A marriage license should come with an expiration date

Published 10:09 am Monday, April 25, 2022

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Dear Aunty Pam,


Do you have time for a letter from a silly senior woman? I hope so because I wonder if there are other women my age out there going through the same thing.

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I’ve been married for just over 50 years and while there were good times, there’s been a lot of hard times too, and it seems the last few years have been mostly hard. My husband has always had a short fuse that I have to tiptoe around. He’s never been physically abusive, but if I’m slow in doing something he wants, he’s very impatient. That, in turn, makes me nervous and then he yells at me or says very hurtful things. 


Yesterday, I was writing down the shopping list and he wanted me to pick something up at the hardware store. I was trying to spell what it was and had to ask him to slow down and he started yelling at me, saying a 3rd grader could spell it, and why was I so stupid? That made me cry and then he said, “Oh, here come the waterworks again.”


Aunty Pam, I don’t love him anymore. I don’t even like him these last few years but with all our finances tied up together, and family, etc, how can I leave? I haven’t lived on my own in 50 years and not sure how I would adjust. I guess I’m feeling very trapped and depressed. Do you have any advice for someone like me, and maybe others?


No Name Please


Dear NNP,


Do you happen to have a fire extinguisher handy to turn on this bully when he begins this behavior?


OK, you realize I’ve never been married, right? Just want to make that clear as I’m no Dear Abby. I’m more like Dear Abby after a couple of cocktails, who doesn’t really care what the heck she says. But to answer your question, yes, I think there are a lot of women, and probably some men, that are in your situation. It always makes me chuckle when I hear people say, “My folks were married 50 years and they fought a lot, but they stuck it out!” because a long marriage has nothing to do with being a successful, or happy, marriage. Sometimes, as with you, it lasts because of a certain security. 


I’ve always thought marriage licenses should come with expiration dates that you can choose from the beginning: 5 years, 10, 20…and then you can look at each other after the expiration date and say, ‘I dunno, you want to try for another 5?’ And the other person can say, “Nah, this has definitely gone off, I’m going to give it a pass.’ But, alas, that’s not the way it is. 


In your case, hon, I’m going to give you the same advice I gave the guy last week, who wanted to go do fun and active things but his wife refused to join in. (In fact, maybe I’ll give him your number.) I’m going to tell you this: if divorce isn’t an option, lead separate lives. Live like royalty: move into separate bedrooms, take a lover, get involved with what you’d like to do with the friends and family you love best. For whatever reasons, your husband sounds full of resentment and bitterness and is one unhappy guy. But there’s no reason you should be subjected to his anger issues.


And really consider leaving him. Look at all the women your age out there that are divorced and widows. For some, it’s depressing to be on their own, for others, they’re finally having the time of their lives—and I can tell you that I’ve met plenty.

You might find a situation in which you can share a house with another woman in your circumstance, or apartment. You do actually have options—you’re not really trapped. Remember: sometimes the thought of change is far more frightening than the change itself. Unless it’s coloring one’s hair.


Cheers, dear!

Aunty Pam