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whattodowhattodo's avatar

At what point does one "settle" for a comfortable marriage?

Asked by whattodowhattodo (155 points ) February 21st, 2011

My marriage of fifteen years is, for the most part, satisfying. My husband is loyal, dependable, helpful (domestically speaking) and he genuinely adores me in his own way. However! He is unimaginative and somewhat rigid. I am overemotional, hypersensitive to what I’m feeling/needing and am more of a free spirit. During the years when our two daughters were young enough to require more attention at home, I was happy to be home. Now that they are 12 and 14 and are developing interests outside the home, I have rediscovered my desire to be more social – I enjoy things like trivia and karaoke (coupled with a few good pints of British ale). My husband would prefer to go to bed at 8:30 every night. Adding into the mix (and it’s a BIG add in), I have recently reconnected with my first love, starting out as just “catching up”, moving into discussing the attraction that is still there and currently into a full-blown affair. My problem is that I am very comfortable with my husband who knows me, accepts me and my moods and we have a good life BUT the creative/emotional side of me is only fulfilled with my first love. I am probably deluding myself that my husband would ever accept a polyamorous situation but I can’t help wondering. Also in the mix, my lover has a long distance relationship with another woman who he also loves very much.

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21 Answers

Leanne1986's avatar

Does he really love this woman very much? If he does love her, is he in love with her? I would imagine he isn’t if he is able to cheat on her and I would say the same about your feelings for your husband. It sounds like you need to make a decision. Do you want to be in love or just comfortable? You know you will have to make a decision at some point as to which man you choose to be with and that really depends on what you want from life. However, I wouldn’t wait to long to make the decision as you may find that it is made for you at that may not be what you want.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Things always seem better in situations like this (in my opinion). But, how available would this other guy be for you if you were to leave your husband? Would he make you happy in every other aspect of life as well? Instead of stepping out on your husband to get your needs met, you should have tried to talk to him more and go through counseling if that was necessary (I am mentioning this since you didn’t say you tried anything with your husband). I’m not trying to be harsh, but from what you wrote, you don’t mention trying to do anything with your husband to get what was missing. Instead, you reconnected with an ex and got your needs met that way.

Personally, I think you need to make a decision and be honest with your husband about all of it. If you decide you want to try to work things out with your husband, you need to tell him everything. Give him the opportunity to decide if he even wants to work things out after this. He also needs to know so he can get tested for any STDs. You are not only sleeping with this other guy, but also the woman he is currently with as well (and any others he may be with) and putting your husband at risk for diseases.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do. I hope you can figure out what you need to do to be happy.

whattodowhattodo's avatar

We did start counseling but I did not admit to the affair. I am being selfish in that I don’t want him to be angry but I also don’t want to be selfish and destroy him just to be “honest” and make myself feel better. The bottom line is that even though I love my husband, I am not “in love” with him. There is very little chemistry there. There IS chemistry in the other relationship as well as history, and we connect on a very emotional level – it’s not just a physical relationship. We have many evenings where it’s just about kissing or playing cards, or listening to music and letting each other know when the lyrics seem to apply to us (hard to explain).

Seaofclouds's avatar

@whattodowhattodo You need to be honest with your husband about the affair. Your marriage (if you decide to fix it) will never be able to be repaired if you aren’t open and honest and by not admitting to the affair, you weren’t putting all of your effort into the counseling and fixing your marriage. He also deserves to know the truth and make a decision for himself if this is the marriage and life he wants to have. I don’t think what you are saying is hard to explain. You are enjoying the newness of this relationship with this other man (getting to know him, focusing on just you/him, no real life issues to worry about (such as the kids, bills, the housework, ets)). I’m willing to bet you had a lot of those same feelings at the beginning of the relationship with your husband, but now that the relationship is older and you have both settled into life and routine, those feelings have gone away. Could they come back, maybe, but you’ll never know if you continue the affair and don’t give them a chance to come back. That is fine if that’s what you want to do, but you need to be honest with your husband so he can decide for himself what he wants.

Leanne1986's avatar

If you are not in love with your husband maybe it is only fair on him to let him go and have the chance to find someone that could be in love with him.

AmWiser's avatar

I’m wondering if the part of your marriage which for the most part, satisfying is due to a husband who is loyal, dependable, helpful and genuinely adores you. Were your thoughts of him being unimaginative and dull prevelent during the years when you were able to stay at home and raise your daughters. Or were you satisfied to have a man that was a good provider and was there for you and his family.

You want the best of both worlds, comfort and security with your husband and emotion and excitement with your lover….good luck with whichever you choose. While you were busy starting an affair with a former lover did you think about channeling that creative energy into making your marriage more exciting.

marinelife's avatar

You are very ethically challenged, aren’t you?

Your relationship with your first love is not real. It is an affair.

You are taking all of the good things about relationships away from yours with your husband and heaping all of that minus any of the real world everyday problems of life onto your affair.

You are cheating.

You cannot judge your marriage by the affair because you are bringing different things to it.

What you should do is break off the affair.

