‘I’ve been married for 20 years and we have two children who are nearly adults.
‘Following personal issues, my husband was difficult to be around. Although I was sympathetic, I coped by focusing on myself for the first time. It meant our lives became separate.
‘We are closer again but I changed during that time and I’m not sure he understands who I am now.
‘He’s said he would do anything to close the gap but I don’t know if I feel the same.’
Your husband might say he wants closeness but that statement means nothing without action.
‘Promises never mean anything, only actions and reactions do,’ says James McConnachie. ‘What has he done to close the gap and what have you done?’
When we feel distant, it can be because we created the distance. You say you don’t feel seen but are you showing yourself? Are you speaking?
‘It’s like when you’re on a train and you see another train, and you’re not sure which one is moving or if both are,’ McConnachie adds.
‘You aren’t the same as you were 20 years ago and your marriage may be a case of what worked back then no longer works today,’ says Rupert Smith. ‘Recognising the end and having the integrity to act on that recognition is hard work, painful, sometimes costly and will affect other people.’
We get the impression you have reached that point but you’re at least entertaining the possibility of trying to make the marriage work again.
‘There is no clear answer and a bold move may mean you could even end up in a less fruitful relationship,’ says Dr Angharad Rudkin. ‘Your marriage has had its inevitable ups and downs but your husband seems committed.’
If you want to know if there is life left in your marriage, act.
‘If you can “perform” closeness for a while, it might start to feel more natural with time,’ says McConnachie.
Rudkin suggests a deadline: ‘Whether it’s six months, a year or two years from now.’
Smith advises mapping out some options, perhaps with a couples counsellor.
‘You could try a complete separation, a “living together apart” arrangement where you both have freedom under one roof or a renegotiation of the marriage, then see which, if any, feels right for you both,’ he says.
Many relationships shift from shared to parallel experiences and from parallel to divergent ones.
‘First you’re in the same seat, then the same compartment,’ says McConnachie. ‘Then you find yourself watching the trains through the window as they slowly pull away. Coming back together will take effort but I think you want to try.’
Rupert Smith is an author and counsellor
James McConnachie is the author of Sex (Rough Guides)
Dr Angharad Rudkin is a clinical psychologist
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