Need Perspective and Thoughts
Hello....my husband and I have been together 33 years. We have 4 children. We have both been to counseling in the past. I love my husband but I don't really like him.
He is hard working, but very self-centered, even though anyone you talk to would say he is a great guy. It has only been recently - in spite of all our counseling - I realize that a majority of our life and relationship are centered around him, his likes, what he wants, with little-to-no-inconvenience for him (even though he would lead you to believe otherwise).
I have told him that he is happy in our marriage as long as I keep my mouth shut and legs open. He denies this, of course, but it is how I feel. I have stayed in the marriage because two of our children have special needs and I did not want to create more chaos for our family by leaving. Now that our children are older I would like my husband and I to focus on working on our marriage.
When I try to express what I need, or how something he does makes me feel, it usually ends with him yelling and being the victim. I find we cannot have a constructive conversation. I cannot say anything critical to him - no matter how calmly I say it, and I cannot be emotional.
I have had two affairs while we have been married. They did get physical, but that is not what was important to me. What I really wanted was to matter to someone. I know this is wrong and there is no justification for my behavior. I sometimes think about leaving my marriage, but still feel it would inflict so much emotional pain for everyone, and I feel strongly that our family has endured enough heartache and pain due to the circumstances of our two children with special needs. I also would be shunned for breaking up our family and I don't think I could endure that.
I am wondering...do I just "keep my mouth shut and legs open" in order to stay in this marriage? And if I do that, am I justified in having an extramarital relationship (not physical) that brings me happiness? I am also wondering if anyone reading this has constructive things to tell me on what I can do to make this marriage work. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this.
Eugene Kayser, lic. Marriage & Family Therapist