How do you know when it’s time to leave your marriage?

Dear Dr. Milrod:

I’ve known my wife for almost nine years and have been married for five of those years. I’m 31 years old and she’s a few years younger.  We don’t have any kids yet, but that is the main issue for us. It scares me to death, not because I don’t want kids eventually, but more because I’m not sure she is the one that I want to have them with.  Lately all of our differences have become magnified for me, not to mention her sexual hang-ups that she refuses to work through. She is non-orgasmic, does not masturbate and states she has a very low interest in sex. Beyond that she has professed her atheism, where I’m more of a spiritual person.  I’ve suffered through a lot of deaths in my life and she hasn’t, which makes me think that we’re on two different planes of consciousness.  Yet, she is my best friend, but that doesn’t change the fact that I have almost zero attraction to her anymore.

On top of it, I feel like I’m falling for another women in my field of business. She is amazing, yet very, very fractured and I know rationally that there can be nothing beyond a sexual fling. Can you help me sort this out?

Brother in Need

Dear Brother in Need:

Your question, “how do you know when it’s time to leave your marriage,” is a good one. Maybe for you, it’s when you have to ask the question? I believe your marriage is one of mismatched individuals. Now does this mean that this mismatch cannot be worked through? Not necessarily. The question is, are you willing to do it? You say she is your best friend. Are you willing to stay married to your best friend? Some people do very well in marrying such a person; for others, it’s best to keep their “best friendships” on a platonic level. I believe that your marriage was entered when you were very young and still searching for your identities as people. Now, your identities are beginning to solidify, and they are taking distinctly different shapes. It is normal and to be expected that you should evolve into very different human beings. And now, those two beings are trying to make their differences work. And that takes a lot of work. Are you willing to go through years of accommodation, compromise, adjustment, disappointment, reconciliation, adaptation and negotiation in every arena of your relationship, including sexual counseling, particularly for your wife? Because that’s what it will take for your marriage to continue. Most people at your age and situation would not. In today’s day and age, they would split up and move on, in the interest of self-development and growing up. As for the business colleague, my belief is that you know precisely why you got attracted to this woman. Had you been sexually crazy for your wife, you probably wouldn’t have begun a sexual relationship with this “fractured” woman in the first place. Seeing her is not the cause, it’s part of the symptoms you’re having over your dysfunctional marriage. Eventually, you will need to make a decision as to work it out or to leave.

Christine Milrod, Ph.D.


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