I wasn't married as long as you have been, but your OP was something I could have written two years ago.
I did finally insist on counseling (as in, we will go to counseling now, or we will divorce). I was serious enough about it that I would have left had he refused the counseling... I had just had enough of being unhappy and I realized that the relationship we had was not a relationship I would be glad to see either of my children being a part of once they were adults. Yet that was what I was modeling to them, so how could I realistically hope for anything else for them, yk?
Anywho, we went to three counseling sessions, during which he complained about me to the counselor and refused to even attempt any communication improvement. The last session we went to, the counselor gave him homework of planning and executing a date (finding and arranging for a sitter, etc) and then we were to call and make the next appointment after the date. Never happened. I really think, looking back, the counselor knew that was what would happen (I sure did!) and used it as a wake-up call for me. That's the story I'm going with, anyway.
It was successful, somewhat, as it did make it quite clear to me that he had no interest in improving our marriage.... which I should have known already, as he repeatedly told me he didn't know why we were going to counseling since he was completely happy with the way things were. Hello, Denial anyone? LOL
That still wasn't quite enough for me to leave, but it was what started me seriously considering it. I made out pro/con lists (in my head, not on paper!) and really tried to think about what was best for the kids, what was best for me. I did not care about what was best for him.... by that point, it was really more of a financial decision (yes, how sad is that!!).
Originally Posted by ewp11100
This is the major thing that has held me back in wanting to leave the relationship. I guess I'm not willing to trade my stressful marriage for living in near poverty....yet.
The above quote was exactly where I was, for several months. That was it. I was staying for a comfortable life for my kids. And feeling like sh!t about it, b/c at the same time I knew I was modeling an unhealthy relationship for them. The tradeoff wasn't OK.
We went to visit my mom for the summer (a yearly event) and as the time came to return, I just could not make myself get on that plane. That was it. I asked ex if he was interested in a separation and trying to make things still work and he flat said no. Which was fine with me, I was done as well. I just wanted to be sure I had done everything I could to make it work.
Sometimes it just doesn't work. One person can work hard as can be, but a true marriage takes two.
I say if you can afford it, try the counseling. Best result - it's a success and your marriage improves. Worst result - marriage ends up not working out, but at least you know you gave it your best shot.
Oh!! I forgot the whole reason I pulled that quote - I was terrified to be a poor, uneducated, single mom. I knew ex would not be helpful or concerned aobut the kids once I wasn't there to make him. I had terrible pictures of us in a tiny apartment, me scrimping and saving to make ends meet, etc. It's all come true - and IT IS WORTH IT. I wouldn't change a thing. The kids and I are all HAPPY and FLOURISHING. Yup, we don't have much money for extras... but we get by. Yup, it's tough being the only adult and having all the responsibilities.....but in reality that's how it was before, I just had more disposable income.
I probably wouldn't have left earlier - my DD was still nursing, and I wouldn't ahve wanted to put her in daycare any earlier than I did. If my kids were already in other care, however, I would have left MUCH earlier. We are all so much happier than i could ever have dreamed we would be.
I'm not encouraging you to leave, but if that's how things end up working out, it's not as bad as you think it may be.
Give counseling a shot. I hope it helps you two.