I want to get away from my uncaring, cold-hearted husband

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Dear Troubleshooter:

I’m a homemaker in my 50s with a husband who now works part-time after reaching the mandatory retirement age. While he doesn’t have any obvious faults, such as being violent, accumulating debt or having affairs, he is cold-hearted.

If I look tired after taking care of my elderly parents, he says, “If you don’t like doing it, why don’t you just stop?” When one of our children was hospitalized, he left before the doctor could even explain what was wrong, saying, “I’m going to have a look around the hospital.”

He’s not a reliable father, so our children, who are now all adults, don’t like dealing with him. He doesn’t even have any friends.

One time, he blew up after being warned for driving on the wrong side of the road, and it makes me think there’s something wrong with his character in general.

To separate from my husband, I have acquired some qualifications, but unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to find a job that will bring in any real income.

I can’t divorce him for financial reasons, so I’m thinking about consulting a financial adviser to figure out my next steps. However, I’m not sure how to bring this up to my husband, who doesn’t take what I say seriously.

— A, Nara Prefecture

Dear Ms. A:

It must be difficult to be married to someone so apathetic. It seems like your husband thinks that as long as he doesn’t have an affair, accumulate debt or is violent toward you, he has done his duty as a husband. He may not even be aware that a wife is an important companion with whom to share life.

Even if you ultimately choose to divorce him, it might be a good idea to try and live separately first. If you try to bring up divorce while you are living together, your husband won’t take it seriously or may even resort to verbal abuse.

When you start living separately, I suggest writing a letter or an email explaining all your thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t matter how many letters you end up writing. I’m sure your husband will read them once he realizes that you have made up your mind.

If you still find it difficult to reach an agreement with your husband, mediation in family court is always an option. When you speak to a mediator, I suggest showing them copies of the letters and emails you wrote to your husband.

No matter what you decide, a process like this will be time-consuming and emotionally draining. This amount of time, however, is nothing compared to the years you have ahead of you. To live the next stage of your fulfilling life without regrets, gather all your courage and take action. You will find that a new path will open for you.

— Yoko Sanuki, lawyer