parent opinion

"I cringe when he comes in for a kiss." I've been trying to leave my husband for two years.

I suspect a fair number of readers saw the subject and thought, "B*tch, serve him papers and leave!"

Sigh.

I don’t hate my husband. I love him. Just not in a romantic way. Not in a sexual way.

I planned on telling Joseph at the end of the year that I’m done. My rationale was that we’re not leaving the house anyway with coronavirus lockdown and our kids would need both parents at home for virtual school. Why make it more complicated?

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Well... I made it more complicated.

Joseph walks in as I’m having an emotional moment over this decision. It’s not the kind of choice you can be confident about until it’s announced out loud. I tell him that I don’t think I can go back to feeling anything more than friends.

He’s fine with that. My husband could go for the rest of our lives without having sex. I tell him I want us to focus on the kids and stop working on us. Joseph is fine with that too.

Delicately (very delicately) I explain that I want the option to find someone and have that feeling of love again. That I want a full relationship with someone. However, I’m torn because I want the kids to have full access to both parents while they’re still young.

I want a "Parenting Marriage". We would be like coworkers raising the children in a home with two parents who love and adore them. The focus would be on the kids and not each other. As in, pretty much what we already have.

My husband points out that finding someone new means I wouldn’t focus on the kids. It didn’t matter if I only went on dates when the kids were asleep. It didn’t matter that any rare time I used to see my friends on weekends would be no different from the time I would then allocate to dating.

"Yeah, I don’t want some random guy around the kids," Joseph says. "Why would anyone need to meet the kids? I’m pretty sure the average guy would be more than happy to not meet kids and just focus on the dating part," I answer and make it clear that I will never, ever live with a guy ever again. 

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Joseph then says he wants that in writing and that we would have to have a post-nuptial agreement. That didn’t deter me like he thought it would.

"You think some guy will be okay with dating you if you’re still under the same roof as your ex?" he asks.

"I think it’s possible."

"No, that guy would try to edge his way into the kids’ lives and get rid of me," he replies, in some spiel about Alpha-male behavior.

"Then let’s get a studio apartment nearby. The kids don’t have to move out. We would. We could alternate every week who lives there."

"I don’t think that would go over well if I brought a woman back to that place and she saw all your beauty products in the bathroom." I don’t bother pointing out that I wouldn’t leave those kinds of things there (and if I did, they would be in a box).

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I can’t think of a solution. I don’t want our kids to move out of this house. A promise was made to them when we moved in that we would be done moving for at least 10 years. 

This would be their house while they go through childhood and their teen years. Everything, right down to renovations, was made to support them and their needs. There’s no way we could split our assets in a way that one person could move out and get a decent-sized place while the other one keeps the house.

What else can I do? Cry. Lots of crying.

I sob, "I don’t want to end up like my mum. She was miserable with my dad, they had no affection, and now she’s just in a state of existing instead of living now that she has no kids to raise."

Joseph cries, "But what if you make this choice when it could have gotten better, eventually?"

"It took us almost 20 years to get to this point. You think we should stick it out until we’re 60 to finally be happy?"

Without skipping a beat, he replies, "Yes. Hopefully, it won’t take that long, but yes. I think we need to make small goals and work towards them."

How can small goals make me find someone sexually attractive? How can small goals make me fall back in love? When can I throw in the towel and declare defeat, once and for all? I’ve told Joseph that I take responsibility for everything I’ve done to destroy this marriage, it’s not all on him. This isn’t a punishment for what he’s done.

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Each time we have this discussion, he completely melts down and starts bawling. Curled-up-on-the-floor-hysterical crying. My heart breaks and my maternal brain only wants to stop the sound of someone crying in extreme pain. So I soothe him with hugs and we end the discussion for the day.

Joseph has come a long way and stepped it up the past year in comparison to the prior two decades. 

While I’m grateful for his efforts, I’m too skeptical and burned from our history. My rationale is that despite hitting rock bottom last year when his massage parlour trips came to light, being stuck at home for a pandemic isn’t standard so it’s easy to make changes. 

What happens when he returns to the office? What happens when it takes more effort to be of help? What happens when those massage parlours open again? He insists the compulsion eradicated itself when he got caught and it hit him that he would lose everything if he didn’t get his sh*t together.

I don’t trust him. I don’t trust me. I explained it wasn’t for this pandemic, I would have cheated on him this year (despite that I already did but I don’t want to crush his soul when it wouldn’t help the cause). I told him he shouldn’t trust me and that I don’t care if he makes his phone open to me any time; I hate the knot I get wondering what’s going on behind my back.

One should feel grateful when they have a spouse who wants to fight for their marriage, right? Who is stepping it up helping out and offering extra affection? Who is willing to forgive past behaviours and create transparency?

On my end, I cringe when Joseph comes in for a hug or a kiss. 

I close the door now when I’m changing or showering. It’s an awful feeling; being a jerk who doesn’t feel the same love as the person on their knees begging for me to stay in the fight. But the thought of having sex with him makes my skin crawl and my body sweat with dread.

I have thought daily about divorce since February 2018.

Joseph was in a foul mood and said some horrible, awful things to me in front of my daughter (thankfully she was so young, she didn’t understand what he said). I worked with an online therapist who told me that was verbal abuse; she instructed me to tell him I would never tolerate that kind of talk ever again. 

Since then, he hasn’t ever spoken that horribly to me but I think that was the nail in the coffin. Maybe it wasn’t fully nailed shut, but the nail was in place.

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This isn’t a secret. I told him last week that I’ve been mulling over divorce for more than two years. It didn’t phase him. Nothing will phase him. He is laser-focused on not divorcing.

I’m trapped. If I want this marriage to end, it will be 100 per cent (not even 99 per cent) my choice. 

That’s a huge burden, to know you are the only reason your kids’ world will rip apart. Joseph won’t make it amicable. We won’t have the type of divorce relationship where we can still have birthday parties or trips together with the kids. 

It would be going from one crummy relationship with him to an even worse relationship with him.

Is it worth it? All so that I can maybe... hopefully... find sex and love again? Or if I stay single, to enjoy a life of truth instead of faking the role of a happy wife? 

I don’t want to be a miserable martyr like my mother. But I don’t want to be the asshole who threw a grenade on her children’s happiness. I don’t want to shatter Joseph’s world.

So here I am, crying, wanting the divorce my husband won’t willingly give me. I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to divorce her.

This story originally appeared on Medium  and has been republished with full permission.

Feature Image: Getty.

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