Dear Amy: I’ve been married to my wife since 2003. In 2011, I found her texting and flirting with a friend of mine. We ultimately broke up. It was pretty much a mutual decision.
I met another woman who was everything I dreamed of. I moved toward divorcing my wife. I wanted to move on with my life. Tragically, three years after falling in love, my fiance died…right in front of me.
Well, it turns out, my wife never filed the divorce papers, so we are still married.
We have two sons (both born before the breakup). Concerned for the well-being of my sons, I worked things out with her, and we got back together.
Fast-forward to today. I feel like I’m serving a jail sentence with this person. My oldest son is on his way to the Marines, and my youngest is on his way to sixth grade.
I am married to a selfish, unemotional woman who doesn’t seem to have any love or compassion for me.
There is no communication, no intimacy, no anything!
I’ve got just over five years to go until my youngest will be 18. My plan is to move out the day after his birthday.
I’ve tried everything I can think of — from talking to her directly to even talking to her mother. I’m afraid she’s cheating again, but I have no proof. She just seems totally not interested in me at all. I love her, but my love is not reciprocated.
Should I ride this out until it goes down in flames — or stick to the plan of just staying under the radar until my son turns 18 and then leave and ghost her?
It feels like I’m just here to help with bills and kids. That’s it.
Dear Lonely: You sound depressed and very sad. You say you are staying in this prison of a marriage for your sons’ sake – but you and your wife lived separately once before. Your previous breakup lasted for several years, and your sons were in the picture during that period.
My point is that when you were motivated to leave the marriage previously, you did – and you found love with someone else.
Many parents in empty marriages say they are staying together for the sake of their children, but children don’t necessarily benefit from living with two parents who don’t want to be together.
Your five-year plan sounds like a very tough haul. Sessions with a marriage counselor might not bring your wife back to you, but you two would at least have the opportunity to come up with a workable plan for either staying together, or parting peacefully. (c) Ask Amy
This is very strange indeed. The woman he was in love with died, and then he became concerned for the wellbeing of his sons? I don’t see a connection. And after being in love with someone else for three years, he thought his marriage could be fixed like a broken object in need of some glue? It didn’t occur to him that his wife was grossly offended by his returning to her as a consolation prize with his bogus concern for the kids?
Sometimes a relationship dies. (Don’t ask how I know this…) And sometimes when a relationship dies, it’s dead beyond recovery. This particular relationship is deader than dead. I bet he expected his wife to be sympathetic about how his girlfriend died in his presence. I bet he thought it was the sort of emotional catalyst for him and his wife to get back together, like he was coming to his senses. That was all stupid. The relationship’s dead. And not filing the divorce papers was a technicality. It wasn’t a justification for getting back together with person A just because person B died tragically. That’s ridiculous. This guy has lost his logical mind.
I’d go farther and say that his wife wasn’t flirting with a friend of his back in 2011. Rather, he was looking for an “out”, and he mostly fabricated that one and then tried to defend it. He simply wasn’t in love with her. You can’t force it. It was wrong of him to act like she was flirting outside the marriage instead of just owning his lack of love for her. But that’s exactly what he did. (I can’t explain how I know this, but it’s written between the lines.)
And now she’s punishing him for it every day, which I almost don’t blame her for; and he’s living in this hell of his own choosing, all because the universe is having a colossal laugh at his expense. It’s senseless, really.
All he needs to do is leave.
What’s she going to do, retaliate by throwing the sixth-grader into an active volcano? Good grief. This letter writer hasn’t given us any indication that his wife is bad to their sons.
This is so messed up that there aren’t words for it. I hate to say it, but some dynamics can be (and are!) broken beyond repair. Case in point right here. This guy just needs to leave. It should make everyone happier. He can still be a dad to the sixth-grader. Geez. Hasn’t he watched any Frasier? Frasier lives in Seattle, and his son’s all the way in Boston. No one ever calls Frasier a bad father. Although Frasier did say, “The weekend father need not be a weakened father.” (Groan.)
I feel sorry for this guy. But he needs to save himself. No one else is going to do it for him.