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This is a tough one, I'm married 30 years, have 3 children

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This is a tough one...
This is a tough one, I'm married 30 years , have 3 children one 26, lives on his own , one 19 lives with us and goes to college and one 17 lives with us and is in high school. 17 years 20 years ago my wife had a 3 year affair with my best friend. She told me of the affair while 8 months pregnant with now my youngest . I vowed never to allow my children to grow up in a broken home after seeing what it did to some of my friends. I havent slept with my wife since then, we sleep in different rooms and was away working for 3 years out of state due to no jobs where we live . I came home 4 times in the 3 years as my wife works over seas for 5 weeks in the summer so i had to be there for the kids. I've been back now almost a year and from comments made and the general mood , it's like i am not needed and wanted .Only to pay bills. So what do you think of my situation and any advice would be helpful
Submitted: 5 years ago.Category: Mental Health
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Answered in 18 minutes by:
4/2/2012
Mental Health Professional: Dr. L, Psychologist replied 5 years ago
Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
Verified
Dr. Levang :

Hello,

Dr. Levang :

I would like to help you with your question.

Customer: Ok give it your best
Dr. Levang :

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.

Dr. Levang :

But...your kids are not young children. It sounds as if the family functions pretty well without you...is that true?

Dr. Levang :

I am not in favor of breaking up families either...but I need to ask what keeps you in this relationship?

Dr. Levang :

You have no intimacy with your wife. Do you even have normal conversation? Or..is it just a freeze out.

Customer: Yes they see what's going on but my reluctance is what seems to be my problem
Dr. Levang :

What is the reluctance about...having to change? having to start over?

Dr. Levang :

I see that you are typing I will wait for your reply.

Customer: yes. We do have conversation when necenotssary regarding the kids but other than that none. As far as reluctance I guess its how to initiate what she's thinking
Dr. Levang :

Have the two of you ever talking about divorce?

Customer: In a round about way and its just come up due to tax time filing
Dr. Levang :

What did it feel like living away for 3 years? Did you feel divorced?

Dr. Levang :

Is divorce what you want? Or do you want to work on the marriage?

Dr. Levang :

Do you think all of your marital issues came about because of the affair? Or are there other issues?

Customer: Missed the kids . Even offered to fly home for a weekend . Did ad it was just like I never was there . Just had to take care of things concerning the kids like "I need acar for college "
Customer: I didn't kno we had any b4 the affair .we moved 3000 miles to be with what I thought was my best friend and for wrk
Dr. Levang :

It sounds like the 3 years were difficult and that you felt more and more distanced from the family.

Dr. Levang :

Not a good situation at all! I'm sorry.

Customer: great when I came home so she could go away
Customer: so what's your bot***** *****ne thoughts
Dr. Levang :

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?

Dr. Levang :

My bot***** *****ne is that you have three choices:

Customer: I know its complicated I just don't want to feel guilty like everyones gonna look at me like its my fault
Dr. Levang :

1. Divorce so you can build a life filled with happiness, compassion, love

Dr. Levang :

2. Go to marriage counseling so that you can re-build your marriage and find happiness and fulfillment with your wife.

Dr. Levang :

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.

Customer: kids know and say whatever I want but deepdown inside I know they will be very upset
Dr. Levang :

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.

Customer: I think once they r out I could leave her and say oh well you're on ur own
Dr. Levang :

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.

Customer: that's what I worry about most . I've seen friends x wifes poison their kids minds so they hate the father
Dr. Levang :

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.

Customer: That's my game plan . She could have everything I could care less
Customer: they kno and in so many ways say hey dad u gotta do what you gotta do
Dr. Levang :

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.

Customer: they r so used to us sleeping in separaet rooms don't forget its 17 years
Customer: We don't cuddle or god forbid I kiss her in front of them
Dr. Levang :

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.

Dr. Levang :

Think about it this way....

Dr. Levang :

what kind of blueprint or model of marriage have you and your wife presented to your children?

Dr. Levang :

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!

Customer: The message is mixed . We both will do ANYTHING for them and love them. But and that's the key word I feel she doesn't see it that way and cares less
Customer: Both our parents didn't show any sexual feelings remember I'm 59 and her 55
Dr. Levang :

It's unfortunate she doesn't understand the power of a healthy marriage in forming well-adjusted children.

Customer: time and life experiences has changed her from what she was when I married her
Dr. Levang :

Yes...I imagined that was the case otherwise you would not have fallen in love in the first place.

Dr. Levang :

Is there anything else I can add? Or...are the 3 options I laid out what you had already been thinking about?

Dr. Levang :

Is marital counseling totally out of the question?

Customer: so I guess just hbang in there . Only 1 more year to this prison sentance haha thanks for your input
Dr. Levang :

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!

Dr. Levang :

As to your wife...unless the two of you are willing to seek therapy...I don't see much hope of things changing.

Customer: I try but they r at that age where they r hardly ever around
Customer: I don't see much hope either k serrah serrah
Dr. Levang :

Sure..but maybe plan so time together...camping, sports games, fishing, hunting, bowling...et cetera.

Dr. Levang :

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.

Customer: those time are long gone . Its called boyfriend and girlfriend . Take care
Dr. Levang :

LOL to the boyfriend/girlfriend. Kids will be kids...and life does move on...

Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
Verified
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Dr. L
Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1,168
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Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist

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