Need help breaking free from addiction?
1-888-993-3112
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Ad Info & Options

Marriage Question

Question:

Hi,

I’ve been married for 23 years and 3 of those have been pretty rocky. We separated for a year and I moved to another state, although we continued to see each other at least once a month. After I left he had a hard time but eventually found friends to hang with and ended up persuing another woman who was married and whose husband worked nights. I found out about it and he ended it rather quickly. Its been haunting me ever since.

The past 10 years or so I’d say he really pays attention to his dogs. He loves them. I mean he tells them daily, he hugs them, kisses them and with me there is nothing left. I remember when my kids were young they would ask me if he loved the dogs more than them and I thought they were funny, and told them of course not, but I get it now that I see it for myself.

I used to trust him 100% but he’s a little sneaky with his facebook and his cell phone and I don’t trust him. We have sex still about once a week, nothing compared to when we were young. So…if there’s very little trust in a person, and he shows more affection for his pets than me, is that something to leave a marriage over?

I feel I’m in my mid 40’s and I would like to be in a relationship with a little bit of affection and a lot more trust. I’m just perplexed and have been for about 3 years. I see him trying sometimes but it just feels like he’s just there for the ride.

My kids have both moved out and I guess since there is an emptiness, I see all of our problems more clearly. He’s very involved at work and is climbing the ladder, so to speak. If he gets this next position he will be traveling. Another worry area. The one thing that holds me to him is I’ve lost both parents and both of my kids have moved out and I’m looking forward to grandkids. I know he will be a great grandpa and really he’s the only family I have. One brother lives in another country and the other lives in another state. I just need direction. I’m self employed and he does have benefits.

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

It is not unusual for marriages to have problems once the children are grown and out of the house. Once the “nest is empty” couples suddenly confront all the issues that went ignored while the kids were young. Therefore, there is very much a sense that there is unfinished business in your marriage. Unfinished business refers to the fact that problems have been festering for many years. The question is, what are those problems, what are those complaints?

There is no way to answer this question unless the two of you enter marriage therapy where you might be able to clear the air and move on with a much happier relationship. Of course, this does not stop us from speculating about what might be wrong?

After twenty three years of marriage it is possible for people to build up lots of resentment that went unnoticed. For example, you are annoyed by the fact that your husband expressed  more affection for his dogs than for you and that’s an understandable complaint. On the other hand, he may feel that you never joined him in his interest and involvement with dogs so that he felt left alone with it because of a partner that did not share his interest.

Please understand that this is mere speculation whose purpose is to illustrate how couples get into trouble over what start out being small things. Another speculation might be that you suspected him of having an affair years ago but said nothing. Yet another is that one or the other of you, or both, had sexual complaints with the other that never got addressed.

It seems to me that it makes more sense to give marriage therapy a chance before giving up on 23 years of marriage. If that fails, then, there is time to think about separation. Also, remember, you are not alone. You have two children who, while grown and out of the house, will always need you.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

Close

Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.

Close

Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand