I think my husband wants to leave me
I just discovered this and my head is spinning, so forgive me if I'm all over the place.
My husband and I have been together for over 6 years, married since March. We have been open for a little over a year. He has a girlfriend that he has been with pretty much since we opened, and I have one primary fuck buddy and occasionally hook up with others as time/situations warrant.
There has been a history of him concealing how he feels about her from me. We had a big blowout several months ago because when we first opened, we agreed that it would just be sex and no other relationships. He was seeing her exclusively though and my warning bells were going off so I asked to be able to read the texts between them. There was a lot in there that he never told me so I was upset. I also realized that it was partially my fault as I had never spoken with her about our expectations, I left him to do it and trusted him when he said that he had and she understood. Well, he hadn't or at least not in the way that I understood them and she had fallen in love with him. It was a giant fight but in the end, I asked myself whether I felt that their relationship was a threat to our marriage and the answer was no, so I let it go and understood that there would be emotion involved in their relationship.
I have been feeling like we're disconnected lately though and have been concerned about it. I've asked him if he's in love with her and he avoids the question or says something like "well I do feel a love for her, but I wouldn't say I'm IN LOVE". This totally counters my gut instinct and his actions though. We're at the point where he almost spends more time with her than he does with me (Thurs - Sun almost every week). They call and text all the time. To be clear, I don't have a problem with them having a relationship or even loving each other. It's the hiding it that concerns me and my fear that he will decide that he only wants to be with her.
So, here's the crux of it. I snooped. I know, I know, it's terrible and I got exactly what I deserved by doing it. My worst fear has apparently come true. He sent her a message a month ago that said that he had been thinking about their relationship and he was so in love with her and he has been secretly hoping that I'll develop feelings for one of the guys that I'm seeing so that he can be with her. He said he wants to be her one and only forever and that he wants to be her husband.
I don't know what to do with this knowledge. I don't know what her reaction to that message was. I'm a jumble and am having trouble sorting out how I feel about this. I honestly think that if I say nothing he would just stay married to me forever no matter how he felt, he's bad at confrontation. On one hand, I don't want to be married to someone that doesn't want to be married to me. I also don't want to just give up on my marriage 8 months in. If I bring this up, do I make them break up? Make him swear that he won't divorce me? Close the relationship? I don't really want to do that but I also don't really know how I should respond to this.
I'm honestly less devastated than I thought I would be, but maybe that's just shock. Like I said, I have been feeling less connected to him and to be frank, our sex life has taken a nose dive in the last month or so. I chalked that up to bad timing, plus he was having some health issues for a bit. Also, we have historically gone through periodic dry spells, so I figured it was that. Now I'm wondering if it's due to him preferring her.
I really don't know what to think here and could use some perspective. I know this is a novel, I'm sorry.
First off, I'm really sorry to hear that things turned out this way. It's not what you agreed to, and that super sucks.
I have a couple questions that might help assess the situation.
Was opening up your idea or his? What about the boundary of emotional exclusivity? You say she's been there pretty much since you opened up. To me, that sounds like he'd already met her and was using this opening up stuff as a pretence to validate his relationship with her.
Did you get married before or after you opened up the relationship? You say he dislikes confrontation. Could it be that he was too scared to tell you what he felt, so he did the unthinkable and married you when he wasn't 100% committed?
The texts you uncovered are pretty conclusive. If he's the type who can't maintain multiple romantic relationships, then he's just being a big chicken-shit by dragging you along. How you choose to handle that depends on your personality. I'm confrontational, so I would probably tell him upfront that I read his text, and that I expect some answers.
In my opinion, you shouldn't feel guilty or shamed for snooping in his phone. The fact that your fears were validated reinforces my opinion. Frankly, you should never have been put in a position where you felt the need to do that. I don't think partners should keep secrets from each other.
And then I would probably leave him. I wouldn't give him the chance to explain, I wouldn't offer him the opportunity to break-up with her and come back to me, I would just pack my bags and go. 8 months is really nothing when it comes to a marriage. This situation isn't likely to improve. Are you going to feel any better about leaving when it's 8 years and not 8 months, and if he's not still with her then he's doing this with someone else?
I'm sorry for what you're going through... :(
I'm trying to think of an explanation to the message, but all the alternatives do really suck. It could be true, and he just hasn't told you (yet). Or it could be he's saying that to please her, i.e. that is what she is expecting to hear from him. But then, even if that were true, would you want to be with somebody who had so little respect for you that he would do that kind of thing... :( Seems like he is lying to at least one of you.
