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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
In an effort to keep myself focused, I will first state my goals for posting, and then give what details seem necessary to get some sound advice.

1. I am logically 70% certain that separation and divorce is the best option for my wife and me. We have always had significant communication differences and we have had difficulty in balancing the differences between our personalities. I am emotionally 100% certain that I do not want to be with anyone BUT my wife WHEN she is meeting my emotional needs, which she certainly has done many times. I feel massive amounts of regret for the lack of focus and effort I have put into my marriage in the last year or so. I also know that when I bring out the best in my wife, she responds as the woman that I fell in love with. My first goal is to understand more about how my emotions and logic are driving my actions. I would also like to hear some different perspectives regarding how my actions can impact me down the road, because I only see as far as tomorrow regarding many aspects of my life, and the lack of control is overwhelming.
2. I would like to understand more about her perspective. I am VERY capable of being manipulative, and I do NOT want to allow that aspect of my personality to cloud this process, because my logic says that a separation between us will probably lead to divorce, and I don’t want to “trick” her into resuming some level of effort towards our marriage if that is not where her heart is. Again, because of our current status and our communication challenges, she does NOT share her emotions with me very often, and typically ONLY surface level.

I guess sharing the basics is my first step (if I don't include a variable, just ask... chances are I will have NO problem sharing):

My wife "Shell" and I met in 1996. We separated for 6 months in 1997. We married in Nov 1999. She expressed that she wanted a divorce the day of my 10th anniversary (Nov 2009).

Children: 18-f from a previous marriage. I have had sole custody of her since my first wife and I separated when she was less than 1 y/o. Shell and I have 2 children together (9-f, 8-m). Shell was pregnant when we married, and the timing of our decision to marry was based on the pregnancy. My son was a planned pregnancy.

Work: Shell and I both work. She is a call center tech and I am a struggling CEO of a startup Real Estate technology company. We live a modest life, and have serious financial debt mostly due to the Real Estate market collapse. My company is in its infancy, but the opportunity is remarkable (typical for what a startup CEO would say).

Enneagram – I am a type 2 and she is a type 6. (if you are not familiar with Enneagram Personality Profiling, it is a very useful tool BOTH my wife and I believe in). Enneagram Institute: Enneagram Testing & Training

We have had a rough marriage. We moved around quite a bit (I was previously in retail middle-management, and went where the job was). We had our first big out in year 3 when we were living in GA. I was for the first time completely removed from my friends, my youngest kids were around 1 and 2, and I was not happy with the effort Shell was putting into maintaining the house (I was able to support her not working from year 1 to year 5 of our marriage). I threatened to leave, but never wanted to go, daily behavior changed, and we reconciled.

Our second out and first separation was in Nov 2005 (year 6). I had an affair with a family friend. The affair lasted from Jun to Aug, and then the other woman left the country. In Nov, I traveled to FL to vacation with my best friend, and made the decision that I wanted to move to FL and rekindle a stagnant real estate career with him. I expressed that I wanted to do that, and we agreed that I would move down in Nov, and she would move with the kids in Jun after the end of the school year. During that period, I traveled to VA every other weekend, and the marriage was on very shaky ground. I also spent most of the 6 months that I was alone doing what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it (however ABSOLUTELY NO infidelity), and blowing through money.

The Real Estate market crashed in 2006 (especially here in FL), and money became a real problem. In 2007 I took a graveyard shift to make something and still work on Real Estate. In early 2008, I quit the graveyard shift to accept a salaried position with a builder. 1 week later I was laid off. I changed my focus and began rebuilding my real estate career. By late 2008, I was doing very well in Real Estate, and was approached by an investor to begin work on a new real estate technology. In February 2009 Shell was laid off from her job. She found a new job within 3 weeks, and has been progressing through her new company ever since. In April 2009 I accepted a salaried position as CEO and Co-Owner of my company, and we began production of our system. I submerged myself in my work, and in Jun 2009, Shell and I had a conversation about our marriage, and I told her that if I was forced to make a decision at that point, my decision would be to be done with the marriage. I told her that I felt that we had not done everything we could (get therapy, focus effort on each other exclusively, etc) to fix our problems, and I asked if we could wait until the company launched, then reevaluate whether we are willing to do whatever it takes to make this marriage work. She agreed. I continued to submerge myself in my work and also spent more and more time with friends because money was plentiful. On Nov 14 (our 10th anniversary - 12:17 AM) she told me she is done.

As I write the overwhelming feeling of guilt and regret fills my heart. “What an a$$hole. H**l yeah, I’d leave you too.” I know those are emotional feelings, but they are VERY real, and VERY justified. I also know that every decision I made was made to serve 1 of 2 purposes… enjoy my life and work towards finally providing the financial independence that I have always dreamed of. I also know that there is a lot of stress and unhappiness that was present in my life, yet it is difficult to remember why I was unhappy at specific moments because I know it in no way compares to how unhappy I am today.

The day after she told me, I looked at the cell phone records online, and found a trend of text messages to a local number at many inappropriate times and frequency for the previous 45 days or so. I recorded the numbers and dates, but did not confront Shell. I know what it feels like to be so unhappy with your marriage that you look to someone else for love. On Dec 7, my 18 y/o told me in an emotional outburst that she felt it inappropriate that Shell had spent an evening 2 or 3 days after I stopped staying at the house snuggling in the bedroom with “Lee”. My daugther had confronted Shell about it, and there had been another sitaution where shell and Lee were snuggling watching a movie in the living room. I asked Shell about it in front of my daughter, and she confirmed that she had begun “hanging out with” Lee, and she had been talking to him for several weeks before we separated. Shell’s relationship with Lee has since continued to grow. The last specific conversation was on Dec 25, after I saw a text message to Lee from Shell saying “Good Morning. Merry Christmas. Love you.”. I asked her about her relationship and she confirmed that she “had some of those feelings” and that she had indeed expressed that to him. What hurt me most was that Shell asked me to spend the night at the house Christmas Eve so we could snuggle and have Christmas morning as a family. We slept in each other’s arms all night, and she was probably still in bed in her underwear when she sent that message.

