How long is long enough: need advice - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-04-2016, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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How long is long enough: need advice

Brief history:
Married almost 20 years. 3 kids, 2 still at home. Separated for 15 months. Brought on by my wife's very severe mental breakdown (very very sad). She thought I was spying on her, involved in financial conspiracy, etc. Kids were very scared. She made me leave house. Kids 50-50. I was absolutely devastated.

We had been having long term marital discord over many issues: blended family, her depression and difficulty leaving the house, my emotional disconnect. What she didn't know was that I had several one night stands over the course of several years. After our separation I told her of my infidelity (all her other suspicions were totally untrue; I figured I would disclose the one true thing that ironically she didn't suspect. It was the right thing to do. I also thought that if she saw I was willing to disclose my worst secret, she would realize I would certainly be willing to disclose these other things if they were indeed true.)

Anyway, her untrue suspicions gradually cleared and her anger over my infidelity remained. BTW, she had an emotional affair about 5 years ago that she had never really owned (until recently) but was willing to end. Last summer, she saw several men, briefly. Since our separation, I have been absolutely faithful and intent on reconciliation.

As her mind cleared last summer, she gradually stopped believing the untrue things, we started seeing one another. For her it was about sex. For me I wanted reconciliation, but was willing to connect with her in any way she was willing. Last fall, she seemed more interested and around November we started therapy with a superb therapist. Now, six months into it. We both agreed to be monogamous while we are in therapy.

Therapy has been helpful, working through (slowly) longstanding issues. We have started and stopped and started again working through my infidelity, answering all that she wants to know. I have given her full access to my cell phone, computer, whatever whenever she wants. She has acknowledged the damage of her emotional affair, but contends that she was naive and had no idea of the intentions of the other man (it hadn't become sexual) and had no sexual interest. I would do anything to regain her trust and have really done anything she has wanted.

Now, we see each other, but only when she wants. She is trying to decide if she wants to remain married to me. And, she is in therapy of her own, trying to decide if she wants to be married at all. She is very private, would never give me access to her cell or computer like I give to her. Sometimes we spend the weekend together when the kids are with her, sometimes we don't. Sometimes we go out to concerts or to dinner, or on hikes. We are intimate when SHE wants. We do things as a family with the kids when she wants.

She feels like we are in limbo and I do too. Problem is, it is her decision. She doesn't trust me and doesn't want to forgive me. But, she is trusting in the therapeutic process and seeing where things go with us. I work FT. She gave up her job when we had kids, and doesn't want to go to work now.

I am resentful of continuing to support her through all this. She is in the family home, I am renting. She gardens, listens to music, relaxes, hikes during the day. I work, do our financial things, do chores around the house (I like to be around our home).

Question: How long can this go on? I am so hungry for getting my family back under one roof. I have done my own therapy (and continue to) and have really dealt with the roots of my infidelity. I am wanting to travel with my wife and family and live under one roof. I love going to bed and waking up next to my wife. But, I am tired of always having an overnight bag in case she is in the mood for me to stay over. I am tired of being married to someone who is so ambivalent. She has said "I love you" twice since our separation. She has moods that are very huge. You may ask if she has a mental illness and yes, she has lots of depression and some anxiety.

I feel I am willing to endure almost anything. We do have forward progress. And the therapist acknowledges that until she works through her ambivalence, there is no "US". Until she regains trust (which is not certain), there is no "US."

How long? Do I make an ultimatum with time? (If I do she will say, "If you need an answer now, then you should just leave because I can't give you one. Do I remove my ring (we both took our off at separation but I put mine back on when we started therapy together). Do I stop having sex with her and sleeping over (of course, I love her and love her intimacy. I am not sure who would be hurt more. She definitely does "alone" far better than me).

I want to be married to someone who WANTS me, who takes me with my my warts and all, someone with whom I can dream, not just rehash and resent.

So many questions. So much fatigue, love, and hopelessness (ironically despite her insistence that she is still "in" and trying.)


Suggestions?

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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-04-2016, 04:00 PM
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Re: How long is long enough: need advice

Well, you want your family back. She is not capable of this yet. Can you move in and sleep in separate rooms? What about the kids. How long are they there? She doesn't have issues with the kids, just you? She doesn't kick the kids out of her life just you?

