Since Irene’s children left home, she’s found her husband a little boorish and she’s worried that their marriage is doomed. Today, Jo Lamble has some advice on how to rekindle the flame.
My husband and I have been together since our early 20s and have two wonderful grown-up children, who have recently moved out of home. While I love my husband dearly as the father of my children and for all that we’ve shared over the years, I’m not so sure that I like him very much. He can be quite boorish and overbearing especially when we’re in company. And if I’m honest, when it’s just the two of us we don't have that much to talk about. It’s only when the kids come home that he truly lights up and is like the man I married all those years ago.
I know this is perhaps common when you’ve been together for so long but is there anything I can do about it? Or should I just accept that this is life?
A. There are two real dangers for long-term relationships. The first is when couples have very young children; there is limited time to spend together and there are many stressors surrounding work/life balance. You and your husband are in the second danger zone – when the children leave home and you are left wondering whether you can live out the rest of your lives together. You’re both aware of each other’s faults and there is less to distract you without the children at home and with decreasing work pressures.
The aim is to slowly create a new normal for you and your husband. How can you make the next stage of your life as rewarding and meaningful as possible? What have you longed to do? Where have you yearned to go? What new interests do you want to take up? What bad habits do you want to stop? With these questions in mind, talk to your husband about your future as individuals and as a couple. It may take many conversations for your hope of a happy future to build up. Gently point out when you’re feeling he’s being overbearing or boorish and remind him that you both want to enjoy this next stage of life – hopefully together.
Give your husband the chance to embrace your new life and if he struggles to move in this direction, make it clear that you are seriously questioning your future together. Many people in long-term relationships don’t realise how unhappy their partners are until it’s too late for them to make changes – their spouse has already decided to leave but has never actually said that they were close to calling it quits.
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