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I am weary. Married almost 20 years, never really great but never really awful. Both of us came with issues and baggage that likely should have been dealt with before marriage but wasn't. Many years of marriage counseling, marriage seminars, familiar with love languages, Love and Respect, His needs/Her needs - all of it is great material, none of it seems to make an impact. No abuse, no affairs, not very many smiles. I don't drink, I don't hunt, fish or have any real friends. I do have a few hobbies and I pursue those as time allows but don't consider them a significant part of my life. It feels like all I really do is work - as many as four jobs, take care of my home responsibilities including my kids and fight with my wife. Sex is OK at about once a week.

I'm checked out and I'm trying hard to re-engage but it isn't working. For about the last six months it feels like almost every conversation turns into a fight. When I try to bless her by doing something that she needs to do like a project for work or school, I end up doing or saying something wrong and get my a** kicked. I'm tired of it. I know we need to spend more time together but when it usually ends in a fight, the incentive just isn't there.

I have three great kids who I know are impacted by this (they are smart and old enough to be perceptive) but I am devoted to them and I am reluctant to leave. I recognize that at some point this becomes selfish. I am certain she feels the exact same way. We are also in a place financially where it would be difficult to support two households. I have never considered leaving my home but honestly, I'm getting there.

I don't seek another relationship. Married twice, failed twice, the common denominator is me. The biggest part of me believes that even though I'm told I'm a pretty decent guy, in close, significant relationships all I really cause is hurt. It kills me to face the truth of this. I probably fit the definition of a "nice guy" as this website defines it and to a certain extent, I know that I am. Having said that, I do like serving people (it's my strongest love language) and I am kind but I have boundaries and don't feel as though I'm a doormat.

I've thought of suicide but won't do it - no worries there - even though it seems like an easy way out in the end it is an incredibly selfish act. In rereading this, I feel pathetic but I honestly don't know what to do. I know I'm not alone but it doesn't seem like many marriages recover from this sentiment either. Any ideas?
 

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I'm checked out and I'm trying hard to re-engage but it isn't working. For about the last six months it feels like almost every conversation turns into a fight
What point are you trying to make that keeps coming up over and over again? Fighting takes two.

I'm a firm believer in choosing my battles...and there are MANY things that just aren't worth addressing. I can check my ego before even going there. Can you?
 

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Frustration is expecting one thing and getting something different. You've got three great kids. You've got a decent wife and a decent sex life. You could have friends. You could hunt, fish, drink, have hobbies, etc, if you wanted. Don't need your wife's permission or participation for any of that. If doing extra things for your wife gets you kicked in the rear, stop doing them. Do other things that make you feel better about yourself. You could learn a foreign language or take on-line college courses, do a little on-line stock trading, learn to play a musical instrument...whatever. Find some arena (apart from your job) where you can grow and improve, maybe meet other people. Spend more time with your kids doing something that's only special between them and dad. Your wife can't make you happy or unhappy. She can't bust your balls unless you let her hold them. My wife has bipolar and she says cruel, stupid crap all the time. The uglier she acts, the less of me she sees. It hasn't take her long to learn the price for having me around is respect and civility. Your value as a human being isn't a gift some woman can give or withhold. That's a gift you give yourself. You have skills, talents, and interests you probably don't even know about. In any case, if you don't have friends other than your wife, you need to get some. She won't always been mentally or emotionally strong enough to be your support. At least 30% of women end up suffering from depression at one time or other. You can't dump all your emotional eggs in that basket. She's got three kids,work, school, home, financial concerns, etc. I bet the more you bolster yourself without her, the more independent, confident, and interesting you will become. To a woman, confidence and strength are sexy. "Needy" and "brooding" aren't. If you're thinking even a little about giving yourself a dirt nap, you need to reach out and get professional help. Doesn't have to necessarily be a shrink but it should be at least a pastor or a counselor with professional training. No shame in reaching out. Everybody on earth needs an understanding ear at some time. Absolutely not joking, here. Get some help. I've worked hundreds of suicides. Always strikes me as an awful shame and a complete waste. Every one of them could be living happy, fulfilled lives. None of them wanted to die, they just wanted to stop feeling so lousy. Your life can be happy and your kids don't need to drag around the pain and resentment that comes with a father who chose to leave them through suicide for the rest of their lives. Please talk to someone.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ego? What is that again?

I do try and choose my battles carefully but I likely am failing miserably. My opinion is that I express my opinion. I am cognizant of tone, context and volume. I am also aware of timing and make a best guess estimate of her stress level. I have been thumped so many times that all of this just comes to me naturally. It is a great skill that helps in other areas of life.

With her, I feel like if I am not completely affirming her approach, I am wrong and not only am I wrong but I have so insulted her that the very essence of her being is assaulted. Affirmation is her love language and if she's not being affirmed, she's not being loved.

