My wife is everything, but I think she feels like nothing.
To whoever can help or at least shed a ray of light at the end of this tunnel,
I’ve been married to my wife for almost 9 years now. We have three children...13, 8, and 3. The oldest is my step son who came into my life around the age of 4. Of late, I think my wife believes that I don’t care for her attention and it seems has actively sought out attention from others. Not necessarily male suitors, but just everyone else besides me. She no longer finds interest in my friends or family, travels to her family by herself, etc. this has been going on for about 4 months. Naturally, this has put me on edge and now I’ve overcompensated and am no longer comfortable around her. I feel unlike myself and nervous.
The old term “walking on egg shells” fits so perfectly here. We’ve had a decent two weeks because she asked for space and so I fought the inner voice of “Scream, yell, question, and cry” and actually just gave her some space. I didn’t contact her. I made plans with friends. I initiated that space would probably be great for both of us.
That’s what led us to a decent period, but I think I can pinpoint all of this to a single person. He is a long friend of hers from a family she loves. He’s much older, just 8 years but that’s not little in my book, and was at a function. He is divorced with two teenagers and initially he was harmless, but I’ve noticed she literally “likes/loves” damn near every single post on Facebook or instagram. Now the way those formulas work is that the more you view that person the more likely their material comes up. It’s literally an algorithm. That being said, I don’t think she would physically cheat because she has been on the receiving end of that herself. (Her first husband cheated on her while they were dating, engaged, and subsequently after they were married according to her.).
This puts me somewhat at ease but I have noticed in this period she has put more effort than usual into primping herself. (I think she looks beautiful and would never tell her not to because I want her to feel the way that she makes me feel.) I like to think myself level headed, but all I can think about is ways to deter this guy. I don’t mean brutish displays of male egotism. More along the lines of things that would remind him that although we may not be in the best spot our marriage has been in, she is my wife and Khama has a very expensive toll to pay for being on the poor decision making end of the scale. I don’t want to do anything rash and want to give him fair warning but there are much worse things you can do than physically harm someone that would have a longer lasting result. (I say that because my typical buddies want to do the whole...”Well let’s kick his a**” deal and that’s not something I want to engage in. It’s literally driving me insane.
I don’t show where she has made any forms of communication with him outside of
social media but I know how easily that stuff can be deleted because I know for a fact he text her regarding something for his sister who is my wife’s good friend and now that text line is deleted. ( You see how crazy I’m going?). She’s always been insecure about infidelity because of her previous husband and I’ve had to verbally tell some women to stay away from me and not disrespect my wife because of advances. (When she was pregnant with our daughter a former girlfriend continuously text me even though I constantly responded that she needs to leave me alone and that it was upsetting my wife. I literally called her the next day with my wife present so she could hear me tell her to leave me alone.) This has always left her not willing to trust any man...in fact that coupled with her issues with her father who she doesn’t speak with creates a real minefield or emotions when it comes to trying to do the right thing because how do you do the right thing when your partner has never witnessed actual love from the opposite sex outside of movies?
Long story short...I’m at the end of my rope. I don’t want to feel alone in my marriage and honestly, I don’t even think I want to be with anyone ever again...but how do you justify allowing yourself to feel miserable and like a failure every minute of every day? I truly do love her and have even told her “I just want you to be happy. I was hoping it would be with me, but if it isn’t, then it isn’t” It was basically an escape route but she hasn’t left yet.
Does anyone have any advice for me as to what the hell is going on? I’ll be the first to tell you I have my faults. I spiraled into a depression that lasted years when my parents both tragically died within two years. (One died of a heart-attack before Xmas eve and the other was the 2% you sign on the form for when you have surgery...stroke due to complications post-op) It caused me to drink excessively to detach.
I have completely stepped back from that phase though since the birth of our third child. I will admit though that since she’s been acting this way, I have used it as a welcomed crutch to hide from my anxiety. The last serious conversation we had regarding this was that I said “I understand you’re going through something right now and I’m right there with you if you need me and I ll be gone if you need that, but I would prefer if you already know your answer to not string me along because I have a life to live as well if it is no longer going to be with you.” She seemed responsive to that conversation. We still actively have sex, she gets lovey, dovey sometimes and others she’s like a living lexipro commercial. I know mental illness runs in her family but at this point it’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I don’t know what to do. I’m just at a loss and desperate for one of two things...my wife back or a new life.
Eugene Kayser, lic. Marriage & Family Therapist