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“I’m So Unhappy in My Marriage”

I’ve been unhappy in my marriage almost since we got married, which was 2 1/2 years ago. We went to a few unproductive pre-marriage counseling sessions, but one thing from it sticks out in my mind. The counselor asked us why we wanted to get married and my first gut instinct was “I don’t know,” but because I was put on the spot, I said it was because I loved him, which I did and still do. He is truly my best friend and I love and care for him deeply.

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 wendy@dearwendy.com.

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{ 113 comments… add one }

  • avatar ReginaRey May 9, 2011, 3:17 pm

    LW, I truly hope you take Wendy’s advice and go to therapy by yourself. In addition to helping you get at the root of your personal feelings, I think a therapist could help give you the tools you need to leave this marriage without being convinced to stay. It’s going to take a lot of strength to do that, and very tough skin.

    What struck me the most about this letter was on one hand, she couldn’t answer why she wanted to get married. On the other, she said that she “wanted to marry him so bad.”

    I think the LW might be a prime example of someone who really wanted a WEDDING, not a MARRIAGE. I’ve seen more than a few women do the same thing – get engaged, dive head first into wedding planning, have their wedding…all without ever considering what a marriage truly is. Marriage isn’t a big white dress and a fancy party…it’s a serious agreement to be with someone forever, to take care of them at their worst, and to love them through all of it. Marriage shouldn’t be taken so lightly, and I hope this can serve as a lesson to someone for whom it isn’t too late.

    • avatar TheOtherMe May 9, 2011, 3:49 pm

      Regina you are right as usual, she probably did want a wedding more than a marriage. I think that a lot of people get married because they think that’s what people do in life, get married, have children..etc .. then reality sets in and things go bad.

      LW, whatever you decide, please do not even consider having children until you resolve all the issues and confusion you are experiencing.

      • avatar ReginaRey May 9, 2011, 3:55 pm

        You’re so right – babies don’t fix anything, so please don’t get pregnant hoping to change things!

        And thanks. I feel a bit passionate about this topic, though I’ve never been married (and don’t plan to until at LEAST 25 or 26…and even then…). It scares me that some people (not necessarily the LW…just some women in general) get distracted by the sparkly bling and forget what they’re really agreeing to!

        • avatar honeybeenicki May 9, 2011, 4:19 pm

          Well these days, marriage doesn’t seem to be “forever” as much as it used to be. With me, I made it CLEAR to my husband that I don’t view divorce as an option before we got married. He knows that no one gets out of this thing alive and so far thats working for us.

    • avatar Maracuya May 9, 2011, 3:55 pm

      This is exactly what I was thinking. I guess I just find it surprising that a marriage could go south in less than a year (about the time she wanted to be free and unattached.) I’m thinking their relationship wasn’t that strong to begin with and they rushed it. Sad all around.

      • avatar Aya May 9, 2011, 4:19 pm

        I agree with you that their relationship was probably not strong to being with, but I’m not surprised that a marriage could go south in less than a year. I feel that the first few years (if not the first year) of marriage can make the relationship or brake it.

        I’ve known several people who have been with their SOs for 10+ years prior to marriage, but then divorced less than three years after the wedding. One girl, who was a friend of the friend, had just gotten married to her SO of 11 years when we met at our mutual friend’s bachelorette party, and was divorced by the time our friend’s wedding.

        I assume in all those cases there were weaknesses in the relationship that somehow became unbearable with the additional commitment of marriage.

        • avatar HmC May 9, 2011, 11:35 pm

          Perhaps also, if you don’t get married within a *decade* of dating someone, there’s a reason? Extenuating circumstances (like meeting very young) aside, maybe if you’ve been together for 11 years without getting married it’s because one or both of you feel like it’s not right… but then so many years pass and you feel like you need to either get married or break up, and you get married because you’re too attached to break up with someone after that long. If you’re old enough to know yourself well going into a relationship, does it really take 10 years to know if someone is the one?

      • avatar Black Iris May 10, 2011, 2:41 pm

        Well, most divorces happen in the first few years of marriage.

        However, in this case she had an affair. That may have damaged the relationship and changed how she felt and acted.

    • avatar honeybeenicki May 9, 2011, 4:17 pm

      I had the same thought as you about wedding vs. marriage. Unfortunately, many people get lost in the wedding part and don’t stop to think about the after the wedding time.

    • avatar Black Iris May 10, 2011, 2:43 pm

      You know, I think the whole thing about why she wanted to get married may just be looking back and reinterpreting history based on how you feel now.

      I can easily imagine someone not being sure why they wanted to get married, but really wanting it. If everything worked out, they would just forget it and focus on how they loved each other and were glad they did it.

  • avatar justpeachy May 9, 2011, 3:18 pm

    Wendy nailed it. First thing I thought was that she needs therapy, not couple’s therapy. It sounds like you have a boat load of personal issues that you need to work through (and should have worked through before you got married and dragged your husband into this.) Stop projecting why you’re unhappy onto your husband because it’s your job to make you happy, not his.

    • becboo84 BecBoo84 May 9, 2011, 3:26 pm

      I couldn’t agree more. It sounds to me that she’s known since long before they got married that she didn’t actually want to marry this person, but was so consumed with the idea of getting married that she did it anyway.

    • avatar Fairhaired Child May 9, 2011, 10:50 pm

      Same here, though I wondered if she should go to therapy because she could be depressed, and therefore linking the depression to the marriage. Maybe she felt such a rush in the marriage that after the wedding took place, she started to feel “well what now” and may have stopped doing things by herself that made her happy.

      I def. think she should see a therapist for herself, and also maybe find something else to do for herself and to branch out with other people. Maybe take up tennis, or something else that requires exercise to release some endorphins etc. If she starts working on herself first, maybe she’ll see more positives in her marriage and be able to start working on what “doen’t fit” for her. Or maybe she will just realize that she really doesnt want to be married. But there are still a ton of options out there for her to try before she gets divorced (or cheats again).

  • avatar _jsw_ May 9, 2011, 3:18 pm

    I could not possibly agree more with Wendy.

    Do what you need to do to feel sure that this is what is right for you… although it sounds like you’re already there. Then do what you need to do to get yourself able to leave, assuming that’s the decision you make.

    The longer you stay, the more it will take to leave, until, at some point, leaving will become practically impossible. However, that will in no way make you happier to stay.

    Again, be sure that leaving the marriage is right for you. It sure sounds like it, but this is a bridge which is difficult to un-burn, so verify that it’s truly what you need to do.

    If you end up deciding you must leave, then leave. Future You is screaming in your ear to go now before 2.5 years turns into 25. Your husband will be much more able to rebuild his life now than when, decades hence, the truth about your feelings comes out.

    • avatar Quakergirl May 9, 2011, 3:34 pm

      Agreed. She needs to be sure about her feelings in this situation before she leaves. I admire her for recognizing that she did make a commitment, and breaking it isn’t easy or painless and shouldn’t be done thoughtlessly. But LW, it isn’t selfish to say “I need to be happy and fulfilled with myself before I can possibly be a good partner to another person.” It sounds like you’re not happy and fulfilled with yourself, and your marriage is just complicating those feelings. How could it not complicate things?