Good things come to those who wait...greater things come to those who get off their a$$ and do anything to make it happen.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-04-2016, 10:27 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How long is long enough: need advice

You know, I have suggested the separate bedrooms. No traction there. She wants her "space" to figure things out and me being around the house would create too much distress. You see, she isn't sure she wants marriage and may want to be on her own. She met her first husband before high school, and went immediately from him to me. Now, is trying to find out "who she is" and "what she wants" as an individual, rather than as a married woman. And, that may turn out that she wants to be married to me, it seems. But, she has in internal battle going on in her mind. Part of it is lack of trust. Part of it is disgust with my infidelity and her difficulty with forgiveness. And part of it is wanting her family back too.

Kids are rolling with it, but not happy with her lack of emotional availability to them. They are in high school They spend 50% of time at each home. We are each very flexible with the kids' schedule. You asked if she kicked the kids out of her life. Well, they are now with her half time, and she seems to be very frustrated with them when they are there. If it wasn't evident from my earlier post, she has been very depressed, chronically, and also is someone who feels like she has been victimized by life. She has a hard time taking initiative and personal responsibility. In some ways, this separation is about her finding her voice.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-05-2016, 02:48 AM
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Re: How long is long enough: need advice

How did her first marriage end?

Why prompted you to cheat on her, and repeatedly? (I know the answer, by the way, but would like to hear your version.)

You mentioned a blended family, so I'll assume that you were married previously as well --

How did your first marriage end?

Did you cheat on your first wife? If so, was your current wide aware of that when she married you?

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Virginia: "Why can't you kids leave well enough alone? Everything was fine until you started digging around."

Burt: "You sound like a Scooby Doo villain."

Last edited by GusPolinski; 06-05-2016 at 02:58 AM.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-05-2016, 04:30 AM
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Re: How long is long enough: need advice

I would suggest that you both need to be in IC; her to be able to try to get over her obvious problem!

And you, as well, to help you make the determination of whether or not your incessant waiting on her is really worth it or not!

Please excuse my frankness here, but somebody needs to make the decision to either "crap or get off of the pot!"

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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-05-2016, 04:50 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How long is long enough: need advice

Gus:

We were both in unhappy marriages. We had an affair with one another and this ended our first marriages. We both realize that this was a horrible mistake (to not end our marriages before becoming intimate with one another). Please believe me when I say that we have both beaten ourselves up terribly over this.

You ask why I was unfaithful. Well, it is not simple. But I will try to explain: first, we had become very emotionally and physically distant. I was craving physical touch and sought it elsewhere. I never fell out of love with my wife. I absolutely did not want to become emotionally involved with someone else, so I paid "escorts" for the illusion of intimacy.The deeper reason goes back to emotional abandonment when I was very very young and I had never recognized that for what it was. (That is called a severe case of denial). So, I had the pattern of terrible distress when I felt abandoned as an adult and was desperate to get that physical touch. A repetition of an infantile pattern.

And finally, Gus, I had done the same thing with my first wife and yes, my current wife was fully aware. She feels foolish now for marrying me while knowing that. But truly, I just hadn't ever put all this together and understood my pattern. And, you may be wondering if I have looked at other reasons. For example, am I morally void. I truly don't think so. Nothing apart from this infidelity points to it. Am I an addict? Again, I have explored that and for many reasons, it doesn't fit at all. I have looked at all this very in depth in therapy.

And, to answer NotMyRealName4:

Yes, she is in therapy. No, she is off medications. She had been on them for over a decade and frankly, I don't see that they made any difference. In fact, after she had her more severe breakdown, she stopped her meds. She became terribly delusional at the time and of course had NO insight. Thankfully, this slowly cleared. Her depression seemed to clear up too, but I think that was just her putting on happy face and getting disinhibited by drinking.

Yes, I guess living on my own gives me more opportunity to be unfaithful again. But, that is actually not anything I want. I truly have understood why I was unfaithful and do not want that in my life. A bigger risk is just the fatigue I have (hence my original post) and just getting worn down, physically, emotionally, as a Dad and at my job. My life has been hellish. And actually, a part of me feels as if I deserve every bit of it. But another part of me recognizes that my mistakes were human, that I can now live a sincere life, and that actually both of us contributed to our marital problems. I have purposefully left out my wife's contributions to our problems. I see no point in putting any blame on her in this forum, but I know those issues need to be dealt with in our therapy. In reality, I am quite forgiving. I recognize her faults and forgive her and love her despite them (I just wish she could do the same).

