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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I’m new to this whole thing, so please bear with me. This is probably going to be a whole lot longer than you are used to but I really need some help/advice. My husband tells me that I should talk to my friends about our issues, but I’m a very private person and just haven’t figured out how to tell my family and friends some of the things that are going on. So I’m hoping I can get it out here and maybe get some help. Let me first say that I do love my husband.

I’m 46 years old and my husband is 34. We’ve been married for a little over 5 years and together for almost 10 years. From the beginning I’ve known that we are different, but things always seemed to come together in the past. We met at work and our getting together broke every rule I’d ever had. At the time he was still married, but not happy. He had a young son, less than a year old. We got together kinda by chance. Without going into too many details, we ended up in a late night encounter, that again went against everything in me, but it was great and he really made me feel appreciated. No one was aware that we were together for nearly a year, but we really had fun. We worked only a few hours at the same time, so we spent a lot of time talking on the phone and I would hang out in the office after hours. We would meet at his place often for lunch which ended in making love. After a while I was getting concerned that it was just a sexual thing and he kept assuring me that it wasn’t. I was more than willing to going along, because I’ve never considered myself to be a really sexual person, but he made me feel wanted and desireable. I guess I need to mention that he did get a divorce shortly after we met. We got through all of the side issues and when he asked me to marry him – I was happy, shocked, surprised and happy. Its not that I didn’t think he would ask because we had talked about it some, but I just never really expected to get married. At my age and my situation, I was thrilled and excited. We had gone through a separation with him moving out of the state to accept a job for a few months, but when he moved back, it convinced me that I wanted him in my life. I think I was always that type of person when dating who thought “out of sight, out of mind”. With him, it was truly “absence makes the heart grow fonder”. After we got engaged, we found a house to rent and for about 5 months before the wedding, we “lived together” with me going home each morning to change clothes and go to work. We spent that time planning and setting up everything we needed for the house. He was supportive and helpful through the process, I guess I was really surprised with how involved he was. Let me go back, I have a small, but supportive family and a lot of friends he had a totally different upbringing from me, so while I expected him to sit on the sidelines and show up, he picked out china, went through with the scan gun for the registry and even created a wedding website with all the details and information for those who were interested.

So how did we get to where we are today? I’m not really sure. I guess for more background, he’s an ex-navy man – a neat freak. I on the other hand am a pack rat – I save everything. So I guess that brings me to one of our first issues. He tells me that he doesn’t like living in filth (I consider it messy, he obviously considers it filth). As he says, when he tells me these things I’ll tell him I’ll do better and for a few days it happens, but after a while I go back to form – a slob. He goes through the house picking up and stacking my things and I guess, not to be defensive, but being defensive, I’m running out space even though we built and moved into a new house almost three years ago. I’m sure if I force myself to purge, things would be better, but its difficult for me.
Second issue, I’ve lived in the same city for my entire life. My family has been here for years and I know lots and lots of people and they know me. He’s not from here and has a few friends, but everywhere we go, I can run into someone that I know. I’m also really involved in a couple of organizations that take up a lot of my time. Its something that I enjoy doing and I tell him that a part of the reason that I enjoy it is because its something that I know and I can excel at. When we go out and we see someone that I know, he tells me that I ignore him and talk too long and he feels left out. Its gotten to the point where I try to ignore people that I know because I don’t want to argue about it. When I introduce him to people, most of the time he acts bored and ready to move on after speaking and unfortunately, I try to have a “catch up” session and he gets resentful. I’m not trying to paint him as a bad person or even an overly jealous person, I’m just giving this from my perspective and I’m sure if he were telling it, things would be really different. He’s a good man, a good husband and a good person. We’re just different in our levels of sociability. He feels that I spend too much time on things other than him. I just do the things that I know. More on that later.

