22 years of unhappy marriage - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2009, 07:35 AM Thread Starter
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22 years of unhappy marriage

This may be long, but I don't have anyone to talk to, and could really use some help and advice.

I have been married for 22 years, and it has been a loveless marriage for the past ten, at least. We have three children, ages, one in college, one in high school, one in middle school.

I had trouble with all relationships throughout highschool, college and my 20's, meeting men who were never kind to me, never treated me with respect, etc. I was always lonely, trying to meet people (and not succeeding) and feeling depressed and like a loser. In my late 20's, I tried dating services and personal ads, because I wasn't meeting any men on my own. I went on dozens of dates, of mostly men who weren't as educated as I was, didn't want the same things in life, etc.

I met my husband through a personal ad, and although there was no initial chemistry, I went out with him again because he drove a nice car and was very nice to me. We continued to date, although we did not have a lot of interests in common and had different religions, and very little sexual chemistry. He bought me a lot of nice gifts and was attentive, which no one had ever been before. Two years into the relationship (which wasn't exclusive, until the last 8 or so months) we kind of decided to get married (but no romantic proposal, or anything like that).

Throughout the engagement and wedding planning, I kept thinking of breaking it off, but didn't. Up to the day I married him, I wondered if it were a mistake. But I got caught up in wedding planning, and I went through with it, and then got involved in house buying and fixing up, new marriage etc. Then I got pregnant, and those early years were actually the happiest we ever had, even though they were not "happy" by marriage standards.

Fast forward---another kid, then another, very intertwined finances (extremely difficult to extricate), a house, two busy professional lives, but no emotional connection, no physical connection (no sex in ten years, or maybe twice at the most---even in the early days we never had a "normal" sex life), very very invasive and impossible in-laws who almost broke us up in the early years and were the initial source of most conflict. We have nothing in common (aside from a home, three kids, 25 years together LOL!). We can't even have a normal conversation. I criticize almost everything he does (because everything he does bugs me), and I don't enjoy being with him. Even a dinner is a long time for us to be together. We operate as roommates most of the time, which suits him just fine, it seems.

I have given up trying to change him. Don't even bother, since I know it isn't going to happen. We went to counseling, years ago. At this point, living like roommates (and kind of bickering ones), I think about leaving all the time. But the reality of trying to make it on my own, at my age (54), without health insurance (I have none through my work), trying to do all the maintenance, parenting, etc. alone, is what has kept me in this loveless marriage for two decades. If I had no children, I would be gone in a heartbeat, even if I was concerned about money. It isn't that he is a drunk, an addict, that he beats me or abuses me, runs around or spends money. He annoys me though, with his constant talking, pontificating, correcting me and others, opinionated, know-it-all attitude, and he does this with EVERYONE. It is so embarrassing. But for what reasons does one just leave a marriage?

This is a longer post than I expected!! Thanks for hanging in there! I know some people don't agree with "staying together for the children" and my children are not babies. But my youngest always says, "Please don't get divorced" and I know that the thought of being alone and doing everything by myself is very frightening. But being in a loveless marriage is terrible too. It's trading what you know for what you don't.

Is the grass greener? Is it brown when you get there? What is the breaking point, or do some people continue like this forever? Do some leave and wish they hadn't, because "life on the other side" is actually harder? Trading one set of problems for another?

Thanks for the input.

Last edited by Timeforchange?; 09-08-2009 at 07:41 AM.
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2009, 11:37 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

What a well thought out post!

It's a long time to be in a loveless marriage. I've been married for 24 years myself. Now separated for 2 months.

What would you like to see for youself in the future?

What sacrifices are you willing to make for those future goals?

Depending upon the circumstances like can be harder and brown on the other side. It depends what you are leaving (abuse/affairs/etc.). You said those don't exist.

Hard choices.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2009, 05:19 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

I don't really know what I am willing to sacrifice, because I don't even know what the goals are. I'd like to feel more at peace, but can I gain that peace in the more financially stable, secure environment of my current marriage? It would be an easier choice with no children and abuses, affairs, etc. He's not a bad man; in fact, quite the opposite. I just don't think we were ever destined to be together, and yet we are.

Living separate lives is not much of a marriage, but it isn't awful either. I do my own thing, which isn't bad, but it isn't a solid relationship. Some people have so much more in the way of connection, attachment, etc. But I could divorce, and be lonelier, poorer and worse off. There are no crystal balls, unfortunately.

Hard choices, indeed.
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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-08-2009, 08:49 PM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

I was with someone who was a jerk and control freak and feel like the time together was a waste of my time now. Could have easily ended up wasting more than the decade I did.............

but I woke up and saw the light and left. Have no regrets as I found a much better man.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 05:55 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

I have been married for almost 29 years. Three kids - just like you. We've had ups and downs and a couple of years ago almost split up. The reason: no passion in our lives. As the kids got older and we found that we had more time together, the worse things got! We were living basically separate lives.

