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How to cope if you’re over 50 and your relationship with your husband is ‘boring’

Article by Keren Smedley

The divorce rate is increasing for the 50’s and 60s and it’s the women who are instigating divorce proceedings.  Many say that their husbands are boring, they never talk, they watch a lot of TV and  fall asleep with the control in their hands! Often couples can rub along OK whilst they’re working and busy but the thought of retirement together fills them with horror. Many women with this thought in mind file for divorce whilst they’re still working and have time to arrange their retirement finances.

Many have put up passively with being bored and somewhat dissatisfied with their life. They discuss it with their friends but not their husbands. If that’s the case, they undoubtedly contribute to the problem. It’s easy to become absorbed in our job, day and night. Is it possible that their husbands decide that, rather than disturbing their busy wives, they’d  rather while away their time in front of the box?

If this sounds familiar, whatever the reason, you and your partner reach your fifties or sixties  and have got into a rather dull place where the relationship isn’t doing much for either of you and it needs a bit of a boost. You can change it if you want to.

Approaches to take to address a boring relationship

There are a number of different stances you can take
a) Passive – He’s doing what he likes. I’m not very interesting anyway so why would he want to chat to me? I’ll just watch telly, too, when I finish my work even though it doesn’t interest me.
b) Passive aggressive/manipulative – I don’t think he’ll listen to me but I also don’t think he’ll change so why bother? But I’m certainly not going to let him have an easy ride.
c) Aggressive – I’m right and he’s wrong. He’s dull and boring and I’m going to tell him in no uncertain terms!
d) Assertive – I truly believe we’re both doing the best we can even if this isn’t the best patch in our marriage. So I’m going to talk to him and discuss what we both want out of our relationship. And I promise to listen to what he has to say.

That’s easier said than done. One of the hardest things to do is to really listen to people especially when we’re fed up with them. But, if you’re going to improve your relationships, it’s essential you let your husband have his say. Listening involves being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes in order to ‘hear’ and interpret both what they’re saying and what they’re not saying. The great skill in communication is the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes, understanding the music behind the words.

Effective listening means being able to understand what the other person is saying in the way they want it to be understood. In order to do this, you have to want to understand the other person’s point of view. In fact, you may well find that, if you listen carefully enough, the other person will end up making your point for you.

Listening is an essential part of communicating in a relationship

It’s worth considering some of things that distract and block us from listening properly:
 • We think we know what the other person will say.
 • We pre-judge what they’re about to say.
 • Our minds wander on to a different topic.
 • We’re preoccupied with working out our next response.
 • We think ahead to the implications of what is being said and what it might mean for us.
 • We don’t like the speaker at that minute and are irritated by the speaker’s appearance or mannerisms.

Here’s how to overcome the obvious pitfalls:

1. Avoid distractions. Concentrate on the other person. Watch their expressions and movements. Ignore ringing telephones. Don’t do something else, like preparing the supper, at the same time.
2. Don’t assume. You’ll never really understand what the other person is saying if you make assumptions. You’ll only reinforce what you thought you knew already.  Or, as someone once said, ‘Don’t assume: it makes an ASS of U and ME.’
3. Don’t interrupt. Let the other person have their say – even if you disagree.
4. Stop talking! Nature gave you two ears and one tongue. Take the hint.
5. Ask questions. The only way you can check your understanding is by finding out more.
6. Summarise throughout the conversation so you’re both clear where you’ve got to in your discussion.

Just a word on the questions. Some questions close down the conversation or lead the person to the questioner’s conclusions.  Others open up the conversation and illuminate. These are known as ‘open questions’ and will indicate to the person being asked that you’re listening and following rather than trying to steer them to your own conclusions. ‘Open questions’ start with, Who, Why, What, Which, When, Where and How.

It takes two to tango

You may be thinking: Why should I do all the work? Why should I be the one to try and make it better? Well, as they say, it takes two to tango so why not you? If you start to really talk to each other you’ll stop being bored and reconnect in the way you did once upon a time.

Image by Idea go


Author, agony aunt and Director of Experience Matters, an organisation that offers coaching, workshops and consultancy for individuals and companies, Keren Smedley is rapidly becoming one of the top experts on age-related issues. She has written for SAGA, Women's Weekly, The Times and The Daily Mail. Determined to challenge society's outdated myths and stereotypes about age, Keren's courses with Experience Matters and two books Who's That Woman in the Mirror? The Art of Ageing Gracefully and the recently published Who's That Sleeping in My Bed? The Art of Sex and Successful Relationships for Baby Boomers offer practical and empathetic advice on the different issues that come up in relationships as we get older. www.experiencematters.org.uk

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  1. Thelma Rusteberg

    June 27, 2011

    This is a great help. I always believed that in our older years the relationship would be easier But have found out its far harder than the younger years. The continual moaning about anything and everything is unbearable and there is zero happiness spread. Do all men in mid to late fifties moan at this level?

  2. Helen Wenley

    July 13, 2011

    This sounds very familiar! My problem is that my other half does not want to listen and understand and he just want to repeat everything he says even though I repeat back to him what he says to let him know that he is heard and understood. It feels like I have to agree as well!!!!

  3. Babs (dumphimlove)

    February 11, 2012

    A good piece and some really good points. I think, however, it’s only possible to change yourself not someone else. The other person may change as a consequence but? I think it’s an excellent idea to broach change if you’re unhappy but it doesn’t necessarily mean the other person will feel the same or want to co-operate. In my opinion we always have the same three choices in relationships – lump it – leave it – change it?

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      February 11, 2012

      Thanks Babs, excellent point. We cannot epect others to change just because its what we want.

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