Sunday 19 November 2017

'Is it wrong to want more excitement in my marriage?'


Q: HI Aoife, I have been married for over 30 years and most of those have been good enough to me. I love my husband but the truth of it is that he just does not interest me physically or romantically any more. I don't even think of him romantically, really, he's more like a good old friend: he's reliable and always there for me.

Thirty years is a long time to be with one man I suppose, and maybe that is all that's wrong with me. Do you think that maybe it's too much to expect to have a romantic relationship after all this time -- am I just being unrealistic?

I have always been faithful, but when we got together we were teenagers, children really, and sometimes I do wonder what it would be like to be with another man. Is that terrible?

I am just short of 50 now, which doesn't feel so old to me, I have to admit. I still love to dress up and go out, but my husband is reluctant to try new things, which, I feel, is holding me back. I resent him a bit for that I suppose.

Of course our marriage isn't perfect, and we have had our share of ups and downs, but basically we have always been there for each other and he is a good man. But these days it feels like a friendship more than anything else.

I know him so well, it's as if there will never be any surprises again and I long to have a bit of excitement.

What can I do about it all? Do you think I should just pull myself together and stop acting like a silly teenager? I know he is feeling hurt as I have been so distant lately.

Gaye, Co Carlow

A:Hi Gaye, I am glad you wrote to me. I have a feeling that it wasn't easy for you to do so, and there are too many women who struggle on in silence when a little help and advice wouldn't go amiss.

So now is the time to stop beating yourself up about your feelings and your thoughts, and focus.

You sound like a lovely lady, a dying breed in fact: loving and loyal and genuinely gentle when it comes to your husband's feelings. Certainly you are feeling restless, and perhaps a little neglected, but as you say, you have been together a long time and, whatever the relationship, that's no mean feat.

In fact, by modern standards it's positively heroic, but you have to stop feeling guilty about your own needs if you ever want to get back to that happy equilibrium which I suspect is your natural way.

You tell me your husband is a decent man, a good man, and he is always there for you. In short, he is exactly what women always say they want in a man -- and nothing like what they actually want.

It doesn't sound like you have huge trouble on your hands. I don't even think that you really want to run off with the first handsome stranger who comes along (even if you have been having that dream). I imagine it is just that you are bored and open to a bit of fantasy and adventure, and so you should be!

And before I get the letters from 'Outraged in Letterkenny', can I make it clear that it is not all about the sex either ... at least not yet. Plenty of time to spice that up later, if you wish to.

What you need to do first is to liven your husband up, lift him out of his comfortable stupor and enjoy life with him again. If you love him as you say you do, and wish to spend the rest of your life with him, then now is no time to settle for a platonic, passion-free relationship.

You are not ready to accept that, and if you don't encourage him a little, the chances are that this will happen, leading to all kinds of heartache for both of you.

So act now. Take it that this is a temporary blip in your relationship. Perhaps because your children have left the nest? Or one of you has recently retired or cut down on your working hours? Seeing a lot of each other rarely makes the heart grow fonder, funnily enough.

So break the old habits, introduce a few new things, and I don't just mean fish on Tuesday, instead of Friday.

As regular readers will know, I don't often recommend counselling, but it could be worth a try for you.

So before you give up on the good man entirely, give him a chance to change.

Ultimately, only you can say whether this will be enough to make you happy.

Readers' replies

Sounds like a typical bored housewife. She has a home and a caring husband and yet all she wants to do is to hop into the sack with the first available man who comes along.

She probably thinks she would be getting some romance, but all she would get is a bit of sleazy fun with a low-life.

She would be ruining everything she has built up over the past 30 years.

I hope she pulls herself together because otherwise she will bring a lot of pain to a man she claims to love and has a long hard think before she does anything silly.

Helen, Dublin 12

I think this lady sounds lonely. She needs to talk about how she feels with her husband because he sounds very confused. She does too actually.

If they have as good a relationship (and friendship) as she says, then they will be able to get through this.

It's all part of growing older together. Sometimes men and women age at different rates in different ways -- that's all.

She shouldn't put off the conversation, though, as resentments will build up.

Once this happens it is so hard to break them down again.

Sheila, Co Wexford

No wonder she needs some glamour and romance in her life, her man sounds like a boring lump, and the two of them have just been sitting around for their 30 years together.

He probably always was a big bore, so it's just that she didn't notice up to now.

Women are never too old to try new things and it is never too late.

Look at the likes of Joanna Lumley and Sophia Loren -- still gorgeous and out there.

Go have a life and let him feel sad by himself. He's asked for it and you have waiting around long enough.

Tara, Dublin16

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