Married For 18 Years And Wondering If It Is Right

I got married at 26 to a man that I was very attracted to but did not know very well. We turned out to have very little in common, but have worked hard to get along and learn how to love each other. We have seen each other go through emotional work and growth, and there is a lot of love and understanding between us because of that. I can look back now and understand the issues that made us want to marry so quickly and I am so grateful for the space we've given each other to work through those issues and come out the other side. I think that is a really unusual gift for people to give each other.
There has been very little sexual love between us during these years. That has been really difficult for me. I've wanted to be wanted and experience that passion with someone, and it genuinely has not been there with my husband. This has been tricky as we do love each other very much, and I have never wanted to go outside of our relationship to fill that desire. I know he loves me and I still do not understand fully whether he has a general issue with intimacy or if he just doesn't want me in that way. We have spent much time talking about this and being in therapy, and still have not managed to resolve it. All along, it has never seemed a big enough reason for me to want to leave him - there has been so much else that I have valued that has outweighed this issue.
Now I am coming to a realization that so much of our relationship has been work. While i really do value what has come of that, there is not much natural enjoyment between us, and if i am honest with myself, there wasnt in the beginning either. I am getting to a point in my life where I finally feel more comfortable in my own skin and more confident about who I am in the world. I have a job that I love, a good relationship with my family, and some very wonderful friends. The awful thought that just occurred to me tonight and has driven me to write this is that I don't really enjoy spending time with my husband, and really never have. As I find people that I really do naturally enjoy being with, that I find interesting and they find me interesting too, I realize that that has been missing in our relationship all along. There is an ease in that natural connection that we have never had. We don't really laugh together or enjoy doing the same things. I don't know how to add that to a relationship or if it can be added if it is not there naturally.
I feel so sad to realize this. As I have said, there is a lot of love between us that has come from being together and facing our demons together and being there for eachother in the midst of the vulnerability that arises from that.
I really have no desire to hurt him, and I fear that telling him this would be so hard. I feel like its up to me to figure out what I want before it's worth hurting him. But then, is part of figuring out what I want a process that we will go through together if I am honest with him? I am not under the illusion that the grass is greener elsewhere. However, I want to experience passion and natural enjoyment where I find it without the limitation of being in a marriage.
I feel so selfish saying that - and at the same time I want to value what I am feeling and am scared that I will regret not changing things when I look back in 10 years.
As I am writing this, it also occurs to me that it shouldn't be so scary to admit these feelings to my husband. We have worked through stuff before, and perhaps this is just another part of the journey that will ultimately bring us closer. Being honest about how things are for us, even when it is uncomfortable has been a good strategy so far, and I guess this should be no different.
I wonder if this will make sense to anyone else... I know so many people who unilaterally decide when something gets too hard In a relationship to just turn away from it and move on. Sometimes I think there is gold in the discomfort if you stay calm and be honest and explore it. But I am also scared that this is such a fundamental aspect of a relationship that I wonder if it can really change.
Thanks for listening/reading. I am glad to have found place to share this that is safe and won't hurt anyone while I figure out how to handle this.
Josephinefitzpatrick Josephinefitzpatrick
3 Responses May 13, 2012

This is how I feel like. Similar not exactly. Why is it mostly women that feel the emptiness? We want that passion but our husbands just aren't getting it. I am going to try to have a heart to heart talk with my husband as well. We have a 1 year old daughter, so we haven't found much time for us and to talk about it. We've been together for 11.5 years now. I would hate to give him up and then regret it later. I will let you know how that goes. I think he is willing to do whatever it takes to save the marriage and change for me. I hope your husband is the same way. I wish you the very best of luck. We shouldn't feel the emptiness alone.

Hi ,I could have written this ten years ago (about the same age you are now ). I felt just as you,we were just as you are with your husband..although we didnt talk through as much as you,we just got stuck into doing family and home . I felt like he'd gone off me,he had said he loved me but wasnt in love with me,I craved passion and easy flowing connection and yes I wanted to feel wanted. I looked down on our living room one day while drying up and i 'saw' us in ten years conversation,no hugging,no laughter,..and I decided enough was enough..we seperated ,I helped him move into his new place,I felt like a bird who had opened the cage,life was just waiting for me ! We stayed friends ,I mean we had known each other since I was 16,and we still cared about each other ,it just seemed natural. Any way I dated,I went on a spree lol,eveidently it was a normal thing to do. 6 years ago I met a man ,who I didnt feel a great attraction to physically,but we went out together and I felt enough for him to enjoy a sex life,he was kind,sweet,madly in love with me...sadly I could not recipricate,I just didnt feel that extra 'vroom' to want to make more of things...which was a shame as i could have had a good and well cared for life with him.But I know in my heart I love my ex husband,I know he loves me,I know we are always there for each other,we know each other , funny thing is neither of us have been able to move on,we've come close he also almost moved in with someone . Do I regret not fighting through the 'sexless' bit , i think we could have sorted things out ..yes,do I regret not talking about how i was feeling about our intimacy,our going out etc ..yes. Do I regret the last ten years..NO..I have grown,I have learnt what really is important to me in life, I have also learnt the true meaning of love..and that I will love my ex husband always,whatever our situation. So I would say talk to him,tell him,give yourselves a fighting chance . I have some friends who have been married 40 years ,they take a seperate holiday each year,they share much but also give each other the time to be who they are as individuals and then to come together as two people in love . You two have worked through so much,surely it is worth at least talking through this,the ones that help us grow the most are those that we love because they press our buttons,and button pushing is what makes us better people. As you said you know the grass isnt isnt..the only thing that lasts in this world,the only thing worth anything is love ,with love anything is possible. Its a hard choice and I do not envy you..but I feel you will know what to do and when. Wishing you all the best whatever you decide (hug)

Thank you so much for taking the time to write this to me. I really appreciate hearing about your experience.

Yes, what you've written makes a lot of sense. Many of us understand what you're going through. Keep reading the many stories here. I think it will help you figure out how to proceed. Welcome to the group.