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I Don't Love My Wife

M and I have been married for more than 10 years. M is kind, shy, loving and gets along with my family. But I don't love her. For some reason, I can't. One Sunday morning in February of last year, I was frustrated and blurted out that I thought we should end the marriage. That took us into counseling. Then it took us into individual counseling. I learned that she was well adjusted and that I needed work. Breaking up was the easy thing to do. Just a week before Christmas, I was lying in bed beside her and she read my face. "What's wrong?" I said I was back to where I was in February. She cried. I cried. What was the spark? There were many but I explain a few that are vivid: I work with a woman whom I consider a sister. I'll call her Z. She's engaged to be married in 2008 and we worked closely together. I have a tendency to pull a few practical jokes on my friends and she certainly received more than her fair share. One day, my boss called me in to his office. He told me that Z was REALLY pissed at me. I couldn't believe it. I went white and my stomach twisted into a knot. I thought I was going to vomit into his recycle bin. Turns out she had colluded with my boss to get me back for my pranks. Ha ha. Very funny. But I also l learned that I couldn't fathom certain people in my life to be upset with me. My mom, dad, sister, brother. I'd be equally upset. But even more distressing, I couldn't imagine feeling torn up if M was mad at me. The "something was wrong" siren was suddenly very close by. A second event brought the siren right next to my ear. A guy at the office invited me to friendly sport event (curling) for his office group. I wasn't keen on going because I wasn't that close to him and wouldn't know a soul. But I played along and he was desperate. Since I curl a couple of times a week, I was the ringer he needed. M was also invited but her priorities included avoiding sports (even though we curl every Friday night). The event would last about 3 hours in the afternoon, so it wasn't all that big of time commitment. We curled, we ate. Lots of new people. My pal, his girlfriend and her girlfriends were packing up to leave. They decided it was time to go next door to a local pub. Not all that late, I thought I could handle a few minutes extra away from M. Now I don't drink much and that night I didn't have a sip. But it was one of those nights I'll remember for the rest of my life. The band was great, the crowd was energetic and I danced until midnight in my winter boots. I left with the biggest smile on my face. When I pulled into my lane that February evening, I had confirmed that it was time. I never kissed, snuggled, groped or even held another woman's hand. But I also knew I didn't really want to do that with my wife. Something was very wrong. When M and I met, I was at the bottom of a well. My business was booming but my life was on hold. I was a very lonely 24 yr old virgin with just 3 girlfriends ever. A friend introduced me to M and we seemed to hit it off from our first conversation. She called me for our first date but I was glad she did. If she hadn't, I was going to call her. So we started dating. Eventually, I ended up waking up in the early morning next to her. I knew something wasn't right. Her shyness was painful and she rarely let me see her emotions. I knew that going in but I kept up my pursuit -- I was terrified to fall back into the well. I reasoned that M had many of the checks that were on my list: * She was pretty * She and I shared the same politics * She was kind and sane * She didn't want kids * She married for life
How could I throw this away? I estimated that this must be the type of situation where a person uses their head and expect their heart to follow. Arranged marriages work all the time so maybe I just need to follow my head this time. Today I look at our relationship and realize that, if we were not married, I wouldn't even ask her out on date. My original checklist was flawed. My wife doesn't feel like my best friend because we don't cherish the same things to the same degree: * She goes to church and I read Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens. * She can't travel without a hair dryer and I want to hike Patagonia, Peru and the Appalachian trail * She loves to stay in 7 nights a week and I want to be out 6 nights a week (not partying, but exploring our city, sports events and personal sports, movies and music, and over at a friend's house) Ten years in, my heart still hasn't caught on that this nice, decent person should be loved. But I had forgotten what love felt like because it has never materialized in this marriage. I finally woke up I felt the pain from Z and the joy from life I could never have with M. I was ready. Carpe diem.

UPDATE: I did it. I am legally separated from M.

She was very sad, I was stoic. For a month and a half we lived under the same roof as we finalized the finances and she shopped for a new home. We worked out the division of our assets and I made sure that she was not short of cash and received a decent buyout for the house and investments. My lawyer thought I was too generous but I was interested in getting the issue behind me and not about wringing nickels and dimes out of M. This put her in position to buy a brand new condo. A very nice two bedroom located a short, one bus ride to her office. She picked it out. A very modest mortgage gives her the opportunity to save and travel. I kept the house and continue to live there.

