to that barn and see what she's doing, show an interest.

My SO is also a horsewoman and I'm not that interested in riding. She owns a farm and runs a boarding facility... and we do all the work: cleaning the stalls, feeding, turning horses out, building fences, loading hay into the hayloft, mowing the rather large lawns, etc. This weekend I built a desk, dug some drainage ditches, and went 4-wheeling. Oh, and we both have full-time jobs, tho she works from home (and earns more than I do) so it's a little easier.

It's actually been quite good for me b/c I can eat just about anything and stay reasonably trim. If I cut the crap out of my diet, I'd probably lose weight.

But, like I said, I'm not interested in riding. She has two horses (one jumping, the other dressage). I'm supportive, help out a lot, go to the shows, etc. I also do my own thing... she's not into a lot of the same things I am (seeing bands, playing in bands, photography, etc) but she supports my interest in them. When I want to get away from the farm and do something, it's usually not a problem working out a schedule.

Are there times when I'm frustrated? You bet. But we work things out together. And we also do a lot of things together... in between all the other activities this weekend, we went to the farm up the road and picked apples with her brother and his g/f. We get out and do a lot together.

So. It sounds like there's a balance problem. It sounds like you both need to sit down and work that out. A counselor can help facilitate it but won't solve your issues for you.

Or, you can just cut bait.

Oh, and everyone: he said $160k Canadian. That's like $15 American ;-)
posted by jdfan at 4:14 PM on October 3, 2006

Not to be entirely humourous, but it's $142,592.02USD.

Soon to be $180,000USD, the way the American dollar is tanking.
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:22 PM on October 3, 2006

jdfan, was that $600 US for the monthlies? I just thought the economic stuff was a big distraction and a complete non-starter for a legit beef. Heck, isn't the Canadian dollar 90% of the US dollar these days? $140K US is still way more than my wife and I make, and I don't begrudge her what she spends and she hopefully doesn't begrudge me what I spend.

(I know you kid, but the money stuff was petty in the original post. Still bugs me for that reason.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:29 PM on October 3, 2006

I don't understand why you don't love her and let her do whatever she feels like doing. If she's unsocial, but she loves you and cares about you, what do you care? If she loves her horse and horse riding, then great. That's a good thing. It's nothing to leave her over.

Leave if she is mean, if she doesn't care for you, if she hates you, if she won't hold your hand when you feel ill. But nothing I read in your post tells me that she's a hideous and horrible and unlovable person.

I think you do love her, just not as passionately as before.
posted by onepapertiger at 5:01 PM on October 3, 2006

First, I am not especially experienced in relationships. I need to make that clear from the outset, because: seems to me you're making an excuse (to yourself) for leaving her. I don't think you've gotten to the root of your dissatisfaction, and leaving her for these reasons will be (in the end) self-defeating.

If you're going to leave, it would be better to leave with a clear sense of why you left, and what you're looking for next. Maybe you should leave her, maybe you shouldn't -- but it seems to me that the reasons you're offering ring hollow.

And in my world, limited as it is, that's a warning sign that the reasons aren't real.
posted by aramaic at 5:40 PM on October 3, 2006

Normally I have all sorts of judgments and opinions on the people who post these threads, but to be honest this time the only opinion I have is that you two sound weird as fuck and don't add up. I'm not drawing any conclusions here, just saying that I cannot seem to understand your situation even the tiniest bit. She rides horses for fours hours a day? You don't have a car despite pulling in $160k a year? You pay for your vacations seperately? What? How? Who are you people?

