Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I've been married for more than 25 years and have a good relationship with my wife, except for close to five years there has been no love life at all. It's been physically painful for her at times, and although we have had some great nights in years gone by, she simply doesn't enjoy it.
I often questioned myself, thinking maybe I didn't have what it takes. This contributed to me having a couple of affairs. One lasted a couple of months, and the other one was on and off for over a year. Both these women were married, left their husbands and wanted a life with me, even though I told them I wouldn't leave my situation. I want to live with my children and I don't want them growing up with divorced parents. The last relationship ended a few years ago.
I'm a good dad when it comes to spending time with my children. My teenagers love being with me and we have lots of fun together. In the home, I could be more helpful. I've tried different approaches, such as doing extra jobs, trying to touch my wife in casual ways while helping with a meal, among other things like flowers and vacations. Yes, I could try and "date" her more, but I don't think this will change her. Having been married as long as we have, I know her fairly well. We've discussed this topic in the past, but now we just leave it alone and sleep without touching. I don't feel loved and am very lonely. I want a lover, but know it is wrong. -- Rock and a Hard Place, Winnipeg
Dear Rock: It's easier to get through a hard time doing something if you know absolutely when you will be free if things can't change. Figure out now when your teenagers should be comfortably out of the house. Don't encourage them to stay at home while they get multiple degrees. That's not good for anybody's maturity.
It's time to save all you can to help them get set up outside the nest and fly. Once they're gone, it will be the time to break up. You don't want them at home when this happens, as one of them might stay forever to keep their lonely single mother company. Your wife needs some privacy and a little loneliness as an impetus to find a new man and pursue a new relationship. She has no doubt felt lonely in this marriage, too.
Start preparing your wife for the inevitable end of the marriage-as-roommates situation. If she is horrified, insist on marriage counselling with a view to rekindling the sexual end of the relationship. If she won't go, you go alone and work on the amicable end of the marriage.
It's important for the kids that everybody knows the marriage is shaky and you have been trying to fix it. Beyond that, the kids don't need any more details, but it's time to stop totally faking.