Then turn your attention to your marriage. Work on it. Devote the time and energy you were putting into the affair to making it better. See if you can save it. Then if you can’t, get a divorce.

Then when you are free, look to a new relationship.

dreamer31's avatar

I have been married for 11 years and this situation baffles me. You should know from being married so long that the ‘in love’ feeling and excitement are not always there constantly and they take alot of work and interest to get back.

In a few years if you choose this old flame, he will be a pile of ashes with his flame burnt out too.

I am sure your husband already knows, something just isn’t right I feel bad for him

If you want excitement, ride a roller coaster or your husband, maybe this is the kind of excitement he needs

Instead of typing it all you should do what @marinelife says, she beat me to it

YoBob's avatar

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, shall we…

Exactly what would you be saying about your husband if he decided that he has become bored with you, hooked up with an old flame who makes him feel young again, and then asks everyone about their opinions on whether he should dump you for his current fling or stick with you while implying that you are somehow a prude for not being willing to allow him to bed you both at the same time?

Sorry to be harsh, but in my book no matter how you slice it your current affair makes you an adulteress. At minimum out of respect for the solid long term relationship you have already trampled, you need to have a serious talk with your husband.

blueiiznh's avatar

I agree with all the other mentions here.
You are robbing yourself and your marriage or energy it needs.
If you truly are unhappy then you should have done something before this “magical reappearance”
It sounds like you are going on endorphins and pheromones.
What would you be teaching your teenagers about relationships if an when they come to find out?
If you are only fulfilled by your first love, why on earth did you get married?
This old flame is also involved with someone else?
Red flags all over the place!

You can’t have it both ways.

So you are asking what to do? IMHO, Disconnect from this old flame, focus on being a wife and parent to your teenagers.

choreplay's avatar

Whattodo, no one has mentioned the children yet. I am from a broken home and that alone is a reason why I would never cheat. Do you have any idea what impact on their lives your about to have. Especially at their ages. Marinelife and the others are all over it. Your husband doesn’t have a chance with the cards you’re leaving him.

There is a book you should have read before this happened, its called The Dance of Anger. A Woman’s Guide to Changing the Patterns of Intimate Relationships.
http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Anger-Changing-Patterns-Relationships/dp/006091565X

You could have used this material to tell your husband your needs were not being met. Believe it or not I share your perspective on being the emotionally capable part of a marriage relationship, but I communicate with my wife, we started having game night in our home and will be going out more so I can get a little more time in the social scene. We are working on it. Our sex life has become more exciting than ever because I’m focusing on making it so and asking that of her. It takes work sometimes.

choreplay's avatar

Disconnect from your old flame and create life in your current marriage! I am slightly different than the rest in that a confession may destroy everything anyway, if you could truely put it behind you and put everything into your current marriage maybe don’t tell till your last girl goes off to college. I don’t know that might be the least of many evils.

whattodowhattodo's avatar

Valid points, all. Ethically challenged? Yes, probably. It was irresponsible to get married in the first place considering I never thought of myself as the marrying kind and I certainly never should have married someone who loved me far more than I loved him. It isn’t as if I’m not trying, though. You all seem to assume that I’m ignoring my husband “Will” in favor of “Luke”. Will and I spend a great deal of time together and I am making every effort to be affectionate and try to get my heart to respond. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Luke isn’t just a fling. This is someone I was engaged to, had loved very deeply 26 years ago and due to family interference, lost him. I’m not looking for excitement. I’m looking for an emotional connection. Will may say he adores me and that he can’t imagine life without me, but the reality is that a lot of it has to do with him being comfortable and not wanting to be forced to change anything. And yes, Season, my children are foremost in my mind. Knowledge of this would be devastating to them. On the other hand, in the six months that Luke and I have been together, my girls have said that I seem happier, sillier with them and that they like it “when you don’t mope”. The problem is, when you say “affair” everyone thinks motels and clandestine one-hour hookups. Luke and I have a relationship. We go out, we grocery shop, I spend the weekend, I help clean the apartment, I’ve developed a strong attachment to his elderly upstairs neighbors, we play canasta, he’s teaching me to play chess. I HAVE voiced my needs to my husband, but there are some things that can’t be changed. He’s a pessimist, I’m an optimist. He’s low-level energy, I’m high energy. I love to dance, to sing, to laugh and be silly. He hates to dance, to sing and he doesn’t like to laugh too much because he doesn’t want people to notice him/us. He’s self-conscious about displaying affection in public – he won’t just walk up and kiss me if I have lipstick on because he might get some on him…

choreplay's avatar

If you decide to stick it out with your husband the book I mentioned above lays out a blueprint for changing a relationship like this. Read it no matter what you do. Also read The Five Love Languages. You may come to realize your husband has been expressing a lot more love than you realized but just not recognized it. Read both of these books no matter what happens. You’re in a terrible spot and I grieve for you.

Get a damn good perspective on whether Luke will make you happy; if you leave you husband and he doesn’t you will have lost all. Sometimes as misguided as family is they see things you don’t, I’m suggesting that Luke is not all you think he is right now. Think hard about that. Good luck.

