It started while I was in recovery from a chronic illness that I had been sick with for almost a year. I know the period of my being sick was very hard for her; I didn’t have a lot of time or energy for her, and I was emotionally and physically distant while I focused on getting better. Now that I am in recovery, the last six months I’ve felt the best I’ve ever been, and I’ve been much more present, giving, and loving. It seems, though, that I am too late, and she has now disconnected from me.
Her wanting to be non-monogamous is really difficult. She’s said some pretty hurtful things – such as telling tell me she couldn’t say she wouldn’t have sex with anyone else, including our friends – which she’s since apologized for coming out the way it did, albeit many months later, and has said she hasn’t acted on these threats. It’s not just the statements that are hurtful – these same friends were once mutual friends, though over the year she has been excluding me from events with them and downplaying flirtatious behavior from one of them. She’s also started spending many weekends each month going away on surfing trips with a group. Since we both work long hours during the week, we don’t have a lot of quality time together. My trust for her has been really shaken, and it’s hard to build it back.
Changing her mind on children is really difficult. We planned our life and our family together for those first few years. This included planning our parenting styles, child care arrangements, and names and making sure our dog would be the right age to have a newborn around. She has also said hurtful things about this: That it was all a fantasy, and she as just “trying it out.” Again, she’s come back and apologized for saying this. I really miss her being more marriage- and family-focused; these are fundamental values to me. At 34, I also need to make some tough decisions around my desire and plans to have a child (I’m also a woman).
We’re on a waiting list for marriage counseling through my workplace, which will hopefully provide some support. I feel like I’m still in love with someone who has changed, and I’m hanging around hoping that it’s just a temporary change (although she now says that it’s not and that I should accept this). It’s so very difficult to accept that the person you fell in love with is no longer there. Should I let go? — Shaken Trust
It doesn’t sound good. Your wife emotionally abandoned you at a time when you needed her most (the “sickness” part of “in sickness and in health”), has said hurtful things, and has said that she’s changed her mind on fundamental values and lifestyles that a married couple must be onboard with and that these changes are permanent. You say you’re on a waiting list for marriage counseling through your workplace: Whose idea was this? Is your wife even interested in trying to save this marriage? When you two talk about fixing your issues, what is it that you envision for the future of your marriage? If you envision and hope for kids and monogamy and she wants something different, how on earth do you even meet in the middle?
I’d say your lack of children at this point is a blessing. You can get out of this marriage with one less complication (and it’s a big one when it exists). You’re young enough that you still have plenty of time to meet someone else and have a family (or to even have kids on your own). And I would hope that if you do decide to end the marriage, that you can eventually look back at this experience — your getting sick and your wife changing her tune on everything — as a blessing in disguise. You got to see her true colors before you’d invested a lifetime together and before you had children together. Hopefully, you’ll be able to see this as another life experience that gives you clearer perspective about your own values and what values are most important that you share with a partner.
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