Counselling the right path, but have an open mind
Q. My wife of 10 years suddenly said she doesn’t think she loves me anymore ... she chose to tell me this on my birthday!
She swears she’s not seeing anyone else. I was caught off guard, but insisted there was nothing else to say or do unless she goes to couple’s counselling with me.
We’re both previously divorced. I had a young son, she had two daughters, and they live with their other parents, parttime. Then they’re all together part-time with us and have grown close.
My wife would be breaking up our family as well as our marriage.
Also, though she’s successful at work, she’s recently seemed bored. She’s late-40s, so could this mean she’s starting menopause and fearing the changes?
I don’t think she’s cheating, so what else could be going on?
A. The “birthday” timing was for shock value: create a crisis and run without addressing the reasons.
You responded brilliantly — no berating her or demanding answers, just get to a counsellor who’ll know how to get both of you talking about whatever’s going on in her mind.
Now comes the harder parts — listening to what she says, hearing her, even opening up about whatever’s been going on with you that might’ve contributed to her dropping this bombshell.
Menopause? Well, like anyone else in mid-life — male or female — she may have fears of some of the age-changes ahead that gradually affect appearance, memory, energy and general health. But menopause brings many women added mood changes from hormonal shifts, energy-sapping night sweats, dryness, and lowered libido that affects sex life, etc.
Maybe she’s trying to short-circuit the discomfort and embarrassment when she experiences these changes.
Maybe her “boredom” is avoidance of having to meet these challenges. Or, maybe it’s just boredom and she needs to reconsider her job, not her whole life.
Much of this will come to light in counselling. Go with an open mind. If she’s not cheating, then she’s running from herself, not you.
I want friendship, not sex
Q. I’m 61, on my own for 17 years. I have no desire to date or get involved again, but would enjoy adult company.
A widower, 67, has shown an interest in me but I’m concerned he’s looking for more than friendship.
I’m not the least bit interested in having sex. I don’t want a situation where there may be even a goodnight kiss heading my way.
All the magazines and talk shows deal with enjoying sex over a certain age but I can find no place that talks about people like myself that don’t want this in a relationship.
How should I approach this subject without embarrassing myself or him?
A. Speak up. Better to let him know ahead that you like him, but don’t enjoy sex, and want only his friendship if he can accept that arrangement.
If he tries to talk you into reconsidering, or makes unwanted moves, just be clear and firm: This isn’t about him, so he has nothing to prove.
Say that it’s your choice, and anyone pushing for more would end the opportunity for companionship. Period.
Reader’s commentary: “The sexual harassment at age 18 that left a woman feeling shame throughout adulthood (April 11) brought back anger to me.
“I’m 63 and was sexually abused by a family member at age nine. The incident shapes you for life and grips you with fear.” Ellie: That’s why reporting sexual abuse/harassment as early as possible is crucial for your own self-image and alerting others.