I would like to help you with your question.
It sounds like you lead a pretty bleak life when it comes to your wife. I understand your viewpoint of not wanting to have your children grow up in a broken home. A divorce is devastating for children.
But...your kids are not young children. It sounds as if the family functions pretty well without you...is that true?
I am not in favor of breaking up families either...but I need to ask what keeps you in this relationship?
You have no intimacy with your wife. Do you even have normal conversation? Or..is it just a freeze out.
What is the reluctance about...having to change? having to start over?
I see that you are typing I will wait for your reply.
Have the two of you ever talking about divorce?
What did it feel like living away for 3 years? Did you feel divorced?
Is divorce what you want? Or do you want to work on the marriage?
Do you think all of your marital issues came about because of the affair? Or are there other issues?
It sounds like the 3 years were difficult and that you felt more and more distanced from the family.
Not a good situation at all! I'm sorry.
So when you went home to take care of the kids...was it easy to re-connect with the kids? Is that part of your reluctance...not wanting to risk your relationship with them? Do you think they understand the pain and alienation you have felt because of work?
My botXXXXX XXXXXne is that you have three choices:
1. Divorce so you can build a life filled with happiness, compassion, love
2. Go to marriage counseling so that you can re-build your marriage and find happiness and fulfillment with your wife.
3. Do nothing and continue to parent your children in an intact family. At the same time, there would likely be no change in your relationship with your wife.
Yes...your children will be upset...there is no way for that not to happen. They love their mother...they love their father...they are not going to want to be pulled one way or the other...yet there will likely be some pressure to pick sides and to blame someone.
Yes...you could wait until your 19 moves out and for your 17 to finish high school. That's not such a long time to wait. And...yes...tell your wife...I stuck with you for the sake of the kids...now each of us is free to go on with life.
If you do leave before then, I would encourage you to tell your kids exactly that...that you did your best and hung in there until they were old enough. But then your choice is based on your wanting to find happiness and live a fuller life...and that is what you also want for their mother.
Yes...that does happen where one parent takes out their anger and resentment by turning the kids against them. To avoid that situation, I would begin to have short talks with the kids about the reality of your marriage (not in a blaming way but factual) and that you want to be happier and more fulfilled. Your children will be able to understand this given the fact that you don't sleep together, and so forth.
So it seems that your kids are already very understanding. Sure...they are used to it...but they know what it means! They all understand sexuality! While kids don't want to think about their parents having sex...they know it happens and they are surely wondering about that.
Think about it this way....
what kind of blueprint or model of marriage have you and your wife presented to your children?
Don't you want your children to have fulfilling, happy, and loving marriages...marriage in which they do cuddle, they do hug, they do kiss in front of the kids? In its present version...your children are not seeing a healthy, happy marriage. This is one reason to change!
It's unfortunate she doesn't understand the power of a healthy marriage in forming well-adjusted children.
Yes...I imagined that was the case otherwise you would not have fallen in love in the first place.
Is there anything else I can add? Or...are the 3 options I laid out what you had already been thinking about?
Is marital counseling totally out of the question?
Maybe there's a way to make it less a prison sentence by spending more time with the kids and getting to know them as the young adults they are. That sort of investment will have a life time of reward!
As to your wife...unless the two of you are willing to seek therapy...I don't see much hope of things changing.
Sure..but maybe plan so time together...camping, sports games, fishing, hunting, bowling...et cetera.
Well...take care! If you would like to chat again some time, you can post a new question and put my name in the opening sentence. It will come directly to me.
LOL to the boyfriend/girlfriend. Kids will be kids...and life does move on...