The best advice here - as usual - is to insist that you get counseling, because I don't think anyone here could possibly get a tenth of a handle on you, or your relationship, from this post alone. Good luck.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:52 PM on October 3, 2006 [2 favorites]

Obviously, judging from the range of responses you've gotten here, different people look at your situation from different perspectives. You're not going to solve this one based on ratiocination. You need to trust your gut. It may help you to hear other people's experiences -- those who have been through divorces, or contemplated divorces, especially. However, none of these people are you, and so no one here really knows what your experience is. My advice is to listen to these different perspectives, but listen most to the voice inside yourself. If you're feeling uneasy, pay attention to that feeling. Give is space and examine it; don't be afraid of it, but drag it out into the open and see what it's all about. Maybe it's nothing. Maybe you'll discover that you do love this woman and you can make compromises to be with her. Maybe you'll discover that you and she have grown apart and the best thing for you would be to separate. Whatever the outcome, you need to search out why you're feeling uneasy.

Many of the opinions expressed herein are based on certain assumptions that you may or may not share. How important is it to you to be in a relationship? How satisfied are you with your own life, your wife and her issues aside? How have you and she changed or stayed the same in the eight years you've been together? There are hard questions you need to ask yourself to assess where you are right now. Some of the answers will come from your head, some from your heart, and you will know when you have reached a decision. It will probably take you some time.

A good friend gave me some advice once about making hard decisions. Instead of turning it over and over, just pick one of your options, and say to yourself, for instance, "OK, I'm getting divorced." Keep it private. Live with it for a few days. How does it feel to you? Or, "OK, I'm in this relationship, and I am going to do whatever it takes to make it work." Or whatever you are leaning towards. The point is to give yourself a private trial period to see how it feels to live with that decision, and then you can try on a different one if it doesn't seem right to you. Maybe that will help you sort this one out.
posted by butternut at 6:10 PM on October 3, 2006

One of the funniest lines I've read here ("Its already over: she divorced you for the horse") - good one, ChasFile.

Oy... I feel very conflicted about posting - as Optimus said, some things are not quite adding up, although to be fair it's hard to synthesize a six year long relationship. For what it's worth, I'm in a similar situation - feel free to email me if you want to chat.

Some quick thoughts:
- therapy/counselling for all involved - for you, to find some answers about your needs, and for both of you to work on solving those problems or addressing those answers. If she flat out refuses some sort of counselling, well, you made an effort and she didn't... I'd say you gave it the old school try and separate. No need to divorce per se - you can do a trial separation too - some time part to think things through. Needless to say I think maybe not having kids at all in this relationship would be wise at least at this point.
- find out if the horse hobby *is* a professional sport thing or if it's, err, more Freudian in nature. If it's the former, see what you can find that you're both interested in to spend more time together, which is part of the problem; if it's the latter, perhaps she's using Mr. Ed as a way to not spend time together. 3-4 hours every day for someone who's not a professional athlete or equestrian is taking one's hobby a bit much.
- your dad's comments seem harsh - I'd disregard them unless you trust his advice.
- buy a car regardless. Vile polluting things, but travel even out of one's neighbourhood does good things for the soul.
- people do fall out of love - people change, their needs don't get fulfilled, and lord knows if you don't actively keep that garden tended it will just fill up with weeds of distrust, miscommunication and neglect. Although I don't agree with everything ROU_Xenophobe has said, the line about 'interests and styles of living [being] that divergent" does stick out to me as a wise, wise comment. If you two don't have much in common past a point, find other companions and mates who do. If she's not even interested in planning the wedding together with you, that's a sign of something. No one has to go all ga-ga with the planning, and I hate the wedding industrial complex as much as the next gal, but still... sounds like you're both spinning your wheels in the relationship, and it's time to get out of the ditch. It's not bourgeois malaise - more like pas de je ne said quoi.. You're both missing that essential something that keeps relationships together - often it's a physical spark, but it needn't be. Without that bond, the relationship will not be what neither of you probably want it to be - sad but true, as I'm finding out myself.

