DEAR DEIDRE: I’VE discovered my husband is planning to start a new life without me in Portugal.
We’ve been married for 35 years and I’ve put up with his lack of support because I thought my marriage vows meant something.
Now I’ve learned he’s intending to abandon me just as we reach retirement age.
I’m 63 and he’s 65. Our marriage has never been perfect but while we were bringing up our kids — two sons and a daughter aged 32, 30 and 28 — it was happier.
But since they left home, he’s turned into someone I despise. He’s rude, aggressive and picks fights over the smallest things — like if he thinks I haven’t ironed his shirt properly.
He’s never helped with the cooking or the housework. He said it was because he worked long hours, but he’s stopped working now.
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I still work part-time but I have to prepare three meals a day for him and keep the house clean.
I wouldn’t mind if he wasn’t so cruel. He calls me fat — I have put on weight since menopause — and says I’ve let myself go.
He still wants sex almost every day, far more than I can cope with. Usually, I just give in even though it’s unpleasant.
Sometimes he disappears for hours at a time and won’t say where he’s going. A few days ago, he went out and I decided to have a look on his computer.
I was suspicious. I thought I’d find porn or evidence of an affair, but instead I found that he’d been looking at houses for sale in the Algarve.
And not just looking — there were emails about a purchase.
He’s never mentioned a word to me, so I can only think that he is planning to leave me.
I’m devastated. What shall I do?
DEIDRE SAYS: Were your relationship a better one, I’d suggest your husband might be buying a holiday home for both of you. But that seems unlikely.
He’s been disregarding your feelings for years. He’s forgotten or doesn’t care that marriage is supposed to be a partnership. That includes your assets. So any house he buys is half yours.
You need to talk to him about what you’ve learned. If you’re worried about his reaction, perhaps you could ask a trusted friend to be there for support.
Before you do, think through what you want. You’re unhappy and only staying out of duty. Life might actually be better for you if you were to separate.
Please take some legal advice from a solicitor. You can also contact your local Citizen’s Advice (citizensadvice.org.uk) to find out more about your rights.
My support pack, Thinking Of Divorce, should help.
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