I’m not in love with this marriage

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Dear Meredith,

This year I turned 40 and I've never felt better. Call it what you will, mid life-crisis maybe, but I have spent many hours re-evaluating my life. To be honest, I can't complain about anything. I have been in a solid marriage for 10 years, we have an amazing child, and my job, my house, my fitness, finances, etc. are all where they should be. I have the recipe to be extremely happy and it all looks great on paper. The problem is that I'm not happy and feel I followed the path in life that I should have taken in my head, but didn't want to in my heart. I guess you can say I settled for the sake of being secure in life at the cost of my happiness. Don't get me wrong, I could have ended up with someone I was wildly attracted to who treated me like garbage and I wouldn't have had the fortunate life I have now. The truth is my husband has amazing qualities, but he doesn't "do it" for me. I've always loved him, but I've never been in love.

Some may say that's enough for a good life, but I've been craving to be in love for so long. Fast forward to today. I had innocently re-connected with a past hookup from my 20s via Facebook. As all flirtations go, it's exciting and feels good to be desired. But this meeting has turned into daily messages of affirmation and weekly secret meetings. For me, it's developed into something more. I realize under these circumstances, it's impossible to really know each other and maybe it's all an illusion, but he claims he feels the same and doesn't want it to end. He's been in a long, unfulfilling relationship (not married, no kids) as well, so I think we both like the escape from our situations. Maybe I'm being naive. He could be feeding me what I want to hear, but something in my gut tells me this is genuine, and I fantasize if it's possible our lives could intertwine. It's been a few months and we spoke of taking a step physically, which I want, but it's a huge decision. I can't say I'd leave my husband and life for this person yet, but this can only go on for so long. I don't want to let my kid or my family down – they'd be absolutely devastated. Do I live out my privileged live and forgo my happiness for the sake of my child and family? Please help wake me up!

– Trying to be happy


Do wake up, please. You're almost all in with this new relationship, but it seems like you haven’t taken any steps – not one at all! – to work on your current one. You can talk to your husband about how you're feeling and ask him what he wants from the marriage. (Wouldn't it be nice to know what kind of happiness he seeks?) You can also talk to a therapist. That might be the most helpful thing right now, because you've oversimplified your relationship options. You need to consider all of the possibilities and talk about what staying – or leaving – means for the rest of your life.

You say you're not sure whether you'd leave your husband and current life for this new relationship, but that's not the question on the table. If you end your marriage, it won't be for this other man. It's very possible that the end of your marriage will result in a lot of time alone. Time single parenting. Time searching for someone else who makes you feel "in love." I'm not saying that to scare you or to persuade you to stay in your marriage; I just want to be clear that nothing is guaranteed. Leaving your relationship means being on your own.

As for this other man and what to do with him right now, I'm sure you can guess what I think. You have other, more important next steps to take.

– Meredith

Readers? Next steps?