This was not how I envisioned it. A year ago, my wife and I reached retirement. We have been working on our dream home for several years. It was finally finished, and we were set to move in and then my whole world fell apart. Just before we moved in, I found out she had been having an on again off again affair. By the time I found out it was off again, but I wonder for how long. Neither of us can afford to buy the other out. We do not want to sell and now we are here, retired and living in our dream home trying to enjoy this time in life. I do not think she is happy, and I know I am not happy. We look normal to the outside world because no one knows what I know. I go through the motions, love my gardening but eventually I must go inside the house again and face this life I have.
It is a very lonely road, carrying your wife’s secret and trying to make a life together in retirement. There are a few options to consider because the stress will only increase as time goes on.
You do not say how you personally feel about the marriage. If you can see a better future, then the first thing to do is have an honest conversation with your wife. You say that you do not think she is happy but that is an assumption. Degrees of happiness varies from person to person. What you do know is that you are not happy.
As well, it has been my experience that people often view trust and honesty differently, particularly if they are the ones who deceived. For some, it is a very black and white issue. For others, there are lots of grey areas. One excuse I have encountered with deception is the view-If no one knew about it then it did not hurt anybody. That view dismisses the notion that now people do know about it and it does hurt people.
The only way to truly know how your wife feels about the future is to ask her what she is thinking and feeling. If she also sees a way forward, then suggest you both go to counseling. A counselor will help you talk to each other in an honest way and offer steps toward the future.
For you, it is important to be honest with your wife about the fact this knowledge is festering and needs fixing.
The other option is to let the old dream of your retirement in your dream home die. When old dreams die-dream new dreams. Yes, you have worked toward this home but if it has become a burden to bear living there, and the joy has gone out of the home, replaced by two people living parallel lives. A house is not a home without that joy.
Having realigned my life several times, I can assure you that a happy home is more important than the perfect home -because perfection does not exist, just as you have found. I went from a huge family house, beautiful but filled with too many dark memories to a small house filled with sunlight and joy.
You say you cannot afford to buy the other out but there is probably equity for both of you in this home. With some concessions and realignment of priorities, there is a way forward if you chose to start anew.
None of this will be easy because right now you have committed to living together in this dream home. And you have brought the past with you. Whatever course your future takes it starts with having a very honest conversation with your wife.
Changing the course at this time of life is not easy. However, it is possible, and waking up happy every day, in whatever way you configure your future, will be worth it. For anyone in the retirement age group, we are so often given the advice by others –why bother making a change at this stage of life. Your answer -happiness. At any stage and particularly for your life now, that is the reason.
If you are in need of a place to seek some advice on a way forward during separation and divorce please write to firstname.lastname@example.org – Reaching out is the first step.
ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.