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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I hope this is the right sub-forum:


46 y.o. male w/ 2 kids, facing the crumbling of an 18-year marriage. It's my fault. I've been neglectful and haven't made my wife feel important, possibly since the first year. No abuse, no infidelity, just failure to see her as someone who truly mattered. I also moved to a stressful job 5 years ago and brought that stress home for several years (mostly manifesting as snap-anger and yelling at my wife or kids). 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with diabetes and the meds almost immediately fixed the anger issues (I can count on one hand the number of times I've been angry in the past 2 years). Diabetes meds did not fix the neglect and not-making-her-feel-important, however. This summer, after what seemed to be a wonderful family vacation, my wife said she didn't want to be married. More recently, she's used the word "divorce." It has been the most devastating wake-up call I've ever had. I feel like the most horrible person on the planet for what I've done to her. She doesn't love me anymore, and I can't blame her for that at all. She has said she doesn't hate me, but it was immediately follwed by something to the effect of "but I don't love you either." She does say I'm a good dad and that our (amazing) kids are "The one good thing we've done together." I'm desperate to save our marriage (and, by extension, family) and give her a reason to love me again, but I know this isn't something I can fix. All I can do is change in all the ways she and the kids (and I) need to. I've backed off and am doing everything I can to give her space (without losing my sanity in the process). I'm keeping the house clean (she hated the mess), doing the laundry and dishes daily (she felt like she was the only doing chores around the house), and doinng more than my share with the kids (she did 85% for years, so it's my turn to do that). I'm nailing down my spending habits and listening to her advice on things. I try not to talk about me, just her and the kids. I'm also working on myself physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I'm doing everything I can to give her what she wants or needs (as far as I can intuit or am outright told). She's still in the house and our interactions are pleasant. Which brings to me the reason for posting:

Google has maybe steered me wrong on this, but the #1 piece of advice I see is to keep giving my wife space, work on myself, and NOT talk about the marriage/divorce. The first two make sense, but I'm not sure about the third. Specifically, I feel like I should constantly be acknowledging my mistakes, affirming her worth, and all around doinng the exact opposite of what I've done for nearly two decades. On the other hand, I can easily see how that could drive her away if all I ever did was "sorry this, sorry that" or "You look great" (I told her that *maybe* 10 times in 18 years) or "what do you think?" Still, I feel as though those things should accompany the evidence of meaningful change. Am I wrong? Is there a "sweet spot" for taking responsibility and acknowledging the hurt and pain I've caused? Once a day? Once every few days? Several days of positive interactions/actions, with a brief "I know that I've hurt you. I can never say I'm sorry enough. I'm changing. I hope I have time to prove it"? Do I apologize when I think of a specific case of neglecting her? "I am sorry that, 6 years ago, I didn't hear your pain when you said ______." Or at this point, have I lost any and all privilege to these sorts of conversations (I certainly feel like I have) and the only wise course of action is a positive, not-pushy attitude that gives her time to see the changes in action?

I'm drowning (like she has been for 18 years), and in no way can I or should I expect my wife to throw me a life preserver. I have days (weeks? Months?) to learn to swim, and it's terrifying. It's a monster of my own creation and my time in Purgatory will be long bc of it. I have deeply, and perhaps irrevocably, hurt the most amazing woman I've ever known, and the one person in the world I swore to cherish for all my days. I have to make this right, even if it means giving her a divorce and then just being the best ex I possibly can.

Any help is appreciated.

(A few other details: I've finally got a line on a counselor and hope to start soon. My wife has not filed for divorce yet, but has had a lawyer on retainer for several years after a particularly bad road rage episode. She has said she wants an amicable divorce and has agreed to see a divorce mediator lawyer and release the other lawyer. She is not interested in marital counseling, for reasons that now make perfect sense to me. She is seeing her own personal counselor, however. She has not "set a date" or served me with papers. She still lives in the house, though I have decided (wrongfully?) on my own to start sleeping on the couch so the bedroom is hers when sleeping. Any other details needed, just ask.)

