Dear Mary: My marriage is falling apart and I'm desperate to do something to save it

I can’t help feeling that my marriage is falling apart and that me and my husband are growing apart. We have been married a short while, together over a decade and have small beautiful children who we both adore.

We both have demanding jobs and I have had a really tough 2018, having spent a few months off sick from work and I feel that this has really caused a disconnection between us and also financial strain.

We had a lovely family holiday at the beginning of the summer but things haven’t been good between us since the end of the summer.

At present, we don’t have much of a social life and we don’t really have a group of friends that we go out with. We drink at home instead and some nights my husband has spent a few hours listening to his music while I watch TV.

I notice most of this year he has become very addicted to a game on his laptop that he plays morning, noon and night and it is getting very irritating. I have confronted him about this but he hasn’t made the effort to reduce the hours or quit playing the game.

My husband has become a lot more health conscious and fitter in recent years, and I think he has really changed personality wise and I feel I lost the man I married.

He loves to go out with his colleagues in recent months and I feel very lonely in our marriage.

We had a huge row a few months ago and he admitted that he thinks he has changed and doesn’t know how he feels about me any more.

This absolutely devastated me and I’ve been crying a lot since I heard it. My health problem that caused my absence from work had me feeling very low, in a bit of pain and unable to keep up with household chores and there wasn’t a lot of empathy or attention from my husband during this time.

His efforts to help me out, or take over, weren’t the best.

While I do think he is a good father I feel that he was much better in the past. The past few months he appears to be more tired than usual from his job (sleeping on the couch during the day) and I worry that this is the way we are going to be for the future.

A few months ago I found an opportunity to do something concrete with a business idea I’ve had for a while, but he has shown no interest in me or my efforts.

He has never given me much encouragement or asked me how I am getting on. I think he has lost complete interest in and respect for me as a person.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much happening in the bedroom either. My libido has been really low this year and thinking he probably isn’t in love with me any more makes it worse.

I am a natural worrier and not a relaxed person and we are currently going through assessment with one of our children and I worry that he is not going to be very hands on if we do receive a negative diagnosis.

We used to get on so well and be extremely close and I don’t know how we can get back on track.

I was thinking of suggesting marriage counselling but I’m not sure how he would respond.

The last thing I want to do is break up and be a lone parent – it would mean selling our home because it wouldn’t run without my husband’s wages.

Mary replies:  You have had a lot thrown at you in the last year – health worries for yourself and your child, financial difficulties and what seems to be a non-existent social life. At least as a couple you don’t have a social life because your husband still goes out with workmates leaving you feeling isolated.

But by far the most serious thing is that your husband told you that he doesn’t know how he feels about you any more. This must have been very hard to hear and has put you into a sort of no man’s land where you don’t know what he really feels and you don’t know what his plans are for the future.

Of course, your idea of counselling is a good one, but before that you need to have a long talk with your husband about what he feels is wrong with the marriage. Did he decide one day that he wasn’t sure of his feelings for you any more, or were there certain things that happened that caused him to change?

Is there anything that he feels could be done to make things better between you? And what does he see happening in the future?

Counselling can address what went wrong and how both of you can change yourselves in order for things to improve, but at the heart of it all your husband must want things to work out between you. If he doesn’t want this then counselling will be working towards both of you accepting that the marriage is over, and this is certainly not what you want.

It seems to me that your husband gets whatever fun he has outside of the home, apart from playing his computer game.

You don’t socialise and you don’t do anything together. Could you do something about this, such as inviting a couple of friends to come to your house for a few hours when you are both off work.

If people brought their own drink and you were to provide some simple food – it’s never a good idea to drink without providing some soakage – then I’m sure it could be very enjoyable, wouldn’t cost a lot and you would be doing it together.

It’s not all that long since you had that wonderful family holiday so if you can pinpoint what was particularly good about it and talk about it with your husband you may be able to start working on your marriage.

But the very first thing is to find out what he really feels and hopefully things are not as bleak as you think they are.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting or email her at [email protected] or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

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