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Your confusion is clear and the most important thing you need to do is get clear about what it is you want. Do you want a divorce or separation? Would you be willing to stay if your husband and/or relationship changed? Obviously, you cannot change your husband, which I’m sure you know after more than 40 years together. But it is possible for him to change, especially now that he’s retiring. I wouldn’t expect the change to occur quickly, or necessarily at all. But often, when people experience a big life change — and retirement is certainly among the biggest — their temperaments change too. Maybe his career has been especially stressful and draining. Or maybe just the idea of retirement has been so scary or nerve-wracking that, once it’s over, he will begin to calm down. Or maybe he won’t.
Two things I’d suggest: counseling (for you as individuals and for you as a couple) and time apart. If you can afford it, I think your husband living in his own small apartment, while you stay in your family home with your granddaughter, could give you both the physical and psychological space to figure out what you want. I can appreciate that, after spending your entire adult life living with the same person, the thought of living alone is scary. But you can do it. You’ll be ok. Being a “housewife” doesn’t mean you’re incapable. If anything, you’re more capable than most to live alone. You know the domestic life inside and out. It’s far more difficult for someone who doesn’t have experience in–let’s call it “domestic arts”–to suddenly find himself or herself living alone. You already have the tools for taking care of yourself. And if it’s loneliness you are worried about, you have your granddaughter still at home and you can find ways to keep busy and find companionship (e.g. volunteer, find a part-time job, join some clubs, take some classes, go to church, etc.).
At sixty, you could still have twenty, thirty, even forty years ahead of you. You’re too young to be resigned to a life and partnership that leaves you so unhappy. It’s time to move on and forward, whether that’s on your own or with your husband in a relationship that is different than what you’ve had. You had your childhood and then your had your many years raising a family (both your children and then your granddaughter) and now it’s time for your third act. Make it count. Make it for you. This is your time. You’ve taken care of everyone else. What will you do to take care of you now?
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