This is going to be long. I just need to let it out.
DH and I have been together 18 years, nearly 12 of them married. We started dating in high school. DH (then my boyfriend) was the first to say 'I love you'. I remember when I said it back, it was more out of teenaged obligation. By my junior year he told me he wanted to marry me, which sounded romantic and beautiful. We continued the relationship as we both went off to different colleges, maintaining a long distance relationship for 5 years. We were married shortly after I finished school. We never lived together prior to marriage.
I had hesitations going into the marriage. Most people I talked to told us we were too young and that we should take some time first to learn about each other as adults and to get our feet under ourselves, so to speak. But we insisted we knew what we were doing. The first years were hard- I had a hard time finding work, and he had severe anger issues (it's better now, but still not great. He used to punch holes in walls, tear at his hair, scream etc. But he never hit me. This happens far less frequently now than it did when we were younger). I attributed our stress to money and work and figuring things out. But I never really felt happy. By the third year I was wondering if we should even be married. I voiced concerns, he shut down. I went to therapy but didn't stick with it.
about five years ago I convinced him to go to couples counseling with me, though he was angry about it and often arrived in a huff and spent most of his time complaining about how it would make him late for work. The counselor was terrible, truly. We stopped going after about 9 months. We seemed a little better- united in our terrible therapy experience. I told myself that my expectations were just too high- that what I wanted was too much and that most women would be happy in my shoes. He doesn't drink or smoke or gamble or spend too much money. He works hard and does not hit me or verbally abuse me. But we're not emotional close. We don't talk really, don't have shared hobbies or interests, and don't often go out and do things together just for fun. When we do, it ends up being stressful. I told myself it's not his job to make me happy, and decided to do the things I wanted to do without him (I always invited him to come along, he always chose to stay home. He rarely if ever asks me to go anywhere/do anything with him). But I know he loves me. I know, it sounds to say that after the preceding paragraph, but he does.
Two years ago we had our daughter. I struggled horribly with post partum depression, and went back for individual counseling. Through that counseling I learned a lot about myself, and started to realize that I never really thought about those early decisions to get married. I just wanted to be loved (my childhood was emotionally sort of... vacant.) I've worked on myself and my self esteem issues. I'm doing better than ever in that regard. But still, I've got this nagging thought in the back of my mind that DH and I are just not right for each other. We have drastically different orientations towards life. I've told him this, tried to explain it, but he can't see it. He doesn't see what I see. He's happy. I'm not.
I've suggested counseling, but given our last experience told him that he needs to be the one to make the call. I found a place and gave him the number, and gave him access to my calendar so he can schedule for whenever works for him. The intake appt will be 2 hours long, which will be "difficult to make time for" according to him.
I've checked out. I stopped being physically affectionate, and he's starting to respond to that (asking if I want to go do family activities like go to the park or even run errands together, etc) but I don't think he'd be doing this if I hadn't pulled back so obviously (and physically). On the one hand, I feel like I haven't tried hard enough. We communicate
terribly. We know that. We never ever fight (which is NOT healthy, really) I've never told him that I've considered
divorce; doing so would destroy him, and I'm honestly afraid it might
trigger some rage or that he might hurthimself- maybe not intentionally
but if he were to drive wile angry and get into an accident. On the other, I don't know how much more energy I have left to invest in a relationship that he doesn't see as problematic or unsatisfying in any way, but makes me so unhappy. It isn't his job to make me happy, it's mine. And maybe I should do that by leaving...?
And then, of course, I think about what it would mean for our daughter. He is a very loving father to her. It would break him to not see her everyday, as it would me. But do I want her to grow up seeing her mother unhappy (my mother was, and still is)? Do I want her to worry that she's the reason I stayed in a relationship that I didn't find satisfying? What does that teach her about relationships? How would we manage financially when we have to pay for rent in two places rather than one, etc.
I'm honestly at a loss of what to do, and have been for years. And it makes me feel like a horrible person because he deserves to be loved fully, and I feel like I'm not giving him the level of love that he has for me.
I don't know if I'm looking for advice, or comfort, or what. I just needed to write it out, I think, because it's been making it hard to think straight these days and I need to clear my head so I can work before I miss deadlines or something due to distraction.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading. You're a saint.