My husband is 53 and for the past year or so he’s really changed. He’s become introverted, mostly keeping himself to himself and never wants to do anything, with me or the family. Our grown-up kids have noticed the change in his personality, too. He used to be a pretty positive person, but now seems so miserable.

Then about a week ago, he hit me with a bombshell. We were sitting in front of the telly eating our dinner when he told me that he’d like to take a trip on his own to “find himself”. I nearly laughed out loud, but he was dead serious.

He said he’d been unhappy in his job for a while and with life in general, and just wants to take some time out to be by himself. He basically wants to go on the gap year he couldn’t afford when he was a much younger man.

After the shock died down, I was left feeling hurt that he doesn’t want to include me in this trip. I could do with finding myself, too!

And if I let him go, will it spell the end of our marriage? Please help.

Aunty Lisa says

You could argue that if you don’t let him go it could also spell the end of your marriage.

It sounds like a classic mid-life crisis to me. I can relate to the mental shift in turning 50. It can be a tough age – for many people it’s the first time they feel older. You’ve reached the top of the hill and you’re peering over the other side, wondering what lies ahead.

You do tend to reflect on your life and question whether it’s what you really want. It’s another one of those “finding your feet” moments in life, like living with a partner for the first time or getting used to the new relationship dynamic after having a baby.

It’s not a bad thing to take a step back and assess what’s next. However, I understand you feeling very hurt by it. You’ve spent so many years together, working and bringing up kids, so this time should be about the two of you – and now he wants to go off on his own.

It’s hard to take, but better that he’s being honest about it. You need to ask him some questions – like exactly how long he wants to go for.

I think you need to put a timeframe on it. If it’s a year, then you have every right to veto it in the interests of your marriage. But if you can agree on a length of time that’s acceptable to you, then why not suggest that once he’s home the two of you go away to find each other again?

I think you can come out of this period stronger and with more direction, but it’s crucial you communicate with each other honestly and then reach a compromise.

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