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Divorce after over 30 years of marriage?


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Hi everyone.

I feel like I'm faced with an impossible dilemma. I've been married for over 30 years to a generally decent man.  No infidelity/trust issues/abuse/major issues of any kind.  I know that he loves me and we spend most days together doing general everyday stuff.  We aren't as close as I'd like us to be, and we don't really have much to talk about.  I don't think he's got a very good sense of humour and I find it quite hard to have an imaginative discussion with him. I'd say that he's always been a little controlling/jealous of the time I've wanted to spend with other people, but nothing extreme.  The only thing that has always been a cause for repeated arguments is his major dislike of my mother.

However, for the past 10 years or so, he's become much more negative about so many things. It's hard to describe but it's like the absolute opposite of 'rose coloured glasses'.   So many things bother him and I feel like I'm just waiting for him to make the next negative comment.  These negative comments aren't over anything specific and they're not particularly harsh (no swearing/name calling is involved) but I'm finding it SO tiring.   I feel so sad when I think that I'll have to listen to them for the rest of my life.  It's mainly about (although not limited to) family members.  For instance, whenever we go to a family gathering there will ALWAYS be someone there that he has to moan about to me afterwards.  He can NEVER just go somewhere, enjoy the company and afterwards say how nice it was to see everyone again.  I'd say that he has complaints/reasons to moan about 90% of all our family members.  The situation with my mother has got so bad that he refuses to ever be in the same room with her again.  

So far, I've tried talking him round to seeing the brighter-side of things and I've also tried to just ignore his negativity, but neither of these has brought me any success.  This whole situation has made my feelings towards him change dramatically.   His negativity towards others is making it harder and harder for me to see him in a positive light.   Life has enough negativity in it, and I want a partner who can join me in the enjoyment of our family, not spoil everything by commenting on what everyone else is doing wrong.

Apart from this issue, there are so many things that I love about being married.  Although I want his negativity to stop (I don't think he can change) , I don't really want to turn my whole life upside down by splitting up.  I feel like I'm stuck. Whatever I choose to do, I can't see the life that I want ahead of me.

I feel desperate now and I really need some help.

Thanks for any replies.

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1 hour ago, Meg1969 said:

However, for the past 10 years or so, he's become much more negative about so many things. I feel so sad when I think that I'll have to listen to them for the rest of my life.  It's mainly about (although not limited to) family members. I've tried talking him round to seeing the brighter-side of things

So you don't want a divorce, you just want the complaining and arguing to stop. 

First of all stop the Pollyanna routine. Let him stew and stop arguing and arguing to "cheer him up". You're wasting your time. Get insight into how annoying that is.

Also stop forcing your family down his throat. Why cant you see them on your own? Why do you have to drag him along?

This is chronic. He is not going to change. However you can start taking action and change things.

That means find more outside interests. Get out of the house more. And  most of all stop talking about your family and your mother. Do stuff as a couple, take up golf or something. 

Just leave the room if he starts a whining pity party. Maybe he's depressed, maybe you bore each other, most likely you're in a rut and arguing about your mother/family has become a routine situation.

Since you don't want to leave and you can't change him, you can stop shoving the 'rosy glasses' down his throat and stop shoving your family down his throat.  Don't invite him to family gatherings. 

 

 

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Are you able to talk to him about this? 

I ended things with a guy over this same kind of thing.  Not 30 years though. but... I did try to talk to him about it. Let him know how he was impacting me. 

He was not willing to do anything to change.  He just ignored it/me and would tell people,  "she just needs space".

which was not what I needed. Actually his giving me space was the exact opposite of what I needed.  I needed engagement together in a fun and positive way. And so of course I ended it.  

30 years is a long time but sounds like you given it enough time.  He needs to know what you're feeling and have the opportunity to fix it. If he doesn't respond well, then at least you know you tried. 

In a lot of ways, he not being what you want is not his fault. At 30 years you are definitely an active participant in whatever happened.  So own that piece of it and start pursuing the life you want.  It's not too late.  Don't let fear stop you... doing nothing now is continuing to make bad choices.

Eta: sorry I missed the part you don't want to end it. My advice really didn't help you with that. 

