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You Asked: I'm in an Unhappy Marriage

You Asked: I'm in an Unhappy Marriage

Dear Sugar,

I've been married to my husband for 12 years — we are both in our late 30s and have two children together. When we got together, I was in need of someone to help me get my life and habits under control, and he did just that. Although he is a good man and a wonderful father, he's also very controlling, although never violent or abusive. Over the years this has worn on me, and I am just not happy or in love with him anymore.

At a recent outing, I ran into an old classmate. What began as flirtatious and fun has turned into something much more. I am not proud of it, but I will not make any excuses. What I've realized, however, is that outside of our children, my husband and I share absolutely nothing in common. I want to end my marriage, but I'm scared for my kids; they love their dad, and I know this would break their hearts. I do not see marriage counseling as being effective, because the reasons I loved him no longer exist. I just feel very confused. What do I do?

— Ready to Break Free Felicia

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Ready to Break Free Felicia,

Although I'm sure you know that having an affair is not the answer to this overwhelming sensation of dissatisfaction, obviously your marriage is no longer meeting your needs and has not been for some time. Needless to say, it sounds like it's time for you to start doing some practical planning in the steps to leave your husband.

First things first, end your affair. Then talk to your lawyer about what a separation and divorce will entail legally and in regards to the custody of your children. Once you have everything planned in your own mind, it's time to break the news to your husband. Obviously this will not be easy, but try to map out what will take place in the coming months. Once the dust has settled, approach your children together.

Although you may not want to consider marriage counseling, I think family therapy will not only help your children, but it'll also help you and your husband better understand how to handle this difficult situation. Remember, your kids are going to be needing you both more than ever, so try your hardest to keep things amicable. Best of luck to you.