      I totally agree with Wendy that you would probably benefit from some therapy– whether it brings to light whatever personal issues are preventing you from being happy and leads you down the path to fulfillment so that you can stay in your marriage, or whether it makes you see that you can never be happy in that marriage and lets you work through the guilt you may feel about that.

      There’s no wrong outcome here, as long as you make your decision with thoughtfulness and consideration. You’re not doing this to hurt your husband or because you’re selfish. Focus on yourself, and the right way forward will be clear to you. In the end, you’ll be making both of your lives– whether you end up together or not–better by getting to the bottom of these issues. Good luck, and keep us posted.

  • avatar LTC039 May 9, 2011, 3:41 pm

    Girl you need to leave him asap, for you & for him.
    Staying with him when you clearly don’t want to is not doing any of you a favor.
    Leave him. Leave him. Leave him!!
    The pain of the divorce will be faaar less than the pain of staying in a marriage you’ve already disrespected & have made clear you don’t want to be in.
    LEAVE HIM!

    • avatar LTC039 May 9, 2011, 4:23 pm

      Sorry, but IMO, her letter stated that she’s been unhappy since almost the beginning…It doesn’t sound like her husband did anything to her, it just sounds like she’s not in love with him. To me, there’s really no other suggestion.

      • avatar sarolabelle May 9, 2011, 6:14 pm

        she can work on herself to be 100% happy then she can look at her husband and decide if she wants to be with him or not. but she needs to give herself a chance. get to the root cause of her unhappiness. If her root cause is indeed him then she has to make the decision to leave and learn to not feel guilty doing it. There are sooo many options!

        • avatar LTC039 May 9, 2011, 9:09 pm

          Yeah but she said she’s been unhappy always. She says her gut instinct when asked why she married her husband was “I don’t know.” I think even a depressed person would’ve been able to remember why they married their spouse. I’ve suffered from depression & even though at the time I hated life, I still remembered things… If she really wants to get closure then ok, go to counseling again…but I really think this is more a matter of her not being in love than being depressed. Just sayin’

  • avatar TJ May 9, 2011, 3:47 pm

    “Do you ever sit and wonder/it’s so strange that we could be together/for so long and never know, never care/ what goes on in the other one’s head/ things I’ve thought but I’ve never said/ things I’ve thought but I’ve never said/ so I’ll say something that I should’ve said long ago”

    • avatar Quakergirl May 9, 2011, 3:56 pm

      Ben Folds and Regina Spektor collab. Love that song.

      • avatar Quakergirl May 9, 2011, 4:05 pm

        Song title is You Don’t Know Me, in case there’s some other Ben Folds/Regina Spektor collab floating around out there.

        • MaterialsGirl Elizabeth May 9, 2011, 11:00 pm

          I’m really loving the “song quote that is totally applicable” :)

  • avatar silver_dragon_girl May 9, 2011, 3:48 pm

    This might be the first example I’ve ever seen of something that would benefit from a “separation.”

    Wendy’s right, you should get into therapy. I think your husband probably should, too, because he’s going to have a lot of anger and confusion to deal with over this, especially when you tell him you cheated (and you’d better, but NOT just as a way to finally break up your marriage).

    Then I think you might benefit from trying things apart for a while. I think that being “free and unattached” might not be as great as you remember it. I also think that staying in this relationship while feeling this way is colossally unfair to your husband.

    However, you have every right to pursue that freedom, if you have truly decided that that’s what you need to be happy. So I hope you go to therapy, and then, maybe after a few sessions, if you think it would help you make a decision, suggest to your husband that you move out for a few months to see if that’s really what you want.

    • avatar MissDre May 9, 2011, 3:57 pm

      I really agree with this. I don’t think she should just up and leave because she’s feeling confused and unhappy right now. Marriages are a lot of work, and the commitment should not be taken lightly. A trial separation, along with some counseling, might really help the LW figure out what she’s looking for. But don’t just leave without trying.

      It’s perfectly ok to seek a divorce if you are truly unhappy, but you need to put in the work first to see if this can be salvaged. Do some soul searching, try to find out what YOU need to be happy, and put some work into your marriage.

      If, six months down the road, you decide that leaving is what you need to do, you can do so knowing that you tried your best to honour your commitment and that you are truly following your heart.

      I know it’s not an easy road ahead. Best of luck and lots of love!

    • avatar Laurel May 9, 2011, 4:09 pm

      I was going to suggest a separation as well. Living apart for a few months (while in therapy) could really help you to get some perspective on the situation and help you see what problems you need to address to feel more fulfilled in your life (and, if possible, in your marriage.)

    • avatar mf May 9, 2011, 4:19 pm

      A separation is great idea. She may find that single life is just as unfulfilling as marriage. She seems pretty sure that she doesn’t want to be married to him, but even so, a situation like this is very emotionally confusing. Maybe it’s not actually her marriage that’s the problem. Maybe she’s experiencing a quarter or mid life crisis. Maybe she regrets missing out on certain opportunities that her single friends were able to pursue.

      And, like MissDre says below, it can be truly worthwhile to try to make your relationship work. If the husband himself is not the problem, maybe the two of them together can make changes that would make her happy.

      • avatar mf May 9, 2011, 4:22 pm

        And for what it’s worth, I think a lot of people have that “grass is always green” mentality. Singles wish they were partnered up, and married folk reminisce about the freedom of their single days. But life can be hard and lonely no matter what your relationship status is.

      • avatar MissDre May 9, 2011, 4:22 pm

        Exactly, if she addresses her own issues, she may find that in 6 months or a year, she is SO happy to have her husband and SO thankful that she didn’t leave. She did say that she loves him and he is her best friend…

        or, maybe she’ll realize that she does need to leave in order to be happy. I don’t know….

        Either way, she needs to go down the path of self discovery before making any big decisions.

    • avatar Black Iris May 10, 2011, 2:38 pm

      I don’t think a separation is a good idea. I think getting divorced because you wonder what you’re missing is a bad idea and likely to lead to disappointment. Also I think one reason she’s thinking this way is because she had an affair and is making comparisons between real life and fun exciting life.

      Anyhow, work on the marriage first would be my advice.

  • avatar Sarah May 9, 2011, 4:01 pm

    You and your husband were right, telling your husband that you’re unfilled and that you don’t know what to do is selfish. What do you hope to happen from telling him he doesn’t fulfill you without providing a solution to the table, whether its divorce or personal counseling? Instead of making a decision about your unhappiness, you have made him feel that in every moment in this marriage that he is not good enough. Although you can’t bear to tell him about the cheating, any person would have to emotionally push away from their partner pretty significantly to hide a secret like that, which is another layer of punishment you’re giving to your husband.

    Get counseling now. Use that counseling to stop being indecisive and make decisions that make your life positive instead of sulking in the negative. Whether you’re happy with it or not, you’re a partner, and have been for the last two and a half years. You owe it to your partner and to yourself to work as hard as you can to fixing this problem, whether its understanding that the core of your depression does not have anything to do with your husband, or that divorcing would be the best option. Indulging in your unhappy mindset will only hurt him more and make your situation that much harder to fix.

