A Change of Heart

Many of you know that I have said I will not leave my husband even though we are in a sexless marriage - no sexual contact at all for nearly 13 years - and almost none for 5 years before that.

My reasons were that we still love each other, we are very good friends, we communicate with each other (not great but enough), there is affection and respect between us.  Not perfect - but whose marriage is?

Many of you also know that I made a conscious decision to go outside my marriage to have my sexual needs met - believing that I could only stay in my marriage if I was able to have a sexual life too.  I've been incredibly fortunate in finding a lover in the same situation, and that side has worked well.

I think that, if the staus quo had been maintained, I would still be confident I could stay with my husband.  But I've fallen IN LOVE.   And no, not with my new sexual partner - altho' he is a lovely man in all respects.

My love is someone who came into my life unexpectedly and without being sought by me.  And I entered his life in the same way.  The most incredible and heart warming thing is we feel the same way about each other - amazing!!

My cynical and sensible self tells me I'm MAD!!  I've only known this man for a month!  I'm in a very vulnerable situation emotionally so how can I trust my judgement?  Am I sure he isn't just stringing me a line? - after all, that has happened before!  How can I contemplate changing my WHOLE life on the basis of this emotional roller coaster of an experience?

Believe me, my fellow EPers, when I say I have considered these points (and a hundred others) ad infinitum since I first started to have these feelings.  If I was 17, I'd expect to be told that I don't really understand what love is and that one month is not enough to base any decisions on.  As I'm 57 I expect to be told I'm an imbecile!! After all, how can someone with my life experience be so easily influenced?

The only answer I can give you is that I am 100% in love with this man.  Our connection is truly something above and beyond anything I have EVER experienced before. 

So, have I changed my mind completely and decided to leave my husband - after vowing I would not?  No, but if the opportunity to BE with my love becomes a reality, I probably will.  There are many impediments to our being together - he is in a similar situation to mine.  Both of us have a long life history that would require 'radical surgery' (on both our parts) to be together. 

I am (predictably!) in a huge turmoil over all this.  Unlike some on this forum, my marriage does still have strengths.  In many ways we are compatible and we "muddle along" quite well.  True there is no sex and no passion, but companionship is not to be lightly dismissed.

If I leave my husband he will be heartbroken and lonely.  It would be the cruelest thing I've ever done - I, who pride myself on my compassion and my empathy, my responsible attitude to life, my loyalty to my ethics . . . . . So at times I think "No, come what may, I could never do this to him".

And then I think: "IF the chance to be with someone I truly love and who truly loves me - a chance to be with someone with whom I CAN have "the whole shooting match" comes to me - and I DON'T take it, what will happen to ME?

And I know the answer is - slowly dying from the inside - living a half life - existing not living . . . growing resentment towards my husband for something he is not even aware of. . .

I know my situation is far from unique - and I know there are as many viewpoints as people reading this story.  I'm hoping some of you will comment to let me know what you think.  I may not do as you suggest - but I WILL value your input.

enna30 enna30
56-60, F
23 Responses Mar 10, 2009

This of all your stories and posts resonates the most with me. This is me...........<br />
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"If I leave my husband he will be heartbroken and lonely. It would be the cruelest thing I've ever done - I, who pride myself on my compassion and my empathy, my responsible attitude to life, my loyalty to my ethics . . . . . So at times I think "No, come what may, I could never do this to him".<br />
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And then I think: "IF the chance to be with someone I truly love and who truly loves me - a chance to be with someone with whom I CAN have "the whole shooting match" comes to me - and I DON'T take it, what will happen to ME?"<br />
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Ah yes, we are so similar aren't we. Married to nice men, nice people ourselves who didn't want to be put in this situation but are now. <br />
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KC and Leb'ski comments are as salient now to me as they were then to you. **** (excuse the language)!

I'm so very happy for you Enna that you have something to go toward. It is easy to stay in an empty marriage when there is no one who wants you with them. But now you have hope that someone really loves you and wants you. You might as well take a chance on hope because you already know what living in despair is like. <br />
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I'll write to you more later if you've got the time. Thanks so much for all you have done for me and my self confidence!

FOP, GREAT quote! Thank you! Helps get priorities in order.

This has become my favorite quote, and I use it here a lot: the things in life you regret the most are the chances you didn't take...<br />
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From Grumpy Old Men...

Such sensible wise and compassionate support and advice from my EP friends - thank you all so uch.<br />
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I am moving slowly towards my goal - I've explained to my husband that I can no longer live as we have been living. I've told him that it will not be solved by him "having sex" with me because I will know that this is something he is only doing for me and not something he wants to do. (A 'pity ****" in other words.)<br />
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Fortunately he understands and altho' he has said he doesn't want us to break up, I think he is realising that this relationship has probably run its course . . . <br />
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I am very conflicted about causing him sadness and pain because I love him dearly as a friend . . .<br />
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If only life were easier!!

