OK, this is going to be long. Bear with me.
Thanks for the clarify and good on you for confessing the affair asap. That is good then that he knows. Def a plus!
Basically is sounds like you both had fallen out of love with each other, but did not acknowledge it or really dealt with it directly. Opening Up when broken -- that's not really a solution to the problem of "no longer in love with each other" if you never address it direct first. It's kind of avoidy actually.
It is one thing if you talk about not being in consummate love any more directly and THEN agree to stay married and agree that companionate love of the strong-friend kind is enough to bond you in a marriage. And Open Up to meet sexual needs or passion needs and other needs not being met here. And both feel happy and fulfilled there.
But it does not sound like this was entered into with intention
after both talking it out and both agreeing to this relationship model. It sounds more like you both just floated into that space without really facing or discussing the issues of emotional intimacies and body intimacies of a lover role fading down. Or the practical sides of relationship management in such a model.
Here is what is:
- You are not each other's lover. You do not have lover body or emotional intimacies with each other.
- You have the emotional intimacies and mind intimacies of a good friend.
- You have a co-parent person to help in the raising of the child.
- You are left with an untended marriage arrangement.
The marriage like a garden you once both used to tend together and now neither one actively tends to it really. Other than you both still have a key to the gate, and you have a plot. And...you both come in to water two plants only.
The only plants you tend in there are the kid (parenting) and the friendship plant. (you sound like you are good enough friends.) We can't transplant those plants to a new garden you both are more excited about tending? The garden of friendship & co-parenting? Or paint a new sign for the gate of THIS marriage garden to read "Companionate Love Marriage" instead?
I don't see what is horrible about moving the plants to like to a new plot or painting a new sign for the door. Relate to each other. Decide together.
I'm glad you are both honest and open about your extramarital relationships. That's a good thing and bodes really well for post marriage friendship. I'm very hopeful/optimistic for you guys in your Transition time.
I'm not even sure I have been "in love" with him all this time. I'm not sure how I feel about anything. It never occurred to me to question my feelings or to label my love. I had made my peace with the idea that we had a somewhat platonic love, and that I had the ability to meet my physical needs with others.
This concerns me. Emotional numbing is part of emotional flooding and / or depression. You can Google more -- here's just some to start.
How long has that been going on? Just now? Like emotionally flooded/overwhelmed? Or has this been a while? Have you been emotionally numb/depressed a long while over all this?
Is it really "made your peace" with all this or "resigned" yourself to it rather than actively sorting it out? Do your self care that you need to do. Check in with him to see if he's been experiencing any of that and if this is why he's been sexually repressed.
Depression is not fun. Please care for selves and each other emotionally appropriately.
But I never thought that breaking up was an option. We have been together half of my life. I think of him as I do any other family member. The idea of living without him now feels like losing an internal organ.
Breaking up is always an option. We CHOOSE to be in relationship with people. Or not. I've had to break up with my Dad a few times because we were NOT in right relationship! Doesn't mean we can't get back together later. (Long story, I do eldercare help for my parents.)
But again, he's not a lover-husband if he's "just like any other family member."
And this sounds like it it speaking to habit and a fear of living in another way more than speaking to being in love with him. On the bright side, you do love each other -- just in a new shape. Here's what is:
You guys are good roomies.
You guys are good friends.
You guys are good co-parents.
It sounds like in these areas you are good. So... yay!
Much better than a split where those positives do not even exist! You get options others don't even get -- like keeping the marriage intact but changing the marriage expectations/agreements/boundaries and being INTENTIONAL about being in a companionate love marriage arrangement where you both feel happy/fulfilled.
And while painful to acknowledge that you are no longer lovers, take the steps to arrange you lives along those lines -- good roomies, good friends, and good co-parents while you have to share a home for financial reasons. Either for a time (a year?) or permanently. You both can discuss what is best for all in your new arrangement.
And deep down you know you can hack this. Look! You have made changes to the relationship shape before --
- you were dating singles and changed the relationship shape to marriage
- you were a married couple and changed the relationship shape to married parents
- you handled Opening to Polyamory reasonably well!
You can SO work this show and change relationship shape AGAIN. You guys have done it before and can do it again. That is comforting.
I think the triangular love theory makes a lot of sense- I had not read about it until today.
Glad it helps you.
He blamed himself for years for the lack of sex. He felt there was something physically or emotionally wrong with him. It appears that having a girlfriend led him to realize that he was perfectly capable of being sexual... just not with me.
There was something emotionally wrong with him -- he was not ready to see/acknowledge that he'd fallen out of love with you. Neither were you ready.
So even though it took the long way around -- you both
have arrived at the place where you must deal with WHAT IS. And the fact is that neither of you is in love with each other. So how do we agree to be together NOW in this phase of the relationship?
You can decide things like...
KEEP MARRIAGE SHAPE AND KEEP EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT STYLE: You both can choose to stay there and just be married for married's sake, and not discuss anything at all and continue to avoid. "Empty Love" portion of the triangle theory. (I don't think this feeds either of you. Do not suggest you stay there.)
CHANGE MARRIAGE SHAPE: You can choose to create a companionate love marraige agreement --from a place of going there with INTENTION and not just floating into there. Make your new boundaries/limits/agreements then for living together in this shape.
CHANGE MARRAIGE SHAPE: You can choose to divorce neatly/clean and quick with a mediator to guide you thru a DIY divorce and make some kind of responsibilities plan since you have entangled finances/child to care for/need to live together for a while yet.
CHANGE EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT STYLE: You can choose to love each other in a new shape -- as friends and co-parents and figure out the new boundaries of that role but change your emotional management on your own to bravely talk about these things as they come up rather than avoidy.
CHANGE EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT:
You can choose to seek a counselor to help tend to the emotional side being in a marriage of companionate love. This new shape marriage agreement and what it will entail to take advantage of practical marriage benefits -- like filing joint taxes, being on each other's health insurance, car insurance rate lower, etc. Also acknowledging what to do in future if one of you wishes to take on a different legal spouse -- how to accommodate for that. And help you learn better communication and emotional management skills that you will need for this shape.
CHANGE EMOTIONAL MANAGEMENT: You can also choose to seek a counselor to tend to the emotional side of an amicable split and mourning the end of a marriage. And help you learn better communication and emotional management skills that you will need for this shape -- whether or not you remain roomies post divorce.
To me it sounds like CHANGE must happen in the emotional management bucket and in the marriage shape bucket.
- Neither of you sounds like you thrive with your current emotional management of avoidy.
- Neither of you sounds like you thrive with your marriage just floating into this space rather than going there with intention.
You don't sound like you hate each other. It just sounds like your shared love changed shape into friend love. Which is fine. Relationships all evolve/grow.
ALLOW yourselves to adapt with it and grow with it too.
I know this is all hard to feel and do. But seriously -- I am way optimistic for you both finding your way through this. I sense there's real caring here rather than animosity. You guys can support each other through a Change For the Better -- whatever shape it will come in.
Play ball, play hard, RELATE. Sort yourselves out and your new shape to be.
Hang in there.