I feel your hurt. To invest a life in a marriage and be deprived of sex, needing to pay one's way out, and just live in hope (where little exists) is a tough, tough, tough job.
Keep on hanging on. Do what makes you happy. I don't think your life is as dysmal (though sometimes years of rejection and the deprivation of sex can make a male feel that way).
The only advantage of being in a marriage of this kind is that it sometimes makes you more creative. (When I've had great sex, it made me too much inward looking, partner-focussed and hardly creative.)
Several posters have called me out in John117's thread. To avoid threadjacking, I am creating this thread and will refrain from commenting on my situation on John's thread.
For the record, I am not looking to resolve my personal or marital problems. I have invested almost 20,000 posts on various marriage forums over the past 13+ years. I have tried everything I am interested in trying. At this point have given up hope of making major changes and am pursuing a different path and a different payoff.
This thread is intended to provide the backstory to those of you who do not know me form other forums so you will understand my background and perspective when I post on other threads.
Married 23 years next month. 2 kids - S20 and D18. Classic victim of bait and switch. Sex stopped literally the day we got married. No sex wedding night. Sex at first honeymoon hotel after which H2 announces "now it is consummated and you cannot get it annulled". No further sex during honeymoon (got turned down every night "too tired" etc) except last night when I had to beg. Should have filed for annulment upon airplane touching down back in USA. But I was foolish and believed in vows, better or worse, marriage involves work, etc. Stupid me.
Five years later we have 2 kids and go away for week's vacation. As with honeymoon, sex only 1 time and numerous turndowns. Including the night of our anniversary, after taking her to dinner in the same restaurant where I proposed, watching fireworks, then staying in fancy hotel. Upon return home, I insist on MC to address sexless marriage.
We spent 8 years in MC with various MCs and sex therapists. Not once did H2 do any of the "homework" assignments. Not once did H2 live up to agreements we made. Went on vacation several times during this period. No sex. One of the MCs even said to her "your H works hard to support you as a SAHM, I know you work hard caring for the kids but next week you are going to be away from home at a hotel along with your H with no responsibilities, don't you think that maybe you could have some sex with him on vacation?" You guessed it, no sex on vacation either.
2 years into MC H2 admitted she had been raped multiple times. She maintains that the rapes have no impact on her sexuality and gets violently angry if I suggest perhaps they do. Shortly after disclosing the rapes, H2 spent all our savings and ran up huge credit card debt. That was a decade ago and we are still not recovered from the financial devastation.
Ten years ago our last MC "fired" us saying "if you are not going to make any changes, then you are wasting your time and mine talking to me. I can't keep stealing your money."
D18 leaves for college in the fall. Many would say now is the time to divorce. I have no interest in doing so.
I was unhappy as a single person before marriage. Not very successful with females. Hence my susceptibility to H2's allure. And my skepticism as to whether a happy life would await me after divorce. I was unhappy when I was young and had much potential workwise (professionally, I have not lived up to my academic accomplishments) and could offer the prospect of raising children together. I cannot envision being anything but unhappy now that I am older and relatively unsuccessful and no longer have "I will be a great dad to your kids" as a selling point. I never had friends. I never did much but come home to my apartment and watch tv / play computer games. No point in divorcing for that, I can do that while married to H2.
The bottom line is that I am clinically depressed if not a full blown personality disorder. The work needed to overcome that is more than I am willing to invest. Then there is the impotence, much of which is caused by my lack of exercise and my unhealthy diet. I have been in therapy and took A-D meds on and off since age 17. Never made any difference in my mood or outlook. I did exercise for a time. Ran a half marathon. Dismal results and hated every minute of training. I did a course of P90X. Got in good shape. Did not feel any better and made no difference to H2.
To get to "happiness" I would need to invest time and money (which, with 2 kids in college, I have none of) to work on myself physically and mentally. Major therapy. Maybe ECT. Change diet. Exercise more. All in the hope that it might make a difference and that I could become someone I have never been. Non-depressed.
I have been depressed as long as I can remember. Back to nursery school. The concept that if I worked hard enough and invested enough effort I could overcome the depression seems impossible to me.
What I know is that divorce blows up my world. Kids take a hit. I take a huge financial hit (in my state 20+ year marriages lead to permanent alimony). I can't afford to retire ever as it is. How will I make ends meet on half of "not enough"? You are going to try to convince me I will meet some wonderful woman who is financially comfortable and wants to take me on as a reclamation project? Really? So what is "for sure" is that there are huge practical and financial and emotional downsides. All in the hope of a better future? It doesn't even come close to balancing.
Of course, it would balance if you assigned a large negative value to living unhappy and depressed. I do not. This is how I have lived my whole life. I don't know anything else. So to me, this is not negative. This is baseline. This is how life is.
You might feel compelled to entice me with fantasy stories about how I can learn to be happy. H2 enticed me with those same stories. Look how that turned out. I am not gong to be fooled twice.