Dear Annie: I’m in my 40s and have been married for 20 years. We have two children. Our marriage has been OK but not totally fulfilling. For the past five years, I have been in contact with my ex-fiancee.
I have thought about getting divorced a number of times but have never gone through with it. I love my wife, but not the same way I love my ex. Whenever I speak with my ex, I am my happy old self. She is the most caring, sweet, romantic person I’ve ever met, and I know, without a doubt, that our lives would be happy if we were together. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. We treat each other the way people should be treated.
My children do not have the best relationship with their mother, so I don’t think a divorce would be all that traumatizing for them. I just don’t want to hurt her. I have spoken to her about the things I’d like changed, but she only complies for a short while, and then things go back to the way they were.
Is this just a midlife crisis? Should I settle and stick with my current life or take a chance on a new one? – Wanting No Regrets
Dear Wanting: So why didn’t you marry your ex-fiancee? It’s not uncommon to fantasize about a wonderful life with someone you don’t actually live with. The mundane responsibilities, raising children, doing housework, paying bills – all of those things are unromantic and unexciting. It takes work to make a good marriage. Don’t simply tell your wife what you want her to change. Maybe she’d like you to change, too.
We commend you for not wanting to hurt her. So please give your marriage a chance before you bail. Ask your wife to come with you for marriage counseling to see whether you can work through some of those things that are making you unhappy.
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