My wife and I have been married for 33 years. She was a stay-at-home mum to our four children for 25 of those years and recently returned to work.
She’d always wanted to study archeology so, with our kids out of the house, she returned to university and graduated last December. I couldn’t have been more proud.
Since her graduation, she’s spent more time away from home on various digs, which was to be expected. We made nightly phone calls to keep in touch and I visited her on the weekend of our anniversary.
However, on one of her projects last month, she was only a 40-minute drive from home, yet she chose to stay in a hotel rather than commute.
Two weekends ago, she stayed at the site on a Saturday when the rest of the crew went home for the weekend, saying she had additional research to conduct.
Her current job will keep her away for six weeks and she says she’ll be too busy for me to visit on weekends. She also stated that due to the schedule, she would have to call me, but she only does so every few days and makes comments about the men she’s working with, for example she calls her boss “the Silver Fox”.
I expected our years as empty nesters to be a time for us, not time for us to be apart. She says she’s the happiest she’s been in her entire life, but I’ve never been more miserable.
How can I be a supportive husband when I feel like I’m being totally dismissed, humiliated and ignored?
I think it’s time to be honest with her about how you feel. Yes, you’re happy for her, but you’re also concerned that your relationship is on rocky ground (excuse the pun) and you need to discuss how you can compromise so you get to see each other more.
But she needs to know you’re serious and you’re not willing to let things carry on without a discussion about how this is going to work.
Relationships, especially long-term ones that are challenged by life events and changing circumstances, need attention and nurturing.
In my experience, absence rarely makes the heart grow fonder and it leaves lots of room for insecurity, suspicion and jealousy.
All this needs to be acknowledged and discussed.
Mid-life can be a particularly tough time for couples – the kids fly the nest, work circumstances often change and it can feel very unsettling.
The important thing is how you deal with it – so speak up.
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