Q: Dear Meredith,
My husband and I have been together for 30 years (high school sweethearts). Neither of us has ever "been" with anyone else. We have two kids, a nice home, nice friends, and everyone thinks we have the perfect marriage. I included myself in that until about six months ago when he started to question whether he is in love with me or not. That's when I found out about it, but he says he's been feeling it for much longer.
He hasn't come near me for months, and there was some trouble prior to that. (Up until then, the sex was great). I have gained about 40 pounds since he met me, and he says that's part but not all of it. He feels like he doesn't know if he wants to be an empty nester with me. Depression runs in his family. He has a stressful job, and provides for almost all of the financial needs of our family. He's very athletic and I'm not, so we really don't have many common interests. In hindsight, I guess our marriage was far from perfect since he's never really been affectionate with me outside of the bedroom and that's something I think I need. Now that that the bedroom activity is gone, there's nothing. He says he's sorry, I didn't do anything wrong, he still loves me, but isn't in love with me.
Needless to say, I am beside myself. I feel rejected and blindsided by this whole thing. My question is this: Would you call this a mid-life crisis or depression? (We're both in our late 40s.) If so, how do these things usually end? I don't know how long is fair to wait it out before I have to move on. We had another blip on a much smaller scale many years ago, went to marriage counseling, but I don't really think it helped that much. I know I still love him, I don't want a divorce, but I also don't want to live my life in a loveless marriage.
– Lost In Limbo, Suburban Mass.
A: I don't think that this is a mid-life crisis, LIL. Your letter suggests that there have been problems over the years and that whatever is happening right now is the cumulative result of two people growing apart. I guess my question for you is: What does your husband want to do about all of this?
He told you all of these upsetting things ... and now you're asking us how long you have to wait it out before you move on. Does that mean that he expects you to be the one who devises a plan? Is he giving you options? Is he suggesting that he wants to work on this again?
My advice is to ask him what he wants to do. Like, in a dream world, would he magically fall in love with you again? Would he move into his own place and be your friend? Even a maybe-depressed person can fantasize.
And I want you to think about your life as an empty nester. What do you want to do? Hike? Travel? Move to a new town? Paint? Can you see your husband tagging along as you live your perfect life after 50?
I wish I could tell you how these things usually end. There's no "usually." But for now, you have unanswered questions. Your husband has given this a lot of thought but he hasn't come up with a plan. He hasn't said, "I want to separate to see how it feels." He hasn't said, "I want to stay and work on this." He hasn't asked, "What do you want to do?" Not really.
Have those talks and get some answers. Find out whether he's waiting to make a move because he wants you to be the one to do it.
Readers? Am I right to say that she doesn't have enough information from her husband? Is there hope here? Is this depression or a mid-life crisis? Do his financial responsibilities have anything to do with this? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.