I like my wife. My relationship with her is the longest I’ve had with a primary partner for a handful of good reasons. We have invested enough time into this thing to achieve a comfortable stride wherein our journey together is relatively smooth. We get along. We make each other laugh. The administrative stuff is filed away and compartmentalized, handled immediately and precisely without any serious questions. Even now, as I sit here and carefully evaluate the value of my marriage, I have no hangups with the idea of buying a larger house and starting a family together.
Something is missing. My wife and I do not cry together. We are friends, but in so many ways do I feel that she doesn’t “get” me. I’ve tried to broach the difficult subjects with her but her heart isn’t in it. She wonders why I care about these things at all. Overall I tend to be the person in the relationship with better clarity on every subject except for our relationship itself. She has always been sure about me, but I have never looked at her and felt a comforting certainty. I love her but I’ve never been in love with her.
We don’t have sex. She thinks it’s because I struggle with physical intimacy. It’s easier to allow her to believe this about me rather than acknowledge the hard truth that I just don’t want, and have never really wanted, her sexually. Perhaps I could talk to her about it if she would step back and allow a difficult discussion to happen on any of the subjects that involve acknowledging the nuances of grown-up feelings. At this point, though, I don’t think that she believes that those exist. How can I expect her to understand that the sex we aren’t having is a reflection of the non-existence of the hard discussions in our marriage.
About three months ago, I stared into the eyes of a close friend for a long time. We locked onto one another and held steady for perhaps ten seconds. Since that day, I have been sweeping around the remnants of an emotional wreckage. I feel a complicated familiarity with the friend that I have never felt with my wife. With anyone, really. I thought I had it with my first love but now I am not so sure. The friend and I are close but we’re still piecing together each other’s stories. A side-by-side comparison of the two relationships isn’t fair, yet …
The friend looks at my face and readily acknowledges what I’m feeling. We have the same observations about things. At times these ideas are expressed verbatim, as the other person thinks it. Our histories aren’t similar but our minds seem to be. We hug hello and dive directly into the most important thought in the other person’s head at that moment. It feels significant but I can’t decide if it’s something truly unique and important in life or if she is just the most emotionally intelligent person I’ve ever met. I’ve had eight years to have an experience with my wife that another person and I have achieved in five short months of knowing each other. This devastates me.
I’m not uncomfortable or sad. I am unsettled but I can roll along just fine with all of this, holding my solace in a deep appreciation for this wonderful friendship. Nothing about my experience is special or uncommon in life. It just kind of sucks right now and I wish I could talk to somebody about it. Specifically, the friend, but I will not go there unless she leads the way. It won’t happen until I am sure that she feels that same familiarity. And perhaps only after I have a better idea of what good it could do to talk (seriously, just talk) about it.
Tl;dr–I love my wife but I am in love with my friend. Sound familiar? Happy new year.