I’ve been close with my cousin since we were children and through our teenage years. Later, when both mid-20s, I got married and she hadn’t yet met anyone she found special.
I suddenly thought of my husband’s work colleague, who headed their business in another city.
My husband thought it an inspired match - both are attractive, accomplished, athletic and smart. Not long before the next meeting to be held here, my husband mentioned my cousin to his colleague. Whatever he said, it worked.
They met, married, moved together to his new position in the US, had a daughter and a son, and seemed very happy together.
Now, eight years later, he’s with someone else and we don’t know what to make of this.
We understand that nobody ever knows what’s really going on in others’ marriages, but my cousin’s also at a loss about what caused her now-ex to feel their marriage was no longer “great.”
My husband met the new wife at a business dinner when I was visiting my parents in another city. He said there was nothing remarkable about her, except what we’d expect - younger and doting.
My cousin’s also moved on as far as accepting reality. She’s only sorry that divorce causes upheaval and everyone suffers in some way... until they land on their feet again.
But I’m still wondering, what makes people in a seemingly great relationship, change everything?
When Great isn’t Good Enough
Some people crave “change.” It’s a new car, though the old one is doing fine. It’s a move to the country for “Nature,” though the kids loved their city-based school and close-friends.
Or, it’s the “other” possibility that shines brighter - a “better” job that interferes greatly with family life, etc.
And so it is with the newer companion - more devoted (especially in the early stages), sexier (before raising babies), and more exciting (until it becomes routine).
Don’t try to make perfect sense of other people’s surprising choices. Just try to be comfortable and happy with your own.
I'm a woman, 43, separated from my husband, although we still share a home. He doesn't work and we have children so I couldn't just kick him out. This arrangement has worked for us because I travel a lot for work and he’s able to be there with the kids.
However, I’ve recently managed to snag a 28-year-old boyfriend! Initially, I thought it’d be a short-term fling because of the age difference, but it’s working out!
We have logistical problems for getting together privately because he has roommates and my husband lives at my home. Still, I'm really happy with this guy, but unsure if a 15-year age gap can ever work out?
Which One’s the “Wrong” Age?
Neither “age” is wrong, because what matters is the quality of the relationship.
Many couples have worked out successful unions precisely because the age difference satisfies them both. Looked at romantically, if you, the presumably more mature person, don’t overreact to setbacks, you’re potentially a steadying influence on a younger partner.
Conversely, he, youthful and possibly more sexually vigorous than an older man, could provide an exciting new level of passion to the relationship.
BUT, be aware of a potential snag regarding your children’s attitude to the younger “boyfriend.” He could be a friend to the kids... or they could rally against him, protecting their father’s place in their lives.
Reader’s Commentary “I read/enjoy your column daily, except for your advice to Feeling Burdened (May 16):
“Why should the weekly visit with brothers and their families become the responsibility of only the wife/women to manage? Why shouldn’t the men pitch in?
“They just goof around while the women act as mothers to their husbands.
“Just because one brother’s well-off doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t share the hosting. Surely this exhausted letter-writer could discuss this with her husband?”
Ellie - In retrospect, I agree. I can only explain that I saw this as a long-established family pattern, led by the most successful of four brothers, with his wife noting that all the brothers’ children enjoyed the “fun and bonding.”
Also, the wives took advantage of this “free weekend.”
So, I suggested “pot-luck.” But every adult should participate - bring food, barbeque - and even host at their own place sometimes.
Tip of the day:
Relationships are complex whether new, old, or at a stalemate. Face emerging problems with discussion, then adapt to changes that are necessary, or your only choice.