Sunday 19 November 2017

Mary Coughlan advises: I don't love my husband anymore

Image posed. Photo: Getty Images
Image posed. Photo: Getty Images

Mary Coughlan

Dear Mary,

I'm a 50-year-old woman and I've been married for 25 years. I don't love my husband any more, and I haven't for a long time if I'm quite honest.

We have two children together who are grown up and living and studying away from home. It's just me and him in the house now and I can't bear to be around him.

With the kids gone, I've really noticed how little we have in common and what a sham of a marriage we've been leading. We barely talk and rarely socialise together.

When my husband comes home in the evening, we eat in half-silence and then he sits in front of the TV, drinking.

In fact, I think alcohol has become a real problem. When he's drinking, he loses his temper and says nasty things to me. As for sex, well, we don't even sleep in the same bed any more.

I have a part-time job, which is some outlet for me, and one of my male co-workers has been very kind to me throughout all of this. He is a widower so he's grateful for the company too. It's the only thing keeping me sane right now.

I think I'm a young woman with a lot of years left in me and I don't want to waste them. But I'm terrified at the thought of walking out on my husband and starting all over again.

Joan, Drogheda

Mary advises:

When I read your letter, I wanted to shout "Just go woman!" I realise it's very easy for me to say that, but there is nothing else I can say.

You live separate lives at the moment. Your husband drinks every evening and then ridicules you. You have separate bedrooms. You cant bear to be around him. It's no wonder you're so unhappy.

You're living a joyless, loveless life. Honestly, it sounds like a nightmare to me. Wake up! You are too young to be living in a tomb.

I believe that any move you make will be good. There is nothing worse than doing nothing at all. You owe it to yourself and your children to live a life where love and mutual respect are the order of the day. People need that to become whole human beings.

Trust me, I speak from personal experience.

One thing that really struck me about your letter is your husband's drinking. This is a huge problem, and it's something he needs to look at seriously. He is less likely to do that if you are willing to accept the status quo and put up with it. The more you guys fight and sling insults around, the less likely it is that anything will be sorted.

On some level, I believe that people are attracted to each other because it's part of a need to work stuff out. They know instinctively that the other person will fulfil certain needs they have.

I felt bad all my life, and that was comfortable. I was unable to understand that I was repeating the same mistake over and over.

That was until I woke up and decided this was not the way I wanted to live. Perhaps if I understood what was going on I would have stayed and worked at it.

But you must know when it's time to make that move for yourself.

You can do it. You have a job, and we do have divorce in this country now!

I hope I don't sound as if I'm being flippant or belittling your suffering. That's not my intention. But you cannot stay in an abusive relationship and be fulfilled. Your children must also be suffering.

You have choices. We must be responsible for ourselves and our behaviour. And on that note, I must turn briefly to the issue of this other male friend of yours. My advice would be leave the other man out of this until you know what YOU want.

It will be difficult, but you must be courageous. Life is a wonderful gift and it is irresponsible not to live it every day to the fullest.

Don't waste it! All the very best, Mary.

Irish Independent

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