    • avatar MonMon May 9, 2011, 4:25 pm

      Sarah, your response is the one I agree with most here. I was frankly a little surprised that Wendy responded as delicately as she did. Mine and my mom’s (who was reading with me) initial responses were, “this woman sounds a bit like a spoiled brat.” I definitely commend the LW on her honesty in sharing these feelings with us as well as seeking advice on her situation, but I am thinking that this is a bit of “grass is greener” syndrome. It seems that- like a few others writers mentioned- the LW wanted a wedding without considering the marriage and commitment she was entering as a result. Now, it seems that she is bored because there is nothing “fun” to plan and look forward to (no wedding planning, etc) and having a good, loyal, and unconditionally-loving man is boring her.

      I agree that she should first seek personal help and advice from a counselor to find the root of her feelings, but either way I am sure that her unhappiness will result in separation and ultimately divorce. There seems to be few other solutions that would give the LW the “freedom” she desires, and would also relieve her husband of a woman who does not deserve to have his commitment.

      The prediction I hate to give, however, is that the LW will enjoy her new-found freedom for a little while, have her fun, and then the reality of the man and the marriage that she gave up will come crashing down. I used to be one of those girls who wanted to be in a relationship when single, and to be single when in a relationship— once again, the grass was always greener. However, now, 2.5 years into a relationship with a rocky start and many near-breakups, I have thought about what my life would be without this man, and realize how fortunate and blessed I am to have him and his unconditional love.

      A truly good man is a rare thing to find, LW. There may still be hope for your marriage if you are able to learn to LOVE what you already HAVE.

      “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got til it’s gone…?”

      • avatar Desiree May 9, 2011, 6:31 pm

        Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” yes?

        • avatar MonMon May 9, 2011, 7:35 pm

          Do you know, Desiree, that until now I had no idea that the original is by Joni Mitchell? :) Lil ol’ me had only heard the Counting Crows version…which I absolutely love! Ahh thanks for filling me in!

          • avatar Desiree May 9, 2011, 9:42 pm

            Certainly! I think the Counting Crows version is fantastic as well. : )

  • avatar TheGirl May 9, 2011, 4:03 pm

    You needs therapy all on your own, LW. Frankly, it sounds like you don’t know WHAT you want. You doesn’t want to be with your husband, but love him and he’s your best friend? It sounds like there are a lot more underlying issues there that have nothing to do with him and everything to do with your own unhappiness. Do you think you might be depressed? Its very possible that you are projecting your own personal sadness and lack of fulfillment onto your marriage. I’m honestly not so sure leaving will help, and I’m hesitant to tell anyone to skip out on a marriage when they don’t have a real reason for it. I DO think you owe it to yourself to talk with a licensed therapist about it, and perhaps a psychiatrist before you make any rash decisions.

    • avatar moonflowers May 9, 2011, 4:29 pm

      Agreeing that it might be depression. She may have wanted to marry him not because she wanted the big wedding, but because she thought marriage would lift her out of her slump. (Unfortunately, depressed people often only pull their partners down with them – my own depression sure did!)

      My sister also has a history of depression, and my mother didn’t understand why she was always sad, despite having a good family and all material needs satisfied. So my mom used to tell my sister that she was being “selfish” when she was still unhappy. There are some people who just don’t know/ recognize depression symptoms, or who may be in denial that someone close to them is depressed; unfortunately, the “selfish” reaction isn’t very helpful to someone who already feels lower than low.

      If LW is depressed but somehow can’t afford/get therapy, which there really is no substitute for, she could at least try reading/practicing the cognitive behavioral techniques in the book “Feeling Good” by Dr. David Burns. It’s helped me quite a bit.

      • avatar TheGirl May 9, 2011, 4:38 pm

        Being someone who has dealt with depression, I know its very easy to project. You’re unhappy and you can’t figure out why, so it must be this town, this relationship, this job. So you move on, only to find out later that you feel the same way about the next relationship, job or place. You can’t fix something that’s wrong with you by leaving, because you can’t leave yourself.

        • avatar MissDre May 9, 2011, 4:45 pm

          YES THIS! Exactly how I felt!

        • avatar MissDre May 9, 2011, 4:47 pm

          I moved to a new city, a new school, met new friends, lost 30 pounds, and I was still miserable! Because you are right, you can’t leave yourself. It ME that I needed to deal with!

      • avatar MissDre May 9, 2011, 4:44 pm

        I was very depressed too, and I definitely dragged my ex down. I kept thinking “if only I had X or Y, I’d be happy” but whenever I’d finally get X or Y, I was still just as miserable. What I really needed was an attitude check, to realize that I am the only one responsible for my happiness, and that sometimes it takes hard work to be happy.

        Life isn’t perfect but I’ve certainly come out of my depression and learned a lot about myself and life in general. Perhaps talking to a doctor and getting an anti depressant in addition to some counseling might help.

      • avatar HmC May 9, 2011, 6:41 pm

        Great comment about depression. A few years ago, I ended a very functional relationship with a great man, and looking back now I know that my actions were caused, at least in part, by some serious depression issues that I was projecting onto the relationship. It’s difficult to extricate which issues were directly due to depression and which were strictly the relationship… impossible even. And I can’t regret the separation, because I’m so happy with how my life has worked out since then, luckily. But I definitely did learn an important lesson about the value of a genuinely compatible connection, and the sometimes permanent repercussions of emotional decisions, hastily made.

  • avatar Callifax May 9, 2011, 4:09 pm

    The thing I find kind of interesting is that she says she’s unhappy in her marriage, but doesn’t exactly say why – maybe she doesn’t know herself, and as suggested, would do well to go to therapy. I found myself wondering: does her husband not treat her right? Or are they simply not a good match? Does she want to experiment more? Or did she miss out on being wild and single when she was younger, and now regrets it?

    I say this because having a true understanding of where the unhappiness comes from will really help the LW figure out what to do in this situation. If you aren’t a good match, then by all means, do what you need to do for both of your sakes and get out. If it’s something in your own personality that you need to work on, maybe with therapy and a LOT of forgiveness on his part, maybe you can work it out. And if you just need to experiment and be single, well that’s okay too – just understand that it’s a wild world out there and single may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

    • avatar emjay May 9, 2011, 8:23 pm

      I agree with your comment. But (I’m assuming) they were prob high school sweethearts and were expected ti get married after they graduated. Just because when you marry young, things and people start to grow apart. Or you haven’t had the time to “sow your oats” so to speak

  • landygirl Landy May 9, 2011, 5:01 pm

    LW, seek therapy now so you don’t repeat the same mistake.

  • avatar HmC May 9, 2011, 5:48 pm

    I highly value marriage, and I would urge most people that feel they are unhappy in their marriage to seek counseling and give their decision serious thought before hastily deciding to divorce (especially if they have children, which thankfully this LW does not). And I don’t know that I feel comfortable definitively telling this LW to end things, for a number of reasons. But I will stress that ultimately, you should never be in a relationship with someone because you feel like they will crumple and die without you. That is not an indicator of a healthy relationship or healthy individuals. You deserve better, and so do they. Even if that means being alone, because that is better than a relationship that doesn’t work.

    “I feel deep in my heart that this marriage isn’t going to last” – LW. That, coupled with the fact that LW felt uncomfortable telling a pre-marriage counselor why she even wanted to get married, is strong evidence to me that something has to seriously change here. LW, that might mean counseling, or a trial separation, or talking things through clearly and openly with your husband, or any combination of those or other actions. But you cannot continue on in an unhappy marriage and just expect to bury your real feelings. I think you know that.

