As I sit down to write this, I am still asking myself the question – when is enough – enough?
I have been involved with my wife for over 30 years. We started out as friends, which turned into romance and then marriage. We have been married for 24 years and have 4 children.
When I think about the girl I first met – I realize that she is the exact same person today and maybe that is our problem or more accurately my problem. As a teenager, she was fun and spontaneous. She could light up a room with her presence and had a big personality that people gravitated toward. She was beautiful and sexy and she knew it. I loved being with her and I felt lucky to have her. Of course there was another side to her – she could be dark and unreasonable when she didn’t get her way. However the good always outweighed the bad, and I truly thought that as she matured and had children that she would settle down. To say she had temper tantrums would be an understatement – but I really believed that time and maturity would prevail.
Unfortunately that didn’t happen.
In fact, her ability to compromise and think about anyone other than herself and her needs seems to have gotten worse as she has aged. There have been many times throughout our marriage that I have fantasized about Divorcing her but knew that I would never leave my children when they were young. I always felt that it would be hard for them if we divorced. I knew that they needed a calming force in their lives and a voice of reason. Something she would never be able to provide. Don’t get me wrong, she is a great mother and she loves our children. She just has difficulties putting anyones needs above her own. I have watched her with our daughters… I know that watching them become beautiful, confident women makes her proud but I see the jealousy of their youth in her eyes. She longs to be back at that stage of life and while I used to not be able to blame her – I now feel like it’s time for her to grow up.
I guess I am just tired- tired of trying to keep someone happy who will never be happy. Whatever I do isn’t enough – I don’t make enough, I don’t do enough, I don’t compliment her enough, she is always disappointed. It is so difficult to be in a relationship with someone who can never be completely fulfilled. In fact, it was my son who looked at me a couple of months ago and asked why she is always complaining and never satisfied. He saw it all so clearly and it was bizarre to have my feelings fully validated by one of my children.
So I am trying to figure it out. I do love her and I love our family. The thought of starting over scares me but the thought of staying with her does as well. I promised myself that once I turned 50 I would focus on myself and my happiness. As my 54th birthday approaches, I realize that time is moving quickly and I am still paralyzed.
Your son, quite innocently said what he said because he knew it would be a common bond for the two of you. Moms complain, wives complain, husbands complain. Don’t read more into it than that, if that is where you are drawing your justification for “focusing on yourself” and just doing you. It sounds to me like maybe you are the one in the mid life crisis and maybe its also more of you thinking self centredly. If you have been focusing on the thought of not being accountable for four or more years, it may just be that you set yourself up for feeling unsatisfied. Be careful how much blame you put on your wife for your feelings and maybe try to put some effort into changing your attitude towards her. No matter what, you will not be able to find what is missing with a new partner, because what will be missing is your wife. Even if you really do feel like shes a swamp monster from time to time.
just my thoughts
It must be difficult to be so conflicted. 30 years is a long time and I am sure that a decision like this weighs heavy. Your question is not an easy one to answer. Balancing our own needs, our responsibilities within the family unit, the needs of our partner and our own happiness can be overwhelming and there is no one answer fits all. Focusing on yourself and your happiness does not necessarily mean you’re self centred or selfish. Marriage and relationships are very complex and when we are not happy within ourselves how do we expect to be happy within our relationship. Relationships can be challenging because they involve people, human beings, who are forever changing and evolving. The challenge comes when you evolve and change at different rates or opposite directions. Life is full of ups and downs; however as we age I think we start to think about what is really important to us and question ourselves on what happiness really means for us.
I’m sure your description of your relationship is more simplistic than it really is and your son’s comment was an observation of what you already know. Maybe you’re trying to answer the wrong question, maybe the question isn’t when is enough enough but rather can I accept my wife as the person she is today without compromising myself. Every relationship is different and hopefully you have the type of relationship where you can communicate openly and freely with each other, and if not, I would suggest seeking professional help before making any big decisions.