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Dear Wendy

Friends with the Opposite Gender

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  • #891505 Reply
    avatarAnother Jen
    Guest

    Hi LW. I haven’t responded to your questions before, so here’s hoping this breaks through.

    1) My first marriage was emotionally abusive and, like you, I was more focused on “is this normal?” and “am I crazy?” than I was on getting the hell out. I strongly recommend you read this book, which breaks down the emotional abuse you seem to be experiencing: The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation

    For me, it was a revelation.

    2) I’m not religious, but I have a good friend who’s a priest. One day he said, “I believe that god wants all of us to experience joy in our lives, and it makes me sad to see you making choices that leave you so unhappy. I wish you could find a way to follow a more joyful path.”

    It really resonated with me that I was actively turning away from choices that could make me happier.

    I agree with pretty much all of the advice others have offered. I think you need to stop focusing whether your marriage situation is “normal” and think more about how unhappy it’s making you.

    You deserve to be happy and joyful, but it’s not going to fall in your lap. You need to make choices that get you there.

    AJ

    #891509 Reply
    avatarEssie
    Participant

    Another Jen, that was a really good point: “I think you need to stop focusing whether your marriage situation is “normal” and think more about how unhappy it’s making you.”

    Look at what this marriage has done to you. You’ve been reduced to writing to an advice site under a bunch of different names, telling a slightly different version of the story each time, hoping you’ll hit on the one that finally fools a bunch of internet strangers into telling you the lies you want to hear.

    Does that make you proud of yourself? Is this the woman you want to be? If you had a daughter, would you want her to be living this way?

    Is this how you imagined your life as a married woman? Groveling for the attention of your own husband?

    Your marriage sucks. It sucks so much that just about everyone here would have left years ago. It’s a marriage in name only at this point, because your husband has made it clear that he’ll dump you in a hot minute if you get in the way of his relationship with his girlfriend.

    It saddens me so much to see someone with so little self-respect.

    #891541 Reply
    avatarAmber
    Guest

    I love your advice Jen.
    And the truth is I’m so scared.
    I’m so happy with this man and the life we have together AS LONG AS we are not discussing this other woman and he is not hanging out with her. I would say my happiness to depressed ratio is 70/30.
    I don’t know who to turn to to help. None of my girlfriends have suggested I leave. They are caught up in their own lives and they listen when I talk to them but then they never follow up and ask how things are going.
    My parents are 70 and are always fighting and mid-divorce themselves. When I bring this up with my mom it always turns into a conversation about her and my dad.
    I don’t have siblings. Or cousins.
    I feel alone without the strength to know how to make a change.
    Because sometimes putting up with this 30% of the time to get 70% of the time happiness is not worth leaving.
    But I know I deserve better and I guess I’m shocked and hurt and anger ay partner to do this to be after 10 years together when I’ve been a supportive faithful and loving partner to him and his family. It’s like I want to him realize how he is throwing away our life together and I want to keep giving him chances to wake the fuck up.
    Also I have tried getting therapy and there is always a wait list or no one taking new patients and when I finally find someone it doesn’t feel like I have gotten anything out of it.
    I feel so stuck and scared and that is why I appear the mess that I am.

    #891543 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    It’s late to be shocked, after 2 affairs and now a third. This is how he is. This is what he does. You really do have to accept that. Maybe you’re honestly okay with the 70/30, and that’s fine, I guess, but you have to stop expecting change and really be ok with the 70%.

    #891548 Reply
    avataranonymousse
    Participant

    Are you really 70% happy? It really does not sound like you are.

    Have you point blank asked your friends for their advice on your situation? Have they given the same advice ten times before and are tired of your inaction and feel unable to give you any advice anymore?

    It’s interesting to me that you say you don’t get anything out of therapy, yet you claim your friends and family don’t really listen to you, and we know your husband manipulates you. I wonder how much of a chance you’ve given any therapist.

    I don’t think your husband wants a chance to save this when he told you he wanted a divorce. That’s pretty clear to me that he’s thought about this and chooses her. I’m sorry you married a man who is more invested is his girlfriend than he is invested in you- bu why would you want to continue trying after he said that to you? It’s frankly shocking that you’re still sticking around after that considering the numerous affairs, that he’s an asshole to your family and doesn’t want kids- and you say you do.

    Yeah, breakups and divorces are scary but they happen everyday. They don’t have to break you. They don’t define you. You need to prioritize your mental health and happiness.

    #891550 Reply
    avatarEssie
    Participant

    Amber, he doesn’t care that he’s throwing your life together away. He does not care. He’s already decided that your life together has very little value to him. He couldn’t have made that plainer if he bought a billboard out on the highway. You just refuse to see it.

    He doesn’t need or want to wake the fuck up. He’s fully awake. He’s doing what he wants. He has what he wants. He has her, and a wife to cook and clean and have sex and provide a socially acceptable appearance to the world. He likes his life this way. You’re the one who’s unhappy.

