opinion on marriage

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-01-2003
opinion on marriage
5
Tue, 05-27-2003 - 6:52pm
I'd like your opinion please. I've been married for 22 years with kids still at home. My marriage is not good. I only tell you this because I think it speaks volumes about the condition of a marriage...... we have not been intimate in almost a year and only once the year before. We have talked and talked and talked in the past and went to counseling for a short while but things have still progressively gotten worse. He is a very good man and good father, the problem is more that I'm not in love with him, I don't respect him (in the way that a wife looks up to her husband). My question is, do you think there is any hope for my marriage given the fact that I can't stand to even talk to him anymore and I don't want to spend time with him in order to "work" on the marriage. In honesty, I feel like the only thing that could help is if he just somehow became a new person. I don't want to work on it, I want to sit back and see things in him that draw me to him. Its like its back at the beginning where you see a person and something about them attracts you and so you draw a little closer to them, or you see a person and nothing attracts you so you go on your way. I really do want to be in love with him because of the years we have together and our children but because of all the water under the bridge, I feel like all I can do is sit back and keep quiet. To try and sum up my marriage, I think that I have forced myself to pretend to be in love with him and act like I respect him when I actually didn't and now at this stage of my life I just can't pretend anymore. What do you think?
Community Leader
Registered: 03-17-2003
Wed, 05-28-2003 - 12:51am
Hello rite of passage. I guess all I can say is only you, in your heart of hearts, know if you want to stay put or move on. If you do stay, you surely know it will take a great deal of work to reconnect with your husband. He must be equally committed to rejuvenating your marriage.

22 years is a long time and I suspect you are ambivalent about walking out the door and closing such a large chapter in your life. I suspect this is another layer in your pain. I think it is also why, in part, you posted here.

The both of you have been through a lot together and probably grew up a fair amount together during the marriage. You have seen each other at your best and been there for each other during your worst hours. It does not follow, by extension, that you will be together until you draw your last breath. That decision rests solely with you. It is a big decision whether to stay or leave.

As far as intimacy, or lack thereof, it is a barometer of the health of your marriage. You have not given any other information to indicate there are medical reasons for this. Even if there were, there are other ways to express your love for one another.

So, I have some questions for you. Have you sought individual counseling and joint counseling recently? Have you gone to your husband and told him that you are at the end of the line here and the marriage needs some serious work. That you want counseling, etc. What does he think? Does he have any feedback? Are you willing to be honest with yourself and establish some thresholds such as sincere, honest, work together to make the marriage healthy or does the thought of doing that discourage you further?

I wish I had an answer for you, but I don't. I was married 25 years and know exactly where you are. Oh boy do I know. That's why I decided to answer you. In the end I filed for divorce, but we did everything we agreed upon in order to salvage the marriage and in the end there were fewer regrets. It is a purely individual decision and one you will make for yourself. My divorce took 3 long, miserable years to finish. I sometimes thought the divorce was worse than the end of the marriage, but in truth both would have been difficult.

For me, I reclaimed my life and my happiness and feel like I have a new lease on life. I have a child at home with me and he is far happier than he was before the divorce. In retrospect I have many wonderful memories of happier times in my marriage and those will never change. They contribute to the person I am today and I will continue to grow and savor every wonderful day in my "new" life.

Good luck rite of passage. I will keep you in my prayers.

Carolyn

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-01-2003
Wed, 05-28-2003 - 12:24pm
Carolyn,

thank you so much for replying. Yes, my husband knows pretty much exactly how I feel. He is pretty much willing to do anything to save the marriage. At this point, he has agreed to stay married for the kids, but no intimacy. He would go to counseling if I would agree to go. And yes, the thought of trying to "work" on things does discourage me further. I think because that is what I feel I have done for the last 22 years already, ignored my true feelings and just did "the right thing".

I realize you don't have the answer for me but it helps me figure things out myself if I can hear how other people feel about their marriages.

Do you mind telling me a little bit about your marriage? You said,

"I was married 25 years and know exactly where you are. Oh boy do I know. That's why I decided to answer you. In the end I filed for divorce, but we did everything we agreed upon in order to salvage the marriage and in the end there were fewer regrets. It is a purely individual decision and one you will make for yourself. My divorce took 3 long, miserable years to finish. I sometimes thought the divorce was worse than the end of the marriage, but in truth both would have been difficult."

