My husband of 37 years and I met at university. I deeply loved him. We’re both now early-60s.
Although he’s been a loyal husband and good father, he’s never expressed any sweet words, never initiated a non-sexual touch, and has always physically rejected me if I even tried to hold his hand.
I hate to talk about it but mentioned a few times how his behaviour causes resentfulness and fades away love. He says he doesn’t like to act fake.
His best response: “As long as you’re my wife, means you’re the best.”
He has two possessive and close elder sisters with whom I’ve maintained good relationships.
However, I feel that he's been taught to care more about keeping them happy and ignoring his wife’s feelings.
He’s told our kids, “No matter what I do, she’s never happy,” because he never earned as much money as I wished. Not true at all.
I’ve worked all my life and am quite independent. I’ve been an excellent mother to two successful happy adult kids, a good host at our frequent parties, all without expecting much of him.
I feel I’ve spent all my love for him and can’t offer more. I’m happier and feel freer when he’s away on a trip.
I’ve been thinking about separation lately but wonder if it’s too late.
Need Your Feedback
You’ve been visibly giving, but mostly silent, about feeling emotionally neglected, waiting for years for shows of affection that didn’t happen.
Unfortunately, you built resentment instead of confronting the matter in a way that you both could’ve tried to handle.
He didn’t “get” what you needed, but believed that your relationship was solid.
“Hating to talk about it” just prolonged and worsened the problem.
There’s still work to be done by both of you.
Of course, you can choose to live independently. But that alone doesn’t give you what you’re seeking.
With heightened awareness of what you’ve been missing, it’s time to look closely at your marriage, along with your husband. It’s worth a try.
Tell him how you feel in the presence of a marriage counsellor. If he rejects that idea, say that you can no longer accept feeling neglected.
His sisters may be part of the problem, or not.
But your reluctance to make him confront his lack of affection hasn’t helped you.
You may eventually separate. But after all you’ve done in this marriage, it’s a shame to not face the problems (maybe he had some too) along with a professional therapist, to see if you can find a closer connection for these years ahead.
My sister’s dying of cancer, in incredible pain. Her time left is unknown.
She’s always been angry - terrorizing her daughter and husband all their lives, and wouldn’t speak to either parent while they were alive.
She won’t allow any family to see/speak with her, refuses outside help, and has enslaved her (abused) husband to her care, screaming at him constantly.
He won't leave her. We’re afraid to confront her behaviour lest we be cut off altogether.
Ask her doctors what else can be done to ease her pain, and how to help her husband through this.
Decide if any of you are willing to share shifts with him, or to take her abuse if you hire part-time helpers to relieve him.
If unwilling, then what is it you’re afraid to be cut off from? There’s apparently been little family closeness with her, ever.
FEEDBACK Regarding the husband who purposefully lowered his sex drive (May 4):
Reader – “For a husband to minimize his sex drive to meet his wife's non-existent libido, that's not a compromise. Sex is part of marriage.
“This woman needs counselling to understand that her husband has physical (and normal) needs for intimacy, and that these feelings are what bonds a husband to his wife.
“She needs to change something in her work scheduling, or get medical help for any ailments, in order to meet her husband half way.”
Ellie – Since the husband believes that he’s found a compromise he can live with comfortably, it’s his business. I didn’t advise that route.
He’s not – for now – feeling unhappy, unloved, or that he’s missing out. When there’s a change in one partner, it may well spark a change in the other. Time will tell.
I agree that counselling may help them both to find a long-term solution.
Tip of the day:
Years of silence is no way to address a marital problem. Speak up in counselling, together.