My husband of 35 years recently told me that he never wanted to marry me in the first place and that he’s been wanting to leave me for 30 years!
I’m now 57. We have a daughter and two grandchildren who live with us.
My husband wants to stay in the basement so he can see the grandchildren, and they don’t get hurt.
But how do I get past his lies for our whole marriage and how do I move on now? I live in a very small town.
He wants us just to be friends. Help!
Young Heart but Old Age
Protecting the grandchildren from the hurt of a family break-up isn’t really their grandfather’s first concern.
It’s only about him. He’ll just “leave” by moving into the basement. And since he’ll no longer be living as “married,” he’ll date.
Then he can bring a new woman home, and hey, since he rightfully owns half of the house, maybe he’ll move upstairs with her….
Say, No way.
If he wants to not be married to you, he has to go through what you’re going to go through, too: divide and settle the legal and financial matters you share, move on to separate lives (you’ll be better at this than you think) and maintain your own relationships with your daughter and grandchildren.
I’m all for amicable divorces, whenever possible, but not at the emotional expense of only one side who gets told that the last 30 years were a sham.
Here’s why I think you’ll manage this next phase of life: 57 is NOT old. It’s an age of experience, acquired wisdom and self-knowledge.
Having found out that your partner wasn’t ever really “there” for you, the acquired strengths you have (plus your rightful anger!) will direct you to make good choices and start an independent new life.
It can become a most satisfying period of making changes, and lead to far-happier times for the next 30 years.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man whose alcoholic brother is at risk of ending up sleeping on the streets (November 8):
Reader – “Thank you for encouraging the worried brother to attend Al-Anon, and for mentioning Alcoholics Anonymous, as both are non-profit organizations.
“You’re giving the information to people who need it and spreading the message of help and hope.”
Reader #2 – “I, too, have a younger brother struggling with alcohol addiction and have spent many sleepless nights worrying about him.
“All the suggestions you provided were great…. but you left out the most important one, which is: Do not enable someone’s alcoholism by paying for the roof over his head.”
Ellie - I understand your belief that it’s important to not become an enabler.
There’ve been many heartbreaking stories of parents, spouses and others trying to help someone struggling with addictions, only to have their rent money used for more drink/drugs, and expensive items stolen for the same purpose.
That said, the reader who’s paying his brother’s rent can arrange through his bank to direct the money only to the landlord.
He can also directly pay the landlord himself and use that opportunity to see how his brother is living and how he’s being treated.
While some people believe in “tough love” and letting an addicted person sink to his/her lowest, not every close person can handle that approach.
Though it has worked in some cases, it’s also at a terrible risk.
Readers’ Commentary, Part 1 Regarding the desires of emerging teens for more freedoms (November 7):
“Parents’ relationship with their teenagers must necessarily change as they push towards adulthood. It’s hard.
“Encourage a good and decent circle of friends because their influence will now often override yours. Be open and welcoming to friends coming over.
“Be clear and firm regarding expectations (good grades, homework, curfew).
“But do so with dialogue e.g. What’s fair and reasonable? You have the ultimate say regarding curfew time.
“The teens’ biggest argument is, "So-and-so’s parents don't set a curfew!" Reply: "We're not his parents. We love you and are concerned about your safety. Curfew stands."
“They’ll push boundaries. Give responsibilities and some way for them to make informed, responsible, independent decisions.
“Give them the tools to thrive as adults. Let them fail at some things. Expect mood-swings and drama. They’re figuring a lot of things out!”
Tip of the day:
Mid-life is no time to give up on yourself even if a partner has failed you. The years ahead are up to you!