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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been reading through these forums over the past couple of weeks and I've found them very therapeutic. I'm hoping TAM is a space where I can find some support. I apologize for the length of this in advance. 



I've been married to my best friend and lover for 12.5 years. He came home from work about a month ago (I can't believe it's already been that long) and told me that he was unhappy, had been unhappy for a long time, and wanted a separation. He wasn't sure he still loved me in the way he should and needed time and space to figure out what he wanted from life. He asked for a one-year separation -- separate apartments, separate finances, everything.



I feel like such a fool. It blindsided me completely. We had had some fairly major problems a few years ago. At that time, he thought seriously about moving out. I lost it, cried, begged him to stay. Ultimately, he did and we decided to work on us. We never went to marriage counseling (I regret this immensely now), but we did try to strengthen our bond and our communication problems. I thought we were relatively successful.



Particularly in the last couple of years, things have seemed good. We've been talking more effectively and have been affectionate with each other. We've been taking vacations regularly, and they've been adventurous, bonding vacations -- the kind that has us sharing new experiences and talking for hours.



About a year and a half ago, we were on vacation, and he said to me, "Thank you for stopping me from making the biggest mistake of my life" (i.e., giving up on us). Other good signs: Over the past year, we’ve talked actively about our retirement desires; we’ve been redecorating our apartment at his insistence because he wanted us to finally “create our home” (we couldn’t afford proper furniture before); and he’s been talking about possibly wanting to have a child together in the future. Just this past December, right before Christmas, we rented a little cabin in the mountains and had a wonderful, romantic time. Before we left, he insisted on reserving and paying for next December's (2013) vacation in advance. He wanted to make it an annual tradition. While we drove home, he was beaming. I told him he looked happy. He said, "No. I'm not happy. I'm glowing. Everything is just perfect. That was the perfect weekend." He told me he loved me. 



Four weeks later, he tells me he thinks we're over. That he hasn't been happy for a long time and has been trying to fake it to convince himself. But the thing is that he is normally a terrible liar. He wears his emotions out in the open. There is palpable tension if he's unhappy and he exudes warmth when he's happy. And I can easily tell when he's annoyed with me (he withdraws and become cold and distant). Because of the problems we had in the past, I'm usually on high alert if I sense that tension in him. I have sensed nothing like that recently.



He says he's not sure if he's with me because I'm his life partner or if he's with me because we're married and that has kept him trapped. He said that part of him resents me for not letting him go five years ago. He thinks he needs time and space to figure out what he wants. 



More confusion: During our many talks before he moved out (he moved out about two weeks ago), he said that he still loves me; he just doesn't know if he's in love with me. He's in no rush to get a divorce and is being very generous with bills and spousal support. We still hug each other when we greet and part (although that's the limit to the physical/romantic interactions; he doesn't want to "confuse things"). 



When I point out what he said recently during vacation, he said that we make a great vacation couple and we're just not a very good day-to-day couple. I told him I think our problem is complacency. We get caught up in daily stresses and monotony and don't seduce each other anymore. Basically we're in a rut. He doesn't think that's the problem. 



He said he's willing to go to marriage counseling in a few months, and we're both doing individual counseling in the meantime. He said there's a chance that we can reconcile in the future, although he believes that chance is less than 50/50. 



I am sincerely confused and devastated. I'm cycling through all of the stages of grief and I feel like my life is disintegrating. I love him deeply and he's been my best and closest friend for thirteen years. The thought of losing him kills me. 



I think I just need some people who understand to talk to. Any words of advice are very welcome. 



 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Wow, that was a doozy of a first post, wasn't it?

One other thing. There is, of course, a lot involved that I didn't touch on in my original post. (I have codependency issues, we both have baggage from childhood and adolescence, etc.) I had actually decided not to post here and just read as much as I could. This is because, as I tried to write our story down, I realized how challenging it was to record the intricacies of a decade+ long relationship in a succinct manner. But I knew I needed to talk to someone, so I signed up for my first therapy session, which I attended yesterday. Unfortunately, it appears my HMO only allows once-a-month sessions. I don’t know how fifty minutes every four weeks will really help me sort through this situation. So that leaves me here. I know I can’t make all of you my therapists, but perhaps others in similar situations can give me some guidance and empathy. And virtual hugs. I could really use a hug.
 

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We are kind of each others therapy. Sometimes just talking helps and that's basically all you do in counseling anyway. Just they have tools to make you talk more. To pull out that which is in your subconscious so you can deal with it.

Something smells fishy here. Has he given any clues that there could be someone else?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We are kind of each others therapy. Sometimes just talking helps and that's basically all you do in counseling anyway. Just they have tools to make you talk more. To pull out that which is in your subconscious so you can deal with it.

Something smells fishy here. Has he given any clues that there could be someone else?
That informal therapy is pretty much what I'm looking for. I think I just need to talk.

