Here comes a wall of text. I recommend either a fresh cup of coffee.
I have never posted something this personal before, anywhere. I would be pretty embarrassed if my anonymity were somehow uncovered, but I really wanted some feedback from the cognescenti.
I'm 49, a college professor and consultant. I've been married 10 years, have two kids 6 and 9.
My wife and I met in grad school: I was getting my PhD and she was becoming a doctor. We moved in together after graduation and she started practicing medicine while I began as a junior professor at a small state university. We got married and a year later she quit her job (without discussion), unhappy at the grind. We agreed it was a good time to start a family and had two boys, 2 years apart. My wife went back to school to get a Master's Degree in Public Health, hoping to change careers. She has been in part-time school for 4 years now and is supposedly finishing in another year.
The Marriage: We don't get along. We never have really... even before we were married.
I used to be this very expressive, talky, touchy-feely guy back then. She said she liked it, but after a while she became disengaged and as a result I did too. We would fight... she would yell, sometimes throwing things. I would just talk quietly, which only seemed to make things worse. She would forbid me to tell anyone about our issues, saying "private matters stay in the family."
I stopped talking to anyone about our problems. I wouldn't talk to her because of the yelling and subsequent week of anger. And I wouldn't talk to anyone else because it was forbidden. Even now, the thought that my wife might see this note is discomforting.
Ten years later, I fully realize my marriage is a joke: we have not shared a bedroom in 6 years. All my stuff and my bed is in another corner of the house: she has the master bed/bath and closets full of clothes. I share a bathroom with my kids. I made $212,000 last year; she spends it like crazy (45 pairs of shoes, for example) and complains we don't have more. She does not work, but has a private gym membership, spends $150 on haircuts, constantly spends money on clothes and other comforts, and goes to a private dentist even though we have dental insurance (she doesn't like the in-network people). This seems excessive for someone who doesn't work.
She does not like housework: we have a cleaning service and a cooking service. She does the laundry, but refuses to do mine. She does the dishes, but complains if I don't do 50% of them.
She does not like being a mother: she tells me, "I'm a good mom for an hour a day; after that I'm done." We have had day-care, babysitters, preschool, and had a nanny for 2 years when the kids were younger, all while my wife did not work.
So you're thinking, "what does this woman like to do?" She likes Netflix. A lot of Netflix. Over 300 hours in the past 12 months. And she plays a lot of solitaire.
So you'll tell me, "why don't you talk to her about this?" Anger. Awful, seething, brutalizing vitriol. I cannot bear it... though I have borne it countless times. I decided that I signed up for this life and I would make the best of it. And I am not blameless here... I'm sure I could be a better husband. I'm sure I could try harder to see her side.
But in the end, our marriage is a perfunctory relationship in the service of raising our two children. We have partitioned our lives: I have Mon and Weds nights off, and she takes Tues/Thurs nights off, plus weekends. And I'm not complaining about this: I love the weekend time with my kids.
So now, dear reader, you have an idea, incomplete as it may be, of what family life has been like here going into this last month, where everything got much much worse.
My wife decided to take a trip to the big city to visit old college friends for 5 days during spring break. The boys and I planned a trip to Legoland, and everyone was looking forward to the down-time.
Five days later, we picked her up at the airport on a Wednesday and she seemed very odd. All the way home, saying the strangest things. Three hours later we were in the emergency room: my wife was having a severe psychotic break, insisting god was talking to her through her cell phone and that she was meeting with the Dalai Lama. To say this was a frightening experience would be an understatement.
She spent 2 days in the psychiatric ward, then came home, far from being well. The next day she told me that she had something to confess: while away she had gone out drinking and dancing at a nightclub and ended up kissing some guy she met. On the mouth for a protracted period.
My stomach went into knots. With all we'd been through, there had never been a doubt from either of us about marital trust. I told her to stop telling me details... I couldn't bear it. And in fact, I had to take care of two kids and a very sick wife, and that had to take priority. I could not afford the anger and betrayal I was no feeling on top of everything else. This was quickly reflected in our conversation, "I'm sorry.. I was drunk" she told me. "Let's just focus on getting you better," I'd reply.
But I was pissed. I stopped touching her, stopped smiling at her, I was now just making food and administering her meds. A nurse instead of a husband. And she noticed, of course... honestly, it probably prolonged her recovery, but it was all I could muster.
Fast forward 2 weeks. My wife is still on medication, but she's no longer standing in the doorway clucking like a chicken at me. She wants to talk about why I seem so distant. I'm reluctant to tell her this soon after her illness, but she presses on. I tell her this kissing episode was a huge shock to me; I'm angry and feeling betrayed. I feel like she has cheated on me, and it's not going away.
She downplays it. It was nothing, she says.
We argued for a while and finally I told her I wanted a physical separation followed by marriage counseling. She freaked out and started screaming... she tried to pack me a suitcase and told me to get out. I suggested she stop packing my stuff or I would call the police. My life had become a Jerry Springer show.
The current situation: I have stuck to my guns so far. I have endured several yelling fits, and a few heart-wrenching episodes of pleading. "I will die if you leave me... don't make me live alone. I will kill myself."
I don't hate my wife. I don't want her to suffer. I want her to start living her life. She says, "I've been trying so hard this past year." And perhaps she has. But it's still been a joke, and the marital indiscretion did not help.
I went to a psychologist last week and told him all this. He said he thought we were headed for divorce. I've talked to her family about all of this, and they support me (they don't like being yelled at either). But divorce... how awful for the kids.
I've cried more this last month than in my entire life put together. And I fear it's only just begun.