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long time married in anguish

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Eric Jerot

I am a man in my late 50s who has been married for 13 years.

I’m in good shape, good health, and a professional with a little money put away for retirement.

I used to be fairly good looking when I was young and thin. Never had a problem getting dates and relationships.

My wife and I have not had sex in 11 years.

We have lived in separate rooms in the same house for three years.

There has never been any type of abuse or adultery (that I know of) in our marriage. If anything we just live in the same house with no conflict, going about our business, and never discussing anything heavy or emotionally draining.

I buried my head in the sand (and the scotch bottle) ignoring the situation for years, staying out of her way, and trying to keep the peace whenever possible. I am not a doormat but I am also most likely a foolish optimist who thought she would change, or at least come around to what we had when we first were married.

I have the upstairs bedroom (the master) which she relegated to me when she decided to build out a new bathroom downstairs and then completely furnish her own bedroom there as well. We never have really had a fight in all this time. We have disagreed on somethings, but it never escalated into shouting or fits.

I assumed that she no longer wanted to have sex because perhaps it was something to do with post-menopause and how some women lose the desire for intimacy. However she flirts with every contractor that does work in our house, and flirts with certain neighbors. Shamelessly. Strangely, the sex that we did have the first two years was good for her, but not that great for me. But I still desired her.

Everything came to a head about a month ago when I found three new very sexy nightgowns in her bedside table in the master bedroom (which is mine alone now, thanks to her). I’ve never been a snoop, however I found them because that is where she puts things of mine that I leave out. She can’t stand for my things to be out anywhere in the house. I have to believe she wanted me to find them. Perhaps she was trying to force things out in the open so I would leave.

I approached her about these through a text with a picture and asked, “Who are you wearing this for?” I left one of the teddies out hanging in the kitchen, and when she got home from work after her late shift, she threw it in her closet and never responded.

My wife has always been a sexual person (her mother told me some stories about her when she was a flight attendant) so I have obviously been very curious as to what is going on.

My wife does not handle confrontation about anything upsetting, and if I tried to have a conversation about any of this, she would get angry and either try to somehow put it back on me, or just lie her way through it. She has always been somewhat of a prodigious liar. I have joked with her in the past about her “bending the narrative” to suit her position. She didn’t disagree.

Finding the sexy nightgowns crushed my soul like I didn’t think was possible at this point in my life. I was willing to live with someone who had lost their interest in sex, but to see that she is most likely dressing up for someone else just tore my heart out.

Two years ago she had a facelift, and has been working with a clinic to lose weight. She has always been 30-40 lbs overweight since I have known her. I was a runner and serious athlete when we met, but in the interim she teased me about working out so much that I gave it up. I’m overweight now as well, and hate how I look. I think she wants to keep me this way so I don’t go anywhere.

At this point I wish she would just have the courage to serve me with papers so I could leave and be done with it. However I am afraid that if I do it, she will get the meanest lawyer she can find and try and break me financially. She would sustain injury to herself if she thought it was in the spirit of hurting me. She’s that way.

She had a falling out with her family and her mother cut her out of the will. One day two years ago she came home in a huff and said, “I no longer have any family.” She will not tell me what happened, and if I even bring it up, she flips out and gets very angry with me.

We are older (her 60, me 57) and I really think at this point she is just keeping me around as some kind of emotional anchor and housemate. However since I quit drinking I am in misery just marching towards death in a completely loveless marriage without hope. I don’t have the constitution to cheat on my wife. That is just not in my DNA. And I have had plenty of chances to do so. I cheated on a couple of girlfriends in college, and it made me feel like scum. I still feel bad for doing that, 35 years later.

I guess I’m writing this just to air out my feelings. I’ve never told anyone this. Not my siblings or even closest friends. I have always been a strong, self-determined man, and never had trouble making decisions. But at this point I don’t want to completely detonate my life.

I have friends who are my age who live in sexless marriages. Some women just lose the desire altogether later in life. I get that. And if I had never found the nightgowns, I would have continued in my malaise, just marching forward everyday, attending to business and life.

I just don’t know what to do. We have considerable assets and if a fight ensued, it would cost us both dearly. The attorneys would swoop in and the next thing I know we’d be $50,000 lighter a year from now, and still no real resolution.

If I thought my wife would accept a no fault divorce, amicably divide the estate, and go about our lives, I would file. But knowing her, if I instigated the split, it would be scorched earth. And if she is seeing someone, he would no doubt egg her on to take as much of my net worth as possible.

Wishing I had never even met this woman. Sick to my stomach of the thirteen years I have wasted with her. Wishing she would just ask me to leave, file, and maybe we could resolve it equitably and go on with our separate lives.

Just don’t know what to do. Whoever is reading this, thanks for lending an ear.

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