EDIT: To be clear, I'm working on changing because I need to be a better person. Period. I hope that it will have the added benefit of saving our marriage, but I realize that the person she's divorcing is not someone I'd stay with either. It's also not someone I even want to be.
 

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Sounds to me like she is checked out, which means her mind is already made up. About the only thing you can do is start to picture your life without her. Get a gym membership and find yourself a divorce lawyer. If she is already lawyering up, its over dude.

Are you sure she isn't having an affair, that is fairly typical in these situations.
 

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Before you do the typical affair assumption thing, you should know something that many will not admit but that is ABSOLUTE FACT:

Women who have been repeatedly neglected and mistreated WILL choose to leave without an affair, and they have every right to do so. Let me say that again. The fact that your wife has had enough of a marriage in which she did not matter doesn't mean she is cheating. There is a subset of "men" who think that it is impossible for any man to actually be a crappy enough husband for the wife to leave unless she is cheating. These men are flat wrong.

I have no idea if your wife is cheating or not. I just want to point out that when a wife has enough, it isn't because she is evil for having a vagina.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Sounds to me like she is checked out, which means her mind is already made up. About the only thing you can do is start to picture your life without her. Get a gym membership and find yourself a divorce lawyer. If she is already lawyering up, its over dude.

Are you sure she isn't having an affair, that is fairly typical in these situations.
Before you do the typical affair assumption thing, you should know something that many will not admit but that is ABSOLUTE FACT:

Women who have been repeatedly neglected and mistreated WILL choose to leave without an affair, and they have every right to do so. Let me say that again. The fact that your wife has had enough of a marriage in which she did not matter doesn't mean she is cheating. There is a subset of "men" who think that it is impossible for any man to actually be a crappy enough husband for the wife to leave unless she is cheating. These men are flat wrong.

I have no idea if your wife is cheating or not. I just want to point out that when a wife has enough, it isn't because she is evil for having a vagina.
No, no affair. I mean it's technically possible, but she's more likely to grow wings than take that route. @personofinterest has nailed it. She's had enough. My only hope is that she's never laid things out for me clearly, so I've never truly understood what I needed to do to be a good husband (that sounds lame, I know). Sure, there have been hints for years, but the "don't want to be married" is out of the blue for me. That's not to say I shouldn't have seen it coming, only that I've never been as committed to fixing myself and our relationship as I am now. That, and the fact that she's said she plans to drop her lawyer and go with a mediation lawyer. Our kids are the world to both of us and neither she nor I will take a route that will hurt them (anymore than the fact of a divorce already will). I don't know if reconciliation is possible, but I have to at least try. My wife is unique in so many ways. Perhaps this is also one of them.

I appreciate the advice, and will take it to heart, but I do actually want to know if words should accompany actions, or if it's only the latter that matter (with the usual caveat that each situation is unique, etc)
 

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Been there sir. I understand. However, your road is a bit more difficult than mine was. When I finely figured out were I screwed up(no attention to my wife) I came to my wife hat in hand. I asked that she let me speak my peace. State my failures in the marriage. I acknowledged my wrongs and did not put one ounce of blame on my wife for my less than stellar husband skills. In short, I sucked. I had anger issues. I neglected. I asked that she let me prove through actions and not words that I can turn it around. My wife let me(where as your has taken more steps in D but has not produces any paperwork as yet). My actions were starting to date my wife again. Diners, time spent together(no less than 15 hours a week together). Other things similar to what you are doing now. Being a help with the house, kids, etc. I spent much time and still to let my wife know she is appreciated by me. It could be a short note or just saying it. . I do get my wife flowers from time to time.

You may be in good standings and more then you think. Your W has consulted a lawyer(that is free). No real paperwork has been produces from said lawyer. That is a good sign. Your W may be on the fence. She is quite possibly taking note of your actions. Your best bet is keeping your wife NUMBER 1 in everything. Even over the kids, family and friends. When I finally got a clue and completely changed my actions did my marriage turn around. Thankfully my wife allowed me time to see the change is permanent. She did say she was scared it would not be a permanent change. I was able to prove beyond a doubt(7 years now) the changes are here for good.

