This could end up being a very long post, so I apologize in advance. In short, I feel that my marriage is doomed. We are coming up on 19 years of a mostly good marriage. The issues that I see that are contributing to the inevitable demise of my marriage are as follows. -My wife's low self esteem/poor self image. She has been this way since we met. I will admit, she has made progress some since then. When we first met, she wouldn't even order any food at a restaurant because it was too embarrassing to eat in front of me. It also took her several months before she would even eat with my family. She always has a worry that people will be looking at her. Like I said earlier, she has come out of her shell some since then, I think having 3 kids kinda forces that on a person. She feels that she is fat and unattractive. She is 5'6" and 125 pounds...come on. She is a pretty woman. I have pretty much given up on trying to compliment her because the reply I get most of the time is, "yeah right". She obsesses about exercising. Don't get me wrong, I am all for staying in shape but this is another level. We were stuck in our hotel room during a hurricane in Mexico and there she was, doing crunches on the bed. She hates her hair, belly, legs, butt, etc. She does have a slight pooch on her belly, but she is 42, has had 3 kids and is in great shape. The belly region is a favorite of mine and I often try to touch or kiss her there and consistently get pushed away. After 12+ years of being a stay at home mom, she started back to school (with much prodding) to get back into the workforce a couple of years ago. I felt this might help her self esteem with a sense of accomplishment and I was struggling to provide for a family of 5 with a single income. Turns out, this has not gone as planned either. Obviously there were going to be some struggles since it was 20+ years since high school. However, whenever she struggled with a subject, she would get very upset start yelling and proclaiming that she was just too dumb to do this. Now as bad as this was for me to see my wife act like this, the biggest frustration is that she is the biggest influence on our kids and they are taking on some of her issues. All three have proclaimed that they are too dumb to learn certain things, even though two of them are in honors classes. THIS PISSES ME OFF. My oldest (14) daughter has already started to think she is fat. She is 5'9" 120lbs. Not an ounce of fat on her. Just like my wife, compliments are cast aside. My wife is truly a kind person, if she would only be as kind to herself. -Pathetic sex life. I know this is a common problem. I know after many years of marriage that this can happen. It just seems that sex isn't just the lowest on the list of important items of my wife's life, it isn't on the list at all. 99% of the time we have sex, it's a 'let's just get this done so you won't be upset' sex. It just seems like a chore or an obligation for her. I don't want sex that way. I did used to get pretty upset about it but figured it did no good and possibly made things worse so I have pretty much just conceded to the lack of sex. The best sex we have (rarely) is when both of us want it. Usually, the only time we have good, passionate sex is when we stay overnight somewhere or she is drunk and lets go of her inhibitions. Beggars can't be choosey so I won't get into the boringness and sterility of the sex. -Affection. No I am not just talking about sex. I love being touched, caressed, etc. Hell, I have gone to the same salon for 10+ years because of the shampoo/scalp massage. My wife is not affectionate whatsoever. I would scratch her back, caress her arms, etc. Very rarely if ever reciprocated. -Religion. This is a huge one. My wife is a devout evangelical Christian, and let's just say that I am not. When our relationship started to get serious and we were talking about long term plans, I asked her if she was absolutely sure about this because I would most likely not change my views. She said it was too late and that she was in love. There are too many times where my middle daughter (11) breaks down crying because daddy doesn't believe the same way we do and he is going to hell. I tried to have a conversation with the kids about different points of view and why some people think different ways and why some people have a hard time believing the same way they do. I was not trying to change their thoughts or beliefs, just show them other points of view. My oldest somewhat understood but the youngest lost it, again. Let's just say that my wife was not happy about this.
This is probably partially due to my wife being a stay at home mom while I went to work all the time, but I feel like a third (fifth) wheel in my own house alot of the time. Differences in beliefs is a big part of it as well. I get ridiculed and belittled which is much harder when it comes from your family. My wife would much prefer to spend 'quality' time with the kids than her husband.
I have a hard time talking with my wife about things like this. She ends up internalizing things and taking them way too personally. I feel like I am walking around on eggshells in my own house.
