@Undercover1234: “Reading over this, my relationship sounds so horrible but day-to-day life really is fine.My family LOVES J. He is hardworking and honest and takes care of me. Everyone would be SO disappointed in me if I mess this up. Plus, is it fair for me to completely turn J’s life upside down when he gets no say at all?”
I think you need to focus on what is right for you and J specifically – not on what other people will think the “right thing to do” is, or what would be “fair” to him. Blaming yourself for “messing up” the relationship is unfair to you, and will only make you feel guiltier. It sounds like J hasn’t supported you emotionally and psychologically, and PPs have pointed out that he sounds controlling and psychologically abusive… I am not trying to defend cheating, but you seem to feel that you are the only person who has made any mistakes in this relationship. I just want to point out that you didn’t take a perfect marriage and “mess it up” all by yourself – it was already “messed up” when you cheated, and feeling guilty now will not help you move forward or fix the problems. Stop blaming yourself for messing up your marriage, and starting looking forward and deciding what you are going to do to get yourself out of this painful situation.
If you don’t love J, then something needs to change. I think the fact that you have cheated should be a wake-up call that you need to do SOMETHING to make yourself happier, because clearly your marriage was not making you happy enough if you were seeking companionship and intimacy elsewhere.
Now, I personally don’t think you should stay married to someone you don’t love. Obviously, only you know for sure whether your relationship is worth saving, but it sounds like you want out. You say he takes care of you and you have a good daily life – but you’re not happy. As for the question of whether it is fair? If you care about J’s feelings, and you don’t want to be with him, then personally, I think it’s unfair to trap him in a marriage with someone who doesn’t truly love him. I think it would be more fair to let him go and find someone else… (Also, you obviously shouldn’t stay in a marriage based on other people’s opinions of your spouse. They’re not married to J – YOU are. They might be sad that he’s not part of the family anymore, but they aren’t the ones who have to live with him every single day, so you don’t need to take their opinion into account when trying to figure out if you want to end this marriage. That will only make you feel worse.)
I definitely think you should go to counseling by yourself and talk through this with a therapist, to help you clarify what you really want to do. You may also want to involve J in counseling, but I think individual counseling will help you focus in on the right decision for your situation.
Finally – I suggest you cut contact with C for the time being. I am saying this because I know a lot of women would be tempted to jump into a relationship with him immediately, and I want to warn you that I think it’s a bad idea. You need to figure out what is going on with yourself and your marriage before pursuing any kind of relationship with him. I think that having him around will only create drama and stress for you. Clearly, you’re attracted to each other and care about each other – but you’ve cheated on your husband with him, so that’s going to stir up confusing and upsetting feelings, and that makes it impossible for him to be like just any other friend. You need to have friends who will support you and make you feel safe and normal during this time, and the guy you cheated on your husband with is NOT a good candidate for that position, no matter how much he wants to help. Maybe you can try to have a friendship or relationship in the future, but for now, I think you need to focus on you and J and stay away from C.