I have never been on a forum but I just feel lost and alone. I don't want to go to my doctor to get a referral to speak with a Therapist but I do need to communicate my feelings and I am hoping that I can receive guidance and wisdom from others.
My husband of 21 years has left our home. He has moved into a friends home and I am here with my two daughters. He has only been gone a week, but I have so much conflicting emotion that it is so raw and so hard to manage each day. I have had to take time off work some days as I am struggling so much to just be myself and be there for my children. Seeing him come to the house to see them is so painful and hard, but I want to make sure that they see their dad and he can see them whenever he needs.
He has said that he feels like there is this cancer that has infected every part of our life, our marriage and our happiness. That he needs to look after himself, so that he can look after our daughters and me. He said he still loves me and always will, but this thing has made it too much to bear. That it is stronger and influences him more every day than the love he feels for me.
I understand why he felt he had to leave, but it doesn't hurt any less to feel abandoned and no longer worthy of his love. That he had to leave to have space and to find himself hurts me so deeply. I know I have done things to create this situation, but I also know that I would do anything to get it back.
I just feel scared and alone and pathetic, because I don't know if I'm holding onto something that I can never have again. I'm not ready to let go. I just don't know what to do?
For many years now we have struggled with disconnection and felt like we were drifting further apart. Like our marriage was hard work. I know that marriage is work. It is not some fairy tale thing in movies that people convince themselves exist. I know now that it requires conscious tending and love and nurturing and support to succeed. I know that I failed to do this throughout our marriage and this is why I am at this point in my life. I am not a great communicator. I cry easily. I was shy growing up and have this fear of failing people and being judged. My mum wasn't a talker and she compromised a lot, but she didn't have the extra stress of working full-time and trying to save for a home and trying to be everything for everyone all the time because society expects that from you.
I have given so much of myself and now I am left with nothing but a broken heart and home that I don't know can be repaired.
We have pushed each other away time and time again. We had our children, both worked full-time, I lost my mother to cancer at the same time my husband started full time study, we move all the time due to his work and his desire to self-improve through his career. I have had to change jobs every 2-3 years not out of choice but requirement. His career changes, our grief and stressors lead him to develop an auto-immune illness that went undiagnosed for years. The side effects were depression and anger and it impacted on all of us in a negative way, and, only contributed to the degradation of our relationship further. I was afraid to say anything because I didn't want to upset him, but I let my frustration manifest itself in unproductive ways.
When I was feeling stressed or angry or sad I would feel an increased need for control. I gained this through cleaning and having order in my home. It became such a negative influence on me and everyone around me that it just created a cycle of resentment. I felt like no-one cared about me and no-one helped me and they resented me for always obsessing about where things go and how things need to be kept. Because that is the only way I knew how to cope with the chaos. I punished him for 'making us move' and 'giving up my jobs and friends'. But I know that I made those choices and that wasn't his fault. I punished him because of my own negative feelings over feeling like our intimacy being replaced with his desire to better his life. That is how I felt anyway.
All of these stressors have caused an enormous erosion of our relationship and damaged our connection and intimacy over a long time. My husband is a great communicator, accept the last few years when he was sick (when he was dark and angry all the time). But I have always struggled with open communication. I have avoided these conversations, pretended that things have been okay and tried to continue to maintain normalcy. But I feel like this loss of control just manifested itself in other ways.
We have both sought comfort in the friendship of others, who only served to validate our emotions in a negative way. Not constructive at all. We shared with others and not each other. I felt flattered by the flirtatious attention of men I barely knew, instead of seeking this from my husband. I have never been unfaithful, but there have been times when I have wondered what my a relationship would be like with another man. Someone who didn't have sexual dysfunction issues.
This has been the main issue affecting our intimacy from the beginning of our marriage, but when we were young we had so much time for each other. It seemed less of a problem. I was also shy and didn't fully know my body and my needs. With self-awareness this has just made the situation worse over the years as I don't feel satisfied. I didn't want him to feel inadequate or set my expectations too high because I didn't want to be disappointed, so I just avoided intimacy. I didn't work with him to make it better. I always found something else to fill my life with, and it was just empty.