  • avatar francesk May 9, 2011, 6:06 pm

    I’ve been reading this blog for a while now and for the first time felt compelled to really respond to the LW.

    Three years ago, I was engaged to a wonderful person. I loved him. I loved his family. My family loved him. Everything seemed to be great. He proposed. I said yes. I immediately regretted it.

    You see, as soon as I said yes, the one huge problem my SO and I had came barreling towards me at full speed. We didn’t have the right kind of chemistry. For a better part of a year and a half I didn’t want to have sex with him and I would always brush those feelings aside or make stupid excuses as to why I didn’t want to have sex. In fact, that was the only thing we ever really argued about. Yes, I know, a huge red flag, but like I said he was a great guy and I didn’t want to lose him.

    Finally, I went to a therapist. It took about four months to come to the conclusion that I couldn’t live the rest of my life with someone I didn’t want to have sex with. I did the hard thing and called off the engagement, but in the long run it was for the best. I don’t regret my decision and I firmly believe that everyone needs to decide what they want out of life. Some are fine with a great friendship, some are ok with passion and then you have some who want security. I want it all.

    My adivce to you, LW, is see a therapist. If you don’t like him or her after a couple of visits, find one you do like. Also, I agree with others and a seperation while you figure yourself out isn’t a bad idea.

  • avatar emjay May 9, 2011, 8:14 pm

    I’m wondering the age of the LW. If she is young and married out of high school than yes, I would definately suggest single therapy first, then couples therapy to see if they can make it work. It would also be giving them sound advice on how to handle more obligation as they get older. Being young is difficult enough without marriage thrown in. If the LW is more mature, and an older couple ( like late 20′s and up). I could see it as being more of past issues coming to light when the pressuer of a united life together kicked in. And now she is having second thoughts as to “what her life could have been” instead of focusing on the new life she can creat with her hsuband. I do strongly suggest both single and couples therepy, because the husband needs to learn how to handle the emotions his wife is experiencing. Then if all else fails, proceed with a trial seperation, and then discuss divorice if it comes down to it.
    Sometimes a trial seperation will make things better to see what the relationship meant to each person (I.e. “absentce makes the heart grow fonder”) or you both might realize how much happier and fullfilled you are without each other. And that would make for an amicable divorce and easier on both sides. I’m not saying it will not be diffecult, beacause there will be a lot hurt and anger at first on both sides. But eventually the two of you would calm the tempers and discuss the next step as mature adults, like no screaming matches or finger pointing.
    Let each other talk and listen to the other and their feelings, and then vice versa. Talk through them and then you will know for sure if it will last or not.
    But I cannot stress enought how important it is for both of you, singularly and couples, to go through therepy first, so you candle handle the talks you will have later on, as resonsible adults who care about each other, instead of butting head as acting childish scene makers. I hope you the best of luck. And I would like to here an update from this “2. I hope its a happy one!

  • avatar emjay May 9, 2011, 8:45 pm

    I know this sounds a lil off killter but I am gonna throw it oue there any ways.
    If you have a divination deck, do couple of readings. The crossroads
    reading would be the best. It would tell you how your life could be if you go down one path, or how it would be if you went down the second path. Well not exactly tell you, but will give you insight. Every time i have a problem I turn to my divi decks, and they help me in the tough times. But sometimes it is hard to determine the readings for yourseld, so might want to get a reading done by a reputable person. I know some near me, but I don’t know where you live. And before I get back lash from same crazy bible people, it is somethign that is used and practiced in any religions, including judisim. And I am being honest about my personal religion, that some of us like to call earth religion. So please don’t critize.

    • avatar spaceboy761 May 10, 2011, 11:06 am

      I’m going to criticize you not as a crazy Bible person, but as someone who holds a Master’s degree in Applied Statistics.

      So you know how cards work right? With the shuffling and the bending such?

      • avatar demoiselle May 10, 2011, 11:19 am

        I’m not a follower of any particular new age (or otherwise) religion, but I’ll stick up for Tarot/divination decks on one ground at least: since they are symbolic images that you have to interpret by thinking about your situation, they *can* be of use in dealing with personal problems. The reason is that you turn up certain images or cards in what is supposedly a “pattern” and then you have to consider what those cards could represent in your life. It is a way of introspection or meditation upon a problem. Some of us do it easily without the aid of cards, and some may find that they respond better to a visual stimulus of one kind or another.

        While I personally don’t think there is any “guiding hand” or “psychic gift” involved in this kind of use of divination decks, if a person finds the cards useful for solving their problems, there’s no harm in it. Tarot cards could have lots of other interesting uses (turning up cards as inspiration for characters and situations in a short story or play, if you’re a creative writer, for instance).

        • avatar demoiselle May 10, 2011, 11:20 am

          When it comes to charging money for doing readings for others, it can get into an ethically sticky area, of course.

        • avatar spaceboy761 May 10, 2011, 11:30 am

          I guess they could be useful as a ‘what if’ mental exercise. Like if you’re really struggling with a career problem and draw the inverted Ace of Pentacles somewhere and realize, “Hey, wait… I AM being a greedy asshole! What the hell was I thinking?!”

          If I told you that I had an undergrad certificate in Creative Writing to go along with with MS in Stat, would you believe me? The cards do do a decent job of presenting archetypes that you can use to drive a story if you feel yourself stagnating. I mostly wrote poetry, so I never really needed to develop more than two or three ideas at a time… it’s mostly about the execution.

          • avatar demoiselle May 10, 2011, 11:34 am

            Yes, I would believe you. Neat that you have a brain which can work on both sides. ;-)

            I like creative writing too, but not enough to dedicate myself to it. Thus, I’m doing graduate work and using my writing energy to do research papers. Unfortunately, I don’t think Tarot will help me with my final papers. If only they would…

  • avatar Kat May 9, 2011, 8:55 pm

    Relationships are tough. I know a lot of people who have stayed in long term relationships because they either felt they owed it to their partner or maybe that the love was still there it was just a rough patch (that lasted years). Relationships don’t work out sometimes. It’s not that the person doesn’t deserve all the love in the world or all the happiness it can offer – its just that those things can no longer be given by you. There’s no point hiding it – both of you will be very very hurt before things get better. But I promise you, they WILL get better!

  • mandalee amandalee May 9, 2011, 10:43 pm

    Sigh, why is there a running trend lately of LW’s going through issues that either myself or someone close to me has gone through? It’s not really a flattering trend considering the topics of some of the last few letters, but what can you do?
    Anyway, LW, you remind me of my cousin, whose wedding I had the unfortunate opportunity to serve as her maid of honor. She was marrying her boyfriend of over 7 years and was the picture of the glowing bride throughout the wedding. I lovingly supported her in her seemingly fairy tale romance. Fast forward to four months AFTER the wedding, when it comes out that my lovely cousin was sleeping with a cousin on my dad’s side of the family (not the same side of the family thank god haha) who was 45! (She was 27 at the time). She claimed she so badly wanted to marry her husband and didn’t understand how she could just be so unhappy and unfulfilled to a man “she cared for so much” and “loved like a best friend”.

