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Summary: Both early 40s, no kids, married 12 years ago after a six-month courtship. No affair on either side. Separated four months. Husband too hurt after years of neglect and miscommunication to try again.

My husband G told me at Christmas last year that he was very unhappy and wanted to divorce. He said that I never want to do anything with him, I won't compromise, I live my own independent life, and we were nothing more than roommates. He said that he had asked me for a divorce twice in the past six years and I'd refused to accept it, but now he was just done. He believed I didn't love him either and would be relieved that one of us bit the bullet and got going on the divorce process (we can't legally get divorced until we have been separated for 2 years).

This is not how I recall the past six years and I certainly had no idea that he'd actually wanted a divorce in the past, let alone thought about that and refused to cooperate. I thought we just had the usual ups and downs but then things had stabilised and we were solid. Turns out the stable period began when he gave up on fixing things with me and resigned himself to ending the marriage. He never really told me how he was feeling except a couple of times during angry arguments, and I always wrote that off to the heat of the moment since it wasn't mentioned again afterwards. He hates conflict and was just stewing on things rather than being open with me, to the point where he has now got moderate depression because all his feelings are locked down so tight (he refused medication for this and said he's only depressed because he is still trapped in our marriage). I'm really bad at picking up on emotional/social cues and hints, but he was just hinting rather than being blunt and then feeling like I was ignoring his wishes on purpose. I was truly oblivious to most of them.

Because I was so shocked and so clearly still loved him and didn't want a divorce at all, he agreed to see a counsellor before doing anything further. We found an EFT counsellor locally and had weekly sessions for two months, but G felt from the start that it was pointless and his feelings never improved during or after our sessions. It was all talk about why we felt bad and how we were hurting each other, but no practical advice about how to reconnect. After ten sessions he refused to attend any more because he was just feeling worse, like he was failing by not falling back in love with me. A month after that he moved out. I thought he was just moving out to get some space, and we drew up a separation agreement for how we would both behave while he was under a different roof, to be reviewed in a few months to decide what we'd do next, but it subsequently became clear that he intended it to be a permanent split right from the start despite what he'd agreed to. He was shocked and resentful when I tried to keep spending time with him and working on things after he moved out, even though he had already agreed to have regular "dates" with me. His friends had been telling him to stop spending time with me because it looked like we were still working on things and he needed to draw a line under our marriage and move on. He cares very much about what his friends think of him and public opinion has always been a big factor in what he will or won't do.

I know that I was not a loving wife to G as I did not feel loved or good enough or entertaining enough for him. He is an extreme extrovert and people-pleaser, and I am a very independent introvert with a selfish streak a mile wide. We never learned how to reconcile those two things, and when he pushed for me to be constantly sociable and outgoing, I pushed him away and withdrew completely. He then turned to his circle of friends to meet his social needs, spending long hours at the pub at lunchtimes and evenings and weekends. I often didn't know where he was until he stumbled home at bedtime, and he would then sit up playing computer games until after I'd fallen asleep. Our sex life was virtually non-existent as we were never in bed and awake at the same time, and I felt like second-best to his more exciting friends so I did not want to be used for the one thing he couldn't get from them. We spiraled into complete disconnection.

Now, after nearly four months of separation, we still have lots of contact as we work at the same place, still own the house together where I live (he wants to get that sold but we haven't begun the process yet), and we have friends and social events in common. When we see each other it is usually very friendly and I know he still enjoys my company. He is relaxed around me so long as he doesn't think I'm trying to persuade him to change his mind. One whiff of that and he's off with his guard up so high I can barely see the top of his head.

Since the start of April I have done all the usual wrong things (begging, arguing, using logic, putting on pressure to spend time with me, etc.), and finally found some better approaches. I really want to reconnect with him as well as change the things about myself that were causing problems. Through various searches and desperate attempts to find something to improve this, I've ended up here on this site, but he won't join me in trying to save our marriage and I know the coaching here is for couples, not singles. G says he needs time and space to figure out what went wrong and where to go next, and he has no interest at all in trying to fix things with me because he is too tired and hurt after years of frustration and neglect.

