My husband and I, both late-40's, have been happily married for 19 years. We have two great teenagers, and a nice stable life.
However, approaching 50, we both seem to be having something of a midlife crisis.
My husband’s wanting to acquire “toys.”
I have no problems with that, we can afford them, and I want him to be happy.
What I need is time and attention from him, which I’m not getting.
I want to go out on date nights, and talk more with him, e.g. have a quiet dinner together, receive some compliments, get a text message sometimes saying he’s thinking of me.
I’ve expressed my feelings to him, but they fall on deaf ears.
I’ll suggest doing things together and he’s either too tired, busy, or too wrapped up with his phone.
I’ve tried everything. I lost 20 pounds and got in shape, I send him nice messages, compliment him, but get nothing in return.
I love him dearly, but I’m feeling lonely and resentful.
When I complain about too little time with him, he responds angrily, saying how busy he is and that I’m pressuring on him.
Am I asking too much? How do I cope with this?
You’re both seeking more personal “wants.” But neither of you are recognizing that your relationship is also in transition.
The teens will soon be leaving home for education. They’re already pretty occupied with school, homework, activities, and friends.
Your husband wants visible expressions of his success – perhaps a fancier car, a bigger boat.
You want emotional rewards for having reached this stage as a couple.
But the relationship itself needs both of you to tend it.
Don’t try to beat back “aging” – besides a few more laugh lines, your 50s can be a time of full energy and greater self-confidence. Look at the benefits.
There’s more time for trying to better understand each other, to support some of what each other wants, and create a deeper connection.
If a happier relationship is not a mutually accepted goal, then this isn’t about age at all.
In that case, get counselling together, or on your own if necessary.
I want to go to family counselling with my family, but I’m unsure how to ask.
I don't want my family members to get angry or upset with me.
I want to address the idea, in a mature and respectful way.
Need the Right Approach
You might think from this column that I believe counselling is always needed and always works, when there are relationship issues.
However, given that you don’t say what your family issues are, or how old you are, I can’t simply respond that counselling will be the best answer.
But since you’re the one who wants it, I suggest that you first look at the conflict you perceive, and what your own part may be in it.
I’m not “blaming” you, just pointing out that no one wants to be blamed.
To initiate a discussion on considering counselling, you need to be able to state, matter-of-factly, how the various conflicts are affecting everyone, not just you.
You should also show some awareness of the others – e.g. you know that your father’s worried about his job, that your mother’s not been well, that your sister feels she’s the scapegoat, etc.
Say that your goal is family harmony, and that a professional counsellor will have ways you can
try to achieve that, with honest discussion and compromise, without any one person being blamed.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who complained about his girlfriend of one year (Sept. 14):
Reader – “Try reversing the sexes: e.g. a woman complaining that her boyfriend doesn’t shave, is hairy, dresses effeminately with dull clothes that don’t suit him, sometimes has body odour, and doesn’t use the hint-gifts she’s given him.
“There are religious differences, he criticizes her, rarely says anything positive to him.
“Now assure me that a woman should treat this fictional man in the same manner you suggest the man should treat her.
“Maybe there’s other factors: anxiety, depression, needing help in how to approach, and fear resulting from his recent divorce.
“Note: I’m a retired chap, just celebrated a 47th anniversary based on love, mutual respect, and tolerance with understanding when the going was rough.”
Ellie – Be assured, I’d tell the woman, just like the man, to gently end the relationship. There was no affection or love expressed.
Tip of the day:
Sometimes it’s the relationship that’s having a mid-life crisis and needs direct attention.