I am a 44 year old male who has been married for 15 years. We have two incredible children, ages 9 and 11....truly they are gifts from God.
My wife and I are currently going through some incredible struggles within our marriage and I'm looking for any guidance and prayers you can offer.
I love my family and have always tried to do what's best for their well being. My wife and I both work, her part time (by choice) and me full time. It's worked well for us but it's been up to me to be the main breadwinner for our family which I am totally supportive of. I've spent years working for large, global companies....very stressful, very intense and I've always had to work incredibly hard in very fast paced environments so that I can be the best provider I can be for our family. We had a comfortable, and not excessive lifestyle.
The problems in our marriage began largely because of my ability (or inability) to handle the stresses and strains of life. Because of my work, the pace, and the pressures of being responsible for a young family, I felt buried under intense feelings of stress. I've always been the type of person who, when stressed or overwhelmed, retreats inwards....becomes quiet, disengaged, etc. I basically retreat under pressure and in doing so, over time, I unintentionally pushed my wife away emotionally, physically, etc. I've never shown anger, violence, or anything like that. It's just my way of dealing with the craziness of work and life was to retreat emotionally.
About four years ago, God opened my stubborn heart and I saw the light....I fully and completely understood that although I tried to do what's right for my family, I failed to do what's right and be there for my wife...as a husband, partner etc and to this day, I feel pain, heartache, and guilt over those lost opportunities to show her how much I care and love her. I know I pushed her away, I know I didn't fully listen to her, I know I didn't fully appreciate her. In short.....I became complacent in our marriage and took everything for granted.
I passionately believe that through God's help and much inner soul searching, a person can fundimentally change and over five years, I've tried so incredibly hard to show my wife that I do understand, I do care, and I do cherish our marriage and her in my life. Unfortunately, at the same time that I "saw the light"....my wife continued to push herself away from me and has continued to do so. Not only has she pushed away but, she's associated herself with a "friend" who has enabled her to believe that because she's unhappy, it's ok to commit adultary, and to pursue other men. To date over the past three years, she's had two affairs and appears to be working on a third with someone she's met at the gym. She's also incredibly angry, hostile, bitter towards me and sometimes I think she's trying everything she can to get back at me through words and actions. She told me once "The only thing I feel guilty about is not feeling more guilty".
I am completely heartbroken and am not sure what to do at this point. I can't help but feel that this is all entirely my fault. Had I been a better husband, maybe she wouldn't have detached herself from our marriage and pursued other people. I am heartbroken about the affairs but I'm struggling with balancing the guilt I feel with the fact that I can't be responsible for all the decisions (good or bad) that she's made. I have forgiven her for her affairs but she cannot at all find it in her heart to forgive me for my mistakes, even when she's said many times that "I know you never intended to hurt me".
My wife is now looking to separate...maybe to clear her head, maybe because she wants to pursue another relationship outside of our marriage. I have never ever been unfaithful to my wife and will continue to honour my marriage vows, even if we end up separating or divorcing which I hope we won't. My first priority is our children and their happiness and well being. I believe they are God's greatest gift and I also believe that my ability to be the best parent I can will be my gift back to God.....that is my focus.
I am scared, sad, heartbroken, frustrated, but I am grateful for my Catholic faith which has given me strength through these many years. Our Parish Priest is incredible....just a rock and I know there is a reason that I came back to the Church 6 or 7 years ago after an gap of about 12 years. I honestly think that God was touching my heart and helping to prepare me for these tough times.
Should I continue to bury myself in guilt? Am I ultimately responsible for my wife going out and having numerous affairs (any lying about them)? Part of me feels yes, part feels no. I would love to hear any feedback.
I believe in the power of prayer for healing, strength, true, and reconciliation. I just want to follow God's plan, whatever his plan may be. I welcome all advice, comments, and most importantly your prayers!
Thanks so much. Sorry for the long winded thread.
God bless you all