Okay, moving on, my job. I’ve been at the same company for almost 25 years. I’ve held a number of different positions within the company, but I’ve been there. Its not that I picked this job or company and said this is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but more along the lines of I’ll be here for 3-4 years and move on. Well, it seems like everytime I was thinking to move on, I changed jobs and stayed. I guess you could say I’m very good at staying where things are comfortable and even with the various job changes, I still knew what I was doing and stayed. Almost from the beginning he pointed out that I was being used and pushed around – I can’t argue that point, its been true. But when I’ve looked for other opportunities I’ve gotten no bites. Now I’m almost convinced that people don’t view me as a good prospect because I have been at the same place for so long. Our company was bought out 3 years ago, and he’s a very necessary part of the company and I guess in order to keep him happy, when they might have laid me off the new folks kept me to keep him. Sometimes I think it would have been better for me to be laid off to force the situation, but at the time we were finishing up building and closing on the house, so there was no way I wanted to be without a job at that point. Now he keeps telling me that I need to get out so that he can get out. If he leaves first, they’ll make my life a living hell. Well, honestly there’s a part of me thinks that my life at work is already a living hell. Anyway, in the last two years, he’s really been on my case about it. I’ve tried, but again I’ve gotten no responses. I’ve tried the internet opportunities, jobs listed in the newpapers and I’ve submitted to jobs at the local universities. So far nothing. He tells me I’m not trying hard enough, I’m sitting around feeling unwanted and unappreciated, both by my present employers and at the fact that no one seems to want to even give me an opportunity at another position. I’m feeling beat up by him because I’m still in the same company being shifted wherever they feel they need me and receiving no respect for it. Besides which, it seems that I’ve been slowly losing money over the years without me being aware of it. Believe me, I’ve tried to find another position on a number of occasions, but he doesn’t’ feel that I’m putting enough effort into it. If I put as much of myself into the job search as I do into my organizations, I’d have found something by now. Again, when I’m working in my organizations, people appreciate my efforts and I know what I’m doing without the major feelings of rejection.
Where to go next. Let’s tackle the family issues. I’m very close to my parents. We actually bought a house that is less than 5 miles from my parents. His mother lives less than a mile away and that doesn’t bother me. I enjoy being nearby if needed. Its funny, he’s been so supportive as I’ve gone through things with my family and I hope he feels that I’ve been there for him when things have come up. My mother even stayed with us for about a week when they had a break-in and she was uncomfortable staying at home. I thought he was fine with that, he said he was fine and I really believe that it wasn’t an issue. Last year I even ended up spending a lot of time out of town with my mother when her sister was dying of cancer and she wasn’t handling it well, so I traveled with her for visits and then had to deal with the eventual funeral arrangements. He kept encouraging me to go and support my mom and I did. Now for the downside. We only have one car, and while we work for the same company we still work different hours. I’m usually up and out of the house while he comes in about an hour and a half later. For a few years we were working at different locations, so riding together hasn’t been an option. We’ve been fortunate in that my mother pretty much lets me keep her car for my use. The down side to this is that I feel compelled to be available when my mother needs me to take her somewhere. My dad often carries her, but on occasion I need to pick her up or drop her off somewhere. The other side to that is my husband swears out my mother has a radar that lets her know when we are trying to “have fun”. She almost always seems to call and if I don’t answer, she either starts calling my cell phone and eventually his. I’m sure he doesn’t realize that I often resent (probably a stronger word that I want, but I can’t figure out a better right now) the pulls that I feel she puts on me and my time. There are times when I would just like to come home and be here with him, but something comes up and I have to take her somewhere or do something with her. Another positive though is that my parents treat his two kids as if they have been her grandchildren their entire lives. She stays on my behind to make sure that we are doing what we should as parents and when she goes shopping, she always wants to get something for the kids. I think that’s great and usually he appreciates it, but sometimes I think he believes she is pushing in where she shouldn’t. I hate being in the middle of the situation. She does do so much, she’s in the school, keeping up with how the teachers are treating his son and making sure that he and his teachers have anything they need. I loved my grandmothers, but believe me she’s the grandmother that everyone wishes they had growing up. She is pushy, but she means well. Did I mention that I have two step children? One lives here in the city with us and comes over every other weekend and one who lives across the country. I have been in son’s life for so long, that I recall the days of going to his place and changing dirty diapers and when he couldn’t say my name – it’s a little difficult for a child. His daughter on the other hand I met the year after we got married. We went out to go visit, but she was on vacation at the time, so I didn’t meet her until she came to spend Christmas with us. So she comes to visit a couple of times a year and we keep in touch. I’ve always said that I feel a little sorry for the kids because they have two sets of rules to learn and live with and I’m pretty sure that life is much stricter in our household. Our expectation levels are probably higher than with their mothers and I’m sure its hard to adapt. But we get along great, I think and he says. I try really hard when the kids are with us. I want us to do “family things” but I also try to get my husband to understand that sometimes the kids want time with their father. As much as they might like/love me, they both have mothers at home and what they don’t have 24/7 is a father. I sometimes think when I try to go off to allow them to do things together, he thinks I’m avoiding them. That’s not the case at all, I just don’t want to be in the way of them spending quality time together. One of the hard parts of what I’m going through is that it seems like the only good thing that he can say about our marriage is that I’m a great stepmom. I have tried to love them as my own and make them feel wanted, loved and welcome when they come to us. But I hate to think that the only thing I’ve done right is “mother” his children. At my age, our having children has never been an option and its something we discussed prior to our getting married. Its funny, I have a friend who used to say that when she got the call that I was getting married she would think hmmm, she finally found someone she can tolerate, but she wouldn’t believe I was in love until I told her I was pregnant. I’ve always wanted kids, used to play mother and all the rest, but decided a while back for various reasons that I wouldn’t have children. Meeting this man with two children, one of each sex, was perfect because he wasn’t looking for more children. I often think about what our child would be like, pieces of him and parts of me – the best of both worlds. Structure from him and spoiling from me – although he does a lot of spoiling as it is. I have had those times in the past few years where I’ve looked at pregnant women and wished we were going through that. I think we would be great parents, but it wasn’t meant to be. And I guess in our present situation, it’s a good thing.

