SHESAID resident psychologist Kim Chartres answers your most awkward questions.
My husband and I have been together for 25 years and for the past few years it’s felt like we’ve been on autopilot. We hardly ever have sex any more and he never talks to me about anything that’s going on in his life. I feel like his flatmate.
He also recently confessed that he’s not sure if he’s ‘in love’ with me any more and has been developing feelings for someone at work. Is there a way to reignite the amazing spark we had when we first got married, or should I just call it quits?
After 25 years of marriage it’s completely understandable that your relationship has lost it’s spark. Over time you both need to work to keep it alive, or like anything, it‘ll fade away; which it sounds like it has. This is something many couples experience, myself included. So I understand just how painful and hopeless this situation can seem, especially when living with your partner and it feels like a flatmate arrangement.
I do believe there’s hope for you, but you won’t be able to fix your particular problem by parading around in sexy lingerie. What you have is not necessarily a sex related problem, but a serious relationship issue.
Thankfully your husband is clearly craving the return of that spark as well by allowing himself to develop feelings for someone else. He’s possibly felt quite guilty about these feelings and hence the silence and withdrawal. Yet telling you about it before acting upon his impulses is a real positive. It shows there’s still much love and respect within your relationship. Plus his confession has brought your situation to the surface. These are all steps in the right direction, even if it doesn’t feel like it, so don’t despair.
My advice dear Autopilot, would be to follow his lead. You too need to open up and talk about how you’re feeling about your relationship, and in particular the lack of intimacy. This is your real problem.
It won’t be easy to fix, so I’d recommend you book an appointment for the two of you with a good relationship and sex therapist. They should be able to uncover any underlying issues which are preventing intimacy within your relationship and help you both move forward.
Expect your husband to voice some objection. Most men find communicating their feelings difficult, especially in front of a stranger. However in your case I believe he wants your situation to change, and would much rather rekindle what the two of you had, than be with someone else. Twenty-five years is a long time to be together, and this is simply another hurdle the two of you will face to remain together.
I’d also recommend you watch the movie Hope Springs. It’s a great, albeit humorous, example of exactly how beneficial therapy can be for couples who have been married for years and somehow drifted apart. It may not be completely relevant to your situation but you’ll be able to relate to some of it, and watching it with your husband will provide a great catalyst for some much-needed discussion. Grab some tissues though, it’s a real tear jerker!
Got a relationship dilemma or serious life issue you’re not sure how to deal with? Send your questions to Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image via theguardian.com