I am sadly coming to the realization that my spouse and I never really had a marriage. We weren't even good at dating. The first Valentine's day we had an argument...I don't even remember what it was about now, but I do remember feeling rejected by her. We were living on different coasts at the time and another memory involves the first time I flew to see her in Boston...the whole flight I had a fantasy of seeing her in the airport, rushing to her and giving her a big kiss, just like in a movie (remember, this was in the first few weeks of dating)...and she greeted me with a polite smile and small peck. I'm remembering more and more things like this...intimacy red flags.

Our sex life was suffering before the birth of our son. She was already pulling away from me. The premature birth simply gave her the excuse to end it altogether. For his first year our attention and love were focused almost exclusively on him, and this distracted from the problem. About two years later, she agreed to try sex again. It was awkward and unsatisfying for us both. And, weirdly, she immediately broke out with a terrible case of itching. As if she were being attacked by bed bugs, which is what we thought. However, I wasn't itchy and all the various bed bug treatments did nothing for her. She looked up everything (although she refused to go to a doctor, naturally) and never came across anything that explained it. And 3 or 4 weeks later it went away. She accused me of spreading some kind of venerial disease to her (I didn't). I believe it was entirely psychosomatic, a negative response to being intimate with me.

I'm incredibly sad, but it has shifted away from the frustration and depression of being rejected and towards a realization that I have to leave. It breaks my heart because of how it will hurt my sensitive five year old. Fortunately, I'm not in a hurry about it...it will be a while before we split. He needs to be settled in school and she needs to have a good job. I won't leave without her being able to support herself. But that's good because it will give me time to prepare...to learn about divorce laws in CA, finding the right kind of place I need to get, and seeking out therapy to help with the transition. I will still try couples counseling with her, but now my intention is to use it to smooth the separation.

Did I mention that I'm feeling sad?
AshInOakland AshInOakland
46-50, M
15 Responses Aug 20, 2014

This woman sounds like she has deep rooted issues. Could hv been tampered w at a young age maybe.. but do get out soneone like that will destroy your inner spirit

divorce laws in Ca are easy....> community property

My rose colored glasses have come off too brother.
All i can say is, IT SUCKS and how did I get here?
Well, I know that answer to that…
I admire your tenacity.
May the force be with you x

I can totally relate. She had a business trip when we were newlyweds. I was counting on the airport movie scene too. Nothing. Like it was just another day. 30 years later, we are in the waiting room as she is going in for surgery. Families and couples all around. As a patient is called, the customary hugs and kisses and important words go around. When the nurse came for my wife, she stood and walked away and never looked back toward me. Never forget that imagery.

The idea of running concurrent programs, where you pursue the "hoped for" option, and keep working on the "probable" option seems very sound thinking to me.
As does the idea to get some exit counselling.
Only thing I'd add is to attend to your support network of friends and family. They'll be very handy assets in days to come.
Tread your own path.

Its a gut wrenching sensation, followed by overwhelming dread and then numbness when the scales fall from one's eyes. Then when you really examine within, you realise that some part of you always knew the truth. We are most adept at ignoring what we do not want to confront. True self healing starts from being authentic with ourselves at the very least. This is regardless of what choice we make.

My two cents, for what its worth - seek your own balance, be kind to yourself. This will slow down and stop the feeling of being drained and helpless. It will afford you more energy to nurture yourself and your child. Regardless of whether you believe your refuser is nice or not, recognise that the situation is mentally and emotionally toxic for you.

My rule of thumb - a spousal relationship is one where the whole is greater than the sum of its two parts. If you are living in a negative sum situation, it is extremely untenable and unsustainable. Read widely, seek out guides if you feel the need. Most inportantly, breathe...it means you are alive and you can actively choose your path. Be well.

I'm not a self loather...I will take care of myself. While it's emotionally difficult, distancing myself emotionally and physically from my wife is a big part of that. I'm going to try to stick to communication that is either about our son or domestic business. Sadly, this isn't a new path for me...I've been divorced before so I know what lies ahead...except for the kid. The majority of my stress now is around him, both knowing what it will do to him psychologically as well as the pragmatic issues. For instance, I have a 45 minute trip to work that starts at 7:15...so how do I get my kid to school that starts at 8:30 on the days I have him? I guess I have to hire someone to drive him to and from school and then watch him until I get home. That costs money...how will I afford that on a single income? Sigh...it's very stressful. But I don't have to solve it right away.

You present as being a fully engaged and loving parent.
That is surely not going to change if you and your missus split.
There will be some obvious logistics issues in the *new* dynamic, but with an underlying base of engagement and love, it's hard to see you going majorly wrong in your co-parenting.
Kids need you engaged and loving.
With that in place, the logistics don't need to be "ideal".

And what if she is never in a position to support herself brother AshinOakland.

Isn't it about time you looked after number 1 for a change.

Stay Strong & Good Luck

Good question, but that is utterly unlike her. She is a very independent person and has only been out of work due to prioritizing raising our son. She despises not being self sustaining and this is actually part of the problem between us. Now that he's starting school, she will begin looking soon.

Why does she need to be self supporting before you divorce? You could pay alimony for a reasonable amount of time that would allow her to get back in the job market. That fact also might make her delay getting a job if she figures out that you're planning to divorce her or if she plans to divorce you. It's possible for her to fill up her days by doing things like volunteering at your son's school, and therefore look like she doesn't have time for a job. Many educated stay at home moms are very busy helping out at their children's schools.

