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I’ve gone through some big life changes and don’t know if my husband and I fit anymore

Ask Roe: I feel like a different person and the connection I had with him feels different, like it’s just faded completely

Dear Roe,

I have been with my husband for five years, married for two. Recently I’ve been feeling like I want to end the relationship but I don’t know if I am being unreasonable or unrealistic. When we met, we were both working in a high-powered, high-stress profession that I have since fallen out of love with (or was never really in love with, I am realising, but I thought it was what I “should” do.) I’m now transitioning to a career that is fewer hours and less money but gives me more time and energy to do the things I love.

Over the past year, I’ve already felt such a shift in my mental health and am taking much better care of myself in terms of sleeping, socialising and going to therapy. Therapy has brought up a lot of things around why I went into that old career in the first place and how I never really chose my own life priorities. Now, I’m realising that I value money and external ideas of “success” much less and am much more focused in doing work I believe in and having more joy in my life.

My husband, however, genuinely loves his work and is excellent at it and has no plans to leave. He says he supports me in this redirection but I just feel like the shorthand we shared around work and the ideas of a life path are now gone. We had a really clear-cut plan for when we wanted to have kids, what we wanted our lives to look like, but it was all so focused on our career plans and finances, and things that now feel very up in the air.


I feel like a different person and the connection I had with him feels different, like it’s just faded completely. He’s smart, hard-working, kind and has told me repeatedly that he wants to support me in whatever I want to do but I just don’t know if we make sense any more. I’m so confused.

Your feelings are understandable because this is a confusing time. It’s an exciting time, full of possibilities and discovery and reconnecting with yourself – but that can be destabilising, too. As you are experiencing, reclaiming your life after surrendering so much of it to the wishes of others can include a lot of big shifts in your mindset and behaviours. There’s a process of untangling and deconstructing the narratives you were told about what success looked like and what you should prioritise, and figuring out where they came from. There’s examining the reasons you felt the need to please other people, and exploring what desires, emotions or needs you dampened or silenced within yourself for so long. There’s the work of trying to unearth and connect with the things you really do value, and giving yourself permission to pursue them.

That’s just the emotional work. Then there are the tangible, real-life effects of this change, such as the logistics of changing jobs, of moving to a lower income, of losing relationships and support systems that were work-based and trying to forge new relationships that feel connected to who and where you are now. There may be other relationships that are impacted, such as navigating new boundaries with parents who may not understand your decision, for example, or long-standing friendships or family dynamics that may not quite fit as comfortably as you go through this period of growth. Humans are comfort-focused creatures and can become reliant on everyone filling one particular role in their life, and so sometimes the people we love can resist seeing us change dramatically as it requires them to not only update their ideas of us, but to grow and evolve a bit too, to connect with us differently.

I suspect you’re experiencing a lot of this already. I also suspect there may be a sense of urgency underpinning all of your decisions right now. Often when we discover a passion or sense of purpose later in life, it can feel like we need to move very quickly to catch up and start fully living a life in accordance with our new values.

What I would urge you to do is to take a beat, slow down and do not make any permanent decisions about your marriage (or indeed any other relationship) immediately. This is not because I doubt the importance of this life transformation or because I think you need to spend a lifetime in a marriage if it really doesn’t feel right to you – I don’t. I just think you shouldn’t make any permanent decisions yet. You’ve upended the status quo and are currently a whirling dervish of possibility – and are wondering, amid your spinning, why your relationship also feels somewhat airborne.

You’ve gone through a period of growth, so of course your relationship mightn’t fit exactly the same – but people and marriages are not baby clothes that just stop fitting one day and never do again. People and marriages can also grow and change and adapt and find ways to fit the new contours of your being – but you have to give them some time to do.

What’s interesting is that your husband seems to understand this and has expressed his unwavering support of your growth and transformation. Are you offering him the same support? Have you really given him a chance to show you how he can adjust to a new way of existing with you? As he lets you be your own individual person and expresses his willingness to remain curious about you and to find ways to stay connected, are you respecting his ability to be his own person? Are you remaining curious about him and your relationship?

You say that your shared shorthand and clear-cut life plan now feels altered, which can of course raise up some uncertainty. But it seems he is willing to walk through this period of uncertainty with you, to find different ways of connecting beyond a shared work life and to create a new life plan – or to be plan-less for a while. You are the one who seems to be struggling with the lack of certainty and interpreting this uncertainty as evidence your relationship is doomed.

And look – you may ultimately be right. It may be that this period of transformation does shift your values so meaningfully that your husband is no longer the person who you feel brings out your best self or is the person to go through life with. If some time passes and you still want to leave, go forth and find your new path and new person.

But you don’t know that yet. You haven’t given your husband, yourself or the relationship the chance to adjust yet. I think, ironically, the things you really want from the people around you as you go through this period of transformation – namely: acceptance, growth, patience, generosity, unconditional love – are the exact things you are not offering to your husband. Let him show you whether he can adjust to this new iteration of you. Don’t simply decide that he can’t. You’re not the only one who can grow, and it sounds like he is more than willing.

Give yourself and your husband time to adjust and grow together. As you embrace a new version of yourself, don’t make running away from unconditional love and a fear of uncertainty define you or your next move. Let yourself gain a bit more clarity about yourself and your marriage before making any decisions. Slow down. Move mindfully. And extend your husband the grace he is extending you. Whatever happens in the future, you’ll never regret doing so. The best of luck.