I am sorry to hear this is happening to you. Here at our house, if it isn't honest and upfront there had better be a good reason for it. Even if he hasn't outright lied, even if he's just "waiting for the right time to tell you" even if he really loves you both and wants you to be happy without him. Secretly harboring feelings that you will, sort of, find someone else so he can sneak off with her is cowardly behavior and does not come off as ethical or responsible to me. You Deserve Better! I say leave him, he has already broken your contract and hasn't bothered to negotiate another one. Quietly make your plans and do what you must do to move on. And again, I am sorry I know this is painful.
I am sorry you are going through this. :(
The initial agreement had evidence of not being well written.
You guys made an agreement that was not realistic. (First Behavior)
He become this woman's lover. (Next Behavior).
He had feelings ensue and bubble up for her. (New Feelings.)
But the agreement left him NO place to go to air that out. He was just supposed to NOT have the feelings at all.
So he kept them to himself then and chose silence. (New Behavior)
So when you noticed changes in him (observation behavior) and you felt weird. (New feelings) the agreement left you no space to talk to him in. If he's supposed to NOT HAVE the feelings at all, why would you ever have need to talk about it? You don't ever need to deal with it, right? So you guys never planned ahead to cover that potential need -- your need to be able to talk to him about feelings of his that "just do not exist." It could just as easily have been the other way around with YOU struggling with feelings for a new lover.
You chose to snoop rather than ask him straight up or ask to change the agreement to address the need for space to air things out. (New behavior) Because this agreement you made was limiting for you both.
Now you feel confused and ugh from unwelcome knowledge. (New Feeling)
Now you get to pick a NEW behavior to see if better feelings will ensue.
I don't think you are bad people -- but this agreement you made was just not a good well designed agreement to begin with. The agreement did not help you to be your best selves and be in right relationship to each other or help you to choose good behavior toward the partner.
So new behavior choices at THIS crossroads to aid in better emotional management:
1) We can fuss about the poorly designed agreement that was broken and "assign blame" and "who was worse". Spend time sidelined on blue feeling things and go round in circles some to see who is the bluest.I'd go with move it forward and CHANGE FOR THE BETTER. How you guys change is up to you.
If you choose that behavior #2 you could own your part of it and apologize for snooping and open the discussion. Maybe it could be something like...
1) Yes, I peeked. I am sorry.It's not fun to feel all this right now, but BREATHE. Take it one thing at a time. And move it forward. Sometimes taking sensible, solid action to move things forward is better than what iffing and staying stuck.
Hang in there. It's rough. :(
Thank you everyone for your input. I'll do my best to address the questions brought up.
We were married after we opened the relationship, about 6 months. Opening the relationship was actually my idea. I had had open relationships before and enjoyed them. When we first got together, he was not amenable to the idea but as our relationship grew stronger, plus the fact that several of our friends are in open relationships that work and he was able to see that, he became more open to it. We started slow, with just loosening boundaries and then became fully open a little over a year ago.
His girlfriend is a mutual friend that was actually originally trying to hook up with me, but I wasn't interested. They started hooking up around the time that we were loosening boundaries and then took it further when we opened. He is not the type to sleep around casually so I always understood that there would be a level of caring since they were friends beforehand and also, they both lost a parent within a month of each other so they were able to support each other in that in a way that I couldn't; but when we first started it was both of our understanding that our marriage was our main relationship and anything else was secondary.
I understand what you are saying, GalaGirl, about the original agreement being bad. I realized that after our big blowout about their feelings for each other and part of the reason that I let it go was because I did realize that it was unrealistic. I do believe that love is not finite and that if he loves her it doesn't necessarily mean he loves me less. So after that fight, we all understood that there would be an emotional connection between them and I was truly ok with that. There is, however, a difference between loving both of us and wishing he was married to her instead.
To add another layer to this, this has made me really question my feelings for him as well. I have been asking myself if I'm still in love with him and so far I don't have an answer for that. I am not good with picking apart and identifying my emotions though and I am still kind of in shock about all of this, so I know I'm going to need some time to fully understand how I feel about that. I have also built a pretty strong connection to the guy that I'm seeing so that makes me very hesitant about insisting that they break up or closing the relationship since I don't want to discontinue seeing my dude.