    Well, last time I checked, you shouldn’t get married unless you actually are ready to be someone’s wife, no someone’s “bride” and you don’t cheat and mislead your best friend into marrying you. Sadly, you dug this grave for yourself LW and there’s no way to get out of it easily. You can stay and work at your marriage, but you don’t seem interested in that and frankly, I feel like your husband deserves better. Or you can leave and break his heart. As much as you don’t want to, this is what happens when someone decides to end a marriage, the other person is usually hurt.

  • avatar Dave Jay May 10, 2011, 12:32 am

    You made your bed, honey… get ready to lie down. The time for all of these feelings to reveal themselves was BEFORE the wedding. Now your task is quite straightforward… be the best wife you can be to the man you love. You obviously have a LOT of maturing to do, but none of that permits infidelity. SHAME ON YOU! Given that, You are obviously not worthy of the man you chose, but throw yourself at his mercy and let him decide your fate. If he forgives you, you are truly blessed. If he turns you out, you get what you deserve. My concerns are with him… you are well beyond being worthy of any sympathy.

    • avatar Lydia May 10, 2011, 4:49 am

      Wow, harsh much? Clearly she has made some bad choices, but capslocking “shame on you” is really not helping anyone.

    • avatar SpaceySteph May 10, 2011, 6:30 am

      Agree with Lydia. Also what is this “If he turns you out” like its the 18th century and a woman who’s husband dumps her will roam the streets with a scarlet A pinned to her blouse begging for handouts and being generally miserable and homeless?

      Its sad that the LW married a man without actually wanting to be his wife. People make mistakes. I doubt you are so free of any mistakes that you should be degrading the LW for making one. She didn’t come here to be berated, she came here for constructive advice.

    • avatar _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 9:02 am

      Awesome. I can almost hear the witch trials going on in the background.

      I know that if I were married to someone who realized she didn’t want to be married to me, all I’d really care about was that she put up an act and pretended to want the marriage. Until she died, because, damn it, she made a decision or agreed to something when she was younger (granted, in a society that pushes marriage and rarely puts up anything in the way of a barrier to it and then makes it really difficult to get out of, but hey, it was her decision).

      I mean, that’s what’s owed to me, right? Why should I care if she’s happy? We said the vows and now she’s mine forever, just like those awesome sell-your-soul-to-the-Devil stories.

      Because true love is never letting someone go, ever.

      • avatar Dave Jay May 10, 2011, 10:11 am

        There are times in a marriage where you will actually feel like you “fell out of love” with the other person. There are other times where you just “will not like” your spouse. These feelings may last for weeks or months. Your marriage gets stronger by enduring these trials, just like your friendships get stronger each time you help a friend through a rough spot. There is no excuse for infidelity… EVER. It’s the most selfish, disrespectful, and painful thing you can do to your spouse. He will be forever damaged, so yes… Shame Shame Shame! If you want out of your marriage, you now have legal grounds to achieve it. Just tell your husband what you did (and he’ll tell you what you are) and that should put you on the glidepath to divorce. Congratulations.

        • avatar Sarah May 10, 2011, 12:09 pm

          Uh…I would hope you don’t “fall out of love” with your spouse for months at a time. We’ve all seen months become years for couples and pretty soon they become roommates with axes to grind with each other. I think at that point “enduring” the marriage seems to be much more unhealthy than seeking counseling. To be quite honest I can’t imagine anything worse for a couple then to have one half of it force themselves to like it when they don’t. There’s a reason that advice seems outdated, its because it doesn’t work. Everyone makes mistakes, even you, and if she wanted to suffer for them then she should follow your advice and bear a life she is begging to change instead of addressing the mistakes and understanding their source. It seems like you’re more interested in seeing LW get punished for her actions, and ultimately hurting her AND the husband more, rather than find a positive solution for them both.

          • avatar Dave Jay May 10, 2011, 2:54 pm

            It is not my place to punish anyone… that fate falls to a much higher power… and to a different extent, to her husband ;-) Regardless, the “right thing” is so named because it is ALWAYS the right thing to do: BE HONEST! She has to come clean with him (and anyone else she is deceiving) and either re-commit herself to her marriage or walk-away.

            Regardless of what you choose,the following applies:
            The right thing to do is almost always the hardest thing to do… and that is by design. It tests us. It requires virtue, morality, humility, faith, and most of all, courage. This is why we remember great people in history, like our founding fathers and a few select Presidents, who extolled these virtues. You need to change your life’s path, and it’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. Start by coming clean with your past transgressions, accepting graciously whatever price they cost you, apologizing profusely to everyone you hurt, and praying for their forgiveness. If you need counseling or medical help, get it! Once you have done all this you will finally be in a place where you can forgive yourself and learn to love yourself again. That is the prerequisite to being able to love someone else in the future. (No one said it was easy… just that it was well worth it!)

            • avatar _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 3:22 pm

              If you look at the “great people in history,” you’ll almost always find people who had what you would consider to be moral flaws.

              To argue that the right thing to do is almost always the hardest thing to do implies that the right thing to do is almost always the least natural thing to do, which seems flawed as an argument.

              I would argue that the right thing to do isn’t going to always be pre-defined by some rulebook. It’s going to be the thing that maximizes the amount of benefit vs the amount of harm. And that is not always going to be honesty or “coming clean” or doing any specific thing that one finds codified on some tablet somewhere.

              Honesty is generally the best policy. Following the law is generally the best policy. Being courteous is generally the best policy. There are a lot of things that I’d agree are, more often than not, the proper thing to do. But there is very, very little that I’d say is always, 100% of the time, context-independent the right thing to do.

              • avatar Dave Jay May 10, 2011, 3:41 pm

                I’m glad you don’t owe me any money JSW… I’ve got a feeling you would see keeping it as both maximizing your benefit and limiting your harm :-)

                • avatar _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 7:22 pm

                  Overall benefit and harm, not localized. The good of the many vs the good of the few or the one. :-) Keeping your money would harm you.

                  On the other hand, I might see keeping your tools as preventing possible harm to you, so I wouldn’t loan me any of those.

                  • avatar HmC May 10, 2011, 8:30 pm

                    I am really appreciating your logic in this exchange, JSW. Ah, logic. Like a breath of fresh air.

            • avatar Sarah May 10, 2011, 6:55 pm

              Erm…I’m not entirely sure you know everything about our founding fathers. I think maybe read up a little on Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin’s trips to Paris (ie: hookers) before you extol their morality. Not to mention slavery, disregard of religious traditions (which was actually kind of funny), rampant racism etc etc…..I honestly could not think of worse examples of virtuous and faithful people…

              Anyway, its not up to you to judge her, that’s not why she wrote here, and that’s not why we write back. She is obviously depressed and seeking answers in the wrong places. Don’t make this another place she’ll come up empty.

              And by the way….its up to her husband to punish her?? Yikes. Just ……yikes.

              • avatar MissDre May 10, 2011, 7:09 pm

                I think that was JSW’s point…. these people in history are considered great people even though they had many moral flaws. In other words, nobody is perfect and I don’t think JSW is casting judgement on the LW.

                • avatar Sarah May 10, 2011, 7:17 pm

                  No, I completely agree with jsw, I couldn’t have put the idea of righteousness better. I was replying to Dave Jay.

                  • avatar MissDre May 10, 2011, 7:25 pm

                    Ah ok. I get it!

                • avatar Kate May 10, 2011, 7:17 pm

                  I think she was responding to Dave Jay, but maybe clicked reply under jsw.