He is not having an affair but has been leaning on his close friends instead of me to have his emotional needs met for at least two years now. It might as well be an affair for all the damage that was caused when we allowed that to become the way we ran our marriage.

Is there anything I can do by myself at this late stage that actually has a hope of improving things? I am trying to change and improve myself for the greater good, but am not sure if I'm wasting my time or not as far as our marriage is concerned.

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Hi Norah, welcome to Marriage Builders. It seems very curious that your husband would say he had asked for divorce 6 years ago and you don't remember this. Can you explain this disconnect? And why wouldn't he have just divorced you at that time? He didn't need your permission to get a divorce. This makes me very suspicious. Have you actually investigated to rule out an affair? There are a few red flags here, especially the seeming rewriting of history.


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Yes, I can explain the disconnect - it was a combination of his conflict-avoiding style and my inability to pick up on hints. We had a couple of big arguments over the years, not about anything that I can recall in detail now, but I do remember him saying things like, "This can't continue." One time he did say that we'd end up divorced if we carried on like this - I was horrified that he would use such a threat to get his way, and refused to continue that conversation. The next day it all seemed to have blown over. In hindsight of course it was a massive red flag that things were badly wrong between us, but I was too stupid and overconfident in our love to realise it. He hates conflict so much that he never sat me down in the cold light of day and told me how unhappy he was, but he quietly assumed that I knew he was unhappy, understood that "this can't continue" meant "we must divorce", didn't care, and refused to change what was wrong. Meanwhile idiot oblivious me thought he'd seen that I was right (since he had stopped the argument and didn't mention it again) so just carried on.

He has been carrying a lot of pain for years and it has been building up inside him but I was not aware. I knew things weren't ideal between us and hated that he spent so much time away from me, but I thought that I was doing the right thing by making sure he still went out and had fun. I thought that was giving him a happy life and so we would have a happy marriage. Of course now I know how wrong and damaging that was.

Yes I have investigated and ruled out an affair. Of course he had plenty of opportunity to have an affair if he'd wanted but what he wanted was me. I was too selfish and ignorant to know how to negotiate so we could spend social time together without it being totally overwhelming for me. He always wants bigger and better and more - even if I tried to do something like throw a dinner party for a small group he'd turn it into an open invitation for 20 people with drinks going on until midnight, that sort of thing. I planned a sophisticated black-and-white themed party for my 40th birthday and he told everybody it was a costume party so half of them turned up in ridiculous outfits - he loves costume parties and couldn't grasp the difference between a theme and a costume, and wouldn't listen to me when I tried to rein him in. He always wanted me with him but I just wouldn't go because I was afraid that it would be too much for me and it often was. During our EFT counselling we realised that this wasn't an insurmountable problem and found healthy ways to deal with it (e.g. he would stay with me at a large party until I found a small group I could comfortably converse with, rather than just ditching me at the door and running off to talk to every single person there), but the damage was already done. He had concluded that I didn't want to spend time with him.

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He always wanted me with him but I just wouldn't go because I was afraid that it would be too much for me and it often was.


Norah, thanks for the explanation. What went wrong is that you both carried on independent lifestyles instead of creating an interdependent marriage. By expecting you to go with him to all these social outings, he created incompatibility in your marriage. You tried to do something you didn't like doing, going to social gatherings but people who sacrifice will never sacrifice for long. Your husband has an expectation that you should do whatever he wants to do and if you don't, that you don't love him. That is the recipe for disaster.

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He had concluded that I didn't want to spend time with him.


Would he be open to doing things with you that you BOTH love doing, rather than things only HE loves?


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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You are spot on about what we were doing wrong. I understand that now and would really like to fix it, but he's adamant that his feelings can never change because he is too hurt to give me or us another chance. He said if I keep trying I'll just end up as much of a mess as he is after he tried for years and couldn't fix things. We're both painfully aware now that what he was trying (bigger, more pressure, shoving feelings aside to avoid conflict) couldn't ever have worked, but he has lost the love and now doesn't want to do what is needed to bring it back.

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Would he be open to doing things with you that you BOTH love doing, rather than things only HE loves?

That might be my only opportunity to let him have fun with me again, but he won't do much with just me. It'd have to be a group scenario that was happening anyway.

