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DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 383
Experience:  I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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I need help in deciding if I should leave my husband. I'm 58

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I need help in deciding if I should leave my husband. I'm 58 year old and I've been married/living together for the past 25 years. I now feel that there's no more excitement - sexual life has been nil since my husband decided that he doesn't want sexual intercourse anymore a few years back. I thought it would be ok and went along with it. I've recently been having thoughts about leaving. I tried to talk to my husband for the past few weeks about feeling lonely and sad. I work full time and our time off is on weekends. After the normal chores we do go to the gym together and then he wants to go to the pub from 4 till 7 and although I did go and joined him, the only people in the pub are about 4 old men since it's quite early. I suggested that we go together a bit later to meet couples but he refuses as he enjoys the company of men. Suggested to go to other places and he says he only wants to go to the same place where he can meet his friends. Suggested to do other activities but he says he's happy with his life as is and doesn't want to change. I'm at my wits end
Hi, I'm Dr. Jackie, an interpersonal communication researcher/professor and relationship expert. I'm so sorry you are struggling to decide what to do. The most important thing to ask yourself, which I am sure you have, is if you still love your husband. And by that, I mean not just love him but are you in love with him so that you can accept him the way he is? Like you indicated, he is not going to change. People are resistant to change. So short of a life-altering experience (i.e., serious accident, loss of a loved one, etc.), he is not going to change his habits or routine. So can you live with him knowing this? Here is a thought that I am sure you have considered but I would like you to consider more strongly. Are you able to live with things the way you are if you decide to "have your own fun"? That is, while I know you want to do things with your husband, the reality is, he is not going to. So what is stopping you from going out on your own? If you have girlfriends from work, even if they are married, see if they would like to start going out to a "girls' night out" one evening a week or even on a Sat. or Sun. If you have some local churches, there are always activities from suppers to bingo, etc. and many churches do not require you be a member of their church to participate. Look online or in the local/entertainment section of the paper for area events like art showings, classic films, local theatre productions, musical events, dances, etc. Unless there is a blizzard, there usually are things going on every weekend locally that you could participate in either with friends of yours or even by yourself. Because these events are community-based and many are free or low-cost, I guarantee other individuals will be going by themselves. You may be surprised at whom you meet! In fact, you may really be pleasantly surprised at how fulfilling your life becomes because you made the awesome decision to "step outside your comfort zone" and decided to participate in community events. I am guessing if you follow these suggestions, one of two things will happen with regard to your husband: Either he will continue doing what he is doing but you won't mind because you have a brand new life (and you can decide if your husband is going to be part of the bigger picture or not at that time) or else he will see how much fun you are having and decide he wants to join you in the fun you are having. Let me know what you think. I will be around today and can answer anything you want to ask. Or, if you want, I'll send you my phone and Skype info through the JA form in case you want that as well. Let me know what you think. Take good care,--Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you. I did try and find other ways of going out with new friends and he didn't like it and that's when it all kicked off. So now i feel trapped. He still says he loves me and wants me to stay but he's not stopping me from leaving.

Hi, I am so glad you did go out with new friends. You don't say this, but I'm guessing this was very good for you. You say that he did not like this. Was he jealous of your time--that you were spending time now with new friends? If so, that is a good thing if it would prompt him to get out of his comfort zone and go out with you. But you are indicating that this is not the case. He is is not stopping you from leaving, you have said. So can you be happy living with someone you do love and care about and enjoy your life with new friends and experiences? Or are you indicating that he will get mad and start fights and it will be miserable every time you come back from spending time outside the home? These are some questions that you really need to ask yourself. Your own words are very telling, "I feel trapped." My heart goes out to you--that is no way to live. You should not feel trapped in your own home with someone you said vows to a long time ago. The age old question is, "Are you better off WITH him, or are you better off WITHOUT him?" I can probably give you better advice if you can respond to these questions. Thank you for your response that you did send. --Dr. Jackie
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The next day that I went out, he started to have a go at me because he felt that we're leading separate lives, He admits now that he's old fashioned (even though he's younger than me) and expects me to stay at home prepares dinner for him for when he gets in from the pub and then he's so drunk that he goes to bed at 9pm. I've told him that it makes me feel lonely and sad. His response is that he's sorry and the following week is back to same.

My fear is if I leave will I be better off or I'm kidding myself?

Hi again! Thank you so much for the rating. I hope I can continue to help. And thank you for providing more details to help me give you a better answer. Just to clarify, are you saying that when he goes out to see the same friends and drink, you are sad and feel so lonely because it is the same routine and you are "stuck" cooking for him and then all the does is eat and go to bed? And when you do express how you feel, he does NOT go to the pub for a few days to a week but then he goes right back to the same routine? If what I wrote is what I think you have indicated, then I am not surprised at all that he is right back to doing the same thing. Research shows what you probably know--people are extremely resistant to change. They get comfortable in a routine and tend to stick with it. In fact, a lot of couples who have been married for a long time may not be happy at all; but because they are "used to it," whatever "it" is (eg., arguing over taking out the garbage bags, walking the dog, putting on toilet rolls a certain way or whatever the conflicts are). So in summary, you ask if you will be better off if you leave. Here is what I believe you should consider. What is the most important thing to you in a relationship? Companionship? If so, do you have that now? What else is important? Ability to talk about anything? Common interests? Similar values such as religion, political ideals, etc.? And of course, the same would apply to you. You indicate your sadness and loneliness at how your husband expects you to make him dinner after he has continued his routine of getting drunk with his friends. But the fact that you seem to be debating whether or not to leave indicates to me that you are so "used" to (or "comfortable with") his routine and him that it is VERY scary to leave that comfort zone, even though you're dissatisfied, because what may or may not be out there, the "fear of the unknown" is not what you know. Now after you have really reflected on what you admire/need/desire most out of a relationship, ask yourself if you have any, some, or most of those in your husband. If you have most of the qualities in your husband, then perhaps continuing to try to get him to change his routine/you go out with friends and accepting the fact that he will go back to his old ways is worth it. If you have very few of the qualities in your husband, then you may just be better off leaving. Maybe in this case you could try a separation and not make it "official" until you have had time to live apart. People rarely change with the exception of a life-altering event such as a near death experience, death or illness of a loved on, therapy/counseling, or a drastic change -- like you moving out to your own place. That may be the key to him really thinking about what he is doing to your relationship. Lastly, if you have SOME of the qualities in your husband, then your task is more challenging. You will have to put them in order of importance and see what you believe you can live with/without. I hope this is helpful to you. I really feel for you as you have so many years invested in this relationship. Please let me know if you would like further responses. Take good care,--Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Dr. Jackie. I need time to reflect on what you said. I;ll be going on a week holiday on my own and my husband expects me to give him an answer whether I'm staying or not when I get back next week - no pressure!!

Hi again I wish you the absolute best in your decision-making. I'd be happy to follow-up with you and chat with you again if you would like. I will send a note next week to see how you are doing. :-) Best,--Dr. Jackie