                  • avatar _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 7:36 pm

                    No, it was under Dave’s post, but the staggered replies make that a but non-obvious visually.

              • avatar Dave Jay May 10, 2011, 9:53 pm

                Sorry to set you straight, but I’m quite well-read on the founders (not the public school/college rewrite), which is why I don’t balk at using them as an example of what we should all strive to be. The founders upheld the principles of freedom which required (and still require) that each person be responsible for their own actions and uphold the principles of natural law. (We are all sinners, so your point is moot.)

                And yes, I CAN judge her based on her actions. (She’s an adulterer. Care to disagree?) Having done that, I have advised her as to what she must do to set it right and get herself on a positive path. I didn’t just put out my opinion as so many others have… I put out the hard-to-hear truth. I can’t imagine what else she would hope to find from a forum like this.

                And finally, her husband is going to be broken in two and forever changed by her actions. He will never look her straight in the eyes again. He will never believe she is where she says she is. Ironiclally, watching him go through hell for months on end will be her punishment. Let’s hope she cares enough to learn something from it.

                • avatar Kate May 10, 2011, 10:11 pm

                  Public school/college rewrite huh? I would like to read your version.

                • avatar _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 11:39 pm

                  Well, then, since most of the founding fathers were adulterers as well, you clearly support that by holding them up as examples of what we should all strive to be. Is slave ownership also on our to-do list?

                  Also, I love how what we give is opinion but what you put forth is “truth.” Sorry, no, outside of the area around the pulpit, there’s a lot more room for valid commentary than the black-and-white fundamentalist position you hold.

                  And, no, her husband is by no means necessarily going to be broken in two or forever changed by her actions, nor does she need to tell him about the affair, nor does she need to stay and be “punished.”

                  Your opinion seems entirely based upon religious principal. There are many of us that use empathy and a rational desire to help all those involved instead of resorting to an interpretation of divine intent. Fire and brimstone is sooo 1800s.

                  • avatar Dave Jay May 11, 2011, 1:05 am

                    What I put forth is the principle of Natural Law. It existed well before the 10 commandments, but is articulated there for the first time. God is not a religion; I defend no church or organized religion; I am a scientist and am devoted only to Truth. You may not yet be old enough to realize it, but truth always finds the light of day, eventually. This is why it is so important for the others to distort it (i.e. founding fathers and history). If you truly knew the history of your country, then you would know the great obligation that is upon you to preserve it. However, then you would also be self-sufficient, which doesn’t sit well with a government who holds the purse strings and sets the curriculum for our public schools/colleges. They thrive on your dependence and invest in your ignorance.

                    Yes… her husband will have permanent trust issues; that is how evil propogates. Yes, she needs to atone for the damage she has caused; we all do. I am making no exception of her. If I truly held disdain for her, then I (too) would encourage her to continue her life of deceipt and denial. Sadly, that position is well-covered here. I truly feel for her.

                    • avatar _jsw_ May 11, 2011, 1:35 am

                      If you were indeed a scientist devoted to truth (oh, sorry, “Truth”), then you wouldn’t be sitting here espousing a moral viewpoint that has no basis whatsoever in science. Nor would you use phrases like “that’s how evil propagates.” Nor would you say she “needs to atone for the damage she’s done” since there isn’t any damage yet – the damage would be caused by the discussion of the affair which you’re claiming is necessary, not by the affair itself.

                      Also, if you’d like to put forth a viable alternative to the commonly held history of this country and of the founding fathers, please feel free to do so. However, it’ll have no impact whatsoever on the discussion of the LW’s situation.

                    • avatar Kate May 11, 2011, 2:00 am

                      I am a scientist. You are not. Or, you are not one that is working.

                    • avatar SpaceySteph May 11, 2011, 2:45 am

                      That stuff you are posting is, frankly, batshit.

                    • avatar Dave Jay May 11, 2011, 9:59 am

                      And here we have it, people: The difference between the generation the grew up reading books and the one that grew up reading blogs.
                      - If it feels good, do it.
                      - If it hurts someone, that’s their problem.
                      - It doesn’t matter whether I’m right or wrong, as long as I feel good about my answer.
                      - Truth is entirely subjective. There are no absolutes.
                      - History is entirely subjective, and frankly, irrelevent to me.
                      - I know more than anyone who ever lived before me because I have internet access.

                      Let me know how that all works out for you!
                      And yes… I am a WORKING scientist. Physicist, actually. But since there is no truth, there is no science either, so it hardly matters!

                    • avatar _jsw_ May 11, 2011, 10:20 am

                      Apparently we’re at the max reply limit, so this is for DJ’s post above me:

                      First, nice way to cast aspersions on an entire generation based on Internet use. It’s not like what you mention as traits don’t occur within every generation, and certainly not in the 60s and 70s.

                      Second, I’m likely older than you are. I’m certainly not much younger. I hold my world view not because I was raised via Internet but because I was raised to use my brain to think and not just parrot.

                      Third, you’re negatively overgeneralizing in your listed items. Among other things, history is subjective. Even as it is occurring. There are always many different sides to it.

                      Fourth, if you negate the list, that seems to be your position on everything (“if it feels good, don’t do it”, etc). I don’t see how that’s a superior viewpoint.

                      Finally, I suspect there’s little reason for your advice, as those who believe as you would already follow the etched-in-stone rules, and those who don’t will think you’re a loon.

                      It’s fine to think adultry is wrong. But we should have moved past the casting stones and living in misery parts centuries ago.

                    • avatar Sarah May 11, 2011, 11:44 am

                      ok, Dave Jay is just looking for people to complain to, I say we move on.

                    • avatar _jsw_ May 11, 2011, 11:48 am

                      @Sarah: Agreed.

      • avatar spaceboy761 May 10, 2011, 11:39 am

        Green thumb for that last sentence alone.

        • avatar spaceboy761 May 10, 2011, 11:40 am

          It’s especially poignant if you say while impersonating Kevin from ‘The Office’.

    • avatar G May 12, 2011, 12:12 pm

      While I sympathize with what I see as the LW’s possibly major depression, I agree… there is no excuse for the cheating. Are any of us thinking about how hurt he will be over this when he finds out (or if)? How hurt he must be that the LW told him she is unhappy with him? I don’t necessarily agree that she should stay with him no matter what. In the long run, if she doesn’t do the work to fix things- she’ll just make them BOTH unhappy.
      But, I don’t necessarily disagree with Dave Jay’s “harsh” words. Infidelity is certainly shameful.

  • avatar Jess May 10, 2011, 5:21 am

    Wow I SO can relate to this. Only instead of a marriage, I feel this way about a job/city I live in. I wanted this job and to live here sooooo badly. No I’m like hmm. somethings missing, I hate it here. I’m imagining how great things would be if I moved back to my old hometown… 2 years ago I couldn’t wait to get out of there!

    For me, it’s that I haven’t built up a satisfying social group here and I’m blaming it on the city. I’m not sure what’s missing in your life, but as you describe your husband as your “best friend”… I don’t think your relationship is what you need to change.

    I think this dissatisfaction isn’t directly related to your husband and marriage. I think you should do therapy, try a separation, and get your happiness back. You could even bring up the possibility of an open marriage, if sexually your needs aren’t being met. Dan Savage has a lot of great articles that have really convinced me that a relationship is a lot more than sexual monogamy.

