This story is part of a series called Craigslist Confessional. Writer Helena Bala started meeting people via Craigslist in 2014 and has been documenting their stories ever since. Each story is written as it was told to her. Bala says that by listening to their stories, she hopes to bear witness to her subjects’ lives, providing them with an outlet, a judgment-free ear, and a sense of catharsis. By sharing them, she hopes to facilitate acceptance and understanding of issues that are seldom publicly discussed, at the risk of fear, stigma, and ostracism. To share your story with Helena, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more here. Names and locations have been changed to protect her subjects’ anonymity.
I’ve been married for over ten years. My husband and I get along well—we both love and take care of our children—and he respects me and loves me. He is a great partner. Still, I feel as if we are nothing more than best friends. Our marriage is an almost-happy one, but it is completely passionless. Lately, I’ve been seriously considering leaving him.
When our children were born, I decided to co-sleep. The bed just wasn’t big enough for all of us, so my husband moved into the guest room. Even after the kids started sleeping in their own beds, we decided to keep the arrangement. Of course, that makes physical intimacy really rare. We kiss and touch throughout the day, but sex barely happens. We’ve stopped saying “I love you,” which I think is telling. We used to say it to one another all the time.
We’ve talked about what’s happening between us but any changes we make last a couple of weeks, and then we’re back to our old routines. He goes to work; I go to work. We come home; we feed the kids. We put them to bed. We put on the TV. He falls asleep 20 minutes into the program. I go to bed. He goes to the guestroom. We repeat. I’ve felt so isolated and lonely for a few years now—just like my life is on autopilot and things are good enough, but there’s just no excitement.
There’s also something else: lately, I have been obsessing about “the one who got away.” I dated someone in college and we were deeply in love. He dumped me out of the blue, and then, years later, reached out to me—just as out of the blue—and told me that it was his biggest regret and that he was still in love with me. I had just gotten married to my husband. I knew, even when I married him, that this was not that passionate, earth-shattering love. I knew he was the convenient, safe choice. He was the guy you marry when you don’t want to lose sleep about getting cheated on, or about finances and retirement. He’s steady. Dependable.
I knew that my husband was not my soul mate when I married him, but I thought I loved him enough to get us by. Now that so many years have gone by, I have grown as a person, and I realize that maybe it’s not enough. Maybe I do need much more than this. And my ex makes this so obvious—my memories of us are so exciting. He recently divorced too, and we’re connected on social media. I can’t help but think that maybe we could rekindle what we once had.
This is all so unfair to my husband. He has done nothing wrong. I just feel like I’ve already given up on us. I’m obsessed with what I think I’m missing. Whenever I think about things not working out between us, my ex pops to my mind. Am I considering this separation because of him? Or is he just the kick I’ve needed all these years?
Ultimately, I fear that I’ll make a terrible mistake and look for what’s missing in our marriage elsewhere. My husband and I are both byproducts of divorced parents and we know how terrible things can be—especially for the kids—when so much acrimony clouds a parental relationship. Maybe leaving now, before things get bad, is the best thing to do.
Read more Craigslist Confessionals here. To share your story with Helena, email her at email@example.com.