22 years and now what

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Dear Hoopers,
I have been married to my husband for 22 years. Almost immediately after we were married, I gave up my job, my family, my children and then grandchildren, virtually everything to follow him to Europe so he could fulfill his dream of working abroad. When I married this guy, he was so nice, polite, a great supporter and a friend. Through the years, I have discovered another side of this man that quite frankly if I had known, I would not have married him. I’ve tolerated lie after lie and he is always sorry. Five years ago, he admitted to having an affair. At the time however, it was just a “meeting” and a quick kiss before heading home. No more. Because he is an habitual liar, I knew there was more to this story.

Now, five years later he has admitted that yes, it was a full fledged affair with Jane, she was younger than his 32 year old daughter because as he said to me, “Even a woman in her twenties is too young for me.” His age is 57. He gave me details of the affair and then told me she was very exciting. He has had no interest in me sexually since the affair. Upon hearing this, I suggested that we go our separate ways. Split everything 50/50 and say goodbye. He said he wants to stay together because “long term” works better for him. I’ve recently turned 60, still attractive, not overweight and by no means a lazy person. I don’t want to live the rest of my life always wondering what he is up to but at the same time, starting over and finding a job at my age is going to be very difficult. Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
-22 years and now what

Dear 22 years,
A liar and a cheater. Is that someone who you want to be married to? You have one life to live. While it is going to be a big transition, you are unhappy. You have also identified that you do not want to continuously be wondering what he is up to. Is that any way to live? Be strong and do not let him dictate your future. Take care of yourself!

Recognize your potential and pursue those gifts.  There is life after a divorce. See it as a new opportunity and remember that you have a lot more living to do. Talk to your family and friends and take time to really think this through.

Be strong and do not let him dictate your future.


Also know that there are women walking in your same shoes. Find a community of support like Sixty + Me which empowers and motivates women to find their own voice and value in a transitional time of life.  And don’t think that you are too old to be hired. Online resources like Next Avenue, or Work Force 50 offer employment job opportunities for people in their 50s and 60s. You can be a victim to this relationship or a survivor. Which will you choose?

Dear 22 years,
You seemed to always have the sense that your husband wasn’t telling you the whole truth. Even 5 years ago when he told you it was just a kiss, you knew that there was more to the story. Perhaps you didn’t push him for the whole story because you didn’t truly want to know, or perhaps he just hid the truth that well. But here you are 5 years later and the truth is out, and the truth hurts. Not only did he tell you what happened, he had the narcissism to claim restraint in not going for a younger affair partner.

If I was you, the moment that he told me about an affair and then said that he wasn’t sexually interested in me, I would have been out the door to file divorce papers. It’s one thing to experience changes in sexual interest over time. This is a normal challenge in all couples. But to use this as a weapon against you is wrong. To use this as a weapon to justify his philandering is not only wrong, it’s cruel.

He had the narcissism to claim restraint in not going for a younger affair partner.

-Dr. Ryan

Despite your husband’s disrespect, I appreciate your willingness to take a step back to figure out what you want to do next. His actions don’t have to force your actions and you are free to make your own logical decisions here. It sounds like you are considering the financial and practical implications of starting over at this time.

What you do next is up to you, but I want to communicate my significant concern for you. People can change their terrible patterns of the past and become committed partners again. However, know that it is much harder to change than it is not to change. It takes a desperate heart and committed action in order to make those changes and I don’t hear any of that from your husband. I hear pride, disrespect, and a nonchalant attitude. Saying “long-term” works better for him isn’t a commitment to loving you for the rest of your life, it’s a half-hearted commitment to convenience. I wish you the best in what you do next, just know that he doesn’t deserve you.
-Dr. Ryan