How Do You Leave Such a Good Person?

Hello all, I have been with my husband for about 16 years, married for 11.5.  When we met, we were both single parents, he was raising his then 10yo daughter and my little boy was 2.  If I am honest, there were never any bells or whistles for me, he was a great guy, he seemed a devoted father and he was so gentle. Whilst there has never been a great passion, I always believed we were best of friends. Our friends were always commenting how happy and commited we were to one another, how he takes such fantastic care of me, how lucky I am because he cooks, cleans, baths children etc etc.  

We had a tough time with our kids, my son was diagnosed with Asperger's and suffered severe depression as a young child. His daughter had issues of abandonment and sadness, that escalated due to his unwillingness to talk with her about her issues. Not because he didn't care but because he just didn't know how. She left home at 15. And he just let her go. He never contacted her, never spoke of her, it was almost like she had never been. He was angry at her walking out, he told her she was just like her mother etc. I could not believe how cold he was. I had never allowed myself to see that side of him before.

This was all years ago now, but if I am honest, I stopped loving him the day he let his daughter go like that. At that stage, we had been going through fertility treatment and I was pregnant. So, I concentrated all my energy on that and tried to block out that this man could turn on someone he apparently loved so easily.

Fast forward to now. Our baby is now almost 8.  And now I am the one on the receiving end of his coldness.  I told him about 4 years ago I was unhappy, I told him why, I told him we needed to work on this or I would not be able to stay.  And he shut me out. He still talks to me, to the outside world he seems to love me and in reality he probably does. But there is an emptiness to his gaze, a look I have seen before.

I no longer love him. I know this. But, between us we have these 3 kids, all of whom are somehow facing additional challenges in their lives, and I feel enormous guilt that I could cause extra trauma to them by leaving.  Our youngest adores his father, they do everything together. I do not want him to lose this feeling of being loved by his dad, and I am afraid if I go, or make him go, that he will switch off with our son the same way he did with his daughter. I could never forgive myself if that happened.

There are many other issues of course, but I believe this is the major reason why I don't leave.  He is a good man, he is kind, he is wounded and he has been so hurt. It is not like he does anything to me that is horrid, but I just don't think I can stay any longer.

I am not perfect either. I had an emotional affair with a man I go to uni with. My husband found out.  Again, he gets accolades because he 'forgave me' for my digression.  Truth is, he has never had the courage to confront me or speak about it. He doesn't understand that just makes me feel more invisible, more shut out.  How shallow is that, I cheat on him and then i get to feel upset because he doesn't get angry.

I have been on the verge of walking for years, the longer I leave it, the more impossible it seems.

unseenone unseenone
6 Responses Mar 14, 2009

It is easy to get confused by the truth and what appears true. I have often heard it said that "your perception is your reality". <BR><BR>No marriage/relationship is without its problems. Obviously no one is perfect, and yes it is good to be grateful for what we have. I too lived in a marriage with a man who was cold, unaffectionate, rejecting and emotionally unavailable. I hung in there as long as I could. I loved him every day in the hopes that he would see how great love can be. For those who have seen "Fireproof", well I didn't do the 40-day love dare, I did the 12 year love dare. After a while it is human nature to shut down, when you just keep giving and no love comes back. It's almost impossible to remain in that situation. <BR><BR>I moved out 6.5 months ago. I have not felt good about my decision or at peace with it, because deep in my heart, I love him. He is my husband, the man I vowed to love for better or for worse. But I had become a lonely shell of a person. After a while, you have to start loving yourself again and fighting back to regain who you are as a person. It's painful no matter how you slice it. It hurts to be with him and hurts to be without him.<BR><BR>But I know that I have done the right thing for myself.<BR><BR>You hold the answers in your heart. Dig deep. In the end, you can't change anyone, only yourself.<BR><BR>Be happy, be well.<BR>KFC

