Of Marriage and Betrayal

Of Marriage

We were high school sweet hearts and got married right after we graduated. We’ve been married 15+ years and now have a 3 year old. We’re best friends, but I feel that we’ve drifted apart in terms of a couple. It feels like we’re going through the motions.

Of Betrayal

Now prior to meeting my wife there was another girl which gave me the same spark of infatuation. At the time she was going through a lot and we just never seemed to connect. We didn’t date or anything, but we became friends. After going away to school we lost track of each other. However I’ve never stopped thinking about her and about a year ago I found her phone number and called her. We met for dinner soon after and caught up on old times.

The goal of the meeting, from my point of view, was to confirm that time had marched on and that the attraction I had for her had died out. Wrong. After the meeting we’ve kept in touch via email and the occasional phone call, but haven’t seen each other since. Meanwhile I’ve slide into a depression of sorts. I figured that these feelings would regress after six months, but it has been a year plus. I can’t stop thinking about her, about what our lives might have been. I did not tell her any of the feelings I had for her either then or now. Am I missing something now in my own life? Perhaps the thing that bothers me most is that this is not lust. I’m used to that - I can work through lust. Logically I can disconnect myself from it.

I ask you all, is this normal? I’ve always had feelings for this other person, but now I feel a pang of regret. It makes no sense to me. I thought I was happy.

Have I entered into a permanent malaise? I have no intention of cheating, however separation has entered my mind. I’m turning 34 next month, so perhaps that’s part of it too.

Tattered*

Someone with more experience the area will no doubt offer good advice but… Is it normal? Only one way to tell. Marry this other woman, have a kid together, and report back in 15+ years. If you’re pining for another woman yet again (maybe even your first wife), we’ll know for sure.

Put her out of your mind and work on rebuilding a life with your wife.

I gotta call bullshit on this. I’d say the goal was quite the opposite. Don’t kid yourself.

tdn is right, you need to concentrate on your current marriage and family.

You’re not the first person with a ‘what if she/he and I…’ in your past, and you won’t be the last. Life is full of random decisions and events that lead us to where we are now. There is little to be gained in spending your time wondering what might have been if things had happened differently.

You need to find a way to snap yourself back into reality. I’d suggest you start by letting your wife know that you feel depressed and then seek professional help. It could be that you are depressed, and it’s the depression that’s making you feel dissatisfied with your current life circumstances.

Further to what Sandra said - I’d say you are a human being, and human beings will ‘think’ things to death. The fact that you went out to dinner with her and took it to that next basic level means you may in fact agree to a separation from your current wife if the other woman offered the opportunity. Am I wrong?

Had she said she had feelings for you, and said she has been thinking about you in THAT way - would you have acted upon this?

We are about the same age, tattered man and I must say you chose to get married and then eventually have a baby. You were also married for quite a while before you had your 3 year old, I would think that would have been the time [BEFORE THE BABY] to take a long lost love out for dinner, and separate from your wife.

You are in a tight spot now. Honesty hurts but it is always the best policy. If you have any idea about acting on your desires with this other woman I’d first tell your wife you want to separate. That is the adult thing to do.

I thought I was going to marry my highschool girlfriend as well - when I was in highschool. But I moved on and I dated quite a few women before I found Mrs.Right. Yeah she bugs the shit out of me from time to time but she and I are best friends as well as lovers. We do not have children - but we intend to.

I am as human as the next guy, if I see a beautiful woman walk by I will think wow, she’s very pretty, bet she looks good naked. That’s the male in me.

But so what, I’m married to a very attractive woman who looks very nice naked… It’s the old addage - look but don’t touch.

I think you’ve got some soul searching to do…

At first read, completely unburdened by the facts other than the OP? This feels like a fairly normal mid-life crisis - and the focus of such an event is often (usually?) your primary relationship.