I have (am) seriously considered(ing) divorce. However, I do not want to leave my kids at this age, youngest is 9. I can't imagine a scenario where I could present it as a mutually beneficial thing. I think my wife deserves to grow old with someone who shares the same beliefs as her. I love my wife, but I just don't see how a long term future can come to pass.
She has a fragile enough self image and I just fear that asking for a divorce, even a ways into the future, would crush her and I don't want to do that. I have even thought, "what if I had an affair, then she would want to leave me". At least at this point, I just don't think that I could do that. To her or the kids. Not to mention all of our family.
I just don't know what to do. Sometimes I wonder if someone could just whack me over the head and I would wake up 're-born' with zero libido.
Honestly, I really have no one to talk to about this. I would be ostracized from the family (hers and mine) if I went to any of them, and it would most likely get back to her anyway.
I don't know what I hope to accomplish by posting this. Maybe it's just therapeutic to put my feelings into words...
Thanks for reading
I think you have to get the religious thing settled first. For some reason those who believe like your wife seem always to get the kids on their side. Religion has a kind of feeling of belonging which people need. You may think your kids 'need' you but they dont seem to be showing it. Are you really sure theyre better off with you than without.
Then you have to give your wife some type of ultimatum.
I see it this way.... if you were to get divorced, the kids might be better off. Then you will have your time with them, separate from wife.... and they will learn to SEE the differences and different views. I don't think they will be able to see this while you are married, until they grow up and go to college or out on their own, and see how different other people are.
My point is, divorce might not be so detrimental to them as you think.
I THINK you should see a counselor, and maybe visit a children's psychologist to see what would be the best way to approach the kids, whether you stay or go....
I think the ball whether to stay or get a divorce will be totally in your court, with everything (negative) that comes with that, such as being the bad guy for leaving, or breaking up this happy family, or how you would be different, if you only saw the light....
I work with someone deeply devoted to their faith, but it's a very regimented, rule-based faith that gives little wiggle room for human, looking for the right word here, interaction? Things have to be exactly a certain way. Even though it's the workplace, things spill over, and there are the occasional lectures I get to hear for not going to church, and I pick up on the distrust for not being a person of faith. I am just mentioning this here, because your story reminded me of that. Now, that person at work is married to a like-minded spouse, so things work out for them and their children. But much like I am an eyesore to my coworker because I don't live in the same box as they, I can imagine you experience the same at home, in a more pronounced way.
From what I gather, compromise is a one-way street in your home. I think over time, you will arrive at a conclusion, and follow through.
Having said that, your wife appears stuck in a very unhappy place, being unhappy without knowing it any better. True faith is not about rules and reglementations. Only those who don't know any better will follow them blindly, a clergy person once told me. Do you have a good pastor in town that could help you guys out? That is about the only way I can see getting access to your wife, other than making her drunk.
As someone who stayed for the kids for a long time, I do not recommend it. There are plenty of valid concerns and reasons to stay for them. But there are an equal number of significant reasons not to.
Your marriage is about you and your wife, not about your kids. Your relationship with your kids is distinct. You will have that relationship whether or not you are married. With all the differences you have with your wife, the quality of the household general atmosphere is going to be poor.
If you take divorce off the table you will give up all of your ability and power to make any positive changes in your marriage. You will give in on the little things because you don't want to make a big deal out of them. The big things you will give in on because the Prime Directive is to avoid divorce at all costs.
So the resentments will build. Your wife will detect that you have no real boundaries and you will not stand up for yourself. She won't really know why, but she'll know. So she'll start pushing the limits to see where your boundaries are. But you're living by the Prime Directive, so there are no real boundaries!
See where this goes?
I see divorced dads around me who spend more time and higher quality time with their kids than many married dads.
Imho, kids are a tie breaker in the divorce decision. No more than that.
Oh yeah, on the bad sex life. Ask her what she thinks of 1 Corinthians 7. Go check out themarriagebed dot com and their forums. You'll have some interesting ammo for your discussion with her about 1C7.