Three weeks after she moved out, I put an ad in the local on-line meet and greet site. I was regularly chatting with M about her furniture and electronics and she had occasions when she couldn't reach me. When she asked me where I was, I stumbled around for an answer and said -- "I don't think you want to know where I was." She figured I was dating and hit the roof. That was the end of her forced smiles. She drilled me for details and I made the mistake of providing just one crumb of info. 

After a few crazy conversations, she finally decided to avoid contact with me. A month passed and she called after I emailed her about a story on her favorite TV personality. She was still sad but had lost a lot of her anger.

Occasionally I chat with M on the phone. She wants me to stay in touch and periodically calls my mom to chat. I'm dating a really fantastic woman and I struggle to imagine the me of old. How did I live like that for so long? What an adventure I am on now! Other than the occasional co-worker that gets me wrangled, I've never felt so close to the clouds.

p.s., thanks for all the comments and the encouragement. I hope my adventure brings some positive thoughts to your life.

nospam nospam 36-40, M 37 Responses Jan 7, 2008

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I know I'm late to this post, but well done mate. Truly happy for you. 99% of all divorce stuff on the net is either how terrible it is or in favor of women. Both a load of nonsense.<br />
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I managed to separate after a 14 year relationship, ten years married. For the most part it was a bloody nightmare. She broke every agreement, played me against every ex and was only focused on her self. <br />
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I married her like many of you say, because on paper she ticked all the boxes. Attractive, healthy, into outdoor pursuits, loved literature, music etc. Perfect. <br />
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But it wasn't.<br />
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Our second date was rock climbing, we never did it again in 14 years.<br />
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She pretended to be into books, never saw her read one in 14 years.<br />
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She never cooked, brought me gifts or said loving things.<br />
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She did the opposite of what I asked and played me against everybody.<br />
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I lost friends, confidence and a sense of the north of my inner compass.<br />
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She was abusive physically, mentally and emotionally and did terrible things to me.<br />
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Why did I marry her you may ask? <br />
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Because our unmet inner needs can blind us, especially in youth.<br />
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Because women with personality disorders can play with a generous good heart and manipulate and confuse it.<br />
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Because I am loyal to the bone and wanted to do right<br />
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So many reasons...<br />
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But, the good news is that on the other side it is fantastic and don't let yourself or anyone else kid you.<br />
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Life is about making decisions and if you make a decision you damn well commit to the other side of that decision being better than what came before otherwise there is no point.<br />
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If your gonna do it, do it with power, energy and confidence. Get all the support you can. Call free helplines, see shrinks and councellors, talk to people who will listen and heal and learn and get your strength back.<br />
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It's gonna be OK, because your going to make it OK, that's why.<br />
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Don't live in despair, abuse and unhappiness...<br />
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Go and live, make peace with the lonely times and fill your life to the brim with as much as you can. It will settle as you find your mettle !<br />
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Be well, don't take any **** and open your hearts to open hearted people.

Thank you so much for this. It's a breath of fresh air. I have been married 7 years, two kids (I know...that is the tragic side), common law 3 years prior to that. Aside from the kids, my story sounds exact to yours. I am trying to hold out till after Christmas with great difficulty. I am done. Gone to personal counsellors (three opinions), and the couples counsellor who saw me first agrees that it sounds longgggggggg overdue. Wonderful person, beautiful physically, but a stranger to me. Most the online sources seem to make it sound like unless I'm a raging boozer womanizing wife beater, then it can be saved. I am none of those things, and here's the important piece - I don't WANT to be that either. I want a civil relationship with the mother of my kids, and for us both to move on. I screwed up a lot looking back and after reading the books, but she did too, and no hard feelings at all. None. She wants to change and work it out, I know I'm bad for her, and that it wouldn't matter by now, and I don't think she should unless she wants to change for her own well being, however as you suggested, her personality traits are likely ideal for another mate, but not me. That's the short story, it's way longer. Thanks for your post, wish me luck.

Thank you for sharing your story. It was just the hopefulness I needed to read this am.

i would like to say im not in the same postion as you but truth is sometimes i think i might be. im married to a wonderful man whom i have kids with and he works hard and would do anything for us but as far as stimualiting conversation and adventures we lack this and it really bothers me sometimes! he dosent drink at all not really a going out person as for me i drink on occasion and love being out of the house as much *** possible! im not sure if its just the kids that are making our marriage lack stimulation or if i knew all along and just ignored it! confused!

