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What is the future of my marriage?


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Old 2nd January 2018, 8:36 PM   #1
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What is the future of my marriage?

14 years ago I (40) met my now wife (36) on the internet. She lived 3 hours away and came to where I live to meet me. At the time I was going through a wild phase of sleeping around, a lot. At the time I didn't realize it but I was caught up in a pursuit/panic pattern and left a lot of hurt women in my wake. I didn't know why, but I would go all out to win a girl over, and once I'd got them into bed I'd panic and was overwhelmed with the urge to flee. Overnight I'd go from butterflies to crippling anxiety, and the only way to relieve the feelings was to get out. Sometimes I couldn't bring myself to break it off so would be miserable, and eventually the girlfriend would break it off. And then what happened? I'd go all out to win them back, only to repeat the behavior over again.

My wife was no exception. We had sex the first time we met. Next thing she's moving to my town, but I didn't want it. I told her not to move here because of me. She did anyway, and we had a "friends with benefits" relationship going for about 3 years. In that time I was also sleeping with other girls and continuing to destroy potentially healthy relationships because of a constant feeling of being trapped upon conquering my prey.

I always knew my wife wanted something more from me, but it felt too easy, and easy was not exciting. We had a nice friendship and spent a lot of time together. One day she gives me a letter saying she can't go on for the rest of her life wondering "what if" and so we either had to give a relationship a go, or we could no longer be friends. I took the easy route out.

A few weeks later she got back in touch and said she'd rather be friends than not. Around about the same time she started seeing a guy, and I suddenly felt not happy about it. I told her that she should be with me and not with him.

This was the start of our official relationship, but I still kept her at arm's length and set all the rules and boundaries. We could see each other on such and such days, but not these days etc.

I had my own place, and after two years of her getting sick of waiting for me to ask her to move in, she announced that she was moving in. At the time, I was terrified. Even on the day of moving I was asking myself if I could really do this. I had panic attacks.p

After a couple of weeks I was finding myself thinking how good it was and that we should have done it sooner.

Fast forward another two years and I'm feeling the pressure to progress the relationship. She wants to get married and she wants a baby. I am still in the land of confusion about whether I am with the right person. I figure I can buy some time by "trying for a baby" but knowing that because of a condition she has it could take years, if ever.

6 weeks later she's pregnant and my world falls apart. I'd suffered with depression in the past and this was possibly the darkest time of my life. Suddenly my option to leave has been taken from me and not only am I now trapped in this relationship, but I'm going to be a father!!! As ashamed as I am to admit it, I kept wishing that she'd miscarry so I'd be free to leave.

I now definitely felt the pressure to marry and I somewhat reluctantly proposed to her. We were on vacation for a week, and it took me until the last day to propose. My values told me it was the right thing to do, and she deserved to have that security and commitment.

As the pregnancy progressed, with the help of a counselor and medication, I felt a lot of love for my fiancee and I felt very happy with how things had turned out. Almost like the universe had made the decision for me because I couldn't do it on my own. When my son was born it was magical. He was the most delightful person I've ever met and I felt the pregnancy was the best thing that ever happened to me.

When my son was 18 months old we married. The day after the wedding I had a bit of a crash. Not because I was uncertain, but with the stress of the looming day and all the planning it suddenly was all over and it was just back to life as normal. This lasted a few days and I came right.

Since then we've lost a baby at 18 weeks (a girl) and had two more sons. I look at my life and think I had everything I ever wanted out of life. A nice home, a successful career, a loving wife and 3 healthy children.

But I keep going through regular bouts of depression, and I blame them on my marriage. These bouts have occurred about 2-4 times a year, for the last 3 years. They last about 6-8 weeks and in between them I feel mostly happy and content. But when I am in them I am back in my panic/flee mode. I'm convinced that leaving my marriage would relieve me of my depression because I feel trapped and I long for freedom. I don't necessarily want to sleep with other women as my needs are mostly fulfilled by my marriage, but I do have a wandering eye, and the concept of never being with another women again is difficult concept.

