My wife of 9+ years and I are recently separated. Before we got together, we had been very close friends for 4 years. The friendship was a great foundation for our relationship, and after we began dating, falling in love seemed easy and natural. The first 6 years of marriage were very happy, and we had 4 wonderful children. The last 3 years of our marriage were not the greatest due to my struggles with alcoholism and job loss due to it. She freely admits, that drinking aside, I was a great husband and father. My alcoholism never led to abuse of any kind (verbal, mental, or physical), but made me unmotivated, complacent and I really let myself go. I ignored her tearful pleas to get help and chalked it up to nagging, which hurt her and made her feel resentful. Over that time, she began to build up walls, and began to detach from me emotionally and our friendship and intimacy really began to suffer. I covered the guilt I was feeling by doting on her to make her feel extra loved, if that makes sense. Jan 12 2011 was the last "falling off of the wagon" episode. After being confronted about my drinking, with me actually coming clean this time, my wife said she wasn't sure she wanted to be married anymore and needed to "sort her feelings". She told me the clasic line, "I love you but I am no longer 'in love' with you." I was devastated, but understood, since I was constantly lying to her and myself about my alcohol problem and getting defensive when she broached the subject. I had consistantly rebuffed her love and concern, and had taken it for granted, and now it had come back to bite me. This announcement was a huge wake up call, and I immediately decided to go to AA and turn my life around, and have set about doing so nicely, if I do say so myself.
On February 13th (while she was still 'sorting out her feelings') she began a 5 day emoytional affair with a friend's husband (they too were having marriage difficulties.....kindred spirits, if you will) that resulted in a sexual rendevous at a cheap hotel on Feb 17 2011. Two days into the EA (later physical affair), she justified her actions to herself by informing me that I needed to "move on" and she wanted no part of reconciliation or counseling. Despite my pleas, she was steadfast that she wanted a divorce. I discovered the affair at 1 am on Feb 18 2011 (12 hours after the rendevous) by catching the enormous amount of texts to an unknown number while paying my cell phone bill online (we have a family share plan). It left her humiliated and shamed (we ran in a small circle of friends) and my wife was left isolated, for her friend's rightfully painted her as a double-homewrecker. It took her a week and a half to completely come clean, at first swearing it was simply an EA. Every story she gave had holes in it, and knowing my wife as well as I did, I saw right through them, and daily gave her a little more rope in which to hang herself. Feb 27 2011 she finally admitted to having sex twice on the afternoon of the 17th, but still gave me trickle truth. I finally got total truth on March 1st, after still seeing holes in what she was saying, and pressuring her to come clean. After total truth, (for I was the one was demanding a divorce this time), she begged for forgiveness and exploring a chance to save the marriage . She decided to seek personal and marriage counseling, and now says that although she is no longer "in love with me", she wants to work the process to see if the love comes back. She realizes that I love her, am now serious about my sobriety (for if I had a good excuse to drink, the A would have been a hell'uva one) and she doesn't want to regret how we end or put the children through a divorce if it can be avoided.
She realized quickly from the experience (seeking comfort from someone who claimed to be able to relate and understand, but who showed in her words that "all he wanted was a piece of ass") that the grass wasn't any greener, and that working on the marriage was in her best interest, as well as mine and the children. She refuses to use any excuses for the affair, and seems to take full responsibility and show genuine remorse for her actions. Therefore I must also recognise that it was my alcoholism and 3 years of rebuff for her tearful concern for me, that led to her detachment. She did love me, and begged me to get help, but I realize now that I took her for granted and blew her off as "the nagging wife". She could only be hurt so long before she had to pull her heart out of the situation. This is the shame that I must carry.
We stayed together for another 3 weeks, before the fighting got too intense. I was never the jealous type before, but now I found myself questioning every move, and constantly going through her emails, computer history, and texts. I was constantly questioning her regarding her feelings for me, as if they would change in a matter of a few hours time. I gave her no privacy, and not one second to 'breathe'. We decided to separate due to her "feeling like she is living in a fish bowl", and my inability to live with a wife who now treated me like a roommate who she was 'tolerating', and drove home the point by having the affair. She says she will never find me in her heart again while she is feeling smothered, and I agree. Noone is attracted to someone who is acting more like an insecure doormat than a confident husband. I needed to find 'me' again, and so did she.
