The Differences

This year will be 15 years of marriage and 19 years together for my wife and me. That’s a long time. We did well over that time for the most part. From a purely functional standpoint we were competent. We achieved all the material goals we set out to do. With our growth and achievement though some other cracks started to form. They formed a long time ago, but mostly we just swept them under the rug. Life circumstances kept changing on us every few years which made it difficult to face many of these challenges or even to know if it was the life change or our relationship which was the problem.

In the end I feel very small and insignificant in my marriage. I do love my wife, and I know that she loves me, but she does not really know me. She knows many things about me, hair color, eye color, family history, etc… But she doesn’t know how I think. She doesn’t know why I like things or in many cases what I want for my life. She does not understand, she does not have curiosity to find out, and she does not want to know in many cases. Sort of a head in the sand mentality. She has formed a mental picture of who I am and how that suits her, and stuck with it. There is no room for growth in that picture, and she reminds me of it any time I change my mind. Something I should be allowed to do over 20 years.

However I fear that I am not really getting through on what these differences are. It’s difficult to write about as I have general concepts floating in my mind. Perhaps imagine this scenario which admittedly is a bit childish, but it popped into my head. You have two friends and you ask them to think of a number between 1 and 10. The first friend matches about 20% of the time. Double what you would expect from chance which is really great you think! The second friend however matched 90% of the time. It kind of blows your mind. It’s unexplainable. Nearly an ESP experience.

What I’m missing in the relationship with my wife is that connection. Someone who gets me and knows what I’m thinking. Someone I can talk to about anything. Of course there will be differences but can we talk through them and still support each other? Right now I do not have that relationship with my wife and she doesn’t want it. She likes avoiding topics. I don’t. I need someone to talk with and bounce ideas off of.

This isn’t all about sex. I did spend a lot of time writing about sex and bdsm in earlier posts. Those things are important but even without them my marriage is not in great shape. We cannot communicate about anything except practical day to day stuff. We cannot discuss things about life which are important to me. The way I envision my future does not line up with my wife’s vision. On top of all that our sex life is severely lacking for a romantic relationship.

We are very different people. Very different. Opposites attract type of different. Maybe that was a bad idea. Maybe there is a limit to how long the opposites can last.

Things haven’t been good since 2010, but I had a hard time recognizing what the problem was. I know a lot of people would say then why did you have kids? Yeah that’s a good question and I don’t have a good answer. I didn’t realize the problems I was struggling with were due to my marriage. I felt they were just me having anxiety or something. I should have gone to see a counselor. Having children was just the next step on our life journey and I really had no reason to suspect a marital problem.

In fact it didn’t really dawn on me that the marriage was the problem until about summer of 2015. Even then I didn’t really get it. I thought it was just a sex thing. Then Meredith entered the picture complicating everything.

There are so many shoulda’s in my head. So many times I wish I could’ve acted differently. Times where I could’ve taken what I know about me now but apply it back then. 2015 changed my entire way of thinking. I learned so much about myself over the next few years. It’s been a time of deep personal growth. Sort of like a molting invertebrates. I am not the person I was prior to 2015 nor can I go back. I feel very sad that this is all becoming apparent after we had children. I just couldn’t see it before.

One of my commenters may have said it best when she asked:

Or is it the fact [your wife] (sounds to me at least) is the cheerful, perky, blond, ‘cheerleader’ type that all of us dark-haired, more introverted types that spent too much time reading non-fiction, taking philosophy, poetry, comparative religion, cultural sociology and sitting around getting high, wondering what happens after death, coed skinny dipping at midnight and taking spring break trips (coed again) to Mexico to see the Mayan ruins (not Cancun) and ‘bonding’ in tents listening to jungle sounds at midnight? Because back then, a lot of us wished we could stop worrying about ‘do we have souls?’ or ‘what’s beyond the known solar system?’ and be perky and cute, get all the attention from guys like you – who back then probably only had eyes for the vivacious little blondes.

Yes, yes and yes. I mean some of these details are different for Sydney and Meredith but most are spot on. I was young and dumb and wholly fascinated by the vivacious blond. I married one. In fact Sydney and I have already talked about how if I had met her even five years prior I would have judged her quite harshly for her style and demeanor. But now I see it differently. There is a depth to someone who is absorbed in non-fiction to learn about the world but also is an English major and moonlights in psychology. The discussions go deep quickly and fill a void I’ve had for a long time. The chemistry from those conversations is intense and our sexual appetites are very similar. Not to mention the quietness that comes with an introvert.

These things I cannot have in my marriage. To an introvert like me these are the things that make up a life. Not deciding which TV show to watch each night. When I look at 15 years together and how long it would take to get the kids through school that would be another 17 years. It doesn’t add up. This is the time to decide, all in or get out.

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The Kids

If there were anything in the world that would make me change my mind it would be the kids. I love my kids. I love being a father to them.

