Tortured soul seeking peace
I am a 38 year old woman who is going on 20 years of marriage. My relationship with my husband, from the time we began dating at 16, has been one of selfishness and thoughtlessness. He is very narcissistic and has rarely been considerate of me or my feelings in addition to being very controlling and manipulative throughout our relationship. I have endured much emotional abuse and neglect through the years. He has dismissed my feelings, insulted my intelligence (and I am a very intelligent woman), made me feel incompetent (and I am extremely competent), shown little regard for my wants and desires, and has put me down in front of people. Everyone else in my life recognizes my intelligence, competence, and all that I do, and have done, for my children and those in my community. My self esteem has taken quite a battering over the years, but thanks to my friends and family members, I have kept my head above water thus far, though it has been a struggle. He has never been the man I needed him to be, though he is a good man who everyone else loves. He just does not know how to treat me. In addition, our sex life has not been very giving. It's very mechanical and he's very much into what pleases him.
I've tried to excuse his behavior over the years chalking it up to the fact that he grew up in an abusive household and never had a proper example of how to treat a spouse. I have repeatedly brought up how I've felt, at times begging for his time and attention, and as non-accusatory manner as possible, pointed out when he would treat me poorly or things he would do that bothered me. It fell on deaf ears most of the time. There have been many times that I have thought about leaving, but have stayed mainly because of financial reasons, but also because I do not want to tear my family apart nor have a failed marriage...plus it's easier to stay. I've never known anything else. Yet, I continue to feel unfulfilled.
I have recently fallen for someone I've known for nearly 10 years...never expected it nor saw it coming. This man is everything I've always wanted from my husband and never had. He's sensitive, kind, thoughtful, considerate, generous, sensual, giving, understanding, patient, fun, affectionate...makes me feel incredibly loved. We have fallen pretty hard for each other. In the beginning, it was just friendship, then progressed to emotional cheating...but as we got to know each other and seemed to be a perfect match on every level, it has gotten much more intense. My husband has sensed my distance and we have stopped having sex, though he has tried repeatedly, it seems more as if he's testing me and not because he loves me.
Now my husband has decided he wants to try and be the man I need him to be, though I am having a hard time believing that he ever could be after all these years. I feel that a large part of his wanting to stay together is because of all he would lose financially that he has worked so long and so hard for. Though I know he truly does love me, he just has never really shown it.
I am tortured because I understand the emotional and financial implications of divorce for all involved. I do not want a failed marriage, but feel like a tortured soul because I have just not been happy in my relationship. I do not to hurt my husband, but now that I'm in love with another man, who loves me deeply and actually shows it, I do not want to hurt him either. It has taken this other man many years to get over his divorce and he has not had any relationships in 5 years because of it. I was the one who had opened his heart after all that time and he would be devastated if I broke things off. Sadly, if I needed to, I know he'd understand, but he'd be crushed. Unfortunately, I feel I can never have a healthy relationship with my husband going forward because of this other man is everything I've ever dreamed of. I've never felt like this about my husband or anyone else for that matter. How do I choose who gets hurt?
I don't ever want my husband to find out about my infidelity. I dont' want him hurt like that. I don't want to hurt either one, but ultimately, one of them will have to be. In the meantime, I am the one who is in terrible pain. It's all I think about every day, all day long. I feel so much guilt and blame myself, though try to remind myself it took many years of mistreatment to get me too this point.
I know this can't go on, yet I'm paralyzed by fear of making the wrong move. I'm a tortured soul. Help!!! Need to find resolution...one I can live with.