KILNO2 KILNO2 5 years
Listen sweety, AT THE END OF THE DAY...none of us here are going to make you happy , you have to make it yourself!!! So, stay for your husband , stay for your kids etc ....3-5 years from now if you think you will still feel miserable and trapped , you probabaly will end up goin separate ways anyway...but what a life you have to live for the 3-5 years? just think harder ya ....we cannot give you happiness other than yourself , and you know what will make you happy, the children will be ok ...
Kelly1979 Kelly1979 9 years
It is time to tell your husband. I was in the same boat as you a few years back. I know that hearing from others about how scummy, wrong, unjustifiable, disrespectful,, However you hurt emotionally struggling to make a failing marrige work (As I am doing as well.) Your affair only highlited or commented nobody brought up the scary alone feeling the depression you feel on a daily basis. We cheated its wrong and unfair but you do not deserve the nasty comments some folks left.. BUT until they are in our shoes or end up in the same kind of marriage then they can at least empathize instead of critize. Nobody gets married with the idea of divorce impending.. It is hard I am going through it just as you are. I owned up to my cheating however I do not regret what I did sounds mean I know.. I am very much stuck in a marriage with my BEST FRIEND. I am 29 bi-sexual and I chose to marry a woman. We were going to have a marriage where we were to pick a male mate from time to time to fill the void but she changed her mind. I did not cheat for that reason alone however. I am sure if I married a man I may have done the same thing I did cheated on my wife(Who is really a wonderful woman).. I feel bad about it but like I said if I could turn back time I would have filled the void I felt and still feeling. I know I would not do it again while married because it is a selfish way of dealing with my situation.. We are now like sisters and it is so depressing. She is 15 years older then me also. I want to have children someday I know just because we are women doesnt mean we could not have children together it is that I miss male relationships so much. I would not want to bring children into this marriage where I am keeping it together by thin threads.. I feel like she would die with out me and I without her but I am ready to move on but I do not have the balls to tell her flat out which is also strainging 14 years together is along time I was just a teen but no excuse!! I was an ACTIVE.. Teen again judge me its your right. The fact is I will die with out her and I am emotionally dead with her. Sounds screwed up in every sense but nobody shall truly judge unless you have had the same experiance. Before you call me confused and start calling me names just think before you type because we are reaching out or using this as an outlet and I really do not want to get Jerry Springerish about my story I just felt like sharing. Point blank I was wrong she is wrong for cheating, There are at least in my situation that is.. many circumstances for my choice to stay and thus be unhappy (inside).. I may post later on (since I am writting a mini novel here already).. Be well all
bellateno bellateno 9 years
i know exactly how you feel. two years ago, i ended a 10 year marriage in which my husband was controling and i was very unhappy. it was a similar circumstance to yours in which i had an affair. it was clearly very wrong for me to do and very hurtful to my then husband and i am very sorry that i didn't end the marriage first but i just never considered divorce an option and the affair was somehow the thing that made me realize that i had to get a divorce - it made me realize how unhappy i was that i would cheat on someone and hurt him in that way. my advice: make sure you are not leaving your husband for the man in your affair. make sure that this marriage is not for you even if you are going to be alone. secondly - this is not going to be easy. you will probably lose some friends, your family may not understand, and your husband will probably be very hurt and then very angry - especially if he has a controling personality. while the breakup of a marriage is never one person's fault (even if it is you that pulls the plug), his hurt and anger will be justified - you have betrayed him. you will need to be patient (giving him time to heal and process what's happening) and willing to admit and face the consequences of your actions (facing his hurt and anger, although of course never accept any anger that has the risk of becoming abusive). third - the family counselling will be very important to the ability for you all to continue to function as a family. even if you divorce him, he will still be a part of your life with your children. you will need counselling together in order for him to let go of his anger and come to a point where he can trust you in your 'new' relationship as coparents. i cannot stress how important this will be for your children. they will be able to accept and deal with the transition much better if they don't have to deal with the anger and infighting of their parents. family counselling will also help you to learn how to help your children through their own sadness and anger (of which there is likely to be some). i am very sad to read about many of the harsh comments you have received here (having received many of those myself when i left my ex-husband). there are some people that cannot understand and some people who will believe that you should stick with it even through your unhappiness. know, though, that there will be people in your life that will support you. find them, accept their help and friendship and start to rebuild your life. many people will not understand how hard this will be on you (and it WILL be hard on you). take care of yourself, be patient, concentrate on rebuilding a new and different relationship with your husband and keeping your children out of the stress as much as possible. good luck.
geebers geebers 9 years
Not commenting on your affair as you clearly say you are not making excuses and know it is wrong. But please don't throw away a marriage without at least trying!!! I am not married and cannot imagine going through a rough patch as this but I DO know that relationships take work and to just discard it because you are unhappy right now may not be the answer. Please get counseling first and then decide. Yes your kids do not need a parent that is miserable and having affairs whatsoever but nor do you want to teach them that walking out to satisfy your needs without regards for anything else is the way to go.
Janine22 Janine22 9 years
I agree that you need to end this affair: NOW. You have no comprehension how painful it can be for your children to know that you had an affair on their dad. That is something they could potentially hate you for or at least resent you for for the rest of their lives. I know because I have been through it. My dad cheated on my mom and me and me 2 sisters had to deal with it. And we are adults and it still hurt us all very much. My oldest sister barely talks to my dad, and we all have weak relationships with him. Did you even consider this before you entered into this affair? You are hurting your whole family doing this. It sounds like you have basically given up on your marriage, but don't end it just because of the other guy. There is no guarantee that this other relationship will work out even if you would rather be with him. I feel sad for your husband and children. Only you know what is right for you, but don't be oblivious to the fact that you could really hurt your kids. I really think counselling would be a good option for you, even if you go alone. Good luck.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
