“How Do I Move On From A 33 Year Marriage?”

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A reader asks:

Hi Elizabeth,

Every article I seem to find is written for the younger self during bad relationships, & I am desperate to find advice for my situation.

I’m coming out of a long term marriage of 33 yrs. My husband cheated on me during the 28th year of our marriage. I do need to say, we did have a good marriage. It was easy, we had no real issues that ever threatened our marriage.

I never worked in all our years together.

I had a very bad menopause it lasted 12 yrs with heavy hot flashes almost 24 hours. We also went through 9-11 that crippled his industry.

I kept telling him, hang in there, our time is coming again…

During this time my husband got very needy and lonely. He said he tried to reach out to me and tell me so, but I just brushed him off by saying “our time will come.” He also wanted a lot of affection as he just read 5 languages of love, and felt his love was he needs closeness and affection with a partner.

His reasons for the affair, he was lonely.

Anyway, fast forward, 4.5 yrs later and we aren’t living with each other, but are in 24/7 contact. He wants the marriage back. Has since day one. Me, I went through the worst part of my life, by the man I grew up with, trusted for almost my whole adult life. I am now 61, & I cant go back to living with him. But I am so fearful of moving ahead as I’ve never worked, he’s he’s controlled all finances, I have no credit history.

His big thing is he doesn’t understand how all that we had isn’t enough to override his mistake and work at it together.

How do you really move on when you had no intention of changing your life, was thought to be on the path wanted, planned, but now see so much in a different view. I feel so bad that I can’t go back.. It makes me feel like such an ugly person.

What advice can you give?


Thanks for your question. That is a really hard situation, I’m so sorry you’re going through that.

To answer your question, you move on by moving on. You separate your finances, cut contact as much as makes sense for your situation (you didn’t mention if you have children) and then you dust yourself off and think about what YOU really want your life to look like from now on.

The problem is, this limbo that you’re both in where you maintain constant contact is not healthy for either one of you. You deserve to move on if that’s what you want and he deserves for you to either be in or out. It’s not good for either of your souls for you to talk to him every day but still maintain anger and resentment toward him about what happened.

It’s not ugly to let something go and move on even if it will be hard, but you have to really let it go. Change IS hard. But change is life. Even if you didn’t have any intention of changing your life before he cheated, it’s changing anyway. So you can either get on the bus or get dragged behind it.

But, it’s up to you to decide which path you’re going to choose. Resisting change never works– even though we’d like to be able to control everything that happens to us.

Plenty of women have gotten divorces after 33 year marriages and came out on the other side with new loves, new finances and changed lives. Heck, my grandmother is in her 80’s and has been married 4 times– her latest husband arrived at an age older than you. I have zero doubt that she would march out and find someone else if she was no longer married. If you want to move on, it’s time to allow yourself to make a new beginning.

I have faith that you will figure out the finances. Many, many women have been in your position and they managed. You will make it, but you have to take the step. You aren’t evil or ugly for letting go of something that no longer works for you– no matter how repentant he is or what kind of guilt trip you’ve been going on together. Because the marriage ends is not a reason to fall and stay fallen. Release yourself from the guilt and self-recrimination. Let the past be in the past and instead make this a time for hopeful change instead of blame and hurt.

You’ve had enough of that already.

You can do this!



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