I suppose I'm wondering if anyone has ever reconciled after this type of split, and how they managed it. What is the most helpful way for me to approach it when I am the only one right now who wants it? I think we could be wonderful together again and we bring out the best in each other when we're in a good place. He's just resisting really hard at the moment.

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Norah, I see motivation as your biggest issue. The problem you have is that it is not helpful at all for a woman to fight for a marriage. It wears her down emotionally and is almost never effective. [it can also be very unattractive to the target] Not so when a man fights for his marriage. He can go longer emotionally and it often does work. Because of that, I would stop pushing it. It is just not effective or helpful to your emotional health.

What I would do is send him a letter telling him that you love him and that you know now you were both taking the wrong approach to a happy marriage. Your independent lifestyles created incompatibility. You have since learned there is a better way and that is to create a lifestyle that suits you both. The other element of this plan is to meet each others emotional needs during several dates every week. If you would both follow this program, you would fall back in love. But again, he has to be motivated.

Another thing you can try is emailing Dr Harley at the radio show and enlisting his help in motivating your husband. [it is free] If you will send him an email with your phone # he can give you some ideas. Sometimes he will offer to email with the reluctant spouse. Instructions here

Read this: incompatibility and THE POLICY OF UNDIVIDED ATTENTION


"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.." Theodore Roosevelt

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Thank you for that. As it happens, I already wrote him a letter (email) two days ago saying a lot of what you suggested. I told him what I'd learned from reading Dr Harley's articles about how we were approaching things the wrong way in the past. I said that I'd learned we should have spent way more time together doing things we both wanted to, and that we could learn negotiation skills to figure out how to spend our time enjoyably together rather than one person deciding or both of us living independently. I also said that we could build up love again by spending lots of time together having fun and doing loving actions until the feelings joined in. And I said that I knew now that it was incredibly harmful for me to send him off with his friends all the time because he no longer associated the joy with me but with them, so we should have found different ways to have fun together.

He is away all week and doesn't have network access most of the time (very remote area out of cellphone range) so he skimmed through the email while he was in a town that has cell service, but has not properly replied yet. We spoke briefly on the phone and he said that it's great I'm learning how to be better in future, but I know he thinks that it will benefit me with some future partner, not with him. He's said this before. He can see that I'm growing and changing but doesn't see how it relates to him any more even though he knows I don't want to split up or divorce. He also agreed that he had more fun with his friends and I was not exciting in comparison so that made him realise we were wrong for each other. (We did used to have lots of fun so I don't believe that's true, we just lost each other over the years.)

I suppose I should wait and see if and how he replies to my email. He did say he would but it might take a while.

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Originally Posted by MelodyLane

Another thing you can try is emailing Dr Harley at the radio show and enlisting his help in motivating your husband. [it is free] If you will send him an email with your phone # he can give you some ideas. Sometimes he will offer to email with the reluctant spouse. Instructions here

Read this: incompatibility and THE POLICY OF UNDIVIDED ATTENTION


I've done both those things now. The incompatibility link was particularly interesting because I can see that G would really resist the idea of pulling back from his friends at all, even if it was to spend time doing something else that's fun, because he hates to let people down (even though none of his friends would have a problem with him backing off a bit in order to save his marriage). He'd have to be very motivated to give up even a little bit of his social routine, and that could be an insurmountable hurdle since he's not at all motivated right now.


I emailed the radio show to ask what the best approach would be to motivate him to join me in trying the Marriage Builders programme. I wonder if I will hear anything back from them.

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Norah, what exactly did you do to rule out an affair? I am not convinced that there is not someone else in the picture by the way he is acting. There are many red flags in your initial post, from saying he ‘needs space’ to seemingly rewriting your history. Even now, his reluctance to do anything to reconcile seems fishy.

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He's not having an affair. He's too sad and broken and is suffering from depression and insomnia. I did ask recently if he had become more than friends with a woman we both work with, since they spend a lot of time together, but they mostly just blow off steam and complain about work with a couple of other people. I work at the same place, know everybody concerned, and believe what he told me. He said that he does like her and maybe in future he will want to start something with her, but he's sexually and emotionally in no position for another relationship (his phrasing, not mine) and probably won't be for a while. He has no reason to lie to me since we are already separated and he has already said he wants a divorce, legally/financially it makes zero difference to the outcome if he is seeing somebody else now (the courts here don't care about that at all), and it might make me quit struggling to reconnect with him if I thought he had moved on to somebody new.