    #891554 Reply
    avatarbloodymediocrity
    Participant

    Listen – I’m going to defy the common opinion here and say you don’t HAVE to leave him. If you’re truly happy 70% of the time and think you can get to a place where you’re happier, you can work towards that.

    To get there, you have to accept the boundaries your husband is putting down. It doesn’t matter how “normal” it is or conventional. It doesn’t matter if it’s fair. Your husband is requiring a gigantic space in his life for this other woman. Maybe he’s sleeping with her, maybe not. But if you’re going to continue this marriage, then you need to accept that this is how it is going to be.

    That means it’s time to stop posting here and asking “is this normal?” “Is this ok?”. It doesn’t matter at this point what is normal or common. Your marriage is now outside of “common” so what other people are doing is totally irrelevant. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no blanket template for what a marriage looks like.

    To get there, you need more hobbies. You need to keep your mind busy and more fulfilled when he’s off with her.

    Even if your marriage may be sexually monogamous (and frankly, that’s a big maybe), you might want to read some literature on open marriages and polyamory to learn coping strategies to deal with your jealousy, and you should encourage your husband to do the same.

    You also need to gird yourself to the possibility that they are in fact sleeping together and how you will respond if/when you find out. Is it truly a dealbreaker at this point if they are?

    #891556 Reply
    avatarKate
    Keymaster

    I just said that, and have been saying it, as have others.

    But Amber, will you be 70% happy if you never have any kids?

    #891568 Reply
    avataranonymousse
    Participant

    Staying has been mentioned, but it is not going to make her happy. She wants a family, he doesn’t. He’s not honest with her, he’s cheated and manipulated/gaslighted her and has said he wants a divorce. She snoops in his phone. There is no trust. I don’t know how you come back from him saying he wants a divorce especially since he will not prioritize her or her feelings over this girlfriend. False hope is probably not going to help.

    #891571 Reply
    avatarbloodymediocrity
    Participant

    I don’t disagree. I don’t think there’s a lot of hope here, but the reality is that she’s not going to leave him. So if she’s not going to leave him, she needs to take steps to make this a less miserable situation, which means stop rehashing this same fight.

    I’m offering suggestions as an alternative, but let me be clear, I do think divorce is the right choice. But that’s easy for me to say from the comfort of my apartment from (probably) hundreds of miles away.

    I do think there’s many other options that are better then having this same fight over and over. Divorce is a better option. Accepting this woman’s place in her marriage and functionally having an open relationship is a better option. Having an affair of her own is a better option. Skipping town and starting a new life in the circus and never speaking to him again is a better option.

    The path with the most misery is going to be trying to get her husband to budge on this issue and rehashing and reliving this same fight over and over and over.

    #891590 Reply
    avatarAnother Jen
    Guest

    Hi Amber. It sounds like you’ve lost yourself a bit. And like your support network has chipped away and your family is pretty self-absorbed. I’m sorry you feel so scared and stuck.

    Maybe think about whether what you have is so much less scary than not having it. There’s a Tyler Perry play and movie called “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” and I think it kind of speaks to where you are. (FYI, it’s a so-so movie, but the title is awesome.)

    I think bloodymediocrity makes a good point. If you’re not ready to leave, try some radical acceptance. Accept that this is the marriage you have…no more focusing what it could be like if only your husband would wake up and value you. You won’t be a mother. If you get cancer, you’ll go through it with your husband. Give yourself a 3 months to make a decision: stay in this marriage or see if you can do better on your own.

    For what it’s worth, I think happiness is a yes/no, not a matter of percentages. But if you prefer percentages, why not shoot for 95 percent? Aim high…even if you fail you still might manage a solid 80 percent.

    You feel stuck, but you’re not. You feel scared, but you’re already living with a lot of unhappiness. You can choose to try something different.

    AJ

    #891592 Reply
    avatargolfer.gal
    Guest

    Tina, in one of your prior threads you asked for “baby steps” you could take to get yourself unstuck even though you weren’t yet ready to leave, and you got some amazing responses about books to read, questions to ask, meetings to set up (lawyer, financial planner), paperwork to gather, websites to read, research to do, etc. Did you start checking those items off?

    You’ve gotten some great advice here from some new voices, including Jen. But it’s the same advice you’ve been getting from us over and over for months. At this point the pain you’re feeling and the situation you’re in are your own choice.

    Your husband is happy 100% of the time. Why in the world would he “wake up” and change when he is happy all the time and living his best life? Because you’re unhappy? He knows this! He doesn’t care! He has no empathy, as you yourself have stated. His brain chemistry is set, he’s thirtysome years old, lack of empathy and the associated personality disorders are lifelong. Until you decide to make changes, nothing will change.

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