I’m 46M, my wife is 46F. We started dating when we were 18, and married since we were 24. We have two amazing kids, 12 and 10. On paper our life is amazing. We’re both effectively retired now, having been lucky and successful in our careers, and squirreling away our money and living well beneath our means. We have a big comfortable house in a great neighborhood.
We take nice family vacations several times a year. At least we did before the current public health crisis. And we get along fine at home. We rarely fight. We generally agree on how we raise the kids. We’re civil to each other. We make each other’s coffee, and the four of us have a nice family dinner every night.
But for many years now, there’s no love between my wife and me. I feel like we’re roommates and partners in the business of raising children and maintaining a house. But I don’t love her and she doesn’t love me. We don’t communicate. I used to attempt to initiate sex a couple times a week, and succeed maybe once a week, but something snapped in me two years ago. It was obvious she wasn’t into it and hadn’t been for years, so I don’t initiate ever any more, and now we maybe have sex once a month, when she initiates. I think she does it out of a sense of obligation and maybe fear of what would happen if we stopped completely. We never talk about our relationship anymore. I used to initiate discussions about our relationship, how it was unsatisfactory and what we should do to improve it. She generally tried to sidestep or avoid these conversations, and now we just don’t have them anymore.
I just don’t feel like there’s enough left to salvage, and I don’t have the motivation to try to salvage it. I think about splitting up obsessively. When I wake up in the middle of the night, that’s what I think about. When I’m running or riding a bike, that’s what I think about. It dominates my thoughts and has for years now.
It pains me to think about what I’ll lose. I’ll lose half the time with my kids (assuming I can get equal custody). I’ll lose many friends. I’ll lose my identity as a family man. But all this feels small compared to contemplating the rest of my life with her. I really like doing things with the kids, but I’m terrified to contemplate the time after my kids have left for college, and then it’s just my wife and me alone.
I’d like to believe that we can split up amicably, dividing our assets and responsibility for the children 50/50. I hope that we can remain friends and partners in the raising of our children, even sharing the occasional family meal together, and never disparaging the other to the children or friends. Is that naïve? I don’t blame her for this. I just think maybe 28 years together is an awfully long time for love to last. And if I’m honest with myself, there’s never been a time in those 28 years when I didn’t have at least a little doubt about us.
Another part of me feels like I’m being selfish, and we should stay married at least until the kids have left the house. As I said, our household is very functional, and I don’t think our marital problems are obvious to them.
This is such a big decision, and I’d like to talk it over with close friends and family, but I feel like I can’t do that as they are also her friends and family. So I’m reaching out to strangers to help clarify my thinking.
I know I need to talk about this with my wife, but starting the conversation feels like such a big, irrevocable step. What should I do? I’d love to hear from people who have been through what I’m going through.
TL;DR I think I need to split up with my wife and mother of our children, but I’m paralyzed with fear and uncertainty.