Wow, this is feeling good. Next issue. I often fear that there are a lot of things that we don’t have in common. During the early stages, we somehow always managed to find things to do together. He didn’t mind shopping with me, we would just go to the park and we used to have great getaways. I guess when money started getting tight, things became more centered around home. We’ve never, thank God, had fights about money. Although I’ve learned that he resents me for not handling the bills. He would do it and rather than saying, lets sit down and write out bills, he would either say he doesn’t trust that I would send them off on time or he was moaning about having to sit down and do it so I left him alone to it. Back to things in common… He likes horror movies, comedies, action movies and documentaries. I like romantic comedies, comedies and the occasional action movie. He likes watching the discovery channel, I’m waiting for the reality channel. He loves video games and while I can play for a while, after a period I’m ready to move on to something else, especially if its bloody and a shoot em up game. I’m willing to try a lot, and I believe I really have over the years. We did a few home projects that put us together and he tells me that part of the reason was for us to have something to do together. He developed an interest in poker and I thought that was great. He would have weekends where he would either go visit his (at the time) single buddies or they would come here and go hang out. I thought that was great for him and was really happy about it. But now I’m learning that he developed the stronger interest in video games and the poker games to give him something to do while I was out of the house. Its funny, because I remember sitting at home on his poker nights alone. Then I started trying to schedule my activities when I knew he would be out playing poker. Again, I don’t want to be defensive, I’m just trying to put everything out there. A friend of mine told me that her mother has a saying that there are 3 truths, mine – yours – and the truth which is somewhere in the middle. I still believe that there are things that we could do to spend time together doing something that we both enjoy, we just have to take the time and effort to do it.