It's not that there's any issues. We communicate, we're honest with each other, we have mutual trust and respect, and when we argue, we know when to retreat and apologize if we're wrong. Neither of us abuses drugs or alcohol, we're both dedicated parents etc. but I can't shake this feeling that I ended up with the "wrong" person for me. I have the usual list of shallow grievances - I wish she was taller, smarter, prettier, funnier, more ambitious.

Right now I'm going through one of these depressions - I don't know what triggered it, it came on over a couple of days and intensified over Christmas - and all I can think is that leaving my marriage would be the answer.

My therapist tells me to take attention away from how I feel about my marriage/wife and try to focus on my feelings, but to me they're the same thing. We've done a lot of work in trying to identify where in my childhood my fear of entrapment came from, but I feel like even if I discover its source, I'm not sure it will relieve me of these depressed episodes.

When I'm not going through these I feel a lot of love for my wife and I'll be very loving and affectionate, and I quickly forget how intensely I felt during my last depression.

Help.

Last edited by cresswell; 2nd January 2018 at 8:41 PM..
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Old 2nd January 2018, 8:55 PM   #2
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Look at your childhood. How was your relationship with your parents? Siblings? Unless it was perfect, there's a pretty good chance that your suffocation/flee comes from your family of origin.

Even really good parents can stifle their children with love and lack of boundaries - thus creating the urge to panic/flee and assert one's own independence.

And one question - do you really know any bachelors your age that you are envious of their lifestyle? I don't, but it's possible they are out there.

Also, although you were 'pushed' into these decisions, they were made by you. It's hard to tell your children that you got pushed into being a father, but you're not really sure it's meant for you.

However - I'm glad you're examining and not making rash decisions.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:01 PM   #3
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Oh and one more comment since you say you've explored the childhood issues to a degree - I'm female, but I get similar urges. They could be biological... Life is only so long, and an organism recognizes it only has so much time to reproduce. If you happened to move to the next family, and the next, you could be a father of several dozen by now! Likely with many women and children who resented you, but the societal right actions don't necessarily do away with the biological imperatives. Knowing it's not the right move doesn't stop the urges.

But we fight biology every day when we don't hit our annoying coworker over the head with a rock. So biology is strong, but your developed brain can be stronger.

May want to consider what other hobbies or interested you could use to make your life feel more full and move away from the depression.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:03 PM   #4
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Dude...

Dude... It is way past time to grow the F*** up.

I mean, come on. Three kids and wife that puts up with you, and that has to really be a hard job.

Here is a better idea. Go to the doctor and get help. How about that?

You could be chronically depressed, you could be Bi-polar, it could be a lot of things.

Listen, I have been with a lot of woman, and don't get me wrong, it was fun. But at some point you just want a woman that 1) is not crazy, 2) really loves you, 3) and wants to screw you.

You already have that.

Your thinking is just wrong. Why not really be a man, get help with your depression, embrace adulthood and have a nice life.

Get your head straight...
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:09 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by BourneWicked View Post
Look at your childhood. How was your relationship with your parents? Siblings? Unless it was perfect, there's a pretty good chance that your suffocation/flee comes from your family of origin.
I suffered fear of abandonment as a child. My parents would leave me and my sister in the car to go to a shop and I'd be crying my eyes out thinking they weren't coming back. I also remember staying in a hotel in Hawaii when I was 5 and every morning checking my parents hadn't left us in the night. One time my Dad went overseas with some friends and I missed him so bad that I would watch home videos over and over just so I could see/hear him.

Funny that I now fear entrapment.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:19 PM   #6
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Here is a better idea. Go to the doctor and get help. How about that?
I have been on medication for years, and I also see a psychotherapist.

I know it's easy to just say "grow up" but I've got real issues going on that are affecting my happiness. I wish it was as easy as just "snapping out of it."
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:28 PM   #7
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You can do that with someone else...

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Originally Posted by cresswell View Post
I have been on medication for years, and I also see a psychotherapist.

I know it's easy to just say "grow up" but I've got real issues going on that are affecting my happiness. I wish it was as easy as just "snapping out of it."
You can do that with someone else... but not me brother. I have lived it.

I have had depression and I have loved somebody that was Bi-Polar. So don't go there with me.

