Tuesday 16 January 2018

Dear Mary: I'm struggling to spend time in my cynical husband's company - should I leave him?

Image: Getty
Image: Getty

Mary O'Conor

I have been with my husband for 27 years and married for 23. We don't have sex very often and when we do it's like we are going through the motions. My kids are teenagers now and more and more I see them starting to pull away from us and pursue their own lives.

The truth is, I find it very difficult to spend any time in my husband's company. He can be very negative and cynical, whereas I am a positive and mostly upbeat person. He often looks bored when I am talking to him, which I find really insulting. I have a degree, so I know I'm not thick, but he has this way of making me feel inferior to him.

Now they are older my kids say that I make things worse by trying to be nice to him all the time, but I just want an easy life. He does have a good sense of humour and often makes me laugh, I think without that I would have left him long ago.

The trouble is, it's not enough now.

In a way, I wish he would be honest with himself and admit that we are struggling. When he's not working all he does is play PlayStation games and watch TV.

He never goes out or spends any money or has any friends. My life might not be thrilling either, but at least I have interests, friends and hobbies.

I feel that it is inevitable that I will leave him one day because he's not going to change. I feel that I'm just waiting for my kids to become adults. It's so sad, because all he does is talk about retiring as if that's going to solve all our problems, but I know it's not.

Mary replies: Empty Nest Syndrome is looking you in the eye and you don't like what you see one little bit. Somehow I get the feeling that your husband has absolutely no idea of how badly you feel or that you are actively thinking about separating from him.

You are absolutely right that your husband is not going to change as things stand, but if it becomes important enough to him he should be fully capable of changing his ways.

Think carefully about what you would like him to do differently and then have a talk with him explaining how you feel.

This will probably be difficult for you, especially as you have been used to placating him for an easy life. I imagine it will be a huge shock for him to hear how unhappy you are and after that it will be up to him to prove how much he wants to keep you.

He still makes you laugh which I see as being quite hopeful, so perhaps this is not the end of the road for you both but instead a detour to a better place.

Dear Mary: It's impossible to forget boyfriend who ditched me over the phone

I met a guy on a night out and was seeing him for a few months. He is a good few years older than me and lived in the UK so we both flew over and back to Dublin to see each other.

Things were going so well and I really thought this was it. He was caring, attentive, listened to my problems and was easy to laugh and joke with.

I told my friends and family about him, and he told his about me. We talked about possible future plans and discussed when we would see each other next.

One evening he called me to say he was unsure of his feelings for me. The next day he called it off, saying he didn't see it being long-term.

This was totally out of the blue and took me by surprise. I felt like an utter fool. We have chatted since then once or twice, but never about what happened.

The problem now is that I can't get over it. It has totally devastated me and consumes my thoughts, especially the idea that we might get back together.

I am still in love with him but I've had to delete him on all social media as I felt sick seeing him chatting to other girls.

It's getting to the point that I'm obsessing over it which is very unlike my normal self when it comes to relationships and breakups.

I've started an amazing new job but cannot put my all into it due to this situation.

Should I contact him again - even though I know he is seeing another woman now - or what can I do to ease this pain?

Mary replies: This must have been a horrible experience for you, when out of the blue your boyfriend called a halt to what promised to be a really good relationship.

It is also particularly difficult to get this news on the telephone - it somehow seems so impersonal.

Women end relationships because they are unhappy and don't see a future together. As a general rule men end them when they have found somebody else.

It is possible that this man either met somebody new or somebody came back into his life and he decided that this was who he wanted to be with.

You should not contact him again. He has your number if he wants to call you and you would only be prolonging the distress to yourself by hearing his voice again. You will have to look very firmly forward rather than looking back.

I appreciate that you are obsessing about him and what might have been but this is not doing yourself any favours and is probably hurting your performance in your new job.

I suggest that you give yourself some time every week - for instance 7pm every Wednesday - and allow yourself 30 minutes in which to wallow.

You might even need two sessions a week to begin with.

Any other time you find yourself thinking about him remind yourself that you will be thinking about him on the appointed night, and then get back to what you were doing before the thoughts of him interrupted you.

You will find that this is a very useful exercise in getting over your heartache and getting on with your life.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

Sunday Independent

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