DEAR CAROLINE: I was so in love with my husband when we got married but now we don’t have much in common. How do I get our spark back?

Q I was so in love with my husband when we got married more than 25 years ago – and vice versa. However, now, while we don’t really argue, we also don’t have much in common. 

I wasn’t aware of how things had changed until our daughter brought her new boyfriend to stay for a weekend and I saw how much in love they were. 

My husband and I are delighted for her, but I have realised that I don’t feel that way any more and I miss it. I wonder if my husband noticed, too. I have been trying to work out where the decline started and I think it was when our children were young – the eldest would have been nine – and my father died suddenly in his 60s of a heart attack.

It left me in total shock. Looking back, I now realise that I was probably suffering from depression but I was not brought up to talk about such things.

For quite a while, I was snappy and so quick to argue. My daughter told me recently that she remembers me often taking naps at weekends while her dad took over. My husband is a good man who is always kind to everyone but, eventually, he became snappy back and absorbed himself in his hobbies and work. Over the years, things have got a bit better and we get on fine now on a day-to-day basis, but the affection and deep love we once shared have faded.

Is there a way back from this?

A Often, when people write to me about an unhappy marriage or relationship, I can hear that love has died or that one partner has been too awful or hurtful towards the other for the marriage to survive. 

However, when both parties are basically good people and there is a will to improve things, the relationship can be salvaged. Essentially, you have lost the art of communication. 

Yes, you probably were depressed when things started to go wrong. This can cause people to be snappy or lash out for no reason. And your husband, instead of recognising how unhappy you were, or perhaps not knowing how to help, retreated into himself. But being aware of how difficult some of your behaviour was is crucial in moving forward. 

You say you have never talked to him or anyone about this. However, you have made the first step in reaching out to me, and now you need to talk to your husband. It is daunting, but if you don’t take action, nothing will change.

Tell him what you told me – that you miss the days when you and he were as obviously in love as your daughter and her new man. Explain that you would like to go to counselling with him to get that back.

 f the relationship cannot be rescued, counselling can help you part less painfully, but I believe there is plenty of room for hope in your case. Try

I feel guilty keeping her affair a secret

Q A good friend of mine who is in her 40s has just told me that she is having an affair. I want to be supportive and I know that her 11-year marriage has its problems, but I very much like her husband and I am not OK with what she is doing. 

I feel she has offloaded her guilty secret on to me and I don’t know how to react. Now whenever I see her I feel tense and uncomfortable. She has also asked me not to tell my own husband, who is a friend of her partner.

A To be made a reluctant keeper of secrets must feel very difficult. Of course, affairs don’t usually happen in happy marriages but they cause immense pain if discovered. There may be more going on in your friend’s relationship that she hasn’t told you, so try to suspend judgment and talk to her.

Encourage her to look for a better way to sort out the problems in her marriage. Explain gently how affairs rarely end well and ask if she has thought about the long term. 

Even if her husband doesn’t know or suspect, the affair will still weaken her marriage further because her emotional energy will be focused on the other man and not on her husband.  Sadly, I suspect she won’t listen but I hope she will. 

As for her offloading her secret, you could explain how awkward it makes you feel, but it might be better to keep lines of communication open. While it is unreasonable to ask you not to tell your partner, he would almost certainly tell her husband. I do understand that loyalty, but it might not actually be in the latter’s best interests. Especially if the wife were to end the affair and her husband never knew.

So think carefully about this.

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