How can I keep my marriage going? We have two grown kids. The youngest still lives with us part-time. I love my husband very much, but we’re different.
He’s more adventurous, much stronger, loves to backpack, hike, canoe and back-country camp. I can't keep up to him.
Also, he’s finding monogamy boring and wants to add people to the mix. He’s met a couple online similar in age to us and into threesomes and foursomes.
I can understand that after 25 years things can get stale. But I'm not interested in the "lifestyle." He's willing to join them on his own. He doesn't think it's cheating if I'm invited and he tells me who he's meeting.
I don't think it's right. I want him to love me for me and he can't change the rules after 25 years. I believe this is a fundamental difference of values.
Should I allow him to meet up with this couple on his own? I think he might regardless if I approve or not. Should we get counselling? Is there any hope in bridging this divide?
Divided On Values
You’re both approaching the brink of a breakup through responding with fixed ultimatums: He might enter into group sex liaisons “regardless if I approve or not.” You state, “he can’t change the rules.”
That’s exactly when the right decision is to take the issue out of a boxing-ring fight to the finish, and talk to a counsellor - both separately and together. There are excellent psychotherapists and marital counsellors who can offer insights beyond his being “bored,” and you being “different” from him, once they’ve met you both (online works very well).
He’s restless, you’re hurt. From what you’ve written, it’s clear that you two maintained a divide between his outdoor, nature-based interests and your many years of feeling you “can’t keep up,” so not trying. Even though you’ve loved the man dearly.
You both could’ve compromised years ago - with him having an annual wilderness trip with male friends while you pursued something gentler with girlfriends.
On another occasion, you and your husband could’ve tried a much gentler three-day canoe trip. Or a weekend away somewhere romantic.
Values are very important. But if your prime value is your marriage, start therapy to consider changes you two can comfortably, enthusiastically make so your marriage feel rewarding again.
FEEDBACK Regarding the unwanted advice a man regularly receives from his partner (July 27):
Reader – “Most of us are guilty of giving unwanted advice.
“Sometimes people just want to relate to another and talk out a problem while not asking for a solution.
“At a grief counselling session after the death of a family member, the focus was on “letting the grieving person just talk,” and not give feedback unless specifically asked.
“Human nature’s instilled in us a need to always want to help. But sometimes the best help you can give is to simply just listen.”
Reader #2 – “She wants to “change” his colleagues and she wants to “change” his mother. This woman won’t be satisfied with him without trying to “change” him, too.
“She’s obviously going to be a demanding, controlling, and unhappy mate because, as you know, you cannot change people.
“He’ll never be able to live up to her expectations. Nor be able to keep her happy, and so will himself be unhappy.
“However, she won’t change as she needs to be like this to bolster her own self- worth.”
Readers #3 and #4 – “We’re married, both professional counsellors who counsel couples together. Your advice missed commenting on the ability for the guy to come home from work and have a safe place to simply vent, where no solutions are needed or requested… a place to let off some steam.
“We often come across couples who haven’t established any solid “communication rules.” It’s critical that a conversation start with something like, “Look, I just need a few minutes here to vent about something… I’m not looking for any solutions… ok?”
“Or, “I need a few minutes to vent about something but at this point, I don’t want any advice. I may ask you at a later date what your thoughts are” ...etc.
“To ask someone only to bring up things that they have agreed to discuss together really takes away an important release valve.”
Ellie - Readers’ opinions are always welcome.
Tip of the day:
Couples’ therapy can help a marriage thrive anew, together. Joining group sex instead, risks trust and respect.