Is my marriage failing?
I've been married (I'm 37M, she's 36F) for almost 15 years. Our marriage has certainly had it's share of ups and downs. Shortly after we were engaged I left my career in law enforcement with a diagnosis of PTSD. She was very supportive of my issues, and I was devoted to her entirely for staying with me. I believe in loyalty to a severe degree, and the fact that she never waivered was the most I could've ever hoped for.
We had entered into our marriage with the understanding that we would have children after 5 years. We wanted to wait 5 years to make sure the marriage would last. About 2-3 years into our marriage my mother in law passed away. She was an amazing person, and I don't think I could have asked for a better mother in law. It was a shock to us all when she passed at 49 years old. When she passed my wife told me, she never wanted to have kids. I accepted it, hoping she'd change her mind later. She never has.
Since my MIL has passed, we have shared a house with my father in law. He didn't want to be alone, after her passing. And again, I understood. My wife and my father in law share an unfortunate trait, they are both hoarders while I am a minimalist. This has been a constant source of contention in our house, with them always siding against me.
I have had to give up on many dreams over the years due to their hoarding. For a while I was restoring old cars and selling them, but I gave that up when they kept stacking things on top of these cars in the garage. I started doing amateur gunsmithing, but had to give up on that because I didn't have the room to do it properly. I started to finish the basement, but again haven't been able to because it is packed with stuff. And finally, I talked to my wife about adoption, because it is getting too late for us to have children, but we wouldn't qualify for that because the house is so cluttered. I have long ago accepted that I don't have an equal say in this house.
But through this all, I have stayed devoted to my wife. Putting her before anything else in all things. She has always been a priority even over myself, because I believe that is how a marriage should be. For the most part, all I have asked, is for her to spend time with me over other things she wants to do from time to time. Sadly she only does this occasionally.
About 18 months ago, my dog had to be put down. She was 14 years old and had a bad cancer that we couldn't operate on. It devastated me, and I'm still not over it. I consider myself a "manly" man, but I had a very hard time over this and still do somewhat. My pup had been my constant source of joy, when things were looking bad. And I don't have that anymore, nor am I ready for another dog.
About 4 months ago, I was having a particularly bad day and I asked my wife to stay home with me as I could use the company and I didn't want to go out. But there was an event at our local park (same event every Sunday) that she wanted to go to with her sisters family (she goes every Sunday with them). She chose to go to the event, which usually takes an hour total, she was gone for 2 hours and by the time she got home a switch had flipped inside me. I was and am no longer willing to put her first in all things, as I've never gotten that treatment.
I've also lost patience with pretty much all the issues we have had over and over again, throughout the years. Her and her dad have a horrible habit of wanting to talk, but not wanting to listen. So I've decided to not spend much effort talking to them, if they're ignoring what I say, I just stop talking. This has caused the majority of their conversations to be with each other, and now they are becoming increasingly snippy to each other as they both love to talk, but they're getting annoyed that the other person doesn't listen. It's actually kind of funny to watch.
I've stopped arguing with them about all the crap they hoard, and I have simply told them that I am going to start cleaning it up and I don't care if it makes them upset. This has definitely caused some anger from their side, but they know I have been patient for over 10 years and they don't really have "a leg to stand on".
My wife has also become more physically distant. Over the years, I'd say I've had about a 75% success rate in wooing her into intimacy. Over the last couple months it has dropped to maybe 50% at it's highest. It has gotten to the point where I am not even trying to instigate anymore. I wait for her to instigate, and honestly I'm getting closer and closer to just turning her down. We don't have that closeness anymore.
I was being playful and lightly teasing her last night, just trying to have a little fun and have some decent conversation. Something I've done thousands of times with success. She told me that she wanted to smack me across the face.
I know that neither of us is solely to blame, but I feel like I'm the only one making an effort to move our marriage into a better place. Maybe I've made the road harder than it has to be, but all my more subtle efforts in the past have failed.
I have talked to her about this many times in the past, and the answer is always the same. She says that she has to think about it and work at correcting things. But she never brings it up again and nothing ever changes. She gave me that same line this morning when I tried talking to her again. I think a large part of her problem, is she is just now realizing how upset I've been over the loss of never having children.
I have no interest in leaving her (loyalty, remember?). But I am at a loss, and I have concerns that things may never get better.
A few thoughts...
1. Kids are a deal breaker in a lot of relationships. This isn't to blame her for changing her mind (people do), but if you still want kids, that's a big thing to give up over "loyalty". (If you don't, that's another matter. But If you do, it's not unreasonable to end a marriage over that and your chances are better at finding another partner at 37 than at 47.)
2. As for the rest, it sounds like you're growing apart. That's not terrible or incredibly abnormal (in almost all relationships, some of the fun goes out of them eventually). It also sounds like you feel neglected/unloved/like you're not emotionally cared for. None of what she's done sounds *horrible*. (I mean, leaving for two hours to hang out with her sisters isn't the Worst Thing Ever.) But that doesn't mean you have to stay with her, either, if the relationship is no longer something that's working for either/both of you.
I think it's hard to say whether things will get better. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Have you considered marriage therapy? Could that help? (Maybe.) If things continued like this for the rest of your life, would you be okay with it? (If so, maybe it's worth staying. If not, maybe you need to stress that something *does* need to change.)
Honestly, the biggest problem right now is the lack of respect/equality in the household. I still have some issues with being in public too much, and being able to work from home would be a huge benefit to me.
I have had to ignore jobs that allowed me to work from home because I don't have the room to do it. Not to mention the home-based businesses that I have tried to get started over the years.