Thank you for your comments. As you can see just from this short thread, the viewpoint can be so different. That is what makes this impossible for me.<br />
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Harel, you are right, here is this wonderful man who does so much and it feels so wrong not to be happy with him. And no, I am by no means perfect and I acknowledge this readily. I am able to communicate my faults and own them. That is where I am so different to him.<br />
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I have never expected a romance novel husband, and I do make a very special effort to always see the good in people which is probably one reason I have persevered. I have spent our entire relationship seeing his perspective, I understand why he is the way he is and I am sad that he feels that way. But in the end, do I really deserve to live without love because he is not capable of giving it??<br />
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There are of course many other factors influencing our situation, I can't go into all of them. And when I put it all together, this is not a good marriage.<br />
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On the surface he does everything right. Yet, we are facing financial ruin due to him hiding bills and not paying when due etc. I work 6-7 days a week, at times more than one job just to try and catch up. He has been impotent for more than 9 years, the only time he can manage to be sexually active is he approaches me when I am asleep. How is that for romance novel? Despite many many attempts to talk with him about our problems, he keeps our youngest up as late as possible and then falls asleep with him just to avoid speaking with me.<br />
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I have requested counselling to no avail. I did find out he was texting and phoning my best friend to discuss our problems. And while I was addressing this he admitted that he has not been himself for the duration of our relationship, that he puts on a front, what he thinks someone would want in a partner. <br />
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I don't know, I guess if this decision was easy we would all be doing it. Part of me wishes he would meet someone and fall in love, and then I could be honestly happy for him and move on.<br />
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Again, thank you all for your comments. From coming into this group, I have noticed there are a few people with very similar stories to me, so if nothing else, I know I am not completely mad.

My, you have attracted a range of comments here. I shall add my tuppence worth.<br />
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Coldness and indifference are killers. They stifle our being. "The emptiness in his gaze".<br />
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You are being authentic.<br />
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Best wishes

Living with a person who can be "cold" hearted is very difficult and can't be understood unless others walk in your shoes. Some people are capable of turning their emotions on and off like hot and cold runnning water, and still appear to be perfect spouses to the outside world. I know, because I have such a husband, like you.<br />
Without going into all the details (you can read my stories), my husband of 40 years has always been cold and calculating when he feels like it ... over the years I've grown accustomed to his "mood swings" and his shutting down on me... he's not the warmest person I've ever known, but I learn to accept that as part of his personality.<br />
We have grown children and one has disabilities that has caused great grief and annoyance to my husband. Now he's living on his own, but I remember all the times he has said horrible things about this child (man) and even wished him dead. These comments were cold and uncaring. So, I understand where you're coming from.<br />
Don't be so hard on yourself .. you didnt cause these emotions in him, nor can you control them. By quietly accepting his traits, I guarantee things will get worse as time goes by... the children will grow and eventually leave, and he will remain the same .. if it's not one thing, it will be another if he is geared toward being cold. You don't deserve this emotionless marriage,,, you are quick to accept GUILT ... that can be a killer ... mentally and physically. He needs to speak to a professional, and if he won't I suggest you do. You're carrying a big burden for a young person who has a life ahead of you.<br />
Consider asking a clery or therapist for assistance in sorting out your feelings.<br />
You deserve happiness and just because he does a lot in the home, doesn't give him the right to set the tone. My husband shuts me out for days at a time ... now that he is older, it is much worse ... and then he expects me to be there ... waiting on the other side.<br />
Good people can also be bad spouses ... there is indifference and an unwillingness to be part of the solution. It takes more than cooked meals and folded wash.<br />
Please stop beating yourself up, how can someone treat you like this, you're a good person too.<br />
Blessings tonite

I am sorry to say, that you really need to assess this situation from HIS perspective rather than the one that you have informed us of. No marriage is perfect, but the description that you gave of this man is by no means a man to just throw away because you feel like it!<br />
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He has some really wonderful traits and those are not to be shoved to the curb. Who is perfect? Are you? Why can't you accept this man with all his faults and great attributes and love him? Love is all there really is.<br />
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I lost my husband who had similar traits but he was good and honest and loyal. I would never have traded him for the world. Men in romance novels do not exist.

My dad left my mom after 25 years saying he didn't love her ne more. I don't hate him and I can understand why he did it. But I had to watch my mom suffer through the pain. If ur not happy the kids wont be happy. I don't believe you should fake anything. I'm no expert and I'm not really giving u advice but just sharing a story that may or may not help. I wish the best of luck.