We are now in the midst of our third week of separation. I am away from home during the week, but stay there to spend time with the children on the weekend, while she stays with family while I am home. We have been to 3 marital counseling sessions, and have each been to a couple of personal therapy sessions as well. The first week out, she pretty much acted as I didn't exist, and we still fought (over the phone, this time) when we were in contact. My wife and I got along much better the second week, thanks to IC, MC, and the space apart. I am reconnecting with old friends who were left on the "back burner" while I became more and more wrapped up in my alcoholism and my family. I am sober now (thank God), going to AA, working out, losing weight, and kicking some serious ass in my job. I feel much better not constantly interacting with the person who used to love me more than anything, but now seems to have lost any and all connection with me. I have decided it is okay to forgive, for deep down I believe that she is a really good person who made some really bad choices during a confusing time that my alcoholism and my constant rebuff for her love and concern had thrust upon her. I in no way condone what she did, but I do understand how my ignoring her tearful pleas led her to seek a fulfillment with someone else who seemed to show genuine concern and was saying and doing 'all the right things'. I am taking the stance that if she can't find that love again, that's her loss, but I am determined to be fine either way; either happily married or amicably divorced.
My wife is now free of the pressure of my constant questions regarding her feelings of love for me and the constant analysis I was putting her through regarding the affair. She now has the space to miss me, and to truly examine her feelings without me putting negative pressure on her. She is ever so slowly showing signs of moving in the right direction, by initiating unnecessary contact, constantly referring positively to our marriage publicly on FB, 'liking and commenting on almost all of my FB posts (no matter how inane). We are even beginning to 'date' again, with the first one going really well. She is even beginning to slip and refer to 'us' in a future sense during routine conversations. Whether she realizes this or not, I am not sure, for she still says she doesn't love me the way she did or should nor does she really miss me yet. Therefore I am not going to point out any of these slips of the tongue just yet. I had already made the mistake of asking her this weekend the questions "Are you feeling closer? Are you missing me at all?" (I know, I know, huge mistake, right) Her response took me a bit aback. "No, sorry. Can't say that I am." Well, I just can't help myself, and point out the signs of her having a change of attitude at least, if not a change of heart (her unnecessary phone calls basically to see how I am or what I'm up to. Her recent 'stalking' me on FB. Her asking me out on a 'date'. Her wanting to have a family dinner, etc., etc.) She responded with "Well you need to quit asking questions and just go with it. These questions just put pressure on me and push me away. Actions speak louder than words." Needless to say the rest of our brief time together (I was leaving from visiting the kids this weekend while she was returning from her family's place) and the rest of the "family dinner" was far more uncomfortable, and she seemed very distant, unlike she has been during rather pleasant and comfortable conversations we had over the last week. Lesson learned. Yesterday seemed better with her texting me a few times, even texting me 'goodnight!
)' out of the blue (a first).
For the first time since the second week of January, she expressed the sentiment "I want to want you again" and "I want us to be happy again", and "I am really trying to find those old feelings". This may sound silly and trivial, but it is a significant improvement from her earlier stance. Up until now, she has made it clear that it was her head telling her that saving the marriage was the right thing, but she didn't think her heart was in it. She felt obliged to try, at least. Now she says that it is her heart that is wanting us to be happy again, and it longs to find me again.
I am completely new to all of this, and some of you may be able to help. Being separated from the my children and my wife, whom I still love completely is heartbreaking. Many times during the course of a day I go from beaing strong in my resolve to do whatever it takes to make it work, to wanting to say "To hell with it all" and move on. I am trying to at least fake it until I make it. I guess I am asking this. Has anyone experienced anything similar and successfully reconciled their marriage? Do we have hope? I am terribly sorry for the length of the post, but it felt theraputic to get it all out. Any and all advice is much appreciated.