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How do I keep my marriage from falling apart? Or should I even try?

Hi,
My background: 31 years old. Married for 5 years. No kids. My wife lives in Canada due to her job, I live in Australia.
I married my then girlfriend and now wife in 2014. He had dated for 2 years before that. She’s a really good wife, very supportive and practical. And we were friends before we decided to get married.
Now this is where complications emerge.
When she was a child, she used to be sexually abused by her neighbor. She never told this to anyone. Not even her parents. She decided to confide in me (before marriage) and I have never told anyone about it. She has tried to live a normal life despite this trauma. And I commend her for that.
But this has had a psychological impact on her. She while we do make out regularly, we never have penetrative sex. Somehow, she tightens up whenever I try. I first brought this up in 2015 when I told her that we don’t have sex and I’m not happy with it. She told me she’ll try but nothing improved. In 2017, I moved to South Africa for work. So my contact with my wife was only via phone. I did visit her during holidays, but no sex. And even physical intimacy decreased. So much so that I stopped keeping condoms in the house (no point). Then earlier this year, a female colleague of mine and I had to go on a business trip for a couple of weeks. A bit more about my colleague - she is 34, married for 7 years. Has a daughter.
So it was my colleague and I on the business trip and we stayed at the same hotel. On the 6th night, we got a bit drunk and we got physically intimate and ended up having sex. A part of me was reluctant to go ahead with it, but I guess the other part won. It was beautiful. It was my first time that I had good sex. And for the remaining days, we had sex a few more times. But I had always known that this was only for the time we were on the trip.
She told me that she isn’t totally happy in her marriage as well. She also told me that she and her husband sleep in different rooms (I guess no marriage is perfect). I’ve met her husband once, seems like a decent guy.
Anyway, we returned and I realised that she was looking for a future with me. I explained to her several times how that intimacy could only last for the trip. We both are married and she has a daughter. And we belong to different countries. I cannot leave my wife for no fault of hers. I cannot marry this friend coz if I do, my parents may also abandon me for being a cheater. And she understood it all. And came to terms with the fact that we cannot be together. She told me that she doesn’t want to lose me as a friend.
The truth is that even I don’t want to lose her as a friend. I feel so happy when we talk on phone and there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to lose touch with her.
My marriage is still sexless and has become quite mechanical. My wife and I continue to be in different countries.
Please tell me what to do, as I don't want to leave my wife but I don’t want a sexless marriage. And I don't want to lose touch with this friend. She’s amazing and sometimes I feel I am in love with her too.
Guilt is something I will have to live with, I guess. I’m not a bad guy, but I guess I made a mistake, or maybe I didn’t. I’m totally confused about how to lead my life from here on. Please help me.
2 Responses
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134578 tn?1614729226
My first reaction is that if you do give up on your marriage, for your wife's sake, somehow let your parents know that it is because of issues that are nobody's fault. (After all,  it is not your wife's fault that she was sexually abused as a young girl. This can give lifelong trauma, as you have learned. But they do not have the right to know this about her. In fact, it would add to the trauma for her if they did know.) Do let your family know that you and your wife have not been in sync for six years and because of this, other things (such as attraction) are gone. This is to prevent them from hounding you with well-meaning ideas to solve the problem that they can't be allowed to understand because it is your wife's secret to tell or keep.

Regarding 'just giving up,' unless in your home country there is such a stigma to divorce that one or the other of you will be marked forever, it frankly sounds like giving up has already happened, and you might as well call it like it is and move on with life, wishing each other well.

My guess is that the friend with whom you had a brief affair was basically a patch over the holes in your life, not a real love. She still makes you happy because you got to have a really intimate physical connection, but that does not translate into being a soul mate. You also would ruin her child's life, and all for something that could well prove to be a temporary reaction to the emotions you were not getting in your marriage and nothing to do with the two of you as a couple at all. You reached out when you needed someone, and she did too, but that is probably all it was.
Helpful - 0
2 Comments
Thanks a lot for your response Annie!
Well, it doesn't sound like it helped. You said below that you "can't imagine your life without" your wife, yet from what you are describing, your life *is* without her. I agree with the other poster that if you really want to be married to your wife in a meaningful way, you need to be living in the same place, not continents apart and seeing each other 4 times a year. What do you think marriage is? No definition I've ever seen involves only seeing each other 4 times a year.

If you do manage to arrange your life so you live in the same house, then it would be time to support your wife into getting some therapy for her post-traumatic stress over having been raped repeatedly as a 4- and 5-year old. That is a horrible thing to have happen, and it might take some serious help for her to get past it. To expect her to simply hop in the sack because you expect a normal marital sex life is asking a lot if she has never had serious therapy.