Did you want a divorce before your counseling? Was he a good husband or did you have legitimate reasons for wanting a divorce? Forgive me for being too personal but outside of being beat or verbally abused or something like this, it seems that we all should be able to live civally together and stay married, since it is a committment. And thats where, I think, I'm having such a hard time. When you went to counseling, what were you hoping would happen? Had you stopped loving him and were hoping to rekindle the marriage? Or, was it that you did love him, but couldn't stop fighting? You see, we don't fight, not at all. I see no sense in arguing with him because it would be like telling him that I think he is wrong for having green as his favorite color. A person can't help how they view life. And I can't help it if I don't like how a person views life. So the logical question is, why did I marry him them? Because I was insecure and didn't think I would ever find anyone to love me as much as he did. I guess the truth is that I have never thought he was very smart, so that tells you how I really viewed him all these years. But he has always treated me like a queen, whatever I said or wanted is the way it went. Not because I demanded it, but because thats how our relationship was. He always held back to see my view first and then made it his view too, no matter how hard I tried to get him to stand up for himself. Because of my insecurity I married him I think out of fear that I would be making a mistake if I let him go and I was safe with him. And now, here I am all these years later, finding myself saying that I just can't pretend anymore that I feel a way that I don't. Its so hard to explain, but I could be best friends with him if we weren't married. He is a very nice person, its just that he is wanting me to give him respect, admiration and love, that I just don't feel. I think a husband should expect this from his wife and that a wife should feel that way. So what I'm trying to ask you is did you feel these feelings for your husband? Its almost like he is my son, constantly seeking my approval, but at the same time, wanting me to respect and admire him as my leader. But for me, the two don't go together. When you are constantly seeking someone's approval, you are automatically positioning yourself below the other person. He has accused me of thinking that I am better than him and I have always denied that, but maybe that is true. I am the first one to admit that he is twice the person that I am, but because I think his way of doing things is stupid, maybe that does mean that I think I am better than him. Whatever it is, I think that is the problem. Its personal preferences, personal views, personal opinions that we don't agree on. Most of our marriage he has learned (I'm sure because of me)to keep them to himself, and most of our marriage I have just smiled, while on the inside I'm shaking my head and rolling my eyes at the things he says and does. But because we are both "peace keepers", passive and insecure, we have stayed together, probably for fear that we couldn't make it on our own. Plus, we both want to do right by the kids.

I guess what I am actually doing now is rebelling on the inside, against the way things have always been, by withdrawing my affection from him and withdrawing all together, while on the outside trying to make it appear that I'm not the problem. You know, I have thought many times that it could be me, my lack of ever being happy with anything, and therefore I'm focusing it all on my husband for not making me happy. But still, even if it is, that doesn't change the problem right now. I still don't want to talk to him.

How did you give up 25 years of marriage? Were you able to support yourself or was it a struggle? You mentioned one kid living with you, do you have more, and how did the kids handle the divorce? You said the one living with you now is much happier now than before. Is he old enough that he has told you his feelings? I better let you get a word in now, that is if you don't mind writing back.

Community Leader
Registered: 03-17-2003
Wed, 05-28-2003 - 12:42pm
Hi rite of passage.

You have a lot of great questions and we have some parallels. I would be glad to correspond with you outside of this board. You can email me through iVillage. Click on my name to see my profile, then at the top there is a "send an email" link. Click on that and it will open a window for sending me an email. If you have difficulty with the email link, return here and post ok. I noticed you elected to not receive an email through iVillage, thus I am posting here.

Again, I will be more than happy to answer your questions. I choose not to do so in a public forum, especially things relating to my child, and you may not want to disclose certain details as well.

Look forward to hearing from ya!

Carolyn

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2003
Wed, 05-28-2003 - 1:31pm
I think if you're truly unhappy in your marriage, and don't even have the desire to work on it, then you should move on. If there's no love, no respect, and no willingness to make things better, then there's no hope. Children are no reason to stay in an unhappy situation, and if you've been married for 22 years, they're probably adults or nearly adults anyway. Good luck to you!
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Thu, 05-29-2003 - 4:07pm
This is my opinion on this subject, because I was once in similar shoes as you are. I don't believe staying together for the sake of the children is always healthy and good for the children. Why? Because your marriage is their relationship role model, and growing up in an unhappy dysfunctional home atmosphere is not a good thing. Your husband is not going to change into another person, as you know. I was raised Catholic and I know divorce is not allowed in some religions, some believe it's against God, etc. I'm not going to get into a religious debate on those points. I believe that God doesn't give out medals for living a totally unhappy life, and giving your children an unhappy home. I think to be miserable for the rest of your life would be a waste of the life God gave you. I think of life as a gift, and I think God wants us all to make the most of what he has given us. We are human. We make mistakes. We have choices and decisions to make. It's up to us. If something was right for you at one time in your life, but is no longer right for you....that happens. Deciding to embark down a different road now, one more suited to you, is most likely the only way you will find happiness. Divorces are hard on children but so is living in disharmony, anger, lovelessness, etc. It IS possible for two people to part as mature adults who realize not everyone is right for everyone else -- without blame, bitterness or making one person to be the bad guy. Of course both people have to feel the same way about that, and that doesn't always happen. But for the sake of your children, maybe you both could do your best to try, should you decide to divorce.

I got divorced 5 years ago after 13 years of marriage, with 2 small children, and today they are both A students, popular, healthy, happy, talented and independent children. Their father keeps in touch with them and they also now have a stepfather who adores them (and vice versa). My (now) husband is the most wonderful man and I am thankful everyday that I took the path I did. I can see now, being in a relationship that's right for me, what a HUGE difference it is to being in one that was not. My ex is a good man and a good person -- just not a right fit for me. We both felt that way as the years went on, and we finally addressed it by parting amicably, while giving our total love and support to the kids through the whole thing. That, I think, was the key to them being in the healthy mental and emotional state they're in today.

I wish you the strength and wisdom to find a way through this hard time. Take care and pray for guidance on this issue. It helped me and maybe it would help you too. Good luck.