Time to Give Up?
Q: I have been married for 44 years, and it has been constant bickering and degrading verbal and mental abuse. I have tried for many years to please my husband but to no avail. He is now 68 and we haven't had sex in many years because of medical problems. There is no touching or hugging. We don't even talk! I feel like his built-in maid. He is retired and barely lifts a finger around the house. I am tired and much too late to start to change things. -- Sharon, 64
Dr. Susan: You've given up, Sharon, and one can hardly blame you. You really have nothing to lose by going on a strike, of sorts, and simply not doing all the maid work you've been doing by habit. If you can keep yourself from doing what you've always done (his laundry, his meals, and so on), it's possible he will eventually have to start lifting a finger. It certainly seems he takes you for granted, and worse, has been abusive to you in many ways. And you've accepted that for way too many years.
As for the most important parts of your marriage ---talking, hugging, caring--- it may indeed be too late to pry that out of your husband. Maybe if you stop doing so much around the house, you'll be less tired, and then you'll be better able to see some options opening up. You are not too old to leave this man, if he is more of a drag on your emotions than a comfort. You get one life, and you need to make a decision about how you spend the rest of it. Find something, anything, to give yourself a bit of joy.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.