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Should have stayed friends?


Marriage & Life Partnerships Debunking the old-ball-and-chain stereotype one couple at a time.

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Old 14th June 2013, 5:22 AM   #1
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Should have stayed friends?

I'm in my late 20's. My wife and I have been married 6 years, dated for 7 years before that, and were friends for another 2 years before that. All told, at this point we've basically been together half of our lives, which makes this particularly difficult. We have no children.

On the surface we have what seems like a healthy relationship, at least by way of a lot of the guides and books I have read. We communicate well, have a similar value set, are very supportive of one another, and have a sense of mutual respect. We also have the ability to have some really engaging intellectual discussions from time to time. That's about where it ends though.

This relationship has been growing increasingly difficult for me over the past few years because I feel I'm not getting what I need out of it, and I feel we may have simply gotten married too young before I realized what exactly it was that I wanted from life.

We have basically no shared activities we enjoy partaking together. There are things each of us will engage in out of a mutual shared respect, but there's not really any enjoyment due to it being things each of us actively dislike. While I'd rather be spending time in the gym, being active, and going to concerts, she'd rather be at home playing video games, reading a book, or seeing a play at the theatre. She's a foodie and loves having dinner at a restaurant, whereas I'm rather partial to my simple grilled chicken and broccoli. I want to travel and have new experiences, she's a homebody and would prefer her experiences come from the world of fiction. I thrive on new situations, she gets large amounts of anxiety from them. Even sitting down to watch Netflix or the like is a chore because our movie tastes are so widely divergent that we spend an hour just finding something we can sort-of agree on. Musical tastes are also widely divergent, and music is a huge part of my life. It sometimes feels like to be around her I have to censor myself and operate on a much lower energy level that quite frankly ends up leaving me feeling rather unhappy and sapped.

There's no real passion or intimacy in our marriage. Her idea of intimacy is sitting on the couch watching TV together, and quite frankly that just falls a little short for me, and I'm not a huge fan of TV anyway. Our sex life is basically non-existent. She has no sex drive, and while sex is something that's hugely important to me, I've stopped even pursuing it because I feel like I'm always imposing. At this point it's been 4 or 5 months since we've had sex, and I don't see that changing any time soon. She's happy to oblige if I ask, but has difficulty showing any real enthusiasm, and it's always super plain and vanilla. Even convincing her to wear something sexy for a special occasion is something I've been unsuccessful in doing in the past 5 years. I've tried to introduce some excitement into our love life, but it has not been met with any level of enthusiasm. She understands and sympathizes with me on this issue and even went so far as to suggest I pursue an open marriage to deal with it, but I feel like the problem runs deeper, and even if I had access to sex I don't think I'd feel fulfilled.

We were both pretty depressed kids that grew up in some pretty bad situations. I think during our lives we provided each other some support that each of us needed since we were both so lonely, but at this point, I don't know where this leaves us. It just feels like we're perpetuating some kind of lie that neither of us really choose to acknowledge while we go on living our lives somewhat numb. We both care about one another, and I have no doubt that if we got divorced, we would still remain friends, but I don't know that either of us is capable of being the type of person that the other needs to really feel fulfilled.

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Last edited by toflr; 14th June 2013 at 6:00 AM..
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Old 14th June 2013, 8:09 AM   #2
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I've tried to introduce some excitement into our love life, but it has not been met with any level of enthusiasm. She understands and sympathizes with me on this issue and even went so far as to suggest I pursue an open marriage to deal with it, but I feel like the problem runs deeper,.
Typically if a women suggests open marriage to her husband and is ok with him getting his sexual needs met outside the marriage it means that she has no sexual attraction or desire for him at all.

Now that can be from a variety or reasons or a combination of reasons ranging from some kind of medical/hormonal problem, the husband putting on weight/letting himself go,wife having an affair, body image issues in the wife/ relationship troubles/critical moments of neglect from the husband etc etc etc.