You know why divorce is so expensive, right? Because it's bloody well worth it! Best thing that ever happened to me was divorcing a cheating woman who decided she'd rather be roommates than spouses. Second best was when the girl I was seeing after the ex-wife let her parents talk her into leaving. I WOULD have made the marriage mistake, AGAIN, if it hadn't been for that.

Now I'm awake to the reality of how women are, their psychology, etc. I will NOT get married again, nor will I cohabitate (living with one is enough in some places for the State to give her your retirement and vagimony when you break up).

I have trouble thinking of anything that feels as good as the freedom of knowing that I've unplugged from the Matrix. Coppertop no more!

If you knew it was wrong, you shoudn't have married her. Men are weak. Case closed.

To the poster: WOW!!! Good for you!!! You made a clear decision, decided your happiness was more important and went for it!!! I envy you! I wish I had that kind of strength. I have never understood how some people feel that marriage is the 'be all-end all' in most social settings and is the only path to true happiness. It's not! Certainly not for every human being out there. Hell, I'm effing miserable! I drink when I come home from work, because it half simulates "happiness" for me. Marriage SUCKS!!! I would sooo much rather be single and doing my own thing...when I want, how I want. I applaude your strength and your decision!
I sincerly hope you FINALLY find the happiness you missed out on in your 10 year long empty marriage. Good luck to you and many future happy days!!!

<p>I feel as though I am in a similar situation. I think I knew at the time (maybe I was denying it though) that I wasnt in love with my husband, but he met all the things on my checklist and he was a really good friend. We've been married 7 years and have a 3 and 6 year old. I feel like I am staying for the kids sake. But I feel like the decision has to be made now. I don't want to be in this same position 13 years from now with kids graduating high school and saying i've been married 20 years and i want to leave. I feel like I have tried and given it my all. I really like what you said about making a decision with your mind and expecting your heart to follow. I feel like that was what I did 7 years ago... also what i have commited to now with making the decision to stay and make things work, only they are not working. so how much longer should i stay and try before it is just prolonging the inevitable?</p>

I have not loved my wife in 8 years. We've been married 18. We lived apart 4 years because our jobs were on separate coasts, and i stayed faithful. Wish i hadnt. She begged me to do in vitro after i knew i wanted out. I was guilted inyo doing it. I now got two wonderful kids. I love them more than anything. I also met a wonderful women a year ago. She's given me until december to decide. My head is a mess.

I wish i can be like you one day.....my only reason to stay in this marriage is my 7 years old son. I love him more than anything. But i think i am on the brink of explosion. My only worry is a divorce would have a permanent scar in his life. He still need his mom. But i can't live with this woman anymore.

Wow, I am 51, married for 29 years...four children, two older, two in college, all doing well. My wife and I got married very young inside a Fundamental Christian world view. Unfortunately we got pregnant first and had only several options, adopt or get married and we chose the "high road."<br />
Our noble life was an adventure for 19 years, then I discovered her infidelity. It broke my heart and our "world" came crashing down. I purposed to forgive and reconcile and for 8 years and 8 months have managed to put things back in order the best I know how. I recently found one big thing still missing...my deep love for her as well as abiding trust and respect. I love her like a friend or a puppy, or a teammate. Not like a man loves his wife.<br />
I recently asked for a legal seperation and divorce which is now in process. During this time we have had more meaningful conversation about our situation than we had during our 29 years together.---She agrees with me that much of our life was "duty" lacking a certain intimacy one should expect from a soulmate/spouse.---I also agree that most likely her straying into another's arms was a "symptom" of the root issue. I believe we have both grown much more mature through this process.<br />
To further complicate matters I have also kindled a "relationship" with a woman in process of divorce that I believe has sparked feelings of love and enthusiasm I have not felt my entire adult life. She is beautful, responsible, productive and frankly does not need me. She does however "want" me.... and oh what a feeling. <br />
I write this for those who share my deep rooted faith and teachings which can often keep one submitted to something that simply does not work. I have found that God works in mysterious ways and that a life of faith means being very honest with yourself and your Creator, and trusting that if something does not "feel" right, over time, it probably is not.<br />
Glad I made the leap.---T.Y.

