Hi there Amme3000 and thanks heaps for reaching out to this forum.
Your amazing post is so descriptive it made me feel quite emotional, and brought back strong memories of my first marriage.
We were together for 17 years and had two girls. The last 3-4 years were not happy with constant bickering over petty things. My wife seemed perpetually unhappy. I think fault was on both sides and it was never that easy to discuss things without the conversation becoming an argument. What really stopped me from leaving was the girls. When they were 13 and 11yrs we finally separated - the girls opted to stay with me which was surprising. The older one tried a stint with her mum but that didn't last.
After a year or two, and lots of time with my daughters, it was very obvious that splitting up was the best thing we did. Apart from one unpleasant court appearance (about maintenance), the tension was gone, the girls had free access to their mother with no rules. The best thing we did was to minimise lawyers who seem to stretch things out and create pain.
Six years later I met another wonderful person who is now my wife of 18 years and has a great relationship with my daughters (now adults of course) and four grandkids!
In your case, it appears you have tried a lot of solutions and are still working on it with counselling. So congratulations for that!
Am I right in thinking that the spark has gone from your relationship?
You have been very open with your husband which is great. However two things concern me a lot and it seems he has lost respect for you and your rights. The first is going through your phone, the second is demanding you end your valuable relationship with your friend.
He really has no right to do either of those things which are demeaning and thoughtless.
If you feel deep in your heart that you no longer like spending time with your husband, maybe it is time to consider setting yourself free. Women are wonderful characters who will normally display much more loyalty to a partner than us mere males do. But a situation where you are perpetually unhappy is just not on.
Congratulations once again for all the work you have put into your relationship. Think carefully about your options, seek as much advice as you can, but love yourself first and foremost!
Very happy to continue this forum should you want to do that.
All the very best - The Bro