Thanks Jess. I know we have our issues, we've both made mistakes and bad decisions, but it really does come down to our communication, it's horrible and it has been. As far as counseling, the counselor we had seen was focused on moving forward on our relationship as a whole and not bringing up past issues, which was what I liked about him. She still stands pretty firmly that she doesn't believe in counseling, even though she saw an IC years ago and said it did help. I think her problem is that she's been avoiding our problems for so long and as argued my points at every turn, that I think she doesn't want to go to counseling because she's afraid of being proven wrong. She's always been very strong minded and always likes things her way, and as much as I've always let her have her way on most things, the things I really disagree with always turn into an argument.
My biggest issue right now is getting her to open up and just talk about everything without her getting defensive and getting into an argument. That's one of the big reasons I haven't given up just yet. If I can just get her to open up, admit where she was wrong and just make an effort, I think we'll be ok. But she doesn't want to seem to do that.
Thanks for all your messages.
There have been a number of points that various members have made which are valid but I'd like to tackle this from a slightly different angle.
What you're going through is not easy. When a relationship is not experiencing true love and passion and there is poor communication, then it can be extremely painful and bring out the greatest fears within us.
Firstly I honour you for wanting to make an effort here to improve. Lots of guys walk out on this situation so your stickability is to be admired.
I think to help resolve your situation, it's important to get to the heart of what's real. The short of it is that, IMO, your partners needs weren't being met. In my work, i've never come across a couple where each partners needs were being met at high levels and then they still felt the need to cheat or engage in EA's.
So the first question you need to ask yourself if - what does she truly need? What is it that she's screaming out for?
Secondly, there has been mention of the difficulties you have faced communicating with her. The most important thing here is to ensure that an environment is created where she feels safe enough to vocalise her thoughts and emotions and feel truly understood. She needs to feel like you aren't going to get defensive or lose the plot if she was to speak her truth.
This is often the hardest part here because men, in general, really battle with criticism because it ultimately brings out their greatest fear that they aren't good enough. Hence, all the defensiveness which creates a cycle of communication that never serves either party. So in this situation, you need to drop any sort of defensiveness and come purely from your heart. Listen to the messages, the underlying messages and come from a place where you are serving her.
Thirdly - you mentioned that she changes her tune regularly which ultimately confuses you. This is just the nature of the feminine energy - it does go through peaks and troughs and its important for you to stay strong, constant and as her rock during all this time. Show her that you are prepared to fight tooth and nail for her if you truly love her.
Remember, love is about giving, not getting. As long as you are stuck in the mode of "she's not doing this, she's not doing that", then you playing the game at a very low level and you are setting the wrong foundations.
In my personal opinion, given the length of time you have been together and the fact that you have kids, you owe it to all parties involved to give everything you can for the next 60 days minimum. Serve from the heart, meet her needs in the way that she needs it and if at the end of that time, things aren't shifting, then you can choose to make plans for the future.
Hope that all makes sense.