Amy: Long-term marriage is lonely, lacks spark

Dear Amy: I have been married for more than 20 years to a very nice man who is a good father. We generally get along, but we don’t have much of a romantic relationship.

It has always been this way (at least since early dating). He works hard and is devoted to both his career and children, but I feel like our relationship is not that important.

For the past few years we have spent very little time together as a couple. It has gotten to the point that we don’t have much to do or say to each other.

I feel very lonely and can’t seem to find any comfort with him. We have been to marriage counseling, but our issues were never resolved (at least to my satisfaction).

I feel like we are friends but not lovers. As I get older, I wonder what will become of us and how I will deal with the loneliness as our children move away. Do you have any advice?

Amy says: Thoughtful parents and partners try to keep the relationship fires stoked during the kids’ younger years by having date nights, going away together occasionally and overall putting the marriage at the center of the family.

In your counseling sessions, are you only looking for ways for him to change? Are there things you could do differently to try to inspire a shift in your marriage (and other relationships), thus easing your loneliness?

To enjoy a companionable togetherness, you two have to spend time together. Simply put, you have more to talk about when you’ve done things together. Traveling, hiking, bike riding, going to concerts or working on a home project together are all positive places to start.

Meanwhile, you should definitely continue with professional counseling on your own. Your loneliness could have deeper roots than your marriage alone.

Partner not welcome

Dear Amy: I am 50 years old and a lesbian. My family has known this since I was 22 years old.

Five months ago I started a new relationship after being single for four years. My girlfriend is a wonderful person and wants to get to know my family.

My past long-term relationship didn’t go well. That person was a leech who stole from me and from some of my family members. My family holds that over my head and won’t let it go. My current girlfriend is not welcome at my parents’ house and my siblings won’t talk to her.

I am devastated and hurt, I just feel like letting them all go.

My family are devout Catholics, and my being gay has always been a problem for them.

Amy says: Your family members are not punishing your girlfriend — they don’t know her and have no grounds to actively dislike her.

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