A little background about me:
I was born into the church to a single mom. We were inactive until I was about 7, and by this time my mom had married my stepdad. I got baptized at 8. We moved out of state when I was 16 and my parents became inactive, which made my young siblings become inactive. I quickly fell to inactivity as well.
My marriage story:
Six years ago at 17 I met my now husband, who was not a member. I broke the law of chastity with him while we dated. We got married when I was 18, and he is 7 years older- we had dated for a year. Although I did love him, I also felt like I HAD ago marry him since I'd slept with him, feeling guilty due to my upbringing in the church. I honestly was not totally ready for marriage but I convinced myself I was. Plus my parents were about to move out of state again and I would not "shack up" with a boyfriend so I rushed the marriage even more. I wasn't sure he was totally ready either, but it later seemed he just acted like he was to not disappoint me.
Our first year married was tumultuous. He was from another country and a much more traditional culture: women were responsible for all housework, cooking, and child rearing. I was 18, so I was taking college classes and I worked full time but was still expected to take on the home responsibilities. This caused a lot of tension and fighting, as I felt I was being treated unfairly. He made much more money than I did and often felt justified by that and his upbringing. I am impatient and can be sassy but he would be pretty cruel in his words. He often drank. It wasn't unusual for him to get drunk, although he knew I hated it- this also caused fights. He often accused me of cheating while not at home- more fighting. Three holes had to patched up in doors/walls at our first apartment.
He was a good man despite these issues and never physically hurt me but our tempers and stubbornness did a lot of emotional/verbal damage to each other and it was clear we had not prepared for marriage properly as far as actually doing it for the right reasons and having certain important discussions before rushing into it. He seemed ready for divorce in the first year, and I was miserable too, but I didn't want divorce and always tried to end problems quickly, but he just wanted things done on his own terms.
A year after marriage I got pregnant. At 20 I had our child. I thought this would mostly fix our issues. In some ways it did, but bad things continued as stress increased and sleep decreased. I developed a mild-moderate post partum depression and felt numb to most things, and had no motivation for anything besides my child's well being. Our fights were still ongoing. We faced crippling financial issues which seemed to fuel many fights, along with housework and cooking not being done due to being an exhausted and depressed first-time mom. I started to think he may be cheating, too. In some fights he even said he was only here for the baby.
A friend invited me back to church soon after I had my child, so I went. I started going regularly and had my child blessed. My husband was never against the church, but worked every Sunday and did not care to go out of his way to attend. I was a stay-at-home mom for two years and continued to attend church, sometimes missing a week, but not enough to be inactive again. The same relationship issues were happening. I sought help from the bishop's first counselor, who referred us to a marriage counselor from LDS Family Services- the ward funds paid for part of it and we set up monthly payments for the rest.
Our counselor helped us be very honest and open about our feelings. At this point I was burned out by the marriage and did not have much desire to continue it. Things would temporarily improve in specific areas that the counselor had us work on, but old habits would come back quickly and ruin what we'd seemingly patched. I honestly felt more of a best friend type of love than a romantic type of love towards him- for some reason I also didn't feel very attracted to him anymore (he didn't physically change or anything like that) but I didn't share any of this. I spoke about how I wanted a sealed, active family and that I felt I'd never have it with him. He offered to start coming to church, and he did, but I could tell he didn't understand just how important this was to me. He's the type that goes on Sundays but doesn't make it his lifestyle. I wanted an LDS-lifestyle in my marriage and I needed a companion who could help keep me in check, and we could keep each other motivated & accountable. It seemed clear that this wouldn't happen, even though he enjoyed going on Sundays and attending ward functions.
Towards the end of our sessions it seemed I grew less and less motivated to continue the marriage and my husband became more motivated. In one of the last sessions, the counselor asked us to decide if we still had hope and would continue working on it, or if we'd lost all hope and would divorce. I knew what I wanted but didn't feel "justified" since there hadn't been physical abuse, abandonment, or known affairs. I had love for my husband but would feel awful. I was honest and said I was unhappy and felt hopeless. I didn't want to wait years on end to feel happiness from the marriage, or possibly never reach that point throughout my life in the marriage. My husband was shocked, since I'd not shared these feelings during the sessions- I had been hoping I'd suddenly have a revelation that would shut down my fears and figured I shouldn't hurt anyone's feelings, if mine were going to change anyways. I also thought about my son, who'd live in broken home if divorce happened.
I went home with every intention of it being over. My husband was angry and hurt, and I felt bad, but I also felt free after declaring my decision. He very rarely cries but he did. I told him that I still loved/cared for him and thought he was a wonderful father and that I wanted him to remain active in our child's life and to be a good role model. I was worried he may resort to drinking again. He said he couldn't promise that he wouldn't resort to his old ways. This worried me greatly. I didn't want that for him or for my child. Something in him switched and the very next day he was cleaning the house, cooking, etc. It was obvious he was trying to win me over. I appreciated it, but in my mind it didn't change everything I felt, or the lack thereof. This continued for a couple weeks. We awkwardly avoided the divorce conversation but it became an unspoken decision that I wouldn't pursue divorce any longer, although I can't say that anything really changed in me.
He took missionary discussions that summer (two years ago) and got baptized. This was great, of course, but I still longed for the LDS-lifestyle with my husband that I truly wanted since I was a youth. I thought about the missionaries (who were my age) and how spiritually mature they were and how much it appealed to me in a man. I had big doubts about whether my husband could/would ever get there. He had to work many Sundays so he was just partially active with attendance. However he'd quit coffee, hadn't had alcohol even for awhile before missionary discussions, and tried to read the scriptures. The scripture reading and daily praying didn't last long, which didn't surprise me. His consistency isn't the best. This only made me more discouraged about having the marriage/family that I wanted and felt I really needed. Later that fall I started my first job since motherhood; it was full-time and I found a lot of fulfillment there.
