Upon writing, reading, rereading this I actually figured it out but I'll post it anyway. Maybe someone out there recognize himself.
Married for 8, 3 boys, occasional starfish sex, carreer Beta-Bux.
That was about 3 years back. I wasn't happy with my life.
I first found RP-related books like many of us, googling stuff like "how to make your wife want sex". At first I white-knightishly rejected it, then one day something clicked and I had my Neo moment. Long story short : I understood only I could help myself. I worked out, changed wardrobe, got a better job with better salary, read a lot...
For a year or so, things went kinda along the plan. Wife rejecting changes, calling me selfish, etc., while I worked out, started value hobbies (band playing), spent more time alone and went into IDGAF mode on the nagging. Things moved slowly but changes popped up here and there. I was leading more naturally at home, I felt I had a way better understanding of females and the world as a whole. But I still wasn't happy.
Two years ago, less changes happening, I felt I had traded a bad equilibrium for another. I went back to self-study and focused more on myself, I got rid of long-lasting bad habits in the process. I felt better than ever in my life, I really liked myself but I still wasn't happy. I was feeling more and more reluctant to indulge in low-quality sex with my wife. Sometimes I would start thinking maybe she just didn't have it to satisfy me. but as TheFamilyAlpha said "Remove the idea that [your] wife isn't into any of tha. She certainly has it in her"
Meanwhile, worked up dread levels progressively all the way to 8-9 I felt my wife on/off'ing on me. Like one day I'd feel she was on the boat and have faith, only to feel the next day that our marriage was doomed.
I met a girl at work. We worked together for a couple years, were attracted to each other blablabla. At the time I never considered cheating as an option, because after all Marriage is like RedPill on hard mode and I never bail from a challenge. I still thought I could make it work out. Read : "I still thought I could lead my wife to change and meet my criterias"
I ended up meeting the girl again like 8 months later. When we worked together I was getting hard into working out, making progress fast and I got her and a couple other corworkers on the "get-fit" train. She was attractive at the time but when we met again, she had improved, a lot. She was hot. And she was attracted to me. A lot. (This + That) x my need for validation = I wanted to fuck her. Badly.
My mindset at the time went from "I will never cheat" to "I can't help but feeling that sex should be better than what I'm getting" to "Fuck it, let's just fuck her and get rid of the fucking fuck temptation fuck. Fuck". I fighted the urge for a long time, until one day I caved in. We went out for dinner, was fun. Then I took her to a nearby hotel, and fucked her. Twice. It was insanely good, maybe the best sex I ever had. And next times were even better.
I felt validated all across the spectrum, but what did I learn dating/fucking this girl ?
Sex is terrible in my marriage, so either : 1 - I'm bad at it 2 - She is 3 - I fail to bring out her inner slut
Sex with that girl is super good, so : 1 - I am not that bad 2 - I can bring a girl's inner slut out (believe it or not, she actually left a sexless marriage... I met her husband once, oozing beta vibes)
For long I thought everything was my fault in my marriage. That maybe I wanted too much, that I set my expectations too high, blablabla, just like my wife said (yeah, right... go figure) But at some point I started to switch from "what am I doing wrong" to "can she even fulfill me".
Fast forward to this past year. Marriage is at it's worst. We are barely touch each other. Mainly because I just cannot find any attractiveness into her. Oh yeah, she finally started working out, a bit. Took you long enough. On the other hand, we still make an efficient pair of parents and the kids are growing up nicely. Meanwhile she keeps repeating that I overthink too much, that I should see a shrink because "so many people would love to have our family life" so "why can't I just be happy with what I have", how could I think of abandonning my family "just for sex". I dawned on me finally a couple weeks ago that she doesn't want to change, she wants ME to change BACK to... to what exactly ?Whatever, something safer. Maybe I excalated dread too high (she has no clue I cheated), too fast (3 years tho) , maybe she couldn't take it and closed herself.
So here I stand. Marriage was/is falling apart. Wife still not fighting for it. I had the vague idea that women could fuck you even if they didn't want to, just to secure their lifestyle but she won't.
I had this feeling of being on a fence. A part of me afraid of sending 10 years down the drain, and what about the kids, and what if I'm just delusional and plain wrong, and whatnot. A part of me still thinks we could have done better if SHE did better.
The other part, the rational one wants to trust my guts. If she still ain't on the "fuck yes" side, she ain't no good to me.
And when I ask myself the dreaded question "would I still be there if not for the kids ?". I know I wouldn't.
After all, I could land a girl which meets many of my criterias : She's younger, fit, smart, kinky, financially independant, etc.
Since she is no unicorn, more like her are out there.
But I have to admit... If it wasn't for this girl I met, I think I would have kept second-guessing myself and maybe would I still be trying, if only for the kids. Who knows...
Still a long way to go to get rid of the need for validation...