Enna, please let us know how it's going. If you need support feel free to message me. Broad shoulders on this girl and they're always available to you. Been almost everywhere you've been and I care.

Thank you all so very much. I have to say that things are not so good at present - will just have to wait and see the outcome. The excellent advice about a month not being long enough to make any judgement calls is sooooo true.<br />
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outside influences are at work so I'm not claiming that I've been "dudded" - but circumstances may not provide me with the outcome for whiich I'd hoped.<br />
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Your kindness and your support is invaluable to me - thank you all so much.

Lebowski28 said: "you are preserving a "good guy" notion of yourself that you like to tell yourself is the case (i know this b/c i do the same thing). the worst thing about people like us is that we can do wrong in the name of doing good, and convince ourselves that our selfless acts are really just that, when, in reality, they preserve a notion of selflessness that is more insidious than its more overt counterpart. "<BR><BR>Oh, only too correct!!! The narcissist in us that says "I'm so noble, I'm sacrificing my happiness, so that another can be happy." or the flipside, "I cannot cause another person unhappiness, I could never feel good about myself again."<BR><BR>When I hear that sort of reasoning, I just shake my head. One "good" person can certainly cause another's unhappiness, or even tragedy. (think car accident) but it's up to ALL THE SURVIVORS to choose how they will let this incident influence their lives. They can get lost in the grieving process, and never recover, or they can get up and make something meaningful from their tragedy (think John Walsh and the Founder of M.A.D.D., and Christopher Reeve) All three of those people could've passed out of our lives w/o us even being aware who they were. But all three of them took their personal tragedies and turned them into good. (America's Most Wanted; M.A.D.D. & The Christopher Reeve foundation for Spinal Injuries).<BR><BR>So please, please don't get stuck in your marriage because you think you'll hurt your husband. Pain is one way we know we're alive. Perhaps you're husband needs to know he's still breathing.<BR><BR>I know my MM's wife did. I can guarantee she has been more in touch with herself over the last few weeks than the last 30 years. Sad, yes. But the time for sorrow was decades ago when she decided unilaterally that HE didn't need sex.

I have always known that this would of course happen to you and I am elated for you. That being said Heywood has struck a resonant chord that might be worth listening to. <br />
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In our search for a better way we always go forth with great energy and often expend a great deal of pent up emotions and desire. In reality we should step back momentarily to take stock of what may be potentially another relationship not too dissimilar to that we have left as bad. This certainly doesn't sound like the case here but may not be the case here but my experiences have made me alwasy a bit on the cautious side as should you.<br />
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You are very kind to realize that your departure will create a sadness on your husband part. However, as hard hearted as my words may seem he has had more than one chance to make sure that your dreams and desires were fulfilled. It was his obligation to you to make your life as full of pleasure in all ways and he let you down. You did not let him down.<br />
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You are a passionate woman and have many years of true happiness awaiting you. If this is indeed the partner that will full-fill every void in your life, then the only fear that I have , is that the rush of first love and the overwhelming emotional up lift a can be masking some realities that may be lurking up the road a bit.<br />
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Please do take Heywood advice to heart and give it a bit more time maybe another month or two before moving in that direction.<br />
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Again I am so delighted at your happiness and I sincerely wish you all the best in this.

I totally agree about "its only a month". We have agreed to wait for a LOT longer before either of us does anything to change our status quo. At this stage it feels hard to wait - but it is the ONLY sensible thing to do. Thanks Heywood - good thinking!

There is a reason it's called YOUR life. You have a right to live it and enjoy it. <br />
Good Luck :)

I was born ready kfc :-) <br />
I believe that we are what we think. Have you read the book "The Secret"? I am trying really hard not to lose my hope. It's been years and nada. Glad to hear your man is patient.

Lexi, be very careful what you wish for. I used to do the same thing, pray that a wonderful sould would love me, and BAM. . one day he fell in my lap. I wasn't emotionally ready for him. But he is patient and loving through my process.

Oh Enna, your story gives me hope.<br />
Finding Love is my BIGGEST wish (aside from a healthy, long life for me and my family).

My dear EP friends, your wisdom, your compassion, your far sightedness and your grace once again take my breath away. Every single post has caused me to stop nd consider - to think more carefully and more clearly. I did say I might not take your advice - but I was underestimating the wisdom of this group. I will heed every word . . . thank you from the bottom of my heart.<br />
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I know it is a cliche, but believe me! If this can happen to me, it can happen to you too!! Just be open to it - is my advice. The universe is unfolding . . .

