I’m a 50-year-old woman married for 18 years. Over time, more distance developed between my husband and myself.
He’s somewhat of an introvert, spending time on his hobbies (like golfing) without including me. We have two children so I'm busy with them, but I resent the time he spends on his own interests.
We argue about chores, but without name-calling or screaming matches. Rather, he doesn't talk to me or just walks away from the argument.
We haven't been intimate in over a year because I don't feel close to him. Having teenagers around doesn't help.
I've considered leaving him but the financial part of divorce scares me. Plus, I'm not that young and neither is he.
We respect each other enough to be civil but don't have that closeness that should come with a good marriage.
What would you recommend?
On My Own
I suggest you try a re-boot. It won’t be easy, but neither is divorce - especially with teenagers involved.
No, I’m not recommending you stay together only for the kids, but your letter reflects a pattern of both of you letting slip away whatever brought you together.
So many small areas of giving up: he golfs, you don’t find your own satisfying hobby/interest/course. You’re busy with the kids, but where is he?
No intimacy. Blame the kids being awake.
How to “re-boot” all that? First, open the conversation.
Be frank but non-blaming: The marriage is now just a partnership in home ownership and responsibility for two teenagers.
Say that you would’ve wanted more closeness and if he sees any way you can both try for that - e.g. more family time together on a weekend day, more easy sharing of household tasks without you ordering it or him walking away. It’s worth trying.
Why? Because the emotional cost of a divorce - the kids’ anger, resentment and almost inevitable acting out - is even more than the financial cost. Tell him so.
Consider marriage counselling, something you two could’ve learned from years ago.
These re-boot attempts, if you both commit to even minor changes, give you self-respect for having tried.
Even if they only delay a decision to actually separate, you’ll both have at least thought about the state of your marriage instead of just letting it crumble through neglect.
FEEDBACK Regarding the mother worried about her daughter, 15, and her new boyfriend being alone together:
Reader – “As a retired Public Health Nurse/Teen Prenatal Educator/Sexual Health Promoter, now’s the time to have ongoing honest, open-minded and non-judgemental conversations with her daughter.
“Sexual Health Education will help her deal with this next stage of her life and its challenges.
“Discussions re: feelings, hormones, desire, healthy relationships, consent and prevention of Sexually Transmitted Infections are all really important.
“Recognize that if teenagers really want to have sex, they’ll find a way.
“Giving her daughter information about a local Sexual Health Clinic would also be helpful.
“Both parents need to be involved in this process (so that their daughter will feel supported and know that she can go to them with her questions and concerns).
“She needs to know that both parents love and care about her (which you demonstrate by sharing this type of necessary education).
“She also needs to know that you both think that she’s too young to be sexually active. However, you must convey the message that if she’s going to be or already is sexually active; she needs to know how to keep herself healthy and safe.”
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the attitude of the much-younger second wife who, on becoming a “Step-Grandmother” wants to save the name Grandma for her “real” grandchildren to use. She wants to be called “Grand Partner” (Dec. 10):
“Her letter struck a chord with me. I’ve been married 45 lucky years to my second husband.
“We have a blended family of six. We all lived together for four years when the kids were still school-age. I have three children and three step-children who have a Mother, so they called me by my first name.
“We all now share 12 “rockin’” grandkids.
“When the babies started arriving and called me “Mimi,” my three stepsons started calling me Mimi as well.
“It was music to my ears. I cherish it as a loving appellation.
“To the woman who wants to be called “Grand Partner:” it shows that you do feel differently about your stepchildren, and that’s sad.”
Tip of the day:
Happy New Year and fresh starts to all!