Keep doing what you are doing. The changes will be felt. Minds can be changed. Love can regrow. Keep up posted.
 

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The fact, that she won't even attempt marriage councelling is fairly telling to me. Its not like you can IC but not MC or MC and not IC... You can try and be her maid and butler but while its a good peace offering, I really doubt its going to go far in building her love emotions. Assumming she isn't cheating, you might try to isolate her. Log cabin in the mountains or something, case of wine, jacuzzi, find a sitter for the kids. Invite her and if she comes, you see where it takes you. If she declines, then its over. Get a lawyer and serve her.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Your W has consulted a lawyer(that is free). No real paperwork has been produces from said lawyer. That is a good sign. Your W may be on the fence.
No, she actually drew up papers three years ago. Or at least that’s what she’s said. Her parents lent her the money to do that and then keep the lawyer on retainer. Where I see the possibility of hope is that she’s told me about it and has said she’ll drop the lawyer (I offered to help pay her parents back) and we can go to mediation. I see a small, possible ray of light there, since she could, apparently, serve me tomorrow (and has been able to for three years.. I may be fooling myself and I’m three years too late, but like I said, I have to try.

Thanks for the other advice. I will keep it in mind.
 

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The fact, that she won't even attempt marriage councelling is fairly telling to me. Its not like you can IC but not MC or MC and not IC... You can try and be her maid and butler but while its a good peace offering, I really doubt its going to go far in building her love emotions. Assumming she isn't cheating, you might try to isolate her. Log cabin in the mountains or something, case of wine, jacuzzi, find a sitter for the kids. Invite her and if she comes, you see where it takes you. If she declines, then its over. Get a lawyer and serve her.
Marriage counselors are nice but not always necessary. Two willing individuals is what is necessary.

He is not being a maid or butler. He is being a team member of the household and help running it.

Isolate her....is another way of saying, date your wife like you did before marriage. You should be taking her away. You should be having date nights just the two of you. It is the dating, care and attention that got you married in the first place. Why stop after the vow? It should not.
 

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No, she actually drew up papers three years ago. Or at least that’s what she’s said. Her parents lent her the money to do that and then keep the lawyer on retainer. Where I see the possibility of hope is that she’s told me about it and has said she’ll drop the lawyer (I offered to help pay her parents back) and we can go to mediation. I see a small, possible ray of light there, since she could, apparently, serve me tomorrow (and has been able to for three years.. I may be fooling myself and I’m three years too late, but like I said, I have to try.

Thanks for the other advice. I will keep it in mind.
So you can't look back three or four years and see any sort of straw that broke the camel's back?

You've got a tough road ahead of you. If she's not willing to see a marriage counselor and entertain in any way the possibility of staying married, I don't see a future for the two of you together. Perhaps you might start by simply asking for time. Is there anything you can do to stop the clock, say, for a year. Have an honest, sincere conversation with her about what she sees as HER future. If she were to stall plans for a year, would it matter? It might. Better that you know that sooner than later.
 

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A huge complication is that it can seem like you're doing all this stuff just to win her back rather than it being a real change in who you are. It's very common for people to get energized for change in a time of crisis but then slide back into old behaviors once things calm down. I'm not sure you even know what you will be like in the future. Right now you're in the storm, but you won't really know until things settle down. All these changes you're making will still need to be there even after life gets back to day-to-day normality.

What's the right thing for her? Which path provides the most happiness in her life. We know you don't want to lose her, but is being with you her best chance of life-long happiness? True love is doing what's right for your partner, even if that means you step away.

How old are your kids? Since you have kids, it's definitely worth trying to work things out. Maybe you can get her to agree to work on things for 6 months or a year in the interest of trying to keep the family together.
 

