My 65-year-old husband is sexting a 35-year-old employee in his company. I also found some women’s lingerie in his travel bag when he returned from his work trip. On confronting him he denied everything and is gaslighting me. He called me a ‘crazy woman’ and sent me to a male counsellor who told me, ‘men will be men’ and that I should just ‘enjoy the money and position as his wife’. I was aghast at the advice and his insensitivity. The female employee is much younger than our daughter, and we are also grandparents. This is a stage of life that we should have shared more meaningful companionship cherishing old memories and enjoying our grandchildren, but here I am dealing with my husband’s errant ways. I just don’t know what to do. Please help.
Ans: I can understand that you currently feel cast aside and hurt as your husband is romantically fascinated with someone younger to you whom he sexts. What’s perhaps striking you as unfair is also the label of being dubbed.
A label is simply a label and a reflection of a person’s personal biases and tastes. It needn’t become your reality. When a couple has been married for many years, their sexual needs evolve with age. For someone, sex isn’t a throbbing need but the need for conversational chemistry and compassion may be more pronounced for that person. This can lead to a mismatch of expectations. Subjective variations apply to what needs are the most prominent for a person.
What the male counsellor said is not gender sensitive and comes off as patronizing and pedantic. You are well within your rights to feel frustrated by his opinion of how you should navigate your wifehood and womanhood. You needn’t listen to him. It’s not uncommon for elderly men to be entranced by the charms and looks of younger women. The so called ‘missing element’ in a marriage often needs to be navigated towards with honest feedback shared between spouses - being at the crux of the matter.
The stage of life you are at is independent of the quality of the relationship you’ll have shared with each other. The relationship and its stability will need to be both questioned and explored in therapy if your husband feels the need to look for greener pastures while ignoring your presence in his life - as his partner.
The errant ways that you’re concerned about may be seen differently by him. Without dubbing his behaviour as right or wrong, let’s consider what he is probably looking at. Perhaps he sees the younger woman as having more respect for him and that may be a turn on for him. Maybe he’s looking for sexual and romantic excitement in his life and he feels like he may not get that from you.
Maybe he’s looking to feel ‘young and desirable’ because he’s dealing with certain ominous thoughts of growing old and losing his relevance or virility. Perhaps this is a way for him to prove a point to himself or to someone else or even to make peace with a certain memory from his past - so that he feels more in control of how is being perceived and what he wants for himself. As you can see, the possibilities are many.
You’re in a position to either reconcile with him by getting him to see how his ways are affecting you or you’ll have to find a way to retire this relationship legally. Either of these options will not be easy and will throw up a share of emotional and monetary challenges in its wake.
Why he is doing - what he is doing - would help navigate him towards a solution that could settle this dilemma and for that to happen, you’ll have to speak with him or bring in a psychotherapist who is able to help him assess what he’s looking to gain and lose as a result of this behaviour.