  • You are older than you were and questioning if you like your life
  • You remember the past as simpler and look back at relationships that had spark and remembered how cool it was when things had spark. You look at your current, long-term relationship and see how its spark has faded - a natural occurence.
  • You reach out to old Spark - thinking if you meet and there is no spark, you will have to force yourself to look harder at why you are depressed.
  • You and Spark find that, well, there is a spark - but who knows exactly where it is coming from - could be you’re both looking for a simpler time or it could be that there is something real there.
  • You find yourself more down.

While rekindling an old spark may be distracting and exciting, it doesn’t really work as a long term solution - unless and until you stop, get your head on straight, determine if you are ready to end your current relationship with your wife and put your relationship with your kid into a new space, and THEN look at the possibility of a new relationship with Spark.

So you’ve grown a little bored with your marriage after 15yrs and a child?

I also call bullshit on the deluded, “Wanted to see if the attraction has waned.”

Now having exposed yourself to ‘the spark’ once again, you’re growing depressed about what might have been.

These parts all seem terribly immature to me, (sorry, don’t mean to offend). Are you still bummed that you aren’t 6 ft tall, a star quarterback or Brad Pitt? No? If you got over those disappointments, and don’t waste any braincells getting depressed about them then you have the skills to avoid the muck hole you’re about to dive into. Use them.

Tell me this, where would your loyalty lie if you discovered tomorrow that your wife was stricken with some horrid fatal disease?

My advice would amount to; grow up, acting like a lovesick teenager isn’t going to bring back your youth.

Of course it’s normal. For most people, especially men, attraction fades over time. At the same time, the idea of a new relationship seems really appealing.

But if you want to meet this girl again, don’t kid yourself that it’s to catch up on old times; or to see if you are still attracted. It’s because deep down part of you wants to have a sexual relationship with her.

You have a few options, none of them great. You could dump your wife; you could cheat on her; or you could suck it up and live an unhappy life.

At a minimum, you should wait until your kids are old enough that they won’t be traumatized by a divorce. You owe it to them to suck it up for a few years.

Also, keep in mind that if you marry somebody else, the same process is likely to repeat itself.

brazil84, I agree with you completely.

Also, to see what the consequences might be if you go forward. Read my thread.

Since you and your wife were high school sweethearts, you and this girl would have been, what, 15 at the time?

Sorry, I agree with anyone else. No one reconnects with someone after 18+ years to see if they have nothing in common anymore.

Of course it’s normal. It’s our hunter-gatherer background. There’s always a fatter antelope or a tree with more fruit over the next hill. Except that when you get over that hill, there really isn’t.

Only if you want it to be permanent.

You’re 34 years old. Do you really want to go back and recreate your acne-filled, socially awkward, hormonally charged teenage years? You don’t say a single bad thing about your wife - she’s not an alcoholic, a spendthrift, a bad mother, a liar or anything else that could drive a wedge into your relationship. The worst you can say is that you’re “going through the motions.”

I’ve been married for 27 years. Here’s an insight from someone who’s already gone through a mid-life crisis.

Sometimes marriage is dull.

Sometimes it goes through dull periods that last YEARS. To make up for it, sometimes you go through periods of such frantic excitement, you wish it would be dull again.

I’ll bet your wife probably has some of the same feelings. So go find something to re-energize the relationship.

(bolding mine)

I don’t think that last option is the only way to continue the marriage. I think what you’re going through is completely normal, and we all have crushes and infatuations that exist in this fantasy world full of sex and romance and none of the day-to-day bullshit that makes up most of life. They go away eventually.

But it seems like your marriage is still viable, and that if you focus on that and try to fall back in love with your wife, it would be a lot less painful for everyone. You make your happiness, not the people around you. Get some counseling, read some books about making marriage work. Leaving your wife isn’t the appropriate first step. I’ve never been divorced, but I hear it’s not a fun process.

I suppose it’s possible, but honestly I think it’s a long shot, especially for a man. Biology is working very hard against it.

