Dear Dr. Betty
My husband has never been very interested in me sexually. I've been married for 29 years but haven't had sex in more than 23 years. I once had an affair, but when my husband learned of it, he wasn't even upset. I then became quite ill and was unable to leave the marriage. He's continued to provide for me and I think of him as my best friend, but my anger towards him overwhelms me at times. I'm not interested in improving the marriage, I just want out. Please help. --B.
Surprise -- what you're going through is not uncommon. Many couples stay together in loveless and unfulfilling marriages of convenience even though they may call each other best friends.
Their justifications run the gamut from worries about children and finances, to resistance to change, or fear of the disapproval and rejection of family and friends. Do you have kids? Although it's true that children from intact marriages tend to fare better, after a 29-year marriage, that's not a problem for you.
"For better or worse" seems to be your mantra, and clearly "for worse" dominates. However, did you know that the latest research reveals that loveless marriages strain our immune systems -- especially for women? Is it any wonder that you're ill? Believe me, you need more than a best friend!
Get out of Your Rut: You want to leave but fear you can't make it on your own financially. You also feel you won't have an emotional support system, as your husband is your best -- and possibly only -- friend. Are you really between a rock and a hard place? No way! Remember that life is full of change, and you can definitely improve your situation. However, now you'll need to be as committed to jumping into the fray as you have been to enduring your unhappiness for so long. Like all change, it'll be difficult, but you'll gain independence and the potential to find a loving and rewarding relationship. Talk: I know you want out, but have you had a heart-to-heart with your husband? Does he know how you feel? Do you know how he feels? You could both be playing into each other's misunderstandings. If he's willing to talk, take this first step. Next, have a heart-to-heart with yourself. Put aside the illness factor temporarily and give yourself the freedom to think about what you want. Write down your desires -- and be specific! Get Help: A wise guide in the form of a therapist or counselor could help you determine what choices you have, investigate the role you've played in your marriage all these years, and figure out why you've waited till now to take action. See my tips on how to find the right therapist.You may not like to hear this, but you have been part of the problem in your relationship. However, you can also be a major part of the solution. And there could be a surprising gift waiting for you, after you take steps to improve your situation--the recovery of your good health!
Source: Relationships & Love