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Thu Sep 1 6:15 am  #1

Bob's Story

My ex-wife and I met when we were teenagers - 18-19. We were introduced through mutual friends, and she was my first girlfriend. Prior to dating me, she had dated firstly women, and more recently men, and she told me this at the very start of the relationship. I like to think I didn't have a problem with this, but my memory of the time is faded and I suspect I didn't handle it particularly well - I was just a dumb kid with a new girlfriend, I didn't really want to know about that bit of her past as it made me uncomfortable!

For the first few years, everything was great. We fell in love, survived a long distance relationship when I was at university, we went travelling and we moved in together before she started her course in a different county. 

In retrospect, it was at this point things started to unravel. Our sex life had been good, but around this time (2-3 years in) things started to become more awkward.  At the same time, her health started to get worse - chronic pain conditions like M.E. There was always a reason why we weren't having sex, and after she told me she had felt pressured once and unhappy with it, I backed off and eventually stopped asking. I wasn't happy with the situation, but I loved her and she loved me, and we wanted to make our lives work. The big mistake I made was not addressing that I wasn't happy with the situation, but I justified it by relating it to stress at work, stress at her uni, and I started to continually look to the future: things will be better when she finishes uni, things will be better when we move, things will be better when we get engaged, things will be better when we buy the house, things will be better when we get married. I avoided facing the problems, as I couldn't bear the idea of the relationship ending and so I did what I thought was right to keep the relationship afloat. We got married around 25-26, when we'd been together about 5 years. 

Flash forward a few more years, and things weren't better. I was wanting to start a family, but not until her health improved. It didn't. I did everything I could to try to help her feel better, encouraging her to take on hobbies, meet new people and so on, but ultimately we were pretty much stand-at-home types - with the exception that I went to work, whereas she mainly did some volunteering which she enjoyed. 

Everything came to a head last winter, January 2015. Her mental health had been suffering, and this culminated in her leaving the house with the intention of killing herself as she had simply had enough. She got to the bus stop, where she stayed and watched a few buses go past her without getting on to take her where she was planning to do it. She then called a friend, who was able to let me know what was going on. 

I was terrified. I called the police, who after I told them where she was when her friend called and told me, brought her back. Previously my ex had had some success at counselling, but had run out of free sessions from the doctor. After this I insisted she go back to counselling, as this simply couldn't continue any more. We sought out the counsellor she had been see at the free clinic, and booked on with her as a private client. With support from work, I supported my ex into going to counselling, even going so far as to drive her there to make sure she went.

The start of 2015 was a dark time, and hard work. My ex however had success at counselling. She started to feel and do better, and life improved. We even rekindled our sex life a few times, after several years absence. The summer was pretty good, but in the Autumn things got worse again. 

Again, I found out what happened in retrospect. As my ex became more comfortable with herself as counselling, she started to experience life more. I continued to encourage her to go and do new things, to live life etc etc. Now at a weekend away, something happened which she hadn't had happen since she met me - she found someone attractive, and it was a woman. And not just attractive, but gorgeous, distractingly so - smitten even. She panicked, not knowing what to do with this, and took it to her counsellor. It was at this point I realised something was up, but I didn't know what.

At her counselling, my ex came to the realisation that she was not sexually attracted to men. Previously she has wondered if she was asexual, but her experience at the weekend away had shown her that her sexuality was very much active, just pointing in a different direction to my own. After a few weeks where I knew something was wrong but she wouldn't tell me, eventually she came clean, and came out to me. 

The bottom fell out from my world. I was lost, I had no idea what to do. We spent the next few weeks trying to see if we could come to some sort of compromise - remaining together as companions was put on the table, which I refused as I was not willing to give up on sex at 31. I had always believed it would come back into my life when her health improved and things got better, but at the prospect of sex never returning to our relationship I had to say I could not accept that. We discussed everything, over an exhausting few weeks. We talked about how we could try to make sex work for both of us, but it was impossible as the intimacy had gone and the idea of sex with me made her uncomfortable as it wasn't what she wanted.

It was at this point I found the SSN forum, a wonderful beacon of light in a very dark place. I poured my heart out on the forum, and received advice and support when I needed it most. I will be forever grateful. 

