I’m a 44-year-old woman who dated a younger man (by five years) for four years. We then bought a house together and married. Neither of us wanted to have children.
I became close friends with his sister, and a loving aunt to her two daughters.
After three years of marriage, my husband texted me that he loves me, and feels lucky to have me in his life.
Later that day, he walked out and never returned. We’ve had no contact since, other than through divorce lawyers. He hasn’t remarried.
My nieces were told by their mother not to speak to me.
I’m having a hard time with never seeing her or her daughters.
Is there any way that I can try to win back my sister-in-law?
Devastated and Despondent
It’s the sudden, unexplained exit of your ex-husband that’s shocked and hurt you most.
But since he’s never explained his abrupt (and cowardly) flight from the life you shared, it’s hard to accept this loss of his sister’s friendship.
You don’t know what he told her, to explain his odd behaviour.
Of course, you want to talk to her and see your nieces again. But I believe you need to be feeling stronger before you try to reach out to them.
If you haven’t regained your self-confidence and self-worth since this event happened, talk first to a therapist, pastoral counsellor or supportive family/friends.
You need to understand that his leaving was truly about him, not you. That was his message, texted in brief.
His sister may know what turned him, but be embarrassed to speak up. Or she was told/convinced that sibling loyalty came first.
Whatever the answer to her behaviour, you need to stay strong and move on with your life. Then, you’ll have the strength to try to reach out.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the man and woman, both 85, having an affair while his wife’s living in a nursing home (Aug. 6):
“The wife’s age, her slow-advancing cancer, partial paralysis and speech impairment… all these don’t dissolve a marriage.
“This is cheating.
“If his wife’s already uncomfortable about him looking at other women, how would she feel if she knew he’s involved with this woman?
“They’ve been seeing each other for three years!
“My husband passed away this year at 81. He was in a care home for two years, a very lonely time for me. I visited him often, he had a little dementia.
“Due to a heart operation when he was 60, damage occurred to the frontal lobe and his personality was altered. He no longer had empathy. It's difficult to be with someone who looks the same but isn't.
“But what kind of world would it be if we all found a healthier partner when our real partner becomes ill?
“This has nothing to do with age, only self –gratification.
“Ellie, I do see your point here that “life is too short for regrets.” However, I think you’re giving people an excuse to roam. Age is no excuse.”
Ellie – I wrote: “If (her admitted) guilt feelings increase, either re-think the arrangement, or accept that life’s too short for regrets.”
Reader #2 – “We’ve been married over 45 years and if I were living in a long-term care home, and my husband still cared enough to visit regularly, I'd be happy if he found someone to love and enjoy his life.
“I'd want all the best for my husband and his "friend.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the man who wrote about being Polar Opposites to an older woman (August 8):
Reader - “I believe that the guy got together with an older self-sufficient woman because he was looking for someone to support him economically. He’s lousy at working and managing his money, but dreaming that she’ll get him out of debt and buy his dream house.
“She, however, by choosing someone so much younger than herself (six years), was holding on to her youth and "acting very young." She’s obviously good at her career and managing her money.
“I don't think they have a future together and are together for the wrong reasons.”
Ellie – Yet, they’ve kept dating for six months. I suggested a break – to “decide if you miss each other enough to focus on what’s common between you.”
If they share core values, goals, a strong mutual attraction and mutual respect, they have a chance.
Tip of the day:
When a sudden breakup has no obvious motive, it takes re-built self-confidence to be able to move on.