Unfortunately, you can't change another person and any change is hard.  if you won't leave then this is your fate. 

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Can you be honest with him and let him know his negativity is affecting your feelings for him? This might be a wake up call for him. And if you divorced, it's unfair for him if you never told him exactly how you're feeling so he has a chance to change.

I'd give couples counseling a try. Best to try everything before throwing in the towel, if your love for him hasn't already totally died.

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48 minutes ago, Seraphim said:

What was his initial issue with your mom that started everything? Does he HAVE to see her ? 

I'll admit that my mum is not the easiest of people to get along with and they probably shouldn't have spent time together from the beginning.   They just don't get along.  Because I moved to my husband's homeland when we got married, whenever my parents came to visit they would stay with us.  Later on, my parents got their own place here too but when my dad died in 2009 we became responsible for looking after their house (large garden), too.  We would often stay there both when she was or wasn't there (it's better than our own house).  My mum, now a widow, continued to visit 3-4 times a year so this meant that we would often be under the same roof (big mistake) because it was difficult to leave her there alone.  She was in a foreign country and the house is in quite a cut-off area (she's 81 now). My mum then started to say that she didn't mind us using her house occasionally while she wasn't there but that she didn't want us to be there all the time she was away.   He believes that what she said is unforgivable.  Obviously, he has his reasons and I totally accept that.  He no longer has to talk to her if he doesn't want to.

I suppose he doesn't HAVE to see her but when she comes over to visit she depends entirely on me.  We live in Greece and family gatherings are quite common but now my husband has said that he refuses to go anywhere that she is invited.   How can this be arranged when, for example, our grand-daughter has a birthday party?  Christmas dinner?  

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14 minutes ago, Meg1969 said:

I'll admit that my mum is not the easiest of people to get along with and they probably shouldn't have spent time together from the beginning.   They just don't get along.  Because I moved to my husband's homeland when we got married, whenever my parents came to visit they would stay with us.  Later on, my parents got their own place here too but when my dad died in 2009 we became responsible for looking after their house (large garden), too.  We would often stay there both when she was or wasn't there (it's better than our own house).  My mum, now a widow, continued to visit 3-4 times a year so this meant that we would often be under the same roof (big mistake) because it was difficult to leave her there alone.  She was in a foreign country and the house is in quite a cut-off area (she's 81 now). My mum then started to say that she didn't mind us using her house occasionally while she wasn't there but that she didn't want us to be there all the time she was away.   He believes that what she said is unforgivable.  Obviously, he has his reasons and I totally accept that.  He no longer has to talk to her if he doesn't want to.

I suppose he doesn't HAVE to see her but when she comes over to visit she depends entirely on me.  We live in Greece and family gatherings are quite common but now my husband has said that he refuses to go anywhere that she is invited.   How can this be arranged when, for example, our grand-daughter has a birthday party?  Christmas dinner?  

I don’t enjoy my in-laws at all and my husband has jammed them down my throat for over 30 years. I can tell you it builds resentment like nothing else. I get that he loves his family and I get that you love your mom but it doesn’t mean that we have to. Know what I mean? If you feel responsible for your mom that’s fine if you want to take care of her , but expecting him to do it is something else. 
 

Since what you’ve been doing is not working why don’t you leave him be about it and let him make his own decisions? 

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42 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

So you don't want a divorce, you just want the complaining and arguing to stop. 

First of all stop the Pollyanna routine. Let him stew and stop arguing and arguing to "cheer him up". You're wasting your time. Get insight into how annoying that is.

Also stop forcing your family down his throat. Why cant you see them on your own? Why do you have to drag him along?

This is chronic. He is not going to change. However you can start taking action and change things.

That means find more outside interests. Get out of the house more. And  most of all stop talking about your family and your mother. Do stuff as a couple, take up golf or something. 

Just leave the room if he starts a whining pity party. Maybe he's depressed, maybe you bore each other, most likely you're in a rut and arguing about your mother/family has become a routine situation.

Since you don't want to leave and you can't change him, you can stop shoving the 'rosy glasses' down his throat and stop shoving your family down his throat.  Don't invite him to family gatherings. 

