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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I won't go into the entire back story with my wife. This is a flavour.

But basically she never shows me any affection and although I spend most of the time thinking about how to do best my people and put in effort their behalf, her included, she treats me like utter crap. I'm 'lazy', I 'don't do anything to help' and weird stuff like berating me for minor untidiness I always deal with. It's like she's ready to pounce. I'm constantly stressed and anxious around her because I don't know if I'm about to be set upon.

The laziness accusation is frankly bizarre. I spend every hour either working or doing things for her and the family and often at other times I'm doing stuff for others. When her friends come over she knows I'll leap into action, shopping, making dinner (I'm a good cook), clearing it away and trying to make sure the guests are welcomed and taken care of. Anyone that knows me would think 'lazy' as the last thing I am.

I have have genuine faults and failings but she invents new ones based on nothing. On occasions I've done everything she asks without questions I'm still 'lazy' and 'never help' and she invents new things to denigrate me.

To be honest she's always been like it but there were very good times too where I could enjoy conversation, sex and her intelligence. Now it seems to be just the bad. There's zero sex. A female friend, about the only one who knows that our outwardly happy marriage is a nightmare, says that I am being 'emotionally abused'. I don't know about that.

I suppose thing have been bad for many years but I've always loved my wife and just want her to be nice and address me with basic civility. 80% of my friends are women and my job tends to take place in female-heavy environments. In 10 years of marriage I've perhaps only once or twice felt 'fond' of another women in a way I felt went beyond friendship and nothing came close to happening. I don't want to be the 'guy that has an affair'. I just want my wife to be nice.

The trouble is more recently I've become quite close to a good friend of my wife. She's beautiful, very intelligent, someone I can talk to for ages but, I think above all, she's hugely appreciative of me and that's attractive. Much to my wife's annoyance she often says how lucky my wife is to have me and that why can't all men be like me (she's divorced). I think she's a close enough friend of the family to have noticed I'm at the very least a 'doormat' in my marriage.

We are quite often together with our respective sets of kids without my wife these days and we always have such a happy, stress-free time. It's hard not to feel like 'perhaps is this is what a marriage is supposed to be like.' The real clincher is I have this horrible feeling she 'likes' me as she's grown a little more flirtatious.

I just don't know what to think. I don't want my life to become a car crash.
 

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Okay, Random, you don't want to be that guy that has the affair, and I SO respect that!

I just want my wife to be nice.
Well, wishing and wanting are NOT going to make it happen. You're too nice, you're a doormat and she doesn't respect you.

If you WANT THINGS TO CHANGE, then you must REQUIRE CHANGE - from her and from yourself.

Get into MC with your wife. If she REFUSES to go, get into IC for yourself. Find out about WHO YOU ARE, what you WANT, what you NEED out of life. You can't improve your marriage by yourself. You can improve YOURSELF by yourself. After working on yourself and your boundaries (give it at least 4 months of counseling), see if you're still interested in working on your marriage. If you aren't (or if wife STILL refuses to enter MC with you), then pull the plug.

Life is too short to wish it away year after year. Either way, this friend of your wife's should be HANDS OFF forever (if you stay married) or for at least 18 months (until your divorce is FINAL, NOT FILED - FINAL).

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thanks. I suppose because we both have full lives with work and kids and community activities the dark heart of our marriage has been allowed to coast along for years.

I should add to my post that to most people my wife is warm and charming, a real pillar of the community and a valued friend to many. She's a 110% brilliant mother to the kids. So she's not just a straightforwardly nasty person in general. It's only me that seems gets this horrible treatment. About the only thing she acknowledges positive about me is that I'm a good father.

Perhaps she wants out but doesn't want to have to pull the plug so is trying to force my hand. Economically, we're pretty equal in the marriage so although we have shared financial responsibilities one doesn't really live off each other.

I think feeling close to the friend has just become a kind of 'wake up' call for me. It's like the first time I've ever truly visualised being gone from the marriage.

I will try and do the counselling thing as soon as I can. I suspect my wife won't want to but I'll see.
 

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Is your wife's friend married?

Be warned, if you act on your attraction you will be setting off a chain of events that you could come to regret in the future
 

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I won't go into the entire back story with my wife. This is a flavour.