We were able to recognize our problem and work on it. I hope you can too. However, if there is no passion in your marriage, then you must either decide to live with it - or move on.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 08:38 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

It's hard living in a marriage that has no passion, living separate lives like roommates, etc. And I applaud you for staying as long as you have. I also agree that maybe it is time for you to create a new page in your life. We all need a little passion no matter who we are. But before doing anything, I agree CorpusWife..you need to set some goals, get everything in order, etc. As far as health insurance, I know in my state that are alternatives if your jobs don't offer health insurance, and they aren't that expensive. The children: well all though it will be hard, they will come to understand. You just need to be honest with them, don't hide anything, they will eventually understand.

You need to do what you have to to make yourself happy. When your children are all grown and gone where will you be then. Alone in a marriage that has nothing there? Another thing to think about.
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-18-2009, 11:04 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

I know how you feel, since I am in a similar situation I know it is very difficult to leave when kids are involved, I have 2 and that is what breaks me. I think too that if it would be just him and I, I would have left long time ago but that is not our case. I actually want to work on the marriage and H does not.

Have you tried to talk to communicate the feelings that you have to him? You know guys are just sometimes in other world and dont realize that there is an elephant in room. Maybe by you expressing to him what you are going through will open a door where you can try to work it out and be happy or perhaps the oportunity to leave will open and you can still make it work in a civil and cordial matter to continue your parenting together and he can still assist you with healthcare etc... After all you say he is a good man, so try to communicate with him and see what happens. Listen you are already in a place that is not good for your soul and you need to move out of it. We only have one life and I think you should try to make the best of it for you, for your kids and for all you love ones. 22 years of unhappiness is alot. Pls think about it and try to talk to him and see. Good Luck with everything
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 01:45 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

I finally got the courage to leave a 21 year marriage that was never great to begin with, and completely roommate-like for the last 10+ years. It came down to this: If I ever wanted a chance at anything more, I had to leave. I was scared, but once I made up my mind, I felt tremendous relief. DH has had a very hard time with it b/c he is terrified of being alone. Other than that, I and the 3 kids are doing pretty well. It is so important to remain amicable for the kids' sake, and dh fortunately makes that effort. he read "the healthy divorce" and is trying hard b/c the evidence shows that kids do fine with divorce if the parents are not mean and bitter to each other and putting the kids in the middle, forcing them to "choose sides."

Be creative in thinking about how to make it work. Insurance just for you can be through some type of state program or professional association; he can continue to carry the kids on his insurance. Also, think about living with another woman (friend, sibling, etc) while you re-establish yourself. It relieves a lot of the financial burden and adds another caring adult to their lives, if you find someone appropriate. Plan to "do without" for a while--you don't need to set up a "new" home with all sorts of new stuff; go with the essentials and buy used items until money isn't as tight. Get your youngest into counseling right away, and the others if you can. SEEING YOU HAPPY will be sooooooo good for them. But, be sure you are willing to remain single for the rest of your days--you cannot assume you will find someone else. For me, just the chance at that was worth it. I love being on my own, poor as I am! My kids are pretty darn happy right now, and we talk a lot about how they are doing with the changes and I have them in a program for children of divorce. I know lots of people whose parents divorced and it didn't "ruin their lives." Kids in "intact" families have lots of issues, too, so we cannot be so quick to assume all problems kids have are b/c of divorce. Do you want your kids to live like you are living now, to feel too afraid to take a chance, to be afraid of being on their own? That may be the message they get if you stay. If you can find the courage to embrace this change as an opportunity and NOT a failure, you will be setting an example in courage and self-reliance. For me, all the uncertainty was gone was I got past the fear--fear was all that was holding me back! Yes, I do worry about my kids (b/c we always worry about our kids!) but I'm doing all I can to make the transition as easy as possible for them. They have begun to look at the divorce as being about exciting possibilities--maybe a new home, with new friends and neighbors. It's scary too for them, but all change is scary and learning to go through it and not be paralyzed by fear is an important lesson--esp changes we (they, in this case) cannot control. I expect that they will have a much healthier sense of their own abilities to weather change. You have a lot of influence on how they experience the divorce process, and by having a good attitude about it yourself, you will be a good role model. We are 5 months into the process, and I have not once regretted my decision. Yes, I got/get a bit anxious at times, but I remind myself that much is under my control, and the rest I put into God's hands. Best of luck, whatever you decide.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-20-2009, 02:48 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

