I’m a man, 43, an immigrant who came to North America at 14, as a refugee.
At 34, I had difficulty going out with women. Maybe it was because I could not adjust to the dating culture back then. So, I returned to my country of birth and arranged a marriage myself.
My wife arrived here a year later. We have two sons, but we do not have a happy marriage.
We have cultural misunderstanding and ego issues.
We’re separated emotionally, but we live in the same house and haven’t sought a divorce.
I need to have a change. My wife admits to that, too.
However, I’ve found that the dating websites are of no use for me.
I tried starting spontaneous conversations with women but I’m apprehensive. People are more judgemental today, if a stranger talks to them.
Add to that my age, being a visible minority and being a very short man, I’m not a typical North American or Western male.
Needing Suggestions for Change
Though you draw a sad picture, I see room for hope.
Unfortunately, I cannot know all the influence on your options from your cultural background/restrictions.
However, you’ve lived here all your adult years. Yet you chose a self-arranged marriage because dating seemed foreign to you then.
My knowledge of arranged marriages that have thrived is that professional matchmakers from your culture do the ground-work.
They find commonalities of some interests, pride in each other’s qualities and family backgrounds, and a desire beyond just marriage for being together.
Apparently, doing it on your own wasn’t that thoughtfully thorough.
But nine years later, you two have a home, two sons, plans for their futures, a way of life.
What you don’t have is compromises about your differences, shared interests or respect for each other’s individual interests. Most important, you don’t have an emotional bond or hope for one.
I suspect you haven’t worked on efforts to find that bond.
Like most refugees here, you come from a community that has created immigrant services, a centre for your faith, community leaders and supporters.
Have you two talked to anyone about how to find a common bond?
You’ve been here long enough to know that there’s no shame in talking to professional people about issues too important to your life and happiness to ignore.
Even if you cannot bring yourself to do this within your faith community, you CAN and must talk to a professional counsellor through local organizations, e.g. Family Services or a “Y.”
That’s where I see hope – in the proven reality that counselling can help you learn what change you can make in yourself.
Add to that the possibility of encouraging your wife – when she sees your change – that she too can work at reaching out and trying a new way to live together for your own sakes, not just the children’s.
There is the other reality too, if you try to turn this situation around and it doesn’t work.
Legal separation and/or divorce is an honest (if not perfect) way to live, rather than continue to feel isolated in your home.
But just scouting about for women who’ll “date” you while you’re still living in coldness at home – which has a negative effect on children’s emotions and security growing up – is dishonest.
And it can lead, anyway, to a very messy divorce that includes resentment from the children, and a much-reduced financial situation for all.
I urge you to seek counselling.
FEEDBACK Regarding a different view of the man whose “deceptively” youthful looks made it hard for him to find women to date (March 29):
Reader – “I’m a regular reader and found the letter from “Deceptive Age” was very revealing.
“Perhaps this man is oblivious to a fundamental obstacle in his quest for a relationship. The pronoun “I” occurs at least 35 times in his extremely self-focused and self-flattering missive.
“To me, it’s small wonder that mature women are not lining up to join his self-love-in!”
Reader #2 – “I'm in a similar position. I'm 50 and typically like "older” men. But it’s hard to find them. I also look younger than my age, so I agree with him that it really does make things difficult.
“Men are wanting much younger women than those in my age range, but some of us "older" ones do have the energy and stamina of younger ladies. I’m saying, don't discount us!!”
Tip of the day:
Unhappy couples have a better chance for hope through counselling than through diversion-seeking dating.