Let me ask you some questions 1) How often do you re-evaluate your meds. 2) How many are you taking 3) Do you exercise regularly. 4) Is your therapy on going or is it hit or miss.

If you are not on a mood stabilizer, and AD, and something for the anxiety you need to find a new doctor.

It can be done. What I am saying is that your marriage is not the issue, you are. And yes it is time to man up and take every single action that you can take to get better and stay better.

Remember, I have seen all sides of this issue...
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:31 PM   #8
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Let me ask you some questions 1) How often do you re-evaluate your meds. 2) How many are you taking 3) Do you exercise regularly. 4) Is your therapy on going or is it hit or miss.
Have to see my doc every 6 months (by law) to discuss my anti-depressants.

I go to the gym most days for an hour of working out.

The therapy is good, but sometimes one hour a week seems too far apart, and it's expensive.

And I do appreciate your comments. What I feared most was people saying "you need to get out of your marriage!"
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:55 PM   #9
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How much do you like yourself, OP? Do you feel that you deserve good things in life?

My husband had similar commitment issues and he changed because he was in love with me. Faced with the prospect of losing me forever when we were dating, he made a commitment and it was full speed ahead because he realized that I was quite finished with his back and forth games. I wasn't going to keep coming back just so he could get scared and run away again. Hubby always said that he hated himself and he didn't feel like he deserved love so he tried to push me away.

Other than that, you seem very neurotic so I'm glad that you're on medication and you're in therapy. Seeing a therapist once a week is quite frequent. If you need more sessions per week, then that is a sign that you are not improving as well as you could.

Please don't divorce your wife and leave your children. This isn't about them so they shouldn't suffer. It's about you. Stop blaming your wife for "trapping" you into marriage. You could have been an involved dad without marrying her. It's time to take responsibility for your actions like an adult. Try keeping a journal to explore your thought patterns. Make a list about what you love about your wife. Imagine what your life would be like if you left her and ask yourself if that is what you want.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:56 PM   #10
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I suffered fear of abandonment as a child. My parents would leave me and my sister in the car to go to a shop and I'd be crying my eyes out thinking they weren't coming back. I also remember staying in a hotel in Hawaii when I was 5 and every morning checking my parents hadn't left us in the night. One time my Dad went overseas with some friends and I missed him so bad that I would watch home videos over and over just so I could see/hear him.

Funny that I now fear entrapment.
Interesting, yes. So likely you fear entrapment because from your childhood experience (for whatever reason) you know you can be left at any moment. Or believe you can. So rather than having that happen, you avoid letting people get close to you.

My father ceased to be part of my life around age five, and my mom moved around a lot because we didn't have money. As an adult, I've dated emotionally unavailable men because that way I 'can't get hurt' or 'left' (after all, they were never quite there to begin with...) I've struggled to stay in one place (I own several houses, some of which are rentals) and have stayed at my current residence for a solid two years now. Probably 3 years is the most I've lived in any one single place, so I'm curious to see what I do with that move urge when the time comes and I know, logically, practically, I don't need to go anywhere. I've gotten better at planning vacations, versus actual moves/home purchases in recent years

Isn't life funny ? But I'm actively working on changing these patterns. You probably really want to change that pattern that makes you want to pull away. The ups and downs feel healthy and normal to you. But true normal and healthy is a more steady, consist care for a person, and a more steady, stable life. When you're feeling those low times, that's when you should really do your best to get involved in things you care about. Doesn't have to be couple stuff - maybe just hobbies, anything that reminds you what you love about the life you are living.

If bi-polar, depression meds can actually make those swings worse. People take mood stabilizers to deal with bipolar. Maybe something to at least bring up if you get some highs in your life too.

Good luck!
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Old 2nd January 2018, 9:57 PM   #11
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Google fearful-avoidant attachment.

I think you'll find a lot of answers there about your style of attaching to others in relationships if your therapist hasn't already mentioned it.

She could be working with you from an attachment-based perspective if she is doing emotionally-focused therapy but just hasn't labelled it for you.
I would ask her.

If not, I'd find one with such an orientation.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 10:07 PM   #12
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How much do you like yourself, OP? Do you feel that you deserve good things in life?
A complicated question because I suffered a lot in my younger years with being abandoned by friends, bullying, and feeling unwanted.

