I need some help as I'm going through a really difficult time mentally and physically, and need to find a coping strategy. Sorry, it';s a bit of a ramble....!
I've been with my wife for 12 years, married for seven, and we have a beautiful three-year-old daughter. We have a good standard of living, both have high profile, busy jobs, and are a good 'unit'. But, we're both deeply unhappy with our life, and have drifted apart. We function, but there is no love, no physical intimacy and no real social life.
Last year, I met someone at work. I had flirted with others before and had occasional liaisons. But this was completely different. The physical and mental attraction was instant; she was in a relationship at the time, but it soon ended as he walked out on her. She has three adult children from a previous marriage.
To cut a long story short, our relationship quickly grew from slightly flirtatious texts and emails to a full blown physical relationship. Within a couple of months, we were head over heels in love, and trying everything to meet, texting and emailing all the time, late night chats on MSN and enjoying each other's company. We talked about living in our own little world.
I started seriously considering leaving my marriage, but said to my partner that I would not leave 'for her' but 'for me'. She accepted that and never put any pressure on me. As things got more and more serious, we talked a lot about wanting to be open about our relationship, do things as a couple with other people, all the usual things. She increasingly found the separation at weekends etc. harder and harder to bear, and wanted more and more 'us' time. I found that incredibly flattering, but also very difficult as I knew I had to make a decision. My wife was out of work and my job was at risk, and I didn't make the decision.
Then, in May, she ended it all abruptly as she couldn't take the wanting more anymore. Within a week we were back together. In June she ended it again (while we were in bed!) after a work night out where someone had made a throw away comment about how good a life I had. Again, we were back together after a week, and she said she was reconciled to carrying on as we were. We then went our separate ways on holiday, which gave us both a chance to re-evaluate things after a difficult couple of months. We managed to text a bit while we were away, and came back really looking forward to seeing each other.
To cut a long story short, she ended it again a month ago in a very bad way, just ignoring me and then leaving me to 'dump' myself by text! She had met someone else, and appears to be having a wail of a time, although that has never factored in the reasons for the split... purely timing I think.
At the time I was on extended leave from work, and just fell apart. I headed to the hills, literally, for a few days. We met a few days later for a coffee and we talked a bit. Over the next couple of weeks, we stayed in touch, varying between lighthearted, friendly chat, the odd slightly flirtatious message to full on emotional outpourings from me. She wanted to stay friends., but found it really hard to explain her emotions. I effectively left my wife for two weeks, but moved back in and am now in the spare room!
We met last week for dinner, and I convinced myself I wouldn't be needy or emotional, just enjoy the time together. We managed that for most of the night. But at the end I said I just couldn't stay in touch as a friend. I regretted it the moment I dropped her off. Stupidly I then went the other way, and asked her, at some point in the future, to marry me.....she declined!
After some more chat the following day, we agreed to take a break of a few weeks, but then she texted me on Friday as she was in a meeting where my name had been mentioned. She told me how handsome I am lol! We drifted along for a few days again, but on Weds of this week, I called halt again. I just couldn't handle it.
I feel so many emotions. I haven't slept properly for a month, have lost a stone in weight, although thankfully I haven't hit the bottle! I want what is best for her, and I don't want her to be looking over her shoulder all of the time, worrying about my emotions. I feel terrible guilt that I didn't act earlier, and tremendous sadness that we have missed a great opportunity to make things work between us. I am really struggling to stay in touch as a friend, but cannot think of life without her. Her coping mechanism is to carry on as normal, but deep down she is in a mess too....she tells me she is sick and that she loves me and sometimes doesn't sleep. If she says something even slightly flirtatious, I have hope; if she doesn't, I lose hope and think she is stringing me alone (which she isn't). If I get too emotional, I make it difficult for her, and if I don't I think she may think I don't care.
I don't know how to cope, or what to do for the best. I don't know what she really wants. Her happiness is the most important. But I don't think I am strong enough to walk away for ever. I try and kid myself that one day we will be together.... romantic visions of a meeting on the Eiffel Tower one spring day, you know the sort of thing! But I just don't know. All I do know is that she is the love of my life, and I am hers.
Keen to hear opinions.