Eventually we agreed that the problems were insurmountable. The more time she accepted that she was gay, the more her feelings of attraction for the woman she met at the away weekend strengthened. There was still no revival of interest in men, she even took the time to go and sit and watch people in the high street to see what sorts of people she found attractive - the answer was not men. 

We agreed she would leave, as the house was in my name and the money which paid for it was mine. She was going to move back to her parents, and figure it out from there. We spent two weeks going through everything, literally everything, in the house. As I was going to be staying, I said she could take anything she wanted before she went, and anything she left behind would be mine. This left me with an odd shopping list after she had left, but seemed the fairest way to do things. 

Immediately after she came out to me, I opened up to my family about the situation, and they supported me well. I also told my immediate line manager, as it had a major impact on my work - fortunately work were terrific and very supportive. After we decided to split, I took up a friend's long standing offer to hang out with him and his mates once a week - people I had met a number of times and wanted to know better but had never done so. 

After we split, I went and stayed with my parents, and honestly let them look after me for a while. I decided that my new life was going to be different, and that I was not going to let myself fall into the same traps again. I threw myself into my new life - I spent time with my family, made plans with my new friends, contacted and re-connected with old ones, accepted every social invitation I got. I was incredibly busy in almost no time - and honestly it was exhausting but absolutely great to see how many people I had just waiting for me to contact them. I even managed to join a family trip to New York, which was simply amazing, and on the day I flew back to the UK was the day the new Star Wars film came out which I went to see at midnight release with my new friends. 

After three months with my parents, I started the work of redecorating and organising my house, to make it my own. In all, it was another three months before I moved back in, to a very different house to the one I left. I've lived there now for about 5 months, and I'm loving it. Redecorating and making decisions as I saw fit I found to be very beneficial - when I moved back in, it really felt like a new house to me even though all I'd really done was move furniture around and paint a few walls. The feel of the place however was completely different. 

Immediately after the split, I started the divorce proceedings. We had spoken and agreed to wait for the two year separation period and use a separation agreement to document that, but my lawyer told me that it would cost me as much in legal fees to get that document put together as to sort the divorce out - better just to get it over and done with. After a lot of thought, I agreed. I won't go through the ins and outs of the divorce - needless to say there were ups and downs but after two face to face meetings with my ex we managed to agree on terms. More than we had agreed before she left, but an amount that I could afford without making myself destitute. 

The meetings were unpleasant but necessary - it was at the second she told me she never wanted to see me again. We had said before she left that we would after a period apart, try to be friends. Honestly, I was still happy with that plan. After she said she didn't want that any more, I was sad but I respect her decision - and anyway, my life is so different now to what it was, I don't really want her to have any part in it anyway. 

During all of this, to my surprise a spark developed with one of the old friends I reconnected with. I was relucuant at first - it did seem too early for me to be thinking about dating, but at the same time I did want to keep seeing her. She knew the whole story, she was one of the first people I saw in the weeks after my ex and I split. When she told me she had feelings for me, I was delighted but as I said, a bit hesitant. I laid my cards on the table about my concerns, and asked if she was sure she would want to date someone who is still getting over a serious relationship, that she would have to accept I was still healing. Looking back now, it was a risky move but the alternative was to end the friendship as after admitting we liked each other there's no going back really is there! 

The risk paid off. Things which I had lost returned, passion, romance, intimacy. We've been together about 9 months now, and she's been wonderful and supportive, and patient through the long grind that is divorce. 

This brings us back up to date. My divorce has been finalised this week, so I am a free man once again. I'm happier than I've been in years, with a bright future ahead of me. I've also learnt so much through all of this, about myself, and about how I want to live my life. I've also learnt that if things are not how I want them to be, I CAN change them - that it is self-defeating to please others at the expense of my own happiness (obviously there's compromise in life, what I mean is to avoid codependency). 

Gosh, this has turned out long. I hope this may give others an idea of how things can turn around. If you're in the dark times, hold on - they WILL pass. Keep posting here, I can't stress how much it helped me to talk with others. I'm so pleased now that I am in the position that I can try to help others.


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