But basically she never shows me any affection and although I spend most of the time thinking about how to do best my people and put in effort their behalf, her included, she treats me like utter crap. I'm 'lazy', I 'don't do anything to help' and weird stuff like berating me for minor untidiness I always deal with. It's like she's ready to pounce. I'm constantly stressed and anxious around her because I don't know if I'm about to be set upon.

The laziness accusation is frankly bizarre. I spend every hour either working or doing things for her and the family and often at other times I'm doing stuff for others. When her friends come over she knows I'll leap into action, shopping, making dinner (I'm a good cook), clearing it away and trying to make sure the guests are welcomed and taken care of. Anyone that knows me would think 'lazy' as the last thing I am.

I have have genuine faults and failings but she invents new ones based on nothing. On occasions I've done everything she asks without questions I'm still 'lazy' and 'never help' and she invents new things to denigrate me.

To be honest she's always been like it but there were very good times too where I could enjoy conversation, sex and her intelligence. Now it seems to be just the bad. There's zero sex. A female friend, about the only one who knows that our outwardly happy marriage is a nightmare, says that I am being 'emotionally abused'. I don't know about that.

I suppose thing have been bad for many years but I've always loved my wife and just want her to be nice and address me with basic civility. 80% of my friends are women and my job tends to take place in female-heavy environments. In 10 years of marriage I've perhaps only once or twice felt 'fond' of another women in a way I felt went beyond friendship and nothing came close to happening. I don't want to be the 'guy that has an affair'. I just want my wife to be nice.

The trouble is more recently I've become quite close to a good friend of my wife. She's beautiful, very intelligent, someone I can talk to for ages but, I think above all, she's hugely appreciative of me and that's attractive. Much to my wife's annoyance she often says how lucky my wife is to have me and that why can't all men be like me (she's divorced). I think she's a close enough friend of the family to have noticed I'm at the very least a 'doormat' in my marriage.

We are quite often together with our respective sets of kids without my wife these days and we always have such a happy, stress-free time. It's hard not to feel like 'perhaps is this is what a marriage is supposed to be like.' The real clincher is I have this horrible feeling she 'likes' me as she's grown a little more flirtatious.

I just don't know what to think. I don't want my life to become a car crash.
Nice friend (to your wife I mean). :-/
 

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RandomMan, welcome aboard TAM.

There are some parallels in your story to mine. So here is a crazy question for you. Is there any chance of abuse or assault in her past? Have you ever asked her directly? Has she made comments about news stories or events that were stronger than you expected? Do you know of a person who was abused and your wife puts that person down or minimizes the abuse they claim? Has she dabbled in lesbianism or has she had a closer friendship with a woman than seemed typical?

OK, that was a real shot in the dark. But I have heard your story (and it is mine) from many men whose wives it turned out had been abused as a child or sexually assaulted as a teen. To the world she appears 110% Super Mom. Very competent and very involved. But the secret is that the marriage is cold and unpleasant. It can make the husband feel like he must be at fault because everything else about her life is good and respected by others.

It is not uncommon for the woman to deny she was abused when asked directly. It is not uncommon for her to fail to tell about it if you don't ask. Many men find out years or decades down the road when their marriage is falling apart (or after) that the wife was sexually abused or raped. By then it is too late to salvage the relationship.

You need to read "No More Mr. Nice Guy". Also go visit the forums at nomoremrniceguy.com/forums for some assistance. People tend to mate up with similar levels of dysfunction. Whatever is going on in your wife's head, you cannot directly change or control that. You can only lead her, and you can only do that if you are strong and in control of your own life. You even see how you are a doormat, and you need some help in getting your SELF back. NMMNG will get you back on track for yourself. You won't "fix" your marriage until you get yourself back where you should be.

Ironically, all your hard work may be undermining your wife's opinion of you and her sexual attraction to you. Doing more of the wrong approach is not going to change her.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Nice friend (to your wife I mean). :-/
Remember we haven't done anything and I think the flirtations were more a subconscious thing rather than an attempt to raise the heat.

I've only opened up to one friend (not the same woman) about problems in the marriage and even that because it was one of the rare moments a third party witnessed a bit of the doormat treatment and I was directly challenged on it. I've never *****ed to anyone else about my wife. I usually speak about her in glowing terms. I as said, I love her and she's in many ways a brilliant person. She just treats her husband like trash.

