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Can't Stand It Any More

Wow, had no idea this kind of forum existed... was feeling very down this morning and stumbled here via search. The more I read, the more things hit home. So, WTF -- here's my story for what it's worth.

I've been married 17 1/2 years -- I have two wonderful boys, 14 and a soon to be 17, both now in high school. I'd like to say I love my wife, but I've been dissecting that more and more every day. She is attractive, intelligent, and hard-working, but also negative, quick to anger and judgment. I read about the people who have gone a couple of months or years without sex -- sadly, I know exactly how long. The last time I had any physical relationship with my wife was the conception of my second child -- as he is about 14 1/2, that makes it over 15 years. Let's just say that I've compensated -- I have a grip that could crush walnuts...

So why stay? A couple of details to add color to this: my wife is 10 years, 10 months and 10 days older than I am -- no big deal early in the relationship, but she hit menopause early and we've been living with that for years. She also came from a 'broken home' situation -- her father left her mother when she was a teenager; her mother had a nervous breakdown and she dropped everything to take care of her mother. To this day, neither I nor my children have ever met her father. Bottom line, I know there is a lot of baggage there and I have always kept that in the back of my mind whenever I consider leaving her.

As the years have progressed, this is starting to take a toll on me -- I'm intelligent enough to recognize this. I have seen therapists, as I have been laying most of this on myself -- what is entertaining is that at some point all reach the same conclusion, that my dysfunctional relationship with my wife needs to be addressed. The problem is, and as I read today, I realize I'm not the only one, my wife doesn't see a problem at all. In fact, she doesn't understand what all of the fuss is. The reality is, it is starting to affect many areas of life -- I am an emotional eater, and turn to food at night instead of drugs, alcohol, sex, etc. I am now WAY out of shape and this just feeds into the whole beast [feeling inadequate, unhealthy, makes me depressed, etc. leads back to eating and a vicious cycle].

My kids are old enough to see and be affected by this as well -- my older son is starting to have issues and I can see echoes of what is happening between the spouse and I in what he's facing.

Bottom line -- like many here I am lost and confused about what to do. At 44, I'm not dead yet -- however, if I keep eating and living like I am, I'm not going to last too much longer. I am the breadwinner of the family -- this would cause untold financial hardship on all parties as something like this always does. Although my sons are older, they are still at a tough time in their maturity and I worry about the impacts on them. And I still like my wife -- admittedly, we are little more than business partners and roommates, but she gave me two wonderful boys; add to that the guilt and harm that would come from having her repeat the pain her mother went through, and yes, I've done a great job of setting myself up in a trap I don't know how to get out of.

I've tried to broach the subject of counseling -- the dilemma is that any mention of that denigrates into "oh my god, you're leaving me", hysterics kick in and any hope of some kind of conversation fall apart. The story title is what I typed into the internet search page to get me here -- and it is true. Thoughts?
damonstone damonstone 41-45, M 14 Responses Nov 6, 2012

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Damon, This is exceedingly well written and agonizing to read. Fifteen years is a long time. Not just to go without sex, but to reinforce behaviors and patterns that have resulted in the situation you find yourself in. Your wife is ten years your senior and has reached menopause. Your children are on the cusp of young adulthood and able to grasp that all is not well, and possibly that marriage is not desirable. This is a tough situation.

All is not lost. You are only 44. You clearly have a genine love for your children and at least a respect of your marriage as a bond for which your vows were genuinely made. I would begin with yourself, and work outwards. Reclaim your own body and health - for yourself and your children. Your strategy from here on has to be about being the man and father you can be and deciding what your goals for that are, whether your wife remains a part of that or not.

I'd push the communication and counseling. Your wife may or may not accept and understand your feelings, but you need to make it clear that there is a problem and that you are taking actions to fix it. You sound like a good father and a good husband, but do not let her fear or passive-aggressiveness dictate what kind of man you are. Your situation is complex and entrenched. It is beyond simple answers, but not beyond improvement. Gear up for a long road ahead and best of luck to you and your family.

Its your choice brother Damon but the way i see it you have one of three choices here.

1) You can try to enforce some real change and hope your wife comes to the party.
2) If she wont come to the party and work on it with you, than you can seek legal advice prepare an exit plan than kick her to the kerb, or
3) You can do nothing about her foul behavour keep making excuses for her and suffer for the rest of your life.

One of these choices is soley yours to make. Each carry their consequences however nobody gets a pass on choice.

Stay Strong & Good luck

Dysfunctional marriages **** with your head, get you thinking weird ****, and get you making uninformed choices.