One thing I figured out is that I have a mental model that anyone who wants to get close to me must have poor judgement, and therefore must be an idiot.
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Old 2nd January 2018, 10:12 PM   #13
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I've struggled to stay in one place
I have something similar. When I'm away on holiday I always want to leave. If it's a multi-stop trip I'm always thinking about getting to the next destination. I don't feel happy where I am and have the same "trapped" feeling and want to escape.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:01 PM   #14
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Interesting, yes. So likely you fear entrapment because from your childhood experience (for whatever reason) you know you can be left at any moment. Or believe you can. So rather than having that happen, you avoid letting people get close to you.

My father ceased to be part of my life around age five, and my mom moved around a lot because we didn't have money. As an adult, I've dated emotionally unavailable men because that way I 'can't get hurt' or 'left' (after all, they were never quite there to begin with...) I've struggled to stay in one place (I own several houses, some of which are rentals) and have stayed at my current residence for a solid two years now. Probably 3 years is the most I've lived in any one single place, so I'm curious to see what I do with that move urge when the time comes and I know, logically, practically, I don't need to go anywhere. I've gotten better at planning vacations, versus actual moves/home purchases in recent years

Isn't life funny ? But I'm actively working on changing these patterns. You probably really want to change that pattern that makes you want to pull away. The ups and downs feel healthy and normal to you. But true normal and healthy is a more steady, consist care for a person, and a more steady, stable life. When you're feeling those low times, that's when you should really do your best to get involved in things you care about. Doesn't have to be couple stuff - maybe just hobbies, anything that reminds you what you love about the life you are living.

If bi-polar, depression meds can actually make those swings worse. People take mood stabilizers to deal with bipolar. Maybe something to at least bring up if you get some highs in your life too.

Good luck!
I can sure relate to this. When I was a kid my mom moved all the time and sometimes I lived with or sometimes she gave me to other people to live with. By the time I was 12 I had been in 13 different schools. As a kid I hated it but I grew up to be a bit of wanderer. Always looking for the next best thing, thinking happiness is just around the next corner. Whenever I'd become unhappy I'd start making changes to my external life. New job, new man, new house. I'd think those things would bring happiness and making those sorts of changes kind of worked because the excitement and the challenge and excitement of something new would temporarily lift my spirits and make me feel happy.

However I always inevitably ended up back where I started, depressed, unfulfilled, unhappy, and looking for external excitement and happiness. Finally a series or unhappy and traumatic events knocked the wind out of me and suddenly I just have the energy or the will to keep running and chasing anymore. I was exhausted and just sort of gave up. Well that turned out to be a good thing because that's how I finally learned that happiness really does come from within. That's how I learned that you can take what you already have and make it better. You don't always have to toss it out and start over.

OP plenty of us get restless and unhappy and have wanderlust. It's not your marriage that is causing your feelings, your causing your feelings and when you feel that way you look for something to blame which is unfortunately your poor family. It's sad that you don't even realize what you have. They are not to blame for how you feel, they are not causing this issue. It is your issue. I would say find some new ways to drum some challenge and excitement in your life. When you feel unhappy and trapped in your life instead of blaming your family and stewing in your negative thoughts take on something new. Look for sport or a hobby that challenges and excites you. Or maybe get involved with charity work or work on something you've been meaning to do.
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Old 3rd January 2018, 12:16 PM   #15
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FWIW.. I am in my late 40s. I have a wife and two little kids. My wife was the one that push the relationship into a marriage. After almost 9 years of dating she was like -- where is this going? I had my reservations but allowed myself to go along with it. To this day I still have my down periods and wonder did I really marry the woman I was madly in love with or the woman that was just there and push for the next level and I was too weak or indecisive to say no.

Anyway, I go through bouts of depression every 6 months or so. It could be aging. It could be other stuff. It could be that I am one of those people that needs to be a little miserable sometimes to feel human.

I have found that keeping myself and my mind busy really helps with depression as it diverts me thinking too much about myself and myself made bed of misery as I am too busy with other stuff.
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