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Are my expectations too high?

I've been married for 23 years. My wife was diagnosed with an incurable, often degenerative disease in 1994 and left the professional workforce in 2001 due to it. Advances have made living with it much easier and many people today don't even know she's ill. Today she's trying to build a photography career by going to school and sometimes making just enough to cover her expenses. Following her diagnosis, I had a long term affair which was eventually discovered. We spent two years in counseling and our marriage was pretty good for several years.

Over the past 5 years I've grown more and more upset with the state of our lives together. Although she doesn't work, at best we split the housework and cooking. A typical day involves me going to work, stopping by the grocery store on the way home, then the 2 of us preparing dinner. Our home is a complete disaster--it's so filled with junk and clutter we could at least make the quarterfinals of "Messiest House in America". She has clothing hanging from the canopy bed, sacks and bags and clothes along one wall across the bedroom. Her home office has nothing but a trail through it. Right now photography frames and supplies take up about half of the hallway in the front of the house. The dining room table has become her office since her office is crowded, meaning we always eat in front of the TV. The condition of my house is an absolute and total embarassment to me.

Over the past few years I've developed a drinking problem. My wife became enraged at my occasional (maybe once a week or once every 2 weeks) happy hours with work friends, usually resulting in me getting home around 8PM. I had an emotional affair with one of my co-workers, which came out in counseling. We went to marriage counseling over it so the problems at home with what I called her lack of contributions to the marriage also came up. After about 3 months, she wanted to quit going because she thought the marriage counselor was too rough on her. She was rough on both of us but I admit the counselor was more direct to my wife (by about 60-40). I must admit I got some huge satisfaction out of that.

After we quit going I did manage to just ask, "would it kill you to make me dinner once in awhile? Just have a clean house and dinner waiting for me when I get home from work? Not every day, but sometimes?" A year later, that's never happened. Despite numerous requests, the clothes still hang from the bed.

My wife is very smart and very funny and we have fun together, but that's it. She contributes nothing to the income of the house (we have financial problems but getting even a part time job has never occurred to her) nor does she cook or clean. Our sex life has vanished as it's so vanilla and she's resisted any attempts I've made to inject some life into it (books, video, games, nothing kinky or weird). At this point it seems like a lost cause. I never thought I'd be someone to get divorced and am scared no one else will want me (I don't think I'm good looking, though I do work out and am in very good shape).

Am I wrong to think she should be contributing more to the house, via a part time job, or cooking/cleaning, and being more open minded to our sex life? And after having fired a counselor that was alluding to that, is there any hope? I didn't have a physical affair, but the emotional affair was so invigorating because it felt like someone actually respected and appreciated me. If something doesn't change, I may not be so strong as to avoid the physical part next time.
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replied September 5th, 2010
Community Volunteer
Hi 2amante10,

Stand up be a man and take a stand. Your wife incurable diesease is depressing her, understandably so. She is surrounding herself with "stuff" to fill the void in her life. She needs your help. She can't be rationial because her physical illness is creating a mental one which is referred to as "hoarding" You need to contact her family, friends and yours and have a huge yard sell, with the stuff you sell pay off some bills and take your wife out to dinner. Just because she is limited physically doesn't mean she doesn't have feelings, needs and desires. How can she be all lovey dovey with you when she is pained by your "emotional" affair which you went to great length to conceal and would still be having had it not been unvoluntarily revealed. If you want to go, go, as far as your wife is concerned, you left years ago, you are just there physically. But before you leave please see that she is in a clean house, and left financially secure.

Good Luck,

Faded Rose
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