I suppose I’ve been saving the biggest issue for last. Sex. I’ve always known that I’m not a highly sexual person, but I really thought I tried. He told me time and again that he wanted me to be more aggressive. I kept saying I would try, but just never did. I’ve tried to explain that I’m not comfortable because I’m not aggressive in anything. I never feel that I know what I’m doing or that whatever I try to do is right. I’m not sure what was different in the beginning because I swear I don’t think I’ve changed in my skills. It seems that rather than improving I’ve gone down hill. He tried showing me porn to show me how to do things, but it doesn’t seem to work, I don’t get it. He tells me what he likes or wants and even when I try, it still doesn’t seem right. He’s asked me what do I like and what do I fantasize about and that’s always been a difficult question for me to answer. I honestly don’t know that I’ve had fantasies. I guess after a while, he says he feels like he’s always coming on to me and most of the time I reject him. Again, I have different memories, but how I view it really isn’t important if he felt that I was turning my back on him, to the point that he got tired of the rejection. I don’t know what to say and I don’t know what to do. This is probably the one area where I feel the least comfortable discussing the issue with my friends. How do you say to someone, I suck at sex and my husband has given up the fight? You know I read on one of these sites a story of how a woman felt that her husband was more sexual than she is and how on occasion when he was thinking that he was being flirty, she was feeling groped and abused. I truly understand that feeling. My husband feels that he is showing me affection and that I’m appealing, but I feel – I don’t know what word to use, the only thing that’s coming to mind is used, but that’s not right. I especially resent it when he starts doing things when I’m trying to have a conversation on the phone. I understand that he wants me to feel wanted, but for some reason its not putting me in the proper mood. I want to make love, and he tells me sometimes its okay to just have sex. I guess I’m a romantic and that’s part of my problem. I’m waiting for something that’s not coming.

I guess its time for more confessions. I made the mistake of saying that I’ve been waiting for this split to happen. Now my husband has taken that to mean that I held a part of myself away from him in an effort I suppose to protect myself. I honestly don’t think I’ve held myself back, I’ve just been looking for something to go wrong, unfortunately, I was looking at the wrong things. He says he’s been telling me in small ways and dropping hints that I haven’t picked up on. He bought some books that he wanted us to read. I started reading the book and didn’t see any relevance after about 2 chapters and stopped, but he says the parts he wanted me to read where further in – I didn’t know. He bought the movie I Think I Love My Wife and says he showed it to me to let me know how he was feeling, call me stupid but I thought he was supporting an African-American movie like we do the others. Yea, I watched the movie and I resented part of it when they portrayed the woman as being wrong and him as the “hero” for contemplating cheating on his wife. Again, I didn’t get it and the fact that this was relating to our relationship. I think I put a lot into developing our relationship, maybe I didn’t give my all, but I didn’t realize he needed more. I suppose I have a few additional issues that I need to confess to. My husband told me a few times that he didn’t want to be like my parents. I guess I should have asked what did he mean by that. I agreed that I don’t want to be like my parents either, but obviously we meant in different ways. As an outsider, and even though we’ve been together for a while, I still don’t think he’s seen the scope of their relationship, he saw the fact that they seemed to live separate lives in the same house. I know what goes on behind closed doors and that was what I was referring to. I don’t want to be in a relationship where there is constant arguing and yelling. As I said, I’m not aggressive and I’m very non-confrontational. So I’ve never wanted to go through life arguing 75% of the time. I always told my mother that I wasn’t getting married because if I stayed single I would be able to take care of myself and not have to worry about preparing everything for everybody else. My parents are so co-dependent its funny. My dad won’t eat food – even if its cooked and in the refrigerator - unless my mother pulls it out to warm it up. But they argue about everything, what he’s wearing, why she’s always late and why he/she said what was just said. I didn’t want that and I always agreed that I didn’t want to live like that. They do have a good side though, they support each other when its important. Although now that I think about it, my mother held a grudge for the longest time because my dad took his mother home after her mother’s funeral and left her at the cemetery – she wouldn’t drive down that street for months afterwards and she blamed that fact that he wasn’t there for that difficult moment to help her through it. I’ll admit that I’ve led a pretty sheltered life, but to me overall it was a good life. This whole situation is really rocking my world. I don’t know any other time when I have felt like such a failure. I’ve been trying to figure out what I can do, but the only thing I’m told is that he wants a separation. I want to try new methods to get through those first issues and ways to communicate with each other before it gets to this point. He wants a separation. I don’t know what to do and what to say. Sometimes I feel like anything I say is going to come back to haunt me. If I do nothing, it seems like I don’t care, but if I do force the issue, then I look like I’m not accepting reality. I’m lost. I feel like I’m losing my best friend and there’s nothing I can about it. He seems to think that we can continue to be friends, but I don’t see it that way. I can’t watch certain shows any more, I can’t listen to some songs on the radio, everything that I do seems to refer to the present situation. I find myself just riding down the street, sitting at my desk or laying in the bed crying. I’m not a crier normally. I try really hard to portray the “strong black woman” and I just learned that he wanted me to be the “strong black wife”. Well honestly, I don’t think I really succeed at being a strong black woman and I have no clue how to be a strong black wife. I’ve come to realize that talking to people really doesn’t do any good, because everyone is putting their own positive face on their current situation. Until everything falls apart, the façade of the happily married couple is always in the forefront. I’ve even considered doing counseling, but I don’t think he’s willing to try. I remember when we went for our pre-marriage counseling…what a joke. The minister spent most of the time trying to figure out how this man would be able to help with his computer. Sure we discussed children, we already knew that we weren’t going to have any. I don’t even think it ever came out that he had two children. As I sit here and think about it, I can’t honestly think of one topic that we discussed that was relevant, oh the minister did ask if he was planning to attend church services with me, but I won’t even go into that. Yea, I guess I will. I don’t think of myself as overly religious. I believe in God and I attend services regularly. I don’t spend all of my time at church and in the last few years, I’ve probably cut back on some of the activities that I was involved with. I do take the kids to church with me when I go, but I’ve given up trying to get him to go with us/me to services. I don’t want to push and maybe that’s my fault. I just don’t push when I should. Push myself to do better or try new things, especially if its something that my husband has been asking for or something that I truly want to make me happy.