Anyhow, please let us know how it goes and feel free to contact me. Good luck...
posted by rmm at 6:30 PM on October 3, 2006

Oh for goodness' sake people! She's not RIDING the horse four hours a day, I guarantee you she's only spending an hour or two at most actually riding. There's a whole lot more to owning a horse than just riding it, and there's a whole lot more to RIDING it than just riding it (grooming, tacking up, warming up, actually working, cooling down, grooming again, etc.). I'd easily spend four hours at the barn with my horse, and whole days on weekends. Better to admit you know next to nothing about a sport, than making it obvious how little you know with snide, silly "Freudian" comments.

She's agreed to cut back her (obviously very important to her) horseback riding to four days a week (which is really the bare minimum that's reasonable to stay in decent riding shape, if you want to do more than piddle around. You don't have to be a pro to want to ride as well as you can, it not only feels better and allows you to do more, it's also SAFER the fitter you are and the more often you do it). What have you agreed to cut back on? Are you agreeing to cut back on requiring her to do social things that she clearly doesn't enjoy for your sake? You make it sound as if she should be grateful to you for dragging her out to social events she doesn't want to attend. Relationships are a two way street, and this one doesn't sound very two way to me.

Read what you wrote about this. You sound miserable. It doesn't sound like you respect her, you're contemptuous of things which are obviously very dear to her and that makes it sound like you truly don't love her. You seem to think that a true introvert (which is what she definitely sounds like) can just change to being an extrovert, or at least enjoy extrovert activities, as if this is something she's doing to annoy or hurt you. it's not. And you might not realize it, but riding is a VERY social activity, the fact that it doesn't fit your definitions of "social" doesn't mean it's not. You even SAY you don't love her. So...uh...what do you want us to tell you? It's okay to break up with her, really it is, you guys may just not be compatible now that the shine's worn off and you can actually see each other as you really are.

I thank bog that I have a husband who not only understands my time-consuming and somewhat expensive dog hobby, but who finds it one of the things that makes me interesting. Your common-law wife deserves the same, and YOU deserve to be in a relationship with someone you love, someone you have things in common with, and someone you actually want to be with, not someone you want to change because she's not good enough for you as she is. Stop thinking of this as a DIVORCE in mile-high flaming letters (you're only common-law married anyway, if it makes it easier to think of it that way), and start thinking about what will make both of you happy - it sounds like you're both pretty miserable and headed for worse. Break it off now rather than dragging it out any longer, once the love and respect are gone, the relationship isn't worth saving.
posted by biscotti at 8:19 PM on October 3, 2006

Sounds like your number one problem is boredom, and I doubt playing the field is really going to help much with that. Even if it does briefly, you'll likely find yourself in a similar situation down the road.

I recommend working on yourself. No reason you can't see that counselor by yourself and work through your part of the problem. She might get interested later, or you might get some clarity. Get a cheap car or nice motorcycle and get some interests and cultivate your circle. Look into a more interesting job.

I'm down with your dad. She sounds kind of cool, and real, long-term love is largely an act of volition anyway.
posted by Manjusri at 9:01 PM on October 3, 2006

immature? not at all. it's differentiated.
posted by krautland at 9:51 PM on October 3, 2006

I'm basically echoing what a few people have said here, but I really think you need to step back and think about what you're really asking. Your wife has a habit that she's obviously passionate about, but you resent it and don't really seem to support her in it. On the other hand, from your account, she will, at least occasionally, go with you to social outings (apparently one of your interests) and then you act as if she should be grateful that you planned it. Her asking if you're "happy" that she came, though, does strike me as a bit passive-aggressive on her part.

I can understand your frustration because I've been in a similar situation, but I realized that I actually needed to step back and look at the situation for what it was. It's great that she has a hobby, even if she takes it quite seriously, and you should be happy for her. I've heard of countless people moaning that their significant other just watches TV all night when they get home from work, which sounds like a much worse situation.

Finding a hobby that you devote a lot of time to could be constructive, as long as you don't frame it in the same way it seems you have been-- that is to say treating your hobby almost as revenge ("See, I can spend countless hours on my hobby and ignore you!"), which I've also seen happen.

