However, for at least a year now I have been confused about how I feel about the marriage. I want to be free and unattached and I often wonder if I’m with the right person and what it would be like without him in my life. I feel deep in my heart that this marriage isn’t going to last — that I’m not going to be with him forever and that scares me. But I don’t want to hurt him because he is a good man, and if I wanted to leave him it would destroy him and I don’t want to be responsible for that. I feel like I should stay with him because I made the commitment and have to follow through. I wanted to marry him so bad, and made a big deal about the wedding and his parents paid for most of it…another reason I feel bad about not wanting to be with him. I don’t know if leaving him and being on my own would solve these feelings of unhappiness/unfulfillment, which adds to the confusion of it all. He says that I sound selfish when I tell him these feelings I’m having, and I think so too.
To make it even more complicated, I cheated, but he doesn’t know and I could never never ever tell him as it would break his heart and soul. I don’t know why I did it and am frankly surprised that I did. I thought I would never be that kind of person. I made a terrible mistake and truly regret it.
I’m confused, and sad, and don’t want to hurt this man that loves me unconditionally. — Sad Wife
You say you’re confused about your marriage, but it doesn’t sound like it’s the marriage you’re confused about. On the contrary, you sound pretty certain that you’re unhappy in your marriage and want out. What you are confused about is how to go about getting out without hurting your husband, and I’m afraid that probably isn’t possible. Breakups hurt; divorces suck. Your husband it going to feel pain, and you will, too. Does that mean you should just stick it out forever, in some sort of self-imposed purgatory? No.
But before you just up and leave your husband, I’d recommend trying therapy again — this time on your own. You need a professional to help you with your feelings of guilt and shame associated with ending your marriage. This is a decision that, as painful as it will be, you need to be as confident as possible in. A trained counselor can help you get there. In addition, you need help figuring out if it’s the marriage that is leaving you feeling unfulfilled, or if it’s YOU.
Once you feel more confident in your decisions and your reasons for making them, you’ll be in a much better position to plan your next move. It’s not selfish to have feelings, as your husband has suggested. And acting on those feelings for your own sanity and the long-term happiness of both you and your partner isn’t selfish either. One day, when you’re no longer in an empty marriage, your husband will appreciate that. Guilt is not a good enough reason to stay in a marriage that you’re unhappy in.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.