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Dear Coleen: I'm unhappy with my hubby after 54 years of marriage

Mirror logo Mirror 5/14/2019 Coleen Nolan
a person sitting posing for the camera: Serious senior couple sitting on couch © Getty Serious senior couple sitting on couch

Dear Coleen

I’m a woman in my mid-70s and have been married for 54 years. Like most couples, we’ve had highs and lows, and many differences of opinion over the years.

We both worked all of our married life and have one son, now divorced, and no grandchildren.

Since our retirement 14 years ago, our marriage has felt less than happy. My husband has always had different interests to me and we do very little together, despite my protestations. We have an occasional meal out at a restaurant and an annual holiday (always booked by me), but that’s it.

I volunteer in charity shops and at a hospital, and do an aerobics class, but I’m spending so much time by myself I feel it would be no different to living by myself if I had somewhere to go.

I feel I can’t discuss this with my son or my siblings, who don’t live nearby.

I’ve tried to discuss things with my husband to no avail. I’m so miserable, yet he seems totally unaware of this. I’d appreciate your opinion.

Coleen says

Is he unaware or is he just choosing to ignore how you feel because you’ve been in a rut for so long that it’s hard to know how to get out of it?

It’s good you both have your own interests, but if you’re doing nothing together, it’s a problem as the connection and intimacy between you disappears and it becomes like living with a lodger or a mate. And perhaps one you don’t like very much! So, how do you get out of the rut and are you willing to try?

What you’re experiencing is not that unusual – many couples struggle to be together happily once the distractions of work and kids have gone. It’s almost as if you have to create a new life together.

And it can be really hard to adjust to these changes in circumstance. It’s a point that brings lots of older couples to therapy.

Don’t let him fob you off – talk to him again and be direct.

Tell him you’re miserable and how you’d like things to be. If you have to be the driving force to organize things and book stuff, then just do it.

It’s going to take one of you to take the initiative. But he needs to realize how important this is in the context of your marriage.

You could both think about relationship psychotherapy if you find it hard to discuss things.

You could also have therapy on your own to work through your feelings.

If you decide you want to leave the marriage, it’s never too late, as I know from the many older people who write to me. And if you want to talk about it to your family, then don’t be too proud to pick up the phone.

Good luck.

Related video: Do lavish weddings lead to higher divorce rates? (provided by The Doctors)

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