My husband and I have been married for 17 years. He is 56 and I am 39. We have two sons ages 13 and 16. I had a traumatic childhood filled with parental fighting and alcohol abuse by my father. I vowed that the man I married would not drink or smoke and would be a good father.
Well, he doesn't drink, or smoke, has never laid a hand on me and is a great dad.
The problem is I don't love him and I never have. I simply married him because he was all the things that I vowed to have when I grew up. I have never enjoyed a passionate relationship with my husband but mainly "went through the motions of sex to appease him."
Throughout our marriage I have been having a once-a-year sexual rendezvous with a former lover who remains one of my best friends. We have recently admitted that we are in love and are exploring the options of separating from our spouses.
My husband is the best choice for a father for our sons and he would never do anything in the world to hurt me. I have told him that I do not love him and would be willing to go to counseling to help save our marriage but I feel this relationship has been based on a lie. I would be fooling him and myself if I pretended to be interested in rekindling a passion that has never existed. I am completely and passionately in love with my lover but I feel I owe my sons and my husband a stable life. Any insight you could give would be greatly appreciated.
Confused in Canada
Your conflict between passionate love for a man who is not your husband and duty to your sons and husband is poignant. I can try to help you clarify some points.
It could be that you connect marriage to stable life and to lack of love and passion because in your childhood experience, marriage and family life are connected to trauma, fighting and alcohol abuse -- there is no room for happiness. You feel that you owe your family the life that your parents owed you as a child but didn't succeed in giving you. Unconsciously, or maybe consciously, you feel that you have to fix some situation from your childhood through your present family, in order to save... what?
Today, you feel that you are paying the highest price -- your own deep truth. It is important to be faithful to ourselves as far as we can and have the courage to make the right decision. On the other hand, knowing and accepting the fact that you don't have to save your family may change the way you feel towards both your husband and your lover. You may eventually look at your husband not as a gatekeeper and your lover not as a savior, but rather as two men who play two opposite roles in your life. This situation pulls you in two separate directions and creates your present conflict.
After you drop the role of savior of family stability, you may realize and understand your true feelings. I would suggest that you work on those issues with a therapist.
Arlette Shimon Yarmuch, MSW