I have put myself in what I feel are intentionally painful situations to test myself. I don’t know if that is healthy or even sane, but I so crave the feeling of love from her. I agreed to spend the night at the house with the kids just a few weeks after we separated so Shell could spend the night at her company Christmas party and then out on the town. It was very difficult being in the house I had just left while she was out with “Lee” and others. I agreed to spend Christmas Eve cuddling, and ended up leaving the house from 11 AM to 3 PM to collect myself and not have a devastating impact on Christmas for the kids. She was supportive while I was away, and was happy that I was coming back for Christmas dinner. After dinner was when we talked about the text to Lee that morning.

Since separation, these are the decisions that I have made without and prompting from Shell. I have stopped staying at the house. I have set up our board room in my office as a studio apartment. I am paying 50% of the household expenses plus groceries. I travel to the house every even day to spend time with the kids. During the school time, even week days are 5 PM to 9 PM. Even weekend and non-school days are typically noon to 9 PM. During those times, many times Shell was not present. She would go to gym, stay at work late, go socialize. Sometimes Shell would be there, and sometimes we would hang out, have dinner together, some of the typical things that a couple does.

Today Shell came over to the appt to watch a movie with the kids and I. We ended up cuddling in my bed during the movie. We talked after the movie, and she was showing me Tetris on her new phone when a text from Lee came in. Uncomfortable. I told her that I didn’t plan to talk about us this evening, but now my mind was racing, and I asked her if she had thought any more about where we are headed. She said that she doesn’t want to say it could “Never” happen, but she just doesn’t see it working out. She said that she feels like when we separated in 1997, I did everything I could to get her back, and then that behavior did not continue. I explained that my motive then was to find a mate and a mother for my daughter. My motive now is that I don’t want to find anyone else. I expressed that I KNOW that I messed up, and that my lack of effort and focus on her and our marriage is unforgiveable, and I see how much she means to me when I bring out the best in her, and I want to focus on bringing out the best in her.

If you have made it thus far, then THANK YOU for taking time to learn about my world. I figure this is a bit too much for an initial post, but I welcome any input or questions.
 

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What a detailed post!

Obviously, you would like to see your marriage work out. The problem lies, at this point, it won't. Given that she has OM in the picture. There isn't much to do at this point as long as he's in the picture.

I'm not sure what you want out of this relationship. Is this something you want to salvage?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
CorpusWife - I absolutely want to salvage my marriage. I also know that her involvement with OM gives her comfort because there is no life stress between them, so all is rosey. I am also sure that the odds are good that they will not last, as most "Rebound" relationships don't. I have told her on a few recent occasions that I feel like a quarterback that has been playing VERY poorly, and has been benched, and she has brought another quarterback into the game. I have told her that I don't know that this team is the best fit for me, but I think that I can adapt "my game" to her playing style. I asked her to let me practice and "run some plays" and show her that I deserve to be her starting QB again, but please give me that opportunity to do more training rather than trading me off the team.

What I feel I can do differently is that I have spent the last 6 months focussing 95% of my attention and effort into my company and friends. I have not done much at all in those 6 months to create a balance for my wife, and since the seperation, I have focussed my efforts on supporting and spending time with the kids, and have found it rather comfortable to make that commitment on a daily basis. She obviously likes what I am doing, because she regularly makes the decision to spend time with me while I do it.
 

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It's wonderful that your are focusing on your kids.

She has found comfort in OM and still feels the connection with you.

Do you feel that she if ready to end the marriage at this point?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Do you feel that she if ready to end the marriage at this point?
I started asking myself that question yesterday. I have had 1 appt with a therapist, and she asked a few "want" questions. If my therapist asked me if shell "wants" the marriage to survive or if she "wants" the marriage to end, I really don't know the answer to that question.

She says that she doesn't want the relationship to end, just the responsibility of making me happy and relying on me to make her happy.

So... I really don't know that she is ready to end the marriage, but she has certainly told me that she doesn't see it working out. "I don't want to say that we will NEVER get back together, but I don't see it working out" is basically what she has said, as recently as last night.
 

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It sounds like she wants both worlds! Sort of having her cake and eating it.

I would back off from her. Give her space. Before you do tell her how you feel. Tell her that you want this to work but it cannot as long as there is OM in the picture. Tell her when she is ready to work on the relationship, then she needs to come to you.

You don't want to hang out with her. Just the kids from now on. If she needs to call you it should be about the kids/mutual business. No chit chat. Set your boundaries.

Oh yes. Be sure before you set those boundaries..to tell her that you love her. This discussion should be set with a loving tone.

Then walk away. Set up times (flexible) to be with the kids.

It may take months. Don't allow her to seek comfort with you unless she is done with the OM.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Why do I create boundaries when distance is what split us apart?

How do I express in actions what I realize regarding my lack of focus and effort without removing opportunities for us to do things together and as a family?

She has agreed to "spend the evening Thursday out with me". our oldest is going to watch the 2 youngest. It was at that point that I wanted to talk about us. Where we go from here. Is she willing to let me continue to show by my actions that I am the best QB for her team? What does she actually "want"?

And how do I respond to "I want us to always be great friends"? How do I tell the mother of my children who I love that I can't be just "great friends"?
 
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