changing life in 30s (divorce?)

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-24-2003
changing life in 30s (divorce?)
Mon, 11-24-2003 - 3:10pm
Apologies if you read this in the Living Single board - I accidentally posted there when I meant to post here.

First, let me start out by saying that this could be posted in the should I leave/divorce message boards, but after lurking for a while and spending a lot of time reading divorce/break up messages, I feel like I want a different perspective. Sometimes getting relationship advice from others who are immersed in their own marriage questions is not the most helpful way to go. Also, MUCH of what I’m about to say is deeply affected by the fact that I recently turned 32 and have been sort of obsessed with my age and how it affects several different things in my life. So I’m posting my message here in hopes of getting the perspectives of other 30-somethings on life in general and on marriage vs. single life.

First, in a nutshell: I’ve been married 5 years, but have been with my husband since I was 19. Had some reservations about getting married but went ahead and did it. Now having questions again. We have no children and at this point don’t see ourselves having any. I have been struggling for years to find a job that I want to be doing. I just have never found a job that feels like my “calling”, and feel like I wasted a lot of time and money on college and grad school. Over the last 3 or 4 years I’ve become involved in a theater group and have been taking dance classes and doing other activities that give me much more satisfaction than my job and so have been devoting a lot of my energy to this. Also, for the last few months I’ve been having an affair with someone that I’ve known for a few years and have been attracted to for a while. I never dreamed this would happen, but suddenly, here I am.

So, now the slightly longer version:

I met my husband when I was 19. He is a wonderful person. He is the guy that makes everyone say “oh, you got that last good one.” He loves me. He’s devoted. He respects me and is supportive. Sometimes I still feel that I love him, but mostly I think I feel loyalty and affection. I have questioned my love for him for a long time – since before we got married. I could go into details, here, but that could go on forever. In some ways we’re not that compatible – different interests, different styles of communicating, etc. Even before we were married I didn’t really feel sexually attracted to him anymore, in fact, for the last 6-7 years, sex has left me feeling sad, confused, and slightly repulsed, despite the fact that he’s a very attentive, caring lover.

I think a lot of it has to do with spending my youth with him and feeling like I never had a life of my own. In college I had a boyfriend instead of close female friends. (I’ve always had friends, but you know how it’s different if you’re part of a couple). There were things (like traveling and living abroad) that I put off and didn’t do because I was always thinking of “our�� plans instead of mine. About 6 years ago I saw a therapist for problems with anxiety and depression. She advised me to think seriously about breaking up then and said “either you break up now, or get divorced somewhere down the road”. Maybe she was right. However, I decided to get married.

I won’t go into the job situation a lot, but will leave it at saying that many of us wish we could go back and do things differently on that front. In my case I always thought of myself as a more creative person – was always interested in writing, theater, dance, etc. But didn’t have the confidence to pursue those things. Only in the last few years have I taken steps to pursue those things and I’m loving it. Problem it that now I’m 32, have student loans to pay off and the other trappings/debt, etc. of an adult, and it’s not as easy to live the artistic life as someone who is 19 or 20. Especially when you have a spouse and feel a certain responsibility to maintaining financial stability. My husband has been supportive of my endeavors, but is also concerned about finances. So while I’m not making as much money as I could if I were willing to focus on my career more, I’m also not really doing the things I love because I feel a certain responsibility to “us”.

Affair – well, what can I say about that? It’s wrong. I know that. I feel terrible because I know my husband would be devastated if he found out. I also know the other guy isn’t the man for me. But for now – it’s amazing. The sex is fantastic. I feel young and exciting. I am infatuated with him and I know it will probably hurt me when it ends but I’m not willing to end it yet. And I know it’s all about trying to recapture my youth.

And I think that’s what this all comes down to. I keep waking up in the middle of the night, after having some dream about college roommates or something like that and I feel this sense of panic, like my life is passing me by. I feel like it took me so long to develop any sense of self, and a sense of self-confidence – that I’ve wasted a lot of time. I know 32 isn’t old, but it feels old when you are contemplating divorce (vs. marriage) and wondering if that means that you’ll spend the rest of your life alone. I think about children – right now I don’t think I want them, but sometimes I not sure if I don’t want kids, or if I don’t want them with my husband. I get excited about the idea of finally having the life I’ve always wanted – of moving somewhere else and pursuing the other things I want. And then I think of my husband and the thought of hurting him breaks my heart. If I leave I'll feel terrible for hurting him (and I'm sure it won't be easy, I'know I'll miss him). But I'm scared to stay too. What if I wake up 10 years from now and still feel like I'm not living the life I want, and the 2 of us are just drifting along together when we could be really LIVING in a different situation for both of us?

I’m not sure what I’m really looking for. But I just wonder if there’s anyone else out there who’s gone through something similar. Some who’s around the same age? (or someone who went through something similar in their 30s who can offer sage words of advice)?

Thanks in advance for any help. Sorry for the long post.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 11-24-2003 - 4:17pm wanted perspective, here's perspective.

While I can't say I've been in your shoes exactly, I have certainly walked closely behind.

Let me ask this one question first: If you got what you wanted from your husband (e.g., the love, affection, tenderness, newness, etc.) that you get from your affair, would you stay?

I ask this because I was married at 23 for 2 years. We

Loving wife to David (3-2

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-12-2003
Tue, 11-25-2003 - 9:36am
I have been with DH since I was 17. I can definitely relate to some of what you said. Especially the spending my youth with him and never really having a life of my own, having a boyfriend instead of having girlfriends. I never had that time to get on my own two feet before we moved in and started a life together. This really gets to me the older I get.

He is the sweetest, most caring man I have ever met. But I recently went thru a period of feeling like the love just wasn't enough, and was contemplating leaving, though it never got to the point of having an affair, I did feel like I was not even all that attracted to him anymore. And I was really feeling that life passing me by thing, as you mentioned. When you are with someone for so long and feel so comfortable being with that person, it is easy to fall into a routine, and that's just what was happening with us. And I was just feeling like I need more out of life than that.

A few months ago, we went on a family vacation. I spent the whole month beforehand trying to prepare for this vacation while not even sure I was going to stick around long enough to actually go. Well I went, and I have to say it did wonders for our relationship. We walked on the beach holding hands and did so many things together, and I started feeling that spark coming back.

It was almost like falling in love all over again and since we have been back, things have been so much better between us. We have had time to talk about things and it seems he had been feeling the same way about the whole life passing by thing. And so we have agreed to try to do something about that together. So lately we have just been acting like a couple of teenagers and I have to say I have never been happier.

It sounds to me like you do still have those feelings for your husband. You just need to find a way to wake them up again; and at least try to make it work before you just walk away from all those years. If you want to make it work, leave that affair and start a "new" affair with the man you married! Have you talked to him at all about how you are feeling?

And I am sorry but I've got to throw this in there: That was SO wrong of your therapist to say anything like that to you!!! Either leave him now or end up in divorce down the road? Those are NOT the only options and that is NOT something she should have ever said to a depressed person!

I guess what I mostly want to say to you is this: You do not have to throw all of those years out the window to recapture your youth! I am finding it is alot more fun to recapture that youth together than it would be starting out on my own again.