For over a year everything at home stayed the same. We didn't really fight anymore. If we had a disagreement he often just backed down and diffused it right away but nothing was ever really resolved either. It was just an at-least-we're-not-fighting-anymore numbness. I continued to have a lack of romantic love for him but no heart or courage to say anything or to just end it. I didn't want to hurt him or our nearly 3 year old. We didn't tell each other we loved each other. We've continued to have sex (although not as often as when we were dating or as newlyweds) but I often hid that I really didn't want to do it. (He would never force me, but I didn't want to hurt his feelings with constant rejection.) He would kiss me on the cheek or forehead sometimes but I wouldn't kiss him. I didn't want to hold his hand, hug, or cuddle. I truly felt like he was just a close friend and actually felt awkward being physically intimate in any way with him. I interpreted this as not being in love with him anymore, if we ever truly were.
This last fall we got into an argument before I went to see a girlfriend of mine. It seemed to be okay by the time I left. I got back home and he took off to hang out with friends. He came home nearly at 3am and was very drunk. I was shocked and disgusted. I told him to sleep on the couch. It brought back so many terrible memories from the past and I immediately felt like I wanted this marriage to end and prayed to know what to do. Worried he'd lost all his cash or may damage his car/himself, I searched his pant pockets to hold onto his wallet and keys in case he tried to leave again. In one pocket I found a small 3-count box of condoms- but there were only two inside. It was as if this was an immediate answer to my prayer. I was devastated by the betrayal. Even through my feelings I had, I would never cheat. He was passed out so I texted him that it was over. I was so distraught that I called off work the next day- how long had he been doing this?
The next day he came to me and swore the condoms were from a moving box that was still in his truck (we'd just moved in with my grandma) and that he'd taken them out to bring inside. I honestly didn't know what to believe. He's a very loyal person, I thought, but I also thought back on a couple of fishy situations involving other women that happened before we got married and felt increasingly doubtful he was being truthful now. For a couple weeks I lived in total discomfort. I felt filthy sleeping next to him. I only really spoke with him when it came to childcare arrangements. He kept saying we needed to talk but I was too angry and upset.
Finally he cornered me in the living room and begged me to talk. He wanted to know what was going to happen from here. He'd already made an appointment with a lawyer for himself. He said he was going to move out right away. I said this was a bad idea since we were tight on money and that he should stay in the spare room while we figure things out. He just wanted to leave, feeling weird that we'd be separated and still living together at my grandma's house. He then brought up our child. He was afraid I'd take our nearly 3 year old away from him. I assured him I would never do that, not having had a close relationship with my own biological father due to distance. I shared my concerns about our child being in an less-than-ideal environment if my husband became inactive in church, took up drinking again, had women over, etc. He made it seem as though that was "just too bad" because divorce was what I wanted. By the end of the talk, he begged me for another chance. I explained what I'd said before: I don't want to wait indefinitely for happiness. It was clear to me that we were not even in love with each other anymore. He said that we could fix it and that if it wasn't better by the end of the year we could get divorced if I wanted to. I told him I didn't want to try anymore but if he really felt this strongly about maybe changing my mind about this marriage, I'd let him try.
It's now been 9 months since then. My grandma passed away two months ago and that took a big toll on me, and still does. We attend the ward I was born into and the ward my grandma had been in for nearly 50 years. That part feels right. I've been promoted at work and things are going great there.
In the marriage we're back to where we were nearly two years ago. Comfortable and not really fighting, but still I have a lack of romantic feelings. I'm not "miserable" or necessarily "unhappy" because other big things in my life are going fine, but my marriage doesn't bring me happiness. I still don't hold his hand, hug or cuddle with him. I still don't kiss him. I still don't really want to have sex with him, although I do in order to spare his feelings. Physical intimacy in any form feels so awkward, probably because I feel we aren't in love or are even heading down that path. I don't see an eternal companion with my husband. He attends church as often as possible but again I don't see the priesthood leader that I want and need in a husband. He's been a member for two years and it seems he still doesn't have a strong testimony or a strong grasp of the gospel. Spiritual maturity is just not there.
I'm only 23 now but I feel time is escaping me so quickly. He is a great man and has truly made great changes but I can't help but feel he is just not the one for me. I feel like we've just crammed a square into a circle but that it will eventually pop out, and I don't want to wait until this happens in order to move on. We haven't been sealed yet, either, and I'm definitely not pushing for it while being so unsure of this marriage. I think of how life would continue after a divorce: when I remarry, will my "ex" allow our child to be sealed to me and my new spouse? Will my "ex" even stay active in the church? Will my child become inactive if my "ex" does and doesn't have support & encouragement from both parents? Will we still attend the same sacrament meetings together for awhile? I'm so overwhelmed by this and want a clear answer. I have prayed many times about it over the last 3 years but don't feel I've ever received a clear answer, or maybe I'm just not in tune with the spirit the way I need to be.
I'm consumed with guilt over my feelings and haven't told my husband or anyone else. I'm at a loss and just don't know what to do. I will continue to pray about it but I've never been great at finding answers to my prayers and am not really sure how to do so. I'm willing to wait til the end of the year to have a sure answer, but until then, this is so hard on me and I'm really not sure what to do. Any constructive advice or related experiences are welcome.