The primary relationship of a nuclear family should be the parents. I firmly believe that needs to be true for a healthy family. The kids are a result of the primary relationship.

When you are thinking about separating from your spouse you need to consider what that will mean for your children. For your own relationship with your children.

Right now I take for granted that my kids are right here with me. Everyday I see them. Everyday I hold them and read to them. Everyday I kiss them goodnight. Everyday I deal with their behavior corrections. I have been away from them for short periods of time while travelling for work but generally they are an everyday part of my life. It is wonderful.

Should I split up with my wife the best case scenario is that I miss 50% of that time. That is absolutely heart breaking to think about. I wish there were an easier way to handle separations but right now 50% is about as good as it gets.

It’s more than that though. The kids also have to split their time back and forth between houses. That creates an instability for them. I had to live through that growing up. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world, and got easier as we got older, but it was tough.

Then you add in the step families. That is another huge element. Honestly this one affected my personal growth more than separate houses. The families that we were thrust into were not ideal. In the end I did learn a lot about human nature. The good and the bad. I will not be able to control who is a core part of my children’s lives going forward though. My wife will find someone and that will be that.

Empathy. If you can live through it and survive then the empathy and perspectives gained from the added people in your families can be very valuable. I know this is just me looking for a silver lining, but it isn’t all bad. I mean what would my life have been like had my parents not separated? Better? Worse?

When we decided to have kids I surely did not want them to be the kids of divorced parents. I was certain that they wouldn’t be. Now it seems the most likely probability and that breaks my heart. But the alternative is to continue in a marriage I really don’t want to be in for more than a dozen years. I honestly just don’t see how I could do it. Things are not changing in our relationship. There isn’t an amount of work to get there. The only solution is for me to give up on myself; to fall back into who I was. Honestly I would rather be alone.

The Sydney Problem

We moved too far too fast. I don’t even want to get into the details right now. We have an amazing connection and openness with each other.

I think about what that means for my wife a lot. Why don’t I have that kind of connection with her? Why did I stay so long with someone that doesn’t really know me? I don’t know what to make of it. This person who has only known me outside of a work environment for a few weeks knows more about me than my wife. It makes me sad. Very sad. Did my wife ever find me interesting? Why didn’t she care to learn more about me? Why did she never want to explore what I found interesting?

Whatever it is there is a deficit in my marriage that is clearly being filled by Sydney and Meredith. It will never be filled by my wife. It’s not who she is. I think I’m coming to terms with there always being a Sydney or Meredith out there that I will be unconsciously searching for as long as I am married.

At this point I have formed a very close bond with Sydney. Closer than I ever intended. She is hooked on me right now. In fact she can hardly stand to be away from me. I do not know how I have that effect on her or how I had it on Meredith, but I do. Its hard for me to really convey how hooked she is on me, but this woman who made her boyfriend wait a year before moving in when he was ready at six months is ready to live with me the second it’s ok to do so. She suddenly sees a very different future that is fulfilling in ways she never thought possible. She went from pretty luke warm on having kids to certain she wants them now (I did not pressure her). The transformation has been quick and is even surprising herself. She has even noted that if nothing works out between us in the end she is just very glad to have met me. She sees a new energy for her own life.

However, now I must push the pause button. I told her today, that I need space in the upcoming weeks as things are going to be very hard and I need to focus on my family. She understands and agreed to the terms I laid out. She said she will respect my boundaries and she knows this is something I need to do without her. So that is what we will do. Scale way back. I have plenty of other things to worry about very very soon.

One conundrum is that I must be very sensitive to how I slow things down. She works with me and could make life very difficult if I make a mess of things. A complete shut off would be too much, but I think I’m capable of slowing things down in a way that she can understand and accept. She knows how I feel about her, and she can go with that for awhile. We can chat periodically at work, but nothing extra. This should be a lesson though, don’t dip your pen in the company ink. I keep making that mistake.

Alternate Arrangements

The counselor asked me at one point if I would consider alternate arrangements in our marriage. Like an open marriage. I definitely would consider such arrangements.

There are two major problems with such arrangements for me though. The first is that my wife is extremely traditional and will not consider such a thing. The second is that an open marriage requires wide open communication which is where we already struggle. I’m not sure that adding more stress would improve communication.

Thinking about options though, and this is just me writing out loud, what if there was an arrangement where I could have a side girlfriend? I guess that is still an open marriage, but I’m thinking more of a don’t ask don’t tell scenario. It would allow me to have the relationship I want without losing my family. It would also take time away from my family and probably cause pain to both my wife and girlfriend. No I don’t think that will work.

Honestly I don’t think it will work period. I just don’t think it is something my wife will ever be into, but I can let her make that decision. Also looking at the current girlfriend situation I don’t see how someone like Sydney or Meredith could possibly be OK with it either. They are/were both invested emotionally. I don’t think they could handle the second place status.