What wonderful advice from sisters359 !
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 09-27-2009, 10:35 PM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

wow! That is a long time to be in that situation. I myself am in that position. However, the difference is that we once had a great relationship. My husband is 22 years older than me. But we had alot in common. He always acted younger. He loved me more than life. He never could keep his hands off me. We sometimes would have sex 3-4 times a day. Then it changed. I tried talking to him. I begged him sometimes. Also, it wasnt only sex. He stopped wanting to do alot of things. Going out to dinner, the movies, whatever. He does have some medical issues. He had prostate cancer, unfortunately. He is cancer free now, but he had the surgery. I pushed him to do that. I wanted him to be alive. I wasnt thinking about my sex life. Anyway, the rest is all down hill. We too are roommates! I hate it! I need to be touched. I want sex! I cant help it. I have been through alot in my life! I wish I had Kids! I was not able to get pregnant. I stay with him because I feel for him. He needs me to take care of him. Sounds crazy .......right? I know it does. Thats why I am mentally shot! Im torn between wanting love and happiness and him, who needs me.
If anyone has a suggestion for me, that would be great. I am miserable right now. Lonely and depressed.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-25-2009, 08:51 PM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

Yes, do completely understand. I am in a roommate marriage also. My husband is unable to be intimate. We haven't done anything in 15 years and sometimes I think I am going to go crazy. I am a romantic person or was able to be at one time. My finances does not allow me to leave home. I feel starved for affection and lonely
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-29-2009, 07:55 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

I think if you are staying together you need to work and make the relationship better, little things, little touches and hugs, smiles, looking into his eyes when you speak......doing these things over time, he will expect it and miss it and eventually change his behavior towards you and want to connect on a deeper level and share your life with you.....it's not to late, you have something together even though it doesn't seem like it.....really look, appreciate him as a person and his good qualities, I'm 22 years married and my husband has had an affair in the last 5 months, very hurtful, but since then I realize my part in the way I viewed him and our relationship.....If I would have just re-connected with him on a more intimate level maybe our future wouldn't be where it is now.......Be the strong one here, do what you can, the pay off for you will be huge and so satisfing. 22 years, it certainly seems like it would be worth it to try for you and your kids,
Be the hero here......good luck
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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 03-31-2010, 08:52 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

I could have not said it better. Being in a marriage that lacks life connections, and an ability to talk is painful at best. I personally have been my relationship for 30 years, 27 married, and 3 living together.

Like you I knew it was the wrong thing to do, but for what ever reason I did it anyway. I started out very lonely, as a child I suffered a great deal of loneliness. So at the time I just wanted someone to love me, because I really thought I was unlovable.

Don't get me wrong, my wife is a sweetheart, but if you have no connections, then you have no connections. I am still in my marriage but I want out so bad it hurts. But like I said it's not so much that she is a bad person, she just is not the person I love.

I do have plans to move out and get divorced in late spring, or early summer. I am on ssdi so it is hard to live on the money that you receive for that. But even so I have made the decision to do it anyway. I would rather live like a happy poor man, then to live like an unhappy not so poor man. The one thing that does bother me is the fact that I have to hurt people to save myself.

I know what I what to do is a bit on the selfish side, but I feel if it takes me being a little selfish then so I must be. It's the fact that somewhere down the line we must all put ourselves at the top of our importance list. Our personal happiness is our own priority, and it must remain as so.

To yourself be true, be happy, smile, enjoy life because this is our living time we are talking about, and we never know when it will end, so we should not waste even a second of it. What was, is just that a was not a now. Love yourself, move your life to the place where you are the very happiest you can be. But, know the difference between the them.

I wish you all the very best in your personal relationships. This love thing is a lot tougher then we think it could ever be, but now we know.
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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 04-01-2010, 01:08 AM
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Re: 22 years of unhappy marriage

I have mixed emotions on this. . .i do agree with the forum and being the one to have pulled the trigger in my divorce, I ahve to say it's no easier to be the leaver or the left. You are choosing to embark on a very difficult path.

A lack of intimacy is the main reason I chose to divorce and it seems to be the reason you are contemplating.

What I haven't heard is any effort by you to at least try to engage him in some intimacy and voice your needs. Before you pull the trigger on this, I think you should try and let him know how serious it is.

I wouldn't wish divorce on my worst enemy. Kids aside (they are pretty resilient), it's a wretching experience.

That being said, I did make the right decision as perhaps I was your husband (or the wife above) in taht I realized my partner didnt' love me like many of you don't love your partners. So, I pulled the trigger. On some level, I bet he senses your lack of love for him.

Rather than divorce, I'd like to see you try to fall in love with the man you married.

Whatever you decide though, I support you.
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