Married, but not sure if this is what I want
I want to start out by saying that, for the most part, my relationship is going alright. But I recognize some potential problems, and want to have a mature conversation and get some feedback. Things could be going downhill, but I feel like now I have the time to sort through things and figure out what to do next.
My girlfriend and I have been together for about 5 years now, and recently tied the knot. Getting married was a decision that both of us had mixed feelings about, but as we talked about it more and she began to feel more secure in our relationship, and she became more comfortable with the idea of marriage. I was excited about getting engaged at first, but early on I already had some concerns. For starters, I never really felt like I got to surprise her by popping the question, and I didn't really pick out her engagement ring on my own. I also never received her father's approval before he passed away, which doesn't bother me so much since they weren't close, but it still makes me feel like I didn't really 'own' this marriage.
A year passed, the wedding happened and it went pretty well. But leading up to the wedding I was having a lot of doubts, which I had discussed with her, and I still have them. I love this woman, but I'm also really confused about what I want in life, and what is right for me.
Some of my issue comes from the simple fact that this has been my only relationship. She was my first girlfriend, and I've never been with another woman before. On the one hand I feel like I'm really not a shallow guy, but on the other hand I feel like I never really had the chance to see what's out there, and never had enough confidence to approach other women over the years. We also have a notable age difference of about 10 years, and while this doesn't bother me so much, sometimes I get kind of sad thinking about how I will never be with someone around my age, and that maybe I've already missed out on the opportunities for a lot of different life experiences with a woman.
I'm also used to my wife being the stable one in our relationship, while I'm always kind of the flowy-minded one. But more recently, maybe due in some large part to my instability, she has occasionally become more unpredictable and suggested sexual things she hadn't before. From day one I showed interest in one day possibly having a threesome encounter with her and another woman, but she always said that wouldn't happen. Occasionally the idea of sharing her with other men is strangely arousing, and I've talked about this with her as well. More recently she has seemed fine with the idea of being with other men, but still seems unequally opposed to me being with another woman. ...Not to say that these are things I would actually want, I think it sounds kind of extreme, but maybe it's just the fantasy of me being with other women or imagining her with others.
One day, out of the blue, my wife randomly expressed interest in an older, mutual male acquaintance of ours. I was caught off-guard, as she had never displayed any interest in him prior to this, and in fact kind of seemed to dislike him before, but maybe she started seeing him in a new way. She became more open to the idea of us becoming 'swingers', and we even started talking about ground-rules for such an occurrence. She seemed to think the idea of us swapping partners with another couple would be fair, and I kind of had to agree - I'd get to be with other women, she would get to be with their husbands - it sounded reasonable. But after a few days of discussing this, I think she became weirded out by the idea - she primarily noted STDs as her main concern. Personally I also had huge doubts about this kind of lifestyle, but was more concerned about what it is that I want. Would I really give up my wife to someone else, this woman who I won the heart of and have spent all of this time being mutually faithful with? Would I really cheat on her with another woman, one who I can't really 'have', and who 'belongs' to some other man?
The past couple of months have been awkward. I also revealed more of my concerns to my wife, as well as informing her that I might have feelings for (or else maybe just a crush on) a woman from work who is closer to my age. Though she brushed it off and doesn't seem bothered by it, I kind of am. I don't even know if a relationship is possible with this other woman, and I don't know her that well, though I have tried becoming slightly better friends with her, at least.
My wife, being older than I am, tends to be the one in control most of the time. She also has a more grounded, aggressive personality and is just more of a take-charge kind of person. I think this is because she doesn't let things bother her like I do, and she probably has a better idea of what she wants out of life. My attempts to motivate her or to lead the way in our relationship, by contrast, usually end in failure - with rare occasions where I manage to get her to do something that I want to do.
Lately I feel like what I want from life is not the same as what I used to want. Or maybe it is and I'm just not sure. I'm in flux right now. I feel like I've grown up and gone through some changes since I started dating this woman, and I wonder if this relationship is still right for me. I don't want to just give up on it, but at the same time I'm not sure if I was ready for marriage or to settle down with someone. Maybe I have more confidence now.
Most importantly, I feel like I want to be in a relationship with a girl who will challenge me. I want someone who I can go on adventures with, who wants to go explore the world and grow with me as a couple. I feel like I don't have that right now. And I still have my doubts about whether that is something I can achieve with my wife.
It seems to me both of you are in a marriage that has a lot of problems. Maybe you both should talk about a separation, and one of you need to be the bigger person, and leave. You both need to quit living a lie, and move on. The doubts are massive, and need not to include others. There is definitely a need for communication, and a need for intervention. Good luck with this dilemma.
Going by your post your first serious relationship has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for you. Regardless, if your marriage was based on love and respect, you wouldn't have doubts which is basically your instinct talking to you. Two people in love work together to keep each others heart safe. When everything is ok, you feel good, but when your head, heart and gut don't line up, then you should instinctively follow your gut....and your gut has been talking to you for awhile now.
When you can state that you need what's right for you, you have basically stated the obvious when it comes to relationships and marriage. We all work best together if our partner is on our page and shares our values and standards. If your wife and your marriage are not right for you, then you have a choice to end it. If you remain, then you need to repair it, but both of you have to do this equally to be able to repair it.
One things for sure, there's no way you can repair it if you are taking an interest in a work colleague and you really need to understand that you cannot successfully start another relationship with anyone until you put your previous relationship well and truly behind you.
You have a choice but you need to make the right choice for you and you alone. If you choose to end your marriage, then end it properly before you move on.
Thanks for the responses so far.
One thing I'm already noticing is that I didn't paint a very broad picture of our relationship. Yes, there are a lot of doubts. But for the most part, we have a pretty happy relationship, or at least I think we do.
It's difficult because I am just trying to give a run-down of the problems, and not so much our entire relationship. Outside of these issues, on most good days, we laugh and joke around and have fun together, for the most part.
I also probably focused on too many separate issues, so it makes things seem worse than they are probably. The open relationship sort of thing, the lady from work, the age difference, the problem with not having enough control... They are all really separate things, I think. So I probably made this topic too biased from the beginning.
But I realize that I am in a better mood tonight, and that could be making me a little biased, also.
I love my wife, but truth be told maybe she scared me when she showed interest in any of these fantasies I had. And maybe I'm not sure if I can live the rest of my life and not sleep with other women. I really don't know. A lot of things bother me, and I probably have issues with the way society views and treats sex.
The truth is I kind of hate people, and I hate how nothing in this world is really perfect. If it were, there would be no problem - there would have been a perfect woman just for me, I would be perfect, and I wouldn't have any insecurities. But it's not something that was ever possible in this life. This life is messy. And yet everything is so double-standard and stupid as hell. It seems like the people who don't deserve it, are the ones who usually get lots of women and respect. And people are constantly drawn into arguments about what is and isn't tolerable, acceptable behavior for us.
For now I'll keep an eye on this thread and see if anyone else has anything to add, but I guess I just need to see how things go the next couple of weeks, if things improve, stay the same or worsen. But at the moment, things are on sort of an upswing, I'd say!