Agony Aunt Annie offers advice to a reader who has a seemingly perfect life and no stress, but her husband is distracted and she’s feeling lonely and neglected…

Dear Annie

Please can you hear my story and give me some advice. I have been married for 17 years now. We have two daughters that are in high school.

My husband works hard and earns a good salary. I volunteer twice a week at a charity organisation as I do not need to bring in an income.

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We are all blessed with good health and have seemingly only small challenges in our otherwise uncomplicated lives.

I should be happy, but I’m not

Most of the time I feel so lonely. When my husband is home, he is so distracted or elsewhere focused. He does experience a lot of pressure at work as he holds a senior position which carries a lot of responsibility.

Sometimes I feel like I’m only his roommate as we seem to share so little of our lives. The girls are considered to be my department as I am a stay-at-home mother. He loves them, provides well for them, but can’t be bothered to get involved in the daily running of their lives.

Do I content myself in this relationship and resign myself to getting no attention or affection from him? I want more and then I feel guilty that I am not contented with my lot as I realise that I am in a very privileged position.

Please advise

Dorothea

Dear Dorothea

Thank you for your letter. Welcome to the norm! As depressing as that might be, there is a way to remedy this without trading in for a more attentive, talking model of husband. The suppliers are backed up to 1894 with those orders anyway.

It is normally not a conscious decision to exclude the other partner, but rather a flowing together of circumstances

This excludes participants of bridal war TV shows or mothers of child beauty pageants. Their husbands have willingly checked out of conversations.

I’d say it’s just an American thing, but gather around any braai and you’ll see the woman grouped together chatting up a storm. The men having covered, sport and politics in the first ten minutes, have chatted about the braai for the next 15 minutes and are now grunting and scratching.

It is possible that your husband experiences more work pressure then he lets on and doesn’t want to burden you

Think about the fun things and common interests that you did share when you first dated, didn’t have kids and assumed that you would always have time for each other

He may also see you as being totally absorbed with the children and feel neglected as a result.

Make a coffee date with him, and rather than present your “10 ways to improve your man list”, ask him how he is doing at work. Ask him if he is happy and if there are things he would like to see different in the marriage.

He may think that your charity work, children, friends and hobbies complete you

Perhaps he feels lonely and doesn’t want to seem needy by broaching the subject. Think about the fun things and common interests that you did share when you first dated, didn’t have kids and assumed that you would always have time for each other.

You need to set aside time to spend together as this seldom just happens organically in our scheduled, busy lives. This will create the space to reconnect and laugh together again.

One day the kids and the work will be gone. You don’t want to discover that you live with a stranger then, particularly an old one!

Maybe this is not what Martin was referring to when he said we should be the change that we want to see, but I am sure that his wife would have willingly repeated the sentiment!

You are beautiful!
Love and blessings
Annie