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I am torn between feeling miserable and feeling selfish

Community Member

I am in my 40s and have been with my partner for over 20 years. We have two teenage children and a mortgage. I have been unhappy for the last few years. 

I originally wanted to get married all those years ago but my partner didn't. We separated when we were in out 20s for about 3 months and after we got back together I developed a compulsive gambling problem and he had an affair. Somehow we worked through this and about 6 months after all of this came out I became pregnant with our first child. Having children, getting our first mortgage, having a tenant that ripped us off as well as my partner being stuck in a terrible work situation kept us busy, distracted and united for so many years. I would be lying if I said I didn't love him but I can truly say that in the past few years I have completely fallen out of love with him.

When we first got together and after he had the affair he said many times that he didn't think humans were meant to be monogamous and that it was natural to be sexually interested in other people. He even suggested that if I needed satisfaction elsewhere that would be ok if it meant we could stay together. I found this threatening to me and I would be very jealous but recently I have found myself uninterested in him sexually and wanting to feel that with someone else. Now after 20 years I did sleep with someone else. It was meant to be simply a sexual experience and he is much younger than I am so I was pretty sure he wouldn't want anything more. The problem is that we have become very good friends and the sex I had with him was the best I have ever had.

The end result is that I know I'm no longer interested in being in this relationship, but I don't want to break up my family. No one has done anything wrong or different except for me. I feel so much conflict all the time and feel like I am faking my life. I can be cheerful and happy in front of people or at work but when I get stuck in my head about the way I feel, or when I hang around with my younger friends (one of whom is the guy I slept with), these are the only times I feel like I'm actually being myself. I have genuine fun with my younger friends and people make fun of my for it, like I'm just a deluded mid-life-crisis victim. When I'm stuck in my head with my thoughts this is genuine too but very distressing. I am seeing a psychiatrist and have been diagnosed depressed and am on medication.

I just don't know what to do. I can't afford to move out.

8 Replies 8

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi smartgirl, welcome

I've read your post a few times. I have to admit, the problems you face are your own doing.

When a couple part ways and have children, it gets really messy unless both parents can sit down and thrash out a plan for the benefit of the children. Trouble is, the common reason why they broke up in the first place is that they failed in one of the basics of a marriage- communication. Hence the reason its usually messy. You have to be prepared for that and the disruption to the children.

Your husband has endorsed any affair with anyone else which also leads him to do likewise. If you don't want to part ways so you can keep your family together I can only suggest you explore this concept. If in the end it means you are both sexually active but still live together, and it works, then that is the only answer apart from a separation.

There are no easy answers once the original road of devotion and trust in each other is severed.

Tony WK

When I wrote this I was quite literally feeling like my easiest option was suicide, just not having to wake up and face anymore, I wanted to say this but ran out of words and being new felt I needed to explain the situation. So I'm really glad I didn't read this answer then.

I am well aware that my situation is of my own making. I am already filled with self loathing and regret because of this. I came to this website because I was seeking support and I'll admit sympathy or at the very least empathy. I have spent the last 5 years blaming myself for everything that has gone wrong in this relationship and in my current mental state I do feel that you have politely confirmed this, Tony.

I don't think I ever would kill myself because I would not do that to my kids, so I will just go on being secretly miserable knowing I have no one to blame but myself.

As for the 'affair' option, without ever having said so, he doen't seem to feel this way anymore, so I get to carry the guilt of my 'dalliance' alone.

I feel evil, worthless and ungrateful for not wanting to be with my partner anymore. We never did marry despite my desire to and I feel like I made so many compromises in the first 10 years we were together and I have no more left to give. But I am very good at faking a happy life so I guess that's what I'll keep doing.

I feel more alone having tried to reach out to this community than I did before.

Community Member
Hi Smartgirl.  Can I ask why you separated and what got you back together.  From what you say, I gather your hubby didn't have the affair till after you reconciled.  There is definitely a lack of communication there.  He had an affair, you started gambling.  It sounds as though you're both unhappy for two different reasons, he's wanting to 'play up', perhaps deep down, you still want to gamble.  You have two choices, either stay as you are, both obviously miserable, or somehow separate.  I know you said you can't afford to, but have you discussed separating?  You actually want to be with this person you slept with, does he want you?  I would try and talk to my hubby, be as honest as you can, ask him what he wants, tell him what you did (and why, if possible).  You need to clear the air, either way.  You don't have to tell him the other guy's name if you don't want .  He is actually the innocent victim in this.  Whether he knows your situation or not, he's not the cause, he's not really even the answer.  He was just 'there' for him, wrong place, wrong time. unhappiness.      