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No, she actually drew up papers three years ago. Or at least that’s what she’s said. Her parents lent her the money to do that and then keep the lawyer on retainer. Where I see the possibility of hope is that she’s told me about it and has said she’ll drop the lawyer (I offered to help pay her parents back) and we can go to mediation. I see a small, possible ray of light there, since she could, apparently, serve me tomorrow (and has been able to for three years.. I may be fooling myself and I’m three years too late, but like I said, I have to try.

Thanks for the other advice. I will keep it in mind.
Well sir, 7 years ago my wife threw out the D word. She was done. 100% done. She point blank told me to get help. My anger issues completely exhausted her. My inattention crushed her mentally( she felt ugly. Cried herself to sleep many nights after my reject) That revelation was soul crushing. Man, it was time for me to own my crap. So with that said, complete lasting change.

So, your W has papers at the ready from 3 years ago? It has been a long 3 years to not serve so that is a good sign. Yes, try and don't stop. If not for your own peace in the matter.

No go book a day away with your W. Maybe a night if you can. Take her to places she likes. Don't give up.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So you can't look back three or four years and see any sort of straw that broke the camel's back?
Absolutely, I can. She’s also said it’s taken her this long to get up the nerve as it were. My anger was an issue then. Now I’m not angry and she feels safe to talk about this. Right now, I agree that time (plus change) is the only chance I’ve got, and even that may not enough. I give myself a 1-in-a-million chance here, but as Floyd said in Dumb and a Dumber: “So you're saying there’s a chance.” Your advice about asking her if stalling plans for a year would matter is excellent. I will do that.

A huge complication is that it can seem like you're doing all this stuff just to win her back rather than it being a real change in who you are. It's very common for people to get energized for change in a time of crisis but then slide back into old behaviors once things calm down. I'm not sure you even know what you will be like in the future. Right now you're in the storm, but you won't really know until things settle down. All these changes you're making will still need to be there even after life gets back to day-to-day normality.

What's the right thing for her? Which path provides the most happiness in her life. We know you don't want to lose her, but is being with you her best chance of life-long happiness? True love is doing what's right for your partner, even if that means you step away.
Right. I agree completely. And if divorce is what’s best for her, that’s what I’ll do. I do thing a changed me is best for her. I hope I can convince her of that. If not, I’ll just have to get on with my life and be the best ex I can be.

Kids are 8 & 10. I know she’s concerned about the effect of a divorce on them just as I am. A stable family is critically important to both of us. That may be the only reason I still have a ring on my finger. I hope it’s enough to get some time to repair the harm I’ve done.
 

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Something of a side note: I want to talk to her about this, but one of the things I’ve realized I do is over-talk. Are these sorts of conversations ever acceptable to have by txt in the interests of (1) respecting space and (2) keeping it short and to the point (and giving her something to refer back to)? I have no problem doing it face-to-face, though. Anyone have experience with a thoughful txt that was the right move rather than appearing cowardly?
 

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I hope it’s enough to get some time to repair the harm I’ve done.
I'm getting a feeling your wife is giving you the time. You noted she was afraid of your anger issues and responses. If you truly change this and she feels safe now with talking about what she is truly thinking there is hope. My W was similar. Afraid of my reaction. I did some self help for my anger issues. I showed change. My wife opened up. Life was better and is getting better for both.

BTW, yelling at your wife is a form of abuse. I had to realize this myself. When I did...holy crap...did I feel like a jerk.
 

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Before you do the typical affair assumption thing, you should know something that many will not admit but that is ABSOLUTE FACT:

Women (and men) who have been repeatedly neglected and mistreated WILL choose to leave without an affair, and they have every right to do so. Let me say that again. The fact that your wife (or husband) has had enough of a marriage in which she (he) did not matter doesn't mean she (he) is cheating. There is a subset of "men" (and women) who think that it is impossible for any man (or Woman) to actually be a crappy enough husband (or wife) for the wife (or husband) to leave unless she (he) is cheating. These men (and women) are flat wrong.