Sad and difficult times. I'm so sorry you're going through this. Sending hugs and some extra "strength" vibes.
I don't know if it would help you, but I did a "gratefulness challenge" on the dreaded Facebook a while back. The challenge was to find three things each day, for five days, that you are grateful for. I think it did improve my mood, because I was aware of some really good things in my life.

Thanks for the suggestion. While I am very sad, I'm coping okay. I'm sure there will be rougher days ahead. Right now everything that's happening is inside my own head...as soon as it's time for action, it won't be fun. But I think my wife will be relieved, mostly, even if unhappy with the effect it will have on our son. I'm certain we will try to find a solution where we live near each other so that our son can spend equal time with us both. I can easily see us continuing to do some family activities after the passions boil away. I'm still good friends with a number of my exes, and I have every reason to believe the same will happen with my wife.

I hope you can find friendship with your wife after separation. That will certainly be beneficial for your son, and a far better role model than have parents who live together ... unhappily. Children appear to be so resilient and accepting of change, in most circumstances. Of course your son will need to find his feet as the changes unfold, but if you are both calm and friendly to each other in his presence, I'm sure he will do fine.

This is the only thing I'm genuinely confident about. Once she is no longer in a committed relationship and I can find someone, eventually, who will share the kind of love I want, then we will both be much happier.

((hugs)) I know you're hurting. This is an awful thing to have to realize ..... A very sad conclusion to arrive at.

But you sound like a wise, thoughtful person - and hopefully, you will make it to the other side and be happier in the future.

Thanks for the positive support. It really helps.

So sorry that you find yourself in this situation. I wish you the best in trying to extricate yourself, in the end I think your child will be better off with a happy daddy who may not be with him all the time than a miserable one who is there all the time. Take care of yourself and best wishes in finding true peace and happiness with a partner that is truly willing to share everything that you are willing to give...you deserve it.

Thanks :) This kind of support genuinely helps

Sorry for all the deleted posts....I really appreciated the support. The initial post was far too cruel for me to keep. I didn't know it would delete all the responses. Now I know.

That post was due more to the poster's own issues in staying in a very toxic marriage "for the sake of the children" than it was due to your plans for your life.


You're lifting the veil of denial and allowing the grieving process to begin. It's tough, but it's a good thing.

Thank you. Yes, it's hard, but I'm old enough now to know that this too shall pass.

Yeah, that's one of the nicer things that comes with age. :)

My wife had the itching about two years after our second child was born, it lasted about a year, and the doctors all thought it was psychosomatic. It prevented all sexual activity, as giving me a bj or hj would cause the itching to flare up. We started using some lube, she found sex easier, and the itchiness disappeared, and, of course, later there were then new excuses.

For some, intimacy is simply too frightening or else it triggers old wounds. Interesting that my wife isn't the only one who got the itching response. Thanks for sharing.

Ash, breathe.... Its alot to process. I know as I have been there myself.

When I commit to a person, it's a strong bond. It's very hard to break that bond when there is still love for her. My feelings for her are as strong as ever. This is a case where I have to prioritize my own well being. I don't want my son growing up in a house with loveless parents. He's too young now to really understand, but in a few years he'll start to notice.

It sounds like you're coming to some important insights about your life and your marriage. Have you begin thinking about why you chose to marry a woman whose behavior so lacked affection and intimacy?

Because that is NOT what I saw

That's my point. How did you miss those red flags? Are you also missing such red flags in other relationships? If you don't figure out how exactly you ended up getting into and staying in a marriage with little sex or affection, you will continue to get into relationships -- including friendships -- in which you are treated badly.

In analyzing the red flags I missed with my refuser, I began to learn how little I knew about what is normal and expected in romantic and other relationships. I began to realize that it wasn't just in my marriage that I was doing all of the emotional work, it was in my other relationships, too. I grew up in a household in which parents were sexless and displayed contempt, not no concern for each other, so I didn't know what was normal in romantic relationships.

My parents also paid little attention to my own concerns. At best, they heard them, but didn't do anything to help change the situations that were hurting me. Instead, they blamed me.

As a result, I grew up to be a woman who thought that people were supportive if they basically were willing to be in my company. I overlooked their sarcastic, mean or thoughtless comments because I was sure that they didn't mean to say such things. I thought that I was --as my mom used to say "oversensitive" -- to be hurt by their behavior.

Therapy is what helped me develop the wisdom and self esteem to realize that I deserved better than what I was getting in my marriage and in many of my friendships. I learned to, as Maya Angelou had said, not make someone a priority if I'm only an option for them.

Because I was looking at other things. I was looking at traits like intelligence, independence, values, long term goals, etc. But it's clear to me now that this is a pattern with me. And no, I can't say why I do it. That will be a big topic in therapy when I'm able to start going (insurance kicks in in a month)...

I have empathy for you, Ash, because I did the same when I chose my husband, and when I stayed with him for 34 years.

I now value empathy, the ability to be emotionally and sexually intimate higher than I value intelligence, which used to be in the #2 spot on my list after shared values. Having shared values continues to be first on my list, but sexual compatibility, empathy and the ability to be emotionally and sexually intimate are in the next place. Being fun also is high. Having long term close friendships is something else that I regard as very important.

My refuser ex was a relatively good match for me when we first got together because I had a lot of guilt about sex, and was a very inhibited, dependent, self conscious and rigid person. I've changed a great deal over time. I no longer view people who are inhibited as being safe nor do I feel that it's my job to liven up their lives.

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