My option of course is to never express my opinion or question what she is doing and that would be safe. Then I would be a doormat and that isn't attractive either.

Honestly, I'm clueless about how to proceed.
 

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rfAlaska. When arguing it is important to remember that you can have your own opinion but not your own facts. For the sake of this post I will use this definition - Primary colours are a fact however whether one of those colours belongs on your bedroom walls is opinion. If she begins arguing with your opinion then she is either interested in further dialogue or just wishes to have you come over to her way of thinking. Rarely do people win arguments of opinion. Even if they do feel like they've won they haven't really as the other person either doesn't care enough about the outcome or has been browbeaten to the point of agreement because they are tired of arguing ( fed up ) or wish to be a peacemaker.

So if you wish to feel like your opinion matters good luck. Don't we all. :D I would recommend asking her more questions during your dialogues.

Open ended is good such as " Why green on the walls?"
Leading - " What does green go with in the bedroom?"
Curiosity - " Have you considered any other colours that might work? "

Another link I would recommend is this one I found on here awhile ago.

http://talkaboutmarriage.com/general-relationship-discussion/58154-dont-jade-good-thing-remember.html

IMO it's a start.
 

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Unbelievable - thank you for your post. Please know that my thoughts of taking a dirt nap aren't at all prevalent - absolutely fleeting. I have been party to the damage that suicide wreaks and want no part of that in whatever legacy I leave. If my thoughts EVER become anything other than fleeting, I will seek help.

Thank you for your thoughts - I am for whatever reason unable to clearly articulate how I am feeling without sounding like a self-absorbed jerk. I don't think I am but if I can't adequately describe what I'm feeling, perhaps I am exactly that.

She is massively depressed and has been for our entire marriage. She is currently on multiple anti-depressants and sleeping pills. Her condition and the medication imposes boundaries and I have to do a better job of simply acknowledging and working within those boundaries. It changes how I approach her and how I approach marriage. I just have to come to terms with that - again - sorry, small amount of bitterness there.

The responses have given me a fair bit to reflect on and now it's on me to decide if I want to do anything to change.

Thank you for caring enough to reply.
 

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My wife also has depression, bi-polar, etc. It's hell on a marriage and most other major life functions. That's one reason they call it a "disability". She's got her pills. You are just expected to deal with it. I've been there, done that, still doing it every day. It aint tea with the queen. Still, I fear you are relying too much on a mentally disabled woman for your own emotional support. If she's like my wife, there are days she's doing well just to get out of bed and get a shower. Nobody's fault. It's just a medical problem, just as real as if she (or you) had cancer or diabetes. Doesn't make it easier to deal with but recognizing that she's an emotional cripple, incapable of being what you'd like most of the time might lessen some resentment and it might help you identify helpful courses of action. She'd probably love to be what you need. She probably hates her depression worse than you do. If she were blind, it wouldnt be to piss you off. It'd just be the way things were. If she were missing a leg, she wouldn't lag behind because she didn't want to walk or run with you. Same thing with the mental illness. She didn't ask for it and neither did you. It is what it is. You can find other avenues of emotional support, though. Life won't look like the mental picture you had prepared for yourself but it can still be very good. I don't know why God wanted me with my wife. He knew it would be difficult. He must have known I had some quality she needed or she had something I needed. Luckily, we don't always get what we want or what we think we deserve. He does give us what we need. He knows all, so it's hard to second-guess that.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Unbelievable, you are indeed unbelievable. You've nailed my relationship completely.

Thank you so much for spelling out in such simple terms that I need to lower my expectations. My wife, like yours, spends days where getting out of bed and into the shower is a really good day. She has recently started working again so she has to get up and it is affecting her a lot. Prior to working, for her getting up around noon was a pretty good day.

I will give a lot of thought where I allow my emotional needs to be met but this is an area of struggle for me. I work primarily with women and the temptation to seek emotional support (it would be SO easy) from those nice people is almost overwhelming and would be a REALLY BAD idea. I jumped into that realm for a bit and it was a disaster. I have almost no companionship with my wife and I'm really lonely - kids are great but so is intelligent, adult companionship. Finding a way to fill that void in a healthy way is going to be a challenge for me.

You are an incredible man. You clearly find your strength in God and I so respect that. My faith in Him is being greatly challenged in part because of this situation but I know that this is where I need to lean in to Him the most. My faith says I have no basis to leave so I shouldn't. Honestly, I would leave in a heartbeat if I could be alone with my kids. Problem is, we'd be living in a tent.

Unbelievable, leaving isn't even on the table for you and that makes you incredible AND unbelievable. Thank you for your encouragement.
 
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