Divorce will be extremely difficult, I would imagine. First of all, the wife is content enough to not want to rock the boat. She complained about going to school to get a job, so still unemployed, and last but not least, the kids, and the extended family. It will be a massive uphill battle that you would probably face alone. Make sure your social and emotional support network is in place, should that day ever come.
Trail separation is the best way forward if you don't want a divorce, it will make her get her act together. You also need to be much more assertive, it seems as if she's content with her needs accommodated to and you're just a second fiddle. You need to tell her outright that you're considering divorce because you're not feeling fulfilled in this marriage and living as room-mates isn't a viable option.
That is why the Bible says never to be unequally yoked in marriage, it creates conflict. We cant ask the wife to be a Corinthians wife to an unbeliever,I think you have to both have the same view on where that type of love comes from. And as a Christian I can see where your kids are scared,they are being raised in the belief that if you don't accept salvation's gift, you wont spend eternity with them. Be it right or wrong, if you agreed to your children being raised in the faith, then you should accept that. They may as grown ups want to explore other religions,at which time you can talk to them. Good luck.
Whatever you do, don't go into the decision making alone. This isn't a you decision. This is a decision you both need to make together. Don't have an affair! That's cowardly. If you have these concerns, bring them to your wife. She may not know you really feel this way. It bothers me a lot to see marriages that are on the brink of divorce when one party hasn't been invited to particpate in the discussion.
This is not to say you don't have valid concerns. I agree you have a few issues that may be an uphill battle. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. Perhaps that's the Christian in me speaking, but my faith tells me that all things are possible in God. Whether you agree with your wife's convictions doesn't matter as much as respecting them. Don't use her faith against her, but for her. Show her that you are willing to respect her faith by simply acknowledging that it's not wrong or something you could never consider believing. Even if you never come to believe the way she does, simply being open-minded will give you an opportunity to love your wife in a way that will make her feel valid to you. Ask about her faith. Ask why she believes. Don't debate it or attack it. Just try to understand it. From a Christian, this is a most loving gift to be received. It opens communication. Don't consider yourself a liar or a fraud by asking her. You are asking what makes your wife feel whole, and that is something that SHOULD matter to you. A lot of good can come from that.
Your wife sounds like she either has an eating disorder or at the very least, is recovering from one. Perhaps reading up on the mind of someone that is going through or has gone through that would be helpful. When I was a teenager, I was sexually abused. I dealt with it by running obsessively and eating little more than diet pills. Your wife is somehow using her discipline with exercise and not eating as a way to keep herself from dealing with something else entirely. A friend of mine was/is a severe bulimic. She was trying to deal with her father admitting he was gay when she was about 12 years old and divorcing her mom to live with his partner. That was a traumatic event for her and she, 20 yrs later, is still trying to control the trauma by being a bulimic. There is nothing that can be said or done to change her mind. She has to allow herself to heal, but first she has to recognize what she needs to heal from.
As far as sex goes, most likely, your wife is afraid of disappointing you or not being able to meet your expectations. The less she allows herself to experiment with growing with you sexually, the more she protects herself from being hurt in case you weren't impressed. I say this from experience. I spent a majority of our marriage holding back not as punishment, but in fear that I would be seen differently by my husband. It was a fear that I had to work out and still work on. But it took time for me to feel okay with it. That stems from my sexual abuse. I battled with my emotions a lot on that issue. He never asked more of me or made me feel uncomfortable. He never made me feel inadequate. I took it upon myself to push the envelope and be more open sexually a little at a time. My husband showed me his appreciation and again, never made me feel it was owed to him. By doing that, I was able to learn that I could communicate sexually with him in a healthy way that still allowed me to feel safe and secure.
I would not walk away from your marriage. If you bring all of these things to your wife, along with working earnestly to show her you want to resolve these issues as a way to bring you closer to her, and she turns you away, THEN and only THEN can you believe you did everything you could to salvage your marriage.
Work on your marriage today. If it doesn't work out, then you can at least say you did everything you could before walking away. There will always be time for regret. Do what you can now before you get to the point that regret is your only option.