You really need to sit down with her and be completely forward. Don't make everything about yourself, though. If you sit down and tell her that she's spending too much time riding horses and not enough time with you but present it in the wrong way, you'll come across as whiny and needy, which would really only serve to push her away.

I think that the two of you need to find a hobby that you can enjoy together, in addition to also having hobbies apart from each other. It's healthy for people to have their own lives, though I can see where it would be hard to only have two hours a night together with somebody and maintain a healthy relationship. Maybe if the two of you had more fun when you were together, it would be less of a problem. If all you do together is something that one of you doesn't like, then it's obvious you're not going to spend much time together.

And, really, you definitely make enough money to support her hobby, a hobby for you, and some automobiles. The money comments you made come off as you basically just trying to make excuses for yourself.
posted by atomly at 10:30 PM on October 3, 2006

I stayed in my marriage for many years after she stopped loving me, and was even cheating on me. I was afraid of loosing my money, house and kids. Well divorce is over, I lost my money, house and kids. But..

I dont come home to her yelling, I still see my kids, enough money for rent, food, cable, etc. Little sad at times, but I'm better to be away from her hurting me. Still working through the pain of betrayal after a year, and aftermath of a messy divorce. But in the end, I guess it had to be done. I wish it could of been done without her hurting me.

Lucky you dont have kids, I think you have it easier.
posted by IronWolve at 12:10 AM on October 4, 2006

I've heard of countless people moaning that their significant other just watches TV all night when they get home from work, which sounds like a much worse situation.

It's actually the same situation, really. Just because you don't approve of sitting at home watching TV all night, doesn't make the situation any different.

FastGorilla: you say that you don't love her anymore, but I think it's more that you just love her differently than you did 8 years ago. That's going to happen. You're not going to have the same spark that you had when you first got together, that's just life.

As for the time spent together that you feel is not enough: if you need more time with her, and she doesn't want to spend more time with you, nothing you can do will make her change her ways. Or if you DO force her to give up her beloved hobby in order to spend more time with you, she'll just end up resenting you, and you'll both be miserable.

You need to go to counselling, period. Tell her that it's either counselling or divorce. If she doesn't care enough to go to counselling, you're frankly better off without her.
posted by antifuse at 4:26 AM on October 4, 2006

A word of caution: are you falling out of love because of her, or because she's doing things that frustrate you?

When you've been together a long time and there are problems, and there's a lack of communication, it's easy to convince yourself that you're "not that into" that person anymore. Sometimes it's actually that you are into that person, just not what they're *doing*, and how your relationship *is* anymore. If your life isn't how you want it to be, it's easy to blame the other person entirely. It's so easy to feel cheated when things don't work out the way you feel they should have, especially when you feel you've been making all the effort to change things.

But you may have been banging your head against a wall. You say X, she hears Y, she responds with Z. Mentally, you chalk this up as another failure. But it all could be reversed with a bit of effective, *two-way* communication.

Trust me on this.

I agree with a previous poster -- imagine the future: horseriding and social activities aside, can you *imagine* her as the mother of your children? Can you imagine the *woman you fell in love with* as the mother of your children?

Secondly, be clear. Communicate clearly. Tell her what is up and how bad it makes you feel. Encourage her to communicate clearly about how *she* feels.

Don't leave until you've explored this problem from all possible actions. Not because it's the nice, or right, thing to do, but because 5 years down the line you'll be kicking yourself if you realise it all could have worked out better had you tried a different tactic.

Good luck!
posted by unmusic at 5:32 AM on October 4, 2006

All possible PERSPECTIVES, not actions. The post equivalent of leaving dramatically after a quasi profound statement, only to return to retrieve your wallet. Le sigh.
posted by unmusic at 5:34 AM on October 4, 2006

Insist on seeing a counselor. Find a good one. Dig through the issues.