It's good to see someone else move on and be really happy. I am afraid to move on, but I am so unhappy I know eventually it will be great again. I too would not have even gone on a date with my husband if I met him now, we are too different and want different things out of life.

I am so glad you did it. <br />
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Everyone can change their lives. Everyone deserves the chance to find happiness. Maybe things get better; maybe things get worse. I think that most often, like in your case, things get better. :)

I think the idea of finding out the list that you started with isn't your list anymore is a big revelation. You put across your point very clearly. Thank you. <br />
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It is so hard to admit that either you made a mistake in the beginning, or that your life has changed enough that what was once the right decision no longer is. f<br />
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And starting over is scary to so many people.

Never thought I'd share the same sort of story. Decided to leave my marriage of 41 years, after almost a year of separation initiated by my wife because of her discovery of my internet *********** use. I joined Sex Addicts Anonymous, stopped using *********** or anything else, and began the painful journey of the Twelve Steps, which has been life-changing. For most of the year I thought that if I could "redeem myself" I'd rediscover the love for my wife that I'd buried under the rubbish of sex addiction and self-centredness. But about 2 months ago I suddenly realized that there was nothing to rediscover. I'd married for sole reason of being too scared to face the world alone. Telling this to my wife was excruciating. I felt I'd robbed her of 2/3 of her life and then was foreclosing on the future. Even worse, she was beginning to realize that she had played her own part in our codependent relationship (which I might add was so convincing to everyone around us that numerous friends described our marriage as the best they could imagine). But for me it was too late. I wish I could be granted a God-given revelation that I am wrong, and could take it all back and start over, but I don't think I can. This story doesn't have a happy ending. But I am beginning to realize that isn't what life is all about. I am trying to stop believing I can control the show and to put it in the hands of God. I feel that to the extent I can do that things will work out as they should.

I admire your strength. When you leave a marriage of that duration, it needs to be about who you are rather than who she is. I hope that who you are becomes clearer. I suspect it will.

I agree that marriage should be like 5 years lease... Makes so much sense. It does seem to take away a bit of that romantic feeling, but id vote for it anytime.

I agree that marriage should be like 5 years lease... Makes so much sense. It does seem to take away a bit of that romantic feeling, but id vote for it anytime.

Tonight is my 30th anniversary<br />
4 kids...3 in college....do not love my wife<br />
Do not want to hurt her<br />
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Want to leave<br />
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Done cousiling for a year<br />
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Ready to leave....want to talk to someone that has been there

Did you leave?

Tonight is my 30 yr

Wow so many stories. I was in an emotionally abusive marriage 15 yrs ago and eventually left. I soon remarried a woman who I thought was right for me. It was a list type situation. We have two children. Our love has been elusive and hard to define. I have never felt satisfied. Either as a husband or a lover. I have now met someone from my past on line and have fallen in love with them for all the reasons that are missing from my marriage. Now I have to decide if I leave my wife to be with my on line liver? It's a struggle. I understand so many of the feelings you all have shared. I don't know what to do either, but I feel that we should feel happy and satisfied in our marriage. We should feel loved and know that we love our spouse. It should feel strong. It should be obvious. We deserve to be happy and not settle for less.

I am in an abusive marriage, my wife has been emotionally abusing me for years, I had drive, ambition, dreams and now I am scared to make the bed because it will be made wrong. I question everything I do and pray that she will not criticize me for doing it. do you think I should "work on my marriage" or get out before my depression causes illness? <br />
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she says my business plans are stupid, the music i listen to is stupid, I can't cook, clean, cut the grass, drive correctly... my friends tell me i'm smart she says i'm just lucky, my parents are idiots and she never wants to visit them with their grandchildren. <br />
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I need resolution but is divorce the answer? will I loose my children that I love dearly? will people criticize me and ask where my back bone is for saying I'm abused?

I am in love with a man going through something similar (although not so severe). It's hard not to kick him in the *** and say "man up, dude."

No one can live with such disrespect. Leave. You will find a way to make it work with the children.

I'm totally feel the same way, I'm 32 married for for 10 yrs and there is no more spark and hardly have sex, I feel so lonely all the time and wish I have a lover not a husband that just caring for me...I'm struggling alot not sure if I left him what my future gonna hold??