I wouldn't blame him if he did have an affair or is having one, because I wasn't meeting his needs or making him feel loved, but it would be completely out of character for him and there's no reason at all to think that he did anything like this while we were together or is doing it now. My behaviour and our inability to really make each other feel loved and supported is what killed our relationship, not him falling for somebody else. He is just too hurt and burnt out to try again because he doesn't believe that love can come back once it's gone, and he "proved" that to himself by not falling back in love with me during our 10 weeks of EFT counselling.

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Affairs don't start in the bedroom, they start by spending time talking about personal subjects. So there is probably something going on that triggered him to move out instead of staying in the marriage, like he has done the past years.

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It could well turn into an affair, yes, once he feels ready to move on. He has been getting his emotional needs in general met by her and other friends (not just her) for a long time now. They do talk about personal subjects as well as work, but I know they aren't having an affair yet and there has not been one in the past. It might well be just around the corner and there's nothing I can do about that since he says we're done anyway.

His insomnia got really bad after we stopped going to counselling, and we were both stressed and unhappy from trying so hard and getting nowhere. He turned 40 in March and I think that milestone combined with being miserable was the final straw that convinced him that he had to leave, which he did two weeks after his birthday party. I think he might have given himself until his birthday to turn things around and felt that time was slipping away from him and he couldn't stick with me and our failed marriage any longer.

The thing that drove us to the counselling itself was us having a big drink-fuelled row while we were away on our Christmas holidays (we'd had a lovely day at the wineries in the sunshine but it all turned to custard that evening) and he said he wanted a divorce so many times that I couldn't possibly pretend it would blow over. We both cried all night in our sleeping bags. It was really awful. But as a result we talked openly and we realised that we'd been experiencing things very differently and there had been some specific incidents in the past few months where he felt very rejected and let down by me. I hadn't been paying enough attention to realise that those incidents were even noteworthy, let alone really devastating for him. Having a horrible argument on a holiday in a place he didn't want to visit (long story -- I thought he did want to go but he was just placating me rather than asserting his own wishes) was the last straw for him. He only agreed to counselling because I was so shocked and he started to wonder if he'd misjudged things when he concluded I didn't love him.

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Originally Posted by Norah
He's too sad and broken and is suffering from depression and insomnia.


I've never heard Dr. Harley say that sadness and depression was a deterrent to having an affair.

Plenty of people who are depressed or unhappy end up in affairs. It happens all the time.


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Originally Posted by Norah
He has been getting his emotional needs in general met by her and other friends (not just her) for a long time now. They do talk about personal subjects as well as work, but I know they aren't having an affair yet and there has not been one in the past.


This sounds very much like it is an affair NOW (and has been going on for a while) and would very much explain his push for divorce, selling the house, etc. Dr. Harley has said when people want to separate they already have someone in the wings.

I hope you realize that MOST people do not want to hear from us there might be an affair. It is very NORMAL to be convinced there is no affair.

Often posters want to delve right into the marital issues. They want to skim over the snooping and affair part of the program.

This is the problem...if there is a CURRENT AFFAIR, addressing marital issues won't do anything.

Can you tell us exactly how you are so sure there is no affair? Since (1) your H has moved out, (2) your H and this woman work together and (3) spend time outside of work together, this makes it even harder to rule out an affair. Have you had a VAR in an office or car so that you can hear their private conversations? What have you done specifically to investigate?


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Hmmmmm, okay. I did know before I posted, because I've read plenty of other threads on this site, that someone would latch on to the affair question like a dog with a bone and would insist that there must be one and I'm just in denial.

