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 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?

needtoknowme needtoknowme
13 Responses Feb 16, 2008

I'm working on a couples project in LA and would love to chat more. email me at:

I completely understand your predicament. You can be married to a good person, and want to be in love with them, but not feel it. I have been with my husband for 17 years. On the surface everything looks perfect, but I'm unhappy. I feel an emptiness in my heart and I don't know what to do. I want a level of passion that I'm missing even though we have regular sex. Is this what every marriage becomes?

marriage is two people you are not in it so finish the ordeal and find your life again

Only when you are content that you are your authentic self, living your authentic life will you be happy. This is not about narcissism. This is about your right to happiness as a human being. One of the things that makes us happy is being of service to someone else because we want to. Not because society, culture or religion dictates that we SHOULD!<br />
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Either you love him or you don't. Either you think there's hope for your marriage or you don't. Only you know the truth to those.<br />
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Trying to love someone is the road to nowhere. Marriage without love is co-habitation. Nothing more. <br />
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You say: "Why am I so unhappy with what seems like a perfect life that many wish they could have?"<br />
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People only have a superficial view of your life. What they want is an ideal that you appear to portray to them. <br />
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Worried about disappointing your family? What about them disappointing you with their complete lack of regard for your happiness.<br />
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No, it's not going to be easy for the kids, but with proper care and open and honest communication, they will understand, even if they don't like the situation. Every naysayer points to kids they 'know' were destroyed by a split. They conveniently neglect to be aware of the thousands who are better off not being part of a loveless union.<br />
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Your husband's depression is a concern. But his depression is not your fault. <br />
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Get help. Go to counselling and work through until you come to a mutually acceptable outcome. There will be tears and recrimination to begin with, but 'the truth will out.' A third party can help you explore the options and give both of you coping skills.<br />
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Who knows, during this you may find that he IS the guy you would be happy to spend the rest of your life with.<br />
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But you need to find the way to get happy, whatever you decide.

I cannot describe how similar your story is to mine. I felt like best friends living together too. Trapped, unable to experience so much that I wanted to. I made so many mistakes, but when I finally did leave, things began to change for me. When I was married, I remember that my best friend Rachel told me that I had changed, the fun loving adventurous, energetic, passionate person that I used to be now sounded dead, depressed, lifeless. It was true. All the things I used to love, got lost in that relationship.<br />
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I know right now it seems that you are stuck. You feel you have nowhere to go. You feel that leaving him isnt something you can do. Because you ARE a good person. You ARENT that girl who is insincere and fickle and comes and goes when you want to. You remember your wedding day and all the people that were there and you think to yourself how ashamed you will feel when they find out you left him. You cant believe your family could ever understand or support a decision like this. You worry about their disappointment.<br />
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But (and sometimes this feels like a curse more than a blessing) but you control your life. You control where it goes. YOU do. The question much do you want to be happy? To do everything you were created for? To be fulfilled and excited about life? You have to make that decision to fight for your happiness, like a fierce warrior queen. Dig your teeth in, damn the consequences and fight for your happiness. You might have to be a little bit singleminded for a while. I remember the only thing in the world i could handle for a while was me. I couldnt hear any complaining or gripes from anyone about their lives. I just had to focus on me, to get through. Sometimes, being selfish, isnt a bad thing. <br />
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The bible says "Love your neighbor as yourself." What nobody thinks about when they read this is that to obey this YOU MUST FIRST love yourself, so that there is a standard by which to love others. <br />
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You can be happy. IT ISNT UNATTAINABLE. I know it feels like it sometimes, but it isnt. You wonder if your idea of happiness is just like fairy tales, its not real, and maybe you should grow out of it. Maybe you are being unrealistic. <br />
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You arent. Its ok. It's ok to want more from your life. <br />
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Everything....and I mean everything in your story, was mine. It was a terrible time in my life. Just....awful. I never thought my family would support me. But they did. Yours may, or they may not. But dont make this decision for them. Dont make it for him. Dont make it for this other guy that you are head over heels with. Dont make it for God, or Italy or Canada lol! Make it for YOU!!! <br />
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If you choose to leave. It will be the most painful thing you ever have done. If your situation is anything like mine you will probably feel more terrible about yourself than you ever have. You'll hate yourself for hurting him, and feel like you have to apologise over and over and over again. You'll feel like forgiving yourself, is just something you shouldnt dont deserve forgiveness.<br />
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But one day youll stop apologizing....and believe you are worthy of being happy again. And you will know deep down without hesitation that you did the right thing. It doesnt make it easier, but time heals. And one day you will open your eyes and realise your life is your own again, that you can start over. It is a beautiful thing.

Its so easy to tell someone how to solve their problems. I could tell you follow your heart do what you feel is right. But I myself am in the same boat. I dont want to hurt my family my husband or my children. As a mother we are born to be caregivers and think of others before ourselves. Sometimes we do need to step back and decide are we really helping everyone by not taking care of ourselves. Good luck.

Happiness is not about being in love. It is loving the other person because you choose to love them. if he is a very kind generous man I would not leave him. <br />
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Look up sociopaths and Narcissists. These people become your soul mate. They are perfect. Too good to be true. You find one of these. You will be in love alright. They will be your knight in shining armor. They will tell you how beautiful you are. They will be just like you. <br />
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Read about them to learn the rest of the story. I was in love so many times with sociopaths and narcissists. It was like I was in Heaven. But why did it not work out. Study about them and you will then know why.

I think you've spent too much time caring about what other people think about things, and too much time trying to do what society says you have to do. <br />
It's time to wake up, open you're eyes and realize that you have to be truth to the only person that matters: YOU!<br />
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If you're not inlove and if you feel sick and unhappy it's time to end with this relationship, no matter what other people say. Make everyone respect your desicion and live happy!

Wow! thank you for sharing needtoknowme. <br />
Everyone that has commented has said something very know your self...<br />
you know what makes you happy and you know that no one else can help you achieve happiness other than you. The opinion of our families matter....but, they are just opinions or suggestions that's all. Ultimately what you feel you must do is what matters. You have to be honest with your husband and with yourself.

This story is me..I even checked to make sure I didnt write this myself!! My family loves my husband more than me and they truely believe that a marrage should be forever. My husband is perfect, but I have never loved him...never. I have always believed that it is something inside myself that I need to deal with, but I dont know what that might be. When you find your answer let me know maybe it will help me as well

Look up the site and consider attending the weekend and post sessions with your husband. It may shed a whole different light on things. Also remember, everything you do on this earth is not always "about me and my happiness". Happiness is a relative term. Some people are never happy because they set the bar too high or have unrealistic expectations. Don't necessarily blame your husband for the unhappiness - chances are there is something inside YOU that needs dealing with. Don't make your family collateral damage.

I wonder whether you have any other choice but to leave. Undoubtably, this will be extremely painful for your husband. But, as it is, you are both living a lie. Do you think that after the initial storm, and it may last years, that there will be reconciliation you share children and a friendship. Is there anyway that someone could help you mediate this. You seem so guilty for what you honestly feel. Still, the guilt does not make you stop your true feelings from surfacing.

This is my first time on this site and yours is the first story i read. I have to say, I feel so much of what you wrote about. Our stories are similar although there are differences as well. What's funny is that I have no idea how to handle my own situation and yet I want to tell you to follow your heart and not allow yourself to settle for less than everything you want. I think deciding to leave is going to be one of the hardest decisions you will ever make. But I also think it will be the most rewarding. We only get this one life...why should we be less than happy? Why would we wait one more minute for the chance to go after what we truley want? I wish you all the best and hope that you find your happiness :)