    Unless you are thinking, I could have done better. I could have married a doctor/funnier guy/better kisser/more patient man/ etc. etc. If you’re unhappiness is just general and hard to pin down, I think your marriage can and should be saved. However, if what you’re really feeling is regret for settling for too little… well, you’ll figure that out in therapy I suppose, and then you should leave.

  • fast eddie fast eddie May 10, 2011, 9:44 am

    When my first wife and I divorced after a 2 year troubled marriage I felt very guilty and totally confused. It took a long time to recover but time, counseling and reading lots of self help books healed the wounds. It took the passage of 20+ years to find someone that remains my life long companion. There’s more to this sordid tale and I’m obviously a slow learner.

  • avatar demoiselle May 10, 2011, 10:26 am

    LW, I can’t tell you what to do, but I suggest getting counseling and resolving what is going on within yourself before you confess your infidelity, unless you may have gotten pregnant or contracted and STD that you could pass on to him (might be worth seeing the doctor to make sure).

    While I would want to know if my spouse had cheated (so I could decide whether to divorce or work it out), I think you owe it to him to decide what YOU want (divorce, separation, committing wholeheartedly to rebuilding the relationship) before you drop this bomb on your partner. Don’t increase his suffering unnecessarily by saying you cheated AND you don’t even know whether you want to try to fix the relationship. If you decide you absolutely want to divorce him, and there is no chance of STDs having been passed on, it may be kindest never to mention the cheating.

    • avatar MissDre May 10, 2011, 10:30 am

      I agree with this.

      • avatar demoiselle May 10, 2011, 10:32 am

        I feel really weird posting it, too, since I’m generally a hard-liner about fidelity. But then, we also all know about individuals who confess their cheating to make their own consciences easier, despite the harm it will do their partner. In this case, I don’t think there is any good that can come from confessing, at this point. Only more pain for him/them both.

        • Budj Budjer May 10, 2011, 12:46 pm

          It is also interesting to me that you took this point of view considering your opinion on the last “your turn” article. I tend to agree though that if she wants to divorce she should not tell him.

          • avatar demoiselle May 10, 2011, 1:12 pm

            Yeah, it is contradictory in a way. I think fidelity is very important (to me), and therefore that it is important to be able to make an informed opinion about whether to stay with someone–which you can’t if you don’t know all the details.

            But then, in this case I see the potential for the LW confessing to her husband, not knowing what she wants to do, then he has to spend months dealing with her infidelity AND the fact that she’s not sure whether she wants to fix things. I think she owes it to him to minimize the damage, at least in the short run. Once she has her head on straight, then she can lay it out on the table.

            Trying to be somewhat consistent, if she decides she wants to make things work, I think she ought to tell him about the infidelity so he can make an informed choice. But is there any benefit to either of them to tell him about it if she’s absolutely set on divorcing him no matter what?

            • Budj Budjer May 10, 2011, 1:17 pm

              I think the only exception I can think of is if they intended on remaining a signifcant part of one anothers lives then it’s probably important to divulge that information – perhaps post-divorce settlement.

              • Budj Budjer May 10, 2011, 1:18 pm

                run on sentence…my b

              • avatar demoiselle May 10, 2011, 1:22 pm

                This exchange shows how important it is to be able to see shades of gray. Being “consistent” is not always a virtue, because not every situation is the same. It’s important for those of us who tend towards rigidity (as I do in terms of fidelity, and everyone probably does on some issue or another) to constantly remind ourselves of this fact and moderate appropriately.

                • Budj Budjer May 10, 2011, 1:30 pm

                  I agree. Good insight. Context can make or break any situation.

                  I personally really enjoy reading everyone’s comments as it helps keep me more open-minded and concienscious of considering all the variables (even in my own life)…….it’s also a nice break from work.

  • avatar spaceboy761 May 10, 2011, 11:19 am

    Just accept that fact that you’ve fucked this up just about as badly as you could have move on. You got married for the wrong reasons, you cheated on your husband, and you’ve absolutely crushed the one person who loves you the most in this world since he probably already suspects that you’re cheating.

    Do the right thing for a change. Tell him everything because he deserves a better answer than ‘just ‘cuz’, get into therapy, start over, and try to do better next time.

  • avatar oldie May 10, 2011, 12:57 pm

    I think counseling is an excellent idea as the biggest problem seems to be that LW doesn’t seem to know what she wants. She loves her husband, she likes her husband, he treats he well and loves her unconditionally, as she relates. So, what is it she finds lacking in her marriage? She never really says, the closest hint being that she feels she’d be happier if she were not tied down. That is likely why she strayed.

    It would be easier to answer if LW gave her age, educational level, and something about the rest of her life. Does she have a job? Is it satisfying? Does she have friends, apart from her husband. Do they share a hobby? Do they do anything together other than stay home and watch TV? Her unhappiness could well come from a source other than her marriage or it could be depression. She might have expected marriage to fix the other things in her life, and it didn’t.

    Her letter makes it very clear that she is unhappy in her marriage, but not why. Not much to go on, really.

  • avatar cmarie May 10, 2011, 1:27 pm

    I agree with the recommendation that the LW should get some counseling. Whether or not you want to save your marriage, I feel that the amount of self-doubt and depression you’re experiencing isn’t normal. Relationships are hard. That’s a fact of life. However, if there’s any possiblity that you could be experiencing depression it becomes ten times harder. You need to work on yourself and find out why you feel so completely unhappy. I don’t think it’s just the marriage that has you miserable, what else is going on in your life? To me it sounds like the LW married young, maybe even high school sweethearts(?), and now isn’t sure if she’s lived enough life to make a lifelong committment. I feel a lot of sympathy for her. I’ve been in a relationship that I stayed in because I didn’t want the pain of a break-up despite knowing how unhappy I was. If there are other things going on in her life, those problems could be carrying over to her relationship. I was unhappy with a lot of my life, my family relationship, I was unemployed, etc, and there were times when I wasn’t sure if I was so unhappy because I didn’t want to be in this relationship or if it was because I had so much bad stuff in my life. Some days she was the only thing that kept me going and others all I wanted to do was leave her and go home. Figure why you’re so unhappy then actively work to change that. Whether you stay or you go, you need to find your own happiness separate from your marriage before you can truly appreciate your husband. Last bit of advice, tell him about the cheating. He deserves to know. And get tested. You don’t want to give him herpes too.

    • avatar spaceboy761 May 10, 2011, 1:49 pm

      Automatic rec for herpes.

  • avatar Black Iris May 10, 2011, 2:29 pm

    I think the fact that you had an affair may have influenced how you think about your marriage. Sometimes when people want to cheat, they start seeing all the problems in their relationship. It’s an unconscious way to give yourself an excuse.

    The affair may be clouding your thinking right now, so it’s not a good idea to rush our of your marriage.

    One thing you need to know is that when people are unhappy in their marriage, they often remember the beginning of the relationship as worse than they said it was at the time (psychologists have tracked this and shown it.) So be careful about rushing out of your marriage.

    You are however, miserably unhappy now. You need to do something about that. Don’t just quit your marriage, but do get counseling and maybe individual therapy as well. If you can work things out with your husband, great. If not, at least you will have tried.

    But whatever you do, don’t have kids right now!

