HomeLifeMy husband and I have nothing in common

My husband and I have nothing in common

Columnist and counsellor Fiona Caine offers guidance to a woman whose marriage has fallen into a loveless rut.

The problem
“My husband and I have always led rather separate lives, but while we’ve been forced physically closer together in recent years, we’ve actually drifted further apart. We’ve been married for more than 40 years and whilst they’ve mostly been happy, we’ve had our ups and downs.

“He loves his TV and watches it endlessly, but 90 per cent of what he watches, I find boring, so I go into another room and read a book or something. If I do want to watch something, he won’t watch it with me and gets up and goes elsewhere – and I end up feeling guilty for depriving him of the screen! He’s put on weight so is snoring more, which has driven me out of our bedroom into the spare room, so I can get some sleep. We don’t discuss things anymore because politically we’re polar opposites, so it just leads to rows.

Read: Divorce after decades of marriage is on the rise

“All in all, I’m beginning to wonder if there’s any hope for our relationship, and whether we’re just drifting towards a lonely old age under the same roof. Would it be better to discuss a separation?”

Fiona says
“All relationships become stale – if you don’t put in a bit of an effort to keep things fresh. Of course, some relationships do come to a natural end and perhaps you would be happier separating – only you know how you really feel. But after 40 years together, you have a lot to lose if you give up without a fight. You say you don’t discuss things, but it sounds as if you don’t talk at all. That needs to change – and soon – otherwise you will continue to drift apart and waste what could be a loving relationship.

Read: Why ignoring problems in relationships can make them worse

“You say you and your husband lead separate lives, but you’ve lived 40 of them together and that’s a lot of shared experience you could build on. In spite of your ups and downs you’ve come this far, so there’s got to be a glue of some kind, holding you together. The fact that you’ve come through two years of a pandemic without a major falling out has surely got to count for something too.

“Let’s start with the basics – if he’s watching TV, couldn’t you at least stay in the same room with your book? Put some headphones on and listen to some music or an audio book, but at least be in the same room together? You may not particularly enjoy the kind of TV he watches for 90 per cent of the time, but could you make more of the 10 per cent that you do both enjoy and increase the shared experience?

Could you try to reignite some connection? (iStock/PA)

“You say you don’t discuss things anymore because you disagree on things, but a good debate about issues (and there are so many issues right now) can be healthy. One thing that might be worth talking about is diet – if he’s put on weight, he’s probably not happy about it, so you could (sensitively!) suggest some healthy changes to what you eat. Rather than being a point of criticism or pressure, this could be a fun activity for you to explore together – trying new healthy recipes, etc. Possibly suggest a regular daily walk together too, which would help him to get fitter and may even improve his breathing and help with the snoring. Importantly, it’s quality time together.

Dear Fiona: My marriage feels more like a friendship

“I can quite understand why snoring might drive you to sleep in another room, but there is no reason why you can’t start out the night in the same bed, if you want to. Perhaps to share a cuddle to begin with – maybe more, as time goes on – before you decamp somewhere else. If you do want to try and make things work, and avoid ‘drifting towards a lonely old age under the same roof’, then you really do need to start talking, and finding a level of intimacy again.”

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

– With PA

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