With others we likely resemble some warm-hearted 'model couple' until they leave. But a few times with closer friends that we've known for years it's like the mask slips and I'll get jokingly 'defended' by one of them but it's a bit awkward.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
RandomMan, welcome aboard TAM.

OK, that was a real shot in the dark. But I have heard your story (and it is mine) from many men whose wives it turned out had been abused as a child or sexually assaulted as a teen. To the world she appears 110% Super Mom. Very competent and very involved. But the secret is that the marriage is cold and unpleasant. It can make the husband feel like he must be at fault because everything else about her life is good and respected by others.
This resonates quite strongly and I think it sums up the reasons I'm still here. I just want the nice, respected, intelligent woman I love to treat me well. I do feel at fault.

AS for abuse I do know she was from a pretty big family and it sounded like there was a bit of a culture lack of affection, perhaps bullying between people, in general. I'd be shocked if there was something graver than this though.

I admit I was slightly concerned when we had kids that perhaps she wouldn't be naturally warm with them based on the cold treatment I receive. But, no, she's a super warm, affectionate natural mom. I also have to remember that she was affectionate to me, perhaps for a year or two, once but it's so long ago and such a small portion of our 10 year+ relationship that I can barely remember it.
 

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OK then I am going to suggest you put fixing your marriage on the back burner for now. Concentrate on getting yourself tuned up via No More Mr. Nice Guy. This is going to be a process, not like flipping a switch and suddenly she and your marriage are going to be instantly transformed. You make a change, she responds, you respond. Lots of adjustments and learning by both of you over time.

You can't rush this in a week or two. Think in terms of getting some good results in a week to a month, and then over months to a year you and your marriage will transform. At some point along the way you may want to get into MC with her. Or you may try to implement a self-directed marriage therapy via books with your wife. "5 Love Languages" and "Getting the Love You Want" (and the work book for Getting the Love you Want) may help your marriage, but not today. You need to get your feet under you, and your wife needs to see a stronger you.
 

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So a couple of quick tactics for you.

First, stop caretaking. This includes everybody. Don't do something unless you are specifically asked in a direct manner. The kids coming in and complaining "My bicycle tire is flat" is NOT a direct request. You will have to educate people in a pleasant factual manner that you want to be helpful. You realize you have been doing too much for too many people, to the point where 1) It is impinging on your own time to do the things important to you, 2) You may be doing unnecessary or unwanted things for people and thus you might not be doing other things which would be more productive, and 3) you have become unappreciated and your efforts have become accepted as if you are the hired help. So, if someone wants you to do something for them, they must make a specific and clear request which you will then consider.

Don't put up with criticisms of your method or even of the outcome. This is a difficult one for me because I am not good with the confident flippant comeback. If you do the dishes and your wife complains you put away the plates without drying them, you need to shut her down. The book "When I Say No, I Feel Guilty" may be a help for you.

Be declarative, and practice STFU as much as possible. If you're going upstairs to take a shower, just go without telling her. It may appear more of a request for her approval/permission when you inform her of what you are going to do. Just do it. In situations such as going out to a meal, don't ask where she wants to go. Just declare it. "I want to take the family out to Billy Bob's BBQ for dinner. We'll leave at 5:30". Let her take the initiative to speak up if she has a concern rather than you asking up front what she wants or if she agrees.
 

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There were a few times when I was married, both during the happy times and the not-so-happy times, that I found an attraction for a friend(s) of my W. I enjoyed their company, had a laugh and knew that there'd be a spark there if we were both available. And so that is as far as I ever let it get, to avoid making my marriage problems worse I simply never associated with the friend of my W without my W there, even though I could have easily found valid reasons to find myself talking to her alone (ie, shared interests in photography, the time she left her jacket at our house etc).

Being attracted is normal, being aware of acting on that attraction takes a little bit of self-cognizance, but choosing how to act on that attraction is completely deliberate. So if you care that you are married, and you truly don't want to be that cheating guy, then it really is quite simple to put this issue to rest right now. If you are having trouble reeling yourself back in, then you need some kind of help learning how to identify and establish your own boundaries - tell your W, or seek IC, so that you do not damage your already fragile marriage.
 

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sorry.. seems like you need to make a decision. You either want to work things out with your wife or you don't.

You make wife go to some kind of counseling with you, and you sever all contact with her friend.


Or you continue the contact with her friend... and eventually split with your wife.
 
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