It's still pretty confusing. He acts like nothing has changed and in fact has been reaching out to me more in the last few days. He's in a great mood today, although the pessimistic side of me thinks that's probably because she's coming up for a visit today. It's very tempting to just pretend I never saw that message and just continue along in the relationship. I know that what other people think isn't important and normally I don't care, but the thought of breaking up or divorcing after only having been married 8 months is humiliating. And we were SO SMUG about how we had everything figured out and how our communication was so great and how we were doing this open relationship thing the right way. Ugh. I guess that should have been my first clue that something wasn't right haha
I know I need to talk to him about all of this, but I am dreading it. Plus, with Christmas around the corner, I don't know if I want to blow all this up right now. I'm just really unsure about a lot of things right now.
I can understand not wanting to discuss this right around Christmas, I can never keep my mouth shut about a problem for more than 5 minutes so it's nice to know that some people aren't so impatient.
It is NOT humiliating to end a relationship that isn't working, it's brave. You just have your memorized response for people who are nosy and ask you what happened - you tell them its none of their business or say "We really care about each other but realized that we weren't getting what we needed out of the relationship anymore, and it seemed better to part and stay friends than try to force it" Or..whatever.
The part I bolded - them breaking up or you closing your relationships is almost guaranteed to cause nothing but trouble. With what you know, it'd really seem like a passive aggressive way to get him to initiate a divorce, or encourage him to cheat, or worse, sit at home and start hating you, because what reason would you give him if you didn't tell him the truth?
I am really sorry - it's one of those snooping is wrong but it's information you deserved to have, and it's too bad he didn't give it to you freely when you asked about it :(
I'm sure my reply wont be as well thought out as everyone elses as I'm kinda tired.
I think you have a few choices to make...
The big one that seems to be looming over your head is stay or go. And I understand that one completely.
I read a book once, too good to leave, too bad to stay and although I dont adhear to its all or none philosophy, it DID help me sort out my feelings about my ex and eventually led me to leaving him. I think you should check it out. Its best place, in a poly relationship especially, is to help you sort out your feelings, so its not a perfect guide by any means and its written for monogamous relationships quite heavily.
Closing your marriage is not a good idea, you both will feel resentment and it will lead to a definate "go" eventually. You want it open, he wants it open, you just need to work on communicating your boundaries and reestablishing your agreement.
Same thing with insisting he ends it with her, it will lead to resentment and guilt.
However, I DO think you need to confront him on this, and find out where he is NOW, since that could have been NRE talking or even come from something she said or he thought she wanted to hear. Maybe they talked after and she didnt want that. Or maybe they did and they have secret plans to run away together in January. You cant know unless you talk to him about it.
No matter what happens, you have to think of YOUR happiness, not what others think!
I haven't talked to him yet. I've been sorting through my feelings and while I'm still unsure, what I do know is that I'm not willing to give up my marriage without a fight. I didn't get married to just walk out when it gets tough.
I had been telling myself that it's better to wait until after Christmas to do all of this, plus we're coming up on the year anniversary of his dad's death, but now I'm finding myself picking fights with him (granted, discussion that needed to happen about unrelated day to day stuff, but I blew it up out of proportion to what the issue was) so I think maybe I should do this sooner rather than later or it's just going to eat at me.
What I've come up with so far is that I'm going to tell him what I found and ask if he still feels that way and go from there. I do think he needs to choose though. I have been ok with their relationship because I never felt that it was a threat to our marriage, but that has clearly changed. I have never felt like I or we are "poly" in the sense that all our relationships are equal and have always been vocal about my expectation that our marriage is primary and always comes first.
If he would prefer to be with/married to her, then I don't know that there is anything I can do about that. But if he's going to remain married to me, he can no longer be with her. I hate to draw that line because I know it will hurt him, but at the same time I can't live in a marriage where I'm constantly worried that he would rather be somewhere else.
Am I out of line on this? I understand that veto-ing a partner's partner is frowned upon in the poly community, but as I said, we have always been more "open" than "poly". I'm really struggling with how to handle this.
What kills me about this is that had he just been honest with me about the fact that he loves her, I wouldn't have had a problem with it. Also, I really can't understand how he could feel like he would prefer just her when he could have both of us, freely. I mean, WTF? I've always been so secure in his love, always so sure that he would NEVER cheat, that he would NEVER leave me, that he would always love me. I feel like a rug has been pulled out from under me. I've struggled for years with self-worth and depression, always feeling like I was undeserving of love. He's the one that really helped me with that, he made me feel lovable finally. And now he may not be in love with me anymore.
This is going to be a shitty fucking Christmas.
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