I promised to come back to the discussion of my involvement. In these last few days I’ve been trying to find ways to cut back to allow us more time together. Unfortunately I can’t drop everything automatically, but there are ways. However, I don’t want to give up something that will give me something to do if we are going to separate. That will just mean that I’m sitting around with nothing to do and allow me to just feel sorry for myself. That is the one good thing about staying involved, before I met my husband it provided me with an outlet. I can see that I should have cut back, but I guess I just viewed other persons within the group who were able to maintain their relationships and their involvements, my mistake.

I was trying to keep this short, but obviously I failed at that one. There is actually a bit more that I could offer, but I’m going to quit while I’m at this point. My husband sent me a forum that he really related to and I could have sworn he had written it – and maybe he did with a few changes. He said it had him in tears and that really made me feel bad. I don’t know if that is what has convinced him to separate or if its something else. If anyone read through this long dissertation, is there any advice that you can offer? Again, I love my husband. He’s a good man and truly I believe that he loves me. He’s fed up with trying and now that I’m hearing him I don’t know how to make it not too late for us. I’m hoping that a truly neutral party will be able to see something in here that we aren’t seeing and with an objective eye can offer some suggestions. Help!
 

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Towards the end you make the statement strong black woman and strong black wife. I really don't think there is a difference from a strong wife and a strong black wife. That aside.

I think the entire relationship issues boil down to one thing only. Communication. It seems your husband is good at telling you what he wants but you seem to either not understand or hear what he is saying.

His kids ~ It is wonderful that the whole family is a part of his children and has accepted them. Nothing is wrong with this and it is how it should be.

Meeting ~ You assisted him in cheating on his then wife. Now he mentions cheating again whereas the cheater is the "hero", although how I would never know.

You ~ It sounds like you are suffering from minor depression caused by many stress issues. I advise you to talk to your family doctor it might help with several of your home life issues.

Work ~ It sounds like he is staying, thinking he is "protecting you".

draconis
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I suppose I need to clarify a few things.

I agree that it all does boil down to communication. He is very direct and says what he thinks. I, on the other hand am a pleaser, so I hear what I think is the most important issues, but obviously I wasn't hearing what he had to say and how he felt. I recognize that there were many more communication problems than I was aware of.