There's no affair. He has been leaning on other people, and one woman who he sees often because we work together, but it's not sexual so far. He's just been having fun and of course I look like less fun in comparison so she does look very appealing in comparison. He freely admitted that he might take things further with her in future and I hate that but can understand how he's reached that point. Our marriage failed because of internal reasons, largely of my making but not entirely. G has now given up hope. He kept trying (in ways that we now know could not have worked) until he made himself depressed and insomniac and completely miserable. He wanted to fall back in love with me but couldn't feel anything. He can't really feel any emotions properly now because he has shut down emotionally and he's afraid that's permanent because he's so stressed and unhappy. I did encourage him to get professional help and antidepressants but he has always been averse to taking prescription medication and believes it won't help anyway because our marriage is the cause.

If you want to call his friendship an affair so we can move on to helping me to fix things, go ahead. I wouldn't define it as one but the end result was still to make him feel less loving towards me and think she might be a more suitable partner in future, so what does it matter what we call it?

I'd still love some practical advice on restoring the love we used to have. I know that me not socialising with him was a problem so I'll be doing more of that where I can. We have a couple of things with mutual friends in the next fortnight. I'll be throwing myself into those with gusto!

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Originally Posted by Norah
Hmmmmm, okay. I did know before I posted, because I've read plenty of other threads on this site, that someone would latch on to the affair question like a dog with a bone and would insist that there must be one and I'm just in denial.


I am that dog with a bone. [and so are most veterans who have experience on this forum] The reason is because it is almost always an affair. I realize it's hard to see the red flags when you a) don't want to see them and b) have no experience at such detection but let me assure you the red flags are pretty obvious after being on this forum and reading a few thousand case histories. I wish I had a dollar for every person who adamantly denied there was an affair only to find out there WAS. They refused to believe it until we convinced them to snoop.

What concerns me about your situation is that you seem pretty certain this is all your fault even though it's obvious, from what you have told me, that his independent lifestyle was the cause of the incompatibility. Yet you are convinced it is almost all your own fault. Is that because of gaslighting? I don't know. I do know you should keep an open mind about it and do some serious snooping. I doubt it will change the outcome of your situation, but you do need to know the truth.

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I'd still love some practical advice on restoring the love we used to have. I know that me not socialising with him was a problem so I'll be doing more of that where I can. !


The problem was his socializing lifestyle that was done without you. That is only a solution if you LOVE to socialize, which I doubt. If not, it is just going along with his independent, one sided lifestyle, which is not a solution at all. Even so, you need to seriously rule out an affair. i know you think your H would have nothing to hide anyway, but I don't believe that. It seems very important to him to blame YOU for this breakup so the discovery of an affair would ruin that narrative.


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Originally Posted by Norah
Hmmmmm, okay. I did know before I posted, because I've read plenty of other threads on this site, that someone would latch on to the affair question like a dog with a bone and would insist that there must be one and I'm just in denial.



You've been asked a couple of times HOW you ruled out an affair?

We've heard that your H is too broken and sad and is not ready to move on and we've heard that you "know" there is not an affair. These are not adequate ways to rule out infidelity. You won't find anyone here who will tell you that.

If you refuse to snoop, then tell us that.


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Originally Posted by Norah
If you want to call his friendship an affair so we can move on to helping me to fix things, go ahead.


We know that you are not happy because you are not getting the advice that you want.

We don't pat people on the back and ignore red flags when we see them. This site doesn't work that way. Sorry.



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People often only identify an affair if the sexual component is there. An affair starts in most cases before it gets physical. The steps leading to the physical part of the affair are often brushed aside because friendship should be no problem and jealousy is bad. An affair doesn't happen suddenly and unexpected, but develops by meeting emotional needs before it gets physical.

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Originally Posted by MelodyLane
The problem was his socializing lifestyle that was done without you. That is only a solution if you LOVE to socialize, which I doubt. If not, it is just going along with his independent, one sided lifestyle, which is not a solution at all.


I do love to socialise, just not to the same level that he does. He always wanted me to go with him but I find it exhausting to be out and a social butterfly every single night and all weekend, which is his preference. Instead of finding a compromise, I left him to socialise without me while I stayed home almost all the time because it seemed like the easiest option. I could certainly have gone out more than I did, and I had no valid reason for refusing all the invitations that I did. I got into a bad habit of being selfish and just taking without giving.

He didn't give up or modify his own lifestyle to accommodate mine either so there is fault on his side too, and he should have been more open with me about his feelings before things got to this stage. We'd need to address that in order to really fix things.

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