Whatever the reason, the fact that she is ok with you going outside the marriage for sex means that she doesn't want to take care of those needs herself and doesn't feel threatened by you seeking comfort in the arms of another.

Any chance she is having an affair or getting her needs met elsewhere? Many men have felt their wives have no libido or sex drive and believed their wife was completely asexual only to do some detective work and found their wives were actually living porn star lives with wild monkey sex swinging from the chandeliers, just with other men.
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Old 14th June 2013, 8:13 AM   #3
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two questions -

#1. does she seem frustrated and discontent with the current state of affairs of does she seem perfectly satisfied and content with how things are in your marriage? (other than her knowing that you are dissatisfied)

#2. Which one of you has the higher "market value?" In other words if you were to suddenly divorce, which one of you would be able to replace the other with someone of equal or greater desirability the quickest and easiest?
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Old 14th June 2013, 8:37 AM   #4
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Typically if a women suggests open marriage to her husband and is ok with him getting his sexual needs met outside the marriage it means that she has no sexual attraction or desire for him at all.
She has bad depression she's been trying to treat it for years through therapy and medication, but it leaves her somewhat numb to the world. She acts affectionate in her own way, like she'll come up behind me and give me a hug or a peck on the cheek and such, but as soon as anything would make any real emotional demand it's just not there.

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Whatever the reason, the fact that she is ok with you going outside the marriage for sex means that she doesn't want to take care of those needs herself and doesn't feel threatened by you seeking comfort in the arms of another.
I'd say this is just a matter of her worldview. She's an extremely logical person and it's more likely that she simply looked at the situation, weighed her options and deduced that if the marriage was in trouble because it seemed like I wasn't being sexually satisfied that this would be the best chance to keep it together while not leaving me totally miserable.

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Any chance she is having an affair or getting her needs met elsewhere? Many men have felt their wives have no libido or sex drive and believed their wife was completely asexual only to do some detective work and found their wives were actually living porn star lives with wild monkey sex swinging from the chandeliers, just with other men.
I STRONGLY doubt this. It's just not her thing, plus she's highly introverted and a bit socially awkward. She's very loyal, we've never had any communication issues, even with stuff that I'm sure many couples would struggle with.
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Old 14th June 2013, 8:40 AM   #5
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two questions -

#1. does she seem frustrated and discontent with the current state of affairs of does she seem perfectly satisfied and content with how things are in your marriage? (other than her knowing that you are dissatisfied)

#2. Which one of you has the higher "market value?" In other words if you were to suddenly divorce, which one of you would be able to replace the other with someone of equal or greater desirability the quickest and easiest?
#1 She seems fairly satisfied other than knowing that I am dissatisfied, and she does care about that, but I think feels powerless to help.

#2 Probably me honestly. We're both reasonably good looking, but I'm more extroverted and prone to making friends whereas she's a more socially awkward loner type. I also put a little more stock into my appearance than she does. She has a poor self-image despite actually having some really striking features and me trying to convince her otherwise.
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Old 14th June 2013, 9:43 PM   #6
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Oh wow, your situation sounds a lot like mine. Been married for 5 years, together 7, also in our 20's. However, he is the one who plays video games and I like going out to eat and being active. Sometimes I wonder if I should have waited on getting married as we're drifting apart and financial issues are magnifying the other minor issues. I wish he were more assertive and outgoing rather than playing games. We've also discussed staying friends as we started as friends if we ever divorced. When you marry young, sometimes you can grow together or grow apart. I feel like our time together is a big part of my life, so all of a sudden not speaking doesnt feel right. You eventually get tired of those things as you listed. I would say stay friends.
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Old 15th June 2013, 8:37 AM   #7
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#1 She seems fairly satisfied other than knowing that I am dissatisfied, and she does care about that, but I think feels powerless to help.