 

 

I haven't talked to him about anyone in my family for years now.  I speak to my mum on the phone in another room and never even mention her to him anymore.  He hasn't seen her since January 2020.  His mood hasn't improved.

I didn't say I've been trying to shove rosy glasses down his throat.  If, for example, he moaned that his cousin didn't make any attempt to talk to him at a party, I would simply say that a) maybe the cousin just got too caught up talking to others to realise or b) how about you (husband) go over and talk to him next time?     

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53 minutes ago, Andrina said:

Can you be honest with him and let him know his negativity is affecting your feelings for him? This might be a wake up call for him. And if you divorced, it's unfair for him if you never told him exactly how you're feeling so he has a chance to change.

I'd give couples counseling a try. Best to try everything before throwing in the towel, if your love for him hasn't already totally died.

I've tried discussing it with him but I'm not sure he really understands.  He says he can't change, which I think is true.  He won't come to couples counselling so I've been to a therapist on my own a couple of times.  Last year, things almost came to an ultimatum and I asked him to come to the counsellor with me but he refused.

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2 hours ago, Meg1969 said:

I don't think he's got a very good sense of humour

 

2 hours ago, Meg1969 said:

His negativity towards others is making it harder and harder for me to see him in a positive light.   Life has enough negativity in it, and I want a partner who can join me in the enjoyment of our family, not spoil everything by commenting on what everyone else is doing wrong.

Well, Meg, he doesn't sound like a barrel of laughs, does he?

 

2 hours ago, Meg1969 said:

We aren't as close as I'd like us to be, and we don't really have much to talk about.

This is what lies at the heart of the matter, Meg. In what sense are you not as close? 

I think the irritation and moaning about other people/relatives/gatherings is more a symptom rather than the real issue. 

It would be interesting to know what is REALLY bugging him!

You remarked:

"He won't come to couples counselling so I've been to a therapist on my own a couple of times.  Last year, things almost came to an ultimatum and I asked him to come to the counsellor with me but he refused."

What he is saying is not that he CAN'T change but that he WON'T change. 

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I get the sense he sees nothing wrong with the way he is. I would stop trying to fix it. I would ignore the  negative Nancy side and just carry on with your life. If he wants to be a negative Nancy don’t even comment. It is just building the narrative. Let his narrative be with himself. 

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And maybe I should just point out that the family gatherings and moaning are with HIS family not mine.   As I said in another reply, I don't have any family here in Greece so he only ever had contact with my mum when she came over to stay here.

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I guess you have two choices then. Divorce and enjoy your family on your own, and possibly find a future partner who is your ideal when you're ready to date.

Or: Stay married. Shut him down when he starts badmouthing family, telling him you don't want to hear it. Visit your mom by yourself and tell him to go stay with his family if he can't treat your mom right when she visits. Reestablish an emotional connection with him by trying new things together like dance lessons, a cooking class, painting or pottery, learning a new language in preparation of visiting that country--any new hobby you can enjoy together.

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More to the point, Meg is that he won't change, as in, doesn't want to change. Of course he doesn't want to see a counsellor (he knows what he might hear and have a mirror put up in front of him so to speak). 

2 hours ago, Meg1969 said:

we don't really have much to talk about. 

This is a sad state of affairs, Meg. 

Only you can decide on what course of action to take. 

Was he always this churlish. or has this behaviour started in more recent times?

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From what you've written, it sounds like your husband has an overblown sense of entitlement. People do not pay attention to him and treat him like he thinks he deserves and he gets angry and resentful about that.

That said, stop trying to appease and make excuses on behalf of other people when he wants to whine and complain about it. Remember that misery loves company. He feels miserable and when he complains, he just wants for you to commiserate and acknowledge his feelings even if you know they are wrong. So rather than trying to excuse the cousin or show the lighter side of things, just listen and nod, tell hubs you are sorry he feels that way and don't get into anything else. If he is starting to get on your nerves, walk away. Limit how long you want to listen to him whine and complain and don't take it so personally. This is really about him and not you and your fam.

The deeper issue here is that you both seem to be bored and lonely and stuck in routines that aren't working. So maybe think on how you can bring some life back and get involved in doing something you both would enjoy? Something that would interest you both and bring in some fresh faces and new interests? Learn something, do something, get involved in something kind of a thing.