YoBob's avatar

I’m sure you have dozens of reasons why “Luke” lights your fire while “Will” leaves you cold. Bottom line is you are married to “Will”, and you have pretty much already demonstrated how seriously you take that vow.

FWIW, I know of more than one man who has lost his home, his children, and is saddled with child support and alimony because he had a mid-life crisis and went looking for emotional fullfillment in another women when his wife lost her luster.

blueiiznh's avatar

Hindsight will not justify this. I also have to ask a pointed question – Have you engaged in sex with this old flame yet?

Of course you seem happier. What did you tell them when they noticied it?
Anyone having an affair is on a high.

I can’t believe you feel no remorse over “going out, grocery shopping, building a bond, playing games, all you are doing?

You are cheating plain and simple. You are breaking a vow and a promise.

What would you do if while in the grocery store with this guy, your children happened along? What would you say? What would you feel?

Do some research on this and find that less than 5% of people in this kind of situation actually stay together when all the dust settles.

If this is really meant to be then do things in proper sequence and without an emotional safety net.

All this makes me sad to read and take it in. I am reading selfishness and I have to stop following this thread because it will truly bring me down when I ponder the harm and turmoil this is creating with your children and marriage.

whattodowhattodo's avatar

Thank you Season. I am always looking for resources – will definitely get ahold of those books. Thank you for not being as condemnational as some while still getting out some really valid points. I’m not just looking for someone to rubber stamp my situation, I genuinely am torn and I genuinely love them both for very different reasons. It’s hard when people simply look at the word “affair” and see nothing but the physicality of it.

whattodowhattodo's avatar

I know blueiiznh is no longer following this thread, but can I just say that I am not “on a high” – what I feel is at peace. I feel that for first time in 15 years, I AM being selfish, I AM thinking about myself. Heaven forbid that after spending all that time cleaning up after everyone, being nurse, maid, social secretary, chauffeur, accountant and mediator that I actually get to have something in my life that is just for me. Here are my choices (no matter how much my husband loves me) – go to bed at 8:30 when he does, stay up alone and either read or watch tv, or beg him to stay up with me so that I end up trying to watch a movie with him snoring on the couch beside me. I’ve begged him to get a CPAP so he’ll be more rested, never follows through with appointments. I guess maybe just telling him and ending the marriage is best. I hate to do that to my girls though. I simply cannot go along with a “you made your bed, now lie in it” mentality.

partyparty's avatar

Perhaps you are searching for something more than your husband can offer, but when you meet the love of your life you should never, ever want to be with anyone else.
Sorry to sound brutal but only you know the answer to that, and I am sure you would feel very hurt if your husband did the same on you.
On a more positive note, perhaps you could arrange a romantic dinner together, perhaps go to the theatre or even stay at home and cuddle up on the sofa together. Good luck

choreplay's avatar

First of all everything said above was by people who cared to try to give you some good, even if condemning. The older I get the less I have people in my life willing to tell me what’s in my blind side. Don’t blow off anything in this thread, none of it was just said to hurt you it was done to shake you into reality.

I remember my first engagement and how disagreeable everyone around us was, now I know they were all correct, but I know how you feel in that sense. Know some things before you decide:
What you have with Luke is an illusion. Maybe your marriage is bad to you and you have to bring a change, but don’t do it for Luke. You have told us enough to know he is not going to continue to bring you happiness. Have you ever thought about the fact that if you had married Luke, he would have cheated on you by now. Does that sit ok with what you see as reality in this situation?

Your daughters are probably happy that you’re more upbeat but as soon as it tears their world apart they won’t be so light about it all. They will be broken.

I remember what my father said before he passed away, he said leaving my mother was the worst mistake he made in his life.

I don’t think any of this makes sense to you right now. I don’t think you see anything but what you have with Luke.

Maybe it is not right with your husband you will make that change but my last and biggest advice is to not leave him until you get your head clear of this illusion to you get away from Luke. For you and your children see if you’re discontent with your marriage is real or a rationalization to get to Luke. You will feel better about yourself looking back later if you break it off with Luke before you leave Will. Does any of this make sense? Can you understand me? Get Luke behind you and give your husband a true chance before you leave him. Tell him you’re leaving him if he doesn’t change, than it’s on him if he doesn’t. But at least give him the full gravity of the situation. I hope some of this gets through.

I promise you, you are at a pivot moment here; you are blinded by an illusion and you will reach a point where you will say I wish I had not done that, here is the moment you can change that.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Not all children of divorce end up devastated. My parents split and it was definitely for the better. My brother and I weren’t devastated. We were happy the fighting was over. We were happy to see our parents happy again. We were 16 and 18 at the time of their split and the years before their split were a lot worse than their split was. I’m not saying your children see things as being bad between you and your husband, but if they are commenting on noticing a change, I’m sure they’ve noticed how things are between you and your husband as well.

I’m not condemning you for having the affair, I just think you need to give your husband the knowledge he needs to decide if this is the marriage/life he wants for himself. I don’t see anything wrong with knowing what you want and going after what makes you happy, I just think your husband deserves to have his input in the situation as well.

Good luck.

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