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When does fidelity stop being important for an older woman?

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Bunmi Sofola

What some women would do to be in a relationship! Some months back, during a heated discussion on the rising numbers of cougars flaunting their wealth and trapping gold-digging gigolos, Tope, a ‘sinfully’ rich industrialist in her late-fifties told the discussants smugly that: “At my age, all you have to bring into a relationship is loyalty and trust – these are more important than monogamy. While women are fertile, I think sexual loyalty is crucial. But as time goes on, you just shrug it off That’s why you look the other way when a younger lover wants to play away …”

Relationship-gossipA few of the ‘girls’ were visibly ruffled. “I don’t see many of my friends shrugging when they’re unfortunate to find incriminating evidence of ‘playing away’ in their partner’s phones or pockets”, fumed Hilda after Tope had glided out. “I say this as a single woman in her 60s, who has been single since I lost Tobby, my partner 12 years ago.

I admit I’ve no idea if I shall have a relationship again, but one thing is certain – I most certainly wouldn’t settle for a relationship which was deceitful and uncommitted. For event hough Tobby and I never got as far as living together, we were partners on and off for about 12 years. We split up twice and I loathed seeing him with other women, even when I was dating someone else.

“Happily, in the last few years it became a monogamous relationship and we finally reached a plateau of understanding and trust. The brutal fact is that infidelity and open relationships never work if you’re emotionally attached to someone, no mater how old you are. The laid back attitude to fidelity shown by Tope – and another friend who boasted of a few wild years spent sleeping around with 15 much younger men -shows a strange lack of self-esteem and principle. It is not a sign of emancipation to accept your partner having other girlfriends, but a reckless lust of the flesh.

“I admit when you hear tope put it the way she did, it sounds like a clever and thoroughly pragmatic way of keeping a man interested. And also a way of keeping the tap flowing for lots of enthusiastic sex at an age when many women are happily resigned to celibacy. All I know is that there must be an immense price to pay for these cougars. Open relationships are emotionally draining and painful. Any woman with children would surely find such an arrangement too painful as she and their father have so much shared experience invested in their partnership. And even with no children, the experience of an `open relationship’ would be utterly brutal. It takes a supremely confident women not to have her esteem battered by the inevitable imaginings of where you fall in your lover’s pecking order and your body being compared to other younger bodies. It can only end in tears!

“As we age, intimacy and companionship become even more vital than in our youths. I can see why many women – and men – of a certain age would consider tolerating countless humiliations just in order to have someone in their lives. The final leg of our journey still needs to be travelled. But who with? The young man from the gym, or the contemporary who shares the same jokes, the same language and who will pick you up when you fall?”

 

Why does a husband fall out of love with his wife?

In continuation of last week’s advice on how to win back a cheating husband, Andrew Marshall, author of: My Husband doesn’t love me … And he’s texting someone else, proffers reasons why a husband might have fallen out of love with his wife.

You put your children first: I know this is controversial. Of course, you put your children first! What’s the problem? Well, the problem is that babies grow up, but some mothers still drop everything for their children. One client set off on a three-hour round trip to her daughter’s college room to find her lost passport (because her daughter was too busy to look): another had a copy of her daughter’s reading list so she could help with her course work.

These are extraordinary examples, but I have many of them. If your husband believes he’s just the father of your children, he will not feel loved by you and will begin to detach in order to protect himself from this depressing scenario.

Your sex life has lost its spark: There has been some massive strides since the sexual revolution of the sixties. Everyone is more relaxed about talking about sex and women have been given more permission to enjoy sex, rather than simply doing it for men. Though there is much to celebrate, relationship counsellors and society in general have been so busy stressing that no one should be forced to have sex they don’t want that we’ve forgotten the other half of the equation: no one should have to do without the sex they do want.

Some couples I counsel are having sex as little as three or four times a year. Men have very black and white attitudes to sex. They think if you don’t want sex with them, you don’t love them (and discount other reasons – such as being tired, stressed or not feeling close enough). If your husband feels that you don’t love him, he can start to feel entitled to look elsewhere.

Poor communication: On of the surface, everything seems fine. Yes, there might be a few squabbles and sarcastic comments, but nothing to worry about. And that;s the real danger. One partner – probably your husband – is feeling ignored, a second -class citizen in his own home. Meanwhile, the other partner, probably you – remains in blissful ignorance. Or if you’re aware of issues, you don’t think they’re that serious. With poor communication, what would have been a difficult but flexible problem becomes impossible to resolve.

 

Five tactics you think will work – But won’t

 

Being especially nice: You’ve cooked his favourite meals, kept the children off his back, told him how much you appreciate him and offered sex whenever he wants it. But he still doesn’t love you. For some men, your gestures will be too little, too late. In addition, your moods are probably all over the place: super-nice one minute, withdrawn the next, then biting his head off and quickly apologising. He won’t know what to expect when he comes home, and who wants to live like that!

 

Using the children as blackmail: He’s going to hear your concern for the children as prof you’re interested in him only as a father. Let’s face it, if he suggested you act as a housekeeper and nursemaid and nothing else, would you jump at the offer. You also risk becoming the wife of every man’s nightmares – ‘she’s turning my children against me’. Yes, he might stay because you’ve held a gun to his head or maybe he’ss just say,”what else have I got to lose?” and leave, setting you up for a bitter and protracted divorce.

 

Having longer talks: Good communication is at the heart of a good marriage, but going round and round in circles isn’t good communication. Constantly cross-examining him about his feeling is like digging up a seed to see if it has germinated. Worse still, these long talks suck any remaining fun and spontaneity out of your marriage. No wonder he wants to leave. Anything for a quiet life.

Guessing what he’s really feeling: Hours of over-thinking will just result in a range of assumptions, often cobbled together from all the different things he says and does throughout his day, which may well be unrelated. As ultimately, it is better to ask, and take his answers at face value, than to over-analyse and then tell him what he’s feeling – that really puts men’s backs up.

 

Suppressing your own issues: Walking on eggshells just makes your husband irritated. When you back down, he loses all respect.

However, it’s not all gloom and doom when your husband strays – there’s always hope. According to Andrew Marshal, “it is possible to turn around your marriage, even if he’s telling you he’s met his soul-mate. I’ve learnt there’s always hope for the future if you meet at least two of the following criteria – you’ve been together three years or more, you have children together and you truly love him and want him back. Finally, you mustn’t panic. This is the worst thing you can do. More marriages end because of a wife’s panic than a husband’s determination to leave”.

 

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