But at times, there's a break in the fog, enough for you to figure that things are awry in your life.

You grab these opportunities, or you don't.
You arm yourself with as much information as you can, or you don't.
You adopt a position of making choices on a fully informed basis - not on promises or hope, or you don't.
You propel yourself forward by this process of choice, or you don't.

Your missus meantime, chooses to join you in this process, or she doesn't.

It starts with you, and it starts now. Or, it doesn't.

Tread your own path.

It's hard my friend. I have been in the same position but with the age difference the other way. I am older than my wife. Some 10 year ago she decided she wanted another child I was against it & she moved out of the bedroom into the spare room. Sex what is that lol. It became so annoying as she would go out & to be honest I thought she was having an affair. To the extent I suggested she left the home so I to could have female companionship. Perhaps you do need to say your thoughts & express your needs. Sex doesn't need to be penertration just go for mutural satisfaction & the other may come along as well. Good luck mate.

I think a lot of us here feel your pain and clearly understand what you are going through. 14 yrs is a long long time and very unfair. First, you have to make some changes with yourself and maybe that will take some of this off your mind. Join a gym and get to work on improving your health and this will give you confidence and strength. You are way to young to live like this. I have been going through the same thing for about 5 yrs and I am 59. Situation a little different, but it's really all the same. You don't want to be living this way at 60 any more than you do now, so work on yourself and while doing so, you can put your life into perspective as well. And... I know I may get some slack for saying this, but you just might meet someone who really appreciates you and wants to have a relationship with you. I honestly can't say that would be wrong. I haven't had an affair or left the marriage because I have an incurable disease, and a lot of other female issues and don't think anyone would want me. I would just love the conversation, companionship and affection sometimes. Marriage isn't all about sex. My husband hates living in this area, which we moved here 11 yrs ago when I was diagnosed to be near my family. I don't have a vehicle, he does. As I said, my situation is different than yours, but I lay awake every night trying to figure out a way to get out of this mess. It's not worth the loneliess, the heartache and the self destruction.

You only arrived here a few hours ago - and you will almost certainly find this Forum exhilarating, challenging, threatening, inspiring, informational and very uncomfortable!!

First - don't rush anything. You have been doing a great job of processing your situation by yourself. By coming here to ILIASM you will find that much of what you have thought (or which has been in the back of your mind) is both crystallised and confirmed. That is a good thing but it IS confronting.

Like so many of us, your care and concern for your wife are huge barriers to overcome. This doesn't mean you cannot (or will not) do so, but it will take time before you can do anything to change your situation at its core.

But there is a lot you CAN do. Read widely here, Check out stories (old and new) and forum topics. Read as much as you can about living in a Sexless Marriage. One of the interesting things is that the experience, although individual in each case, has much that is in common for us all.

You may like to consider consulting a Counsellor about yourself. It can be very helpful to work through these issues with a trained and objective third party - it helps you clarify your own needs and to examine the road blocks that stand in your way. It helps you figure out the best way in which to approach the situation and it gives you tools that are helpful in managing the situation as you proceed forward.

An "Exit Plan" is another wise precaution. Seek advice from a lawyer about how a divorce would affect you (and your wife) in your jurisdiction. You don't have to act on it - especially not at this moment! But consider it like an insurance plan - you have the information you need when (if) you need to use it.

You are probably well aware that the genie is now out of the bottle - and it is very unlikely you can stuff that genie back without causing yourself additional harm. Scary as it is, this is a journey many of us have taken before you, and we are able to tell you that it IS worth the pain and the hardship.

Take your time. Learn as much as you can about sexless marriages. Do what you can to get yourself support (counselling, exit plan) and then make infomed decisions about your future.

I think my first story here was titled Can't Stand it Anymore...or something like that. I hear you.

I think the first thing you should do is start working on yourself. You seem like a naturally introspective guy and that you've been working hard to quell that. Put some of that work into yourself. Unhappy about your fitness. Get fit! You may find greater clarity of thought there with greater fitness, too.

Still that grip that can crush walnuts should be a great party trick for the upcoming Christmas season!

Agreed on the turning inward thing -- I guess what I'm recognizing is that all of these are symptoms of something deeper. It's never to late to start living your life, right?

Thanks so far for the responses - I think the most important step I've taken is recognizing this cannot continue. I'm sure one of the biggest barriers to making a change is the simple fear of making that change. "What would happen if I no longer tolerated it" is a great question, and a step I must be willing to take.