Community Member

The old "Men weren't meant to be in monogamous relationships" trick." said Maxwell Smart.

OK here's what I'd do if in your situation. Find God or Buddhism or some religion. You need to find the strength from within not from anyone else. Gain strength from scripture or Buddhist teachings.  Before practical problems can be solved get clarity in your head and heart. Leanr to love yourself again or for the first time maybe.

Dear smartgirl.  Hang on, it's not just you to blame.  Okay, you had an affair, so did your hubby.  Both of you seem to be trying to outdo each other, him with his dalliance, you gambling, then having an affair.  If you stop and look at it, quietly and calmly, you'll see your biggest problem is lack of communication.  You said earlier you wanted marriage, he didn't.  You're both sooo lonely.  Try talking to each other, find out what you both want.  Maybe he does want to continue having affairs, maybe you do.  If you want a monogamous relatinship and he doesn't, stop wasting your time and his.  Neither of you are more to blame than the other.  Whatever you decide to do, I wish you all the best. 

Stop beating yourself up over something you can't change.  You can change you and only you.  I feel you are actually a very loving, caring person, who happens to be with the wrong guy.    

Hi Smartgirl63,

We are really sorry to hear that you are feeling so alone. Our forums are here to enable people to talk openly and honestly about what is going on and to seek support and advice, but sometimes, often due to the nature of written communication,  people might also find some of the replies challenging in some way. I just wanted to reassure you that what has been written so far was not intended as a criticism or judgement. As I read them I notice that they have all acknowledged the difficult position that you are in while also trying to provide some guidance. Tony and Pipsy talk about the challenges of managing change in a family and the importance of communication, while Scotchfinger has encouraged you to 'get some clarity in your head and heart'. 

If we take a minute to look at how you are feeling it sounds like you feel alone and miserable. You are worried about what will happen if you just leave things as they are, but you also understand that any change will also lead to some distress for you, your partner and your family. As you say, you could just fake things for a bit longer but what benefit is that to you, or your partner, or your children?

It sounds like now is a good time to look at your options, but maybe you could get some support as you do this? Talk through your options with your psychiatrist and if that is not really working as you hoped, ask for a referral to a psychologist or local counselor. Working through some of these issues is hard at any time but if you are also experiencing depression then your distress and sense of guilt can be intensified. A health professional can help you to make some decisions about moving forward while also helping you to manage the emotions attached with these decisions.  They could also talk with you about how to begin to make any changes in an honest and caring way.  Change can bring upset, distress and anger, but in time it can also enable people to experience happiness again in a new way. I think this is where the communication point comes in - while it is not often easy it is important to talk with your partner about some of this thinking too and find out what he wants for the future. And remember, not all changes need to be big. Maybe there are some small things that you can do straight away to ease your stress, calm your anxiety or perhaps just enable you to feel a bit more happiness together?

And in amongst all that if any thoughts of hopelessness or suicide come your way please talk about them. Share with your partner and your health professional. Make a plan with your health professional about how to manage these thoughts, how to refocus your thinking, and who you can call if the thoughts intensify. There is support there for you and if you ever feel alone in this thinking please call lifeline or us, 1300 22 4636; we are here 24/7. 

Smartgirl63 we hope you come back and keep chatting with us and in the meantime, take care

Hi Smartgirl,

All you should have done is mention in your first post, your current mental state. There was not hint of the degree of sadness and guilt you feel.

Nevertheless, we are here to listen and learn. I, like many here are volunteers that have mental illnesses ourselves. I have been suicidal myself many years ago. I know where you are at.

There is a mountain of advice in the posts above. Good luck and take care

Tony WK

Community Member

Hi smartgirl.  I too am sorry if what I said has hurt you.  As Tony said, we've all 'been there, done that' with mental health issues.  I'm actually separated myself, after 25 years of marriage.  My hubby was not able to defend me to his parents and I couldn't take his lack of support anymore.  I went through a lot of mental anguish before deciding to leave, so, believe me I do know what you're feeling.  I realise now there was nothing I could've done to save the marriage, I now feel pleased to be away from the problem.  Once you decide what you want, it's like a burden has been lifted off your shoulders.  Please know, no matter how 'dark' your days seem now, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  BB is always here, they've been marvellous to me.  Without their never-ending support, it would've been harder for me.    

I have actually met someone who seems to be 'right' for me.  I wasn't looking, he was just 'there'.  Be good to and for yourself.  You are important.