In short, you are either in or out. If you want to be in (that is, happily married to the woman whom you married), stop being so not married. For sure, write a note saying good bye to the other woman. She has problems of her own, you would just make another problem for her (and especially you represent the risk of her son having a ruined childhood; don't let another child in this tale carry pain and loss, it should stop with you). I realize you liked being with her and having sex, but that is very selfish given the prices others would have to pay just so you could have that happy feeling.
973741 tn?1342342773
COMMUNITY LEADER
Well, that is a dilemma to be in for sure.  I am going to be honest that I think you must give up all contact with the other woman. This is in not only your best interest but hers. She's a mother and wife that is unhappy.  That is for her to sort out.  And you are a distraction.  You two can never be 'just friends' again as she wanted to have an affair with you and you like sex with her. Note, that even if you two were to get together, the chance of it working are slim as you were both attached when it happened.  So, how could you ever fully trust one another with the knowledge that given the right circumstances, you will cheat (and she will cheat).  Having a bad partner really isn't an excuse for that, either get out of the relationship and be a free person to do as you wish or work on the relationship.

I'd not in a million years be okay with my spouse going on a vacation/holiday with another person of the opposite sex and no one else.  I'm not sure how that happened but it was unwise from the get go.  We have a duty to avoid temptation or situations that are not conducive to our committed relationships.

And I'm not beating up on you, please know that.  I do understand that things happen and then you just have to try to make it right.

So, I think being in a sexless marriage would be difficult if both partners don't have the same sex drive.  However, you two live in different countries.  How could you have sex anyway?  Perhaps a place to start is meshing your lives together again and living in the same vicinity as each other. Same country.  Same address.  Under the same roof. Then you can express to her that you want to work on intimacy in a patient way.  That therapy would possibly be helpful if she has some internal issues with sex after her childhood abuse. It is fair to ask her to work on that.  There are even sex therapists.

If she refuses or it doesn't work, then it is time to decide what to do about your marriage.  ONLY after that is settled is it time to think of another relationship with anyone else (and someone that is not married when the relationship begins is important).  

Is there any chance your wife will end up being told about what happened with the other woman?  You, in my opinion, as I said need to cut off contact with the other woman.  That is just prolonging things and causing complications for you both.  

Helpful - 0
4 Comments
Thank you for your response.
I don't want to leave my wife, as I cannot imagine my life without her. I'm sure about that. But I don't want to break the other woman's heart this way. I might meet her later this year if I go to South Africa. Maybe I can reiterate to her that all I can be is her friend and nothing more, ever. If she is ok with that, we can continue as friends, else, it is better to never talk. Do you think that makes would work? I don't know why, but I don't want to lose touch with her, apart from the sex we had, she's my friend too.
About my wife getting to know, the only person who can tell is that woman herself. And if she does that, then my wife will leave me and my life is pretty much over (I can't imagine my life without her). There's no way I'll go with that woman in such a case.
I never set off on that trip with an intention to have an affair. It just happened.
Please tell me if it is at all possible for me to be a good husband and have the other woman as my friend?
In my opinion, the only reason to stay friends with the other woman is to make sure she doesn't tell your wife.  :>)  Seriously, it will be pretty awkward to go back to trying to pretend this never happened and if your wife does ever find out, she will want to know that you had no contact with the other woman after  That will make her feel good. But will the other woman go crazy over it and cause problems?

I do think you can be a terrific husband to your wife now.  I do.  But you have to take steps.  Which might mean moving to where she is to be with her more.  And you should,, really, cut off contact with the friend. She's no longer just a friend, she's an ex lover.  good luck
Hi - me again lol

"But I don't want to break the other woman's heart this way." - this is sweet, but there's no way of getting out of this without someone getting hurt.

You aren't responsible for her feelings, and she is a married woman who entered into a sexual relationship with a married man. She knows this had all kinds of ways for it to end badly - either by you deciding to stay with your wife, for her husband to find out, your wife to find out, etc. She's a grown woman (with a child) who made a decision despite those possibilities.

As to your sexless marriage - it's going to remain that way as long as you are living on separate continents. There are other things to satisfy people sexually besides intercourse (depending on what she's able to do, if anything), but none of that can happen if you are literally worlds apart.

I think you're probably a nice guy in a lousy situation who just wants everyone to be happy. I don't see how that can happen here. You certainly aren't happy. There has to be a job close to your wife, or a job for your wife close to you.

Whatever expectations your parents have - ignore those. I'm sure there are religious and/or cultural norms at play here, but you are a grown man, making his own decisions. Your marriage is not their business.

Thanks a lot, Specialmom and Auntijessi!
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