Lifelines: Anne Chilton on age-old problems
I’M fast approaching 65, married for 43 years and seriously considering leaving my husband. My friends all seem to have rich and contented lives, but I’m not happy and haven’t been for years.
We moved around quite a bit with my husband’s work, then when we were settled he was involved in clubs and his friends. I stayed at home and looked after the children. It was all right, but I always wanted more: to go to university and travel.
Now he is retiring and the children have gone, so I want to do those things. But he says he isn’t interested and that I should be grateful for the life he has given me. I don’t see it like that; I feel I gave up my life for him. Is it just a silly dream to want to do these things?
Your husband retiring means a big life change for both of you, and at these times we often start reflect and revaluate where we are in life. It sounds as though you have held dreams and hopes for a different sort of life for a long time and now you feel that if they don’t reach the surface, maybe they never will.
Did your husband ever know that you held these aspirations or were they just private dreams? Does he know you are considering leaving him because they mean that much to you?
It takes a great deal of courage to move on and sometimes we think there is only the go or stay options. Try talking about what you both want for this next phase in your lives and consider what you might be giving up. I would never say you shouldn’t leave; but maybe you need to explore all the ways in which you could stay before you make that sort of decision.
LOVE HAS DIED
My partner and I have been together for more than 30 years and while we get along fine I feel bored. We have a good life and I should have nothing to complain about, but sometimes I look at her and wonder if we really know each other any more. We used to be so close, telling each other everything. Now I feel she knows nothing of me and I know nothing of her.
I still find her attractive but we haven’t been physically intimate for several years. I don’t want the relationship to end but don’t know how to make it better. I can’t even bring myself to tell her how I feel in case she says she feels the same and wants to leave. I just want things as they were in the beginning.
You seem to be feeling staleness or stagnation in your relationship and fear that it could it is on the way to being over. This doesn’t have to be the case. Just like anything else, relationships need maintenance to stay in tip-top condition. We often take them for granted. They started giving us all we needed – closeness, security, fun, a sense of belonging – and we assume it will do so forever. When was the last time you paid attention to each other, spent time talking about what you both want? A relationship counsellor could help you review things and maybe replenish some of what has been lost.
• Anne Chilton is head of professional practice for counselling with Relationships Scotland
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