4 minute read
Q. I am married with four teenage children. I am successful at work – but exist in what I would call a failed marriage. I thought it was normal to have no physical relationship as he had no interest, but I can now see that it has devastated me; I feel unwanted, undeserving and unloved.
I did not believe that I had the strength to live a life outside the family home, but now I am trying to find a way to generate my own happiness. However, I feel miserable most days and can’t even bear to look at my husband. I need to find a way to move on but I worry about my children, my finances and how I will cope. What can I do? Name supplied
A. Perhaps, like a lot of us, you believe the time will come when the way is clear, there are no worries and the universe says clearly: ‘start the journey’. It’s usually the opposite – the way does not become clear until we pick up our worries and start anyway.
By way of example, I’ve been working independently for 11 years since my husband died – without a ‘proper’ job or business plan. I still have times when I wake up worried, or someone asks me about the future and my mouth dries up, even while another part of me knows that every panic so far has passed.
So, my first message to you is: you will worry, but you will cope. Those things can coexist. The confidence you have gained at work is feeding your clarity at home, and that will continue. What might be useful is a friendly, encouraging voice in your ear and perhaps some help to read the map. That could be through Relate, which supports people to improve their relationships, even if it means the end of a marriage.
I want to mention two other considerations. The first is the need to carry first-aid supplies for your children, which means it’s crucial to have support just for you. The second is that couples do succeed in rebuilding unhappy sex lives. When sex is going well, it’s only part of life; when it’s going badly, it dominates, with all those feelings of devastation that you describe.
Another way you could approach this is through the College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists, and a therapist to help you communicate about sex and support you if you decide to leave. Many women find a healthy relationship with their sexuality is a great source of power.
Being an empowered mother is the greatest gift you can give your children, so please take whatever small step you can in that direction.
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Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.