Red Responds: Marriage Woes

Elle in London writes:

What do you do when you have a long standing marriage (over 30 years), to a gentle but weak man and lack physical attraction? He is about to lose his job and does not know what to do with his life. My lover of over seven years is excitable and loving, but unreliable, gets drunk, is irrational, and thousands of miles away. My father passed away late last year, and disinherited me, his only child, leaving his estate to his mistress who keeps bugging me. Help I am going mad …

Dear Elle,

You certainly have a lot going on around you, and there are no easy answers. I know you feel like you are at the mercy of your life, but it doesn’t have to be this way. You have it within your power to change your circumstances, but you must consciously decide to make changes.

Your father’s mistress doesn’t have to be a part of your life, unless you want her to be. Even though it’s hurtful, the settling of estate matters have been carried out as per your father’s wishes. This woman appears rather lost, and possibly a little on the witless side, but she really isn’t your problem. Befriending her isn’t going to get your inheritance back, and she also isn’t going to take to heart any practical advice you choose to give her. You will need to be firm with her in order to get her to respect your boundaries. From what I am seeing, keeping the lines of communication open with her really doesn’t hold any benefit — personal or monetary — for you.

Looking at your lover and the relationship the two of you share, I can see a truly warm and genuine bond. In many ways, your lover has been instrumental in you staying in your marriage. He fills a need and a void that your husband doesn’t even acknowledge exists. But, this is a relationship that is never going to fully come together. Your lover is a passionate distraction, and often, a fair-weather friend. The two of you are much better off with things as they are, for as long as you feel that maintaining this relationship is beneficial to you. From what I can see, neither one of you is ready to make the sacrifices and changes that would be necessary to bring this relationship to the next level. This may actually be a blessing in disguise, because any permanent living arrangement would tarnish the brighter spots of this relationship.

Your marriage is what it is. Even though it is less than ideal, I don’t see you leaving it. Recognize that continuing to remain with your husband is your choice. It seems as if the physical aspects of your marriage died many years ago, and like you really don’t have any desire to try and reignite the sparks. Your husband may not know what is next for him, and he isn’t likely to figure it quickly. This is going to add to the complications of your relationship, because he is going to fail to meet your expectations. It will be challenging for you to handle the next eight or so months while he is between jobs, because your routines and freedoms are going to be disrupted.

If you want to be happier with your lot in life, you really need to spend some time soul-searching in order to identify what it is that will bring you joy. You’ve been doing your best to just “go along with the flow,” and this is where it has brought you. It would be beneficial for you to enlist the aid of a therapist or life coach to help you sort things out. Once you know what you truly want, you will also have a better understanding of what you are willing to do, and give up, in order to be happier with your lot and yourself.

Brightest Blessings,


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