Sydney 2.0

“Do you want to dominate me?” She asked.

That caught me off-guard. I mean yeah the idea had crossed my mind. I sort of assumed she was into the same things I was from how we got it off. Yet she told me she was not, and could not imagine a bdsm relationship. Totally fine.

Apparently what I said somewhere along the way struck a chord with her. She admitted that she knew very little about it. She mostly disliked the idea because she considers herself a strong feminist. Being submissive to a man would undermine her moral philosophy. Yet, talking to me made her reconsider. To be clear I did not ask her to reconsider. I essentially wrote off that side of the relationship.

The more she looked into it over the past week the more it apparently appealed to her. There are elements of it that she had never understood before. Elements she really wanted to experience apparently. She almost feels that I switched a light on for her.

I’m a little blown away by this. She has a lot of questions. She clearly wants to try this out. I’m going to have to put all this on hold though I told her.

What’s crazy is that I could see all this about her. Something about her told me she would be a good submissive. The only thing I didn’t count on was that she wouldn’t even know yet. The shock on her face when I told her my secret made me second guess myself. In the end I was able to see more in her than she could see herself.

The Next Chapter

The next chapter of my life is soon approaching. Less than a week and a half away. I just spent an evening with my best friend. We generally talk about logical problems and work. Today though we ventured into new territory, but it was late into the night. Should have started earlier.

It was really good. I’m going to need some emotional support, and an ability to talk about it with friends. He had already been through a divorce but in a very different situation. I told him a hint of what is going on but not really all of it. Enough to get some perspective so that we could talk.

At first I was worried it would be uncomfortable, but it was actually a pretty smooth transition. In the future I will have to just be more frank about emotional subjects. He is not an emotional expert, but is someone I can bounce ideas off of. I don’t think he will be focused on trying to get me to “do the right thing” but rather just listening and considering both sides. He tends to do that on almost all subjects.

Coming soon I’m going to confess to my wife. I’m going to tell her that I think we should separate. It’s going to upend our entire lives. I don’t know how my wife will take the news. I’m sure she’ll alternate between wanting to strangle me in my sleep to wanting to prove she can win me back. It’s going to be a very trying time.

I will treat her with kindness and respect. I will tell her all she wants to know. Unless she requests I leave right away I will stay as a family for awhile. Maybe the rest of the year even. I will not run off to another woman’s arms. I truly love my wife and want the best for her. There will also be time for us to process through the emotions before we have to start working on the practical matters.

This will probably sounds really bad but I’m actually really glad that Meredith is out of the picture. This is not me leaving to run off to be with her. It’s been two years since the affair. She has moved on. Although difficult, I have also moved on.

Why is this Happening?

I love my wife very much. I love my family. I love my house. I love my job. I love the picture of the life we have put together. It is comfortable and secure.

Why then do I keep finding myself connected to other women? Not just attracted to, but drawn to like an invisible rope pulling me in. There is something about this life. Maybe it’s too perfect. Maybe it’s too boring. Perhaps I spent so much of my life protecting myself from the pitfalls of life that I missed out on actually living.

The women I find myself drawn to are of a type. They are quite different than most. If you were to ask me I would’ve told you my type is blonde, small, straight-laced and bubbly. That is what I thought I preferred in women. That is my wife. What I keep finding myself inexplicitly drawn to though is something completely different. Dark hair, tall, tattooed and complex. OMG it’s just like The Rosie Project!

I love my wife but she is not what I would call a deep thinker. She’s ridiculously smart, don’t get me wrong, but it’s very book smart and practically focused. For example she would never spend time blogging about her feelings. She generally wouldn’t want to spend time on a deep analysis of herself. She cares little for philosophical discussions or even deep one on one conversations. She does not want to watch documentaries or read non-fiction books with me. It’s just part of the core differences between us.

Maybe that’s why I keep being drawn to women who will engage with me deeply. There is a depth that I’m missing with my wife. Our connection has major weak points that can often be masked in day to day interactions. Over time though it is like a bank account that has been overdrawn.

It’s not Sydney. It’s not Meredith. For the first time I actually started picturing life as a single person. Just me. That thought actually feels very good. I need to reset my life. To remake it. To take back who I am.

I need someone new in my life. Someone who wants the real me. Who knows the real me. Someone who will ask and learn about me with a genuine interest. Someone who will not make me feel shame for the parts of me that don’t work for her.

The shame and feeling of rejection and inadequacy I feel from my wife everyday are just too much. I know she doesn’t mean to do it. She just judges everything with her puritanical lens and delivers harsh judgement quickly. It’s hard to argue with her because she does not want to engage. She does not have sympathy for arguments that are clearly outside her beliefs.

For most of my life I felt that I needed to be more like her to make up for my own faults. Which caused me to defer and shut parts of me off. Now I live with the crushing guilt that I built the life I always wanted yet I don’t want to be here any more.