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Old 21st February 2005, 01:45 PM   #2
Concerned Reader
Posts: n/a
Re: I don't love my wife and never have...

Dear Squeeky

Under the heading 'Articles' (just on the green column to the left of this post) there are many items which examine love from many perspectives. There is no doubt that if you can be married to the person you love, you are very fortunate.

You wrote: "I am respectful and most of the time we get along okay."

That strikes me as a very good way of living. It may not amount to what you would recognize as love, but it certainly qualifies as a mature and committed way of living your life, honouring your vows, and especially loving your children. I'm sorry you are not happy, but it still looks like a very good approximation of a man doing something which I would recognize as love.

You don't say how old the children are, but there is an old-fashioned view which says you should 'stick together for the sake of the children'. The evidence is patchy (the articles refer to the Exeter study and there has been a more recent one) but to date it appears that being the child of married blood-parents amounts to a subtle advantage.

There are no invariable rules here, so if you broke up the marriage the children would be alright and your relationship to them would continue, but it would probably change.

The following is purely personal and based only on my own observations.

When marriages break up it introduces more change than the person who initiated it may expect. If the marriage was hell on earth (violent, abusive, destructive) everyone would say that it is probably best to end it. But if the marriage was 'ho-hum' and workable, then it is not clear that initiator is going to be much happier outside the marriage than they were in it. This goes double if the problems within the marriage are actually to do with the attitudes and behaviours which undermined the marriage. They just take their unhappiness to a new place, but this time they are a bit poorer and more alone.

Subsequent relationships may not be anything like as straight forward as the pool of prospective partners shrinks. They may include complicated second families, and statistically they tend to last for a shorter time.

The children of the first marriage don't adopt a studied neutrality in this. They may not say much outright, but they do hold their own opinions in private. They hold them very, very strongly. I have seen many adults shocked when their child does not want to endorse their new world-view, and I'm getting to the stage of wanting to say in an exasperated tone "What did you expect?"

From what I see, the children of divorced parents tend to re-classify the relationship and downgrade it from something unique, something you only get one of, to a special-status friendship. This sounds good, until you see that other non-parents are eligible for the same status - such as step-fathers and step-mothers. There is nothing quite so galling as finding one is obliged to compete, stand in line, or take turns for one's own children.

So if I were a betting person, I would say 'back the marriage'. Find a way to fix it, improve it, or make it more tolerable because the alternatives are much riskier. Leaving the marriage might work, sure, you might find exactly the right person, but if you come unstuck then you could be much worse off than you are at present.

Make the decision to leave only after you have tried everything else. Be very sure that the marriage is the source of your unhappiness, because if the source is inside you, then it will just travel with you.

On a note about the marriage: was there something unusual about the circumstances which affected your decision then and is still operating now? I know some people marry and regret that decision - they sometimes post on this board - but you went on to have two children. That would normally be taken to indicate satisfaction rather than unhappiness.
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