Sunday 11 December 2016

Dear Mary: I left my alcoholic husband but now don't feel as close to my new lover

Mary O'Conor

Published 20/02/2012 | 06:00

Picture posed
Picture posed

Q: I am at my wit's end trying to find contentment. After 20-odd years -- with good times -- being married to a selfish alcoholic, I finally decided to get a separation.

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During the past few years of the marriage I had an affair, which my ex-husband took very badly and this made his problem even worse.

We tried to work it out but he didn't change his drinking and so I moved on.

Since then, I have had two relationships but neither was as satisfying in an intimate relaxed way as with my husband. I relaxed and enjoyed his company more than anyone else's.

I am still involved in the second relationship -- which is long-distance and maybe suits because the man is very detached and cold in his emotions. Although he believes he loves me, his lovemaking is purely mechanical and without intimacy!

I still wish I could sort it out with my ex-husband -- we share a house but live separate lives. He, however, can't seem to accept his drinking problem, or address it in any way.

Question: Am I wasting my time hoping my ex-husband will ever deal with his drinking? Am I wasting my time in a cold, detached relationship?

What do you suggest?

AYou really want to be in a relationship but the one that you are in now doesn't seem to be satisfying you. I wonder what you are getting out of that relationship. The only positive thing you can tell me is that he believes that he loves you, and it is a really nice feeling to be loved. But is it enough?

You need to reflect on the reasons why you separated from your husband. There were good times, and you still have feelings for him and miss your sexual life together, but is it possible that you are inclined to forget just how bad his drinking was? Remember, it caused you to leave the marriage, so it must have been pretty awful.

It is unfortunate that you have to continue to share a house with him -- this is the case with so many separated couples these days, as they cannot sell their house and get enough to finance two separate homes -- because you are constantly reminded of the good times without having to put up with any of the bad. You are, after all, leading a separate life and indeed I hope that you have separate apartments within the house so that you are not constantly seeing him.

You ask if change is possible. Change is always possible but we can only change ourselves, not our partners. If your ex-husband refuses to stop drinking then you will have to stop expecting him to. It does not appear to me that he will ever change his habits, or even feel that he should. You continue to measure other men against his good points and you find them lacking.

You need to bear in mind that we never get everything that we desire in one person, despite Hollywood's attempts to have us believe otherwise. Forget Hollywood! We recognise what is good in the person with whom we fall in love, we try to get them to change the bits that we really don't like but at the end of the day we love them for the person that they are.

You now have a relationship where there doesn't seem to be many positives but there are a lot of negatives. So my advice to you would be to stop comparing other men to your husband as you are not looking at reality when you do this, and then decide if what you have is enough to make you happy.

I don't think that it is, but if you want above everything else to be in a relationship then that is the choice that you will have to make.

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