I'm married - but why so lonely?

Posted on: 21 January 2008 by

How can Sherrie encourage her husband to share her life to the full?

Sherrie Writes:

I do hope you can offer some advice. I am a 56-year old woman and my husband is 48. We have been married for 11 years. I call him "Mr. Wonderful". He is NOT the typical husband. He can fix anything, not a procrastinator, cook like Emeril, a computer wiz, a photographer (not his job), can sew, bakes cakes, breads, homemade pizzas, paints, does calligraphy, landscaping, on and on.

He has a photogenic memory and absorbs knowledge like a sponge. He loves watching History, the Discovery channel and so on, but he is far from being a couch potato. BUT - our interests are so opposite.

I love to walk and ride my bike. When we dated, we both worked two jobs, so we did a lot of talking over the phone, and we did some biking together. But we have no mutual friends. Part of the problem is my odd working schedule. He works normal hours Monday-Friday. I am a workaholic, love variety and work some afternoons, some evenings and anything up to 12 hours a day.

When I am off on a weekend, I will sometimes not even get out of bed - because we have no plans. When I eventually do get up, I go for a walk, or ride my bike alone. He has a motorcycle and has ridden less than eight times in the past three years. He says he doesn’t want to do it any more.

He was on holiday this week but never even left the house. He could not wait to go back to work. He has a very physical job and feels he doesn’t need any further exercise, even though there is a gym in the basement of our block of flats, which he now refuses to use. As a result he has gained weight.

He has admitted that he has lost his desire to do anything. He’s not interested in taking holidays or going out. He keeps busy within the house where I am an outdoor person during the nice weather.

What can I do? We do not have much money (we are trying to get out of debt) but there are plenty of places to go that do not cost anything, such as the library, museums, and parks. We went to the zoo once this summer with the grandchildren but that was enough for him.

It's okay to have our own interests but at least once a month - it would be nice to do something together out of the house aside from grocery shopping! He does not care to go to the cinema so I go with my friends. Going out to eat is fine but expensive but his food is so much better anyway.

He is quite content in being a homebody and I have become a recluse as well but I am not happy about it.

Neither one of us go to doctors -we have never missed work in 17 years - so suggesting he goes to the doctor would not be an option. He takes multivitamins, etc. We love each other dearly and leaving is NOT an option for either of us. I have been making my own plans for such a long time that when I am not working - I feel single.

How do I get him motivated to join in activities outside with me? He loves gardening and does beautiful landscaping but it would be lovely to go for a stroll or a bike ride together.

Help!!!! He admits he has a problem but how does he correct if he has no desire? Or what do I do to change myself to learn to adapt better?


Andy Advises:

You are talking and answering yourself. Your 'Mr. Wonderful' sounds the sort of man every woman would love to have around. I can think of nothing more pleasing than coming home after a hard day to find a delicious dinner on the table, homemade cakes in the larder, a beautiful garden to enjoy without having to dig out a single weed.

But if you are a workaholic, what do you expect, a miracle? Ask yourself, is work more important than a full and loving relationship with this super man? You say you 'feel single'. I suspect you are 'acting single' and hence dampening any desire he might have to join you. After all, what is the point of being a couple when your other half takes off to talk to her friends on her own? You are creating a vicious circle.

I have a three-point plan to offer you, if you really want to make this relationship work. Because my basic instinct is that your man's lethargy stems from boredom more than anything else, and your dedication to work and maintaining your own life-style without variation isn't helping the situation. I accept that you need the money, but the mere fact you've written to me is a wake-up call for change.

1. Evaluate how important your job really is to you. Could you change it to doing something where you too could work 9-5 and therefore be home when your man is home? If you are nursing, perhaps you could use your talents to become a school nurse. Or you could offer yourself to an agency, working only those hours you choose to.

Think about how your quality of life might be changed if your man got fed up with your insistence on maintaining your life-style unchanged, to the detriment of his - because that's what you're doing. How would you like to come home to your garden weedy, your table empty and no one intelligent to talk to?

2. Start sharing his hobbies as you did at the beginning. Add a bit of spice to your life, and a bit of humour to his. You need to start courting HIM again. Wake him up by surprising him. Take your holiday leave when he has his holiday leave. That way you could share time together instead of leaving him alone.

Make time to go biking with him (see first pointer). Go to the garden centre with him - and make an outing of that! Suggest joining a group where you could indulge his interests, perhaps gain some new ones of your own, and make some mutual friends who share those interests. Ever thought of learning bridge? There’s a game that challenges the 'little grey cells'. Is there a local history society perhaps that you could join? That's not going to cost 'money' but researching information together could be fun. And if that doesn’t work, I'd almost be tempted to go to a phone box, ring him at home and say: "We used to talk on the phone for hours, so how about let's try it again." I suspect that might tickle his sense of humour.

3. Sit down with him to watch the Discovery channel so you can discuss what you are seeing. And plan more outings with the grandkids - to a park, for a picnic, going biking with them.

Stop working in such a dedicated manner. Start relaxing and enjoying life. Let me know how you get on.

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