First, I need to tell you, I didn't love my husband when we married. He was my roommate for many years, playing pseudo dad to my two small children from a previous marriage until the kids moved out on their own. We are both in our 50's (I'm 5 years older). For 10 years we were just roommates who had sex once in a while. Then, it got too expensive to live where we were (California) and so we moved to his home town in the Midwest so he could help out his parents who were getting too old. We didn't feel right about imposing on them though we lived with them for about a year. We started looking for a place to move and decided to buy a house. In the Midwest, people are very conservative (I'm a liberal) so I was shocked we would get turned down for a house just because we weren't married. How stupid! Anyway, I said, "Well, if that's what they need us to be then let's get married." And we did at the courthouse. No kisses, no romance, no honeymoon. It was all very practical. We really were pretty good roommates, huh? Or was that taking it too far? Anyway, we got a house and settled down four years ago.
Now I am trapped in a marriage that has no love in it. We do care for each other but there's no love, no intimacy. We're still roommates. We even sleep in separate rooms because he works nights and I work days. I really want to leave him now but after 14 years how do I tell him I need someone I love and who really loves me and feels passion? I don't want to hurt him but I have needs that this relationship just doesn't meet.
On weekends we do chores, eat together, watch a little tv together. Then we go to sleep. There are no hugs or kisses. There are no activities we do together. He is a couch potato and I go off to the gym. That's all we see of each other. It's been this way for 4 years and I need someone at home when I get home at night (he's gone by the time I get home). I need someone to hold me, encourage me, kiss me, play with me. I don't just need someone to do chores with. I need someone there to talk to and to be a companion to me, sharing ideas, having sex, wanting to do things with me. I feel like I'm to blame and it means, "you made your bed, now you've got to sleep in it." But I see it as though I'm already living alone as it is. How different would it be if I just left?
In fact, one time a few years ago, I left on a trip to do genealogical research for a whole week. He hardly noticed I had been gone. Didn't even ask me where I had gone to or what I had seen. Maybe we really are still roommates!
I need to make up my mind what to do. He isn't mean or dreadful or lazy. He does his share and works hard, just like I do. But there has to be more to marriage than this. In my first marriage, my spouse beat me up in front of the children. That took a lot of time to get over that one. So maybe I was just looking for a roommate, not another husband. I really made a big mistake when I suggested marriage, didn't I.
Don't know what to do. I'm over menopause and should be ready to retire soon. But instead, I'm eager to find someone to be intimate with, etc., have adventures with. I want some fun times with someone. I won't be able to find that kind of retirement with this guy. That's for sure.
Signed, Bored to Tears
Dear Bored to Tears,
Yours is a story of settling. Fourteen years ago you both settled for a relationship of convenience. It was easy to be together -- no commitment, no work, no stress.
And like you said, no joy, no love ... no “Umph!”
If this were twelve years ago I would advise you to try putting more into the relationship. In many cases when people feel they have settled, the relationship can be improved tremendously by figuring out things you enjoy doing together, putting effort into finding opportunities to share time and experiences, making time to have fun together. This can go a long way toward building closeness. If you’re not careful, doing that over a period of time can even lead to passion and kissing.
In your case, though, my guess is that fourteen years of momentum (or maybe I should say a lack of momentum) would be next to impossible to turn around. If you want an actual love life, your only choice is probably to leave and start over. But then your letter makes it clear you already know that. Your problem is that you worry about hurting him, and you also worry about what would become of you.
“Who would want me?” your inner voice says. “It seems so risky to leave this safe situation, even if it is boring.”
Thing is, your bigger risk is staying. In fact, it’s more than a risk -- it’s a certainty. Stay and you are guaranteed to continue living without hugs and kisses.
Should you worry about hurting him? Of course you should. He may not be your Prince Charming, but you have shared many years together.
But here’s the thing -- how much are you hurting him by staying? You are not the only one who is deprived of love and passion. You may hurt his feelings if you leave, but at least then he would have a chance to find a partner who is more than a roommate.
And so would you.
It sounds to me like your mind is already made up about what you want to do. You’re just trying to convince yourself it’s what you should do. I suggest you find the courage to admit to yourself what you really want in life, and then do what it takes to make that happen.
All the best,