Q. I am in a five-year marriage that I feel is more like a roommate situation. We hardly ever do things together. Our sexual relationship is almost nonexistent (I’m just not interested in being intimate with him anymore).
He has cheated a few times. I only cheated one time, and that was to get back at him. I know two wrongs don’t make a right, but since the infidelity, I often find myself not trusting him.
I’m torn up deciding what to do about this relationship. We have trust issues, and now I feel as if we’re growing apart. I care about him, but I’m not in love with him like I used to be.
I’m tired of arguing with him every day and want some peace and happiness in my life. I know therapy is what most people would suggest, but I already know what therapists are going to say so that’s why I don’t go.
Because of all the issues and the gaslighting that goes on I feel like it’s time to call things off (he sort of agrees with me), but I can’t seem to leave. The fear of being alone keeps me here.
I do know that the times when he’s out of the house, I am a lot happier. Friends have told me they’ve noticed this.
I wonder what to do.
LONELY BUT NOT LONELY
A. You say you and your husband are roommates, but many roommates have more honest and intimate relationships than you two seem to have, because, if they’re friends, roommates tell each other their stories.
If you truly know what a therapist will tell you, then you could save yourself a co-pay and be your own therapist — deeply exploring your behavior and motivations and doing the hard work and truth-telling in order to get closer to the peace and happiness you seek.
A good therapist can also help you to break up peacefully.
You seem to be mainly reactive — responding to your husband’s infidelity by revenge-cheating, and reacting to your uncertainty and lack of trust by keeping him at arm’s length.
You and your husband should have an honest conversation, starting with these questions: Do we want to stay together? If so, how are we going to change in order to be together?
If you do want to stay together, then you both need to commit wholeheartedly to complete emotional and material transparency regarding your behavior as individuals and as a couple.
Fear of being alone is the worst reason to stay in a marriage.
Q. I retired at 62 and consider the ability to do so a blessing.
In the lead up to this momentous event, I alerted family and friends of my decision, which yielded a barrage of unsolicited warnings that my body would wither and my brain turn to an inoperative mush.
Now that I am retired and living in a new community, I am questioned incessantly by apparently well-meaning people about what I do all day, as if enjoying my leisure is a crime. In fact, I am researching my genealogy, reading, investing, catching up remotely on long-neglected relationships, and enjoying the life I worked 40 years to afford.
In truth, I don’t need to explain myself to anyone, but apparently some justification is expected. Have you any insights on how to approach these invasive comments?
LIFE IS GOOD
A. It’s possible that people are asking you how you spend your time not to accuse you of the crime of enjoying your leisure (how dare you!), but because they’re genuinely curious.
The kindest response is to assume they are being genuine. You can say, “After retirement, I’m exploring all of those things that have fascinated me, but which I never had time for. Honestly, I enjoy every day.”
If you discern that people are actually searching for a path to denigrate you, you could add: “and I play a lot of mini-golf and eat ice cream for dinner. Basically, I’m Ferris Bueller, and every day is a day off.”
Q. You answered a question from “Judgmental Teen,” who always judged others based on their clothes.
As a retired police officer I have to say that you were correct when you stated that your first judgment of someone should concern your own safety.
A. I pointed out that there are very good reasons to listen to one’s instincts. I hope this teen learns to modulate her own.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.