Feeling Trapped In a Failed Marriage

My wife and I have been married for 17 years. I am now 50, she is 44 and we have a 16 yo girl.

We started dating when I was 28, and she was my first sexual partner (sad, but true). She was 22, and had had a pretty active sex life. I fell in love with her. She had rescued me from a life of solitude and sexual frustration.  Two years later we were living together, in two more years we got married. I was happy, and so were she.

When our child was born, our problems started. She had talked me into it, she wanted it so badly. She made a promise that she would take the burden of the child and I said ok. When it finally happened, she couldn't handle it and broke down. Everyday I came from work to a home with a crying baby and a crying mother. She wanted me to take care of both. I did my best, but we got into arguments ("you don't do enough", "I feel alone in this", "you have disappointed me", "I work long hours, all you have to do is being a housewife"). After a stormy year she was diagnosed with a depression and started on a medication. Her anxiety problems disappeared, but she started to gain weight. From 122 lbs to 210 lbs. SInce she is small, that means severe obesity. My sexual desire for her vanished. We had failed each other.

Our sex life stopped. I can't remember how often we had sex during those years, but it was not very often. Probably months in between. 

Eventually, she left her medication and lost weight pretty quickly. It must have been at that time that she cheated on me with my younger brother. But I didn´t know at the time. I seems it was just once, at the back seat of my car.

After that our sex life improved somewhat, but it was routine.

Then I had an affair with a co-worker, Raquel. I lasted for three years, and it was hell for me. I seemed to have the urge to have sex with someone else before I died. Raquel fell in love with me but I did not. She also had a sexless marriage. I realized my sex fantasies with Raquel, something that I never tried with my wife. But I felt so guilty. I wanted to get out of that affair, I tried several times, but I always went back to her.

My wife found out and of course she was hurt. I was relieved that my affair with Raquel was over. She never asked for divorce. She reproached me, insulted me... A few days later she told me that she had nearly cheated on me, when she was fat, with a neighbor that had a thing for fat women. She tried to sleep with him, but the neighbor declined. She said that she wanted to be honest with me and wanted to get that out of her chest, so we could start anew.  The thing with the neighbor was true, but she didn´t mention her infidelity with my younger brother. She looked at me in the eyes and told me that that thing with the neighbor was all that had happened, and that after all nothing had really happened. I believed her. She played the 

We restarted our sex life after that. I confessed my fantasies to her, and things went well for a short period, maybe a few weeks. But one night she said that she didn't like my fantasies, I felt embarrased and humiliated and our sex life stopped completely for about two years. She seemed to resign herself to the situation, and seemed content. She said to a mutual friend that our marriage was ok, our life together was fine, except we didn´t have sex. Two years with no sex whatsoever. Our girl had entered adolescence and she seemed to feel an urge for another child. As it happened, our kid wanted a dog and we bought it. She devoted herself to the dog completely, and that seemed to fill her urge for another child. The dog was a child that will never grow, that will never cease to demand and give unconditional love.

We both had lonesome sex in the bathroom, we both assumed the other did the same. Everything was peaceful but frustrating. She stopped smoking and in a few months she was again above 200 lbs. Not that I cared by now.

Then I had another affair with another woman. Again the same story. This one lasted seven months, and again I was found out. This time it was hard for me to give her up. But I did. I felt horribly guilty.

My wife was devastated, and all of a sudden she wanted to rekindle the non-existant flames. She wanted me to want her again, she wanted to make love every night, and hold me and kiss me during the day. Overnight she said that my sexual fantasies were fascinating, and tried to convince me that she had never understood what I wanted before. Overwhelmed with guilt I ran to her and we made love. It was frustrating for me. I barely managed  to finish. I was desmayed at the prospect of having to do it often. She demanded that I kissed her and hold her many times everyday, and I forced myself to do it, but it was plainly a forced situation. 

She was terrified that I should leave her. She started having nervous breakdowns: one night she went to the bathroom and started piercing her skin with the tweezers blaming her body fat for all that has happened. Another night she started trembling uncontrollably on the bed. Many times she got furious against me, and told me that all I wanted was to **** younger women. Most of the time she just cried. Everytime I went to her and tried to console her, and everytime she calmed down immediately. I said whatever I felt was necessary to stop her attacks.

I was in hell. I didn't want her to touch me, to hold my hand when going for a walk, something that we had stopped doing since we were engaged. I used to put on a forced smile and she noticed. I was afraid of her and her reactions. I told her this was not working, but she kept on. 

One day she told me about what happened with my brother many years before. I don't know why she did it. But since this had happened before my affair with Raquel, I wondered why she confessed the unconsumated affair with the neighbor but was silent about my brother. She said she was afraid to tell me and that I would leave. So all her claims for honesty were phoney. 

A few weeks passed, and one day I just could not take it anymore. I packed and left to retire and think. I was away for a week. Now I have returned, we have a pact that she will take it easy. She wants sex, but I don't. Can't. She wants kisses, but I don't. If I want a divorce, she tells me that I must be prepared to witness the pain I am causing. During the past two months she turned to heavy drinking. I don't want that for her and I don't want that for my child. So I pretend to believe that our marriage can still be saved. But I don't really believe it.

She has agreed to take psycological therapy. I just hope that will help her face reality, and give her the self-esteem she lacks. She is on a diet now.