Meeting ~ I really need to clarify this one. We met while he was married, but he was not with his wife during our relationship. Prior to the divorce we were dating, but they were not living together as man and wife. It was over before we met, so I can honestly say that I didn't wreck his happy home.

Me ~ I'm sure I am suffering from mild depression especially in the last few days since learning all of this. My husband seems to think discussing it with my friends and family will give me an outlet and I'll feel better - not happening, I don't think. I didn't really go into the medical issues (no, I'm not clinically depressed) that have been going on for the past few months that I/we've been dealing with.

Work ~ There is a part of him that enjoys what he does, but he feels that I am being mistreated and should move on. So while in part, he is staying to protect me - he really wants me to move on for my sake more than his.

Now please remember that I'm giving my thoughts on things and if he had the opportunity he might answer things totally different. My hope in posting here was to try to get a different perspective and while I know I've done some wrong things, see if I'm totally in the wrong and if its worth salvaging. I even let him read through my writings and he recommended that I post it to see what others think. We haven't really discussed point by point and maybe that is something that we need to do. I just feel that I'm walking around on glass trying to avoid getting cut any deeper. I've never been faced with anything like this and I just don't know how to handle it. I guess I'm asking, what do we/I need to do from this point?
 

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Writing it all down is the first step. Discussing it all with him bit by bit is the next.

I think with the tidying up issue for instance at the beginning (which I can identify with as I am a hoarder too) perhaps get a sensible girlfriend to the house with you one day, and start on one room full of clutter. Everytime you pick up something and say, oh i'll keep this, let her decide for you, whether it's a good reason for keeping or not and abide by it. Once one room is done, start on the next another time etc. My mother is really good at this, and i've cleared up stuff i've had for years, purely because she made me look at it differently.The hoarding is a nest building instinct. You don't want to throw away things that you know and are comfortable with, it is your secuirty.

Next,the job. sit down with hubby and write down a list of your skills and talents. You must have loads if you move around your company doing different things in different depts well enough for them not to bother going outside for staff. Some things you may not even consider talents, like an ability to fix photocopiers, translate into things looked for by prospective employers. Then get HIM to help you look up possible jobs, ask your mates to keep an eye out for any vacancies they think you could fill. I think he is right that you are being taken advantage of, and i think it's very sweet of him to stay in a job he wants to leave, just to protect you. This is a bad thing for both of you, as he will eventually come to resent being stuck there, and unfullfilled.

Work on a smart resume, and be realistic in the jobs you go for. Don't be disheartened if you don't get a job as soon as you apply. In cases where you have been rejected, try asking for some feedback on your rejection. Find out if it was a lack of a specific skill, or how you came across at the interview etc. Tell them any information they can give you, would be a help in your search and really appreciated, ask them to be honest and not spare your feelings. Most people will be willing to tell you what they think. All of this will build your confidence.

Spending more time alone with hubby is another thing... if the two of you are getting 'frisky', take the phone off the hook and switch the bloody cellphones off! it's not rocket science.

There's a start. There are so many issues that you are not going to resolve them all at once, so do it like the room cleaning, one step at a time,and you'll find that other issues resolve themselves as you go along, as they are really part of the same issue that has just been dealt with.

Also, and this bit may hurt, I think you are not making enough effort yourself, content in your comfortable bolt hole, and are just letting everything get away from you, then sit there moaning woe is me. You need to get up off your backside girl, and start DOING something, before you lose your husband.
 

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Communication, communication, communication! You & your husband seem to be forgetting about it. Have you considered showing him this post if you find it hard to keep it together when you have a conversation? You don't have to show it to him on this forum, you could give it to him as a letter.

Stav's last paragraph sums it up for me though - get off your backside girl! Take some action, throw just one thing out & you'll find it's a start that you can build upon!
 

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lost and confused ~ No one is ever totally in the wrong, a relationship is two people, however some deserve more blame then others when things go down hill. Atleast you are trying and can admit you have faults. I respect you for that and believe you put something together in an honest way looking for honest answers to fix it.

draconis
 
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