I am sincerely jealous. I want to be in love like that. Go for it! Love is so very rare. I am a sentimental at heart, I am so excited for you!!!!! :-) Take this chance and say Thank God for bringing this into my life. Follow your heart is all I can advise. Good luck to you.

Enna, wow, I have so much to say/write. You know that I am somewhat in the same boat, only I have already separated physcially from my husband and am living in my own place.<br />
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My lover left his wife last year on a wing and a prayer that I would leave my marriage to be with him. He just knew and was sure of how he felt. Me on the other hand, I have that "Syndrome" that Lebowski was talking about above. <br />
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Enna, want the reality of it all? My marriage and yours were over long, long ago. Who wants to admit that, for that would be a "failure" of sorts.<br />
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Here are some things to consider. If you stay, you will live a stressed life, always wanting, needing and seeking love/sex from others. That's crueler than leaving him. At least if you leave, he may find companionship with someone else. But if you stay and hate him every day, he too will wither away and die.<br />
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If you pursue a life with Mr. "other" it may be wonderful, or he may just be the catalyst to move you from point A to point B. You won't ever know; however, until you try.<br />
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I discovered just yesterday, that my husband can tell me he loves me til he is blue, but if I don't feel his love, it does me no good. I still feel unloved and unwanted in the end. There is love, and there LOVE, and there is Love. . .<br />
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My Mr. "other" is almost too good to be true. But I have had an opportunity to feel him out and spend time with him to know that his love is genuine. He is a good man with a kind heart, who loves sex and loves sex with me and loves me more than anything.<br />
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So what's better to LOVE, but not feel love back, or to love and get LOVE back? I think we all know the answer to that.<br />
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Enna, I'm a book horse and in some ways it's probably too much, but read the book when Good People Have Affairs. It will help you sort through some stuff.<br />
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You know I'm on your side whatever you decide. We are like kindered spirits. Be happy Enna.<br />
Love and hugs,<br />
KFC

Enna<br />
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Wow, that is wonderful and scary and totally energizing. <br />
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Seems there is a draw that is too compelling to ignore yet it threatens to turn your (and his) life upside down. So, I say, buckle up and get ready as regardless of where things go from here, there is likely to be lots of ups and downs as many people and emotions are involved. But you can handle it, benefit of experience!<br />
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We are never too old for love. What a sad day it would be if that were true (what, we get too wise for it??) At every age the anticipation, the butterflies, the endless daydreaming can happen. And those are powerful and positive emotions. <br />
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First is it supposedly "crushes" then there is when in college or post, that some part saying I'm just not ready. But seems everyone is ready when the RIGHT ONE comes along ... You had no plans to leave and were pretty committed to staying UNTIL. My counselor told me of an eminent marriage counselor who left his wife when he was in his sixties and when asked why said “she makes me feel alive.” <br />
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There are no guarantees. Be thoughtful, be open, and be true to yourself and respectful to those around you. <br />
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Good luck!!

enna, the other way to look at this, and this is the cynical way, is that staying with your husband out of the belief that you are compassionate and kind person is even more selfish than pursuing your love -- in staying with your husband you are preserving a "good guy" notion of yourself that you like to tell yourself is the case (i know this b/c i do the same thing). the worst thing about people like us is that we can do wrong in the name of doing good, and convince ourselves that our selfless acts are really just that, when, in reality, they preserve a notion of selflessness that is more insidious than its more overt counterpart. <br />
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maybe i'm being too forward and projecting too much, but i think many of us share this trait. in the end, since we are all, in certain respects self-serving, we might as well get what we want out of life rather than sacrificing so that we posess a notion of ourselves that is a fallacy. good luck to you! if you see your happiness within your grasp, then, by god, don't let it get away!

Enna- will write reams as soon as aAWOL laptop shows up tomorrow Hang in there till then !!<br />
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Tinker

The heart wants what it wants.

Enna30,<br />
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You're an adult with many life experiences. I'm sure you know what is and isn't love as well as anybody. If you believe it's love, then trust yourself. Everybody deserves to love and to be loved.<br />
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Just be careful. Make sure you have met your love other than through cyberspace. The electronic world is easily manipulated.

I think you should follow you're heart. You only have one life as the person you are now and you shouldn't spend it without love. <br />
On the other hand you should go out of your way to make this easier on you're husband. You don't seem to be in a spousal relationship with him you seem to be more like best friends. You don't have to lose that and neither does he. You can still hang out and be companions with the exception that your loyalties will lie with someone else.