Q. I have been married for two years and together with my wife for more than six. Over the past year or so, I have felt that our relationship has devolved into what I feel is the friendzone. I have no real feelings of romance, but I do love her as a person. I feel I’m trying to have my cake and eat it too, because I don’t want to lose her from my life, but I am just not happy being married to her.
We have talked about our feelings. She tells me that romance aside, I fulfill her needs in every other way. I feel awful that I am hurting her by not returning her love. We have built a comfortable life together, and as a student, I would not be able to make it on my own without her support (this was an agreement of ours based on my supporting her in a similar way while she was in graduate school).
I know I have a responsibility to myself to make sure I am living the life I want to live. And even though I believe I am a decent enough guy, I feel like the most vile person on Earth because I’m hurting my wife so much with my desire to move on from our relationship. We have been pretending nothing is wrong, or going through the motions of trying to make things work for weeks. There has been no rekindling; those feelings won’t come back. I want her as my best platonic friend, yet I know that this is incredibly unlikely.
I wish we could have an amicable split and that I could continue to live in our two-bedroom apartment while I finish college. I don’t want to break her heart; it just hurts so much that I need to do so in order to maximize the enjoyment of my life. I guess I’m asking for advice on what I should do. I’m at a loss. Thank you.
A. I’ll tell you what you shouldn’t do. You shouldn’t pretend you’ve committed to this marriage if you know you’ll want to leave as soon as you’re finished with school. You shouldn’t maintain the status quo just so you can enjoy the two-bedroom (and your wife as a best friend) if you know it won’t be enough when your needs change.
If you’re out, be out. Start the terrible process of moving on.
Know that you will have to be uncomfortable. This decision might mean moving in with random roommates so you can afford two places. It will also require a big change in your support system. Your wife will have to put herself first, which means she won’t be orbiting you. Please do not expect her to be your platonic best anything.
You say that leaving feels like the selfish decision, but it could be what’s best for both of you. This relationship prevents your wife from finding someone who could be in love with her. It certainly traps her in a routine of worrying that you might change your mind and leave. That kind of partnership — and pressure — is bad for everyone.
Wait . . . you have been going through the motion of trying to make it work . . . for WEEKS? That’s so much time! How on earth did you do it? . . . You can’t fix a problem like this like replacing a light bulb. And it requires work. My guess is you’re not working on it, you’re ignoring it. Try marriage counseling. And try being a grown-up and not staying in a marriage because she owes you the support.
Marriage goes through cycles of ups and downs. The fact that you are throwing in the towel after a year with no work put into your relationship is amazing to me — and likely crushing to your wife. Break up if you must, but don’t stay in the same apartment with her. And don’t kid yourself that you are not going to repeat this pattern with other women down the road.
Agreed . . . unless you never really felt passionate about her. Then you should let her go and ask yourself why you got married to begin with.
Don’t stay with her just so she can support you while you’re a student. You supported her as a student at that time because that’s what partners do. You’re no longer partners (or you don’t want to be), so she doesn’t owe you that support now.
“We have been pretending nothing is wrong, or going through the motions of trying to make things work for weeks.” So you’ve tried to ignore the issue, and have made no authentic effort to confront it, and you are gobsmacked that nothing has changed? It’s clear you have no interest in making that effort, and your “trying” to make things work is code for “stringing my wife along so she’ll continue to financially support me.”
You haven’t listed anything significant that you have done to try and regain your feelings. And by the way, regaining those feelings is certainly possible, no matter how far away you feel. . . . Your effort has been weak at best. You can do better than that, can’t you?
Dissolve this marriage and all financial entanglements for a clean break for both of you.
Why do I feel that there’s someone else already in the wings?