Also, if you do cheat on your wife, for her sake try not to get caught. For example, if you have an affair with your 20 year old nanny, the whole thing is very likely to come out in a very painful way.

Although they would never admit it, a lot of woman would prefer to have an intact marriage to a guy who cheats now and then but conceals it well enough so that they can ignore it than to be divorced. Especially if the guy is otherwise ok.

Another possibility is to ask for an open marriage. But the reality is that most American women don’t really think this way and could not accept this, deep down.

I’ve never cheated on my wife by the way. But I’m going through the same thing a lot of guys go through. My wife is very happy in our relationship, and why not? Her biology is screaming at her to focus on our kids, which is exactly what she is doing. Meanwhile, my biology is screaming at me to go out and screw around with someone else, which I’m not doing.

I wish that our culture could move a little towards that of Europe or Latin America in accepting discreet male infidelity.

I can honestly say I’ve never met a woman who things this way.

Why only discreet male infidelity?

In a few years, your wife will be less involved in the 100% Mommy thing. She’ll want to keep her home intact–for emotional & financial reasons. But she might have a few afternoons free for what young men have in excess. (And older guys have less & less.)

The thought of a new relationship is exciting. It’s flattering to have someone attracted to you, to know you’ve “still got it.” You don’t know that person’s annoying little ticks. You haven’t heard all of her stories yet.

Once you’ve been married 15 years, the thrill of being attractive to your spouse is gone. After all, isn’t she supposd to be attracted to you? There’s no challenge there. You also know about her snoring and the way she sits and picks at her toenails while you’re watching a movie. You’ve heard that “funny” story about the crazy night she had stranded in Atlanta on her way to Daytona fify plus times now and could recite it back to her verbatim (and really it wasn’t that funny to begin with).

What you do have with your wife is a foundation, a shared history. Roots. The knowlege that she will stick by you when you need her. A stable home in which to bring up your daughter.

The grass is always greener etc. Do you want to throw out stability and trust for fun and excitement that is almost (but not quite) guaranteed to fade? When people say marriage is hard, they tend to think of the big hard events like losing a job, or getting through a partner’s substance abuse recovery. The real hard thing is not letting the tiny things slowly wear away at your relationship. It’s hard not to take each other for granted. It’s hard to keep life interesting and fun when you’re caught up in the weekly laundrygrocerieschildcarework slog.

Please think of your daughter.

Don Henley

You’ve made a choice. You’ve committed to a wife for better, or for worse. This isn’t about you anymore. You have a family and responsibilities. Divorce would be costly and emotionally devastating to a 3 year old. Suck it up. Find happiness in other ways. Take up a hobby perhaps? Just don’t be selfish.

I’d like to see the OP sign up to the boards. And check back in with this thread. I hope he is not embarrassed -SDMB get’s these kinds of threads all the time. Many of them with good heartfelt posts.

Most (but not all) women who have a decent relationship with their husband would prefer to be faithful to him. Even if the husband doesn’t object to her cheating. Even if the husband wants her to cheat on him.

So it’s less of a problem for women. But yes, perhaps there should be more tolerance of female infidelity too.

But until recently (or in certain countries), what choice did they have? Either they couldn’t legally ask for a divorce, weren’t earning their own money so they couldn’t support themselves, or didn’t want to face the stigma of being a single woman/mother. I have a feeling a few modern women wouldn’t be too happy being cuckolded or having the little man give them chlamydia.

I think that, whatever you end up doing, you need to separate out your feelings about the life you’ve made for yourself from the fantasy you’ve constructed around this old girlfriend. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you could have something uniquely special with this girl – this girl simply represents newness, possibility, excitement. There’s nothing real there.

Make decisions about your marriage based only on whether you’d rather be alone than continue to be married. Forget the idea that there’s some magical person out there who will make you feel 17 again for the rest of your life – no matter who you end up with, you’ll find yourself back in a state of comfortable familiarity eventually, so you need to come to terms with that first, I think. Consider talking to a therapist.