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I don't feel comfortable with who I am. How do I turn my life around and find contentment and satisfaction ?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Faded love, Family, Friends, Health, Marriage problems, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (6 September 2016) 3 Answers - (Newest, 8 September 2016)
A male Australia age 36-40, *oul832016 writes:

So just a week ago I turned 33 years old. By now, a lot of people would know about my previous posts in regards to dysfunction in my marriage.

But I want to change focus to think about my own personal development. Perhaps I am being too hard on myself (since my early 20s I’ve had people suggest that to me).

In the past two days I’ve become more aware of how I feel about life. It’s not uncommon for me to feel dissatisfied with the way my life is going. It comes up every now and then for me. I watched some videos about dysfunction in marriage and I was able to spot many examples occurring in mine.

This comes on top of the way I felt last week just after my birthday when I was looking at the profile of a very happy and successful couple that I know.

So my life exists around work and study. It’s somewhat comfortable in that I have a place to live, can afford to eat nice food and have the latest technology. I don’t go for wanting and I’m working towards my second degree (which will take a few more years because it’s hard to fit in the time around full time work).

Next week we move into our first home so there’s some stress about making sure the loan is approved this week and then having to juggle moving around working and studying (it’s getting close to end of semester and there are a number of assessments due).

Today I tried to have a basic conversation with my wife about her motor accident so I could update the insurance about the claim.

She got worked up and started speaking nasty and once again said “f…you” to my face because I happened to swear under my breath about her marking through my new textbook which I had used to lean on to draw out a diagram of what happened. Later she apologised but when she started getting angry like that, I noticed that I went into automatic panic mode in the other room (just a reaction from the past where she would start trying to smash things). Thankfully she calmed down but it has taken me most of the day to feel a bit better.

Anyway, I overheard her talking to her friend and American partner and I couldn’t help but feel like I’m not really a man. I immediately started to tell myself

I’m not a real man or I would have a good marriage, kids, a home and be in control. He sounded well-spoken and I imagined that he has a decent job with good wages.

So for most of the day, I was thinking about these points and how I’m a bit overweight (but at least starting to diet and hit the gym – even have a personal trainer now), I am still studying, I have a wife who doesn’t have time for me and doesn't really speak a lot to me beyond the practical stuff, I spend most of my time alone and my wages are improving but hardly enough to support the family on my own (no kids yet though). I know it can be argued that two wages are absolutely necessary these days to support a family when you live in the city.

On the train back from the CBD, there was a young professional couple in their 30s close to each other and kissing for most of the journey. Talk about bad timing given my mood.

So I’m reaching out for support to deal with these feelings.

And to confront the idea of leaving my wife in search of something better. But I just feel like I’d also be taking my feelings of not being good enough with me. I am sometimes wanting more and wanting a different kind of life.

I’m finding it hard to define what happiness looks like because I think of myself as not really a strong man. More of an intellectual and just so different to everyone else out there. In a way, I don’t feel comfortable with who I am anymore.

Doing my own thing is alright and I understand that. But it’s like I define myself by my relationships (albeit I’ve only been in one anyway).

Going back to the topic of control, it’s as though I can’t really fill a role of husband as I see it.

My definition of a husband is to have that connection with my partner and have enough earnings to be able to come home and say let’s think about saving for a holiday somewhere when my annual leave is due.

Then in between, having a partner to talk to about anything and everything. Someone that sits and listens, builds connection and appreciates me. Someone that wants to go out and walk along the beach or go out for an evening walk. Someone that talks about a plan for the future.

Relationships aside, I haven’t been overly successful in finding a good career since I graduated from my first degree.

I travelled to China and taught English over there which sounded like a fun experience in my mid 20s but it also wasted away critical time that could have been spent working in a more professional capacity back at home.

I came back at 28 years old and worked a low paying full time retail job for 3 years before landing a job in the healthcare industry.

It certainly hasn’t been the fantastic professional career in something more traditional and well-paying like a white collar management/marketing position etc. I reckon if my wages had been a lot higher and I worked in something better, I could have experienced a much easier life with more time for travel.

Instead, I have worked lower paying jobs and struggled to complete studies that will hopefully land me in a decent paying job as an RN.

Which comes back full circle to where I’m at now.

I compare myself to the more successful young men out there who have decent paying jobs, great careers and impressive resumes. They seem to have it all. I’m sure there are plenty who have their own problems behind closed doors.

But I would love to have even half of that kind of success.

Their own homes, good incomes and capacity to date different women and decide on bringing a quality woman into their life (possibly choosing a decent Chinese wife to have a family with if that’s their way – not really my focus though). For now, I have no idea on how to attain that kind of success.

Even stepping back a bit to some of my friends who are also young but not earning high salaries with high profile careers, they all seem to be reasonably content and filling their lives with their friends, family and each other.

Always searching for stuff to do together and making time for each other. They seem to get along and relate well to each other. Yet, I can say that every single night without fail, I come home to nothing.

My wife is in the office until 10pm every night.

I come home and make myself some dinner before getting stuck into my studies and then preparing for work the next day. I feel a bit single.

I eat alone outside and look at what activities and things I can do to entertain myself.

Isn’t that like being single?

I have no idea where to begin to turn my life around! Anyone want to add some ideas or their own experiences?

View related questions: kissing, overweight, text

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Fancy yourself as an agony aunt? Add your answer to this question!

A female reader, anonymous, writes (8 September 2016):

The main focus of your posts is your unhappy marriage and how you long to find someone that loves and appreciates you.

I was in an miserable and abusive marriage over 20 years ago. I didn't really recognize it at the time as I attributed my unhappiness to other things.

I changed my job as I thought that would make me happier; it didn't. I used to look at other happy couples and wonder why we didn't seem to be like that.

My husband was cold and uncaring and blamed me for everything. Like you I started having panic attacks due to the anxiety of it all. It effected my confidence badly and I felt resentful.

Then I met someone at work who completely changed my view of myself. I didn't have an affair but he helped me resolve to end my marriage. It was hard at first as there was lots to sort out (finances etc) and my ex was very bitter and angry but I persevered as by then I knew I would be happier in the long run.

Now 20 years on I have been happily married for 15 years to a lovely man who appreciates me. I'm not going to pretend that marriage is a bed of roses as there are ups and downs but from what I've read about your situation what are the ups?

You are wrong if you think everyone on a high income is having a great life. Your wife wouldn't appreciate you more if you had a better income, believe me. As you rightly say there are plenty of people who lead contented lives with very little as what is the most important thing for people's well being is their relationships.

I hope you have sought the counselling you mentioned at the end of your previous post and manage to gain the confidence that will help you seek a better future for yourself.

I have followed your story and for anyone else that's interested here are your previous posts

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A female reader, buubly100 United Kingdom +, writes (8 September 2016):

Mindfulness. Helps a bundle. Have a google or there are some cool apps out there nowadays. Adds a little gratitude for what you have got, and how to cope with "boredom" xx

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A male reader, Denizen United Kingdom +, writes (7 September 2016):

Denizen agony auntYou need a conversation with your wife about what you want to attain. What are you both working for? When you get it will you be content?

People tend to look at others' lives in broad brush strokes yet their own in minute detail.

Is the path you are on really for you? It sound like you need to be more creative with your intelligence to find something satisfying to fill you life. If you are really intelligent you don't need qualifications to be happy or to have a successful life.

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