And yes, she fully knows how much I care for her and the children and how much I want the return of my family. Sadly, she doesn't care. She is more focused on what she wants and needs. She is angry and not letting go of it. Like I said, maybe she shouldn't. My infidelity was a cruel thing. And yet, I need to move past it and forward. AND, I realize that for her, it is not that easy and it eats at her still. So, I continue to try and find the strength to keep on loving her, despite her ambivalence and relatively frequent hatred. I keep thinking that with more loving and acceptance she will eventually see that we can have not just our old marriage back, but a much better marriage. It is just so difficult and long and lonely and sad. Yet, she is making real progress with moving forward, but also goes backward pretty frequently too. And, her progress is very slow.

I know I need to get more of a life of my own, not be so available to her, have her see me as a strong and desirable man, rather than someone willing to be there when she wants, stay away when she wants, etc. It seems kind of gamey to be "hard to get" when in reality, all I want is my marriage back. And, yeah, I know I need to do it for me. And I do. Fact is that I have always been a homebody and that is just who I am.
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-05-2016, 04:58 AM Thread Starter
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Re: How long is long enough: need advice

Arbitrator: we are both in therapy. She hates her ambivalence and being in "limbo." And I actively am addressing the worth of the wait (and the way I beat myself up and feel undeserving).

I know that an ultimatum would be met with her telling me, "Well, if you need to leave, then that is what you need to do. I can't force the speed of the process." (And she would accuse me of bullying her). And, as I have read in other posts on other threads, sometimes the unfaithful partner needs to just continue to be there, continuing to love even when things seem bleak, until there is NO chance whatsoever.

But, I absolutely agree, some decision needs to be made. I find it so hard to turn away when there is some hope though.
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-05-2016, 11:58 AM
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Re: How long is long enough: need advice

JFC.

You're a f*cking mess. Hell, both of you are.

Ask yourself this question, and be honest...

To what degree do you feel that your desire to reconcile stems from an even more intense desire to NOT have two marriages (or, actually, three) collapse under the weight of infidelity?

Oh, and BTW...?

She's likely seeing someone else.

Virginia: "Why can't you kids leave well enough alone? Everything was fine until you started digging around."

Burt: "You sound like a Scooby Doo villain."
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 06-05-2016, 04:27 PM Thread Starter
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Re: How long is long enough: need advice

Is your definition of a f***ing mess: working like hell to save a marriage (me) and deal with what may be a "midlife crisis of identity" (my wife). I have tried to be brutally honest in this post. In reality, I am holding on to my job as a respected professional in my community, and helping my kids grow up and deal with this s***ty situation. I have watched my wife get delusional, come out of it, be with other men when she felt certain we were done, and then watched as she has taken scary and tentative steps toward me and tried to work through her stuff.

To answer your question:
"To what degree do you feel that your desire to reconcile stems from an even more intense desire to NOT have
two marriages (or, actually, three) collapse under the weight of infidelity?

Yes, I have looked at that too. That is certainly a component. I don't want my marriage to collapse for any reason. My marriage/wife has many flaws and many positive attributes. I truly believe that it can be better than ever if we work through this and "choose" to make it work. Much as i'd like to, I can't make her choose this. It needs to come from her. And yet, my fatigue wears thin at times. So, the largest factor is my love for her and my commitment. And yes, I feel that if we work things out, then that means I have saved my marriage. Perhaps the reconciliation is a way of cleansing myself. I don't think that is the primary factor. I care for my wife. I truly like "her." I don't like some of the things she has done (and she certainly doesn't like some of my actions either, of course).

And seeing someone else: Much of her depression stems from the anger and guilt of her affair with me. When she saw a few people last summer, she was "certain" we were headed toward divorce. I have a hard time imagining she is seeing someone else. If she was, why put herself through therapy, why date me and be seen in public with me, why have me over to the house for days in a row at times. Seems like I would have an occasional sign or suspicion. But there isn't any. And the kids would probably say something too.

On the other hand, I have wondered if there are any guys with whom she socializes that pique her interest; others who she compares me to and who she "wonders about."
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