Help Me See What I Cannot
This story begins 15 years ago when I was 19. I met my husband through a mutual friend. We talked and enjoyed one another's company. He was funny, intelligent, nice, all the things that make you say yes to a second date. We dated a few times, each of us wanting to call things off at the last minute, but for some reason didn't.
We were both significantly overweight, and I am not sure whether this is important, except that I wonder whether I felt happy that a decent guy came along, and liked me back. There was never that inital chemistry that is so important to a relationship. In fact, for the first 11 years of our marriage, I could count on one hand how many times we were intimate in a year.
Things just progressed. It became safe, easy and comfortable. I thought I was happy. I knew we would be married after only a short time together. I think I was attracted to his inner personality. It is important, but not all. 4 years later we were engaged on Val. Day. Shortly before we got married, I experienced my first doubts. At that point, I did voice these to my mother and to him as well. After witnessing the reaction it produced in him, I basically told myself "It can't be all about the physical component...he's good people, and that's what matters." I basically swallowed how I was feeling in consideration of what devastating effects it would have on others. It was too painful to call off an entire wedding with a month to go! What would people say? (Did I mention I was very young?)
A few years later, when I felt more like a roommate than a wife, these feelings resurfaced. We talked about it, and why didn't I leave then? For the same reasons...time investment, effects on others, and the thought that I was just going through a phase. I once again swallowed how I was feeling. Besides, the intimacy problem was physiological...how could I hold it against him? It wasn't his fault.
The thing is, we get along so well, we are best friends. My marriage isn't a bad one, it just no longer fits me. I am unhappy. My husband and I together lost 160 pounds last year. We supported one another, and cheered one another. When I think about whether I am more attracted to him now than I was before, the answer is no. I do not feel any more attracted to him now that he looks great, than I did in the beginning. The sex has been great in the last 5 years since my daughter was born (after he had begun going to the gym...the weight loss didn't come for another 4 years). I guess I was so happy that things had changed, that I guess I was relieved of the starvation I had been feeling. That isn't the same thing as chemistry/attraction. I finally understood that it wasn't me that turned my husband off. I knew it in my head, but not in my heart until this moment. I finally understood that it wasn't my fault.
The other thing is that I am not in love with him. I wonder if I ever was. There were many years when I thought I was perfectly happy. I think I convinced myself of that. I come from a very traditional Italian-Canadian family. This is what you did. You found a good person, you get married, you have kids. I guess I busied myself with doing all the things I thought I was supposed to do, convincing myself that these things were going to make me happy. It does not help that I have found someone who I am in love with, and viceversa. These feelings are ones that I have not experienced with my husband. I care deeply for him, and the last 8 months that these feelings have resurfaced for a third time, have not been easy for him. He is suffering from depression and has had to go on medication. He is falling apart. Our kids are beginning to notice this. It is killing me to watch this....Of course I don't want to see him hurt. I have a family to contend with that loves him as their son, and so does not support me. This will destroy my relationship with them, in my opinion. Our family is very close and large. This would be a major controversy...of which I would be the bad guy. Yes I get bogged down in the ordinary of everyday life, but that isn't really the source of my stress. He left last week for 4 days to live elsewhere, and I felt like I could breathe again. He came back on Val Day this year, and I immediately had anxiety about it...I didn't want him to come back.
I have taken a break from this other person, and it pains me more than it does that my marriage may be about to break up. I physically feel sick. How do you tell a person that you don't hate these feelings? I will not hurt him any more than is necessary.
What about my two kids? I am worried about how they will live their life. Just as I knew in my head that there was nothing wrong with me, but my heart didn't match...they too may experience this very same thing. They know in their head that they were not the cause of this separation, but thier hearts may not match that knowledge for many years. But I can't stay for that reason...they already notice that we don't sleep in the same bed. I want them to learn not that you should give up on your marriage, but that things do change, and that it is okay to acknowledge that and live the life that makes you happy. Not to disrespect others, and to be selfish, but the truth of the matter is that life is short, and you have to make it count.
The question that is always asked of me is what has changed? How have you changed that makes your relationship with your husband unhappy? I can't answer that. I don't know. I just know how I feel. But as I am told, it is so hard for others to accept that response because I have not given them a good reason. If I could make them understand better, it would help them accept it.
What am I not seeing? Why am I so unhappy with what seems like a perfect life that many wish they could have?