I have no idea if your wife is cheating or not. I just want to point out that when a wife has enough, it isn't because she is evil for having a vagina.
I hope POI will excuse me for borrowing her post. The fact remains that when a person has been treated so poorly in a marriage they frequently act out in poor ways including but not limited to Cheating. The other relevant fact is that once a person begins cheating (even emotionally) it is typical for cheating persons to see the marriage in a much worse light than in fact it is.

To be blunt, I'm not cheating, not even emotionally, And yet I struggle everyday facing the mess that is my marriage and home. I'm not leaving for precisely the reason that I don't have a soft (curvy) landing spot to leave to.

Sooner or later sex will have something to do with marriage problems.
 

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The fact, that she won't even attempt marriage councelling is fairly telling to me. Its not like you can IC but not MC or MC and not IC... You can try and be her maid and butler but while its a good peace offering, I really doubt its going to go far in building her love emotions. Assumming she isn't cheating, you might try to isolate her. Log cabin in the mountains or something, case of wine, jacuzzi, find a sitter for the kids. Invite her and if she comes, you see where it takes you. If she declines, then its over. Get a lawyer and serve her.
Marriage counselors are nice but not always necessary. Two willing individuals is what is necessary.

He is not being a maid or butler. He is being a team member of the household and help running it.

Isolate her....is another way of saying, date your wife like you did before marriage. You should be taking her away. You should be having date nights just the two of you. It is the dating, care and attention that go you married in the first place. Why stop after the vow? It should not.
Yea, MC isn't necessary but when its off the table but instead divorce mediation is on it, thats a bad sign. A sign that she isn't even open to the idea of not divorcing.

I would urge him not to get too inflated with hopium because the comedown is tough. Improving himself is a great start. Now, try to take her on a date, a getaway if possible, but if she refuses then I think it might be time to face the facts. Many times its just too late. No sense dragging your feet as roommates waiting on pins and needles for the papers to appear.
 

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Well sir, 7 years ago my wife threw out the D word. She was done. 100% done. She point blank told me to get help. My anger issues completely exhausted her. My inattention crushed her mentally( she felt ugly. Cried herself to sleep many nights after my reject) That revelation was soul crushing. Man, it was time for me to own my crap. So with that said, complete lasting change.

So, your W has papers at the ready from 3 years ago? It has been a long 3 years to not serve so that is a good sign. Yes, try and don't stop. If not for your own peace in the matter.
Thank you. That helps a great deal
 

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I hope it’s enough to get some time to repair the harm I’ve done.
I'm getting a feeling your wife is giving you the time. You noted she was afraid of your anger issues and responses. If you truly change this and she feels safe now with talking about what she is truly thinking there is hope. My W was similar. Afraid of my reaction. I did some self help for my anger issues. I showed change. My wife opened up. Life was better and is getting better for both.

BTW, yelling at your wife is a form of abuse. I had to realize this myself. When I did...holy crap...did I feel like a jerk.
I hope so too. And yes, I feel like pond scum right now. On more than one occasion I’ve thought “I’d divorce me too.”
 

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Yea, MC isn't necessary but when its off the table but instead divorce mediation is on it, thats a bad sign. A sign that she isn't even open to the idea of not divorcing.

I would urge him not to get too inflated with hopium because the comedown is tough. Improving himself is a great start. Now, try to take her on a date, a getaway if possible, but if she refuses then I think it might be time to face the facts. Many times its just too late. No sense dragging your feet as roommates waiting on pins and needles for the papers to appear.
MC may be off the table because she may feel it is not effective. We don't know. Personally, I have very little faith in marriage counseling.

I agree that if she dragging her feet with a full intention of ending it, it is wrong. But, it does not appear she is dangling the paperwork over his head or leading him on.
 

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I would urge him not to get too inflated with hopium because the comedown is tough. Improving himself is a great start. Now, try to take her on a date, a getaway if possible, but if she refuses then I think it might be time to face the facts. Many times its just too late. No sense dragging your feet as roommates waiting on pins and needles for the papers to appear.
That’s entirely fair. I appreciate the honesty.
 
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