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Forums / Relationship and family issues / Marriage breakdown - wisdom needed

Topic: Marriage breakdown - wisdom needed

9 posts, 0 answered
  1. JR1401
    JR1401 avatar
    4 posts
    16 January 2022

    Hi BB community, I’m a bit lost and hoping for some wisdom.

    I have been together with my wife for over a decade, married for half and have 2 kids together. Up until recently I was unaware how unhappy my wife was in the marriage, and it wasn’t until she requested counselling that it all came out.

    I was slow to grasp the seriousness of the situation and had some adverse emotional reactions - I was blindsided when she opened up which didn’t help the situation. On reflection I understand how we got here, my wife was feeling under appreciated in the relationship, wasn’t getting the attention she needed or deserved, and the spark between us was lost. We both have very demanding and stressful jobs and with 2 young kids we didn’t prioritise our relationship. That being said we have always spent a lot of time with each other and as a family and up until recently barely had any arguments.

    Since understanding the seriousness of our situation I have been doing everything I can to save the relationship, have bared my soul, tried to reestablish communication, agreed to counselling and was under the impression we were both on the same page with getting through this.

    Fast forward 3 months and I discovered she has been having an emotional affair with a male friend which started around the same time she flagged relationship issues. This was something I confronted her about as I had noticed a change in her behaviours, not something that she came to me with. We also had our first counselling session recently and agreed with the counsellor we wanted to work through it, but the very next day she said she wants to separate and we have now started that process. We both have very different coping mechanisms, I’m trying to talk through my feelings while she is shutting down which hasn’t helped.

    I’m absolutely floored. Within 3 months our lives have been turned upside down and I’m struggling to comprehend and keep up with the speed of this. I still have feelings for my wife and would like to work through, we are being amicable as we discuss next steps but I’m concerned we’re about to make some pretty big decisions that will impact the rest of our lives without having had time to fully work this through. She has agreed to continue counselling short term before we make some of the bigger decisions, but I feel this is heading one way.

    I would be interested to hear if anyone has been through something similar and if any sound advice or reference materials you would recommend.


  2. Sophie_M
    Community Moderator
    • Works for beyondblue moderating these forums
    Sophie_M avatar
    6816 posts
    16 January 2022 in reply to JR1401
    Hey JR1401,
    Welcome to our friendly online community, we are so glad you decided to join us here. We know it can be hard to write the first post, so thank you for having the courage. Please know that you've come to a safe, non-judgemental space to talk things through, and our community is here to offer as much support, advice and conversation as you need as we know it hard going through this alone.

    We are sorry to hear that you have been going through such a tough time recently. We want you to know that there is always immediate support available to you, whether it's from our professional mental health counsellors Beyond Blue (available 24/7 on 1300 22 4636) or our friends at Lifeline (13 11 14). There is also Men's Line 1300 789 978 which is available 24/7 which is all quite helpful in and can assist with what your going through and also provide chat. Please if you want feel free to reach out to anyone of these serivces so one of our supportive counselors can assist you.
  3. geoff
    Life Member
    • Life membership is awarded by beyondblue for providing outstanding peer support to the online community over a period of 3+ years.
    • A member of beyondblue's blueVoices community
    geoff avatar
    16441 posts
    16 January 2022 in reply to JR1401

    Hello JR1401, when a spouse has an affair behind their partner it opens many closed doors that weren't expected because you can never be sure why it happened and caused by a behaviour that you never knew about.

    The trouble is to try and find out why it occurred, was it a weakness of your partner or was it because someone else showed them the support and attention they wanted at a particular moment, but there is a slight difference between an emotional affair and a physical one, although an emotional one can certainly lead onto being physical, and that's always a worry because you're never sure if or when it may happen.

    It's not easy both working and raising kids because you tend to lose sight at your current situation because your intention is to pay the house off, raise the kids to become a qualified professional in any way they choose and for life to be happy, so we tend to forget about each other and unfortunately this often happens.

    It's concerning that this is 'to continue counselling short term before we make some of the bigger decisions' as you may be expecting the news you weren't hoping for, but I'd really like to hear back from you.

    Best wishes.


  4. JR1401
    JR1401 avatar
    4 posts
    16 January 2022 in reply to geoff

    Thanks for the response Geoff.

    The emotional affair started because someone else offered support when she needed it, and it escalated from there. I have been told that all ties have been cut, but I am still struggling to understand how this could happen for so long while leading me to believe we had a chance to work on the relationship.

    Regarding wanting to finish off the counselling sessions before making any big decisions, I’m concerned at the speed this is unfolding and the permanent impact this could have both on our kids and financially. After the first joint session we were to have individual sessions each with the counsellor and then reconvene together to work out a plan. We have let the counsellor know of the request to separate and and they have recommended we continue with sessions for the short term. I understand this may not end in the result I was hoping for, but I thought it made sense to give it a shot given everything we have and everything that could be lost.

  5. JR1401
    JR1401 avatar
    4 posts
    16 January 2022 in reply to Sophie_M
    Thanks Sophie.
  6. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    2817 posts
    16 January 2022 in reply to JR1401

    Hi JR1401

    I'm so sorry to hear this has all happened at such a shocking pace. It would be shocking to find out so much all at once and be left feeling little choice. It sounds incredibly heartbreaking.

    I think it makes matters more challenging when there's someone else on the scene. Kind of like what your wife can be led to find in you through counseling, she's already finding in someone else. So, this guy's a distraction from the relationship and the work that needs to go into it. While she's perhaps desperate to connect with an open minded person who's emotionally available, she's not allowing you to develop these aspects of yourself which already exist. It sounds like you're willing to work hard to bring out the best in yourself.