I don't want to live like this, and further introspection does make me realize that I have done a fantastic job of coming up with excuses instead of paths to living the life I want. Hl42 - thanks for the story; quite an eye-opener. At some point, we need to have "the talk", whether she likes it or not. I need to man up and do it. I'll keep you posted - thanks for the ideas; this certainly isn't easy - even if just because of the time invested...

Wow, 15 years. I really feel for you. I think I've got it bad and I usually get some every couple months.

On the other hand, it allows her to string me along better and makes me rationalize staying.

If you have gone this long tolerating this, then it would appear that's the message you have sent. Despite any platitudes about being unhappy, it's clearly something you will tolerate.

What would happen if you no longer tolerated it? Would something, on her end, change? Maybe, maybe not. That's for her to decide.

But for you, it seems you need to focus on what you want, irrespective of your wife, and how you are going to get it.

I've been tolerating it for reasons that, upon deeper review, are not good ones. In retrospect, this goes all the way back to our wedding day and honeymoon -- with our first child, I knew she was an older mom so I gave up a little because there is a child in the house. Should have seen the changes right there -- my second was a miracle baby -- sex had become a chore and conception of our second child was as much to make me happy as anything else. I love being a father -- I think what you are calling "tolerate" has for me been a trade-off of my well-being for my children's. I know now that it isn't right and it's getting to the point that it is affecting me and my ability to be a good father. I think the wake up call has been realizing that what I want and what I'm doing right now are worlds apart...

-----"the dilemma is that any mention of that denigrates into "oh my god, you're leaving me", hysterics kick in and any hope of some kind of conversation fall apart."



This tactic is quite an effective strategy - she shuts down the conversation and achieves her goal of not talking about the relationship and YOUR feelings about it.



Her sexless stance is crystal clear. You probably won't change that. You have enabled her stance to become rock solid by buying into her excuses not to fully participate in the marriage. You let her off the hook 15 years ago.



The intimacy is never coming back and you know it.



The question is: what are you going to do with the rest of your life?



In the end, if she refuses to cooperate and discuss the issue or take any action (and your story details that her heels are dug in so I would not count on ANY cooperation from her) eventually these situations boil down to 3 possible paths to take:



1. You can continue on with the sexless status quo knowing full well that you have bought into it by enabling her behavior. This might mean A. gracefully accepting, with no resentment, that the marriage is and will continue to be - on her terms and never asking for intimacy again, or B. accepting the current status quo and living with continued resentment for the rest of your life.



2. You can cheat and maybe get caught. Which might lead to Option 3.



3. Separate or divorce.



I recommend you keep reading on here.

Nothing like a good kick in the ***.... Status quo won't work -- I wouldn't have put my story out there if it would; and I realize that at this point, it's slowly killing me. Even after 15 years of shaking hands with the unemployed [or whatever appropriate euphemism works -- that one was always my favorite], I have remained faithful. I am at heart an old romantic -- I have not cheated even though I have had ample opportunity, so number 2 is out. Gut feel is that choice 3 is reality -- but as I think many know, it's a frighteningly harsh reality. I see the bridge -- it's crossing it that I'm struggling with...

Thought 1) Please read more here, you might get some things a bit clearer, if you're willing to accept the messages - which you weren't with your therapists.

Thought 2) You can - on your current trajectory - wait till the pain outweighs the fear, which maximises the pain and wasted time, and you may run out of time, especially the way you're self-harming as well as accepting harm in your relationship. It will not change the way things are.

You seem to be using - for your own prevaricating purposes - all the excuses & manipulation she's fed you whether this is menopause, childhood, or the hysterical reaction to your expression of legitimate feelings.

Whereas, she's already told you very clearly how she feels - "my wife doesn't see a problem at all. In fact, she doesn't understand what all of the fuss is about". And guess what, she's got what she wants, that's the status quo. Also, have a look at the story called Rocking the Boat by Bazzar.

And all this does not have to be: you can grasp the nettle and take the chance to really live.

im in the same boat as u and i am trying everything to keep my wife but i feel that we are getting close to the end

She reacts in life becaise of her childhood and in turn indirectly teaches this to the kids and you pock up the tab!

She needs good psychological help.

Can she fix it?

Dont know it would be up to her.

You stay for the reasons you do.

I hope for your sake it is not a co dependency issue you have.

If she sees nothing wrong and you have neen highly effective with your communication on your situation then she has even bigger problems then you think.

Help is the need here for her.

You are the normal one.

She probably thinks she is the normal one.

Man sad deal but my guess would be it won't go the distawwith you both so now it is strategy time. Good luck. You found a good place to be, welcome!

Sorry phone issues, it does not look like it will go the distance with you two.