Just really, really confused

My husband and I will hit 14 years of marriage next month. We’ve been together since high school. And just recently, I’ve been grappling with the fact that I don’t “love” him anymore. Like, I love him as a really good friend and as a father to our daughters but not as a husband.

Hindsight tells me we’ve been heading this way for at least 2 years but it was all covered up by the chaos that is/was our 10 year old. She has serious mental illness and it took up a lot of my time and his work schedule meant he was rarely home for any of it. I think we’re both at fault here. But she left for residential in April and there was a nice “honeymoon” period of not having to live in the chaos and trauma she caused daily. And then that ended. And then I realized something wasn’t right. I was unhappy. Irritable. I had a sex drive but I wasn’t all that interested in sex with my husband. And a few weeks ago, I suddenly decided I had an intense need to have another baby. Thank god a friend talked me out of that and helped me find out the reason behind that one: I wanted love. I wanted emotional and physical attachment. I wanted all of that. My daughter and I had an emotionally intense relationship just because of the nature of her illness and when that left, I had a void and there was nothing around me to fill it.

I started sleeping in the living room because my daughter had a habit of being able to undo door alarms and get out. She’s been in a facility since April and I’m still on the couch. Weekends are the only time he’s really home and we don’t talk and if we do, they’re usually pretty short conversations or revolve around the kids or mundane things like dinner. We haven’t had sex in months. His doctor gave him Viagra because we thought it was ED from his medications but the sex felt fake and forced…and just not satisfactory for me. There’s a whole host of other things.

We talked at length on Sunday night about it. I told him I wasn’t getting what I needed out of our marriage. I asked if he’d see a therapist (individual…he needs some work too) and he said he would if I could figure out what I need. He encouraged me to go date other people to find that. I had dwelt on what was just “off” about us for months. And then I had an idea. And now it’s cemented kinda: I think our marriage is over. Even typing that is hard. Because I still really like him but not like that. And this feels different than other normal “slumps” that marriages get into. In those, we knew there was a light. Neither one of us considered separation, divorce, or going outside the marriage. But this is way different.

I’ve also been having intense fantasies of a male coworker for months but, again hindsight, I realized these have been occurring for a year. Like I have been building an entirely new life with this guy IN MY HEAD and it has gotten worse and unbearable as of late.

I’m pretty certain I’m checked out. I’m pretty certain he knew before I did and was waiting on me to realize it. He’s been more than supportive of me doing whatever I need to do to be happy, even if it means I’m not with him.

We haven’t agreed that separation is what we’re calling it but he made the comment that “we’ve been living like a separated couple for a year”. Our kids have noticed some things too: like we don’t talk anymore and they rarely (pretty much never except for the habitual quick kiss before work) see us show each other physical affection.

We live like roommates. How do I even come to terms with this? I’m the one that is pretty decided and he’s the one that has said he’ll just go along with whatever I want, which tells me he’s pretty checked out too even if he can’t admit it to himself. He also has a pretty bad case of agoraphobia so he only goes to work and then comes home. That’s it. So even separated, I’m still going to need to take care of him in different ways if I want to make sure bills are paid. We had discussed if separation was where we went, we could continue to live together to give our kids stability. We do get along fantastically well really.

And how soon is too soon to see if this other guy is interested in seeing if there’s something beyond friendship? I don’t want to scare him off but for my head (and heart, i guess) it’s like I’ve already been “with” him a year. It’s bizarre. And whomever I date or get into a serious relationship or even marry again is going to have to end up dealing with the fact that we’re still like best friends and that he’s still going to need my help to “adult”. This guy likely would. And he’s met my kids already (sans the 10 year old) because we’d run into each other. My youngest daughter adores him. I want 1 or 2 more kids (husband is adamant he wants no more) and this dude has no kids of his own but wants them. There’s just so much to unpack here.

I’m confused. This does sound like a dead marriage with no hope of reunification, doesn’t it? I never thought relationships would be this confusing as an adult. I think it’s more that I feel slightly blindsided and frustrated with myself that I didn’t realize the bigger implication of my daughter leaving.

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Sounds like you have a lot going on. But one thing is very clear. Whatever you are feeling for this other man is wrong. I understand your desire and your needs. However you and your husband have been dealing in a space with a child that needed a lot of attention that caused you two to function in different ways. My suggestion is that you seek out counseling both individual and together. Your exhausted but its not with your marriage its with your state of being. Marriage is work and if you can put in the work to be there for an ill child you can and should be willing to put in the same effort to save your marriage

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