    I've been with my husband for more than 20 years. I've experienced both the integration of all that's gone into the relationship as well as the disintegration, in regard to how it fell apart. While I used to wonder what I was doing wrong or what he was doing wrong, I took on a very different perspective a year ago or so. I stopped looking at either one of us specifically and began looking at what a relationship needs to be able to stay healthy and evolve. Kind of like what keeps the connection strong, the connection or channel which forms the relationship itself. I reached the conclusion that there wasn't much running through that channel. So, at one point about a year ago, I said to him after some discussion 'As far as I'm concerned, the relationship or that connection/channel is dead. We have the opportunity to form a new one, a much healthier one. We have the chance to start again'. Starting again meant reforming ourselves to some degree, as we can't take our same old selves into something new.

    Not sure if this will make some difference but if you consider this other guy has perhaps 'wooed' your wife in some way (either intentionally or non intentionally) could you consider starting from scratch with a new approach? What would it look like to 'win her affections'? Would you need to become a whole different person, perhaps someone more stunning (who stuns/shocks her), more romantic, more open minded? Would you need to become someone who tries to feel more of what she's feeling (emotionally connected)? Perhaps someone more adventurous, who adds ventures to the marriage, as opposed to repeating the same old ventures? Could this approach serve you, bringing you to life more? Could you enjoy finding these parts of yourself?

  7. JR1401
    JR1401 avatar
    4 posts
    16 January 2022 in reply to therising

    Thanks for the input therising.

    I took a similar approach about 2 weeks ago after I found about the affair and we spent a night apart. I wrote down all the things that I thought we needed to address and work on, ranging from reassessing division of household duties, individual time needed by each, family time and trying to work on getting the spark back. We initially started as an open discussion but as we were talking through it and were mostly aligned I showed her what I had written down. She seemed to receive it well, and by no means was meant to be taken as a list of demands but of a gesture that I recognise there are issues and was willing to make changes to help the healing. I think now this might have had a negative impact on things, another example of me wanting to talk through to help me process whereas as she needed space and felt even more crowded.

    I have since reiterated my willingness to do whatever it takes, but space seems to be the only response so I don’t know what else can be done or said. Space is scary to me as it is not only space from someone I care deeply about, it’s reducing the time I spend with the kids by 50% and they are my everything. I understand this is what she needs and that’s how we’re progressing this week and we’ll discuss next steps on the weekend.

    1 person found this helpful
  8. therising
    Valued Contributor
    • A special award for members who go above and beyond to support others here on the forums
    therising avatar
    2817 posts
    20 January 2022 in reply to JR1401

    Hi JR1401

    I imagine the space thing is hard, like a torturous waiting game. Perhaps the counselor can help fill that space with some constructive exercises.

    I can recall many years back when I asked my husband to come to marriage counseling. His attitude was 'There's nothing wrong, plus I don't want to be talking to a complete stranger about our business'. So, I went on my own and managed to learn a lot about what a healthy and happy relationship is. I think one of the key takeaways involved self esteem. While I was working so hard to please my husband, I never realised I'd been gradually lowering myself esteem in order to do that. Counseling woke me up. I began to work on exercises in raising my self esteem. I began to work on developing my natural self, the sense of self that gave me the freedom to speak up when I needed to, with confidence and without fear of confrontation. I think this can sometimes be the hardest thing to achieve in a marriage, clear communication without fear.

    I'm wondering whether this stage of your marriage is calling on your wife to work on some form of self development. While it can be easy to look to another person who appears to give you exactly what you need in life, I found the true test can involve looking inward to find exactly what you need.

    I admire you JR, I really do. Not only were you open to beginning counseling but the fact you're caring enough to consciously form a list of what needs attention is inspiring. I believe the only way a relationship can evolve is through graduating levels of consciousness. Unfortunately, my husband is happy to simply remain conscious of there being nothing wrong with sitting around watching tv while drinking outside of work. Not all the time but often. He believes we don't need to have anything in common or have any goals to look forward to together. His level of consciousness dictates that it's me who has the problem in the relationship, that I expect too much. I simply expect anything better than the life we've been living for years, a life that suits him more than it does us.

    Has your wife expressed exactly what she expects from a marriage? Is she fully conscious of her expectations. Perhaps she has expectations she's not even aware of, that play out in her subconscious, which are beginning to surface.

    Btw, it's unfair that you and the kids should be experiencing such a heartbreaking disconnection. Can you take them out while offering your wife a break from taking care of them?

    1 person found this helpful
  9. puzzlegirl
    puzzlegirl avatar
    37 posts
    21 January 2022 in reply to JR1401
    Hi. I'm really sorry to hear you are going through this. I am married to a man who is having an emotional affair (though he doesn't acknowledge it as one), and we have already had the 'big decision' conversation. I just want to acknowledge that that conversation is hard. It hurts very deeply, and on top of the betrayal of what your partner has already done feels unbearable. As someone in a similar boat, the only advice I have is to look after yourself. You note that you have come to the realisation that your marriage is heading in only one direction- my advice here is to do your best to accept it for what it is. I have tried too hard to work on a marriage that my husband doesn't want, and have been forced to accept the reality of divorce. Once that acceptance happens, it makes absolutely nothing easier, but it does change inside your heart just a little bit. Again, I am so so sorry that this is your reality.

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