There's no possible way AskMe can help you with this. You won't get clarity here-- you'll get it through talking things through with someone who is trained to help you get to the bottom of issues.

Please get some help.
posted by orangemiles at 6:35 AM on October 4, 2006

I agree with the other folks about the $ part... it is petty and, to my eye, cheap. $600/mo is probably just the board (stall, food, water, cleaning the stall, turnout, etc). On top of that add lessons, various fees for competing, various "supplements" that make snake oil nostrums look sane, shoeing, vet visits, teeth floating (filing down), et cetera ad infinitum. You don't even have to work at it to get expensive. Oh, and then there's saddles (anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars), blankets, fly screens, fly masks, fly spray, bell boots, ankle boots, wraps, ointments, unguents, bridles, boots, pants, helmets, clothing (show and otherwise), tack trunks, trailers, trucks to haul the trailers. It's not a hobby, it's a lifestyle.

And as for the hours... you'd be surprised. Some folks can get their horse out of the stall and tacked up in an amazingly short time. Other folks take a lot longer. Add in that barns are essentially social and gossip clubs (what farrier is servicing whose horse, some horse over in another barn has strangles or rabies, some rider did some outrageous thing). Time can just get away from you there.
posted by jdfan at 8:48 AM on October 4, 2006

You're being selfish and, more to the point, you've stopped trying to look at things from your mate's perspective. When you bring her to social situations she doesn't enjoy, you expect her to be grateful to you? She's doing you a favor, by doing something that you like instead of something that she'd like, and the fact that you like it doesn't mean that she should! Get over yourself.

Love is about sacrifice - it's about trying to make the other person happy, even when the cost is your own happiness. You want more time with your wife? Get interested in horses. Spend time with her in ways that she finds enjoyable, and then (only *after* you've done this for a while) ask her to make a reciprocal sacrifice: ask her to come to some parties, or to play on your sports team, or something.

If you're bored and you want to grow, try to experience life through her eyes for a while.
posted by gd779 at 8:55 AM on October 4, 2006

Maybe you should leave her, because I have a feeling if you're not into it, then she's probably not in a very good relationship either.

If you guys get divorced, maybe she can find someone who really loves her and supports her.

Maybe you guys should file for a divorce. Let her go and be happy with someone who really does love her.

And maybe you'll find someone you'll want to be with, too.
posted by onepapertiger at 2:03 PM on October 4, 2006

What onepapertiger said.

From the tone of your post, you sound like you're fairly pissed off. I imagine your fiancee may be feeling some resentment too. If you want to stay together, counselling would be a great idea.

When you go to parties together, she's doing, to support you, something that's not her natural thing. Recognise this and let her know you appreciate it; then she may want to do it more. Really; a "Thank you for coming with me tonight. It means a lot" isn't out of place. Hell, even if parties weren't hard for her, it'd still be a nice gesture.

Moreover, we miss many social occasions out of town because of her horse commitments.

What keeps you from going to these events alone? If you want to go, then go. Have a good time. Interact with people on your own terms rather than as half a couple. This could lead to making more friends.

I talked very frankly to her about how damaging her being away except for 2 hours at night was being to our relationship. In fact, I basically had to threathen divorce but she agreed to reduce her horse-riding to 4 times a week.

If you were going to threaten divorce, you probably should have done it over counselling rather than horses. Also, you "talked very frankly" and "threatened divorce" but did you listen at all during that time?

Bottom line: you got together with a horse-riding, introverted, independent woman. She got together with a sociable man who likes to have a lot of time together. Now you say she'd have to "change her personality" to win back your love. Or, possibly, you'd have to change yours to suit her better. Are either of these things going to happen?

My opinion (which counts for not much more than can be guessed from one post) is that you should set her free to find someone who likes her personality the way it is, and be free to find someone who likes you for yours.
posted by Pallas Athena at 6:19 PM on October 4, 2006

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