37 year marriage and unsure where to go from here
Hello, everyone. I tried to post a few days ago and assumed my post was being screened by a moderator...but since I see no sign of it, I must have done something wrong.
My situation in a nutshell....my husband and I have been in a traditional marriage for 37 years, with two grown daughters and two grandchildren. Our marriage began to suffer severe stress just as the nest was emptying, with several moves, job changes, and crises such as his mother's medical condition and our older (bi-polar) daughter being abused and having financial problems.
Our mutual isolation and feelings of loneliness led me to undergo personal counseling, and I also initiated two years of sex counseling and a marriage encounter weekend. Although there is deep love and devotion between us, my husband and I seem to have lost desire for each other and we had almost no intimate contact. We were unable to talk to each other, although I begged him to open up to me. Ultimately, we both began leading secret lives....and only began to confide in each other a week ago.
When I accidentally discovered his affair, my only feeling was sadness and a real sense of failure....also concern for the other woman and her needs, and fears about what the future might bring. There was no anger on my part and no judgment or recriminations....and although he admitted being aware of my affair without challenging me on it, he was also loving and empathetic when we finally began to talk.
I have no idea where to go from here. He says he does not intend to leave me, and says the two-year affair with his partner is fading to mostly a non-physical friendship. My lover is affirming and devoted, but I do not expect him to leave his long-standing marriage, and I worry about the damage that cheating will inflict on his wife and family. I was told about polyamory and respectful approaches to non-monogomy just recently....perhaps I am not meant to be in a traditional marriage. My husband doesn't seem receptive to exploring this with me....he is wrapped up in the demands of a new job and worried about everything but our marriage (finances, our daughters, etc.) We are both so lonely and unfulfilled.....yet there is tremendous history and devotion between us. I feel like I am in this painful slow-motion "one day at a time" program....with no real idea of what either of us wants or needs. Most of my life I have worried about other people...at some point, maybe now, I need to have the courage to confront my own fears and if necessary, be alone so that I can find fulfillment in whatever portion of my life remains to me.
We are both such good people, but hurting and confused. Any words for where we go from here?