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breaking up is hard to do

Posted by Jetera on November 24, 2007, at 22:33:15

I've been married to a man for over 25 years. 20 years ago he was in an accident that caused neurological damage - rendering him in constant pain and incapable of having sex. This has lead him to become very cold, distant, emotionally abusive and manipulative. I felt badly for his condition and love him dearly. I believed in marriage so I stayed beside him and as a result he has become etremely dependent on me. So much so, he's like a 50 year old child - watching cartoons all day, taking no initiative to "help *me* out" maintaining or cleaning the house or paying the bills. I do it all.

He did absolutely nothing for our 25th anniversary. No flowers, no second honeymoon (never had a first), not even a card. I've never felt appreciated by him. He bought me a swiffer sweeper for Xmas last year for God's sake!

For many of those 25 years, I have repeatedly expressed my feelings to my husband that he did not appreciate me as a wife, that I felt more like his mother. This did lead to me to become more and more resentful toward him, and I was verbally abusive toward him when I became overwrought with frustration. I feel bad for that and know that this isn't healthy so for many years I expressed the desire to end the marriage for both of our sakes if things didn't change, only to be given empty promises.

This year has been extremely difficult for me. My oldest brother died in April. My three wonderful children that I've raised in these conditions have all left the nest earlier in the year. One is a soldier in Iraq. Another was married in June and is expecting my first grandchild soon. The third is off to college. My mother is ill and I have been taking care of her since my siblings believe that I'm such a wonderful caregiver (if they only knew!)

For years, I have secretly had a very strong attraction to someone at work. Earlier this summer he confessed that he too had strong feelings for me for years. Although nothing happened at the time - I left my husband within a few weeks. Soon after I moved out of my house, my *someone* and I started a more physical relationship. Although we try to keep it "undercover", I see him every weekend, have lunch with him during the week, and we send emails every day. He has made it clear that our relationship in non-exclusive and that he feels that I am a friend first - lover second. He has been very supportive and never pressures me into anything. He's everything that my husband is not - independent, supportive, patient, attentive, and so much more.

My mom and siblings think that it's great that I am as happy as I am now. My children have mixed feelings (they know nothing of my lover) but they understand how I feel because they grew up in the household.

Recently I saw my GP for a checkup. My husband had already seen him and told him that we had split up. His opinion of the situation was that we seemed more like a caregiver/patient relationship than as husband/wife. This really hit me hard - that a GP who sees me only for check ups and as my husband needs could pick up on something that I have been trying to hide from the outside world for so long. He actually said that he was amazed that I lasted as long as I did.

Now - I told my husband that I have a lover (no names mentioned). He took it pretty hard. Said the idea of someone touching me makes him crazy -although he himself hasn't done so since the accident. Not even hugs. I initiate any type of contact. He used to yell at me not to say that I loved him so much, so I stopped years ago.

He went to stay with his family in another city for Thanksgiving to sort things out. He calls me all of the time and wants to get back together. He tells me that he has nothing to live for. When I mention the kids and a soon to be born grandson - he said that they mean nothing. He always ends the phone call with "I love you".

To me, it's over. As my GP put it, I am emotionally drained. I haven't cried in years. My husband asked to go to counseling when he gets back in town, and I agreed - but I told him it wouldn't be the counseling that he expects. I want him to get counseling to deal with the breakup, not to reunite.

I've told my lover that I wanted to take a step back to friends only. I don't think that I should be involved with him during this time. Since he has always been a friend, I find myself telling him what's going on with my husband and then I feel bad because I am burdening our new relationship with old baggage. Plus I feel as if I may be transferring what I've wanted from my husband to him. I don't want to end one lie and start another one. And I don't want to use my lover as an emotional crutch. He deserves better than that. I feel that I should do this on my own. He understands and will wait until everything is settled.

Am I on the right track with counseling? I'm going through my employee assistance program. Should I not? Should we see a counselor separately or together? Should I be pushing away my lover?

It breaks my heart to hurt my husband, but I feel as if I have one life to live and 25+ years is long enough to be miserable. I never want to marry again.




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