I feel trapped in this marriage. I also have a neurotic fear to being alone. But I am ready to face that. I just don't think I have the guts to leave this woman. I love her, and I love my child.  I don't want to ruin their lives, but I think I am ruining mine.



unsettled unsettled
46-50, M
8 Responses Sep 19, 2009

Un update to my story. I met my brother. My wife knew that I was going to meet him, but she appeared quite relaxed about it.<br />
I didn't expect much from the meeting; I assumed that they both had had ample time to agree on the same version. I just wanted to leave everything behind and retake a normal brother's relationship.<br />
But I was surprised. My brother came clean. He told me that my wife had begged and cried for his help to corroborate her story. She had told him that she loved me so much and didn't want to lose me. At the moment, my brother succumbed to her tears and agreed to do what she asked.<br />
But after the initial shock, my brother changed his mind. He really wanted to come clean, and he asked three times if I really wanted to know the truth. I said I did. <br />
Then he told me a very different version. It was not just something unimportant of a single intoxicated night. She planned it and made several tries at it. She was determined and my brother was reluctant. She had become obsessed with my brother. Maybe they did it a couple times, but that's not the point. She wanted to continue, but my brother refused. It seems that she had to undergo psychiatric treatment to get over him.<br />
That fits the facts. Around that time, I noticed an incomprehensible change of attitude in my wife towards my brother. She began to deprecate him as a person, and refused to keep on attending his musical performances (he's in a doo-wop band) which she used to be so fond of. My brother and I lost touch.<br />
When I returned home I had made up my mind. <br />
I could see in her face that she had been pondering the possibility that my brother had betrayed her. She was having a bad time. <br />
She asked me whether the conversation with my brother had cleared my doubts.<br />
'Yes', I said. 'My doubts have vanished'<br />
<br />
--- well i don't have time now, I'll keep on later

This clarifies much and I apologize for having seemed both strident or judgmental but as more was made known of your circumstances by your candor, I more fully understand now and have greater empathy for your circumstance.

I forgot to comment on the reasons why I was caught. If I unconciously wanted to get caught, by definition I am not aware of it. Both times it was the cell phone. The first time was a text message. The second time my wife overheard a conversation from another room. They both had a need to be constantly in touch and always found a perfect excuse to break the rules of no communication during weekends. I was terrified of being caught. But I guess I pushed my luck a bit too far, in order to comply with their demands.

Zorbas,<br />
Mostly I have come back home because of my teenage daughter. The mere thought that she might be left alone with a desperate unstable mother gives me the creeps. I don't want her to suffer.<br />
She has only known about problems in her parents marriage the day I packed and left for a week. <br />
After reading my story, you maybe under the impression that all 17 years of marriage have been hell. They were not. My child had a very happy childhood in a harmonious home with loving, supporting parents. The three of us cherish so many very good memories of our life together.<br />
But that is the past. We cannot live from nostalgia. Do you advise to keep the semblance of happiness for my daughter's sake? Surely a 16 year old can stand a divorce much better than an unhappy home. But my plan, if you can call it that, is to stay while my wife undergoes therapy. She is two weeks into it now. I have sworn myself to be faithful while I am married to her. No more cheating. I want her to stand on her two feet so that she is prepared to face reality, Who knows? Maybe when she can see clearly she will be the first to realize this marriage is broken beyond repair.<br />
<br />
I know I have been selfish to Raquel.I know that I have a lot to regret, But she was also in a sexless marriage and intended to stay in it. She fell in love with me, but she had a small child. She did not want to leave his husband. <br />
As for the second one, Montse, I don't know. I think I love her. If someday I am free, I will seek her and try to start a new life with her. I think of her every day.

Strange story to be sure but your wife sounds all the world a woman with some mental issue that must be addressed and promptly. I do not wish to be judgmental in this but never anywhere in this narrative of your dysfunctional relationship did I see any mention or concern for your 16 year old daughter who is an innocent victim to this tragedy in action.<br />
<br />
The fact that you have had affairs is of no consequence to me personally since I have had many such dalliances over the years, but I am in complete wonderment as to why you were constantly caught at this. People are most often discovered because they subconsciously wish to be. It is a subliminal method of proving to their spouse of their desirability by others .<br />
<br />
Incidentally , I think that you were patently unfair and acted selfishly to the women involved in your affairs because you apparently allowed them to think that there would be a satisfactory conclusion for them. This, when you knew full well of your intention not to do so.<br />
<br />
I perceive your present marital relationship as well beyond any repair that you both can implement but you certainly must forget your own issues and both concentrate unselfishly if at all possible to maintaining a proper environment for your teenage daughter.<br />
<br />
Let your difficulties take a back seat for a while and at least give her a chance at a life better than you have created for yourselves. Who knows by working on this you may solve some of your own concerns.

Thank you so much for your comments and advice. I feel like a monster for wanting to have a sex life. My wife tells me that she can't understand that my sex appetite for her has vanished just because she is obese. It means that I no longer love her. Well, maybe I don't. But I can't help it. You can't control those things. Does it mean that I don't love my wife? <br />
She tells me that sex is not everything in a marriage. Of course not. But I tell her that a marriage without sex is like a table with one leg missing. <br />
My younger brother has called me. He wants to talk to me. My wife has told him. I will meet him on Monday. I will of course ger the same version from him now. <br />
Monday will be a hard day. It is the day I will lose my job. Yes, hardships in life never come alone. I need to concentrate on finding a new job. I'll keep you posted. Thank you again

VB has given you the tough-love, take-no-prisoners version of advice. And I suspect in the long run, it is the correct version. <br />
<br />
Do read and write some more here. A lot of pain gets purged on this forum, with a very sympathetic audience.

Wow. That's a really complex story. I think it's good you've come here to start talking and writing about things. I hope it will help you get some clarity in your situation. I know it has helped me.