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Coleen Nolan reveals she is battling to save 17-year relationship: 'My marriage is in crisis'

Mirror logo Mirror 18/12/2016 Claire Higney

Credits: Xposure © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: Xposure Telly favourite Coleen Nolan today reveals she and husband Ray Fensome have hit breaking point after living in turmoil for the past year.

She says it is “decision time” as they desperately fight to save the marriage.

Coleen, 51, and musician Ray, 58, have been together for 17 years and married for eight.

But now she admits: “My marriage is in crisis and I won’t lie about it.”

Credits: PA © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: PA They will spend Christmas together trying to work through their difficulties. But if they can’t resolve the issues, relationship counselling and even a trial separation are on the cards.

Coleen says: “We’re going to do a lot of talking over the next couple of weeks, but if we can’t fix it then I want us to have counselling. The next step is a trial separation.

“But I don’t see that as a failure. It’s important to know what it would be like not to have each other in our lives and it’s a chance to reflect.

“It would be more of a failure if we just ignored it and carried on. We’ve been in this position before and hopefully we can come through it again.”

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Almost two years ago, Coleen revealed the relationship had hit a crisis. She battled through it and was glad she hadn’t walked away.

But this time, she says, it is proving to be more difficult, due to work commitments and long separations.

Ray, a guitarist, has been touring with Rick Astley, while Loose Women panellist Coleen spends most of the week in London filming the show.

“Things have changed massively for us this year,” says the mum of three.

“The kids are older and need us less and Ray’s job has taken him away more. But instead of evolving with those changes, our relationship has just hit a wall and it’s only when you’re thrown together again you realise the connection you once had is gone.

“We’d spend hours sitting at opposite ends of the couch not talking and we’d go to bed at different times. The house would be empty apart from the two of us and I’d realise we hadn’t spoken to each other for days.”

Coleen says turning 50 left her feeling vulnerable when it came to her marriage and admits that her self-confidence hit rock bottom.

She says: “I suddenly felt invisible as a woman and was looking for ­reassurance from Ray. Six months ago I said to him, ‘I don’t feel like you fancy me any more’ and I told him he had to answer me honestly.

“I was totally devastated when he said, ‘The thing is, men are visual’. He meant that when he looks at me, he doesn’t fancy me.

“It was very tough to hear, but I’d asked him for the truth and sometimes the truth bloody hurts! He went through a period – perhaps still is – where that physical attraction just wasn’t there for him.

“From my side of things, I hate it when he’s had a drink – he’s the least fanciable man on the planet in my opinion and I told him that. But I’m not going to live off carrots to get down to a size six just to please Ray. Deep down I’m happy with who I am.

© Nicky Johnston

“But we’ve been together a long time and if we’re to keep going, we both need to acknowledge how the other feels and start making an effort for each other.”

Coleen decided to talk about her recent marriage woes after older sibling Maureen, 62 – co-star in The Nolans – revealed her 29-year relationship with Richie Hoyle, 52, was over.

Coleen also feels that as an agony aunt for the Mirror it’s her duty to let others going through similar difficulties at this time of year know they are not alone.

She says: “I sat next to Maureen on Loose Women when she was talking about her reasons for the split and it set off alarm bells for me. She and Richie had been living separate lives and the same is true of Ray and me. We’d lost that connection.

“Ray is a private man and never does interviews or speaks publicly. But he’s aware I’m speaking out and agrees it’s not something that should be kept secret.

"I’ve had so many letters from people having relationship problems, which are brought into sharp focus at Christmas because it’s all geared around happy family time, and for many that’s not the case.

“I want people to know I’m going through it, too. If it can help other people that are fighting for their marriage then it might help them feel better, too.”

Credits: WENN © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: WENN As one of the Loose Women, Coleen wears her heart on her sleeve, but she says Ray is a closed book when it comes to emotions – which she finds hard.

“Communication is crucial – I’m always saying it in my column,” she says.

“I wanted to talk about what was happening, but Ray grew up in a house where you don’t do that. There were moments when I flipped my lid because he wasn’t acknowledging we were in trouble and I was threatening him with leaving out of sheer frustration.”

But Coleen says the couple had a breakthrough earlier this month when they talked into the early hours and made some crucial decisions about their future.

She goes on: “Very gradually Ray did open up and he explained how difficult it is for him to talk about how he really feels.

“I asked if he was still in love with me and instantly he said ‘yes’. And then I asked if he still wanted to be married or call it quits. He said he couldn’t think of anything worse than ending it. It was a huge relief.

“Until that point I wasn’t sure Ray still loved me – he’s not the kind of man that says it – so it was a massive breakthrough.”

Now Coleen and Ray plan a family Christmas with daughter Ciara, 15, and her sons Shane Jr, 28 and Jake, 24, from her marriage to EastEnders star Shane Richie.

She says her children are aware of the recent problems in her marriage and are supporting both her and Ray, adding: “The boys and Ciara have been amazing.

“We’ve been honest that we’re having problems, although we’ve never made it their problem, and they’re supporting us.

“Ciara has been amazingly mature and said, ‘Look, I just want you both to be happy – I’ll always love you no matter what because you’re my mum and dad. I’m determined to set a good example to her.

“If you’re not happy in a relationship, you do everything you can to sort it out and if it doesn’t work you can walk away head held high, knowing you’ve really tried.”

As for the New Year, Coleen admits she doesn’t know what’s around the corner for her and Ray, but she’s determined she won’t give up on their marriage without a fight.

“In a lot of long-term relationships people are too quick to call it a day.

“But you don’t do that when your car breaks down. Before you declare it an old banger and swap it for a younger model, you try to fix it,’ she says, laughing.

“When you still love each other, which we do, you have to fight to stay together and the majority of our marriage has been fantastic.”

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