Ehmmmm, i wont disregard that in your post you said you were looking for someone to rescue you, and now that someone has, you're over it. Were you in love with him or were you just grateful? I can see that he might've been controlling from the beginning but you probably didn't question it since you needed someone to clean you up. This new guy is another way of having someone rescue you and you continue your pattern of not taking responsibility.
bransugar79 bransugar79 9 years
I think you are being selfish but apparently that's nothing new. It seems to me that you never really had a marriage. You said that you were initially with your husband because you needed someone to help you get your life and habits under control. Did it ever occur to you that you were the one responsible for getting yourself together, not him? I do think the reason you want to end things now is because you want something easier and working through this would not be easy. I think you need to end your affair and I think the best thing you could do for your husband is to leave. He may or may not be controlling but he definitely deserves to be with someone who truly loves him which ,pardon me but, you do not. If you don't want counseling fine but your kids and you husband will probably need it ,if that matters to you. Maybe you want to give them all some space and get yourself together. I think that the whole idea that marriage is just some arrangement of convenience that you can get out of whenever you want just because things aren't all smiley and cotton candy is such crap. Marriage is a serious commitment one you shouldn't have made if something like this was enough for you to end it.
nikodarling nikodarling 9 years
Please try the counselling first. I can understand where you are coming from but when there are children involved things get so much more complicated. And even if the counselling goes nowhere and you decide that you still want to leave it will help you both to have talked to have tried and to have had that communication.
looseseal looseseal 9 years
You won't make excuses? Ha. Typical cheater excuse: "OMG, he's so controlling, his awfulness MADE me have an affair! I am but a helpless minnow adrift in the sea of life!" You have no self-control, so you get someone more "take charge" to help you out with that, and then you complain that this person is too controlling. Hubby can't win, can he? I'm skeptical of whether he's actually controlling unless you can give some concrete examples. Under the circumstances, without any actual examples, how do I know your don't have a skewed definition of controlling, such as "he doesn't like it when I see my lovah! What a controlling a-hole! He doesn't want me to be happy!" And since when does being bored makes it okay to do anything, including things that hurt other people? Would it be okay for me to come over and spit in your face because I'm bored? Did you seriously think about splitting BEFORE having the affair? What a curious, curious coincidence if this "controlling" problem wasn't so bad that you felt like you had to split until AFTER another man entered the picture. Oh yeah, that's because it's NOT a coincidence. I agree with the advice to first end the affair before doing whatever else you're going to do. With an affair clouding your judgement, you're not playing with a full deck. At least you're not proud, and you actually considered that this might hurt your kids, so you've got that "still have part of your humanity and conscience" thing going for you. You're still aware other people have feelings, too. I know a nasty piece of work who's all "fuck everyone else, I wanna do what I wanna do, my kids are happy, how dare you suggest that what I'm doing can hurt them? They're happy when I'm happy. It's inconceivable that they have feelings of their own." (okay I made the last sentence up. She wouldn't know big words like "inconceivable".) You're not as bad as her, so good for you on that. Just for that, I'll wish you well. You're only a fine line away from becoming her, though. Beware, beware.
KDwxgirl KDwxgirl 9 years
Wow people on here are really mean. I wonder how many of you are married and know what its really like to be in a situation like this. Maybe before you do anything you should consider counseling just for yourself. It could help you see what you want and need to be happy a little more clearly. A counselor that specializes in relationship/marriage counseling might be a good choice, since he/she would be more able to advise on your situation.
LiLRuck44 LiLRuck44 9 years
I echo everyone who says marriage is about good times and bad, this just happens to be the bad. It is very very possible to fall back in love with your husband, no matter how far from it you are now. Also please don't assume that feelings are gone, you two can make a commitment to your children, and have a clean break blah blah blah. Your husband (and I'm assuming here, really) is likely to be blindsided by all of this and become very angry and hurt. Especially if he finds out about the affair (which is terrible, btw). Go to the Marriage Builders website. They have great advice that my husband and I follow even in the great times!
lawchick lawchick 9 years
Um, did you forget your vows? Marriage is different from other relationships because you commit to stick together in good times and bad. Everyone knows that people change and grow apart -- it's the EFFORT that makes the relationship. Make the effort to at least try counseling before throwing in the towel.
lms lms 9 years
As a child of divorce I can say that it was better for my parents to be divorced than married. We (3 of us) could tell that they weren't happy. i personally don't feel that it was such a big deal and I don't think that someone should stay married just for the kids. I also don't think that it will affect how any of us handle our relationships. Two of us are married and our parents divorce doesn't have any impact on how we view marriage. If you are truly unhappy, and can make it on your own and know in your heart that counseling will not work then I would say to leave. If you can't make it on your own at this time I would make the necessary arrangements(classes, new job) in order to get yourself to that place.
shelleybaby32 shelleybaby32 9 years
Open Relationship??!!! That's great advice (not) I really would not consider having an open relationship. It wouldn't work. Both parties have to be 100% willing, comfortable with themselves and their partners, and not be jealous or CONTROLLING. Refresh my memory but isn't controlling behaviour part of this women's problem.
Mia1387 Mia1387 9 years
