Hoping for some advice.
I don't usually post, but I find a lot of knowledge and good advice in the forum. So I thought I would post here, if this is the wrong place I apologize.
Little background, we've been married for 9 years together for 12. We have two lovely girls ages 5 and 4. My wife came out to me almost 2 years ago as to liking girls and over the last few years we've explored trying to have an open marriage. We hoped being able to explore what she had been repressed for so long she would be able to feel normal. We've had our up's and down's.
About a month ago she started dating a girl, I really struggled with jealousy. Over the past year I felt like she was pulling away from me sexually even though she reassured me she loved me and still enjoyed sex with me. Last Friday after me struggling with my jealousy again over time she came out and said that she is Gay and does not want to continue in a sexual relationship with me, and that we are effectively broken up and should consider ourselves single.
We still very much love each other, we are each others best friend. Neither one of us wants to take the children from the other. We make great parents and partners so we are trying to remain living together. I must admit I still feel jealous that she has a new relationship that allows her some escape from the collapse of our relationship.
I'm here asking for any advice or words of encouragement anything really that may help us keep together as a family unit. (we do realize that we may not be able to do that but we want to make sure we exhaust all options before we do) We have discussed divorce and custody and it sucked.
Thanks in advance.
My heart goes out to you, dude. Yes, divorce and custody sucks. My parents went through that. The traditional way to deal with it is to separate, get a divorce and throw lawyers at each other fighting over the children.
There's another way. That is for you to acknowledge that she's the woman you love and had children with, and for her to acknowledge that you're still the man she loved and had children with. For you to find what your goal is: split up and divide the kids, or try to stay together and make a home for them. The second is the harder of the two.
It would mean acknowledging who she is and dealing with your anger over things not working out the way you wanted, in ways other than trying to hurt her, and for her to recognize that you want the best for yourself, the kids, and her. If you can find some good counseling that would be a great idea, if only to have someone to mediate.
I think it would be a good idea to have a vision of what's possible given the circumstances and do what you can to make it happen. A lot of people stay together and give each other space to date and love other people. Maybe you could do something like that.
I know this a very upsetting time in your life, hope you can make it work out.
I'd suggest working with a counselor to mourn the lost of your marriage and hammer out a frame on how a cohabitation could work....if they work? Separate rooms or floors....the expectations and responsibilities.
The difficulty or difficulties I'd think are going to be in the shared space and the memories and those trigger's combined with old patterns, that might be very confusing. Feeling married but not really....being in On mans land ....or being in a very very s l o w break up mentally.
Good luck D
Thank you both for your replies. I'm at work and on my phone so this won't be too long. I am hopefully starting to see a counselor next week, my wife will be comming to the first session but does not want to see a counselor herself. We are trying to understand to stay together as we still consider ourselves family and partners,just no longer lovers. We know it will be hard and that it may not work but want to try as long as everyone can be happy.
Thank you again
It is possible to have a co-parenting live-in relationship. It takes a lot of negotiation and communication, but there's no reason things have to end completely.
It's also worth both of you visiting whether "sex" is an essential part of "love." After so much time together, why does ending the sexual component of your relationship have to end the emotional component?
There's actually a section about this in Opening Up, it's worth acquiring that book and reading it. You could maintain a loving, emotional marriage, but meet your sexual needs elsewhere.
Honestly, anything is possible if you're committed to it. The important thing here is for neither of you to harbour resentment or anger about what has happened. This is just who she is. She didn't do this "to you." Not that you're implying that she did, but being clear about that will help you cope with it.
And of course, you are free to explore other sexual and emotional relationships outside the marriage. No reason you should have sit at home mourning what you've lost. You can look at this as a new opportunity in your life: you get to have a loving, stable home life in which to raise your children, as well as freedom to explore romances outside of that.
Thank you SC,
Before the breakup I did think that sex was an intergral part of our relationship but I find I'm missing the emotional connection a lot more. Right now there is still a lot of awkward as we're trying to navigate our way through this but we're both hopeful we can make this work. I still find myself desiring her sexually and I find myself jealous of her new love interest, but I know those are my issues to work on and hope counseling and time will help with that.
Thank you for the book recommendation, we've actually talked about starting a book club the 2 of us in the hopes of better understanding eachother and connecting in a different way. We're starting with quiet as she identifies as a introvert and I have suggested the 5 love languages, and I will certainly put your recommendation on the list as well.
We're definitely willing to try anything that will keep our family together but we both need to be happy as well.
Firstly, I am so very sorry for the changes in your relationship and the breakdown to the model that you have known so far. I understand completely how painful this time is for both of you; especially for you.
I definitely don't believe in 'normal' family models. I think that the most important thing is the children - that they should have a say in what happens. But, I do feel that if they are on board with an 'alternative' situation, it could absolutely work.
If this helps at all.... my girlfriend and her husband have a three year old daughter. I am helping them raise her, as a third parent. It's a controversial topic, but I believe that as long as you listen to the children, it can be perfectly healthy to have an 'unusual' parental setup... whatever that may be.
I have been in a position similar to your wife. I was with my boyfriend for five years, living together, cats, no children, but a life plan and the idea to be together for the rest of our lives. We opened our relationship up so that I could explore my feelings for women and, like your wife, I discovered that I was much more into women in the process.