No, there have been no clues about that at all. In fact, I would say I'm 99.99999% sure there is no one else. I'm really not a jealous person and we've always been open with each other about crushes, etc. We've even dabbled in an open marriage in the past. Besides, I don't know where he'd have the time. Work keeps him extremely busy and he was with me when he wasn't at work.

I'm more inclined to believe this is something of a mid-life crisis/reassessment.
 

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BFG is right - lots of red flags in your post.

Seems like he's sending you a clear message of his intentions.

Your heart will disagree but his actions are telling you that he wants out.
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Aww jeez, I'm gonna say it again. It's 180 time. Honestly, if I were you I would stop wasting my time with this man. Just imagine how much harder this is going to be years down the road when there are little humans involved. You deserve better.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
BFG is right - lots of red flags in your post.

Seems like he's sending you clear a message of his intentions.

Your heart will disagree but his actions are telling you that he wants out.
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My heart definitely disagrees. I'm clinging to the hope we can work through this (I almost need that hope to make it through every day). But you're right: his actions do say that.

A few days after he asked for the separation, I went to my parents' place to give us some space to clear our heads. He had a new place to live not 24 hours after I left :(
 

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BFG is right - lots of red flags in your post.

Seems like he's sending you a clear message of his intentions.

Your heart will disagree but his actions are telling you that he wants out.
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:iagree: 100%

If you don't end it now, you will be kicking yourself in the @ss 5 years from now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Aww jeez, I'm gonna say it again. It's 180 time. Honestly, if I were you I would stop wasting my time with this man. Just imagine how much harder this is going to be years down the road when there are little humans involved. You deserve better.
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Thanks, LdyVenus (thanks to everyone else too!). That's a kind thought. He is a good man though. He's being incredibly sweet and supportive through this when he doesn't have to be, and I can tell the decision hurts him too. There has been a lot of crying from both of us.

Definitely 180 time though! I've tried to keep communication to only what's required. I'm moving into my own new place next week. And I'm going to try to focus on me and take care of myself. I could probably do with my own mid-life reassessment.
 

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Sweet and Supportive: Relieving His Guilt.

Cut off all emotional support and do not seek it from him either. Its going to be extremely difficult but it must be done at this point in time.

Its time for reflection.

Read up on the 180 and master it. You have to let it be known to him through your actions - not words - that you WILL NOT sit around for a year for him or anyone else. You love yourself too much for that nonsense.
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Sweet and Supportive: Relieving His Guilt.
Interesting. I hadn't thought about it in that way. That could definitely be in play. I'm going to need to think about that and my motivations behind defending him.

Cut off all emotional support and do not seek it from him either. Its going to be extremely difficult but it must be done at this point in time.

Its time for reflection.

Read up on the 180 and master it. You have to let it be known to him through your actions - not words - that you WILL NOT sit around for a year for him or anyone else. You love yourself too much for that nonsense.
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That will be difficult, I'll admit. He's been my best friend (in action, not just marital spirit) for over a decade. I'm no longer relying on him to be my emotional crutch -- I know that will drive him away more than anything else and, fortunately, I have family close by to lean on. But to cut off all emotional support will be a challenge.

I will read up on the 180. I've read some and it sounds like a healthy way to move forward. I'll learn more about it.

To throw in the disclaimer: Neither of us expects the other to wait around for a year. This year is supposed to be one of growth, where we figure out who we are (something we both need to do) and what we want. I'll be the first to proclaim I want him to realize he wants me back. But I do plan on taking this year to figure if I should continue to want that.

Humans, we are a funny creatures, aren't we? We make relationships more complicated (and heart-wrenching) than they should be.

Thank you for all of your supportive and honest words, everyone. They've given me something to think about.
 

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You deserve someone who wants a relationship that can have an awesome vacation, come home to a bit of hum-drum (because it can't all be a vacation), and still love you "that way". F, what is it with love being, to these full-grown (or so they seem) men, such a surface commitment?

Take the year to focus on everything else except him - though I'd break it down month by month, and find things to get you through, if I were you. Thinking a year at a time when you're devastated is like torture, in my experience. And things really do shift on such a frequent basis that you can't expect anything that is to come. Just breathe through each day and make plans for yourself.

And usually I'd say focus on the positive - but here, why not focus on the WTF aspect of this whole situation. Marriage is only a trap to people who are too weak to look inside themselves when things get "difficult", ie. REAL. And the fact that he's telling you "truths" like, he resents you for not "letting him go" 5 years ago is bull**** - total emotional purging that disrespects you completely, as if you're responsible NOW for his resentment. It might not even be the truth, just some excuse that occured to him to justify his immature behaviour. He's backing out of a very real commitment he made, in so many ways, to you.

You deserve better.
 

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