Honestly some people are so HARSH HERE! No do what you have to do your not being selfish your doing the correct thing if your husband dose not satisfy you anymore and there is no love you think your kids wont realize? you think your kids are stupid? no they are going to grow up and they going to understand that when there is no love there is no relationship!.....listen lady i don't know but i don't think your cheating i just think your bored of the same thing. just GET IT TOGETHER and be prepared for what you have ahead of you because it wont get easier. just talk it out first and be upfront with your husband. Maybe you guys can come to an open realtionship. Keep it real!
jaxon jaxon 9 years
Oh yea..You say you guys dont have anything in common..well try to create some interests that you two can do together. Take a class, try a new adventure (biking, hiking, rafting, camping), travel, read the same book, bulid model airplanes, start antiquing, go to church, try to meet new couples. It takes patience, creativity, and perseverance to make a marriage owe it to urself to give it you all...
jaxon jaxon 9 years
I believe you should do EVERYTHING in your power to make it work. Try counseling, it cant hurt. It might help your husband change his controlling ways. You've been there for 12 years what's another 6 months? If you feel that trapped file for legal separation, move out but during that time, go to counseling together and as a family. If after that time you dont feel as though it helped, do what you gotta do. I personally DO NOT believe in divorce, but a miserable parent makes for miserable children. Staying just for the kids is silly! A child of an unhappy home is the same as a child of a divorced home. Children are sensitive and WILL know that something is not right. YOu need to actually TRY! You cannot have it fixed in your mind that you are giving up.
shelleybaby32 shelleybaby32 9 years
SHAME ON YOU! as far as i am concerned this is your fault. Why did you wait so long to realize that there were problems? You should have discussed this with your husband before these issues got out of hand and you cheated on him!!! 12 years is a long time and you say you are not willing to work it out???? WTF. At least for your children's sake stop being so selfish! Relationships take work and give and take. Seek help and try. End your affair now. Try to work it out. Don't end your marriage on such a negative issue. Think about how your children will feel when they find out that mom and dad got divorced because mom had an affair. They won't care about your feelings and being controlled. It will be your fault. There are other people involved here. All you are thinking about is this whirlwind love affair-get over yourself
darkangel2305 darkangel2305 9 years
On the affair... you're selfish and very disrespectful. No matter WHAT affairs are never ok. I'm not quite sure why you posted this question because it seems you already made up your mind. I do hope if you decide to end your marriage it is based on valid reasons (which you do seem to have) and not some stupid stupid affair. It might be seen as selfish to end a 12-year marriage because you are no longer in love, but it will be worse to live the rest of your life with someone you no longer want to be with. But do not take any decisions lightly. No marriage is perfect and 12 years of a wonderful husband and father are pretty priceless. Is he really that controlling or are you just bored and want “freedom”; usually “freedom” is way more overrated than real life… I completely disagree with whoever says you should stay for the children. They know and you will know. A smoky cloud of resentment and unhappiness will surely be noticeable around the house and all your lives. Divorce sucks for everyone involved, but sometimes it is the only solution.
fleurfairy fleurfairy 9 years
I agree with the others that said you don't want to make your marriage work because it would be hard work and that the affair is clouding your judgment. First of all, I doubt the guy you're having an affair with will stick around, especially if he gets the feeling you ended your marriage for him. Nothing would scare off a guy more! So don't depend on him. Second, marriage counseling can work. But you have to be willing to honoring the vows you made. Why do people get married if they don't think the vows are permanent?? Most of all, don't stay together for your children. If will make you resentful to them and your husband later on. But I do urge you to try everything in your power to make it work. If it doesn't, then you can honestly say you tried and learn from the experience.
Marci Marci 9 years
I have two schools of thought on this. Firstly, don't leave a 12 year marriage without trying counseling first. Things change in 12 years, but that doesn't necessarily mean the end of the marriage. Secondly, I agree that if you still feel this way after marriage counseling, then by all means, end your marriage. Don't stay for the kids, because they grow up to repeat the marriage of their parents. On the other topic of the guy you're having the affair with, end it. Now. He's only confusing your thoughts, but he IS having an affair with a married woman, which is probably all that he really wants, even if he claims otherwise. But even if by some slim chance he wants more with you, you have a lot to deal with and his being in the picture only complicates that for everyone. A clean break is better than a messy one. You sure don't want your kids to find out that their mother is/was having an affair.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 9 years
Ask yourself the bottom-line question: Are you better off with your husband or without him? Stay in the marriage or seek a divorce depending on your answer. Good luck. I think you're in difficult situation. You have my sympathies.
sarah_bellum sarah_bellum 9 years
I thought the reason people make commitments to each other is so that they will have something to hold them together through the times when they don't feel like it? I'm with pop and the first two posters. I'm a product of this "the kids will be happy as long as I'm happy" philosophy, and let me tell you, it's a selfish load of crap. You have an obligation to your children to do everything under the sun to keep their family intact. But why do what's right when you can do what feels good?
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
The WORST thing you can do to your kids is stay in a loveless marriage just because of the children. Children are not stupid! If your set on divorce and absolutely know there is no future with your husband its time to end this affair and marriage. I'm sure that getting this sudden welcomed affection is clouding your judgement so you need to take time for yourself to figure things out. The great part of this is that your husband is great with the kids and if you two can handle things with maturity and respect there's no doubt your kids can still have a great life with both their parents!
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
What a shame that you're willing to just throw it all away without even trying counseling. I know why. It would be hard. It would be hard to sit there and stare it all in the face. It would be hard to reconnect, hard to fix. And we live in a time when anything hard isn't worth it. When anything hard is just too much to deal with. We want to be "in love" and not ever deal with the difficulties that love brings. You want to leave him now because you've reconnected with some guy, not because he's controlling. You want out so you can have your affair without guilt. So sad for your kids.
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