#2 Probably me honestly. We're both reasonably good looking, but I'm more extroverted and prone to making friends whereas she's a more socially awkward loner type. I also put a little more stock into my appearance than she does. She has a poor self-image despite actually having some really striking features and me trying to convince her otherwise.
OK, since you are likely the one with the higher market value and you are the one that is dissatisfied you are in the stronger position and you are the one that can more definitively make things happen one way or the other.

Your first step is to determine whether you truly want to continue with this marriage or not. Keeping in mind that YOU cannot changer HER. You can not make her change or make her become something she is not. She can make herself change some of her behaviors if she chooses to do so and the best you can do is to influence her to make that change.

So keeping that in mind your first step is to determine if you truly want to remain in the marriage or not or whether you would rather just move on as cleanly as possible and with as little pain and chaos as possible for both of you.

Seriously, I recommend seeing a counselor individually to help you sort out what your feelings are, what the issues are and what your priorities are in doing so.

If you decide that you would rather not put your time and energy into saving the marriage and would rather just make a clean break then start getting your legal and financial affairs in order and start making some game plans on how to do that in manner that is protecting your assets while at the same not screwing her over or being unfair to her.

Your counselor should be able to help you come up with a way to break it to her that won't be as painful and disruptive as it could be if you just dropped the bomb out of left field.

It will be painful and upsetting to her no matter how you do it but she knows that you are frustrated and knows that you are dissatisfied so not matter what she says or how she reacts, it really won't be that big of a surprise.

cont...
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Old 15th June 2013, 8:57 AM   #8
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Now if you decide that you do want to be married and have a happy healthy relationship with her, but you just want her to step up to the plate more and be more of the person you want her to be, you actually have a bit more of a challenge than simply ending it and walking away but you are in a position of more power fortunately.

Again I recommend getting an individual counselor to help you organize your thoughts and feelings and to help establish your objectives and priorities in an organized manner. The counselor can also help you in determining a means of presenting this to her in a meaningful fashion that is not accusatory or insulting but is still clear and to the point.

It is also important to be very clear on what the outcome will be if you she doesn't step up to the plate. If you will truly leave the marriage if she does not start meeting some of your requirements you need to be clear on what the consequences with be but it absolutely can not be an idle threat or a manipulation. It has to simply informing her of the facts.

once you have established what your objectives and requirements are, you need to also establish some realistic and attainable timelines and deadlines for which to accomplish them.

Then this may be the most challenging part of this. You need to get 100% of her attention and focus and you need to lay it all out on the table and make it clear to her that you are not satisfied with the current state of your marriage and you need to clearly lay out what it is you need to remain in the marriage and what is needed for it to be a happy and healthy marriage for you.

It can't be whining. It can't be complaining and it can't be a manipulation. And it is also important that she realize what will occur with noncompliance on her part. If you will be miserable and whiney and a pain in the ass forever if she doesn't do -"blank"-, she needs to know that. If you will leave the marriage and move on if she doesn't do -"blank"- or if she continues to do -"blank"- she needs to know that as well.

This must be presented to her seriously and dispassionately and not in a whining or complaining or nagging manner.

I suggest working this out ahead of time with the counselor and presenting it to her with the counselor and having him/her there to moderate and keep things on track.

Once your dissatisfactions are completely disclosed to her and once your requirements to remain in the marriage are laid out clearly to her, along with the results if those requirements are not met, then you have done your job. Then it is up to her whether chooses to meet them or not.

This is what people mean when they say, "you should ""WORK ON IT"". This is 'working on it' and if she does not step up to the plate, does not put in solid, sincere effort to meet you needs, or simply chooses not to try to put in the effort to "save the marriage" then you are free and clear to file for divorce and exit the marriage cleanly and there is nothing that anyone in the world can say about it.
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Old 18th June 2013, 11:00 AM   #9
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Thank you for the long and well thought out response. It's going to take me a while to process it all, but your advice to see a counselor is something I shall be acting on. I need to sort through my feelings and then decide the best course of action.
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