My husband and I have been married for over thirty years and we have lived in France for over twenty-five years. We are both French speakers and fully integrated in the French way of life. Five years ago, we bought a house which needed totally restoring. We bought it as a home for our retirement, it was decided (mutually) that I would live part of the time in this house to control the work, make new friends and make a start towards this new life and I would visit him frequently. It seemed an ideal solution and I would have the best of both worlds. Things have not worked out like that. My husband found the solitude difficult at first, and then found that he quite liked living alone, he has found that now my presence is annoying. He has now admitted that for most of the years we were together, he didn't love me, and that he wanted to leave me and the children. He talks about suffering from bouts of depression, but they only come on when I'm around. He suffers from physical pains, but again, they only come on when I'm around. He says he doesn't want to hurt me but is unable to carry on the pretence of being a happy couple.

He wants to get a job in another country (I am not included in this project) and hopes that the last few years of his working life give him job satisfaction (this seems to be a major priority for him). During these thirty years of marriage, I had no idea that my husband was unhappy. He is a difficult man to live with, as his career has taken up a lot of space in our marriage. I can now see that he may have been using his obsessive working as a cover for avoiding family life.

He doesn't talk readily to me, saying that I'm a poor listener and keep interrupting. His inability to communicate with me is clearly a major problem, although he has says that he has found female friends with whom he loves to talk (but I doubt that he is discussing emotional issues). The only indication that something may have been wrong in our couple, has been his inability to help me through moments of emotional crisis. He has always turned his back and allowed me to deal with the situation. I harbour great resentment over this. Right now, I am suffering terribly. He is able to offer me a silent hug, many apologies but no hope. My husband is able to block out memories (of his childhood he remembers very little). He almost (but not quite) abandoned his parents, his sisters communicate with him (rather than the other way around). If he goes to work in another country, he will block me out. I still love him and cannot believe that he is doing this to me. He says he feels terrible about this (but only when I am around).

Should I let him go, knowing that he might get the job satisfaction he wants so badly, but knowing that he will probably erase my memory? Should I try for counselling when one partner has been unhappy for so many years? What do I do in a house that was bought for a joint future, that still needs a massive amount of work and in which he seems to have lost interest?

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