My wife asked me to leave 7 weeks ago, but, due to lack of money and I hope some small amount of hesitation on her part, we are still living together. We no longer have sex and no longer kiss or hold hands. I long for her everyday and night, but she says she no longer is attracted to me and maybe I should find someone else to satisfy my sexual needs...
I know that sleeping with someone else would cause great harm to our relationship - if there is still an intimate relationship to salvage, on the other hand, once we actually separate - assuming she sticks to her guns and gets what she asked for - what are the rules?
I keep asking her to reconsider and let me have another chance- that my eyes are wide open and I am taking steps to never take her for granted or be verbally cruel again. (to this end, I have been keeping a journal, and have started attending meetings for men with issues like mine). I have improved my physical fitness level, I don't bark as a response to questions anymore and we have had a couple of healthy disagreements where differences of opinion have been shared without undo anger. I also have stepped up my contribution to cleaning the house and taking care of the kids.
My wife stopped wearing her ring about 5 months ago and spends all her nights and weekends away from me and our kids - working and partying and getting lots of attention from other people.
I know she has strayed at least once before and although we reconciled by not fighting about it (and me admitting that I was gone so much that it was pretty much inevitable) there is still a wound for me from that knowledge that makes it harder to trust her. With her now wanting to be separate and her taking on a completely new life with new friends and activities and never wanting to include me, I am extremely lonely and filled with grief.
There have been issues in our relationship for many years, If I don't go to meetings or spend time with a counselor, I have a habit of slipping into a nasty fog where I obsess about work and money and snap at any comment that comes my way. I have also been inconsistent with my sexual appetite over the years, sometimes being emotionally unable to participate due to childhood trauma, but most of the time being fairly capable and we both are normally satisfied when we do have sex. Over the last year however, I have felt her growing frustration and disinterest in me. My early reaction to her rejection was to get angry and not take responsibility for my part in how she feels. I have acted irrationally and I have nearly lost my job, and spent too many nights (5 maybe) drinking and being undisciplined in what I say and do around her friends - as a result, I have lost her respect as well as more of her love.
Fast forward to January 2011 Well, being told to actually leave was like electro-shock therapy and the nasty fog is gone and in its place is nothing but passion and a desire to make things right.
She comes home after midnight most nights - sometimes 5 am, she gets into bed and sometimes goes so far as to lay her head on my chest - my favorite!! Mostly, she turns away but encourages me to spoon- as long as I am the one doing the touching, she is relaxed and goes to sleep easily. If I try to hold her hand, kiss her, place her hand on my body, she recoils like I am a snake and turns away complaining that I am selfish.
If I speak to her about the future and what she sees for us/herself she says she doesn't know, but that I already know how she feels - I keep hoping her feelings will shift back to love for me, but it seems 7 weeks isn't long enough to change what 17 years have built up.
I asked her if she would rather dream me away or dream me better and she says she doesn't know. She says she never wanted to get married and that I talked her into it - it was all my idea...
We have two amazing children and they do not know much about what is going on - at least I hope so. It is hard because we live in a small place and sometimes I literally collapse from grief when she leaves without any touch or kiss or hint of love.
If I could have anything, I would turn back time to a year ago when she first told me she was going to seek love from someone else and I would have made all the efforts I am making now then - instead of getting 'manly' with my guy friends and pretending that I was in some kind of pissing contest and that I should 'hold my ground' HA! Sometimes your 'friends' can give you terrible coaching.
Bottom line: My wife is exhausted and disenchanted and no amount of roses, sweet hand-drawn cards, offers of passionate lovemaking, bigger biceps, or evidence of improved emotional intelligence seems to cause her to feel any relief or renewed romantic feelings for me. But, two nights ago, she held me for a brief instant and kissed my ear - probably a bit drunk but I cling to every tender action as though it is capable of guiding my way to what I want most - my loving sexy wife back in my arms and her eyes regarding me with admiration and humor again.
If I have to separate from her, if I cant compel her to give me another chance no matter how crazy that may seem... I believe it will be the beginning of the final end for us. I don't understand what separation really means - it just seems like a quick annulment of our marriage which to some degree I believe she has already enacted in her mind - no ring (or any gift I have ever given her on her person), she 'never wanted marriage', she won't see a councilor with me...
I asked her to attend counseling with me and she said: 'no, sorry'.
I have started attending meetings on my own. Her reaction to my feeling good about that was: 'its always about you'.
As I said, she is exhausted and has waited years off and on for me to be present and consistently kind. She says she doesn't want to make the same mistake again. When I ask her if she wants a divorce she says she doesn't think that is necessary. As I said before, I feel like she has annulled our marriage by simply taking off the wedding ring, not wearing any of the jewelry I have ever given her and no longer kissing me or being intimate - at least during daylight hours. Three weeks ago she had sex with me - just for fun. The next day I was ecstatic and joyful and she made sure to withdraw even further from me and hasn't ventured into that territory again since.
Any time I mention the possibility that I could be her lover and the father of her children, she says, 'why, so you can use me for sex?'
Clearly she is angry and I believe she has made up her mind to protect herself from any more hurt. She has been a gift to me for 17 years of marriage and I have not been kind or present or brave enough for her to feel the deal has been fair or worth continuing. What is killing me is how much passion we have always had for each other. We were the couple that other people looked at said, 'they are so in love...'
We would stop and kiss on the street for minutes at a time. Even two years ago. Somehow, after I lost my job in 2008 a great deal of the sexiness was lost. I have been very depressed and had to rebuild my self-image, I have been surrounded by people I don't understand and who don't understand me and I have been largely miserable.
All that has been left of me has been a detached, money-making machine who lost touch with what was important and developed resentment for pretty much everyone and everything.
I am hopeful that the loving passionate couple we have been at times was real for both of us and that there are still some of those memories left to combat the many sad and lonely times I have inflicted on my wife due to my emotional displacement.
I hope that my continued efforts will prove to show my discipline, awareness, commitment and love and ultimately make her feel safe and loved as she should be.
Thanks for your words - it is good to have someone to speak to - even virtually.
Keep at trying to get her into MC or PC. ANYTHING you can do to get counseling rolling. Let her go a few times first by herself or anything else. I think there is a chance for you guys to be happy. In the mean time I think you are doing the right thing.