First, I want to thank you again for engaging with me. This thread has been very helpful. I feel like I should be paying you all or something, lol.
Your MC doesn't sound very helpful, TBH.
Whelp, better than the counselor several years ago who essentially said, 'Have you tried not having needs?' lol
When I brought up to her that the lack of sex in my life was really hurting me, she asked, 'What else could you focus on instead of needing sex?' I felt like I was being treated like a sex addict (something my wife accused me of once, also). It's hard to get any validation for the idea that a lack of sex (which, for me, is nearly equivalent to a lack of intimacy, since my experience is that sex and intimacy often go hand in hand) might actually be an issue. Talking about my desire for sex (or a sexual relationship more generally) always leaves me feeling like I'm some primitive brute or horny teenager...
For most people, their marriage is the most important relationship in their life (or it should be).
While I can see this being true, I definitely now feel like one's marriage shouldn't be the most important thing in their life. I feel like my biggest mistake in life was looking at my marriage as my crowning achievement. I used to talk with such pride about how beautiful and 'special' I felt my marriage was. That just seems pathetic and cringey now. I invested way too much of my emotional life into my wife and my marriage, when I should have been building my own independent life up instead.
How can we not get depressed when that person is no longer interested in meeting needs that ONLY they should meet? If we turn to others to meet our needs for affection, intimate conversation, sex, and companionship, we're being unfaithful.
Well, you won't see any argument from me on this, lol. This has been my struggle, the question I've been trying to answer, ever since it all fell apart. You and I certainly seem to be in the minority with this question, as I haven't found much support for this view.
I think you'd find a lot of help in Marriage Builders. His Needs, Her Needs covers this.
I read the PDF, and I have to say that he does seem to be striking to the heart of the matter. He is addressing the issue I've had with a lot of relationship books since the beginning - if the 'love', or the feelings of being 'in love' aren't there, how much can really be accomplished in 'doing' more (communicating, problem solving, speaking 'love languages', etc) when what is being done isn't motivated by feelings of love?
Your wife does not want to do this because she's not in love with you. You think that is all your fault. It's not.
Well, it's tough, because my wife won't ever say that she isn't in love with me, and it hurts her to hear that I'm not feeling in love with her. She claims that she still loves me, but that our relationship is fundamentally different now, and I need to accept the new reality. It's not about me, it's not even about 'us' anymore - it's about our son (primarily), our careers, our living situation, etc. She is very goal oriented, so she tends to focus her main energies on achieving goals in life.
You said a while back that your wife just wants you to be happy. If this is true, and the only issue she has with the marriage, then why won't she meet your needs?
She wants me to find something that makes me happy besides her and our marriage. She wants to see me have my own goals. Like doing more projects for the family, for example, or finding a new career that I can focus my energies on. I think she very much wants me to be more independent, though I also have a feeling that it really isn't a carte blanche to do whatever I want. Anything that doesn't make a direct contribution to the family gets looked at skeptically and critically (which, of course, includes my 'obsession' with reading marriage books and even participating in online conversations like this one).
She also thinks that my 'needs' are unrealistic, unreasonable and exhausting, the result of my being narcissistically-inclined and emotionally unhealthy/dependent. She wishes I'd stop thinking about how I feel - especially about her and our marriage - and just focus on the practicalities of life. I wish I could do that more, too.
I think you might need to investigate an EA. To many, sexting is enough evidence of an EA. Have you considered that?
Not to worry - I've always had an eye out for that. To be honest, for a long time I was almost hoping to discover that sort of thing, as it would provide some easy answers and would help me make sense of what happened (as well as letting me off the hook for our marital problems).
But the thing is - an EA just doesn't fit her MO. Not because she is some girl scout/saint who 'would never do that sort of thing' (though I do think she does place a great deal of importance on integrity - part of why I got so upset with her deleting the texts), but because she's not one inclined to indulge in such 'touchy-feely' stuff, and she doesn't 'catch feelz' much, if at all.
She doesn't like to talk about feelings, and she rarely, if ever, 'opens up' to anyone emotionally (including me), even her girlfriends. I would say that she has a fraught relationship with intimacy, and too much 'intimate talk' can make her uncomfortable. While she is very sociable, and everyone loves her (like, moreso than any other person I know), she keeps herself at a distance from almost everyone except her family (she is very close with her family, and puts most of her social energy there). Her socializing is pretty much limited to the women she works with and other mothers. It's really not in her to develop close, intimate friendships (her closest friend lives in a nearby city, and they only see each other once or twice a year).
If anything, I would suspect a PA before I would suspect an EA, and there is even less evidence of/justification for a PA (though you never know, of course).
Are you sure they're no longer in contact?
As sure as I can be (and my eyes are open). But the thing is, even the 'contact' they did/do have is a once-in-a-blue-moon sort of thing, so it's hardly a significant part of her life, and I wouldn't expect there to be another contact again for several months. The last contact they had was last summer, and there was no further contact until a couple weeks ago (contact which involved about 20 texts back and forth).
I'm concerned that you are not willing to tell your wife to end all contact with the guy she was sexting with, but simply to stop with the sexting.
Well, again, their contact has mostly been the occasional sext, and it's been very intermittent (eight months between contacts this last time). I feel like there is already almost no contact to speak of, so I haven't made a bigger deal about no contact (instead, the big deal is her reaction to it when it did happen this last time).
As far as I can tell (and I've looked), these bi-annual one-offs are the only contact of that type she has with *anyone*.
If that's the case, she might have feelings for this guy that she is not telling you about (most don't) and that could also be another BIG issue affecting your marriage.
She might. It's highly unlikely, knowing her, him, the nature of their contact/relationship, and her expressed feelings about him, but you can never know for sure what is in someone else's head.
Additionally, the text exchanges have the emotional depth of your average porn video, so if she does have feelings (besides the desire to feel desired), they aren't being shared in the texts (or anywhere else, for that matter).
Again, if she were having an affair - EA or PA - our friend is a very unlikely candidate for an AP. I feel confident that, if her energy is going to someone else, it's not him.
Now, the fact that she did what she did does introduce an element of doubt as to what *else* she might be capable of doing, but there just aren't any red flags that I can find, other than trouble in our marriage (which she tends to see as a result of my unhappiness, not hers).