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4 minutes ago, Meg1969 said:

And maybe I should just point out that the family gatherings and moaning are with HIS family not mine.   As I said in another reply, I don't have any family here in Greece so he only ever had contact with my mum when she came over to stay here.

Is your husband Greek? if yes, well, don't expect much. Therapy won't fix it. 

What Seraphim says:

21 minutes ago, Seraphim said:

I get the sense he sees nothing wrong with the way he is. I would stop trying to fix it. I would ignore the  negative Nancy side and just carry on with your life. If he wants to be a negative Nancy don’t even comment. It is just building the narrative. Let his narrative be with himself. 

 

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22 minutes ago, LaHermes said:
2 hours ago, Meg1969 said:

We aren't as close as I'd like us to be, and we don't really have much to talk about.

This is what lies at the heart of the matter, Meg. In what sense are you not as close? 

I think that this might be true for both of us. Maybe if we were more connected in other ways, his moaning wouldn't be so important to me.  Perhaps I would be able to look past it, and focus on the positives?  That's why I wanted to try couples therapy.  I've tried a few ideas of my own but I've not had any success so far.

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4 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

it sounds like your husband has an overblown sense of entitlement.

That's more like it. 

OP

5 minutes ago, DancingFool said:

So maybe think on how you can bring some life back and get involved in doing something you both would enjoy? Something that would interest you both and bring in some fresh faces and new interests? Learn something, do something, get involved in something kind of a thing.

A delightful idea, DF, but I doubt he wants to pull with her. 

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51 minutes ago, Meg1969 said:

He hasn't seen her since January 2020.  His mood hasn't improved.

I didn't say I've been trying to shove rosy glasses down his throat.  If, for example, he moaned that his cousin didn't make any attempt to talk to him at a party, I would simply say that a) maybe the cousin just got too caught up talking to others to realise or b) how about you (husband) go over and talk to him next time?     

Ok, stop telling him what to do. He's not going to change, so stop nagging and trying to talk at him, fix him and change him.

You don't want a divorce, he doesn't want to change, go to therapy or listen to your chronic instructions.

 Stay out of each others way and respect boundaries better. After 30 years you just noticed now that he's grumpy?

 Unfortunately all this is, is both of you complaining about each other.

 

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2 hours ago, Meg1969 said:

We aren't as close as I'd like us to be, and we don't really have much to talk about.  I don't think he's got a very good sense of humour and I find it quite hard to have an imaginative discussion with him. I'd say that he's always been a little controlling/jealous of the time I've wanted to spend with other people, but nothing extreme. 

The matter does need to be addressed OP. 

 

1 hour ago, Meg1969 said:

 How can this be arranged when, for example, our grand-daughter has a birthday party?  Christmas dinner?  

Well, from a practical standpoint all you can do is fib and say he isn't feeling well, has a prior engagement or anything that comes to mind. Then carry on the dinner without him. 

Constantly grumpy people get on my nerves and I keep them at arm's length. The difficulty here is that he is your husband.

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1 hour ago, Meg1969 said:

My mum then started to say that she didn't mind us using her house occasionally while she wasn't there but that she didn't want us to be there all the time she was away He believes that what she said is unforgivable. 

Fair enough. Her house.  She didn't say anything even remotely offensive or insulting. 

This man needs to get over himself.  And fast.  Sounds like a petulant teenager rather than a man of, what age? 

You mentioned:

"I don't really want to turn my whole life upside down by splitting up.  I feel like I'm stuck. Whatever I choose to do, I can't see the life that I want ahead of me.

I feel desperate now and I really need some help."

I feel sincerely sorry for you OP. 

Everyone can be grumpy now and then. Normal. But the type of churlishness you describe would cut no ice with me. 

What drew you to him in the first instance. Was he always this neurotic. 

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3 hours ago, Meg1969 said:

whenever we go to a family gathering there will ALWAYS be someone there that he has to moan about to me afterwards. 

And as you remarked, these are HIS family.  Is he like this towards your (adult) children?  You did mention a grandchild? How does he get on with them?

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