It may feel that it is easier for your wife... but if she's anything like me... she'll have gone through all kinds of emotions. She'll be torn apart that the life she thought she wanted isn't what she wanted. Her discovery about being gay will be both liberating and completely confusing. If she's anything like I was, she will be feeling unspeakable levels of pain about hurting you.
However... if this helps.... like you and your wife, my ex boyfriend and I are absolute best friends and five years after breaking up, we still live together. We even sleep in the same bed; but do not have a sexual relationship. We are both in other relationships, but this situation is working for us.
Sometimes relationships change, but it doesn't mean that they have to end. I strongly believe that we meet certain pivotal people who teach us things... it doesn't mean that when the lesson ends, the attachment has to dissolve.
Make your own rules in life.
Your wife's new relationship won't necessarily allow her an escape. Sometimes it can create even more stress... especially if she's only known this woman for a month? If she's anything like me, she might actually want to start preparing herself for a freak out.... the concept of living a new, liberated, lesbian life is wonderful... the reality can be dealing with a new, insecure, young, uncertain relationship whilst dealing with the grief of ending your rooted, secure, aged, steady relationship. It took me six months to leave my boyfriend for this girl... and another six months to commit and settle in that relationship.... it may not be as easy for her as it seems right now.
If you do stay in a non-romantic relationship, which could be very likely, at least for the foreseeable future... then it's time to think about the complications...
Potential complications could be... having other lovers over. It might be better for your own hearts, and the eyes of your children, to visit future partners outside of the house. I'm sure that the last thing you want is to watch your wife with her girlfriend, in your house - and in my opinion, there'e nothing wrong with feeling that way, if you do.
There's also the issue of love and confused feelings. You have to be sure that you won't hang onto her for years, hoping that her relationship with this other girl will end and that she'll come back to you. If you feel you can move on, whilst still being in close proximity, then it is definitely worth a try. It might be something that you can't know until you experience it.
I think overall, this is something that will take time. If you and your wife decide that you would like to try to continue living together... then you need to talk about what to tell your children, since they are old enough to have some sort of understanding. Of course, you could always go with the option of pretending you're still together... but I know that when I was a child and my dad had 'friends'... I always knew they were girlfriends. Kids tend to see through things and are pretty insightful.
Whatever you decide... I hope you can agree on a way forward together... and don't feel the need to listen to societal norms; only each other and your children.
Good luck and all the best to you.
Jonny, I am sorry you are going through this difficulty. I think going to counseling is the best thing you can do, though I wonder why she doesn't want to. In any event, it will be good for you to get a handle on things emotionally. Children can and do thrive inall sorts of living arrangements. With hard work and dedication, you can be successful at co-parenting. Just keep sticking with whatever helps you in the healing/grieving process over the romantic aspect of your relationship. You can get through it.
Of course, the children's welfare and feelings should be considered, but consulting them on how to run an adult relationship? That is wacko to me. They are only 4 and 5 years old. No children should be given authority to make decisions about the intricacies of adult interpersonal relationships or how a household is run. Until they are adults and making decisions about their own lives, kids need to learn and grow and adjust to the hands they've been dealt, assisted with love and care by their parents and/or adult caregivers, yes, but "have a say" about living arrangements? I don't see how it's reasonable or wise to have the preferences of children in kindergarten and first grade dictate their parents' decisions.
We're both willing to try a unconventional family model, but it has to work for us and allow us to be happy inside of it. We are not going to stay together for the sake of the kids if staying together makes us unhappy.
I'm sure my wife is having a hard time with this as well, and I know she feels an extreme amount of guilt. I suspect she's been trying to come to terms with with this and "leaving me" for a better part of 2 years if not more so she probably had prepared herself for it. I on the hand had inklings the last while but was always assured she loved me and wanted to be with me. I know she still loves me and I her, but we have to do what makes us each happy.
The kids don't know anything different other than Mummy and Daddy have been sad lately. We're still sleeping in the same bed which I like as I like the comfort, but we've talked about her moving down to the third room as she's worried I may be using it as a crutch and that it may just be extending my pain. I don't feel that I am using it that way, I might be deluding my self, but I just truly enjoy her company and like being close. When she does move out of our room, our kids are small enough that I think an answer of "So mummy and daddy could have their own rooms" will suffice. It may confuse them at first but after a while it will just be normal. We definitely are not going to perpetrate an illusion of us still being married to our children or anyone else. Kids I think would see through that and I don't want them to think that we stayed together in a unhappy arrangement for them. I think that might fill them with guilt and give them an unhealthy image of what a relationship should look like.
As for counseling she does not want to go which is fine as that's her decision, she will be coming with me to my first session with my councilor so that he can get both sides of the story and hopefully help me better. She has also said she will come to any other sessions I would need her to come to.
Thank you all again.
I read "listen to the children" as make sure they know their voices and preferences are HEARD. That doesn't mean that those preferences will be followed to the letter. It just means that the children know you will try to accommodate their preferences as much as you can, and that if you do end up going against their wishes, it's for an important reason.
It's very important for children to know that they are being heard ... that the adults in their lives care about how they feel.
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