Reader Dazed And Confused writes,
My problem is this: I am 54 and my husband is 55. We have been married for 27 years. We have four grown children. Twice he has had an affair with someone much younger, once fifteen years ago and now last December I found out he'd been seeing a 25 year old on and off for about a year. He wont tell me anything about what happened, so its hard to be sure how long it was going on. I found out through other people and his weird behaviour. I was very surprised because we get along well, and I thought him incapable of doing something so cruel to me. We live in a very small town (1000) and everyone knew before me, and this person lives close to our home and my work, so I occasionally run into her without wanting to. It has been very humiliating; I feel really vulnerable.
I was very hurt and furious for a few months and wanted him to leave. He wouldn't go, said he was very sorry, it was a mistake, not my fault and that he loved me and wanted us to be together. He has stayed. But instead of a great, new revived marriage, it just keeps on sucking. I do not trust him. Every time he goes out to work or to town or is gone for any length of time, I feel he is hooking up with her. He's says he wont do it again, but it still seems like he hasn't resolved his midlife crisis. He's very concerned about his appearance and has many more face creams than I do. He's fastidious about bathing and getting cleaned up, but I don't feel he does it to look good for me. Often I come home from work and he's showered and changed and gone out somewhere. He refuses to let me see his phone or know his access code, saying I just have to trust him, which drives me crazy because that was one of the ways he carried on with this other person.
We don't have sex anymore. Since I found out about the affair, we've had sex a handful of times. I miss it a lot and feel like I'm not ready to give it up. Sex was an area of our marriage that was good. Except for, it had started taking a dive when he had the affair. But he seems to have ED: I feel rejected, like he is not attracted to me anymore because I'm too old to be sexy. He denies this but still can't/ doesn't want to have sex. We went on vacation to the beach for a week to relax and reconnect and it was utterly disappointing. No sex. Although he is affectionate and nice enough. I thought if he stayed and we worked things out, he should be happy about that, but he often gets depressed, like he's not living the life he wants. He always says it's money problems or his back hurts (yet he still will ride his horses) or he's tired or whatever.
I wanted to get some counseling, he grudgingly went first to one guy we both didn't like, next to another who was much better, but he wouldn't go back. I feel stuck, but feel like we have so much time invested together that it would be gut wrenching to separate. I love him. I think he loves me, but just not the way I want. I don't want us to settle because we're afraid of the unknown future on our own. On my own! I feel convinced he's one of those guys who wants to toss out the old and get someone young, new and hot. And I just can't compete with that. Is there hope for us? What's wrong with us, why do I feel so stuck?
Creak creak! What's that sound? Why, it's the sound of your bed when you leave your husband and, after a dignified waiting period, like three weeks, you make sweet love with some guy in his 30's who's into MILF's. On a serious note, you have done every single thing I can think of to rebuild after infidelity. You have gone to counseling (like I told that guy in the linked piece who was cheated on), empathized, tried to have sex with him, everything. And yet he doesn't seem to want to change.
The complaining about "money problems," his back pain, and his need for multiple face creams makes me think that your husband is fairly narcissistic. And of course the keystone of that theory is that he cheated with someone who you know and could see around, without a thought for humiliating you, his wife of 27 years and mother of his four kids. You first thought to leave your husband was correct, but then, out of fear and obligation, you're back in a crappy marriage. Crappy and sexless and devoid of basic trust. Why do you deserve this? You don't.
Your children are raised and you have the second half of your life standing before you, like the promised land in front of Moses. Reach out and traverse the Red Sea of irritating divorce announcements and splitting your financial assets, and emerge on the other side, single and ready to mingle. In reality, we all die alone. Women live longer than men, so more of us die alone even after awesome marriages. Do you want to spend the next three or more decades watching your husband complain about money, then spend it on face creams and horses, and even on 20 something year old future affair partners? You deserve better. Like I told this woman, get out.
You may also want counseling to get you through this time. Divorce can suck, but sexless marriages with narcissists suck worse. Keep me updated, and until we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, I'll Help With Your Match Profile.
This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family. Learn about Dr. Rodman's private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.