Dear Annie: My spouse and I have been married for over 40 years. Our children are married with children of their own. They seem happy and well-adjusted, and our whole family seems happy and healthy. I am very blessed and glad things are the way they are.
The problem: There is no love or affection in our marriage, and there hasn’t been for over 20 years. We sleep in separate rooms. Despite my requests, which I don’t make often, there is never any cuddling, affection, hand-holding ... nothing. When I suggest counseling, the response is that I am the one who needs counseling, that I am needy and insecure. I am in decent shape, take care of myself, have good hygiene, and do most of the housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal prep, etc.
All I want is a little attention. I am in my mid-60s, and the thought of spending the rest of my life like this really depresses me. I don’t want to have an affair or get divorced, but I don’t want to be lonely the rest of my life. The thought of the grandchildren going to separate homes to see Grandma and Grandpa makes me sad. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
— My Heart Aches for Attention
Dear Heart Aches: Don’t let your husband convince you that being needy and wanting affection are the same thing. Props to you for communicating what you want rather than expecting him to read your mind.
It sounds like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place: You don’t want a divorce, but your husband is unwilling to work toward a solution. Unfortunately, relationships are a two-way street; they require effort from both parties. If he’s unwilling to make your needs one of his priorities — by at least going to couples counseling — perhaps this is not a marriage you want to be in.
Your grandchildren deserve the most joyful, affectionate version of yourself that you can give them. That’s far more important than who Grandma shares a house with.
Where to write: Send your questions for Annie Lane to firstname.lastname@example.org.