This sounds so upsetting my friend felt the same way and now she's just friends with the one she loved. Anyway how is it going, time has past like greeneyedbrunette said.

I am in almost the same situation, except I was older when I got married and had only one other girlfriend and I do not curl, LOL.

@knutcase do you have kids? I'm just wondering if people get divorce because of unhappiness regardless of kids or a child. Is it better to divorce or stay together to spare the pain you can bring a little one. It's so hard.

@567 Becca, I feel your struggle. I just told my husband of almost 14 years that I am divorcing him. I told him at marriage counseling. It was the 2nd hardest thing I've ever done. The first was moving out. He is crushed, but I know he deserves better than what we had.

I agree, marriage does take work. I can't tell you whether you made the right decision or not. My feeling is that if you put your trust and faith in God, you will be shown the right path. Maybe you were meant to be together, maybe you are meant to be with someone else.<br />
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I believe the reason why "things change" after marriage, is primarily because you (both) changed your behavior. Almost everyone does this, and that is why so many marriages fail, and a large number of surviving marriages are unsatisfying. To put it briefly, dating is the attraction stage. You both put on your best efforts to impress and please your hearts desire. Teasing, flirting, kindness, caring, I am sure, were your typical behaviors.<br />
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Marriage is the prize. Once you win, you don't have to work so hard, if at all, on the attraction. Did you change your behavior after marriage? Did she? I bet you both did. Then you settle into an overly comfortable state with each other. How much sexual teasing, flirting did you do the 6 months prior to marriage, compared to the 6 months after your wedding? Overly comfortable continues on for years and then decades. Eventually reaching a point of no return, to the passion you once had.<br />
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Don't think I'm criticizing you or your wife. I wish only to point this out to help you, and others, build a passionate marriage that can become "happily ever after", or repair the marriage you have before it's too late. A lifelong, passionate marriage is possible, with work. I know we all want and deserve to live “happily ever after”.

Marriage takes work. And unfortunately I think you made the wrong decision for the wrong reasons. You married her for love. But love hides in marriage. You will more than likely find you feel the same over time with a different partner in the future. If you marry because of the spark, then you are marrying for the wrong reason too. The spark fades with time. You are then bound to be upset. There is no hollywood marriage. Making the choice for divorce re-enforces that you always have a way out. And you will be that much more likely to divorce in the future.<br />
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Its a choice. Its not about feelings. Feelings fade. But by choice we define who we are. And grow in character.

**** yeah!

you (zcbrandow) may never read this but hopefully others will. I am in an abusive marriage, my wife has been emotionally abusing me for years, I had drive, ambition, dreams and now I am scared to make the bed because it will be made wrong. I question everything I do and pray that she will not criticize me for doing it. do you think I should "work on my marriage" or get out before my depression causes illness?

A month before I got married, I had a heart to heart with my dad about my doubts. I told him that my fiance didn't give me butterflies. My dad assured me of your exact argument- that marriage is about a lot more than that spark. Within 3 months after my wedding, my dad pulled me aside and let me know that he was afraid he'd pushed me into the marriage, and that if I felt like I needed out, they would support me. My unhappiness was THAT obvious from the very beginning.

I was pregnant within a year we were married, and things were good for awhile. We both made compromises. In the long term, however, I have come to realize that the spark IS important. It provides something to return to when the other things are bad. A physical connection is so important for reinforcing and maintaining an intimate bond in a couple. Without that spark of attraction, a marriage is simply a relationship of roommates, and it is much easier to walk away from a platonic relationship than from someone who has your heart and your chemistry.

Beautifully said

this was awesome and well said! now i understand what to tell people regarding that whole 'spark' thing i never had with my ex husband. makes sense. wow

2 More Responses

i wish you both the best

"I'm dating a really fantastic woman and I struggle to imagine the me of old. How did I live like that for so long? What an adventure I am on now!"<br />
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I'm so glad to hear this. My biggest fear is that my feelings are wrong and that I am setting myself up to just be lonely. I am inspired by your story that you are out there having the fun you always wanted to with someone you really like, whether she's the one or not. I am in a very similar situation and I truly believe that I will need to initiate to set us both free from our mediocre marriage as well. Thank you for sharing your story!