Completely Confused

My story is just too long and complicated to write like this. Suffice to say I am married to a man I love so much, but I have come to realize I love him as the best friend I could ever have, and not the way a wife should love her husband. He, on the other hand, loves me so well and with such passion and committment it is frightening. I adore him, but I cannot give him what he needs, the proper love of a wife to a husband. 

I have cheated on him three times. The first time was terrible, with a neighbor, and the man was repulsive. I hated myself and hated every second of it, and only did it out of extreme hurt, none of which was my husband's fault. He found out and tried to forgive me, but he couldn't quite, and the pain I caused him forced him to treat me worse (verbally, not physically). I didn't blame him, I felt I deserved it, so I took it. But after 18 months of daily stress, it wore me down, and I met another man, a father of one of our children's friends, who was also married. He wasn't getting what he needed at home and I was so unhappy, we had an affair that lasted a full year. When my husband found out about that it was terrible for him, and I wanted to kill myself I felt so guilty. I loved the other man, but knew I had done something unforgiveable yet again. But my husband stood by me, and worked so hard to help me and be there for me. I was so worried he wasn't taking care of himself and letting me take care of him. I don't know how he had the strength to stay with me.

Since then I have been on a declining road of self-discovery. I feel like two people inside. One of me cannot fathom life without my darling, I cannot imagine  not living with him, bringing up our children together, traveling and laughing and adventuring together...we are a PERFECT match. The other one of me wants so desperately to be free, to have whatever relationships I choose, to have a job and home of my own. There are many very good reasons for this, but nothing which exonerates me.

The third cheating has happened entirely with my husband's knowledge from the beginning. I told him I knew there were only two scenarios to choose from - either I be able to have a more 'open' marriage (and offer him the same, if he wants it), being able to responsibly see other people etc, or that we split up, because I know no matter how hard I try and no matter how much I love him, eventually the other person inside of me wins out and I make mistakes. He offered to try the open marriage idea, but to be honest he never really did. The poor darling, it just doesn't work for him. He is such a wonderful, chivalrous, old-fashioned lover, he just wants to be my prince. All he asks is that I don't sleep with other men. Every time I see the other guy it kills him and it's tearing us both apart.

So why can't I give him what he needs? I love him so much, and I want to spend my life with him, but I just can't be monogamous. Believe me I tried so hard, for a very very long time. I hate seeing the pain I'm causing him, and I can't bear the thought of losing him, but I just can't get my act together. Every time I think about being monogamous I feel like I'm killing myself and any chance of happiness I may have had. Every time I think of losing my husband I feel EXACTLY THE SAME WAY. I can't promise him what he needs. I've made him hollow, he told me. I don't know what to do. If I leave the other man and promise to be exclusive with my husband, I am certain I will fail, and will only cause him more pain and grief, and I will be miserable besides. But if I don't, he'll leave, and I'll be miserable. 

Part of me thought if I didn't have an open marriage so much as just seeing this one other person? The other person doesn't need or want me to committ to them. So I could just see him when I'm feeling that urge to be free for a while. And I could tell my husband truthfully that I'm not sleeping around or falling in love with anyone, just seeing this one guy now and again to satisfy my problem? My husband says this behaviour is hurting me more than anyone else and likens me to an alcoholic. But I only feel hurt when faced with the choice. If I don't have to choose, I actually feel really really happy. 

I'm so confused and I hate my life because no matter where I go or how desperately hard I try, I hurt people. 
Ethney Ethney
26-30, F
May 11, 2012