  • avatar Black Iris May 10, 2011, 2:46 pm

    I think Wendy’s answer was a little too pro-divorce. LW shouldn’t stay in a miserable marriage, but given that she had an affair, I think we have to take what she says with a grain of salt. People so often rewrite the history of their relationship.

    On the other hand, I agree that counseling is a good idea and there is no way to get divorced without hurting the husband.

  • Skyblossom Skyblossom May 10, 2011, 2:54 pm

    You sound miserable and unfulfilled in general so not just in your marriage. I think many people expect their marriage to make them happy and when they are unhappy they blame the marriage. The reality is that your marriage can’t make you happy, you make your marriage happy. Sometimes you can do that and sometimes it just doesn’t work.

    I think that before you leave this marriage you need to stop and think about what it is you want out of life. You need goals and aspirations. You need to make your life something more than it is now. You need to find something that gives you a sense of accomplishment and self satisfaction. Something that will make you feel proud of yourself. Then see if your marriage supports you in your goals or doesn’t support you in your goals. At that point I think you will have a clearer picture as to whether you should stay in your marriage and can make a better decision.

    • avatar Dave Jay May 10, 2011, 3:16 pm

      Amen, sister! Marriage, like all things, is what you make of it. There is never more than 1 or 2 people to blame!

    • avatar oldie May 10, 2011, 3:18 pm

      I think this is so true. I think it significant that LW has no idea why she strayed and also has no idea whether or not being on her own will make her happier or more fulfilled. The biggest need is to understand herself better. What is she now doing that gives her pleasure and fulfillment? Was she doing something in the past that gave her pleasure and fulfillment that she has stopped because of marriage. Did her husband encourage her to give up this fulfilling activity or has she done so on her own? Was she happy before she married? What does she want to achieve in life? How does her husband differ from her ideal partner? Are there little changes he would be willing to make to increase her happiness?

      It seems strange to be considering divorce while saying that they still love and like each other and giving no concrete examples of the deficiency of her marriage.

      I’ve had close friends who lived together happily for years and divorced after just a few months of marriage. People marry for a reason. In some way they think ‘something’ will improve with marriage over living together. Sometimes these expectations for change aren’t clearly conveyed to the partner either pre- or post-marriage. LW and her husband, with the help of a third party counselor, should discuss this. Perhaps voicing the expected change can cause it to happen. In the case of my friends, his unspoken expectation (voiced a couple months after marriage) was a deal-breaker.

      There is an interesting story in today’s Wall Street Journal, really an old year-ago story from the scientific press, on changes in attractiveness of mates when going on and off the pill. Among its points are that women choose less overtly masculine mates when on the pill and when not ovulating. Also, that our genes that determine our immunological group influence our pheromones and whom we find attractive. This all changes on the pill. One, perhaps pertinent, point was that women who were attracted to and married less overtly masculine mates while on the pill, might find themselves less attracted to their husbands and more attracted to a very masculine other when they are off the pill and in their fertile ovulating time of the month. Not all of what we do is at a conscious intellectual level.

  • avatar Elle May 10, 2011, 7:41 pm

    I’m confused about this letter. The LW loves her husband, but is not happy in her marriage. How can you not be happy with someone you love? The LW loves her husband, but sleeps with another guy.

    I think that, before the wedding, the LW didn’t have time to think about the marriage or the relationship, because she had the wedding to look forward to. And after the wedding, she was probably ‘Now what?’

    I honestly think the LW is confused and doesn’t know what she wants. And everybody’s advice to go to counseling is spot on. If the LW changes her mind with every year that goes by (I want to be married. I want to be single etc), it’s not fair that she drags her husband through this emotional turmoil that he did not help cause. (My ex used to change his mind all the time, and it was very hard to deal with. Obviously, if one changes their mind about what to have for dinner, or how to spend the weekend, it’s not a big deal. But when you change your plans about the future every week because you get a new idea, that other person in your life, who is affected by those plans, will feel very confused!)

    So, LW, figure out what you want, and stick with it. No regrets.

    Picking up new hobbies or exercising might help. (During the separation from my ex, I started to make bead necklaces. They’re not too pretty, but they provided hours of calm. Can’t really say happiness, because I was far from happy during that period.) Hobbies definitely improve someone’s mood.

    Also, I think you need to figure out if you still love your husband. I think that all the counseling in the world won’t put those feelings back into your heart.

    Good luck, and I hope you will be able to be happy in this marriage. Do you know how hard it is to find a guy who loves you unconditionally?

    • avatar _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 8:30 pm

      “How can you not be happy with someone you love?”

      One way: there can be no sexual chemistry. You can love someone, think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, and so on, but if there’s no chemistry, you’re not going to be happy. I’m sure there are other things, but that’s one thing that comes to mind.

      I speak from personal experience when I say that a lack of chemistry can be difficult or impossible to overcome, no matter what the other qualities of the person, and that what might seem like not a big deal or something that’ll get better afterwards before you get married can turn into a huge weight on your shoulders afterwards when you realize it is a big deal and won’t get better.

      I don’t know what the personal issues are with the LW and why she’s not feeling right about the marriage, but I know that it’s very possible to go into a marriage with all the right intentions and hopes and still end up regretting the decision.

      • avatar SpaceySteph May 11, 2011, 1:04 am

        I think maybe love is a combination of physical and emotional enjoyment of a person. Could just be how I’m built, but I have never loved a person I didn’t enjoy having sex with, nor have I really enjoyed having sex (or physical relations of any kind) with someone I didn’t also have an emotional attachment too.

        I think that in the LW’s case maybe love has become a habit more than a feeling. I wake up every morning these days and think “wow, I love my boyfriend,” its a feeling that hits me all over again. Maybe she doesn’t feel that, but thinks “Of course I love him, he’s my husband” like its a memory of the feeling or a reflex rather than the feeling itself.

    • avatar _jsw_ May 10, 2011, 8:34 pm

      Sorry, replied too soon. I wanted to say I agreed with what you said… I just wanted to provide an example of how she can love him and yet be unhappy.

      Also, as hard as it is to find someone who loves you unconditionally – totally agree there – it’s just as important to find someone you want to love you unconditionally, someone you love unconditionally, and someone whose bones you want to jump on a regular basis.

  • avatar Elle May 11, 2011, 12:12 am

    Initially, my comment had the questions “Are you still attracted to your husband” and “How exactly do you love your husband? Like a friend or like a man?” in it, but I deleted them because the letter doesn’t offer any reason for the unhappiness. Just that the marriage itself makes the LW unhappy and she wants to be single again.

    Maybe my brain works differently, or I haven’t experienced it yet, but for me love comes with the wish to jump bones. And when they go away, they go together.

    _jsw_, I agree about the double coincidence of wants you described. Or, the other name I like to give it – reciprocation.

  • avatar Jess May 11, 2011, 2:48 am

    Does anyone else think its horrendous HIS parents paid for this wedding she so insisted on? She is like every mans nightmare. She just wanted to be married soo badly… probably because she was bored and her friends were getting married and she wanted attention/to feel special. She doesn’t even say HE was the one who wanted to get married. She probably pressured him into it! And she gets this man to pay for her childish whim with his life and his parents with their savings. This is probably all the money they had for thier son’s wedding, and they thought they were paying for a real one, not the LWs hobby that year.

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