A few years ago when our intimacy was very low and I hated my job it felt like I was sleeping with a stranger in my bed. I wanted to be held, but at the same time I didn't want to be disappointed. It was so bad. My husband became friends with a woman at his work who was unhappy in her marriage. They started sending sexual based texts to each other, communicating what they wanted to do with each other. I found out as her husband saw them on her phone and told me. I never read them. I never wanted to see that and feel less than I already did. I forgave him, because in part I also blamed myself. In part it was my fault. We weren't giving each other what we truly needed from each other.
For the next year we were closer, but he was also doing a highly stressful course and working 6 days a week. The stress on him was terrible and I did everything I could to manage everything else. When he finished the course, he ended up in a toxic egocentric work environment and we moved to a place none of us wanted to be. Our daughter struggled to find her place and friends at school and developed panic attacks. His stress and years of not looking after his health lead to the development of an auto-immune disease. Every day he would come home and complain about how much he hated his life, and I resented him for it because we gave up a lot to support him to get there. It all became so bad and unravelled and none of us could see past our own feelings to fix it.
He has now been through treatment in the last 2 years and getting his health back on track through strict clean, organic living and psychological treatment. Through this he has changed how he views everything. He has changed as a person and I am glad that he is feeling better and more mindful of his actions and life. But he is still lost and cannot move past these deep-rooted issues we are having, like he can't be happy ever if he stays and this cancer just keeps eating at him.
I want to feel better about my own mind and place in this world, but I want that to be with him on this journey. I want to be more open and share my feelings and physical needs with him. I want intimacy and connection. I want to spend time together and not live my life in a fake world and social media for human connection. There is no connection at all. It is all superficial.
I don't want to talk about future living arrangements and co-parenting of our children and income support, because it is easier to cut something away than work on fixing it. I know that he doesn't want to cause himself and anyone else any more pain, but this is causing pain that will never leave my heart.
I guess I just want to know if I should give him the space, so that maybe he might see in time that our family is a wonderful thing. Will he recognise that we can learn and grow and support each other. Will he give me that opportunity or am I deluding myself. Is it too much to ask him to live apart, but live here? I want to be able to re-connect and not in a physical sense, but I don't feel like you can do that when someone is living in another home. Or, is it better to be apart and communicate our feelings via phone and email. So we don't hurt each other with our raw emotion. Then he could move back in without a full relationship when we've had some space.
I know this is a lot of information but I would really love to hear from people and how someone outside of this might see it. I am so close to it that it is hard to be impartial.
I'm really sorry you're going through this, but as others have stated, this is a great place for support.
What were his terms? Did he give any? You wrote that he said he still loves you but did he give any timeframe for how long he'll need to look after himself?
Is there a particular reason you don't want to see a therapist? From your post it's clear that you're carrying around a lot of resentment from when you two were together and now a lot of sadness, grief, anger etc. over the fact that he's left. This board is great, but a therapist will be able to help you unpack those feelings in real time, see your body language, tone in your voice and work with you to find solutions. In a basic sense, it's just nice to have someone to talk to about everything. While I'm so thankful for this site, it's no substitute for real human interaction as you yourself pointed out when referring to the fakeness of social media. Not saying this site isn't genuine, but it's a far safer and less emotionally charged medium than your actual life.
It's obviously not a good sign that you both were seeking the comfort of others during your relationship. A close friendship with someone is one thing, but sexting, flirting and all that is definitely a different animal. As Blue asked, are you absolutely sure there isn't another woman? I saw what you wrote about what he said, but it's almost 100% guaranteed that he's not going to be truthful with you about an affair right now if he's started one. If you share a phone plan, I'd say check the records for suspicious calls.
Another possibility is that his health has taken a turn for the worse and he's dealing with that and couldn't handle telling you at this time. Or yet another is a mid-life crisis.
It's only been a week so this is really raw. Just try to take it one day at a time and focus on how you can improve yourself and your happiness. That's going to be almost impossible for a while, but the quicker you start shifting gears to that mode the better off you'll be regardless of what happens with your husband.
Hope tomorrow is better than today.